None of you know how scared I am to finish this. To look at it and say "it's over', and 'it could be better."

This is the End.

To F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Also to Yaz, who is in the X-wing they're standing under, squished in with "Tamizander" Cy, trying not to freeze.

Chapter 45

Luke, Corran, and Kit stood below the nose of an X-Wing whose pilot slept in the cockpit, gathering warmth around her while outside it spread into the chilling air.

"Your leaving will be absolutely dangerous to all of these people." Kit spoke grimly, his hands folded into wide sleeves. Beneath his mien into his mind there was an enduring semi-seriousness, a detached contentment. "You can know the future without the Force; such a thing would be invaluable to the Rebellion."

Luke looked up and enjoyed the heat on his face. He would forever find a place that was so eternally cold unnatural. "I don't really know the future. Certain things happened to me, but already there was incredible differences. All I could give these people is military experience, and that you have."

"I've got hints for you." Corran said conspiratorially. "There's this barve named Kyle Katarn, who works for Alliance Intel somewhere.. Recruit him. And that cloning equipment on Byss must go." He pretended to shudder.

Luke imitated Corran, and then seriously caught Kit's gaze. "The war will go on until the navy and government leadership of the Alliance is strong enough to make a peace with the Empire in which it can no longer subjugate free beings. It looks like we've done that but what is coming is chaos for the galaxy. What will give hope in that?"

"The Jedi academy." said the Nautolan, and they grinned at each other. "Built on the model of the Temple."

This was the part that excited Luke, that brought back old plans of a gold-gilded future; here was a Jedi Master, a Ben Kenobi in his prime, to rebuilt an academy with full knowledge of the ways of the old and what had brought its downfall. He almost wished to stay and see the results, but wished also to breathe the air of the place where he had been born, perhaps one day to return and look on a Republic grander than his weary galaxy could offer...

He realized then that thoughts of politics had not bothered him in the whole span of his time on this world, that his appearance had been less than his actions in the eyes of those around him, that this was a blank canvas. He was leaving it, and it made the return so bittersweet.

Corran said, "By the way now, we did find out where the universe machines originated. He's no problem now; the reports came just before I left the Star Destroyer that one of our more prominent scientists had been found dead. I felt ripples; his conciousnesses warred like ours, erm, mine did, and he couldn't take it. Maybe only Jedi can."

Luke nodded. "Of course." They had filled each other in on the two sides of the saga a few minutes ago, in the morning of a celebration that for some had lasted the whole night. "That does make sense; it means Han will never get to see the other self he is so jealous of." Luke chuckled. "Kit. This around us is the backbone of the Alliance; people like Raylsk and Sidi will be great some day, and Bade is what every soldier can learn from." Sigh. "I will miss them." And he had the news that Sidi Driss had been one more victim.

Kit said, "We'll miss you, Luke. May the Force be with you."

Corran and Luke wrapped the tail of the Emperor's machine around their forearms, and in the Force found the space-time location of its brother in the Maw. Luke tried to hold onto the sphere but it dissolved beneath his fingers, and Kit had said he would destroy it, to protect from threat and to stabilize the worlds.

Kell and De'shar and Patra leapt up at their arrival, and Luke embraced Kell and told her that he would explain why he was so cold later. She said the Republic had left them a ship. Luke saw Patra and took a blink to figure it out, after which point Patra cocked his head and looked to De'shar for an assurance of reality. She bowed before Luke, angry and honored and trained to know the hero by face.

Kit Fisto looked out the great bay doors on Hoth to where the stars shone through a veil fallen from the Death Star, and remembered Coruscant, and his homeworld Glee Anselm with its quietly floating continents.

...where a few months later he would stand and watch an AT-AT, the young man inside waving roguishly to his old commander with the dark cockpit turning the stripes across his cheeks a deep navy, push a wall into place beside the durasteel and rock of the others with the top of the machine's head. The sun shone. A circle of teens and adults sat behind him on the slope that lead down to the bright water, their heads bent together, and strains of power connected them to the rock slab and everything.

There was a debriefing on Yavin IV, but it was really more of a welcome-home party and even De'shar attended among the Jedi looking relaxed as long as Patra stood next to her, his feathery skin sleek. Luke remembered, and distanced himself without looking like he was savoring every moment. Kell took the crowds with the beginning of a story. Luke flicked his eyes to the blue sky, and stepped under the shadow of the great Temple's hanger, and breathed again air that smelled like his home.

And the past flowed on, and the Plot stayed strong, and the future rushed gently up to meet them all.