A/N: Ganodi was the youngling who was struggling with her weakness for hopelessness in the Clone Wars episode, "The Gathering," and she worked with Zatt sometimes in the next three episodes, so that's why I cast them this way. That, and the fact that I especially like Ganodi and Zatt.
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars or The Clone Wars; I'm just having a good time with it.
What can I hope for? What hope is left for the galaxy?
Ganodi, one of the youngest of the Jedi who had survived the initial stages of the Great Jedi Purge, had been asking herself that question for she couldn't remember how long. It had been one year since the formation of the Galactic Empire, and she had fled with a few other Padawans back to the ice-cold world of Ilum. They hoped to find sanctuary in the sacred temple, believing that even if they were tracked down, the Imperials wouldn't dare set foot in a place sacred to the Force.
Not that Ganodi was much of one for hope, even after she had found her lightsaber crystal with the help of the Force. She was a frightened young girl, though not in the same way that her friend and fellow Padawan Byph was. Byph had been afraid of monsters, while Ganodi was afraid of situations where she feared there was no hope of conquering whatever the problem was.
Poor Byph. He had gone down in the Coruscant Jedi Temple, along with Zatt and Gungi, who she heard had put up quite a fight against the traitor Anakin and his clones, as well as all the other younglings in the Temple and almost all the adults, too. Petro and Katooni had gone missing on Saleucami, until reports said that Petro was executed by the 91st Reconnaissance Corps, the same treacherous scoundrels that had murdered Stass Allie. She didn't know what happened to Katooni after that. Ganodi had cried her heart out in despair, afraid that there was nothing left for the Jedi Order. Especially since she had now heard that an Imperial legion was on its way to Ilum to take out the temple and everyone hiding inside it. Despite the reassurances of her allies, she knew the sacredness of the temple ground would not stop the stormtroopers or the Imperial officers who gave them their orders. She trembled as she feared that Vader, Anakin's new identity, could be with them. Vader took pleasure in defiling holy ground, and he always seemed to get away with it, and the stormtroopers couldn't care less either; all they cared about was murdering innocents because that's all they were ever ordered to do.
"Relax, Ganodi," one Padawan tried to reassure her, "If we can't defeat them, we'll at least go down fighting."
"But I don't want to die this way," Ganodi responded. "Don't you realize there's nothing after death for anyone except the nothingness of the Force? I don't want to cease to exist at such a young age!"
"Jedi become one with the Force, Ganodi," the Padawan insisted, "You and I will join with it and become more than what we are now."
"I don't believe that," Ganodi despaired, "And even if it does happen, what about ordinary people? They have no such hope of any afterlife, because they're not connected to the Force. And don't you remember what I told you I envisioned?"
One week earlier, and many times before then, starting after Order 66, Ganodi had terrible visions of so many terrible things happening to the galaxy in the name of the Empire. She saw floating cities on Dac being bombed and sinking, she saw the peaceful Caamasi people being murdered to near extinction due to some Bothan treachery, which she also saw the Bothans would never atone for, she saw the devastation of entire civilizations, the enslavement and genocide of entire alien species, the torture of innocent citizens and even the destruction of entire planets. It was definitely too much for one little Rodian girl to take, particularly in dark times like these. And some of it had already taken place. Vader had already murdered numerous Jedi survivors of Order 66, while that sociopath Admiral Tarkin, now Moff Tarkin, was remorselessly enslaving whole Wookiee populations on Kashyyyk to force them to help build some kind of battle station Ganodi had also seen in her dreams.
"Yes, I know all about those visions," the Padawan replied, "But don't you remember that other one you had? The one where intrepid Rebels fight and defeat this Empire, and a noble Jedi boy redeems Vader so Anakin can finally bring balance to the Force. This will have a happy ending, even if we don't live to see it."
"Thanks for reminding me, Bumsky," she said sarcastically, "But that's no help either for me. What about all the people besides the Jedi who are going to suffer and die because of this monstrous military government before that finally happens? Maybe the survivors will be able to celebrate, but what about all the people who will die along the way? They won't be capable of celebrating! And Anakin had eternal life in my vision, but almost no one else did that I can see. He gets a privilege none of his victims will also have! When is Anakin Skywalker going to pay for those lives? Probably never, because he's the 'Chosen One!"
"Calm down, Ganodi!" Bumsky snapped, "That's not the way Jedi should behave! You should remember your Jedi discipline. You're going to need it when the Empire catches up to us."
"Oh, to Chaos with discipline!" screamed Ganodi, "We're all going to be annihilated here, and there isn't any hope of a happy ending for quadrillions of innocent people, and all you can think about is discipline and 'becoming one with the Force?' I've had it! Just leave me alone!"
"Fine, then," sighed Bumsky, "I see I can't convince someone as stubborn as you of anything. Well, then, get out of here. Go find some pity spot and cry like a baby, but the rest of us are going to fight to the end if necessary."
Ganodi burst into tears and ran out of the chamber and deeper into the caves.
Ganodi ran to the very cavern where she had found her lightsaber crystal over a year ago. There, she sobbed and shivered, not caring if the tears started to freeze on her face. Why can't life be more fair? I know people say life isn't always fair, but it should be! Why would the Force allow all of this to happen, just so a twisted Chosen One could bring balance back to it no matter what the cost? At the very least, why can't all the deceased have an afterlife of some kind? Why do so many innocents have to fade into oblivion while a chosen few who don't really deserve it get eternal life and joy? Anakin Skywalker was probably going to be basking in the love of his children, when she only went the way of Alderaan forever.
She sniffled and gasped with her tears. She could now hear the arrival of Imperial forces, and blasters shooting their way into the sacred grounds. It was true, they didn't give a hoot about the holiness of the temple to the Jedi, and because the Force had its stamp of protection on Vader, he would always get his way in a fight. She cringed next to a wall and waited for the end.
But the end didn't come, at least, not then. Quite suddenly, there was a light growing in the cave at the opposite wall, a strange, ethereal light, it seemed. Ganodi almost panicked as the shape of what must have been a person began to emerge from it. Her trembling hand reached for her lightsaber. "Who- who are you? What are you?"
"Do not fear me," she heard a child's voice answer, "You must remember that to despair is of the dark side."
"What?" said a surprised Ganodi, "Who do you think you are, telling me how to feel at a time like this? Who are you, and where did you come from?"
The figure started to step closer, and she soon saw that it was a small boy, with big, black eyes and head tentacles, and dressed in a practical mechanics outfit. He smiled at her. "I am Zatt. Remember, your old pal Zatt, Ganodi?"
Zatt? This couldn't be happening. He was dead. Darth Vader had personally cut him down, from what she had heard. "You… you can't be Zatt. This has to be some kind of Sith trick. Go away!"
"Ganodi, do not fear me," he implored her, "It really is me. I mean no offense against anyone's beliefs, but you and the other Padawans are mistaken to believe that all dead life fades away into nothing after it dies except for a privileged few."
Ganodi just stared. Her trembling and crying was starting to subside, but she was still suspicious of what was happening. She almost forgot that an Imperial legion was on the planet. "Zatt? It really is you?" she asked nervously, still a little afraid this might be a trick sent by Vader or the Emperor to lull her into a false sense of security.
"Yes, of course," Zatt replied, "Death is not the end for any life form. In actuality, it's more of a gift than a doom. All life passes through death like a doorway to the next plane of existence. There is a luminous part of the Force throughout all creation that accepts the souls of those who have faith in the power and existence of the Force, as well as stand up for the good, ethical, and moral things of the cosmos. There is another, much darker and more maddening one, where those who practice the ways of evil and those who do not believe in the Force or its power go to wallow in anguish. I am from the luminous part of this afterlife."
Ganodi wasn't sure whether to smile or continue frowning. Something told her that this apparition of Zatt was telling the truth, but she still held a few doubts. "Can you prove to me that all you're saying is true?"
"What proof do you need, little one?" a man's voice asked, and another apparition joined with Zatt in the light. "I am Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn," he introduced himself. "We never knew each other, Ganodi; I died a year or two before you were born in the Battle of Naboo against the Trade Federation and the Sith."
"Qui-Gon Jinn?" Ganodi exclaimed, "You're like, a legend among the Jedi, always doing things your own way, always convinced you were right without feeling arrogance, why, I didn't have any idea you were alive in the Force."
"Where else would I be?" Qui-Gon said with a smile. "But your friend Zatt, whom I only just met upon his death, is telling the truth. We both understand how traumatic your visions about the rise and fall of the Empire are, we truly do. But nothingness is not the fate of anyone after death. Of course, many Jedi corrupted by the Clone Wars are either in the darkness of Chaos forever, like Pong Krell and Sora Bulq, or doing penance and atonement for their misdeeds, like Barriss Offee, Nahdar Vebb, and Depa Billaba, but many others are with us here in the illumination of the light side, including all of your dead youngling friends. And yes, faith in the Force gives you this eternal life, but also compassion and selflessness. Love is the answer to the darkness. That is the secret to true immortality. And I can assure you, many innocent people who shall die at the hands of Anakin or the Empire will be in this heavenly state, too, after their passing."
Ganodi was crying again, but this time they were tears of hope reawakened in her. "People can live forever?" she asked cautiously, "And faith and love is all that's needed for it?"
"Basically, yes," confirmed Qui-Gon.
Ganodi suddenly beheld one more vision, and this one showed all kinds of people of all races and cultures, all luminous beings in the light of the Force, and she recognized every one of them from her earlier visions as well as her own life. Her eyes shone in the dim light of the cave, and for the first time in a year, she allowed herself to smile.
"Oh, thank you, thank you, everyone!" she cried, running toward the apparitions and trying to hug Zatt, and failing due to his not literally being there. "Thank you Zatt, and Master Qui-Gon! And thank the Force, too! I will never curse the Living Force again from now on!" she vowed.
"We are glad to hear you say that, Ganodi," Zatt said, "But I sense your Padawan companions are not getting on well without you. They need your help against the Imperial forces, and you must help them, even if it does not do any good in the end for the temple."
"Yes, I'll do that!" said Ganodi, "I'll do exactly that! And I no longer care if I die in the fight! I'll go out with a bang this time, not a whimper!"
"I believe you will, young one." Remarked Qui-Gon.
"Go get them, old pal!" Zatt said as a parting shot.
"See you on the other side, Zatt!" Ganodi called back as she ran out of the cavern with her lightsaber ignited.
Back in the main chamber, it turned out that Vader was with the clone stormtroopers there, meaning that the legion had to be the 501st Legion, Vader's Fist. All the Padawans were dead except for Bumsky. Ganodi leapt into the fray and began to cut down all the remaining clones, drawing the attention of Bumsky and Vader, who were dueling.
"You came back after all, Ganodi!" Bumsky said gratefully, "Can you help me take down this devil-monster? He's too powerful for me alone!"
Ganodi jumped right beside Vader and stabbed him in the lower leg, damaging his mechanical parts. He yelled angrily and swung at Ganodi.
"Go, Bumsky!" shouted Ganodi, "I'll hold him off!"
"I can't leave you, Ganodi! He'll kill you without a second thought. That's all he cares about!"
"Bumsky, I know now that there is more than just emptiness after death. My soul is ready, if you escape while you can, but yours isn't. You need to learn some things about how to love people before you can afford to die. Now do as I say. Get out of here!" shouted Ganodi.
"All right, all right!" Bumsky yelled, "I don't understand what you're saying about love at a time like this, but I'll try to learn it on my own."
"You're never alone, Bumsky," said Ganodi as he left, "No one ever is."
"You Jedi fools have no idea what it's like to be alone!" roared Vader. "Try being me someday, and then you will really know what 'alone' means. Not that you're going to live another day."
"I don't know what motivates you to do all these terrible things, Anakin," said Ganodi, "But no matter what you do, you can kill the body but not the soul. Not even your soul can be killed. I've seen the hope of the galaxy at last, and I will never again succumb to hopelessness. There's hope for everyone, including you, Anakin."
"Stop reminding me of who I once was!" Vader screamed from behind his mask, and hit her blade with his with such Force that Ganodi fell to the icy floor, and Vader made sure she couldn't get up again.
"If I can't have anything I wanted in my life, then neither will anyone else, especially not a spoiled Jedi youngling proclaiming her false innocence to me!" And with that, he swung the blade downward to decapitate her.
Ganodi smiled and cried one last time. She closed her eyes and centered on the Living Force. The blade severed her little head…
And Ganodi, looking exactly as before but without her lightsaber, became a luminous being in the heavenly light of the Force as Qui-Gon, Zatt, and several other familiar youngling faces greeted her: Petro, Gungi, Byph, and Katooni.
She never cried again.
She never lost hope again.