Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Note: I am so sorry for making you all wait so long for the epilogue. It needed more reworking than I initially thought and unfortunately it settled right at one of the busiest times of the year for both myself and my beta. In any case, here it is, at last! Thank you to all of you who read and review and have stuck with this story over such a great length of time. Your support means a lot and without you this story wouldn't have existed. Thank you, especially, to Liisiko who helped me rework this epilogue into something much better than what I had originally.
There was a strange sensation of floating and a rush of whispered voices; all of them distant and incomprehensible. Behind her eyelids the light seemed unusually bright and annoyingly inescapable. She managed to turn her head; dimly registering the soft and cool sensation beneath her cheek. Something wasn't right. She shouldn't be here. Her head was filled with fire and smoke and death.
And she couldn't think with that voice calling out to her like that. Why couldn't she be left in peace? All she needed was a little time to recover and—
—and something touched her shoulder; bringing her sharply out of her daze. Sucking in a gasping breath, her body jerked upright, startling at the sudden return of awareness. The light was harsh against her eyes and she struggled to see through all of the glaring white. Then, a moment later, she was reunited with her injuries and the debilitating agony that came with them.
She wanted to scream.
She wanted the darkness back. The dark was kind and gentle.
"Please remain still, Captain Eclipse." The voice held the mechanical whirr of a droid but it wasn't the droid's hand on her shoulder; encouraging her to lie back down. The hand was warm and human.
It was Sia's.
"Juno." Her voice was soft. "It's okay. It's okay. You're safe now."
Juno could only gape up at the woman - utterly mystified - watching as the details of her face slowly revealed to her through the glare. "Sia?" And then her brain started to overload, flooding with thoughts and fear and hurt. "What is –? How are—?" She paused to try and recollect herself. "I don't understand." And then she was shaking, trying to pull herself free of the medical equipment that suddenly felt as if it was suffocating her. The medical droid chimed with alarm and Sia's hands gripped her shoulders tighter, freezing her in place.
"Juno. Juno. It's okay. Listen to me. We're on an Alliance ship. It's just me."
"Just you?" Her fingers twisted into the mass of tubes feeding across to a noisy machine. "Just you?" There was something wrong about that statement. "But…"
Sia was talking again but her words were lost to the roar of her raging thoughts. Then she remembered fire and devastation and an all-consuming dread settled heavily in her belly. "Galen?" His name burst from her. "Where's Galen?"
Sia's face shifted into one of concern; the corners of her mouth sloping downwards. "Juno…"
"Where is he?"
"He's not in a good way. Perhaps it's best if—"
"—I need to see him."
"I don't know if that's such a good idea. Your scans haven't come back yet. Juno, there's a high probability that you have internal bleeding."
Juno found that she didn't care. "Please, Sia," she begged. "I need this."
Sia looked torn and for a moment she thought that she would be denied. The fact that the woman eventually gave in spoke volumes. If her injuries were bad, they were clearly not as bad as Galen's.
"You can lean against me. Just take it easy. There's no need to rush."
Juno couldn't have rushed – even if she had tried. The short walk to the neighbouring room was nothing less than torture.
Juno sat by Galen's bedside, watching the shallow rise and fall of his chest, afraid that if she looked away he might stop breathing altogether. There was an awful pain in her back that seemed to be growing steadily worse with each passing moment and, no doubt, some terrible bruising beneath the robe she wore. Still, as bad as she felt, she was certain that her pain was nothing compared to what Galen had suffered.
A large number of bacta patches had been applied to his wounds; some hidden beneath a thick layer of bandages. The ones that were wrapped around his right arm were so thick that she doubted he'd have been able to move the limb.
"Is he going to die?" she asked. The words came out hollow, but she had to ask – if only for Sia to tell her that everything was going to be okay. She needed to hear some words of encouragement, even if the chances of them being true were slim.
Just lie, she thought to herself.
But all Sia said was: "Juno, I don't know."
It deflated her.
The makeshift medical room aboard the ship would have been adequate for lesser injuries but it was certainly not equipped to handle situations like this one. What was possible to do within these limitations was already being done.
"I'm sorry I didn't reach you in time," Sia continued, pulling up a chair to sit next to her.
Juno shook her head. "It's okay. We weren't expecting anyone to come for us. We went there knowing that." Her eyes flicked briefly across to her friend. "Does Leia know you are here?"
"She's the only one who does. This is all being kept strictly off the record. This ship is bound for an Alliance controlled medical station to restock its supplies. Officially, we ran into trouble on the way and had to take a detour…" Sia trailed, ruffling fingers through her unruly hair. "I thought you might need some help but this...it's bad."
Juno chose not to respond to that particular observation. "Is that where we're headed? A medical station?"
Sia nodded. "Is that a problem?"
"It might be better if we stayed off the grid."
"With how badly injured the both of you are, it's too risky not to seek aid. Juno, the medi-droid won't be able to give you the attention you both need. Its programming isn't up to standard and even if it was, we just don't have the sort of equipment you need here on this ship. Besides, the fight isn't over yet. Your battle might be won but the war sure isn't." There was a brief pause. "You are coming back, aren't you?"
"I—" she hesitated, unsure. Admittedly, the thought of what she would do if not fly for the Alliance scared her. It was all she had ever known. Who would she be if not a captain? What else could she turn her hand to? She wasn't sure whether she was cut out for civilian life and what of Galen? He knew of nothing else.
Being distrusted by two of three senators was bad enough, but with Galen's constant battle against the dark side, could he ever truly throw himself into the rebellion? Juno couldn't pretend to understand the complexities of the Force but she knew, whilst it could be used for good, it was also capable of terrible things. Galen had used it to do both and the mistakes of his past had left an imprint on him. Vader would always have a hold over him, no matter how hard he fought against it.
The dark clone's death was not about to change that.
The darkness still remained, waiting for him to slip. And, knowing that, could he keep going the way he was? Could he keep relying on luck (as much as skill) to accomplish the things that he did? And what would the cost be if he couldn't? The whole Alliance could be put in jeopardy and everything they had fought for would have been for nothing. Kota's death would have been in vain, not to mention the thousands of rebel fighters who had risen up and died in the name of freedom.
She jumped, lurching away from her thoughts.
"Leia warned me that you might not come back," Sia admitted. "But what would you do if you didn't? We need you. Both of you."
She shook her head, struggling for words, and then Galen stirred, putting a premature end to their conversation. What was the point of worrying about the future now, anyway?
With great care – as if afraid of hurting him – Juno reached out to touch the back of his hand. Beside her, Sia was on her feet.
"He's awake?" Sia sounded more than a little surprised.
He didn't seem quite lucid enough to form a response but his fingers twitched beneath her hand as if to reassure her.
"What's wrong with him?" Juno asked, trying to keep the panicked edge out of her tone. "Should he be like this?"
"It's probably the affect of the drugs. There may not be much it can do, but that little droid has been keeping itself busy."
"Are you in any pain?" she asked; though it seemed a stupid question once it had been spoken. A part of her didn't even expect a response, so she was grateful when he managed to shake his head; though it was hard to tell whether he was lying or not.
His brow tightened, as if trying to work his eyes open, but it seemed too hard for him to manage.
"Try to rest," Sia intervened. "We'll get you some proper care soon. You'll be back to your normal self in no time."
"Sia is taking us to a medical station – on Leia's orders." Juno explained. "She never intended to abandon us." Or maybe Sia had been able to convince her not to.
"…You?" he asked, grinding out the word with difficulty.
"I'm fine." Though, even as she said the words, the pain seemed to gain a stronger foothold.
His brow furrowed again and she wondered whether he could sense the lie in her tone.
"I need to go and check on our progress," Sia interrupted. "Will you be okay here? We're about to drop out of hyperspace."
"We'll be fine. Thanks, Sia."
"I won't be gone long."
And then they were alone – save the medi-droid – surrounded by the bleep of medical equipment and the pungent smell of bacta.
"I thought you'd left me," Juno started, voice quavering. "Back there on Onderon."
"You know I would never do that," he replied slowly, between breaths.
"Sometimes we don't have a choice." You left me once before, remember?
She stroked his fevered brow and resettled herself in her chair to try and curb her own pain. "We weren't meant to die, Galen. Do you hear me? If that was the case, no one would have come for us. We still have work to do, remember? There's still a place for us, even if it isn't the same as it was before." Tears of pain rose, unbidden, into her eyes and the desire to lie down was becoming more overwhelming by the moment. She couldn't leave him, though. So she kept talking; hoping her words would prove a distraction.
"We'll sever ourselves from the Empire. From Vader. We'll work alone, if we have to. None of the rebels need know we still live." She smiled through her tears; soft and sad. "It can be like it was when we first started working together. Do you remember?"
Except this time there was no Rogue Shadow. No PROXY.
"I don't know what's going to happen," he admitted, sounding tired and distant.
"Then you know as much as I do," she replied.
And, as the ship transferred out of hyperspace, Juno could not help but think that there would be other fights for them. Fights that might require more than just a lightsaber.
Sia was right. The war was not won yet.
The idling ship hummed quietly as Vader regarded the scene laid out before him. Endless space, studded with a bright orb, broiling with fire. The sun's rays reflected off of the surface of his armor, burnishing black with red.
On the console to his right, a display lit up with a vibrant blue, distracting him from thoughts of his failed experiments. One now certainly dead. The other…weakened.
He turned to face the hologram as it appeared, revealing the stern visage of a human male dressed in Imperial uniform. The insignia of his station was visible – though the colors were not. Vader knew them, though. The man was the first Grand Moff of the Empire and overseer of the Death Star's construction. Wilhuff Tarkin.
"Lord Vader." The man's voice was clipped.
"Proceed with your report."
Vader sensed no good would come of the meeting.
The Rebels were nothing if not tenacious.
Once again, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and review! Your support was essential in helping me make it through until the end.
I do have plans for some additional one-shots that follow after this story. Think of it as DLC, if you like! However, for now I intend to take a break and refresh. Once I start working on these, I will post an update on my profile.
Thank you! :)