Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars
Author's Note: Hello, hello, hello! It's been a while since I last posted something, but I can promise you all that I'm working behind the scenes on my larger SW project (aka: my prediction for what might happen in TFU3). My way of working is slightly different because I like to have all of the chapters written out in draft before I start publishing on the site. This way I can guarantee quick updates and that the story will conclude and not be left hanging. I currently have three chapters written up and am well on my way with the fourth so hopefully it shouldn't be too long before something appears. Sadly I do have a rather important exam coming up, so work has slowed due to revision. My exam is on the 22nd of this month, so once that is over I can get back into full swing with my writing again.
Also wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who reviewed my last one-shot; 'His Place'. Your feedback means a lot to me and really encourages me to keep writing. I was hoping to have another fluffy one-shot up, but that may have to wait until after I've finished the larger piece.
Anyway, this fic can be considered a companion piece to 'A Glimpse of Light'
There is No Death
Juno's hand shook as she set the precious, glowing object on the flat surface of the console. It was an odd contraption; one that seemed to thrum at her touch and then become oddly subdued when left alone. It shimmered there now, the gentle yellow light emanating softly against the panels beneath it.
She wrapped her shaking arms around herself and settled her gaze on its intricate surface. Behind her, automatic doors opened and the quiet tread of her companion echoed around the small room. She turned, throwing him a nervous smile that he would sense rather than see.
Her companion was General Kota.
The years had been kind to the man despite the worry lines that time had impressed on his face. His hair was white – rather than grey – and smoothly brushed up into the familiar topknot style that he seemed to favour. His lean body was still strong despite his years, thanks to his rather hectic lifestyle. His white eyes flickered, angling down to look at her, but he saw in the way others did not. He used the Force to guide him and bring his step, untroubled, across to her side.
"Thanks for coming." Juno spoke in way of greeting. "I wasn't sure whether you'd have the time to spare."
"I could not deny the request of a Captain, now, could I?"
Her eyes flicked upwards, surprised.
He smiled. "I hear they're giving you command of a Rebel ship. Congratulations."
"I'd almost prefer that they didn't." She mused, looking back at the holocron. To be promoted would be to let go of everything from before…to give up the Rogue Shadow, to be cut out of frontline work.
The old Jedi set a hand on her shoulder. "You deserve to be recognised. He would be proud."
She flinched and his fingers squeezed comfortingly.
"Are you sure you're up for this?" He continued.
Juno steeled herself, nodding. "Yes. We might not get another chance and…someone needs to…remember. We knew him best and I can't do this without a Jedi. That's what you told me, right?" She drew in a strengthening breath and gestured towards the device. "So…how does it work, exactly?"
"Simple enough." Kota replied. "Holocrons vary in design and how they can be used or unlocked but, generally speaking, only a Force-sensitive can use one."
Juno seemed slightly disappointed at that.
"However, some could be used by Force-insensitives once they had been activated. We'll find out in just a moment." He set the device a little further back and then, to her amazement, the holocron came to life. It gave an odd clicking-whirring sound which didn't seem particularly healthy and then a beam of light projected out onto the panel. The beam flickered – almost warily – and then strengthened. The light took the form of a miniature human male. He was dressed in the typical Jedi garb, the hood pulled back so that his face could be seen. The image was fuzzy, but the face looked very much like a slightly older version of Starkiller's. The hair was dark but thin, tied back from his face in a neat but short ponytail. The image was certainly not as up-to-date as it could have been, the man younger than Juno would have expected. She gathered the image must have been from long before Order 66.
"I must warn you." Kota spoke to Juno. "The data in here may all be corrupted or completely irrelevant. Some Jedi logged only knowledge. There's no telling that we might find anything personal amongst the data here."
She nodded; gripping the edge of the console to still her trembling hands.
"Greetings, Jedi Master." The hologram spoke, the voice gravely but jovial.
The white-haired Jedi tipped his head down towards the hologram. "Greetings. Will you be able to tell me your name, gatekeeper?"
"I am the image of the Jedi Knight, Kento Marek. This is his holocron."
"Are there any personal data files available?" Kota continued.
There was a moment of silence and then the holocron juddered. "Sixty-four point two percent of this holocron's data has been corrupted. Twenty-three point one of the remaining data within this archive has been classified as personal data. None of this archive has been marked as confidential."
Juno blinked. "Why would he not protect it?"
"Perhaps it was, once. Maybe he unprotected it so it could be accessed by his son?"
The gatekeeper's image wobbled.
"Kento, please relay the first available entry." Kota continued.
"Entry date 24BBY." The gatekeeper's voice briefly fluctuated with static. "They look at me with disappointment. Even my master. I know what they're thinking. I waste my talent. I take nothing seriously. Is it my fault that none of them possess a sense of humour? I cannot change what I am. I will not conform. They brought me here to become a Jedi and that is what I am. When the time comes, I will show them what I can do. I will prove them wrong."
The voice of the gatekeeper made a screeching sound, the entry being fast-forwarded – perhaps to avoid corrupted data – and then it slowed to an understandable level. "Health log number 34. Patient: Kento Marek. Injury suffered: Fracture to the tibia and clavicle. Status: undergoing treatment and recuperation. Details: Two days in bacta-tank submersion. Wearing of sling for minimum of one week. Range of Motion exercises to be carried out during this period to reduce atrophy in elbow and shoulder. Mid-shaft fracture in tibia; restrict mobility for two weeks to ensure clean heal."
Doctor reports flared into being, filtering through at a rapid pace and then there was another short pause before the next entry clicked into place.
"There will be war, that's what we've been hearing. They try to keep us in the dark about the goings on, but the rumours are flying back and forth now. I know its wrong to wish for such a thing, but maybe this will give me an opportunity to show what I can do. For all the bad they bring, wars make heroes of men. We are trained to fight. We are soldiers. I'll be there on the front lines. I'll lead us to victory."
There was another short whirring pause and some battle orders flashed up on screen. Clearly the file had been wrongly assigned. The holographic image of Kento began to relay battle detail, until Juno put an end to it.
The gatekeeper of the holocron fell silent and Juno could not help but smile a little. She could speak with it after all. "Search keyword: love."
The image of Kento flared. "Three percent of requested data corrupted."
"Could you read all entries?"
Juno felt her heart begin to beat wildly. What if there was nothing? What if those files had been corrupted – or worse! – didn't even exist to begin with.
"I've been in trouble for plenty of things but never did I think it'd be for falling in love. I know. I know. It's ridiculous and I shouldn't even be considering it, but the more time I spend with her, the more I realise I've spent my life walking with my eyes closed. I've been an idiot and she's made me see that." A laugh. "She calls me a fool on a daily basis and how can I defend myself when it is true?"
A pause and the data forwarded to a later time. Kento had clearly not been a very good log keeper.
"She has done what even the sternest Jedi Master could not. In less than a year, she has seen this fool of a Jedi leave his boyish antics behind. I realise now that I was going about things all wrong. I wanted to be praised as a hero of the Clone Wars. I wanted to be recognised for amazing feats of bravery and the rescuer of people. But she is a hero to people and she does not even seek such status. I see the reverence in the eyes of those she saves. My Freedom Fighter. My Mallie. I think she loves me, too, but she will not admit it. I'm working on breaking down her defences. It's only a matter of time."
The next recording came, the tone more tired and troubled. "My friend, Jarran Gal, is suspicious. I've tried not to be obvious but he's known me too long. He thinks I've gotten boring, that I've lost my nerve. He goes to war without me at his side. A part of me misses it. The thrill of the fight, the rush of the adrenaline but…I can't have everything and a world without Mallie is not worth contemplating. She's agreed for us to kindle a relationship so long as we keep it secret. She's afraid of punishment but part of me thinks that we shouldn't care. We are good Jedi. Why should we be denied the simple joy of love? Jarran is dropping in to see me later. I think he's planning to interrogate me. I want to tell him but now isn't the right time."
The gatekeeper fluctuated. "Following data corrupted." The words became twisted and filled with static and then, "…getting married. Love is not wrong. They're too stupid and afraid of what might happen that they're not…" The hologram trailed and remained silent to hear out Juno's question:
"Togrutan male. Deceased." Kento responded swiftly.
"By Order 66 no doubt." Kota growled.
"Correct." The gatekeeper confirmed.
"So many…so many were killed." Juno whispered softly, struggling to understand just how big the extent of that loss had been. It was hard for her to conceive such strong warriors being wiped out by the clones.
"Those we thought were allies turned upon us. No one suspected. Not even me – though I never trusted them myself. I remember…I remember standing with my men, feeling the lives of my brothers and sisters extinguished one by one." Kota's face twisted with pain and Juno set a hand in the crook of his elbow. The old man had never mentioned past pains before, running headlong into the future without looking back. Almost as if he was afraid to look back.
"It must have been horrible. And to think I thought you were fiends and traitors. It's…shameful."
Kota snorted. "It benefits the Emperor to keep his followers in the dark."
The silent image of Kento flickered as if impatient to be asked to continue speaking or to be shut down.
"Can you read entries filed under key word: Kashyyyk?" Juno asked.
"And here I thought we were keeping this secret close to our chests! I told Jarran this morning about Mallie and me. He just laughed and told me that he was wondering how long it would take for me to tell him. I'm not sure if he actually knew about us or was just saying that he did. Either way, I thought he'd be angry but he doesn't seem to be all that worried. I think he would be if he knew how serious we are. I haven't told him that we're married and I've definitely not told him that she's pregnant and that we're thinking of eloping. We have a few places in mind but we're keeping our options open. Possibly Kashyyk. Either way, the sooner we leave, the better. I just…I can't believe how much my life has changed in little more than a year. Soon I will be a father and a Jedi free from the constraints of the Order."
More static and then a distorted voice followed: "They're dead. Everyone is dead. If we hadn't left the Order…we would be dead, too. We're worried that our home is no longer safe and Mallie wants us to leave before the day is out. We're heading for Kashyyk to settle for the time being. She's always wanted to go there and this has given us the opportunity. In a way, our son is doing more to protect us than the other way around. After all, who ever saw a Jedi with a baby?"
And without barely a pause, the hologram read the next entry. "The Wookiees are a fascinating, intelligent people of whom I haven't had many dealings with before. They live amongst the trees – the like of which I have never seen before and have an incredible knack for fixing things. They seem to understand what we say, too, though they can only use their own language. (A language which I am struggling to understand!) Mallie has slipped into their culture with enviable ease and her ability to communicate and understand them goes far beyond my capabilities. I wish I had her patience! We live on the outskirts of a large clan and have visitors often – much to Galen's joy. He seems to be quite taken with the Wookiees. I must admit I find their loyalty and kindness – despite the hardships they have faced – to be truly humbling."
The Kento-hologram dipped his head as if in apology. "Next three entries corrupted. Continuing from entry dated 17BBY: I felt Jarran Gal die today. Rest well, my friend." There was a strained breath that could have been a compressed sob. "There is no death, there is the Force."
"How could he know?" Juno whispered.
"Some things…you just know. Our connection to the Force…it is a delicate thing." Kota replied, his voice sounded thick with emotion.
"Like an intuition?"
"Yes, I suppose."
"Galen seems to grow everyday. The Kashyyyk air seems to suit him and his babbling nonsense is starting to make sense. He'll be bilingual, too, if his growling at a Wookiee pup the other day is anything to go by. He has my eyes and many of my features (something I tease Mallie about on a daily basis). A small consolation is that he has her hair. Mallie is insistent that we allow it to grow, but dark wavy hair isn't very manly, now, is it? She's laughing at me now. She thinks I'm joking." And, in the background, the laughter of a woman could be heard, followed by her voice, though the words were inaudible. "I'm not joking."
Juno, despite herself, smiled at that. It was surprisingly easy to picture Galen with short, wavy hair. She imagined it would soften his appearance a great deal.
"Final Kashyyyk entry." The hologram announced. "Three months ago, my wife, Mallie Marek, was killed by slavers as she tried to protect the people who had welcomed us into their homeland." The voice was strangely emotionless, as if accounting the life of another. "I tell myself that she is at peace. That she is at one with the Force. But this land that once felt so beautiful and comforting holds nothing but sadness, now. I think, if it were not for Galen, I would have left this planet and sought out an honourable death for myself. It would be easier to do that then it would be to linger here, clinging to hope and cowering in fear. Destiny, it seems, has carved me out a more difficult path. It's a selfish thought, I know, but in truth, I feel almost cruel bringing Galen into this world of war and hate. Sometimes I look at him and wonder what sort of a future he will have – if he will have a future at all. It is a horrible thought for a parent and one that haunts me on a daily basis. I cherish him with all my heart but, in these dark times, hope dwindles. I've thought of leaving Kashyyyk, but where would I go? We are hunted. Hated. It is all we can do to survive." There was a long pause. "All I know is that I will do everything in my power to protect him. I failed Mallie but I will not fail my son. I will teach him and I will make sure he doesn't forget his mother. We will continue to live and prove that the Empire hasn't yet succeeded in its task to eradicate us." The hologram straightened. "Log end."
"You would have been so proud of him. If only you could have seen him at the end. He died for us. For all of us." She managed to hold the tears at bay.
Kota set a hand on her shoulder. "He knows, Juno. I'm certain of that." He paused and murmured under his breath. "There is no death…there is the Force."
"Kento said that, too. What is that?"
"The final line of the Jedi Code. To…remind us not to fear death nor mourn it so deeply that we fall into darkness. Life and death; one cannot exist without the other."
She stared silently at the hologram, feeling somewhat drained of energy after listening to the accounts.
"Are we done?" Kota asked gently.
"Yes. Yes, we're done. His parents loved him. That's all he would have wanted to know, I'm sure."
"Thank you, Kento. That will be all."
The hologram blinked out and the room seemed suddenly dull and lifeless. She lifted the holocron gently, as if it might crumble under too hard a touch, and held it close.
"What shall we do with this now? Do you want to take it?"
"I think you should keep it. He did entrust it to you, after all."
She nodded slowly.
"So, what next?" The old Jedi asked.
She smiled faintly. "I'm glad you asked." She turned to face him, looking up into his eyes. "I want you to take the Rogue Shadow, General."
"I would be honoured."
"I know you'll take good care of her."
"If by, 'take care' you mean fly her into impossible missions, then yes. You can count on me."
She laughed quietly, still holding the holocron close. "Thank you. Stay in touch, won't you? If I can help in any way, I will. Just…don't go getting yourself killed, okay?"
"You'll see me around, no doubt about it." He patted her warmly on the shoulder and, with a small smile, exited the room.
Juno stood for a moment, alone and quiet. The holocron glowed faintly in her hands; a log of precious memories. She would keep it safe and she would not forget what she had heard here this day. She only wished that he had been there to hear his father's voice. To hear how much he had been loved.
But, if Kota was right then Galen knew.
Fighting back another bout of tears she straightened her posture, slipped the holocron into a pouch at her belt and moved back out into the well-lit corridor.
It was time to continue the work that he had begun. She would keep his memory alive.