Star Wars: A Thousand Generations
This is a fic I've started and stopped several times. Story of my life. But here is the final, proper version! This is intended to be my final pice of fanfic - so it's a bit of a big deal for me. I hope you like it.
It's a short adventure story with original characters (and Grand Moff Tarkin) set a year or two before the original movie. The idea of it was a) to imagine what life was like for ordinary people during the 'dark times' of the Empire, and b) explore a line that always puzzled me. In Star Wars, Han's claim that he doesn't 'believe' in the Force baffled me, espescially after the prequels. Hopefully this story explains that a little!
(The quotes at the top of every chapter are taken from the movie screenplays. The first one actually is from an early draft of Revenge of the Sith.)
This two-bit fan-fiction is dedicated to Matthew Stover and James Luceno, for reminding us what it looks like when this stuff is done right.
The battle appears to be over. Wookiees stack destroyed droids while clones assess the damage to their equipment. Master Luminara Unduli talks with eight clone officers standing in a circle around her. Suddenly they reveal their hidden pistols.
This is the death of a Jedi.
Unduli's life has been dedicated, from an early age, to mastery of her body, her mind and the galaxy that surrounds her. She is among the most physically skilled and nimble members of the Jedi Order. Now there are men in plastoid armour pointing blasters at her, and she cannot move. In her last moments, she feels she is failing.
These men are her allies. She has battled alongside them these last painful years, and given all of her strength to them today. The Republic's efforts in the Battle of Kashyyyk have exhausted Unduli, Master Quinlan Vos, and the Grandmaster Yoda himself. The Forty-First Elite and the Five-Oh-First fought with them, and these men sacrificed just as much as the Masters. More, in fact; they gave their lives. Now they will take hers for reasons she will never understand.
Her tranquil yet bright blue eyes strain as they race from left to right, desperately trying to make sense of what she sees, what she senses. Her exquisite dancer's grace is inaccessible, and the hilt of her lightsaber ignores its silent instruction to warm her hand.
Defending against the tenacious Separatist assaults from the sea has driven her energy from her, and the light from the day. Now in the dim light of the room their dull, black weapons are harder to make out, and their camouflage armour hides them from her more than it did from their enemy.
Privately, she had enjoyed that these men had dressed in this particular shade of green. Though she has served the Jedi Order with something resembling love for as long as she can remember, she maintains a slight, yet stubborn, grip on her Mirialan heritage. Her race means little to her and she is happy to be regarded as 'human' by all but those closest to her, but there are traditions. She wears her tattoos almost proudly, respects the memory of her master just a touch more for their shared origins, and has only ever trained Mirialan apprentices. On this most trying of days, she had enjoyed having soldiers around her who were painted the same olive-green as she. It was almost like having her apprentice with her again.
Before the guns were drawn, she had been preparing to assist in the healing. Without her abilities, more of her men will die. She will die.
Something inside her head, or perhaps something deeper, snaps and she reflexively calms herself, finds strength, looks for her next move. Her ability to think, plan and move in the heat of battles is a gift. This talent brought her to the Order and kept her away from the agricultural programme. It kept her and her dear padawan alive at Geonosis, and aided the Republic through the following years. It helped win this battle, too. She knows it can't save her life now, but she doesn't think about that. It will serve her once more. Now that she has overcome her initial panic, her death is inconsequential. Without her realising, her thoughts recite the Jedi Code.
There is no death, there is the Force. There is no chaos, there is harmony.
Hearing the mantra backwards as she surveys her surroundings, she finds no escape. Her end will come very quickly. She has the option of lashing out with her hand and throwing two or three of the officers backwards, injuring or killing them. If she moves now, perhaps she could even cut them down. Maybe this would buy her some time, and she might save herself. But her blade is still. She cannot so much as rattle it in its fabric casing.
There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
As Unduli allows herself to be guided by her instincts and her connection to the Force, she glances at the bodies of the men. There is a slight hesitation in some of them, but Commander Faie and the others are resolute and professional. They exude loyalty and brotherhood, as they always have, but they do not believe themselves murderers. This is no simple coup. Something is very wrong, but not with them.
Everything around them is disturbed, but blinded by their driving emotions, they will not see it. The Force overwhelms her with pain but she cannot use the moment to identify what she senses. Then there is a sudden silence to it.
The first shot from the clones rings out.
Something terrible has happened. Her fingers move quicker than those of the clones, making an open fist, waiting for the familiar grooves of her silver-white hilt to complete it.
She moves her elbow to outstretch her arm, to push the soldiers away from her. Sensing nothing sinister in their actions, she mourns them as she prepares to snap their necks. They do not understand even as much as she does.
But the shots are out now, so many after the initial bolt was released from its barrel, as if the squeezing of the first trigger has activated all of the guns. Heat moves in perfect, straight lines toward her centre from all around, and she feels it beneath her black sleeves. Her elbow is still bent, and she knows she cannot straighten it quickly enough.
Images of Barriss and Quinlan and Yoda glance across her deep eyes. Words they chose in their grandest moments whisper to her humbly again. She remembers Skywalker, too, but she does not know why. His smiling, arrogant features return to her memory, the righteous ferocity with which he moved his blue blade. More than that, the sorrow inside him, wounds he had carved himself for reasons she did not understand, never had time to figure out. She remembers the glimpses of him she gained on their first mission together. She remembers sensing his poorly-cloaked longing for her comfort, for a mother. There was no time to help him then, but she knew he had his Master. The two share an awkward bond, but Obi-Wan was the ideal teacher for Skywalker. As the holonet is so fond of proclaiming, they are a perfect partnership. As strongly as she has ever allowed herself, she hopes that the quiet, brilliant mentor has helped that young knight to heal those wounds, or that he will, once the Wars are done.
The bolts hit her now, puncturing her chest and knocking her down immediately. She lands with her neck twisted a little more than is comfortable, and just focuses on ignoring that sensation. She sees green-black boots and the red flashes reflecting across them.
The Master wonders if Yoda and Quinlan will also be targeted by the clones. As her body gives way and falls silent, she wishes she had moved faster, been more decisive. In a last grasp for consolation, she tells herself that those two are wiser and more given to military strategy than she. If any Jedi knights can survive this strange attack, it is them. She does not allow herself to think about Barriss now.
Again she finds herself recalling Skywalker's face, and this time he is smiling with warmth and detachment. She remembers how she came to know the lonely, frightened padawan learner, if only a little. A moment from that mission returns to her, one she is proud of. 'The Force,' she had said to Obi-Wan, 'will be with you, always.' Now she hopes that he passed those words on to his student.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
She has no time to close her eyes. As the troopers surrounding her step back and lower their weapons, their Commander activates a portable communicator and reports his unit's success. The Jedi's body is motionless. Tied by a wisp of black fabric, the metal shell of her lightsaber surrenders its feeble efforts to break free and clatters onto the floor.