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He Doth Accept the Terms

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Beiing kidnapped while (mostly) minding your own business is, at its barest definition, a pain in the ass. If the kidnapper in question happens to be a minor Moff out of favor in what's left of the Empire, that's worse. And if that Moff happens to be observant enough to realize who you are and that you can provide leverage with both the Empire and the New Republic...

Well, as Solo liked to say, “I've got a bad feeling about this.”

Mara really, really questioned her choice of company sometimes.

“Well, Jade, care to explain yourself?” The Moff had been pontificating for something close to ten minutes, by her internal clock. She was used to Imperial bluster, and had ignored him. Mostly. Monologues were always an adequate distraction when one was trying to figure out an escape. Not that she was doing a pretty good job of it so far, but he was long-winded. “Take a moment and beg me to spare your precious life, return you to those traitor friends of yours?”

Mara rolled her eyes. They were all the same, these nameless minor Moffs with a chip on their shoulder. Never understood there was a reason why they hadn't made it very far up the chain.

“You're wasting your breath,” she informed him. This was a game she knew how to play; hell, she was pretty sure she'd written half the rules for it herself. “Which you really should be saving, because before we're done here you will need it either to agree to my terms or beg for your own life. Possibly both. You know, depending on how charitable I'm feeling after our conversation.”

The Moff laughed. Which was, she admitted, a valid response when the person talking about “setting terms” was the one in binders with a dozen blasters pointed at their head. But hey, these weren't the very worst odds she had ever dealt with.

Really.

“You're ridiculous!” the Moff laughed, shaking his head. His men dutifully laughed too. “I knew you were brash, but I did not realize that your rebel friends had made you stupid, too. You think that you have any power at all here?”

A familiar tingle brushed across Mara's mind, and she couldn't help but smile because yeah, her friends had their moments. “Power isn't always about wealth and the number of security guards at your disposal,” she shot back. “Sometimes, power is knowing the right people, who happen to be in the right place at the right time. As it happens, I was going to ask you about your feelings on joining the New Republic. Your little corner of the galaxy isn't particularly important, but you are a rather strategic stopping-off point, and I think that you could be a real asset to the Republic.” The presence she'd detected was closer, and Mara could just feel the edges of amusement in its mind.

The Moff was still smiling, but there was an edge to it now. “You really think I am foolish enough to believe a word that you say? We are not talking about your treasonous alliances; we are talking about your fate.”

“And I am talking about the little speeder that is right outside that window over there,” Mara tilted her head. A well-trained man would not have flinched; the Moff did. “And, coincidentally, its passengers. Do you know that one of them is a Wookie? He's exceptionally loyal, and not all that fond of Imperials. And I'm lucky enough that he doesn't want to kill me. Can't say the same for anyone else in this room, of course. So, shall I tell them to blast this place, or are you ready to discuss the terms?”

Roughly twenty minutes later, Mara Jade walked out of the Moff's estate a free woman. Leia and Chewie were waiting for her in the speeder.

“How did it go?” Leia asked as Mara climbed in. “Did he agree to your terms?”

“Oh, I was quite persuasive,” Mara grinned, settling back in her seat. “Thanks for the visual aids, by the way. I could have escaped on my own, but it was still really useful.”

“Escaping was hardly the point,” Leia pointed out dryly. “We need the support of this system.”

Mara flicked a hand. “Details. But yes, he agreed. He wasn't happy about it, of course; but with an angry Wookie right outside his window and his security teams exceptionally useless, what choice did he really have?”

Chewie chuffed in amusement, pointing out that he had hardly even been irritated and the man was still quivering in his boots.

“You've very imposing, Chewie,” Leia assured him. Once again, Mara took a second to appreciate her choice in company. “Terrifying, even. I'm surprised that the whole Empire didn't simply drop their weapons and surrender at the sight of you.”

“By the way, how did the boys make out on their end? They took my comm, so I wasn't keeping up with what Lando was up to.”

“Oh, he and Han are doing the same as always.”

“So they probably need our help, then?”

Leia sighed. “I wouldn't be surprised. Honestly, how either of them have survived in this galaxy...well, I'm terribly grateful, of course; but it certainly makes one believe in the impossible.”

“That it does.”