Ossus: 32 ABY
The explosion rocked the chamber.
Stumbling, Danni Quee grabbed onto the edge of the console in front of her, using it to keep herself from being knocked off her feet, and gritted her teeth against the roaring in her ears as the world around her shook.
Alarms shrieked in the air, shrill and piercing, and warning lights flashed all around the room.
She didn't need to look at the display screen to know that they were starting to lose power, through the Force she could feel it beginning to drain away as the siege upon the small base continued, battering their meager defenses and shorting out their generators.
They were running out of time.
Focusing her attention on the control panel, Danni frantically tried to assess whether they had enough power to go through with it or not. The energy bars were dwindling, and at an alarming rate, but if they did it now, there was still a chance that it might work.
A very slim chance, but a chance nonetheless.
At the sound of her name, Danni looked up at the woman on the other side of the room, who was staring back at her with a grim expression. She was younger than Danni, who was still relatively young herself, but her eyes were hard and old beyond her years, a testament to the harsh galaxy they lived in.
Knowing what the younger woman's unspoken question was, Danni pressed her lips into a thin line.
"I can't guarantee that it will work," she told her bluntly, meeting the other woman's dark gaze evenly. "I thought we'd have more time, but they discovered us faster than I'd anticipated and their attack has already begun to endanger the device. We're losing power fast and there's no telling what might happen."
"But there's a chance?"
"There's a chance," Danni agreed somberly. "A very small, narrow, almost nonexistent chance."
"Then we have to do it, it's worth the risk. Besides," the other woman smiled faintly, a smile tinged with bitterness. "It's not like we have anything to lose, they're about to come through the doors."
Danni didn't bother to deny that, they both knew it was only a matter of minutes, or less, before the enemy was upon them.
The others could only hold them off for so long, and they'd already managed to buy them more time than she would have believed possible, with just a handful of them against such overwhelming numbers.
"We have to do it now, then," she said shortly. "Get ready."
Not needing to be told twice, the dark-haired woman moved in front of the platform, bending down to lift the small child at her side into her arms and whispering soothing words of comfort to ease the little boy's frightened tears. He buried his face into her shoulder, so that all Danni could see was a mop of reddish gold hair.
This is going to be so hard for him, Danni thought, her heart aching for the child. He won't understand.
But it was the only way.
Checking the diagnostics display one more time, just to make sure they were still drawing on the power source for the energy necessary to power the machine, Danni gestured with her hand urgently.
"Onto the platform," she ordered quickly. "There's not much time."
"There never is," her compatriot pointed out darkly.
She tossed a large pack, filled with personal affects and supplies that included several lightsabers, though her own was clipped to her belt, onto the platform before climbing up herself with the boy in her arms. He was trying so hard to be brave even as his lower lip trembled and the wet streaks on his cheeks continued to glisten.
It was unfair that at five years old, he already knew firsthand what a cold, uncaring place the galaxy was.
"Don't worry, little man," his guardian murmured with a weak smile, smoothing his hair affectionately. "It's going to be okay, I promise."
Danni prayed to the Force that she was right, or they were all doomed.
Because everything hung in the balance.
It had been a crazy plan to begin with, one born out of desperation with nothing to lose and everything to gain. If they failed, then the galaxy was already lost and at least they'd tried one last long-shot method to save it.
But if they succeeded...
There was a chance that everything could be made right, that all of the death and destruction could be undone and all the hundreds of billions of lives lost could be spared.
The past cannot be changed, you must learn from it and let it go.
How many times had they heard those words from Master Skywalker or the other Masters of the Order? But Master Skywalker was gone now, and the Order he'd reforged had been reduced to nothing but crumbling ashes in the face of the enemy's purges.
If the future was always in motion, who was to say that the past wasn't, as well?
I guess we're about to find out, Danni thought somberly, glancing briefly at the platform to make sure that both of its occupants were completely inside the circle boundary. One way or the other.
"Ready?" she asked tersely.
"Ready as we'll ever be," the younger woman retorted with a weak smile, shifting the boy on her hip.
Danni would have liked to smile back at her, if only to offer some reassurance, but there was no time, and the Force was tugging her forward with a sense of growing urgency. The others were falling, giving their lives to give her a chance to pull this off, and she'd felt more than one familiar life snuffed out already.
If she'd felt them, she was certain that the other woman had, as well, and that the little boy's tears were only coming harder because of what he sensed happening beyond the relative safety of this chamber.
Forcing herself not to think about it, not to dwell on her friends who were dying at this very moment, Danni brushed a strand of straggly blond hair out of her eyes and quickly began to punch the buttons necessary to activate the machine, then flipped the switches that controlled the energy being absorbed from the power source.
A low humming sound filled the air and a small pinprick of silverish light began to grow in the air above the platform, just over the dark-haired woman's head.
The little boy squirmed, and tried to tilt his head up, but she kept it turned down with a gentle hand.
"Don't look up, Ben," Danni heard her order softly. "Just close your eyes, little man."
The walls of the chamber shook, and the sounds of battle grew louder.
Death was a constant stream flooding the Force, and Danni's heart cried out in grief as she felt the last presence, weary and battered but fighting until the end, dim and fade away into the Force.
Ben Skywalker sobbed on the platform, and his guardian held him close, singing softly in his ear a song that Danni could barely make out and did not know the words to, but she recognized the tune as the lullaby that the younger woman would often sing him to sleep with.
A loud thud echoed through the thick doors of the lab, followed by another.
Sithing hells, Danni thought, her heart hammering just as loud as the pounding against the doors. They're going to break the door down.
"I'll hold the door as long as I can," the woman on the platform told her gravely, and Danni felt the Force stir, a strong concentration of it tightening along the surface of the door as a Force-shield erected. "But it will fall as soon as I'm gone."
Despite the warning, Danni shook her head. "Don't worry about that," she said curtly. "They're going to blow the door soon anyway, so if you sense danger, pull back. You won't do us any good if you get through only to wind up there with psychic shock."
"You have a point," the other woman conceded.
"Besides," Danni added, forcing a smile. "I'm going to be dead in a few minutes no matter what happens. All that matters is that you get where you're supposed to, so that you can try to change all of this."
"Do or do not, there is no try."
Danni opened her mouth to reply, but was cut off by a loud, shrill keening noise from on the other side of the thick doors of the lab. Glancing over her shoulder, she swallowed hard, then turned to the display panel, silently urging the power converters to pick up speed.
She was going to die, there was no avoiding it and she'd accepted it ages ago, but she couldn't die until she finished this, she wouldn't let that happen.
Not when there was so much riding on this, not when so many had given their lives to get them here in the first place, to make it possible for them to even attempt such a radical thing. It had been a suicidal idea to return to the galaxy that had fallen to the enemy, but there hadn't been any other choice.
Ossus was the only planet that would work.
They needed the anomalous wormhole there to power the machine, and it would only work once, the wormhole would collapse in on itself once the energy being drawn out of it reached critical mass, so there was no room for error.
Behind her, plasteel and metal shrieked, even as the display panel lit up.
Shavit, this better work, Danni thought desperately, punching a few buttons savagely.
The pinprick of silver light at the top of the platform, which had slowly been growing bigger and brighter, suddenly expanded as if it had been tugged in all directions. It filled the full width of the circular platform, shimmering above the figures beneath it, ready to swallow them whole.
"Danni," the younger woman said anxiously. "Danni, come with us."
"I can't," Danni replied hoarsely, and did not dare to look up, lest she let her see the tears that were about to fall from her eyes. "We knew from the start we'd only be able to send one person, it's a stretch just to get Ben with you, but we had to try, he has to survive in case you fail. Because then he really is our last hope."
A low, ominous creak sounded from the massive doors behind her and an eerie silence fell over the chamber.
Swallowing hard, Danni shoved the large lever in the center of the control panel forward, causing the silver portal to glow even brighter as the humming melody reached its crescendo.
She looked up and met the other woman's wide eyes.
"May the Force be with you, Jaina," she rasped.
And the shimmering silver portal fell from its epicenter, washing over the last of the Skywalkers, and by the time it hit the floor of the platform, dissipating, Jaina Solo and Ben Skywalker were gone.
A heartbeat later, the doors exploded inward, sending debris flying through the air.
Danni was thrown back by the force of the explosion, slamming into the durasteel wall, and her head smacked against the hard, unrelenting surface. Pain shot through her body, aching and throbbing, as her vision swam, but she was able to push herself up onto her elbows, lifting her head to see what the damage was.
Smoke, acrid and black, billowed into the room, cloaking the doorway in thick shroud. For one long, surreal moment, the smokescreen gave to an eerie, tense canvas of white.
Then a horde of Yuuzhan Vong warriors burst through the smoke.
She had a lightsaber, Corran Horn had helped her construct one several years ago, just before his death, but it had been hurled across the room during the explosion, and she had no time to reach for it.
In the blink of an eye, Danni went to join the rest of her kind, becoming one with the Force.
The last of the Jedi.