A/N: I can't believe it's over! I honestly shed tears over this chapter because it is the end. Well, it's the end of Rogue's adventures, anyway. Perhaps hope rests on her child. But I'd like to thank all my readers, my reviewers, those who added this humble trilogy to their favorite stories...
And I should LOVE to thank JaxSolo for all her help, for role-playing these plots with me, for helping me with ideas... for pretty much being my "partner in crime" and my idea-bouncing wall. Dang, the words "Clearance to Lar means clearance to all attached to her!" was the greatest permission slip I've ever gotten.
And Karen Traviss. If she hadn't written Hard Contact, I never would've cared about clones. They never would've mattered to me. But by breathing life into those men, she opened up a whole new portal of imagination for me. God bless her.
Stop me before I cry again and go read this final chapter! Love, Steph—aka Tatooine92.
Chapter Twenty-six – Jorad
I don't know what you would've done were you in my boots, but I certainly was not going to leave my new friend behind! There was no way this side of the Unknowns that I was going to let him die at the Empire's hands! My family and I have suffered enough because of them; I wasn't about to let this one—who could be a part of the Fett clan, too—suffer, either! Perhaps it was because he was Sevvie's copy. Perhaps I felt connected to him in a brother-sister sort of way because Sevvie the First was Lar's brother, and she was my sister-in-law, so that made him my brother . . . It's complicated. But what wasn't complicated was that I wanted so desperately to make sure that Sevvie Two would be okay. I jumped down off the loading ramp, whipping out my other blaster and continuing to blast through the Stormtroopers that just kept coming. I don't know what possessed Jang'buir way-back-when to get blasters so tiny and relatively fragile-looking, but they sure could pack a punch! The Falcon lurched; obviously we were getting ready to take off. That just made my heart beat faster. Why in the world would they want to just leave him after everything he'd done for us?! I kept shooting, in turn taking a blaster bolt to the forearm, but it was stopped by my armor. Vader was getting closer, and there were still more troopers coming . . . but I was taking one down every couple of seconds. Trust me, there ain't much that can stop a blaster bolt to the forehead—not even a pristinely shiny white helmet. I would fend all of these jerks off by myself if I had to!
But then I felt a hand on my arm, dragging me back toward the Falcon. It was Solo; in a strange moment of what seemed like relative selflessness, he'd come out of his cozy little ship to haul me away from that scene.
"We're outta here now!" he barked at me. "If we need to, we'll come back! But we have to leave NOW!"
He started dragging me back to the boarding ramp, but I started thrashing against his grasp. I wasn't going to leave Sevvie Two to die, not if I could do something about it! Already Stormtroopers were swarming around him, inspecting him, getting ready to take him back . . . I didn't want to leave him! I'd promised!
"But we can't leave him!" I screamed, trying to fight Solo off. "He saved us; we can't leave him!"
I'd never abandoned anyone like that before. Leaving someone behind just wasn't the way I did things! That wasn't me! It wasn't in my code of conduct, and it certainly wasn't fair! I kept fighting Solo but to no avail; he certainly had a strong grip. I was almost on the loading ramp—quite against my will, I might add—when Chevron was suddenly there. He shoved Solo away from me and took me in his arms, rather forcefully scooping me up and carrying me into the ship, slamming the controls as Solo dashed off to get us moving. Maybe I was going just a bit insane; after all, I'd just watched a man who was practically my brother fall trying to free the rest of us! Whatever the reason was, it so drastically affected me that I actually fought Chev. Never had I struggled to get away from him. Never had I tried to get out of his arms, but this time I did as I wrenched myself free of him and ran to the cockpit, babbling that we had to go back, had to get him! Executor was in our space dust; that was how fast the Falcon was going. Solo was trying to get us out of range of either Executor's weaponry or her tractor beam, and Chewbacca was shooting at any TIE that dared to come near us. Executor kept getting father and father away, and Sevvie Two with her. When the Falcon jumped to hyperspace, I sank to my knees on the cockpit floor in a near daze, biting my lip.
"We shouldn't have left him," I whispered, and Skywalker gazed sympathetically at me.
"We had no other choice," he said softly.
I didn't say anything in reply; I just sighed. This wasn't fair. Sevvie Two hadn't deserved that! He'd only wanted to be away from Executor and Vader, after all. He'd only wanted a real life. He'd only wanted freedom. For the past seventeen years, I'd dedicated my life to helping persecuted people all across the 'verse find their freedom. And now, when I'd had the chance to help someone who, as Chev had so long ago, had remembered his real life, his real past, I'd failed miserably. Just as I buried my face in my hands, Chev knelt down in front of me, gently pulling me to himself and just holding me. Oh, Force, it felt so good to be back in his arms again, but I couldn't think of anything but how we'd left Sevvie Two. His chest heaved, and I almost thought I heard a real, audible sigh come out of him, but I was too swept up in everything to notice. I just buried myself in his shoulder.
"He was just . . . so much like Sevvie," I whispered, and Chev nodded as he gently rubbed my back. "Force, this is gonna gnaw at me for the rest of my life."
"Don't let it," Skywalker said, reaching down and squeezing my shoulder. "He helped us escape; that's what we need to remember. And besides, you got Chevron back."
I smiled up at Chev, feeling this cool relief wash over me.
"Yeah. I guess I did."
Chev's shoulders just trembled with a sigh as he held me tighter, and I held him equally tight. I didn't want to let go because being without him . . . well, that was like death for me. Skywalker cheerfully informed me that he wouldn't even try to sense Chev's thoughts so that he and I could have privacy. I expressed my gratitude, and he just smiled at me before scampering off to call the princess. Solo was ignoring me, and Chewbacca had loped off to get something to eat, so Chev and I were basically alone. He held me so tightly, gently rocking me back and forth, and I closed my eyes as I reveled in his embrace. Yep, seventeen years of marriage does that to folks: it makes them rather fond of each other. I was trying to put Sevvie Two from my mind for the time being and just enjoy Chev's presence, and I was starting to doze off in Chev's arms when I heard a strange sound: someone was humming. My eyes flew open as I looked around the cockpit. It wasn't Solo, and Skywalker wasn't back yet. That only left . . . My jaw dropped as my eyes went wide, and I latched my gaze right onto Chev. My arms still entwined about his neck, I searched his eyes for a long minute, trying to fathom this. It wasn't . . . why, it just wasn't possible! Force knows I believe in miracles, but . . .
"Chev!" I sputtered. "You . . . you're humming!"
I just stared at him inquisitively, trying not to let my hopes get too high. There was always the chance that it hadn't been Chev's voice that I'd heard, but for goodness' sake, I'd felt him forming those sounds! But he blinked, almost in surprise, as he touched his neck. After a moment, his eyes widened fractionally, and I suddenly remembered how his throat had had two new scars on it. Oh, Force . . .
The next thing I knew, Chev climbed to his feet and held out his hand. I took it, and he helped me to my feet before leading me off to another part of the ship. The Falcon was of similar—but far from identical—in design to the Chevron, so Chev seemed to automatically know his way around this vessel. He led me to a dark, quiet part of the ship; it looked to me like the main circuitry bay. Well, it certainly was private; after all, who ever came to the circuitry bay for anything other than maintenance? But once we were there and completely alone, he looked at me and rubbed his neck again. By now, I was getting nervous. It seemed highly unlikely that the Empire would ever do something to benefit their worst enemies. I took a deep breath and reached up to slowly stroke his hair. I wanted to ask but was so scared to . . .
"Chev," I said slowly, "I don't want to get my hopes up, but . . . Did the Empire do something fairly good for a change?"
I put my hand across his, over his neck, and just gazed at him. He took several short breaths as if in surprise and swallowed hard. My heart was pounding in my ears as he hesitantly opened his mouth, and then . . .
"I . . . I think . . . so . . ."
Oh, sweet Force! He grabbed his throat in shock, and my jaw dropped. His voice . . . Oh, my Chev's voice . . . It sounded so . . . so good, so clear, so very beautiful . . . It sounded just as it always had; it was as if the Imps had cloned new vocal cords for him from his own tissue! But, oh, his voice! It was sweet, sweet music to my ears! I'd so missed hearing him . . . I inhaled sharply as tears of joy started cascading down my face, and it was totally instinctual when I flung my arms around his neck and embraced him as tightly as I could, squeezing my eyes shut. Oh, my Chev . . . ner cyar'ika . . . He had his voice—kaysh jorad—back at long last. My heart fluttered in anticipation of perhaps soon being able to let him just hold me and murmur sweet nothings in my ears. Trying to live without hearing his voice was like trying to live without breathing.
But as tightly as I was squeezing Chevron, he was hugging me equally so. I was weeping with happiness into his shoulder, clinging to his neck as if there were no tomorrow. Warm tears splashed against my backplate; he, too, was crying joyous tears. That only prompted me to hug him more and harder.
"I . . . I can," he breathed, beginning to tremble. "Oh, Rogue . . . Rogue, I love you . . . love you so much . . ."
"I love you too!" I bawled, letting go of all control over my emotions and letting everything just come flooding out. "Oh, Force, I missed you . . . I missed hearing you say that . . ."
I trailed off, unable to say more as I just nestled into his arms, letting him just hold me. Oh, but wouldn't it be wonderful when Larra and the Deltas found out? We'd have to have a big celebration! And now I knew that we could invite Kal'buir and his boys to join in the festivities. Then a gentle kick in my middle reminded me that soon we'd have another reason to celebrate. I pulled back from Chev, a smile lighting up my face, as I took his hand and pressed it against my abdomen. A huge, beaming grin crested on his face as he felt the faint motion within me, and the next moment, I was back in his arms, pressed close to him and tucked safely under his chin. He hugged me for another long, sweet moment before he gazed down at me, took my chin in his palm, and tilted my face to him. Then he kissed me for a long, slow, wonderful few minutes. Oh, Force, it felt so good to be able to kiss him like that and not care if anyone saw. It was like being back on Kamino, I suppose. I just wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him back, sighing contentedly and deepening that already perfect kiss. I'm not sure I can explain the sheer bliss I felt; I just knew that I had a sudden, overwhelming sense of optimism and joy. It was like a firecracker had gone off inside me. And the thing that stood out the clearest in my mind was the sudden realization that we were going to be all right. We were headed back to the Rebel fleet and would go home as soon as the princess gave us clearance; I was carrying my precious husband's child; he had his voice again . . . It was absolutely indescribable to know that we would be okay. We'd be fine. We were together, and that was all that mattered.
Oh, do you remember how I said I had favorite baby names and how the one for a son would be quite fitting to my past? If it is a boy, I shall name him Tor Kal—justice blade. I wouldn't be surprised if you someday heard of him, too.