Author's Note:

Back-to-back drabbles, two different first-person POVs. You'll pick them up quickly.

==1. Beginnings==

Darkness and Light

The dark is generous, and it is patient.

It is the dark that seeds cruelty into justice, that drips contempt into compassion, that poisons love with grains of doubt.

The dark can be patient, because the slightest drop of rain will cause those seeds to sprout.

The rain will come, and the seeds will sprout, for the dark is the soil in which they grow, and it is the clouds above them, and it waits behind the star that gives them light.

The dark's patience is infinite.

Eventually, even stars burn out.

It's a long way down, okay?

It's almost never a spectacular leap down, either – it's this horrible, slippery slope that has just enough angle down that you can't pull yourself back up if you try.

I don't think there was a conversion, a point where I decided. It was a simple realization of who I had become, not a decision to become that.

From there, of course, I used my usual flair to declare myself Evil. But the people who really knew me already knew, without any help from title changes.

It was a long, slow descent, so slow that I barely even realized it until I was almost at the bottom.

To look at me some fifty-odd years ago, you'd never imagine that I would turn out to be this. A little boy, innocent, full of life and full of love. A heroic father, an affectionate mother, and an idolized adopted sister who made up the universe of that little boy.

Then the war came.

The father, sickened by the tyrannical reign of his own mother, rebelled against her. That was when the little boy learned how to kill, and kill he did. It was never the cries of the enemy soldiers that hurt him, though – it was the cries of his own men.

Fifty years later, the man the boy became still has a hard time in shutting them out.

Even then, his universe was still okay, so long as he still had his family. But that universe was already fracturing, and it wasn't long before it shattered.

It shattered with his mother's body, as he watched her be gunned down by his grandmother's soldiers.

It shattered again, not long afterward, when he felt his father's spirit ripped away from his body.

He was left with no one but his sister, left reeling and broken and screaming.

One would think that only the death of that sister could top the loss of the parents.

Not a chance.

His universe imploded in the destruction of the Empire. More than 28,942,000 people dead, in less than fifteen seconds.

When the boy took up the crown, he came to the throne of a crippled superpower whose dependents were seceding. Even his own people abandoned him. All but his sister.

Her love was not enough, and he lost hope.

Not even the love of another girl years later was enough to rekindle that hope.

And in those bleak days, the final blow struck.

He fought it, but his will wasn't strong enough, and he was overrun, violated, irrevocably tainted.

Sometimes, I wonder if I would have still become what I am if that final blow had not hit. Somehow, I think yes.

It's a long way down, and when you fall, there's no climbing back up.

You're stuck, and there's nothing you can do about it.

When people talk about "rock-bottom," they have no idea what they're talking about. This is rock-bottom. Darkness, and the only Light that comes here is quickly destroyed. No chance of redemption, no desire for it.


It's right here.

The way back up is far too long.

Ever since I can remember – or almost ever since, anyway – this is where I've wanted to be.

My mom was a Ranger, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. She was more than just a galactic hero – she was my hero.

To a kid who has to grow up without his mom, that's pretty important.

Being a Ranger… it's more than just law-enforcement and paramilitary and justice.

It's about caring, helping, protecting. It's about fighting for what's right.

In a way, it's about love.

And as I got older, I realized this, and more than ever, I wanted to be a Ranger. So I entered Junior Rangers as a kid, and when the time came, I entered the Academy.

And I was good.

People think I have ego problems, and maybe I do – I don't know. All I know is that I have the talent and the intelligence to pull off what most people would call impossible.

Now if that isn't enough to justify ego, I don't know what is.

It's actually not easy. It's never easy. But I don't give up.

I don't think I'm even able to.

I'm helping people, and I'm protecting them. That makes it all worth it.

It's a great life, and I never want to leave it.

And I've had losses. Losses that are enough to knock you down and leave you on the floor, struggling to regain your breath.

But I get back up. I always do.

I carry the memory of those losses, but in this lifestyle, you can't afford to brood over them. It'll destroy you.

And I won't let that happen.

I can live with an open heart, knowing that the sun will always be shining behind those clouds. There's something big and beautiful and absolute out there beyond me, and that's what I'm fighting for.

Like I said, it isn't easy.

Name me one worthwhile thing that is.

The dark is generous, and it is patient, and it always wins — but in the heart of its strength lies weakness: one lone candle is enough to hold it back.

Love is more than a candle. Love can ignite the stars.

Author's Note:

YAY, I'm finally posting my 100 challenge here! It'll actually be split into three collections: this, Tales of the Empire, and Tales of the Alliance.

For those of you who've read my other works and are probably wondering, yes, most of these one-shots will be set in the same universe as For Good I: Breakaway. Unlike Breakaway, though, these pieces are going to go up and down the scale of time, characters, and genres. The reason for the split is that the Tales of the Empire will be villain-centric, and Tales of the Alliance will be hero-centric.

Quick note: if you like Star Wars fics, please check out my profile! I have a new chaptered fic there – my first-ever SW fic! I'd love to hear what you think about it!

The opening and closing quotes here are from the Revenge of the Sith novelization. They were very fitting.

One is about despair. The other is about hope.

Please review!