Gazing into the Abyss

Star Wars: The Bergeron Chronicles, Part 3

a fanfic by Sisiutil


Chapter 6

Itll feel a little strange at first, Skywalker was saying, but after a while youll forget its artificial. Trust me, I know. The Jedi Master held up his own artificial right hand and waggled his fingers.

The medical droid made some final adjustments to Axels new artificial left hand, and the freighter pilot reflected that Skywalkers description was correct. It did feel a little strange, yet at the same time, even he was hard-pressed to identify the differences from the severed original. He opened and closed his fist several times, then ran his left thumb over his fingertips. He rubbed his right hand over the new artificial left one, and his brows raised as his nerves registered the sensations from both.

Amazing, Axel said. He glanced at the medical droid . I understand its got a dual power supply for redundancy. But Im curious about the cyber-neural interface

Axel, you are such a geek sometimes, Kilu teased him from where she was standing on the far side of the room, her back leaning against the wall.

She was once again wearing her standard Jedi attire: khaki pants with a matching khaki wrap-vest over a white collarless shirt, a long brown robe, and her equipment belt, including her lightsaber, hanging from her shapely hips. It made Axel smile to see this visual reminder of her return to the light side of the Force.

Axel shrugged in response to her comment. It got me to where I am today, babe, he said.

Normally Kilu would have responded with a witty rejoinder about his current station in life, such as it was. Instead, she smiled demurely, nodded, and dropped her gaze back to the floor. Axel sighed softly as he saw this evidence of her continuing shame over her actions while she was under the influence of the dark side.

Well, Skywalker said, shifting his gaze between Axel and Kilu. I dont think were needed here anymore, Doctor. He took a step towards the door, then stopped and leaned towards Alex. Youll think about it, won't you, Axel? he asked the pilot.

Definitely, Alex responded earnestly with a nod of his head.

Kilu heard the exchange and frowned. Shed only entered the room a few minutes ago; evidently Axel and Luke had been discussing something before shed come in. As the Jedi Master walked by her, he turned and favoured her with a smile and a light touch on her shoulder.

Its good to have you back with us, Kilu, he said.

Thank you, sir. Its good to be back, she responded softly. "I'm glad Torvis is going to make a full recovery," she said, recalling the mechanic she'd injured badly when she'd stolen the X-Wing. "I can't wait for him to wake up... so I can apologize," she said, as both her voice and her gaze dropped away.

The Jedi Master nodded and walked out through the door. Then, with a soft hiss, the door closed behind Skywalker, and Axel and Kilu were alone.

Hey, he said softly, and Kilu raised her head to look at him. He could still see that ashamed look in her eyes. He reached toward her with his new hand and beckoned. Come here.

She smiled briefly and slowly walked over to where he was lying propped up on the medical bed. She inhaled deeply as she gently took hold of his artificial hand. She was all too aware that she was the reason he required one.

Axel, Im so sorry she began to say, shaking her head. Her voice was barely louder than a whisper.

Youve apologized several times now, he told her gently. You can stop anytime." He raised his left hand and caressed her cheek, and a tremulous smile flickered across her lips. "Though you know, you Jedi seem real big on cutting off hands, even whole limbs. Whats up with that?

Kilu shrugged and grimaced. You know... lightsabers extremities she said, extending her own hand. Then she shuddered as the act brought back that terrible memory of what she'd done to him. She closed her eyes and gave her head a shake, then cast her gaze down at the floor.

He put his right hand beneath her chin and gently raised her head so she had to look him in the eye. And stop looking away from me. You have such beautiful eyes. I want to see them. He shifted his right hand from her chin to her cheek and began to softly caress her skin with his fingertips.

How can you be so good to me, she said, after what I did to you?

He frowned, genuinely surprised by the question.

Dont you know? Isnt it obvious? She only looked at him blankly. He smiled. Cant you sense it through the Force? That, at least, brought an amused half-smile to her lips. Because I can sense it. I can feel it. His new left hand wrapped around her fingers and he pulled her in closer. He leaned towards her until their lips were almost touching. Because I love you, he said, then kissed her, ever so gently, his lips giving hers the merest brush. Id give my life for yours. So a hand he said softly, casting a glance at his new artificial limb, is nothing.

Axel she said as she released her hand from his and stepped away from him. She turned her back towards him. He watched her head of auburn hair shaking slowly from side to side. I love you too, she admitted. But dont you understand? she added, turning to face him. He almost winced when he saw the pain that was evident upon her lovely face. My love for you the passion I feel thats how the dark side pulled me in. He saw her shiver involuntarily. I gave in to my desires, and then Once again, her gaze dropped to the floor.

So, he said soberly, you love me but you cant be with me. And thats what made you susceptible to the dark side.

Yes, she responded, her voice filled with despair.

Well, I guess theres only one solution, Axel said.

Its the way it has to be, Kilu agreed. She reached up with her right hand to brush away a tear that was threatening to spill from her eye.

Right, Axel said, then glanced down at his artificial hand again. Well, its a good thing they were able to replace the hand.

Yes, Kilu said tightly, still ashamed about what shed done to the man she loved while under the influence of the dark side of the Force.

Because, you know, Im going to need that hand. He glanced at her, his blue eyes regarding her closely. For the ring.

For what? Kilu said, her head rising as a puzzled expression appeared on her face.

The ring. A wedding ring. Traditionally worn on the ring finger of the left hand.

Oh, Kilu said, her slender brows raising in surprise. Youre getting married?

Well yes, I hope so.

Oh, she said again, struggling to keep the pain and despair out of her voice. Her rational side stated silently within her mind that it was perfect: shed been telling herself she had to push him away forever, and if he was married, well, that would make it easier. Wouldnt it? Unfortunately, her heart was disagreeing with that notion. It felt as though her chest was constricting; she had to force a breath into her lungs. Do I, uh, know the lucky girl? Kilu asked in what she hoped was a bright tone, but she heard the quaver in her own voice as she spoke and suddenly wished she hadnt said anything.

Uh, yeah, Axel said, looking at her incredulously. Youve known her for years. Kilu continued to look at him blankly, with a pained expression upon her face. He sighed and rolled his eyes. Its you, silly!

Kilu stood there, staring at him, blinking. Me? she eventually managed to say.

Who else? Alex asked her. He narrowed his eyes as he looked at her. You know, for a Jedi, you can be pretty slow on the uptake sometimes.

Axel, she said, shaking her head, Axel, we cant! Jedi tradition

He held up his left hand, palm open to her. I said it to Skywalker, and Im saying it to you: you can take your Jedi traditions and cram them down the nearest black hole. And I dont mean the kind thats out in space, if you catch my drift.

Axel, listen

No, you listen, he said sharply. Youre going to get the same speech I delivered to your boss yesterday when you were moping in your room, avoiding me. Dont try to deny it, you were. You didnt fall to the dark side because you love me. You fell because you love me and you thought you couldnt do anything about it.

Kilu opened her mouth to contradict him, but no words came out. His own words slammed home in her mind. He'd stated it so baldly, and it was so obvious that she suddenly felt ashamed that she hadn't figured her out for herself. It was as though it had been there in front of her all this time, but she'd been unable to see it.

You felt angry and frustrated and powerless, Axel continued. Those are the very sorts of negative feelings that lead to the dark side, and thats exactly what they did. Dont try to pretend that sending me away is going to make those feelings go away, because they wont. Theyll be pulling you back towards the dark side for the rest of your life, and you know it. Kilu could not suppress the shiver that ran down her spine as she realized the truth of his words. Well. Axel leaned back into the elevated top third of the hospital bed. A smug expression appeared on his face. The solution, as I pointed out to Skywalker and as Im pointing out to you, is obvious. Remove the source of the frustration and anger: my absence from your life.

A smile was slowly taking shape on Kilus lips. And Master Skywalker he agreed to this?

When I explained it to him that way, Axel said with the same smug expression on his face, Skywalker asked if I wasnt a secret Jedi Master myself." His expression became thoughtful. "We had quite a long talk, in fact. Hes been wondering if perhaps the old Jedi Order were so focused on their connection to the Force that they lost any sort of connection with the very people they were supposed to protect. Maybe thats why they didn't see what was coming. He thinks that in the New Jedi Order, once Jedi reach a certain level of proficiency with the Force, permanent personal relationships may, in fact, be an asset--a way for you superbeings to stay connected to the everyday concerns of us ordinary types. Axel paused for a moment, then smiled at her. I think he may be onto something. Hes a very down-to-earth, practical guy, your boss. I think its the farm boy in him." Axel was glad to see her smile at that remark. "Actually, just between you and me I get the feeling hes thinking of getting married himself. Mums the word, though."

"Is he?" Kilu said, her eyes suddenly alight at the prospect of hearing some gossip. "Are he and Mara finally..."

"I told you, mum's the word!" Axel teased her. "Oh, I almost forgot: he also offered me a job.

Kilus auburn brows rose. A job?

Yep. Hey, Jedi need freight and passengers hauled from place to place just like everybody else. Pretty good benefits package, too. Full medical coverage, for one, he said, grinning as he flexed his new artificial fingers again. So Ill never be too far away from you, or if I am, not for long. Especially since Ill be your transport pilot for all your field work.

Kilu was smiling broadly now, and nodding. Sounds like youve got it covered from every angle, she commented. Axel nodded his head in acknowledgement of the compliment. She took a step towards him. But theres just one problem with your plan, she said; her eyes narrowed, but her smile remained. She took another step towards him, carefully placing one foot in front of the other.

Whats that? he asked, an amused frown appearing on his face.

Kilu walked up to the side of the hospital bed and leaned in towards him until her lips were almost touching his. She watched as Axel took a deep breath in response to her proximity.

I have to say yes, she told him in a low, husky tone.

Kilu Branon, he said, slipping her hands back into his own, will you marry me?

She hesitated just for a moment, just to torture him. But she could not hold out for long, not after all theyd been through together.

Yes, she whispered.

See? he murmured. Problem solved.

Then he leaned forward, and pressed his lips against hers.


Afterword

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

This concludes my own attempt at a Star Wars trilogy. While my main goal was simply to tell an entertaining story--which I hope I've done--a secondary goal was to attempt to reconcile a significant contradiction between the canon (i.e. the movies) and the Expanded Universe.

Specifically, Lucas established in the prequels--specifically in Attack of the Clones--that Jedi are not allowed to form personal attachments, especially romantic relationships. This is not something that can be lightly ignored; it's a major plot point and is a huge factor in Anakin Skywalker's psychology and motivation, partially explaining his fall to the dark side.

However, the original movies did not explicitly establish this element of the Jedi Code. (Though having Luke and Leia turn out to be brother and sister kind of hinted at it--Luke ends the initial movie series decidedly unattached.) As a result, those who were creating the EU were not aware of this limitation on the Jedi and have created a "secondary canon", now widely accepted by Star Wars fans and even by George Lucas himself, that includes Jedi marrying and having children.

So in a way, my humble little story is an attempt to reconcile the prequel Jedi Code with the post-canon EU. Cocky of me, I know. (I don't quite buy the "Luke didn't know" angle--given what happened with Luke's father, I really think Yoda would have gone over that with him. "Hrmm. No nookie a Jedi must have. Forgot to mention that I did." ) I thought my own explanation sounded plausible--both from an event-driven perspective and from a philosophical one.

One last thing. You may be wondering if Axel, Kilu, and the Nomad will ever fly again. Undoubtedly the happy couple went on to have many adventures together. If you enjoyed this story enough to want more, you have my thanks, and my apology that at this point I do not have any more stories with these characters planned. But the future is unwritten--literally. So keep the faith.

And may the Force be with you.