Ben makes a sudden lunge at the huge warrior but is checked by a lightning movement of the Sith. Another of the Jedi's blows is blocked, then countered. Ben moves around the Dark Lord and starts backing into the massive starship hangar. The two powerful warriors stand motionless for a few moments with laser swords locked in mid-air, creating a low buzzing sound.
This is the death of a Jedi.
Master Kenobi's back stoops slightly and his beard is whitened now. There is a harshness to his eyes that would surprise anyone who knew him by his old name.
He has slipped into the heart of a battle station to rescue a princess. He has tricked his way past troops to deactivate a tractor beam, and now he does battle with the Sith Lord's apprentice. It is hard not to feel nostalgic, but he wonders if this day will see the end of the Jedi knights.
He is playing at war, as he did once before. In fact it seems as if his life has been coloured by it, though he has never chosen it willingly, until now. He was at first thrust into battle by his master's decision to intercede on Naboo. His reputation took him to Geonosis, and war found him again. In a day, in an instant, the Jedi were lost to it. As he watched, the students of the Force revealed themselves to the Galaxy in an arena, brandishing sabers and leading cloned soldiers to glorious death. No longer even protectors, they became generals, took up their battle armour. An army of light once more.
The last twenty years of his life, along with the first twenty, were the most precious to him. Looking at it as one might look at a history text, it seems like a very long time to have lived the life he wished for. But the years of the Clone Wars are those that remain in his memories, as if those trials had comprised his entire existence.
As he remembers his life by its wars, so will the Order be remembered. There have been too many battles in the time of the old Republic, and too many lightsabers ignited amongst them. At least, this is how Ben has always felt.
The Wars took everything from the Jedi, but that does not concern him. A Jedi's life is sacrifice, after all. But the Wars also took the Republic. It happened slowly, but the council, Yoda, Ben and his apprentice did not even notice until after it was finished.
When the Emperor announced that the Wars were done, Ben stopped fighting. He lived in loose clothing in a desert, watched over a child and listened to his master. He grew wise and he shut out his feelings. He observed the galaxy, lived the life of a Jedi.
There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
But the Wars were never done. They never have been. Since the first of the Sith, since the dawn of sentient life, the darkness has never truly died. Now a tall man in black, mechanical armour hurls a red lightsaber at Ben in a flurry. A planet died today. Planets have died before, and they will continue to do so. The Wars will never be done.
Ben deflects the blows and the quick, bitter fighting continues for a few moments. Seeing an opportunity before it happens, he is able to spin around and slow his enemy. There is a tension in the air and Ben looks deeply into the smooth, empty metal plates covering Darth Vader's eyes.
The Sith looks exactly as he does in the Empire's broadcasts. His breathing is both heavy and artificially-regulated. His mouth is carved triangular, forever trapped in an animal snarl, and his voice is altered. His speaking patterns are no longer human, no longer his own. Ben has faced similar foes and smiled as he duelled with them, but he has always pitied them. Now he does not know if he should, but he cannot.
The sound of clones approaching distracts the old man from his concentration, but from their footsteps he detects no ill-will. He senses something more, then. Something greater. He shifts his gaze for a moment.
Luke is safe, and Ben cannot help but smile.
There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony.
The bright blades are locked again and Ben directs his attention back to Vader. The boy's presence gives him hope. His last hope.
Without having to reach out and regard the hangar, Ben knows that he will die soon. He is surrounded, but Skywalker and the princess are not. They and their enemies just stand, blasters hanging at their sides, watching the confrontation between Jedi and Sith. Good and evil. Kenobi and Skywalker.
Ben has always found the swords very noisy. It spoils their grace. In this struggle, as their impossibly-sharp edges shave sparks from the walls of the echoing corridor, the blades have been insufferably loud. The old man almost fancies they are screeching with the thrill of a conflict they have been denied since the last war.
Vader has been enjoying the noise, and both men have added to it with threats. It is as if the dark times had never happened, as if they are still fighting droids on extraordinary worlds. A civilised age, he had called it.
Luke is still stood by his ship, and Ben relaxes his arms. Closing his eyes, he steps backwards and raises the blade in front of him. The darkness he sees is illuminated blue, for a moment, by the glow of the sword. He exhales gently.
Vader swings his weapon without finesse. He does not understand. Ben reaches out to his apprentice and tells him to run.
He regrets that there was not more time to train young Luke. It is well that he yet has ways and means to reach him, as the boy will need to mature before he is ready to wield his father's blade.
Luke was quick to allow the Force to guide him. Brave but thoughtful. On the freighter, the relationship between them was somewhat awkward. Perhaps the deaths of Luke's uncle and aunt were the cause. Perhaps Ben has been away from other people for too long.
But then, there was a moment when he knew he had reached the pupil. The sound of the words is still fresh in his mind. Knowing he may not have another opportunity to do so, he had met the youth's eyes and spoken a simple truth to him. These words are not his own, and were told to him only in passing at the end of a long adventure, but he has never forgotten them or the wisdom they hold.
The Force, he had said softly, will be with you, always.
The Jedi vanishes and his sword lands softly with his robes.
'I'm no Jedi - just a guy with a lightsaber. And a lot of questions.'
If you stuck with this story, through all its re-writes, delays and reposts, thank you very much!
I really hope you enjoyed my Star Wars story - I had a good time writing it. I've wanted to write an Original Trilogy fic for ages, and it was such a geeky thrill to work out a story in that world, and to fill it with references to the movies (and novels and certain videogames) I love so much. And that's what fanfic is all about.
Thanks to Knightfall1138 for beta-reading parts of this and giving me a lot of much-needed support with it.
And as always - many, many thanks to the people who were kind enough to leave a review - I appreciate them an awful lot.
So take care, keep writing and remember to stay away from the dark side. It will give you yellow eyes like Edward Cullen. And nobody wants that.