- LadyKulvaxSuspect Hero | Level Four
April 14th 2022, 9:06 am
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PART I: THE HAND OF THE EMPEROR
Mara Jade's first memory is Emperor Palpatine coming to 'adopt' her to become his Emperor's Hand:
Mara was trained personally by the Emperor to become his best Hand:
Galaxy Magazine wrote:Emperor Palpatine's favorite Sith, Darth Vader, has a new rival, the 18-year-old Countess Mara Jade Claria, whom Palpatine has schooled in the Force to assume the special agent role of "Emperor's Hand."
Galaxy Magazine wrote:Palpatine, of course, had employed many Hands. Arden Lyn had been among the first, and Mara Jade was arguably the best. Others had included Maarek Stele, Sarcev Quest, Blackhole, and Roganda Ismaren.
This includes in lightsaber combat:
As well as mental patterns strong enough to keep out the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader:
The Last Command wrote:But there was a mental pattern the Emperor had taught her long ago, a pattern for those times when he'd wanted his instructions hidden even from Vader.
Mara Jade was a legitimate and 'perfect' apprentice/cipher of the Emperor:
Mara Jade was the assassin of the Emperor:
InQuest 50 wrote:Luke's wife, Mara Jade, was once the Emperor's deadliest assassin.
Mara was the personal representative of the Emperor:
Mara Jade was among the most formidable people to ever serve the Emperor:
In fact, Mara Jade's presence provides a boost to the Emperor:
Mara Jade trained with the Royal Guard of the Emperor and the Emperor's personal spymasters:
The Dark Side Sourcebook wrote:Most courtiers in the Imperial Palace did not even realize that Mara was anything more than a pretty decoration. But Mara Jade trained in combat alongside the Imperial Royal Guard and was schooled in infiltration techniques by the Emperor's spymasters.
The Dark Side Sourcebook wrote:Those members of the Imperial Stormtroopers who showed particular expertise were recruited into the Emperor's Royal Guard. But each was also tested for Force potential and those who displayed an aptitude for wielding the Force were singled out for special training on the isolated world of Yinchorr. There, these Stormtroopers honed their battle prowess so that they were almost a match for the formidable Darth Vader himself.
The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia wrote:An elite force of bodyguards, warriors, assassins and executioners all fanatically loyal to Emperor Palpatine. Training for membership required a year of grueling painful work on the planet Yinchorr. There candidates perfected the fighting art called echani, failure in training often meant death.
The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia wrote:Of the more than 40 students in a given training year, only a handful survive for their final test before the Emperor himself- a battle to the death against one's own training partner.
The Official Star Wars Fact File 33 wrote:The Royal Guard were the ultimate product of all the training, mental conditioning and skill that the Empire could instill in a man. They mastered every conceivable weapon and every known means of hand to hand combat, none the least of which was the terrifyingly fast martial art of Echani.
Mara Jade very nearly killed Luke Skywalker, only being stopped because Jabba the Hutt refused to take her with them to the Sarlacc pit:
Mara's powers atrophied after the Emperor died:
Dark Force Rising wrote:I’ve felt your presence over the years, Mara Jade; the rising and falling of your power after the Emperor’s death took most of your strength away.
PART II: ROGUE AGENT
As of 9ABY, Mara Jade has the lightsaber skills of Luke Skywalker, the blaster abilities of Han Solo, the willpower of Leia Organa-Solo and Lando Calrissian's ability to improvise:
Immediately after taking the full brunt of Joruus C'boath's lightning, Mara Jade kills an exact clone of Luke Skywalker, Luuke Skywalker, with a blitz.
This is incredibly impressive as Joruus is considerably more powerful than Luke Skywalker as of 4ABY was:
Dark Force Rising wrote:Artoo whistled thoughtfully. “Right,” Luke agreed ruefully. “It didn’t bother me any to have Ben around—in fact, I wish he had talked to me more often. But Master C’baoth was a lot more powerful than I was. Maybe it was different with him.”
He's also still more powerful than Luke in the Force as of 9ABY:
The Last Command wrote:Skywalker was good, all right. With the strange buzzing pressure in his mind he must have known he couldn’t match C’baoth strength for strength.
Mara is able to repeatedly intercept the lightning of an enraged Joruus and continuously close the gap as she does so:
The Last Command wrote:C'baoth swung around to face her, his face contorted with rage. "No!" he screamed; and again the blue-white lightning crackled from his fingertips. Mara caught the burst on her lightsaber, her mad rush faltering as coronal fire burned all around her. C'baoth fired again and again, backing toward the throne and the solid wall behind it. Doggedly, Mara kept coming.
Yet Joruus was able to fire lightning faster than Luke Skywalker could summon his lightsaber from his belt:
Dark Force Rising wrote:Luke caught the flicker of sense a half second before Svan dived for the slugthrower. With a single smooth motion he had his lightsaber free of his belt and ignited. But C’baoth was faster. Even as Luke’s green-white blade snapped into existence, C’baoth raised his hand; and from his fingertips flashed a sizzling volley of all-too-well-remembered blue lightning bolts.
By comparison, Luke Skywalker was not capable of catching all of C'baoth's lightning bolts on his blade:
The Last Command wrote:“Stop it!” Luke shouted, getting in front of her and igniting his lightsaber. C’baoth ignored him, firing a second burst. Luke caught most of it on his lightsaber blade, grimacing as the part he missed jolted through his muscles. C’baoth fired a third burst, and a fourth, and a fifth—
C'baoth's lightning could also defeat Luke's lightsaber-ready defense so totally it knocked him off his feet:
The Last Command wrote:Luke dropped his lightsaber back into defense position, senses again tingling with danger. But once again, the knowledge did him little good. C’baoth’s lightning burst flashed against the lightsaber blade, the impact knocking Luke off balance and dropping him painfully onto his knees in the pile of stones around him. Even as he struggled to get up, one of the falling rocks slammed hard into the side of his head. He staggered, toppling sideways onto one hand. Again the lightning flashed, throwing coronal fire all through the stone pile and sending wave after wave of agony through him. The lightsaber was plucked from his fingers; dimly he saw it fly over the railing toward the far end of the throne room.
This is made all the more impressive by the fact that Mara's abilities in the Force were still minimal since the death of the Emperor:
PART III: APPRENTICE TO KYLE KATARN
Under Kyle Katarn's guidance, Mara Jade can become one of the most formidable Jedi in history:
Mara tracks down Kyle Katarn on Dromund Kaas, now powered by something more powerful in the Force than the Valley of the Jedi, which granted almost Emperor Palpatine levels of power to Kyle Katarn, in the non-canon ending of Jedi Knight II:
LucasArts Continuity Supervisor Ryan Kaufman wrote:But what a task! At the end of Jedi Knight, the player (as Kyle) is either a consummately powerful warrior, having vanquished the evil Dark Jedi Jerec in face-to-face combat or is a figure of almost Palpatine-like power, as a Dark Jedi in charge of the Imperial Remnant.
Wizards of the Coast: The Dark Forces Saga 5 wrote:Kyle Katarn travelled there after learning of the witch world in ancient inscriptions, battling a host of Sith abominations in the planet's seemingly endless bogs before succumbing to the spell of the dark side of the Force.
LucasArts Continuity Supervisor Ryan Kaufman wrote:As he grew in knowledge and power, he realized they were Sith ruins. But some part of him was drawn to their dark call. So, without telling Mara why, he went off to investigate.
Kyle Katarn, Dark Forces II: Mysteries of the Sith wrote:“I found a greater source of power than I had ever known.”
Mara Jade was able to resist the dark side of the Force on Dromund Kaas and in the Dark Force Temple, where Kyle Katarn could not:
Mara Jade fights through dozens of Sith temple guardians, who draw power from Mara herself:
Dark Forces II: Mysteries of the Sith wrote:Sith Jedi Statue
Eternal guardians of the Sith temples, the statues are animated by trespassing beings, whose Force energy powers their stone bodies.
Mara defeats a dark side incarnation of herself created and powered by the Dark Force Temple, which has all her powers and utilizes them 'exceptionally' well:
LucasArts Continuity Supervisor Ryan Kaufman wrote:The swamp world of Dromund Kaas was a great opportunity for us to throw all our Dark Side "what-ifs" at the player. One of the bosses is the "Dark Mara," who we imagined as being something like Luke's vision of Vader in the tree on Dagobah. Only this one wouldn't go down so easily. Dark Mara had all the player's powers and was exceptionally good at using them.
Mara faces this now Palpatine-level Kyle Katarn himself in several duels and wins each time:
These duels are said to be confrontations worthy of 'epic' Star Wars classics:
Mara faces Kyle a final time but decides to take the path of sacrifice to save him from himself:
Acts such as these heighten a Jedi's connection to the light side of the Force, and even Pablo Hidalgo has made it clear how much of a difference these major acts of serenity can make for one's power in his Head-to-Head articles:
PART IV: NEW REPUBLIC AGENT
In 12ABY, if Mara Jade had joined Luke's Jedi Praxeum, she'd have instantaneously become the star pupil:
The Dark Side Sourcebook wrote:Though Mara could have easily joined Skywalker's new Jedi academy on Yavin 4 and instantly become his best student, she opted instead to explore the galaxy on her own for a while.
Kyp Durron was the present star pupil though, who far surpassed Kyle Katarn:
Kyp Durron was at least Luke's equal or his outright superior:
STACKPOLE: In looking at the contrast between Luke and Corran, and how they would be compared, I knew I could never have a Jedi that would out-power Luke. KJA had done that with Kyp, so the act was old.
Kyp Durron had become Luke's greatest enemy by the time of 12ABY and could plausibly become the Jedi's greatest:
Luke himself is more powerful than ever:
- Jedi Academy Volume I: Jedi Search
Jedi Academy Volume III: Champions of the Force wrote:Luke clapped him on the back and smiled with dark-ringed eyes that shone with inner an inner brightness stronger than ever before. As he conquered each seemingly insurmountable obstacle, Luke's Jedi powers grew greater and greater.
Mara Jade was a better duelist than Corran Horn whilst at the Jedi Academy:
I, Jedi wrote:After lunch we would listen to more Jedi lore from the Holocron, then Mara and I would practice with the lightsaber. While I was not her equal with the shimmering blade, we would have been closely enough matched to seriously hurt each other, so Kam just pitted us against remotes.
Corran Horn is otherwise one of the two best duelists in the Academy alongside Kam Solusar:
As of 14ABY, Mara Jade is faster than anyone Jaina Solo has ever seen:
Mara is among the most notable Jedi to have stayed at the Jedi Praxeum, even despite still not having achieved her Knighthood yet:
Star Wars Miniatures Preview 10, Luke Skywalker wrote:Even after the Emperor’s defeat, Luke Skywalker’s journey—and the story of the New Jedi Order—was just beginning. Seven years after the Battle of Endor, Luke founded the Jedi Praxeum on Yavin IV in an effort to rebuild the ranks of the Jedi. The Praxeum was, at one time or another, home to many notables such as Kyp Durron, Corran Horn, Mara Jade, and the Solo children Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin.
As of 19ABY, Mara Jade 'might not' be as powerful as Luke Skywalker but is definitely as strong as him in certain aspects of the Force:
Specter of the Past wrote:But it wasn’t here, and there was nothing she could do about it. Rubbing her palms briefly on her jumpsuit to dry them, she got a firm grip on the controls and stretched out to the Force. She might not be as glorious and powerful a Jedi as the great Luke Skywalker, but she’d be willing to match her finely honed danger sense against his any day.
By the time Luke proposes just weeks later, they are 'perfectly matched' in ability, strength, attitude and spirit:
The New Essential Chronology wrote:They both realized that no two people in the universe were so perfectly matched in ability and in attitude, in strength and in spirit.
PART V: MARA JADE CLARIA-SKYWALKER
Luke and Mara's love and marriage makes them both even more powerful as luminous beings:
Luke and Mara are getting 'ever' more powerful over the years since their marriage:
By 22ABY, Mara Jade and Luke are considered the best warriors of the Jedi Order:
Star Wars: Survivor's Quest wrote:"When Aristocra Chaf'orm'bintrano asked Admiral Parck who of the New Republic would be the best warriors to have at hand against possible trouble, he recommended you and Master Skywalker."
By 22ABY, Mara Jade is better with a lightsaber than Luke is, though Luke is the best Mara has ever seen in terms of 'focused accuracy' with the Force:
Star Wars: Survivor's Quest wrote:Mara took a step forward as Luke took one backward, her lightsaber never missing a beat of their defense as Luke closed down his weapon and dropped to one knee behind her. She might be better than he was at detailed lightsaber work, but even after a long climb he was far and away the best she'd ever seen at this kind of focused accuracy with the Force.
In 24ABY, Mara Jade is infected with fatal coomb spores by Nom Anor:
Mara Jade now has a bond with Luke that she can draw on for strength and through which they can pour power into one another:
PART VI: THE VONG WAR
As of 25ABY, a deathly ill Mara Jade, alongside Luke Skywalker, is still considered the most dangerous foe of the Yuuzhan Vong:
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime wrote:No, Nom Anor was looking forward to this meeting simply so that he could gauge the effect of his infection upon Mara Jade, and so that he might learn more of the Jedi in general, including Leia, a woman he knew would prove pivotal in the upcoming events, and Jaina, who might prove to be a weak link to get to Leia Solo, perhaps even to Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade. That was one of his missions here, to identify those most dangerous foes and to find some way to minimize their effectiveness.
Mara Jade during the Vong War, despite the coomb spores infection she suffered through for two years, is much more powerful than she was under the Emperor:
In 27BBY, Mara Jade and to a lesser degree Tahiri Veila, make it possible to defeat Lord Nyax:
As of 28BBY, Mara Jade is one of the leaders of the Jedi Order and a Jedi Warrior in the vein of Jacen Solo and Luke Skywalker:
New Jedi Order: Force Heretic 2 - Refugee wrote:That might indeed be true. But the intention lies in its leaders. Mara Jade Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Jacen Solo — all renowned Jedi warriors."
As of 29BBY, Mara far outstrips Jacen Solo as a lightsaber duelist:
New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force wrote:Sensing, then, that someone was watching him, he(Jacen) deactivated the blade in sudden self-consciousness. He sighed and sat down. He was a decent lightsaber master and sai acrobat, but nowhere near as skilled as Luke, Kyp, Mara, Corran—or Anakin.
Yet by 29BBY, Jacen Solo seems to be becoming more powerful than Luke Skywalker:
NJO Finale: The Unifying Force, starwars.com wrote:Another theme has been the natural process of life: birth, maturation, death. We've seen the deaths of Chewie and Anakin; we've seen the birth of Luke and Mara's son, Ben; we've seen the maturation of Jaina and, especially, Jacen, whose link to the Force seems to grow beyond even Luke's.
Mara Jade defeats Nom Anor:
New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force wrote:True to their nature, Shamed Ones and warriors alike were running toward the melee rather than fleeing from it, no matter how bloodied they were or who was winning, as the outcome kept changing hands. But it wasn't long before Mara spied a lone figure slinking away, then scurrying down into a public square that was surrounded on three sides by groundquake-damaged structures. Though the relatively short figure was wearing the robeskin of a Shamed One, he ran with the stealth of an executor. Taking a moment to touch Tahiri and Kenth through the Force, Mara vaulted from the steps to the high platform of a temple, then dropped down to the ground and raced after Nom Anor, her lightsaber close at hand to deal with anyone who might try to stand in her way.
Rushing into the square, she stopped to scan the several exits, and again spotted her quarry disappearing around the toppled end of a high wall. She fairly flew after him, pursuing him up and over piles of rubble and debris, through stands of towering fire-blackened trees, then on a zigzag path down into what once had been the Column Commons-a midlevel area of open spaces studded with thick columns that supported the sprawling cityscape overhead.
Hundreds of HoloNet and holodrama publishers had kept offices there, along with all the major media bureaus. During the Galactic Civil War, the commons had crawled with COMPNOR truth officers, who had ensured that everything published was in keeping with the propaganda of the Empire. Mara was certain she was more familiar with the area-even in ruins-than Nom Anor was. But in his guise as the Prophet he had obviously gotten to know Coruscant's canyons and depths as well as any slythmonger or death stick peddler, because he led her on a chase that was as labyrinthine as the tracings of a conduit worm.
The deeper they descended, the darker and danker became the surroundings. But Mara had already decided that she would chase him to the core of the planet if that was what it would take to apprehend him. The pursuit led ever downward, into darker levels, where fetid water dripped from cracked ceilings, and the only light was that which found its way down through gaps in the crushed buildings and the riotously verdant areas that now roofed them. Closing the gap between them, she saw him grab hold of a fall of vines and swing himself across a wide chasm.
Securing the vines on his side of the abyss, he stopped to smirk at her, confident that his escape was secure. She came to a brief standstill opposite him-just long enough to answer his sneering grin with a glare-then dashed for a narrower place in the chasm and leapt to the far side.
By then Nom Anor had disappeared into the ruins of a news bureau building.
She could hear him stumbling forward, crunching through expanses of transparisteel debris and smashing through wooden doors. There, too, shafts of dismal light dappled the puddled floors, and a stinging odor of rot and decay pervaded the thick air. She second-guessed him when he tried to set a trap for her-making it appear that he had gone through a doorway, on the other side of which there was a half-kilometer plunge into pitch darkness. And she outwitted him again by stopping just in time when he used his uncommon strength to dislodge a girder that supported a fractured slab ceiling.
He remained as steadfast in his desire to escape as she did in her desire to hunt him down. He began to scamper through a warren of rooms in a building where residual power allowed him to seal doorways behind him. But Mara merely kicked through them, and when she couldn't, she found alternate routes, never surrendering her momentum. Breathing hard and stumbling more often, Nom Anor was beginning to tire. Mara's acute hearing told her that much-and more. As she was kicking down a final door, she heard a hand blaster's safety click off, and entered the room to discover Nom Anor hiding behind the putrid remains of a Twi'lek, still dressed in security guard garb.
Mara used the Force to call her lightsaber to hand, even as Nom Anor was triggering off the first bolts. Her blade deflected one after the next, until he had emptied the blaster of fuel. He had sense enough not to hurl the depleted weapon at her. Instead, he began to scrabble backward on the palms of his hands and feet, his gaze riveted on her as she advanced, calm but coldly fixed on her prey.
A wall brought an abrupt end to his retreat. Growling, he shot to his feet, coufee in hand, and began to slash wildly at her, the lightsaber notwithstanding. She leapt backward, out of reach, then deactivated the blade and encouraged him to charge. Her hands moved in a dexterous blur as she deflected his knife blows and got inside his frantic movements to slap and tap him in the chest or the jaw, never hard enough to stun him, let alone incapacitate him, but driving him backward with each smack.
Ducking his increasingly desperate lunges and crosscuts, she swept his feet out from under him with a circling sidekick, then allowed him to come to his feet only long enough for her to cripple his knee with the toe of her right boot. He flung himself at her, but she sidestepped his headlong rush and sent him hurtling into a wall. She continued to hurt him, telling herself: This is for Monor Two, where she had fallen victim to the coomb spores he had unleashed; and this is for the trouble you stirred up at Rhommamool.
Knocking the coufee from his grip, she thrust her stiffened fingers into his windpipe, then sent him reeling with an uppercut. This is for founding the Peace Brigade; for your part in sending Elan to assassinate the Jedi with bo'tous; for your double dealings with the Hutts and Viqi Shesh; and for sabotaging the refugee settlements on Duro. Making the most of her agility, she left deliberate openings in her defense, luring him into striking, only to set up combinations aimed at punishing his bald head; his flat-nosed face; his blue right eye, with its stripe of feline pupil. This is for the false appeals you made to Leia and Han at Bilbringi; for your disdainful appearance before the Senate; for whatever role you played in the deaths of Chewbacca and Anakin; for your attempt to deliver Jacen into the hands of Tsavong Lah; for your sabotage at Zonama Sekot...
Her blows were beginning to do damage. Deftly she moved inside his flailing arms, using her elbows and the backs of her clenched hands to bloody his scarred lips and swell his ears, ever mindful of that dangerous left eye of his, which she was certain he was saving as a last resort. She pivoted on her left foot and kicked him hard with her right, forcing the wind from him. He dropped to his knees, his right hand pressed to his chest. He had trouble getting to his feet, but when he did, she sent him down again with a fist to the face.
Dread shone in his real eye. He had spent too long among beings who cherished life, and he had come to cherish it himself. Unlike those fighting to the death in the streets and squares above, Nom Anor wanted desperately to live. Mara could read it in his wretched look; she could smell it coming off of him in waves. He backed away from her until his back was pressed to a wall, then he sank slowly to his knees.
Mara ignited her lightsaber and held it with the tip low and to her right. One upward swing and she could send his head five meters. Nom Anor bent at the waist and pressed his face to the littered floor in a posture of servility.
"You've defeated me, Mara Jade Skywalker," he said without lifting his head. "I beg for mercy."
Nom Anor is joint second-in-command of the Yuuzhan Vong after Shimrra himself:
Supreme Overlord Shimrra, New Jedi Order: Destiny's Way wrote:"It seems that the two of you are bound together once again. The fate of one will depend entirely on the fate of the other. If success comes to one, it will come to both. But if one fails . ."
Mara Jade is the most powerful 'supporter and ally' of Luke Skywalker's faction of Jedi throughout the New Jedi Order era:
The New Jedi Order Sourcebook wrote:Luke Skywalker is the master of the Jedi academy on Yavin IV; Mara Jade Skywalker is not only his wife, but his most powerful supporter and ally.
This would include the likes of Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo:
The Essential Reader's Companion wrote:Jacen and Anakin have differing opinions when it comes to the role of the Jedi in the galaxy. Anakin has an assertive perspective, believing that it is the duty of the Jedi to protect those who cannot protect themselves, while Jacen believes meditation and mediation are the Jedi mandates. This disagreement represents in microcosm the philosophical rift worming its way through the Jedi Order.
The New Jedi Order - Edge of Victory I: Conquest wrote:"I wish I didn't more than half think he was right," Jaina whispered. "I feel like I'm somehow betraying Uncle Luke."
Anakin nodded. "I know what you mean."
Mara Jade has spent her entire life in battle and is still fighting 25 years after the Emperor's death:
PART VII: THE SACRIFICE
As of 40ABY, Jacen is still only in the process of developing powers well beyond Mara, thus he hasn't actually reached this level yet:
Mara Jade, Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines wrote:"No, I feel that Jacen's developing powers way beyond mine, and that he's good for Ben, and that he would never harm him."
Luke Skywalker believes that Jacen Solo would be left in pieces by Mara Jade:
Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines wrote:"This has nothing to do with Mara," Luke said. "And you're lucky it doesn't. If she were here-if she had known what you were using Ben for-there'd be pieces of you scattered along the entire length of the Hydian Way."
Mara Jade faces Lumiya in a brutal duel that leaves her injured, though she should have won given she impales her on her lightsaber and Lumiya flees with the aid of Ship:
Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice wrote:Mara's autopilot kicked in and she was the Emperor's Hand again, silent and focused. There was nothing worth saying anyway. Amateurs gave speeches; professionals got on with the job.
She Force-leapt five meters at Lumiya, slashing down right to left, two-handed. The stroke—all power, no finesse—clipped the Sith's headdress as she sprang back, slicing off a section. Lumiya's eyes widened, pupils dilated, but she was already whirling her lightwhip about her head. The tails crackled and hissed, missing Mara only because she threw all her energy into a Force push to slow them a fraction.
Mara didn't take that weapon lightly. It was the worst of both worlds, leather strips studded with impervious Mandalorian iron fragments and tendrils of sheer, raw, murderous dark energy. Mara drew her blaster and rolled under the hull of the ship next to her. The light-whip gouged through the durasteel with a shriek of tearing metal, filling the air with the smell of hydraulic fluid, and the spurt of liquid turned into a torrent that began spreading in a thick pool. As Mara rolled clear on the other side of the ship, Lumiya landed heavily on both feet and brought the whip down so close to Mara's head that she felt the rush of air on her right cheek like a breath. The crack was deafening.
Mara wasn't even thinking when she aimed the blaster. Lumiya's whip hand was raised to throw as much weight as possible from the back stroke. A puff of white vapor burst from Lumiya's shoulder, and she staggered a few paces.
Metal. Maybe I hit metal.
Maybe she had, because Lumiya teetered for a second but came right back. Mara sprang horizontally from a crouch and cannoned into Lumiya's legs with all the power she could muster from the Force. She hit solid durasteel. Blood filled her mouth but she couldn't feel a thing—yet. Clinging to Lumiya's knees with one arm, denying her the space to swing the whip, she brought her down like a felled tree before smashing her head into the woman's face.
And that hurt. Oh yes, Mara felt that. She'd caught not Lumiya's nose but the cybernetic jaw, and it cut deep into her forehead. Fighting on pure reflex now, part stunned, she killed the lightsaber blade for a second and held the hilt like a dagger, stabbing it down into Lumiya's chest before flicking the energy back on. Lumiya pulled to the side as the blade punched through flesh. Mara smelled it. She flicked off the blade to pull back again, triumphant.
I've done it. Dead. Dead, you—
But Lumiya was screaming, and that wasn't right at all. The scream seared through Mara's spinning head. It was more than sound. It was—
Mara scrambled to her knees to look down at what should have been a dead woman, and stared into green eyes that were utterly devoid of any emotion, and then the world darkened like an eclipse.
Maybe I'm the one who's dead.
Something hit her square in the back, pitching her forward onto Lumiya. Mara struggled to turn over without letting go of either lightsaber or blaster, but something coiled around her neck and jerked her backward. The lightwhip was still in Lumiya's fist, she could see the thing, she could see it, so what was around her neck, choking her? She felt as if she was flying backward at high speed, and then she hit something so hard that it punched every bit of breath out of her lungs and left her gulping for air.
A second or two was all it took. Mara lay trying to suck in air in painful, straining gulps, eyes stinging, and saw Lumiya's boots run past her face at a stagger, missing her by centimeters.
What's in my eyes? What's stinging?
She raised her hand to rub them and her knuckles came away red and wet. It was blood. The last thing she saw as she looked up was the orange sphere, that impossible Sith ship, soaring vertically into the air and extending webbed vanes like living wings.
Lumiya is absolutely capable of fighting Grand Master Skywalker to a standstill in the last two months:
Legacy of the Force: Tempest wrote:Luke silenced the Twi’lek with a bone-crunching back kick, then hurled himself at Lumiya, both blades striking for the kill. He knew better than to think victory would come so easily, but he had to keep her attention riveted on him until Mara struck.
Lumiya’s counter was, of course, masterful. She flicked her whip at Luke’s legs, forcing him into a high somersault that bought her half a second to spin away. He came down a couple of paces inside the cantina, framed in the hatchway and facing the murky corridor where Alema crouched, hidden inside her Force shadow.
Alema could have taken him at that moment. She had the cone-dart in the blowgun and the blowgun pressed to her lips, and Skywalker was so focused on Lumiya that he would never have sensed the dart coming. That was what Lumiya would want, what she expected.
But where was the Balance in that? Luke Skywalker had taken so much from her-the use of her arm, her nest, her identity-and it would not be right for Alema to simply kill him. She had to destroy him, to let him watch Mara die first so that when he died, he would know that there was no hope-so he would know that Lumiya had won, that the Sith would have his nephew and his son, and that the Jedi order would die with him.
So Alema held her dart, waiting motionless while Lumiya’s lightwhip flashed again and again, keeping Skywalker framed in the hatchway for her, striking at his flanks and head to keep him from pivoting or somersaulting or simply advancing out of her line of sight.
Finally Skywalker feinted a leap for the hatchway. When Lumiya made the mistake of trying only halfheartedly to block his "escape," he made an unbelievable parry across his body with his short blade, then spun into a slashing, whirling advance with his long blade.
Lumiya had no choice except to retreat. Skywalker vanished from the hatchway and out of Alema’s sight, then the last of the lightwhip’s metallic strands whirled past the hatchway. A fresh chorus of screams arose, and a jet of blood arced out of the cantina to splat down in a line of elongated red beads.
When Alema looked back into the cantina, it was to find Mara crouching opposite her, just inside the hatchway and facing away. Half a dozen meters beyond her, Skywalker and Lumiya were fighting a frantic battle in the midst of the crowd, Skywalker trying to remain in clear areas so no bystanders would be injured, Lumiya working to keep those same bystanders in front of her so Skywalker could not attack without cutting his way through them first.
Now was Alema’s chance - but it would not be enough to simply kill Mara. Alema was a Jedi, and Jedi served the Balance.
As she filled her lungs, Alema was also reaching out to Skywalker, sharing with him all the sorrow and loneliness and despair he had caused her - the shame and hopelessness and unending anguish.
A bolt of surprise shot through the Force. Skywalker’s eyes widened and slid toward the hatchway - and that was all the opening Lumiya needed.
The lightwhip cracked again, wrapping Skywalker in a fiery cage of light and leather. The short blade went flying, taking along the hand that had been holding it, and Sky-walker’s robe fell away below the armpits in ribbons, leaving the air pink and smoky with blood and charred flesh.
And time was something Luke did not have. He could feel that in the fire eating his lungs, in the raw nettling of his flesh. His breath came in inadequate gasps, and his blood was bubbling from his side in a pink froth. He was calling on the Force to keep fighting, drawing it through himself faster than his body could endure, literally boiling his own cells. At most, he had another minute of fight in him . . . maybe less.
Luke had to end this now.
He blocked a pair of crackling energy strands with his lightsaber and flung them aside, then launched himself across a daqball table toward Lumiya. She countered by pivoting away, bringing between them a Twi’lek serving girl. He could have continued the attack, slicing through the chests of both shield and captor, but even desperate, he could not kill a hostage. He threw himself into an aerial cartwheel and came down on a slick, utensil-strewn floor squarely facing Lumiya.
Her hand flicked, and the lightwhip came arcing toward his head. Luke dropped to his haunches and let it crackle past overhead. Then, when Lumiya started to back away from the expected lunge at her midsection, he hit her hard with a Force shove and spun her half around. She crashed into a drink table and nearly fell, but quickly brought her hostage around to protect her from an attack.
Luke smiled and raised his arm, pointing his lightsaber toward the serving girl, then using the Force to wrench her free of Lumiya’s grasp, he sent her flying across the claqball table. She crashed down on the other side in a heap, screaming in terror but far safer than she had been a moment earlier.
By then Lumiya had recovered from her stumble, and the lightwhip was snaking back toward Luke. He sprang into a round-off, wrapping the tip of his blade into the crackling strands as he passed over upside down. He landed on the claqball table’s squishy surface and jerked backward with all his might.
And that was when his mangled body failed him. Instead of yanking the weapon from Lumiya’s hand, his lightsaber slipped out of his own grasp and went flying into the shadows. Luke cursed in disbelief-then rolled off the table in a backward somersault.
Even that turned into a disaster. He landed on the body of one of Lumiya’s original victims and-too weak to steady himself-hit the floor with an audible thump. He could sense Mara out in the corridor, concentrating intently on something, very frightened and urging him to wait for her, not to press the attack until she was there.
There was no chance of that. Luke’s strength was failing so fast that he feared Jacen’s betrayal would cost him his life. And when Lumiya was done with him, she would be free to go attack Mara, as well. His chest tightened with an emotion that might have been anger or sorrow or fear-and was probably all those things at once. Jacen had betrayed them . . . which could only mean that somewhere along the line, Luke had failed Jacen.
Lumiya must have suspected a trap, because when Luke failed to rise immediately, she did not rush to attack. Instead, she called, "It’s not too late, Skywalker. Let me kill you now, and everyone else survives. Even Mara."
"Very generous." As Luke replied, he was inspecting the cantina floor, searching for the shoto he had lost when Lumiya took his cybernetic hand. "But I don’t. .. think so. You can’t have . . . Jacen."
"Jacen?" Lumiya let out a cold laugh. "What makes you think this is about him?"
"Your involvement with GAG." He wasn’t having much success looking for his lightsabers; the blades had deactivated as soon as they left his grasp, and the cantina floor was too littered in debris and shadow for him to find anything. "Who else could give you ... an apartment? Who else could give you access to ... their files?"
Again, that cruel laugh. "Indeed." The lightwhip’s crackling grew deeper as Lumiya shortened the strands for easier control. "Who else has access to Jacen’s codes? Who else could give orders to GAG officers in Jacen’s name?"
The questions caught Luke like a kick in the stomach. He knew that Lumiya was only trying to hurt him, that her implications were likely more false than true. But the possibility explained too much . . . and now that he thought back on Ben’s behavior over the last several months, he had to admit that he had seen too much of that possibility himself.
Something crunched on the floor as Lumiya circled the base of the claqball table. Luke gave up his search for his shoto and began to look for another weapon. He had not brought his own blaster into the cantina, prefering light blades instead, but the body he had fallen on was almost certainly a spacer, and spacers always carried blasters.
"You’re lying." Luke found the spacer’s belt and followed it to a holster. "Just saying that... to hurt me!"
"Does that make it a lie?" Lumiya asked. "You’ve caused me a lot of pain over the years, Skywalker. What better way to repay it than bringing your family legacy full circle?"
Luke knew she was only trying to twist the vibroblade, to hurt him as much as she could before she killed him- but he stuck his head up anyway.
"Stop it!" he yelled, with real anger. "You’ll never make a Sith of my..."
Luke never had a chance to say son. All he saw was the bright glow of Lumiya’s lightwhip snaking across the claqball table barely centimeters above the surface, and he knew that his reflexes were just too slow right now, that he could not duck quickly enough to keep the whip from slicing into his brain.
So Luke simply fell backward, closing his eyes against the crackling glow as the strands swept past a finger’s width above his nose, bringing up the blaster he had taken from the dead spacer’s holster, allowing the Force to guide his hand, squeezing the trigger three times before he felt Lumiya’s shock in the Force, then squeezing it twice more before he heard her body hit the floor.
And suddenly Mara was screaming at him from across the cantina, flooding the Force with alarm. "Stop firing!"
Mara can only hope that Luke can hold off Lumiya:
Legacy of the Force: Tempest wrote:Mara only hoped that Luke could hold Lumiya off until she finished.
Lumiya is stated to have fought him to a standstill twice:
Zekk, Legacy of the Force: Exile wrote:"I don't think the three of us are a match for Lumiya. She fought the Grand Master to a standstill. She's Master level. We're two Jedi Knights and one Force-blind space jockey."
Legacy of the Force: Exile wrote:In addition to being a cocky teenager alone in a galaxy at war, Ben might now be the target of one of the galaxy's deadliest killers-a woman who had fought Luke to a standstill mere weeks before.
Lumiya fights Luke again:
Legacy of the Force: Exile wrote:As Han and Leia approached, the nature of the battle before them changed in an instant. Abruptly Luke was drawing and igniting his second lightsaber, the half-length shoto, and using his primary lightsaber to deflect a weapon that looked oddly like Lumiya’s lightwhip.
Han squinted. The wielder was Lumiya, though her skin was dark. He raised his blaster and fired, but Lumiya must have been aware of him; she simply twisted aside and the bolt caromed off the floor, then passed through the chest of the six-meter hologram of an admiral that dominated the center of the room.
Mara, nearly surrounded by security agents, was batting their blasterfire back at them with her own lightsaber. Leia angled away from her, toward Luke-and then let out a surprised cry as a low table slid into her path, too suddenly for her to vault or sidestep. She tripped but came up on her feet and lit her lightsaber.
She stopped abruptly and stared to the left. Han followed her gaze ... to see Alema Rar emerging from wall-side shadows, an odd smile on her lips, her lit lightsaber in her hand.
"Mine," Leia said, and leapt forward.
Han ignored her. He fired at the Twi’lek, but Alema casually caught the bolt with her lightsaber, then began spinning her blade in a defensive pattern as Leia reached her.
* * *
"I guess this settles the question of whether you're dead or not," Luke said. He caught another crack of the lightwhip On his long blade, darted in close, slashed at Lumiya with the shoto. But with an exertion through the Force, she lifted a severed human head into the path of the blow, and Luke's attack sent the head spinning through the air. It landed on a table stacked with food.
"Of course," Lumiya said. "I thought you knew. I am dead. I have been for decades."
"Then lie down and let us throw dirt on top of you." With a similar telekinetic exertion, Luke whipped the tablecloth from beneath all the platters and hurled it at Lumiya. It swept upon her from behind, but she cracked her whip backward, cutting the tablecloth in two, then continued the maneuver into a forward stroke. Luke deflected separate lightwhip tendrils with his two blades.
"You really do hate me, don't you?" Lumiya asked.
"You've given me plenty of reasons to. But no. I don't reciprocate your hate." Luke leapt over another sweep of tendrils, coming down atop a chair and leaping free of it as Lumiya's follow-up attack disintegrated it. He landed lightly, poised.
"I don't hate." She lowered her whip. "I'm sorry you think that of me. I haven't hated for ... a very long time. Yes, I've tried to kill you-but that was professional. Not personal."
Luke held up his own weapon long enough to deflect a stray blaster bolt, a security agent attack that merely strayed too near him, then lowered the lightsaber, matching Lumiya's action. "You don't hate. Somehow I don't believe that."
"We belong to rival schools, Luke. That's all. Shall I prove it?"
Lumiya deactivated her lightwhip and wrapped it around her waist. She gestured, palms up. "Kill me now, if you want."
It is also clear per Troy Denning that these fights are in fact Luke challenged to his fullest strength:
Troy Denning Interview wrote:Q: Will the Legacy series show Luke employing the full extent of his powers? I've sometimes felt that previous depictions of Luke have been reluctant, for whatever reason, to show what he's fully capable of. After all, he is Grand Master of the Jedi order, probably the most powerful and skilled Force-user in the universe.
TD: Very powerful characters suffer from the Deus ex Machina syndrome, and Luke is certainly no exception. Because nobody is sure exactly what his limits are, I think that some readers expect him to be capable of fixing huge problems with little more than the Force. The trouble is, those kinds of stories fall into the superhero tradition, and Star Wars is space opera. The heroes are supposed to face huge problems and have limited resources—it’s the imbalance between the two that makes space opera, at its best, so engaging.
So I’m not sure how to answer the question. Luke is certainly going to face some enormous tests of his strength and character, and he’ll certainly have to call on all of his resources if he is to prevail. But is he going to shove moons around with the Force? I don’t think so. To survive Legacy of the Force, he’s going to have to rely on more than his Jedi abilities.
Mara Jade then immediately goes after Jacen despite her head injury and almost kills him multiple times, she is faster, out-smarts him and is able to deflect his Force attacks, it's an all-out battle:
Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice wrote:"Tell my mom I'm sorry I failed her," Jacen whispered.
"She knows," Mara said, and squeezed the trigger.
They said that the human body was capable of extraordinary feats of strength when in extremis. For a Jedi, it was something else entirely.
Jacen Solo wasn't ready to die, not now, not so close to his ascendance, and not in a stinking drain like vermin.
He deflected the energy bolt with one last surge of the Force and sent the rubble erupting off his crushed and bleeding body like a detonation. Bricks hammered the walls and rained fragments, knocking Mara flat like a bomb blast. She made an animal noise that was more anger than pain and flailed for a moment as she tried to get up.
The effort froze Jacen for two vital seconds. But he knew if he didn't get up now and fight back, Mara would come in for the kill, again and again, until he was worn down and too weak to fend her off.
He scrambled to his feet, staggering more than standing, and suddenly understood.
It was Mara who had to die to fulfill his destiny.
Killing her was the test: the words of the prophecy were meaningless, and at a visceral level he knew that her death was the pivotal act. He didn't know how, and this wasn't the time to stop and think about it. He surrendered totally to instinct for the first time in ages. Whatever guided a Sith's hand had to guide him now.
But he was hurt, and badly.
Ben ... he didn't know where Ben fitted into this, but now he knew he did, as surely as he knew anything. Jacen didn't care, because he knew he had to kill Mara now and nothing else would make sense until he did that.
He fumbled for his lightsaber and thumbed it into life again. Mara was already back on her feet, coming at him with the shoto and vibroblade, brick dust and black-red blood snaking down her forehead from a scalp cut. She leapt at him with the shoto held left-handed, fencing-style, seared the angle of his cheekbone, and caught him under the tip of chin with the vibroblade as he jerked back.
She shouldn't have been able to get near him. He had total mastery, and she was just athletic and fast. He pushed back at her in the Force, sending her crashing against a wall with a loud grunt, but she kept coming at him, one-two, one-two with the shoto and the blade, and he was being driven back, his strength ebbing. He needed space to fight.
He drew his dart gun and fired one after the other, but Mara scattered all four needles in a blur of blue light. They fell to the ground. He turned and scrambled through the collapsed brick, using the Force to hurl debris up at her from the floor of the passage while she leapt from block to boulder to chunk of masonry, until she Force-leapt onto his back and brought him down.
They rolled. This wasn't a duel: it was a brawl. She thrust her vibroblade up under his chin and he jerked his head to one side, feeling the tip skate from his jaw to his hairline as it missed his jugular. He couldn't draw the weapons he needed. He was losing blood, losing strength, waning, flailing his lightsaber to fend her off. It was almost useless in such a close-quarters struggle. Mara, manic and panting, flicked the shoto to counter every desperate stabbing thrust.
"Ben . . . I'll see you dead first. . . before . . . you get . . . Ben."
Jacen was on the knife-edge between dying and killing. They grappled, Force-pushed, Force-crushed: he threw her back again, trying to Force-jolt her spine and paralyze her for a moment, but somehow she deflected it and bricks flew out of the wall as if someone had punched them through from the other side. She almost Force-snatched the lightsaber from his hand, but even with his injuries he hung on to it. He wouldn't die. He couldn't, not now.
"You can't beat me," he gasped. "It's not meant to be."
"Really?" Mara snarled. "I say it is."
Then she launched herself at him—unthinking, a wild woman, hair flying—and he Force-pushed to send her slamming against a pillar in midleap. But the battering he'd taken and the ferocity of her relentless attack had blinded him to danger from another quarter. As he lurched backward to avoid her, his legs went from under him and he stumbled into a gaping crack opened up by the subsidence. He fell badly: red-hot pain seared from ankle to knee. His lightsaber went flying. Pain could be ignored, but the moment it took him to get to his feet again was enough for Mara to right herself and come back at him with the shoto and plunge it into the soft tissue just under the end of his collarbone.
Lightsaber wounds hurt a lot more than he ever imagined. Jacen screamed. He summoned his own weapon back to his hand and Mara crashed into him, knocking him flat again and pinning him down. Her vibroblade stopped a hand span from his throat as he managed to grab her hair and drag her face nearer and nearer to his lightsaber. She struggled to pull back, hacking at him with the shoto but blocked by his dwindling Force power each time.
Her vibroblade grazed his neck. He fumbled in his belt for a dart. She jerked back with a massive effort, leaving him clutching a handful of red hair, and the only thing that crossed his mind as she arched her back and held her arms high to bring both shoto and vibroblade down into his chest was that she would never, ever harm Ben.
Jacen stared into her eyes and instantly created the illusion of Ben's face beneath her. She blinked.
It gave him the edge for that fraction of a moment. It was long enough to ram the poison dart into her leg with its protective plastoid cone still in place.
It was just a small needle, ten centimeters long. He stabbed her so hard that the sharp end punched through the cone and the fabric of her pants.
Mara gasped and looked down at her leg as if she was puzzled rather than hurt. The dart quivered as she moved, and then fell to the floor.
"Oh . . . it's done . . ." Jacen said. The shoto fell from her hand and she made a vague and uncontrolled pawing movement with the vibroblade. It caught him in the bicep, but there was no strength behind the blow, and she dropped the weapon. "I'm sorry, Mara. Had to be you. Thought it was Ben. But it's over now, it's over . . ."
"What have you done? What the stang have you done to me?" But she was already losing her balance as the poison paralyzed her, and she slumped to one side as he got to his feet, staring up at him more with shock than rage or fear.
"The prophecy." It didn't matter now: the toxin—complex, relatively painless—was circulating through her body. "Don't fight it. No healing trance. Just let go . . ."
Mara tried to get up but sank back to sit on her heels, with an expression as if she'd forgotten something and was trying to remember. She crumpled against the wall. Jacen had never felt such relief. It didn't have to be Allana, or Tenel Ka, or even Ben. It was over, all over.
"What?" Mara said. She tried to put her fingers to her lips, shaking, but her hand fell back to her lap. She looked at them as if expecting to see blood.
Jacen suppressed his instinct to help her. "It's my destiny, Mara—to be a Sith Lord, and bring order and justice. I had to kill you to do it. You're going to save so many people, Mara. You've saved Ben. You've saved Allana, too. It's not a waste, believe me."
"You're ... as vile as he was."
Jacen could hardly understand what she was saying. "Who?"
"It's not like that," he said. He had to make her see what was happening. It was important. He owed her that revelation. She'd made the sacrifice, although he was now starting to wonder what that meant for whatever love he had to give up. "It's not about ambition. It's about the galaxy, about peace. It's about building a different world."
She stared back at him, and now he could see—and feel—her disgust. He wasn't sure if it was aimed at him or at herself.
Jacen hurt. He was starting to feel the full extent of his injuries, and he needed to heal himself. He also needed to get out of this tunnel.
Mara was breathing heavily now, one hand slack in her lap but the other still clenching and unclenching as if trying to form a fist to give him one final punch. Her vivid green eyes were still bright with relentless purpose. He knew he would try to forget them every day of his life.
"You think . . . you've won," she said, slurred, but utterly lucid and unafraid. "But Luke will crush you . . . and I refuse ... to let you . . . destroy the future . . . for my Ben."
Jacen sat and waited, almost expecting a prophecy from her to help him make sense of what he'd done. But after a few moments, he felt the final discharge of elemental energy that every Force-user would notice and comprehend.
Ben was the last word she ever spoke.
Just to emphasize how close these two actually were:
Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice wrote:She steered Jacen over to an alcove. Psychologically, he might have felt more vulnerable being confronted with his acts in the middle of the lobby, where everyone could hear and see them. On the other hand, the alcove could make him feel cornered if she maneuvered him to stand with his back to the wall. Either way, she was going to get a reaction out of him. She couldn't outstrip his Force powers, but the tricks of flesh and blood put her on a more level playing field.
The Essential Reader's Companion wrote:The duel between Jacen and Mara is an exhausting, no-limits display of acrobatics and Force power. Mara comes to truly comprehend how far Jacen has fallen to the dark side.
Jacen faces his uncle Grand Master Luke Skywalker only a few weeks later, in an utterly brutal battle:
Legacy of the Force: Fury wrote:That fight... Caedus wished he had a holorecording of it. It had gone on for what had felt like forever. It had been brutal, with the Advantage being first held by Luke, then by Caedus, in what he knew had been demonstrations of Lightsaber technique, of raw power within the force, of subtle Jedi and Sith skills.
Luke was already 'much more dangerous' than he'd been before, prior to Mara's death:
Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice wrote:"And that was before I had a son to worry about." The grin faded. "I'm much more dangerous now I have a cub to protect."
Luke had no doubt about that.
- LadyKulvaxSuspect Hero | Level Four
April 19th 2022, 6:29 am
The respect thread is now complete.
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