The Final Judgment
A broken man stood at a stand, in the middle of a court chamber, shrouded in darkness. His hands and feet were bound by chains without locks, that seemed to have been grown around his wrists and ankles. His head was hung in a mixture of shame and sorrow, as he reflected on the deeds which had gotten him here, to the Court of Souls, which lay in the shades of gray between the Light Side and Dark Side of the spirit plane.
Several meters in front of him was the judges' dais, with two robed figures - unidentifiable in the darkness - flanking the immense wooden construct. Eight shadowy beings, who were the judges, shuffled restlessly behind the dais, conversing amongst themselves in whispered tones.
Along the right side of the chamber was a row of twelve seated characters (he thought he saw a Hutt-sized shadow), who the man decided must be the jury. On the left of the room, was a large, rivet-studded door, with a two tall, skeletal shadows standing beside it.
The witness box was currently empty.
The room was suddenly filled with a bright light, as the trial came to order. Few knew that the bright light seen during death, was in fact the Light of Judgment.
The man saw for the first time, the faces of his judges, jury, and potential executioners.
Mace Windu. Yoda. Mon Mothma. Kreia. Jango Fett. Darth Revan. Emperor Palpatine. Grand Admiral Thrawn. The eight individuals who would decide on his sentence for the afterlife. Flanking them were the two bailiffs, Mas Amedda and Sly Moore, former aides to Palpatine when he was int he Supreme Chancellor's office.
Qui-Gon Jinn. Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kazdan Paratus. Padme Amidala. Jabba the Hutt. Anakin Skywalker. Master Shaper Nen Yim. Prince Xizor. Grand Moff Tarkin. Darth Nihilus. Ysanne Isard. Count Dooku. The twelve beings who formed the jury.
Beside the door to the punishment chambers stood General Grievous and PROXY, the two executioners.
In the audience stands, the translucent spirits of various Jedi, Sith, and other people eventually materialized. The man recognized the faces of Shaak Ti, Jar-Jar Binks, Darth Bane, Darth Sion, Brakiss, Nolaa Tarkona, Admiral Ackbar, Bela and Krasov Sebatyne, and even Chewbacca. But the apparition whose gaze haunted him the most, was that of Anakin Solo. His younger brother's eyes seemed to cut through him, and bring to mind all the horrors of the Yuuzhan Vong war.
'Jacen Solo died at Myrkr.'
Mace Windu banged a gavel on the dais, "Court is now in session."
Grand Admiral Thawn announced clearly to all who were present, "The defendant, Jacen Solo, also known as Darth Caedus, will now be put to trial."
'And it shall be artistically done.'
"... thirty-eight: that the accused did commit several acts of mass murder. Thirty-nine: that the accused did ally himself with, and submit to the teachings of, the Sith Lady named Shira Brie, also known as Lumiya," read San Hill, the Muun Separatist leader who served as the court scribe ,"No further charges."
"Therefore we have it that the accused, has committed eighteen acts that warrant eternal punishment, ten that warrant a severe but limited period of punishment, and eleven that warrant an afterlife of darkness," said Judge Kreia, in reply. This caused some hushed murmuring among the jury.
"The prosecution calls its first witness," said Jocasta Nu, as she appeared in front of the defendant's box. Two individuals materialized in the witness box, as if on cue.
Mara Jade Skywalker. Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon. Thrawn and Pellaeon exchanged a brief smile, as master and protege met once again, after being separated for almost thirty years, due to the former's assassination by his Noghri bodyguard.
Jocasta Nu beckoned to Pellaeon, who stepped up to testify. The Final Judgement allowed two witnesses to give statement for the prosecution and defense, respectively. The reason for the apparent good/neutral/evil judges and jury, was the fact that a soul could only be judged by other souls which were equal to or more worthy than itself, regardless of who the defendant was. This trial would be run differently from those in the mortal realm, and Jacen knew this all too well.
"I personally didn't witness much of the defendant's alleged deeds," said the old, time-ravaged soldier, as the entire court's eyes locked on him, "But he did order and cause numerous murders, my own life being among those which can be attributed to his responsibility."
Pellaeon glared at Jacen, who stood, stony-faced, in his chains, "He is a cold-blooded killer. Almost as terrible as Darth Vader. No offence, sir," he added, to Juror Anakin Skywalker, who nodded, accepting the apology.
As Pellaeon vanished, and Mara Jade stepped up to testify, Jacen finally realized that whatever decision the court came to, he would most-likely never again be able to see Allana and Tenel Ka.
"... And hence, he should not be considered a murderer, but rather a man who sought nothing more than galactic peace and order," finished Foreman Wat Tambor, who was giving testimony in defense of Darth Caedus.
"The jury shall now deliberate the sentence," boomed Mas Amedda, and the jury rose as one, and headed to the deliberation chambers.
Jacen Solo, the man who had once called himself a Jedi, and later the Sith Lord Darth Caedus, felt fear within him, expanding like a cloud of liquid nitrogen. He knew that the jury's decision would be final, and that he would be doomed for eternity, if things turned out in favor of the prosection.
He was shaken out of his reverie by Sly Moore's cold, commanding voice, "The undecided sentences will now be read out to the court."
Mas Amedda picked up a long scroll, "Master Windu shall begin, followed by the other Judges."
"I, Mace Windu, sentence you to a period of five centuries of punishment," said the dark-skinned Jedi. He remembered all too well the birth of Darth Vader...
"A period of five centuries of punishment, appropriate will be," agreed Yoda. Falling to the Dark Side was a heinous deed, but forgivable. Jacen needed to pay the price, from his point of view.
'Once down the Dark Path you tread, forever it shall dominate your destiny.'
"I feel that eternal darkness is in order," said Mon Mothma. Of the judges, she was often viewed as the harshest.
"Five centuries of punishment seems too much. Three would be more suitable," argued Kreia. Falling into darkness made her remember the words sha had spoken to Visas Marr several millenia ago...
'Such a terrible thing it is, to fall. Far worse is to admit to it.'
"I say give him ten years and let him go," said Jango Fett, drawing stares and whispers from the audience. He didn't give two hoots how Jacen would be punished, to be frank about it, "Heck, leave him unpunished for all I care. No one punished the Emperor or Revan when they went on Trial."
"I declare a sentence of zero punishment," boomed Darth Revan, silencing the voices from the audience stands. He did try to dominate the galaxy before, so punishing Jacen was out of the question.
"My decision would be to release him," hissed the Emperor. Punishing Jacen would be too hypocrital and self-incriminating, he thought. After all, he had done the same things Jacen had done, decades before.
'Once more, the Sith shall rule the galaxy. And we shall have... peace.'
"I agree with Lords Revan and Sidious. Let him go," said Thrawn. A little order never hurt the galaxy, in his opinion.
The door to the deliberation chambers burst open, and the jury walked back into the court chamber. They seated themselves, and Head Juror Kazdan Paratus stood up to deliver the verdict. He walked on his four mechanical arms to stand before the Judges' dais, and accepted a scroll from one of the four mechanical appendages.
The diminutive Aleena Jedi Knight cleared his throat, unrolling and reading from, the scroll, "The jury has decided, based on the witnesses' testimonies, and the judges decisions, to declare the defendant..."
He looked at Jacen squarely in the eye, "Guilty."
The audience erupted into loud applause and even several outcries, upon hearing Paratus' words.
"ORDER! ORDER!" bellowed Mas Amedda, "WE SHALL HAVE, ORDER!"
The bailiff's booming voice having silenced the courtroom, Paratus resumed reading the verdict, "For thirty-nine criminal offences of the highest degree, the jury finds you guilty. Reasons justifying said actions were within logic, and hence we sentence you to..."
"Oh, out with it, Kazdan!" grumbled Mon Mothma, "Stop being such a drama king, and you can go play with your droids."
Kazdan Paratus squinted angrily at Mothma, before finally reading Jacen's sentence, "We sentence you to zero punishment, under condition of eternal isolation to the Dark Side of the spirit plane."
Several gasps and faint outcries came from the audience. Zero punishment was good, but isolation to the spirit plane meant that Jacen would never again see his loved ones, unless they trespassed into the Dark Side after their deaths. He would never be able to re-enter the mortal realm ever again.
"So be it," said Mace Windu, banging his gavel one last time, "That is your Final Judgment."
Upon finishing his sentence, the court chambers darkened once more, and Jacen was left alone as the spirits assembled there disappeared. A lit doorway appeared on the wall behind him, the only exit for those who had been Sentenced.
As the chains vanished from around his limbs, Jacen let a single tear roll down his cheek.
For eternity was a long time to spend without his family.