Disclaimer: I, of course, do not own Star Wars or these characters.
Okay, I'm a bit nervous about this, but here goes. My first attempt at a Star Wars fanfic! My knowledge of the world is limited to the six movies and to this particular game, hence me feeling worried about not getting something right. If you spot any mistakes in the star-wars lore here, please let me know so that I can make corrections! I've tried checking things on the Star Wars Wiki and such, but some things I had to try and do from memory.
Also, please note that whilst most of these scenes are simply extended ones of the game, I have changed the dialogue in some parts to help with the flow.
The pairing of this will be Juno and Starkiller, so if you don't like them accompanied by a nice helping of fluff, then I suggest you turn back now!
I normally don't ask for reviews, but if you do enjoy what I've written, I would love to know! I'm thinking about doing a longer piece that continues on from the games, but probably won't bother dabbling if this isn't enjoyable.
I also have most of this written up, so updates should be swift!
May the force be with you!
It was hard to describe his feelings at that moment, knowing that all of his training and...and suffering, had led up to these last tests of strength. Nervousness? Excitement? No. Neither of those things. Actually, thinking about it, he felt very little at all. Was that…normal?
His Master's orders still rang in his head; leave no one alive. Destroy and claim the lightsaber of the Jedi, Kota. The Apprentice had been briefly concerned at the idea of killing their allies, but he supposed it was a small price to pay for the upkeep of secrecy. After all, too much had gone into their plans for power and dominance for it all to be ruined by a blathering stormtrooper. His whole life had been forged for the very purpose of aiding the Dark Lord Vader in defeating the Emperor. No. He would do what needed to be done.
-Wait. What was-?
The buzz of energy was faint, but enough to hinder his step as he crossed the loading bay. Half turning, he came face to face with that of a Jedi who had seemingly been lying in wait for him to pass by. The Jedi leapt with a furious cry and the blazing, crimson lightsaber flared in the Apprentice's hand. The weapons clashed with an electrical hiss and the heat pulsated across the boy's face as he interrupted the Jedi's first assault. He would not give his attacker another opportunity.
With a grunt, he shoved the Jedi backwards and, curling the fingers of his free hand, dragged the power of the Force up into his arm. The blast of Force power that followed sent the Jedi sprawling helplessly across the ground and, a second later, the Apprentice's lightsaber drove into innards that - instead of being soft and squishy - buzzed with electricity and sparks.
"Ah, Master! Another excellent duel!" Now, instead of the aging Jedi, there was a gangly looking droid with large, moon-shaped eyes and faded grey-blue armour plating that protected metal, black innards.
The droid picked himself up off of the floor, seemingly no worse for wear, and lamented on yet another failed attempt at taking his Master's life. After all, a droid that couldn't fulfil its primary programming was nothing more than a useless hunk of metal.
The Apprentice shrugged off the attempt on his life, continuing on his way as if nothing had even happened between them. After all, the droid had been around for as long as he could remember. PROXY served his purpose, whether he realised it or not. His presence meant that the Apprentice was always in a state of awareness, never fully able to let himself relax and drop his defences. A cruel way to teach a child to be aware of his surroundings, perhaps, but certainly an effective one.
"Don't worry. There'll be other chances, I'm sure. Hey, but do me a favour, don't try ambushing me when-" The words died in his mouth. There, across the way, facing the ship - his ship - was a woman. Her presence took him by surprise. After all, women in the Imperial Army were a rare thing indeed.
"Yes? Why are we whispering?"
"Shh! Who's that?" Grabbing the droid and pulling him out of sight, the Apprentice could not help but peer around the huge crate sheltering them from sight. Good. She hadn't noticed them.
"Ah yes. Your new pilot has finally arrived, Master." PROXY's form shivered with bands of energy and there, quite suddenly, stood a perfect copy of the blonde-haired pilot. She had a striking, hawk-like face set with a pair of incredibly intense eyes. The Apprentice snatched his hands from her shoulders, feeling suddenly awkward for having pinned her up against the crate – illusion or not.
"Captain Juno Eclipse." She introduced, her voice infiltrated by the slight robotic whirr that the droid could not smooth out completely. "Born on Corulag, where she became the youngest student ever to be accepted into the Imperial Academy..." Ah, so she was talented, then. He supposed that she would have to be something special, being a woman and all. It made a change to have someone nice to look at, too. All of his previous pilots had been gruff-faced men who really looked like they had needed to retire. Captain Eclipse could not have been more different. Sure, the uniform gave her a somewhat 'severe' look, but he imagined that in more casual gear, she would appear much softer. Much more feminine.
"...later reassigned to a top-secret mission."
"Is there a psychological profile in there too?"
The Apprentice startled, staggering back a step as the real Captain Eclipse stood across from them. From her expression, he could tell that she was far from amused about this invasion of her privacy. Without warning, the touch of embarrassed heat spread across his face, rendering him momentarily speechless.
"Actually, yes, but it's restricted." PROXY chimed, oblivious to her anger. "Oh, Master, I can tell you she is going to be impossible to re-programme."
The apprentice gave the droid a sharp shove in an attempt to shut him up (or at least keep his voice down) and stepped forwards to intervene.
"Do you know why you're here?" He tried to keep his voice light, but his attempts to console her were thrown back in his face.
"Yes." Her voice was clipped and laced with poison. The Apprentice had a feeling she was not going to forget this little mishap in a hurry. "My orders are clear. I'm to keep your ship running and fly you wherever your missions require." She was all sharp professionalism.
Well fine, if she was going to act like that, then he wasn't going to let it affect him. Two could play at that game. He hardened his voice and closed himself off from her. "Did Vader happen to mention to you that he killed my last pilot?" He supposed it was probably better to keep their working relationship to being aloof with one another. After all, special or not, the likelihood was that she wouldn't last long anyway.
"No, but I can only assume that he gave Lord Vader good reason to do so. I will not."
"Well let's hope so. I'm sick of training new pilots." He paused, blinking. "Hey, what have you done to my ship?" He quickened his pace, pulling ahead in an attempt to survey the damage before she could come up with some excuse. What was this? Sabotage?
When her response came, it was faltered. Perhaps she thought she'd already stepped out of line and was preparing herself for the worst. "I've, uh, taken the liberty of upgrading the Rogue Shadow's sensor array. Now you'll be able to spy on any suspect ships in the entire system." She paused before adding: "You are one of Vader's spies?"
The Apprentice rounded on her immediately. "All you need to know about my missions is where I'm going." As an afterthought. "The rest is none of your concern. Understood?"
"Loud and clear."
"Good. Now. I need to get to Nar Shaddaa. Do you think you can handle that?" He was mocking in a bitter tone, hoping to intimidate her into silencing her curious mind.
However, as she strode up into the ship, curling her lip in disdain, she seemed more peeved than intimidated. "Of course."
Rolling his eyes, he followed after her, punching the closing mechanism as he went. The hydraulic doors sighed happily into place and, with a sigh of his own, the boy stalked up to the cockpit. She, of course, was already there, and he could not help but stand in the doorway, watching as she adjusted her seat and gave the consoles a once over. He noticed, strangely, that she kept trying to brush the bangs of blonde hair from her eyes. It didn't make a different. They just fell straight back.
"So." She spoke, not even looking in his direction. "You have me at a disadvantage. Since you know everything about me, and I know nothing about you, will you at least tell me your name?"
"Oh, so now you're being friendly." He asked, looking genuinely confused. Was this a woman thing? Angry one minute and then cosying up the next? Well, if she expected an answer, she was going to be sorely disappointed.
"You were prying into my personal details." She snapped. "If you wanted to know about me, you only had to ask. I would have told you."
The Apprentice shrugged and moved to sit at her side.
"You're not going to tell me your name, are you?"
"No." He replied.
"Fine." With gritted teeth, she readied for take-off and a moment later, the ship quaked with power. The thrum of the engines roared and, with natural ease, Juno navigated the Rogue Shadow out into the cold, vast embrace of the universe. He tried not to, but he found his eyes drawn back to her even as he tried to focus on the mission at hand.
Under the watchful gaze of PROXY-Kota, the Apprentice allowed Juno's questions to bounce off without a response. Her curiosity would be the death of her, it seemed. Why did she want to know? So far, most of the questions he had answered had not been to her liking, anyway. None of his other pilots had concerned themselves with details of his mission or pointless information like what his name was. He supposed that, this, however, was the first time he had actually faced a Jedi. A Jedi was a lot different from his usual targets. A lot more dangerous, too.
He cast her a sidelong glance and could see the cogs turning in her mind. She was silently mulling over the meaning of his silence and the importance of their mission. She was trying to figure out what was special about him. Why he would be sent to kill Jedi – a job that may have been considered one of Vader's responsibilities.
He opened his mouth to distract her from those thoughts, only to have her beat him to the punch.
"How many pilots have you lost, exactly?"
The unexpected question took him completely off guard. Juno's face seemed to suggest that she really didn't want to know the truth. He was surprised at the question. He'd have thought she'd pry him for more information on who he was and just why he was being sent to deal with Jedi, of all things. Perhaps she was quicker to learn than what he had given her credit for.
"Seven." He wasn't going to lie about it. Even still, at the startled concern in her face and the way she tilted her chair away from him, he couldn't help but feel a little guilty. But, what could he do? Lie and make her feel better? He couldn't protect his pilot during these missions. It was up to her to make sure she kept herself out of trouble and picked him up before trouble found him. At least she'd be prepared. Or as prepared as she could ever be.
"Excellent." She mumbled under her breath. "Coordinates are set. Prepare for lightspeed."
"What?" She threw him a confused look.
"You can call me Starkiller."
"Eclipse to Starkiller. I'm moving the Rogue Shadow out of firing range whilst you see to your mission. I'll be able to track your movements and give intelligence support via commlink. Captain Eclipse out."
She angled the ship upwards and turned in a wide-arc, amazed at how smooth the movement was. The Rogue Shadow was extremely receptive to commands. Juno could tell she was going to be a joy to fly – so long as they survived this mission. And the next. And the one after that…
Not taking her eyes from the console, she indicated towards the droid who had stepped back into the cockpit – perhaps to offer advice to its master. "PROXY. Perhaps you can tell me more about…well, about all of this." She gestured wildly with one hand.
"You'll need to be more specific, Captain."
"Why is Vader sending Starkiller on a mission of this magnitude?" At PROXY's silence, she continued. "He's not just a spy. Who is he?"
"I'm afraid I can't answer that."
"He's not just a spy." Juno insisted. "He's…he's an apprentice, isn't he?" It was the only logical conclusion to come to. Only someone who could use the Force would have any hope of standing up to a Jedi, particularly when the Jedi had set a trap with the intentions of snaring the Dark Lord. Just how powerful this Starkiller was, she had no idea, though she had a feeling she was about to find out. After all, just surviving this mission would speak volumes.
The droid, not knowing what to do or say, simply backed out of the cockpit and left her alone.
With a sigh, she activated the link and leaned towards the consoles. "Readouts are showing the hangar bulkhead has been sealed. It's the only available route. You'll need to find a way through."
"Little busy right now." The hassled voice popped in across the commlink.
She rolled her eyes and settled in for the long haul. Even still, she couldn't help but think of what was going on down there. The boy with so many secrets. A name that was clearly not his name. Missions that she couldn't even enquire about. Even still, could he really be Vader's apprentice? She'd never heard anything of the sort, which meant that Starkiller had to have been kept a secret for as long as he had been in service. And how long had that been? If Sith followed similar ways to the Jedi, that meant he would have been just a child. And how old was he now? Mid-twenties? Yet he was far from as terrifying as Vader, though intimidation was enhanced by the mask, she had to admit. Even still, she wasn't afraid of Starkiller and she'd already proved she felt comfortable enough questioning him and putting him in his place.
Her thoughts were a slight distraction as she worked on slicing into the facility's communication grid. It was a reasonably easy process and, the flash of her fingers over the keys triggered a stream of seemingly random numbers and digits. This nonsense filled the screen and kept going and her smile of triumph came a moment later.
The successful hack came only slightly after Starkiller had managed to unseal the door.
"Eclipse to Starkiller. Slicing into the communications grid has brought up an Imperial report that indicates General Kota has already taken control of the command bridge. It's located several floors above, but I should be able to guide you up to his position."
"Should? Why did Vader choose you as my pilot, again?"
She cut him off. Now was not the time to be arguing with him.
So, he wasn't as evil or as scary as Vader, but he had similar manners (in that he had none)! She supposed that could be blamed on the bad role model. Maybe she could teach him a thing or two about being nice. No more time to think on that, though. Message intercepted.
"Eclipse to Starkiller. The Imperials have mobilised a TIE Fighter squadron in your sector. Keep your eyes open."
She didn't give him a chance to respond this time, cutting off the link the moment her message was given. Then, forcing herself to focus, she brought up the schematics of the layout and ploughed through them to find the quickest route up to where General Kota waited. The mass of levels and the intricacies of the plans were somewhat daunting at first, but, once she pinpointed Starkiller's location and started to strip the useless layers away, the path became clear. She just hoped it wasn't blocked or damaged.
"The schematics show a lift near to your location. It will take you to the upper levels." She watched Starkiller move through the levels, wondering what he was facing down there and whether he'd have enough strength for the final battle. What would she say to Vader if she managed to lose her charge on their very first mission together? She grimaced. It really didn't matter what she said. If Starkiller died, then so would she. Vader was not known for his mercy or for the control of his temper. She swallowed the nervous lump in her throat and startled at the sudden static crackling over the speakers.
Not Starkiller's frequency.
"I'm picking up a lot of commlink chatter just a few levels above you. You're nearing General Kota." She had just leaned to cut communication when warning signals flared on the screens. "I'm picking up a major energy surge! There must be a generator close to where you are. If you destroy it, those gates should drop."
She'd be smug about that later. How dare that apprentice boy question her ability to pilot this ship and give quality information!
"This is it, Starkiller. That lift will take you up to where Kota is." Somehow it felt right to add a 'be careful' to the end of that declaration, but she kept it to her thoughts.
"I'm ready." He replied unexpectedly and, with adrenaline thumping in her veins, she turned the ship's nose towards his location and crawled forwards through space.
She wasn't sure how long a battle with a Jedi would last, but she imagined it would not drag on for hours; unless maybe their powers were evenly matched. Could that ever happen? As she drew closer to the facility, it became quickly obvious where the pair were located. The crackle of Force energy lit up the shadows and falling chunks of debris warned her to stay clear of them until the very last moment. After all, a powerful Jedi could tear a ship from the sky and smash it into oblivion. She circled at a distance, watching the proceedings in awe. She almost jumped out of her skin when she realised she was no longer alone.
The droid was back; his round, glowing 'eyes' fixed on the battle, mostly masked from their view.
"PROXY. Don't sneak up on me like that."
"Sorry, Captain Eclipse."
"You can, uh, just call me Juno."
"Very well Capt—Juno." He lifted an arm and pointed one long finger out across the length of space. "Master will need collecting."
"Almost, I think."
She grabbed the accelerator and pushed the paddle forwards. The thrusters roared to life and the Rogue Shadow surged towards the half-destroyed facility and down towards the battle site of Jedi and Sith. PROXY leaned forwards and craned his head up to get a better view of the half destroyed platform.
"Can you see him?"
"PROXY. He should be there. I know he's there. He's on the sensors."
Something slamming into the ship's hull halted their frantic questionings and Juno all but leapt out of her chair. "What was that?"
"I do believe that Master has returned. I'll just go open the top hatch and let him in." The droid spoke, completely unperturbed.
With a sigh of disbelief, Juno reclined back into her chair and eased the ship forwards slowly; waiting for the tell-tale warning signs of the hatch being opened and then the blink of green lights to tell her all was sealed once more. Only then did she punch forwards and send the ship careering away from Nar Shaddaa.
PROXY entered a few minutes later.
"Where is he? That was him, wasn't it?"
"Master is seeing to some of his wounds. The down side of being a living organism."
"You aren't helping him?"
"Why would I do that?" PROXY replied in disbelief. "My primary programming is to end his life. Not to sustain it. I am under strict orders not to aid in his recovery."
"But if he dies from wounds received by others you don't get to complete your objective." Juno pointed out.
The droid sighed in a very human-like fashion. "I can self-repair but I was not programmed with the knowledge of healing humanoids."
Juno wasn't sure whether she liked this droid all that much. Sure, he'd done nothing to suggest that he would hurt her, but his upbeat manner even when talking about such grave things struck her as slightly…unhinged. "I assume we will be returning to the Executor so that Starkiller can report to Lord Vader?"
"That's right." The voice that answered was not PROXY's and Juno turned to see the boy enter the cockpit. He looked…awful. There was no other way to describe it. The mission had clearly taken its toll on him and she could only imagine how difficult it must have been to infiltrate such a place alone. His protective clothing was battered and torn and, as he seated himself, his hands trembled – just a little – but enough for her to notice. "Set the coordinates." He added.
Juno, strangely, found no words for him and, instead, turned to lock in on the Executor's location. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Starkiller remove a lightsaber from his belt and turn it sceptically in his hands. It could have been his own, but she had a feeling it had belonged to the now dead General Kota.
To be continued...