Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars.
Author's note: Okay guys~ this is it! The last chapter of this fanfic! So without further to do...
Andrigno - Here's the next update for you. I definitely prefer Bethany. My Hawke never seemed to get on very well with Carver, but Beth was awesome! Those two together are splendidly cute. Both of them so different and their chat whilst wandering about was really hilariously sweet. Will definately keep in contact! I certainly have some more SW fics in the works. Hope you enjoy the conclusion and, once again, thanks so much for your review.
Liisiko - Wow. Just wow. Honestly, your review truly made my day. I get so worried about writing the romancy stuff that I was really concerned about what I'd written and whether it was up to standard. Just...well...thank you so much for your kind words, in all of your reviews as well as the last. I'm so, so glad that you enjoyed the last chapter and really hope that I can do the ending justice as well. The kiss was my most favourite part of the game (as I probably mentioned before) so I felt a lot of pressure to try and get that moment captured as I remember it. I managed to finish the first book over the last weekend when I was away and did enjoy it, I sort of just wish there had been a couple of flashbacks to the character's past or something, just to give us a little extra of what wasn't in the game. I'll be reading the second one next before starting on my next large SW project. But yes, I totally agree with you. Starkiller as a main character is a real breath of fresh air. He's not a do-gooder who is selfless and perfect. He has real flaws which I think makes him a really amazing hero figure. I just adored the part where Kota was trying to get him to go back and help the Rebels and he refused to get dragged into it, only wanting to find Juno and help her. And then the end scene where he realises that by seeking her, he's killed her and the: I should have stayed here, part. Beautifully done. The second game really got bad reviews, too, which I think was slightly unfair as it was a really smooth and beautiful game with - as you say - a really moving storyline despite it being such a short game (which is my only gripe about it!) So, once again, thanks so much for your review and for sticking with me through this. It's been incredibly fun!
The narrow walkway kept them in close proximity of one another, the clash and buzz of their sabers echoing with deafening vibrancy. The blades blazed with purple sparks as they met, fluctuating violently as if they, too, sensed the opposing sides of the Force. Starkiller's moves were swift, perhaps more elegant, but they were well matched by Vader's brutal, relentless strikes. The Dark Lord's precise blocks and attacks were violent and vicious in their intent, leaving Starkiller no doubt that if he let his guard down for a single moment, he'd be impaled.
Hidden by the mask, Starkiller was unable to read the effect this duel was having on his old master, the breathing quickened but not so much so that it was particularly noticeable.
Would it just be a matter of who tired first?
Determined to see this through, Starkiller made to swing for Vader again. In the same motion he lifted his free hand, fingers curled as he drew into the power of the Force. Sith Lightning sparked from his fingers, directed at the Dark Lord himself. Perhaps the blade would be just enough of a distraction…
Wishful thinking, of course.
A wall of the Force knocked Starkiller back, the lightning licking erratically and dangerously before disappearing with an angry hiss-snap.
The ex-apprentice rolled nimbly back to his feet, saber still drawn, and parried another brutal blow from his old master.
"You have weakened, my Apprentice."
"No. I've opened my eyes."
"Fool! The Jedi think they have taken away what made you strong. I still sense your anger. Let it flow through you as it once did."
It was tempting. Anger was easy to grasp at, particularly given the situation. But anger clouded the mind. It would lure him into a frenzy that his old master was familiar with.
Anger, this time, would mean the death of him.
"Your tricks won't work anymore, Vader."
The shrill keening of their blades sent erratic light strobing across the walkway and yet, trying to maintain a sense of calm seemed to be distracting the newly-made Jedi. Vader gained ground, his violent attacks sending painful waves through the apprentice's arm and shoulder. He braced his blade in both palms to meet another head-on attack and almost lost his footing.
Feeling panic threaten, he reached once more for the lightning that had served him well in the past. It snapped up towards the imposing dark figure, but again, to no avail.
This time Vader threw up his own bolt of lightning and the two forces clashed with tremendous force, each one struggling for a moment to gain the upper hand. Starkiller drew in on his strength, pressing forwards the attack, but it was Vader who eventually stepped up as the victor. He tried to suppress his cry of pain as the lightning rippled across his form, sending him hurtling back across the corridor. Fearing Vader would come to finish the fight he automatically tried to clamber to his feet, the motion painful and excruciatingly slow. His arms and torso burned, tendrils of smoke rising up from now scorched robes.
He expected to feel the burn of a saber at his neck as Vader finished the job. He was thus surprised to see the dark, imposing figure of Vader retreating into the room beyond the corridor.
What was he doing?
Patting a smoking patch of fabric on his shoulder, he wavered just a moment before following after the Dark Lord and straight into a trap he'd known was waiting for him. A huge chunk of metal crashed into the ground just in front of him and he was saved only by his quick reflexes and a swift halt. With a cry of anger at his own shortcomings, he used the blasted metal as a platform, allowing him enough height to easily leap straight into the centre of the room and towards Vader. He lifted his lightsaber high over his head to put as much force behind his attack as possible. Vader had known what to expect. The Dark Lord neatly sidestepped, kicking the legs out from under the boy; an action that almost sent Starkiller hurtling off of the platform.
Spinning, their sabers clashed again, Vader pushing the attack, luring Starkiller to the edge of the platform. Realising his space had run out, Starkiller was forced to retreat back to the outer platforms, circling like a hungry wolf waiting for the kill. That was when he spotted the loose components on the walls, attached by nothing more than hooks and cables. It took little effort to tear these from their place and send them spinning towards Vader.
He wasn't sure what surprised him more. The fact that the attack struck, or the fact that Vader looked visibly shaken by it. No time to waste, Starkiller was leaping back into the central platform, once again engaging Vader in a vicious saber duel. His arms were beginning to feel numb from Vader's attacks, but he was certain that they were weakening. Pretty certain, anyway.
"Give up. You are no match for me." Vader's taunting voice, deep and menacing, now sounded somewhat empty.
Starkiller didn't respond to him. Inwardly he was still trying to find the calm part of himself and bring that to the forefront. He remembered the emotionless face of Shaak Ti staring back at him during their duel and the impact it had had on him. If he looked unaffected, perhaps it would shake Darth Vader's confidence.
Again, however, he was forced to retreat to the outer rim of the room, dodging flying pieces of debris and leaping to safety as – one by one – the metal grids warped beneath his feet: a clever move by Vader.
Starkiller rolled to avoid a blast of Force power and gathered himself just in time to send a hunk of debris flying back at Vader. All at once he saw his chance. Using the deflected component as a distraction, it took less than a second for him to generate enough energy to send a huge explosion of Force outwards (his body the vessel) which sent Vader crashing to the ground.
Arms trembling, Starkiller expanded a bubble of Force to fill the room, seeking loose objects that he could bring down on top of the Dark Lord. Success! Three large cylinders twisted out of place from the ceiling and, with little encouragement lanced downwards, crushing the Sith beneath the collaborative bulk. Immediately the metal cylinders began to tremble, launching away from the crushed form of the man Starkiller had once feared. Now, he had no fear for him. Perhaps he even held pity for the broken half-man who was – like him – merely a puppet: just a puppet slightly higher up the pecking order.
Starkiller went on the offence again, spinning and arching, catching the Dark Lord with the edge of his saber. He attacked not with anger, now, but with pure determination to see this through to the end. And, realising that, the tip of the lightsaber caught under Vader's mask and tore it free, revealing the withered, hairless face of the man who had taken everything from him – or tried to, at the very least.
With one last effort, Starkiller sent the broken body flying through a screen of glass and into the next chamber. Drawing in a deep breath, he leapt through the hole after him and strode confidently over to where Vader now lay, discarded and ruined on a lower platform. He tightened his grip reflexively on the blue saber in his hand and felt the touch of vengeance flicker in him.
"Yes! Kill him! He was weak, broken! Kill him and you can take your rightful place at my side." The words were spat in an almost excited frenzy and Starkiller turned to see the caped form of the Emperor himself, fierce eyes glowing from the shadows of his hood.
He was momentarily surprised to find that such an offer brought nothing but displeasure. Before…before he had been cleansed of the darkness, such an offer would have thrilled him. He would have accepted in an instant. Now, though...
"No!" Kota's voice took Starkiller by surprise. Caught up in the aftermath of battle, adrenaline flooding through him, he had momentarily forgotten that where the Emperor was, the Senators would be, too. Now the old Jedi – hands bound before him - was on his feet and pulling The Emperor's Lightsaber to his waiting hands. The old Jedi lifted it in an attempt to make a strike for The Emperor.
And even Starkiller was not quick enough to intervene what happened next.
The Emperor's Sith Lightning ripped across the floor, seeking and consuming the body of the white-haired Jedi. With a cry of agony, the elder Jedi Master sprawled backwards onto the ground, no match for the ruler of the galaxy.
"Help him!" Bail cried in horror.
Starkiller cast a look between the stricken Jedi and Vader; who was still lying on the ledge below. The choice was surprisingly easy to make and the vengeance he might have felt before drained in an instant. Turning his back on his old Master he moved towards his new target: The Emperor himself.
For such a decrepit looking man, he was certainly faster than what Starkiller had expected. He'd half hoped that the man was as frail as his appearance portrayed. That perhaps he used the puppet, Vader, to protect himself from those such as Starkiller from landing a fatal blow. However, the moment the duel began, Starkiller realised this was far from the truth. The Emperor was – by far – the strongest opponent he had ever faced.
The thought that he wouldn't be able to best him did, momentarily, enter his mind.
The Emperor moved quicker than the eye could follow, his form almost phantom-like as he evaded Starkiller's attacks, increasing the distance between them so that he could indulge in the use of his Force Lightning. The purple streaks rapped wildly across the metal flooring, scorching grey to black and filling the room with the stench of blasted metal.
Starkiller countered with a blast of Force lightning of his own and the two entities clashed with tremendous force. He'd engaged in this previously with Vader and lost. This time, losing was not an option. He dove deep for his reserves and pushed outwards, increasing the strength and size of the lightning blast, driving it forwards.
He had come so far. Done so much. He was Starkiller! He had killed Jedi. He had inspired Senators. He had ripped a Star Destroyer from the air. And he, too, had bested his Master. A man who had tortured him in the name of the Dark Side. A man who had once controlled him as if he were no more than a weapon. He, too, had found love in a time where love seemed scarce.
If Starkiller – no – if Galen could not destroy the Emperor, then who could?
Certainly not Kota. Certainly not any other Jedi hiding in fear across the galaxy – if any of them now lived.
He dove deeper still, pulling cords and cords of Force up through him, out through the points of his fingers. Brow furrowed with concentration, jaw set, he pushed forwards with his outstretched palm and lanced the fingers of electricity through the Emperor's. The sound of the lightning consuming the caped Sith brought with it a buzz of hope and with a smirk of victory Starkiller leapt in for the attack, saber readied.
"W-watch out!" Kota's warning came just in time.
The boy ducked and a large metal component whizzed past his head, churning with purple electricity. He rolled out of danger, flattening himself against cover and glanced around the console desk to see the Emperor waiting for him. Blue lightning rippled down the length of his cloak, dispersing to nothing.
"What's this? Hiding?" The man screeched, bringing the small, crackling generators crashing down against the console. Sparks burned against Starkiller's unprotected face and he brought up an arm to protect his eyes from the flashes of intense light.
Gritting his teeth and, with a sharp intake of breath, Starkiller vaulted himself over the console and went into the offensive.
The Emperor collapsed to the floor in a heap of cloth and lifted an arm up to protect his face. The sagging skin was bleached bone-white and the eyes looked hollow and dead in his face. His lips were pulled back over his teeth in an animalistic snarl, the curve of his protective fingers more talon than human. Starkiller, with a sneer of his own, lifted his blade. The desire to take the life of the Sith sprawled pitifully beneath him flared molten in his veins. Vader had been a mere pawn. Yes, he had no love for the man but it was this cowering figure who was all to blame. Kill him and this would be over. He need not fear Vader now. Not anyone.
"You were destined to destroy me. Do it! Give in to your hatred!"
The saber in Starkiller's hand thrummed but he was stilled by a firm hand on his shoulder. Kota.
"He's beaten. Let it go…"
"It's a trick." Starkiller insisted. "He's more powerful than you know and he deserves to die for what he's done to me."
"Maybe so. But, if you kill him now, out of hatred, then you will be right back where you started. Kill him now and he's won."
Starkiller hesitated and the conflict in his eyes was startlingly bright. His hand tightened on the saber and again it seemed to buzz with the need for blood.
"Starkiller." Kota's voice was surprisingly soothing. "You aren't his to control any longer."
The tension unwound from his arms and, with a short nod, Starkiller stood down. "Get Bail and the others out of here. I'll be right behind you."
Neither of them expected - though they probably should have - that the Sith had enough strength to carry out another attack.
A blast of Force Lightning rippled hotly through the air, singing past Starkiller and striking Kota straight in the chest. The white-haired Jedi buckled in pain and, acting without any thought for himself, Starkiller intervened, forcing himself between the Emperor and Kota, bracing the lightning against the open palms of his hands. The strength of it was overpowering and it took all of his might just to remain on his feet, yelling at the top of his voice. "GO! Hurry! Protect the Senators!"
And this was it. His end. An end fit for a Jedi.
Behind him he heard Kota regain himself and the sounds of the retreat. He'd buy them enough time. He'd help them get to safety, to reach the Rogue Shadow before anyone could catch up with them. Then Juno would…
With a roar of pain, Starkiller pushed forwards, closing the gap between him and The Emperor, building the power of the Force with every step that he took. He knew, when this power was released, that the resulting explosion would be devastating. He was only sad that he would not be able to witness it.
There was pain – just a moment of blinding pain – and then there was nothing.
Nothing at all.
She wasn't sure she had wanted to come, but in the end Kota had managed to persuade her. She'd been angry with him at first. After all, he'd made it clear he did not approve of her feelings for Starkiller…for Galen. Now, because the object of her affection was dead, he was kind and sympathetic. Juno knew that if things had been different. If Galen had made it off of that ship in one piece, Kota would have continued to view her feelings – no, their feelings – as something wrong and shameful.
But, as the days had slipped by, she had come to realise that both the regret and the comfort was genuine. He knew her pain as if he understood it himself. She supposed that he did. After all, his closest friends would have been Jedi and their numbers were...almost non-existent now.
And so her anger had faded and she accepted his shoulder to lean on with no little gratitude.
Behind her, she could hear the voices of the Senators, quietly discussing their plans for rebellion: plans that were made possible by Galen himself. She wondered if he could see them now. Wondered if he knew that he had made a difference. That his sacrifice had not been taken lightly.
In her pocket, her hand closed over the small damaged holocron, seeking comfort from its hard, smooth surface against the pads of her fingers. Her eyes, lit with starlight, turned out across the expanse of the night sky. It was extraordinarily beautiful when viewed from the wild lands of Kashyyk; from the hut that had once housed a small, innocent Galen and his father.
She lifted the small object from her pocket and held it close to her chest – over her heart. She had not yet been able to bring herself to tamper with it, almost afraid as to what she might find out about him and his family. But if she did not discover and remember, then who would?
"What's that you have there?"
Juno half-turned her head, giving Kota a brief smile. The smile did not quite reach her eyes and it hadn't since the day of the rescue that had taken Galen from her. She tightened her grip on the holocron, hesitating only a moment, before opening her palm to show him. The pale yellow light emanated a soft warmth that seemed to soothe her pains.
"A Jedi holocron." Kota observed with some surprise. "Where did you get that from?"
"Starkiller." She did not use his real name with other people; even Kota. "He gave it to me before he left to rescue you and the Senators. It belonged to his father."
"Was he able to retrieve any information from the audio files?"
She shook her head. "No. There was no time. He didn't want it to be left forgotten again so I said I would take care of it for him." Really, she had no idea how the thing worked, though she would eventually gather up the courage to find out. Perhaps she would even ask Kota. Her eyes cast out to the sky again and the tightness of grief closed like a fist around her lungs.
Sensing her grief, the elderly Jedi set a comforting hand on her shoulder. "He's not really gone, Juno. Starkiller is now at one with the Force."
"You always knew who he was, didn't you?" Her voice was not accusing, but soft and…strangely enlightened.
"I suspected, yes."
"Then why did you help him? After all the things he had done?" She turned to look at him, trying to understand how he had been able to stand by and follow a man who had killed his friends and attempted to kill him.
"When he came to me in the bar seeking aid against the Empire, among all his dark thoughts, I glimpsed a small bright spot. I knew, then, that he was not completely under the hold of his Master. Knew that, if I aided him - if I could show him what it was like to be a Jedi - then that bright spot might grow bigger and brighter. It would blot out the darkness."
Juno stared at him.
"But I could not have done it alone. There was one thing that secured his change, Juno, and that was you."
"Dead, he is now more powerful than ever. He was meant to root out the Rebels. His sacrifice will only inspire them. You must be relentless, Lord Vader. If even a single Rebel survives, this alliance that we have unwittingly created will be our undoing…"
- The Emperor
When I begun writing this 65 page fan-fiction I never could have imagined the wonderful responses that I have received. I was more than a little afraid that I'd make a huge mess of it and embarrass myself. However, the responses I got were incredible and I'd like to thank you all for your support, friendly advice and chatter that we've had over the time. It really did help keep me motivated when I signed in to see people had reviewed and/or subscribed to my story.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to let you know of future fics I'm planning that you can keep a look out for, if you wish:
I've got a couple of one-shots in the works (both untitled as of yet). These will be set shortly after the end of the second game, just exploring the themes of:
- Jedi romance: right or wrong?
- Galen clone issues.
I'm also planning another one-shot that takes place between game 1 and 2, which is a continuation of this fic, in that it will focus on Juno and Kota and what they discover when they activate Kento's holocron.
Once those three are finished I'd also love to explore the possibilities of what might happen in game 3. This will probably be a longer piece which will have a number of chapters in, though unsure whether it will be as long as this one. I'll also need to do some major research into timelines and things to make sure what I do makes sense. So this one is some time off as of yet. If any of you wish to throw ideas back and forth with me for this, I'd be more than happy to.
After that, who knows! If my muse is still there, I might write some more. Otherwise I'll no doubt make a return once the third game comes into existence.
Thanks for reading!