Untitled (aka, Mara'n'Yoda story)
Palpatine’s throne room was everything that would be expected of the Ruler of the Galaxy. It was huge, with high, sweeping ceilings and an aura which intimidated any visitor. The walls were black and went straight up, totally undecorated. The light was unfocused, making it impossible to tell where it came from. Centered in the room was Palpatine’s throne – made of Corusca jewels and precious metals, yet still being powerful and forbidding.
It was appropriate for her Master.
Palpatine sat in his chair, his body hunched over and his cloak shielding most of his features. His cracked, yellow lips smiled when Mara entered. She bowed reverently, then knelt. Her beautiful, diaphanous gown floated down around her. Her red hair was up with a few strands falling around her face. She had just been on a mission for her Master, discovering if one of Palpatine’s most high-ranking officers was corrupt and trying to cheat him, when he had called her here, for another mission. Her beauty in this meeting was irrelevant, of course. Palpatine was not interested in her that way; he had many others, more beautiful than she – though considerably stupider for the most part, and not possessing her skills.
Of course, there had been no comm. call – it was not necessary. Her Master could reach her anytime and anywhere he pleased. He was in her thoughts, and Mara was filled with pride that she alone, was so gifted with Palpatine’s attention. Even Vader did not have such a deep connection to the Sith Master. He had called, and she had come.
She knelt for several minutes, but she waited patiently; she was patient for him because she well knew the consequences of impatience. The Emperor was impatient with others, not vice versa.
Finally, Palpatine spoke. “I have a task for you, Jade.”
Mara knew it had to be an important one. Palpatine could have just as easily given her commands mentally as having her come to him. Of course, Mara knew that it pleased him to have her come, at times. She accepted both because it was his right and because he treated her fairly well so long as she performed her duties competently. He was confident in her abilities and he rewarded her appropriately. “Yes, Master?” Mara dared ask.
“You will find a Jedi.”
Skywalker? Mara wondered. She had heard of him, even read a few reports on him. Personally, she doubted he was a true Jedi; their kind had been exterminated by Palpatine and Vader, with Kenobi probably being the last. Skywalker was more likely a foolish boy, not realizing the power or danger of the title he claimed.
“Who, Master?” Mara asked, mind kicking into overdrive, already planning and considering. Her subservience faded in the wake of professionalism.
“Master Yoda,” Palpatine stated, giving a disgusted emphasis to the title ‘Master’. “The boy, Skywalker, disappeared, even beyond the reach of the Rebels. I have foreseen his training, and only Yoda could be the one to have done it.”
“Yes, Master.” Mara didn’t rise, though she felt the meeting was probably over. It was not her place to assume. She waited.
“You will also prepare for another mission. To kill the boy. I have foreseen he will be on Tatooine, in Jabba’s palace. You will wait for him there.”
Mara bowed her head. “Yes, Master.”
“You may leave.” Palpatine’s tone was dismissive. One hand, the nails gnarled and twisted, rose to wave her away.
Mara rose and bowed again, before leaving. Once out of the throne room, her stride lengthened considerably, and her whole posture and attitude changed. Her head went higher and her shoulders went back in a posture subtly more confident.
The first thing she did was go her quarters. To anyone unaware, it was a place typical of a beautiful, young piece of flesh with fluff for brains. However, upon closer examination, beyond the luxury, there was a state of the art security system and the best the Empire had to offer in data-retrieval and computational programs. She walked past the living room, decorated in a lush, extravagant green, to a small room in the back, tucked unnoticeably in a corner.
In the small room, computer systems and viewing screens monitored the walls. She called up all available data on Yoda with a few words and then got to work. Most everything she did was backed up by research; she researched her targets carefully, planned ahead, and was scrupulous in all of it. To be well-prepared had been ground into her by her teachers since she was a small child and it was second nature to her. Besides, the Empire had many resources, and to not use them would be foolish.
Most of the data would be useless trivia. Mission reports, news reports, and similar files were put in the trash pile. Personal news, Padawans, debriefings, and training styles were put into the ‘view again’ pile for possible leads on where Yoda would feel safe – or be safe. Rumors were gone through and separated into two piles – slightly promising and suspect.
Six hours later, she still had an immense amount of data to go through, and most of it equally viable as places to start searching.
For the first time, Mara wondered if she was being set up to fail.
The Empire had been searching for all of the Jedi for twenty years; what made Palpatine think that Mara would succeed where even Darth Vader had failed? Yoda had utterly disappeared after the fall of the Republic. Hunters had searched for him all over the galaxy, without even a glimmer of success. Perhaps Palpatine had seen something in the Force that led him to believe Mara would succeed; at the last, Mara was forced to admit that was the only true possibility she could think of. But why? She was well-trained, yes, and talented, but so were many others in the Empire.
Then there was the other mission, to kill the so-called Jedi. If she did not succeed in finding Yoda quickly, she would have to drop it to finish the other.
Mara sighed, vexed.
If the Force was indeed involved, and Palpatine had foreseen something to give her this mission, then she would trust in that. She eyed all the information spread before her about Yoda, the most powerful of the Jedi, and decided to determine on a course of action later.
In the meantime, she would prepare for the other mission.
Mara pulled on the sheer, tight fitting outfit. It was made of black, tightly knitted net so sheer that it was scandalous. Rich blue complimented it in the straps of fabric that comprised the covering aspects out of the outfit. Mara ran her hands down her sides, ignoring the bored attendant standing nearby. She stiffened her back, held her breath, then relaxed, quickly turning, kicking up a leg, and then collapsing gracefully to the floor in a ready dance position.
The outfit moved with her, stretching when needed and yet still staying on her body correctly.
Mara stood and ran her hands up her legs, seeing that while there was no place for a blaster, there were a few promising spots for smaller weapons – needles or wires, perhaps.
“Are you done?” the attendant demanded.
Mara turned her head to look at her disdainfully. The attendant was an older woman, and probably quite accustomed to serving the Palace’s various beautiful, sentient side pieces. Mara was in the Palace’s own clothing service, finding outfits for ‘Arica’, her identity on Tatooine, to wear.
After a moment, Mara smiled prettily, letting her eyes empty of any intelligent thought. “Can I have the next one?” she asked sweetly.
The attendant rolled her eyes and left. Mara snorted. Perhaps someone anonymous could report her behavior to her superior; many would not tolerate such an attitude. No, it was probably not worth her time to hack in and send an anonymous message. What did the woman matter? Mara knew her high position, even if the attendant didn’t.
Mara turned her attention inward, focusing indirectly on the information in her head – the rumors were the obvious, best place to start. She relaxed, letting the intuitive part of her nature loose. Her mind flitted from rumor to rumor, fact to fact, piecing them together and then letting them drift loose once again.
“Here,” the attendant said, returning with another outfit, this one clearly unsuitable for dancing. It’s white, see-through folds were too long and would get in her way. Mara took it anyway, mind elsewhere, entering the dressing room.
The dressing room was large, but had only one mirror from one angle. Mara turned to it, stripping quickly and then putting on the white outfit. She looked at herself in the mirror, most of her mind still drifting from rumor to rumor – about Tatooine, Coruscant, Algnes IV, and other places.
Sighing deeply, Mara tensed up her back, letting her head fall forward slightly. Her posture was still correct, but slightly subservient; a dancer, but still one of no power. She let her eyes soften, fluttering her eyelashes, and a small, nervous smile lingered on her mouth.
Car’das. Rumored to have been miraculously healed, some claimed it was a Jedi; the rumor had been connected to Yoda by Imperial Intelligence due to the nature of the ‘healing’ and the fact that a Dark Jedi, one of Palpatine’s pets, disappeared at roughly the same time, along with the disappearance and eventual reappearance of Car’das, having been reenergized – ‘healed’. He was the sole survivor of a ship the Dark Jedi had briefly taken over.
That was where Mara would start. Car’das.
Mara relaxed, throwing back her shoulders. She needed to be both daring and naïve for the dancer disguise to work on Tatooine. Daring enough to want to be one of Jabba’s admittedly short-lived dancers – for a reputation that could catapult her into a career – but naïve enough to think that the career decision would help her, even if she survived the experience. Confident, then, a little brazen, maybe, but not stupid. Mara licked her lips and posed artistically, even standing still somehow graceful.
She spoke, her words strong enough, but with a tiny quaver, innocent and slightly unsure. “Hello, Arica.”