Standing outside the bay, Karolin placed her hand on the frame and watched him. Vander knelt beside the box and watched the floor. She could tell he wasn’t going anywhere, but she had to tell him they arrived. Everyone else was already on their way to the hangar bay to deploy to what could be the last fight of the war.
“V-Vander…we are all leaving, I wanted to see if—“
Shaking his head he looked at her and smiled strangely, “We’ll be along directly…I got ‘er ‘ere. I’ll make sure she’s there at the end.” He stood slowly placing his hand on the box, “I won’t leave her with them. Mrysti and I will be down at the end. I promise hugh…I goh ‘er this far…”
Looking at the floor herself, there wasn’t much else Karolin could say. Her sense in the Force told her that Vander was gone. His mind somewhere else at the moment, based on his words she had no reason to doubt her feelings. But, Vander…was not going with them. Turning she left without another word, but looked back to see him bend down and start talking to the box again. As if Mrysti was sitting there with him. Karolin could not sense her sister’s presence, Mrysti was not there and Vander was losing his mind.
As she climbed the ramp and sat hard on the seat, she felt Aldurion give her leg a squeeze. Karolin responded by not even looking at him, pulling the belts of the seat around her shoulders to clip it loudly to the front of her chest. He withdrew his hand slowly and turned back to looking at the opposite wall. There were a lot of things he wanted to say, but none of them appropriate at the moment. Karolin would need time, they all would. His only hope was to have the time to bring her back to her senses and focused on what was important; for what remained of them all.
The shuttle joined the attack force as other Capitals launched their own forces, all of them joining in a massive formation as they descended orbit into the planet’s atmosphere. There was utter silence on the ship, none of the usual chatter or excitement about once again going into battle or the apprehension that anything could happen. The general feeling was that no one cared, they seemed to be going through the motions. Karolin’s utter feelings of despair bleeding off into everyone around her; everyone but Aldurion. He shuffled his feet nosily as the ship hit blaster fire and turbulence rocking slightly in the upper atmosphere; Karolin laying her had back and closing her eyes.
On an adjacent shuttle, Samantha the Elder brushed her hands through the little girl’s hair. Safety gave way to necessity in bringing her younger self for the last battle. Samantha could feel it was the right thing to do. With their Mother gone, it was the absolute right thing to do. Both of them needed to be present for this end. Its what Mother would have wanted. Neither spoke, as the Elder Samantha smiled and handed Samantha a datapad. “I need to you to coordinate the battle ok? Be mindful…watch our backs from the ship and come only if summoned. This is the last fight, I promise you everything will be better after this.”
The little girl cocked her head and gave her Elder a strange look, “How do ya know?”
She didn’t know how, but Samantha knew. This would be the last battle of the war and for some reason everything would be different after. Shaking her head at the little girl she smiled again, running her hands through the red of her hair.
“I don’t know little one, I just have a feeling. We must trust in the Force.”
The shuttle dispersed in the upper atmosphere, Aldurion unbuckling to do forward into the pilots cabin to get a look. The shuttle still rocked from ground based laser batteries as well as the bombardment of the hovering Eternal Fleet. Up front, the pilots were listening to the chatter from the Capital ships and looking in between their seats at the information the ships above were relaying. It seemed the Zakuul Resistance was moving as well. Attacking ground based garrisons and turrets, causing havoc among the forces still loyal to the Throne. It was a loyalty Aldurion didn’t quite understand, Vaylin was gone. What were the Knights fighting for? Was it some kind of ‘Armageddon’ protocol. That they die in defense of the Throne at all costs?
Looking out of the forward viewport, he could see the Spire Citadel come up over the horizon; the skyhook which connected the Throne to the Citadel below covered in a shield with turbolasers firing in mad directions. He tapped the pilot on the shoulder, “Drop us at the lower entrance…it’s as close as you are going to get using the upper Citadel as cover…” The pilot gave a curt nod as Aldurion felt the shuttle take a sharp left in response to his command.
Grabbing one of the troop straps above his head, Aldurion looked at the Imperial Troops in the hold, but his eyes focused on Karolin finally. “We are going to jump at the lower terrace. I picked us a landing spot on the lower Citadel, we are on foot from there.” The others started adjusting equipment, the high-pitched whine of blaster rifles coming online. But Karolin didn’t move. Aldurion touched her leg as she slowly opened her eyes, “Hey…did you hear me, I said—“
With a low and grave voice Karolin sat up and slowly started unbuckling her belts, “I heard you.” Aldurion stepped back, the rage Karolin was building inside of herself palpable; and he frowned. Karolin was too far gone to listen to any consolations by her husband. And, it would have been too much to ask to have her stay behind. That was a fight he was not prepared to have with her. It was enough that he would not allow her to leave his side and she seemed satisfied with that, at least silently.
Opening with a rush of air, the cargo door slid quickly to reveal the battle below. The pilots angling the ship so the troopers could cast out to a safe landing. Eyeing the balcony they were flying past, Aldurion snatched up Karolin. It was a faster way to the top instead of waiting for the shuttle to get in position for the troopers. Jumping and taking his wife with him, he felt her annoyance as she added her power to his in the Force Leap a second behind; finally realizing what he was doing. There was no time for her to snap at him for snatching her, as the two of them landed in the midst of Skytroopers and Knights moving past to reach the lower levels.
Momentarily, they all locked eyes before Karolin kicked and spun; activating her sabers in time with her movement. Her attack leveling the Skytroopers next to her and creating space for her to get to the Knights directing them. She let out a rageful scream, landing next to her husband, who raised his saber up and over his head to slam down into the shield of a Knight, just coming up to protect his cohorts under attack from the furious Mirialan. It was all for naught, Aldurion thrust a hand out grabbing the shield and tossing it away like it was flimsy.
He felt slight remorse for the Knights as he slammed the saber down into the shield bearer. Aldurion and Karolin carried with them the Fury of the Force, a power fueled by hate and rage at their losses on Odessen. His remorse was for the Knights caught under Karolin’s blades, as he dispatched his foes turning to see Karolin stalk up and slash an Knight on their knees, before turning on another and tossing him haphazardly into the wall adjacent to them in the Force. Again, there would be no quarter given by Karolin. In all the time he knew her, he had never seen her so steeped in darkness. It reminded him of the stories she told of her fall, of her first command and the fate of all those on her own ship.
The shuttle rocked again and again. They were too close to the skyhook and Samantha knew it, turning her head to scream at the pilots up front. More afraid for her sister than herself. She didn’t care exactly where over the upper Citadel they were, she had to get out so the pilots could get her ‘sister’ to the safety of the Landing Zone. “Open the door!!” She smiled at Sam moving to the open passage as the door slid open with a loud ‘swoosh’. “…I am getting out of here.” Shaking her finger, she took the saber off her belt with her other hand a second before hurling herself into the void. “Remember what I told you, little one…wait for my signal. I shouldn’t be long…”
With a turn and a jump, Samantha twisted and spun out of the door into the air. She righted herself in flight, spreading her arms and legs to slow her decent. Looking down, she was right where she wanted to be. Over the Upper Citadel. A skylight seemed to peek at her through the hornets’ nest of turbolasers and ground fire as she directed her decent in the Force, dropping through the open roof and into a garden foyer, right outside of the main Citadel entrance. On any other day, it would have been a beautiful place to be. She could see the care taken by the gardeners to place exotic plants and trees from all across the galaxy in the foyer, a walk all the way to the grand foyer and the lift that would take whomever perused the garden to a meeting with the Eternal Throne.
Landing on her knee, she slowly got up still looking at the plants as her sense extended to the alarm of those who watched the ‘object’ drop in on them. Through a storm of turbolasers that none of them could even fathom something dropping through. Sound of saber staves activated in time with the clack of running feet. Already blaster bolts were headed her way as Samantha rolled and came up behind a large planter, her own dual saber activated as she came up from the roll to send the blaster bolts she could back toward their firers. She sighed, stepping out from around the planter. There were a lot of them, this was not going to be easy.
‘What have I gotten myself into this time…’ she whispered, moving back toward the planter and using the base of it for cover. Her upper body deflecting the bolts as the Knights running across the highly-polished floor got closer. Once they engaged, her attention would be on them and not the Skytroopers firing at her. That would present a whole new set of problems. Perhaps her rash act leading her to her own death. These troops were not taking prisoners.
Pulling the firing toggle, Porchia unleashed the full payload of the small fighter she piloted. Her face a mask of distain, she aimed the fighter at the turbolaser position and grabbed the landing skid control. In a flourish, she lowered the landing struts with one hand as she flipped the ship around to hit the oncoming troopers with the wash of her thrusters. They launched off the terrace, Porchia hit full power pulling the landing strut harder as she took her hand off the controls to slap the emergency shut down. The ship dropped loudly and like a rock, already the canopy popped as Porchia jumped out and slid off the side. In her arms she cradled the rifle taken from the main platform on Odessen, flipping it around as the high-powered whine of Tibanna Gas and plasma fused to unleash the first of many blasts toward enemies of the ‘Family’.
She may have left in a hurry on Odessen, but she was not going to miss the final battle. Porchia just needed to do it of her own accord and without all of those so steeped in their own sadness hovering over her. She had enough of her own grief to deal with. No one had even mentioned her husband’s death, everyone still in shock over everything that had taken place on Odessen. She looked at her wrist unit and raised it to her mouth as she smiled wickedly. “Thanks sweetie…keep ‘em comin’ yer doing a fine job. Just light up where big sis is and I’ll git to ‘er…”
Directing the thrusting Saberstaff past her, Samantha spun her saber in a circle of green light, looking both directions next to her fast and leaping to stand on the side of the planter in front of her. She quickly flipped backwards off of it as the blasters headed her way began to track her movement, landing back in the middle of the Knights now slashing and spinning their own blades toward her. She rolled backwards and into the wall, striking a saber, ducking another slash and grimacing as she locked her saber against a third attacker, kicking out on him. “UGH!!! Get away! What are you fighting for!! Vaylin is dead!!”
It was a question asked by a lot of them that day. These Knights, perhaps enacting some doomsday scenario, it was still perplexing. The Eternal Fleet was busy destroying their home at the same time they all fought so ferociously to protect a throne that directed their doom. It made no sense. She ducked again as the saber slashed above her cutting a line in the wall. One of the blasters grazed her as she rolled away again letting out a shriek of pain. “AGGH!!”
Then, the blasters redirected their fire. Samantha looked past the Knights she was fighting to see a rapid fire series of light blue plasma coming through the archway. The sound, familiar. She had heard that sound on Odessen as well as anytime she passed the ranges at their base. It was a custom made gas powered, plasma infused heavy repeater. It compressed the gas to make the power cells last longer. But it’s owner, he was no longer among them. As the blue beams began to rake the Skytroopers formerly firing at Samantha, several of the Knights engaging her broke off to head toward the arch, quickly cut down by the blistering fire.
It continued as the small individual holding the massive rifle came out of the shadows and from under the arch. Porchia's walk was methodical and Sam could feel the cloak of night around her, darkness surrounded her former guardian as Porchia noticing where the Knights were coming from started her walk toward Sam. Slowly, the purple haired girl moved, her face twisting in rage as more and more Knights formerly in pursuit of Sam now headed toward the killer coming toward them. Blue tracer beams of light followed every jumping, spinning and running Knight headed toward Porchia as she continually held the trigger down. Never letting up.
Making it up along side Sam, she flipped the rifle over and switched out the power cell quickly; not even looking up at Sam who watched her with a kind smile. Sam was hoping her former guardian would look at her, but there was too much darkness there. Instead Sam held out her hand and formed a barrier around them. Porchia needed the time to let this out or it would consume her and Sam was in no position to deny her, bowing her head slightly and closing her eyes to reach out to Porchia. She wanted so badly to take some of that pain away, but there was no way to do it. Only the blue beams of the rifle releasing Porchia’s anguish at the hapless ones who attacked them.
It would go on for the better part of an hour, slowly they advanced to the Grand Foyer and toward the lift that would take them to the Eternal Throne. The Knights and Skytroopers seemed endless. But none of them were as endless as Porchia’s hate for them all. Sam silently shook her head, there would never be enough for her now. Porchia was gone as well and there would never be enough killing to satiate her desire. A girl that had taken a chance once again, given her heart to someone and had it ripped out of her. Perhaps in time she would heal, but for now there was no going back.
Porchia like the rest of them would have to find some way to deal with their pain, for her it would be a long road of more death and more pain. Some always took the harder road. Sam only hoped it wouldn’t destroy Porchia on her way to salvation.
-- The Battle for the Throne was underway as troops and Sith from the carrier fleet dropped into the top of the Spire. It was almost over as Porchia and Sam emerged from the lift to see the last of the Throne’s guardians go down. Stepping out with a purpose, Porchia let out a heart wrenching scream. Tears flowed down her face as she moved from one Knight to the other releasing the full compliment of her power cells at them. These Knights were defeated, but Porchia wanted them dead. Slowly, Sam deactivated her saber and clipped it to her belt, flowing sadly behind Porchia as she killed each and every one of the guardians, either still fighting or near death; both of them making their way toward the throne.
Behind them, Aldurion and Karolin came up the lift following the trail left by Porchia and Sam. The Battle for Zakuul was quickly ending, but the Eternal Fleet continued it’s bombardment and attack on the Sith Fleet. It made no sense, even in the midst of utter defeat across the galaxy the Eternal Fleet was continuing the attack. As the last of the sabers died down and the blasters quieted, the Sith withdrew to leave them to the throne. It was Acina’s order that Karolin be allowed to decide how the Throne would be dealt with. There was little time, but a bigger problem was Porchia, who still moved about the room killing hapless Knights in her quest for vengeance.
Grabbing Porchia, Karolin spun her around. “ENOUGH!!!”
There was anger in her eyes and for a moment, Aldurion almost thought that Porchia would fire at Karolin, he even moved to her defense as Sam grabbed him shaking her head. This was for the two of them to work out. Porchia breathed heavily, her face still twisted in rage as Karolin snatched her into a hug to hold her tightly.
“No…N-NO!!...” Porchia tried to resist, fighting back as Karolin held her. “I don’t wan’t—“
“It’s over…PORCHIA!!! It’s over….”, As the rifle loudly hit the floor after slipping from Porchia’s grasp, she finally hugged back on Karolin. The one who raised her, the one who taught what she needed to know about fighting and how to be a woman. If anyone was Porchia’s mother, it would have been Karolin. Softly, Karolin stroked the purple of Porchia’s hair and shushed her. “It’s over…it really is….”
As Sam and Aldurion watched the two in the finally silent room; only the sound of the Eternal Fleet’s attack as their background, neither one of them were sure who Karolin’s words were meant for. As she said it over and over, “It’s over…”
There was another dark silence as Karolin finally released Porchia from the hold that seemed more of a fight between Wills than a hug brought out of love. Sinking her head lowly, Porchia finally succumbed to all that had happened. She sank to the floor and sobbed, the water from the aqueducts flowing next the Eternal Throne’s atrium a perfect background for such a somber moment. They all turned to look at the lift as little Samantha stepped out flanked by several Imperial Commandos. They shrugged at the looks from Karolin and Aldurion. Little Samantha had absolutely insisted that she be allowed to go to the Eternal Throne. It was where she needed to be.
As the little girl came up next to Porchia and knelt down next to her, Porchia grabbed her and held her a moment. Karolin exchanging looks with Aldurion as all eyes turned toward the vacant throne. Karolin’s wrist comm beeped as the sound of the incoming communication broke the atmosphere in the room.
<”Master…we have secured the Citadel and the Spire. It’s all up to you now…destroy the Throne or deactivate it. The Core Systems cannot sustain much more….”>
The sound of Acina’s communication broke Sam from her meditation as she stood alone trying to project a feeling of calm throughout the room. But it wasn’t the only voice she heard.
‘…there must always be…an Eternal Emperor…’
Sam’s eyes went to the Throne as time seemed to slow. To her right, she could see Karolin answering the comm channel, frozen in that moment. Sam could feel the decision already welling up inside of her. For Karolin the Force was silent to her now. A penance having been paid, it did not wish to argue it’s Will with her or face a choice of having to punish her further. For Karolin, as Sam felt the emotions run through her it was choice she should not be allowed to make.
Flowing through the room, Sam passed Aldurion and watched him. In him, she felt the conflict of knowing what the Force Will was and yet having to temper that to control his wife for her own safety. Sam smiled brightly as she looked past him to see Karolin again, Karolin’s hand was on her abdomen as she answered the Comm frozen in the moment Sam created in the Force. Sam could feel the life teeming inside of her Aunt. Twins, born of love and union that would someday bring Karolin back to happiness. This was not a decision Karolin could make now. Sam brushed her essence past the two children inside of Karolin warmly.
As Sam flowed more into the room and past the two soon to be parents, she stopped at Porchia and frowned. There was a long road ahead for her as once again, Porchia would need to find herself. There were no easy answers as to why the Force decided to take RT away from her. Some deaths are meant as signs and points of learning for others. Sam had no easy answers of the girl who had suffered more than the rest. Thoughts of what Porchia had already done for them all, to include herself passed through Sam. She in turn passed them to Porchia. Porchia could not be allowed to forget who she was and that even though the road would take her to dark places, there was a good person inside all of that. No one knew that more than Sam.
At long last, Sam turned to herself. Seeing the younger version of herself cradling her guardian, Porchia. Sam was consoling Porchia because the younger Sam, like herself could feel that pain and knew that Porchia had to be reminded of who she was. To not do so would be to lose her forever. Slowly, the younger Sam seemed to look up and at her older self. They locked eyes for a moment, the voice that spoke before blew away like the wind. Sam didn’t need it anymore. The Force was completing the circle.
There was reason the Force spared Sam the retribution it enacted on all of Karolin’s misbehaviors concerning it. Slowly Sam’s eyes left her younger self as they drifted to the Throne. It sat alone in darkness, a power uncontrolled, a power that needed a monitor. It was what she was meant for and why she was spared. All at once the answers she had been seeking since stepping through the portal with Karolin being answered.
She told Karolin that she would give anything to see her Mother once again. She had done that and more. Sam had been given a chance to influence her younger self and in turn set the little girl on a course to complete her own destiny. A destiny that Karolin and Mrysti knew from their own Mother would result in the curse which plagued their family being lifted. Samantha was destined for great things, galaxy changing things and it would start with the Elders own sacrifice.
Time resumed normally as Karolin continued the conversation with Acina. The Elder Samantha kneeling down next to Porchia and Little Sam to smile at them both. There wasn’t much time, Sam knew she had precious minutes to do what needed to be done.
Taking the little girls hand, Sam smiled warmly; her other hand reaching behind her belt to take a lightsaber off of it. Handing it to Little Sam, she closed the little fingers around it continuing her smile. “Mother’s lightsaber you created for her will go with her to the next life…but this…this was Mother’s first lightsaber. She would want you to have it…”
Porchia sat up suddenly and rubbed her eyes. What was Sam talking about, what was happening? Thrusting a hand out she grabbed Sam, “What are you doing?” Both sets of eyes glanced at the Eternal Throne as Sam slowly turned her head to look back at them both.
“I am fulfilling my own destiny…” She reached out and caressed Little Sam’s face, moving the hand to rest on Porchia’s shoulder, “…it was what I was meant to do.”
“B-but…how do you know—wait…KAROLIN!!” Porchia screamed out as Karolin and Aldurion turned toward the three, “Sam is about to take the Throne!!!” Karolin moved swiftly, with Aldurion close on her heels, both of them giving the younger woman a concerned look as Samantha slowly stood to face them all. “No…no, there has to be another way. We can destroy it, we can—“
Shaking her head, Sam stepped past them and looked down, “There is no other way. To destroy it would serve no purpose. The Eternal Fleet would continue its rampage the same as it’s doing now. No, there must always be an Eternal Emperor.”
Reaching out, Karolin grabbed Sam’s arm roughly, “No, there has already been too much--“, Unconsciously, Karolin rubbed her abdomen again and looked down. In her heart she knew, as much as she wanted to sacrifice herself instead of letting Sam do it, she couldn’t. She also knew Sam was right.
“I will ensure that no one is able to use the Throne again. I promise that when this is done, the Eternal Throne will never threaten anyone again.” Sam knelt down next to Little Samantha once again, touching her face. “You are destined for great things…trust me, I know” She turned to start her ascent up the stairs as Karolin held onto Aldurion tightly; Porchia getting to her feet to watch sadly. Turning back one last time she smiled at her younger self. “Smile, little one…you are about to save the galaxy…”
It was the longest walk of her life. So many thoughts going through her mind. There were so many memories that she would take with her or both a life she had and life she would have never known about. Seeing her Mother once again was the greatest achievement for her, but also seeing herself blossom. That was a part of her life she never knew in the other time. The ‘Desert Queen’ was gone, now to be replaced by the ‘Eternal Emperor’.
As Sam reached the top, the lift opened up to Vander. Seeing what he could not have possibly imagined, he charged the throne. Sam sat with a smile as Aldurion moved to stop Vander, grabbing him around the waist. “NO VANDER…NO…it’s her choice…”
Lightning struck the spire as light cascaded from the two towers flanking the throne. All at once Samantha was thrown against the back rest of the throne and let out a grimace. In her mind, she fought with the power of the throne, assuming command of the device that held sway over the vast Eternal Fleet. The lightning cascaded between the two twin posts until it met Samantha’s mortal form and cascaded around her as well. Light erupted once again from the throne along with a low sound of incoming energy.
Samantha battled with the control, she spoke in her mind and through the Force. A warmth cascaded through the system, filling the controls of the Throne with peace. ‘Be at rest…’ she told it.
Around the galaxy, the guns fell silent and the ships listed powerlessly for the moment.
But Samantha was not done, in her mind she projected the field. Light started forming around her as the crystalloids of eternity formed around her. No one could be allowed to use the Throne ever again. As the entity that was the Throne merged with Sam and she with it, it formed a barrier comprised of power and crystal so that no one could ever direct the Throne to action ever again.
In the end, as silence and darkness consumed Samantha, there was a light that opened up. She was one with the Force and the Force was one with her. A figure began its walk toward her out of the light which approached in her mind. The final crystal finally locking into place as the person approaching came out of the light and smiled.
‘….you are right where you should be, my child…and I will always be with you in your vigil…together there is much we can share….’
Samantha had achieved more than she could have hoped for. In assuming the Eternal Throne, she would be with her Mother in the Force forever. Mrysti embraced her daughter warmly taking her hand to walk her into the Force.
Samantha would never be alone….
They all watched in silence as the crystal formed around what was once Samantha. She seemed to blend with both the form and the Throne itself as all three become one. Karolin raised her head to the ceiling and let out a sobering cry. Aldurion released Vander as he fell limp at the base of the steps. Moving next to Karolin, Aldurion placed his arms around Karolin and held her.
Little Sam couldn’t watch as she buried her head in Porchia’s leg. Porchia was the only one who did watch it all. She had to, she could feel the weight of the universe Sam carried in taking on the responsibility and now Sam would watch over the Throne for all eternity. She was not gone, she would never be gone. Rubbing Samantha’s hair as the little girl clutched her leg, Porchia realized that Sam had saved the galaxy, not because she wanted to, but because she had to. Sam was the only one who could be in two places at once….
The Force pulled them away. Consciousness. Sam wanted to be sad as she looked down on them, she was part of the Force now and could see it all. Vander, her father lay at the base of the stairs. He would be fine, she could see it. Time, was his ally. Eventually, he would find love again. But, his experiences with them all would forever shape his destiny.
Further. Further back she pulled and saw them all, each one in their past and their future. Time had no meaning in the Force. She was there, not dead, but at the same time not alive either. She would be in two places at once as she looked on Little Sam an Porchia, who moved to help Vander from the floor. The Little girl hugging her father’s neck. She had already seen what was to become of Porchia and Sam and now had no sadness at what was to come.
The debt had been paid. Sam could sense the Force wanted to let Karolin know that, but it couldn’t. For Karolin, this would be the hardest to come back from because she was so in tune with the living Force. Smiling in her way, she watched Aldurion, saw through him and knew that he would be the key to Karolin’s salvation. He and the children she carried for them both. It would take time, but Karolin would open herself back to the Force.
Further. Sam held her Mother’s hand as they spanned the cosmos. Now, she was able to touch everyone and no one at the same time. She saw V’ictoria, hard at work on her own machinations. It troubled the Force at what V’ictoria had planned, but the Force was going to allow it. If for no other reason than to allow some semblance of balance back into the galaxy. It was now tilted the opposite way; an endless struggle against good and evil that would last forever. The Force, the guardian of that struggle and now Mrysti and Sam were too.
Sam touched them all. All that were left, Beta...V'ictoria...all of them. She passed a warmth and feeling of peace over them that only the Force itself could project. She was everywhere and she always would be.
It was time to take the journey. She so looked forward to it. A path had opened up and as Sam stepped into the cool sand of the endless sea, she held the hand of her Mother who smiled warmly at her daughter. There was no better person that Sam could have picked to spend eternity with….
The fragile truce that formed after the fall of the Eternal Throne was already being threatened. And it started with the planning of Darth Retuvisa’s funeral. The Republic wanted to assume responsibility because, Mrysti like the rest of the Alpha siblings, were the product of a Republic made project. The Sith suspected there was some sinister machinations behind the Republic’s insistence, but felt they had the better argument. An argument that was now consuming the table all of the remaining members of the Coalition sat around.
“She was a SITH LORD…A Sith!! That alone makes all of these arguments moot. Quite obviously, because of her status as a Sith Lord—“
“Need I remind you, that her status as a Sith has no bearing on these matters. She gave up her Imperial Citizenship…she denounced the Empire—“
“Only because it was the only way she could pursue her own ends and rid the galaxy of the Zakuul!!”
As the two ambassadors argued, Karolin nor any of the others had yet to say anything. This had been something Karolin had hoped to avoid. With Mrysti gone, leadership of ‘The Coalition’ turned to her. As her closest relative able to make decisions, Karolin was the only one who could decide what was to be done with Mrysti.
It was something that kept her up nights, following the fall of the Eternal Throne. So much had happened, there had been so much loss in the march to rid the Galaxy of Vaylin and Karolin had barely caught her breath. Though this was important, it had begun to affect her health. Being pregnant with twins, even in the early stages, Aldurion could see this and attempted to take some of the burden off of her. But the final decisions lay with her. One thing she was sure of, Mrysti was going back home to Mirial. The Sith and Republic could do whatever ceremonies they wished, but the final resting place would be on their family lands.
The argument continued, seeming to be so far beyond any of them and rather silly. It was the Jedi that got Karolin speaking as the emissary from the Order stood and raised his hand to calm the room so he could speak.
“Of course…she will be buried in Jedi tradition. She was after all a Jedi Knight before she fell to the Dark Side and her actions on behalf of the galaxy denote a true goodness in keeping with the Jedi Order.”
“Wait a minute! Ceremonies are one thing…but a funeral pyre?!? I have not even decided HOW she should be buried, just where it is going to take place…” All eyes turned to Karolin as she spoke annoyingly, standing to emphasize her point.
“She WILL be entombed…as is Sith Tradition, we have a tomb already in mind on Dromund Kaas in keeping with her status as—“
“I beg to differ, Mr. Ambassador…entombment is NOT a Jedi Tradition—“
“All of you need to hush!!!” Karolin slapped her hands on the table as she moved around the back of Aldurion and Vander, her hand lightly rubbing over her abdomen as she composed herself. Karolin’s eyes went to V’ictoria, who sat at the back of the room. The other woman passed a smile to Karolin as encouragement, “If it is a matter of tradition…Mrysti will be entombed. That is what she would have wanted as she was a Dark Lord of the Sith.” The Sith Ambassador smiled at his Jedi colleague thinking he won as he finally sat, it was short lived. “But my sister will not be entombed on Dromund Kass—“
“That’s preposterous!! How can she be effectively honored as a Hero of the Sith Empire if—“ The Ambassador stood again as Karolin shot the pureblood a hateful glare.
“I give a damn about the Sith Empire…” The Jedi Emissary was smiling as Karolin said it, he quickly lost his smile as she turned the hateful glare toward him, “…or the Jedi Order for that matter. Neither one of you supported us when we started and both of you are just as guilty as the other at trying to use her for your own ends.” Karolin swallowed hard lowering her head to the table to look down as she spoke softly, “I am taking her to Mirial…she can be entombed on our family’s lands in accordance with Sith Tradition if you so wish it, Mr. Ambassador, but she is going home…”
Compromise was the name of the game. The Republic got the shorter end of the deal, but did get the responsibility and privilege of bearing Darth Retuvisa’s remains to Mirial; as Mirial was a Republic aligned planet. Karolin didn’t care, she was having it her way. The way she thought Mrysti would have wanted it. The Sith and the Republic could erect as many memorials or statues they wanted, Mrysti’s final resting place was going to be at their home.
The Tomb constructed by the Sith Empire was out of their finest marble, mined from the same quarry that once constructed statues of Valkorian, Vitiate…whatever he decided to call himself as Sith Emperor. It lay in state for a period of twenty four hours in the Sith Citadel, the main foyer as citizens were allowed to pass through and pay their respects. When the State Funeral was proposed by the Sith Empress, Karolin thought it was rather silly. Not because of the pomp and circumstance associated with Sith events, but because Karolin didn’t really see anyone coming. There was the matter of Mrysti renouncing the Sith Empire. It was public knowledge. For a citizen to come out and show their support for what some Sith still believe was treason, could have been a death sentence for the average citizen.
She stood in awe, off to the side with the rest of her confidants as she watched the line make its way out of the Citadel and to the speeder landing.
Walking outside, it was remarkable to see the speeders and shuttles lined up, all waiting to get permission to land. The line extended to the horizon and out past the farthest buildings in Kaas City. It was something Karolin didn’t expect.
There was very little said among them as they watched the citizens pile in and pass the tomb. Some touched it. Some bowed or nodded respectfully for the woman who some believed help liberate the Sith planet from the hands of the Zakuul upon her return. It was really a group effort, the seeds of dissention sewn by Porchia long before Mrysti and Karolin returned from their five year exodus to start the liberation of the galaxy. Dromand Kaas just happened to be the first stop.
As Karolin stood with the others, several things struck her. First, it was most likely the last time some of them would be together for a very long time. Beta had been working with V’ictoria to establish a storehouse for the remnants of the Alpha Project or what was left of it after the Zakuul destroyed ‘The Coalition’ headquarters. It was important work and for Beta, he had no ulterior motives. Family was important and though the information of the Alpha Project was secret in nature, it was important to preserve where they all came from, even if V’ictoria’s motives were purely scientific.
Beta stood behind Karolin and had his hand on her shoulder to comfort his adoptive mother in her time of sorrow. He had taken an assignment with his new love, Taja and would most likely be trying to restore order with her and the new Republic that was forming on Zakuul. Karolin could think of no better person for the job.
Vander stood off to the side and not in the group. Little Samantha drifted between her father and the rest of the group. Sort of like a funny, liaison between the two. Though Karolin consulted with Vander as to his wishes concerning Mrysti, it was not his decision. The two had planned to marry, something that never came to fruition due to the state of the galaxy. It was something Vander obviously regretted and as such his say was not the final one. Vander had grown distant and quiet in the days following the fall of the Throne. The loss of Mrysti combined with the loss of the Elder Samantha almost breaking him.
He spoke to almost no one except Aldurion and from his few words, Aldurion informed Karolin that he seemed lost. The bombshell dropped when Vander informed them all that he was taking Samantha back to the Jedi Temple on Tython. For some reason, he didn’t feel in the right state of mind to raise his daughter at the moment. And with Mrysti gone, she would need a proper education in the arts concerning the Force. Karolin tried to talk him out of it, even suggesting that he leave Sam with her; but in the end, Aldurion talked them both out of it. Vander may have not been able to make decisions concerning Mrysti’s final resting place, but Sam was his only link to her and the decisions concerning Sam were his alone to make.
The only person missing at the ceremony was Porchia. Word had it she fled to the Outer Rim and had made contact with some old pirate buddies. Then, she dropped out of existence. Going dark. Karolin could hardly blame her, of all of them, Porchia had suffered the most during the entire ordeal. Losing her father to the Zakuul on Korriban, her brother to Mrysti, her mother to insanity and finally giving her heart to someone to make all of it go away. The loss of RT stung them all. And his burial would be a solemn formal affair on Coruscant, with military honors. Karolin had volunteered to stand in for Porchia. No one expected her to show for her husband’s funeral.
People drifted in and out, Karolin’s associates drifted in and out of the Grand Foyer, but she stayed put. Standing vigil by her sister’s side one last time. The hours seemed to drift by without notice until finally the music started without warning, the Empress moving down off her throne to stand at the other end of the tomb opposite Karolin. Numbness sat in as the final farewell began. It was a moment Karolin didn't see coming, she didn't want to see it.
“In keeping with our solemn traditions. I…as Empress of the Sith, do hereby commit the body of Darth Retuvisa to the ages. May her legacy and her teachings live on for others to observe. Her deeds encourage others to act without remorse and for the solemn 'good' of the Sith.” Acina paused a moment lifting her hand to hold it over the tomb as she closed her eyes, “…Dabar tu’iea sha’nees aras tiesanu svistuis. J’us aras dabar wo su tave qy’k….” She spoke in ancient Sith as the purplish light from her hand cascaded down and over Mrysti’s tomb to the culminating sound of the music playing over it all.
Karolin heard none of it, her mind going numb as time caught up with her. Even as she walked behind the floating tomb and it made its way to the landing and onto the shuttle that would carry the body to the Star port, she heard nothing. Not the wailing of the music or the cries of the few who would dare shed a tear. All of it was darkness for her. For the first time, watching the tomb get loaded and then walking up to stand behind it on the ramp…Karolin realized she was the last.
Karolin never felt as alone as she did in that moment.
And it was terrifying.
“You wanna impress me…none of this does…” The human male shoved the code cylinder back toward Porchia as she leaned over to pick it up, shoving it back in her pocket. “I get a hundred people walkin’ in here everyday, sayin’ they can do this….or do that. You wanna meet tha’ bosses, you gotta do sumthin’ fer me first.” The male licked his lips looking Porchia up and down. Even cutting her hair, getting the ink that pretty much told her story on her flesh and with a fresh scar which ran vertically from her forehead almost to her cheek, she was still beautiful. Porchia knew what the man ‘really’ wanted. He wasn’t getting that and she didn’t really care to entertain him any further.
“Fine…hugh wanna pass on the best pilot in tha galaxy, be my guest. I ain’t here ta beg fer no job…” She turned to walk out as the Deveronian standing next to the other man, his arms folded across his chest glaring at the small green and purple short-haired girl; having been silent up to that point had a moment of recognition.
“Hey…wait a minute!!” His brow furrowed angrily, but softened as he came around the table to stand over Porchia looking down at her. He placed her hand on her blaster, just in case as the ‘devil’ eventually smiled. “I know you…you’re Porchia Alph—“
Porchia, jutted the business end of the blaster right into the Deveronian’s belly as he was about to speak her name. Blasters whined to life around the room as all guns now pointed at her. “Tha name…goh no meanin fer me…not no more…” The Deveronian smiled wickedly raising his hands up in mock surrender. They all took it for a joke, no idea how serious Porchia was. She would have shot him and died doing it. For Porchia, she didn’t care much for life at the moment.
“Ok, ok…no harm, no foul…” He turned to look at the seated man Porchia was originally talking to, “She can stay…I got a job for her.” His head turned back to Porchia, “She does it….” She smiled wickedly again, “…I introduce her around, get her known a bit.”
Quickly, Porchia put the blaster away and folded her arms over her chest to glare up at the Deveronian and glance around the room. “I ain’t here to jus pilot…I ain’t no errand boy ‘er sum gopher…I wanna real job, sumthin tha’ gits me in tha door. I ain’t usedta takin’ orders…”
“No, no…this one has a bit ‘a everythin’…” The Deveronian continued to smile. “You want in, you have to kill the competition. I mean literally…we got a situation in Nar Shaddaa that needs some handling. One Hutt, refusing to acknowledge another..musclin’ in on our territory.” He sat back on the desk and folded his arms. “You do that….I guarantee, you get made. BUT, you ain’t never leading no resistance or bein’ a hero ever again…think about it.”
Looking over the edge. That’s what it felt like as Porchia screwed the silencer onto the end of her blaster. She took a moment to look at it as she did so; remembering the time that her Uncle Marstel actually showed her how to attach one to her gun. Porchia forced that thought out quickly, squashing it. There could be no good memories anymore. Marstel was gone too.
She leaned against the far retaining wall that stood adjacent to the night club waiting for her ‘mark’, glancing at the holo display provided to her in order to ensure she recognized him once he came out of the club. This was a simple task, yet she felt so heavy about it. Something didn’t feel right. Knowing what she was about to do, kill someone for no other reason than to disappear and assume a new life wasn’t that big an issue. But for Porchia, who had spent the last five plus years defending the innocent, fighting injustice, it felt wrong. All she needed to do was step over that threshold and it would be over. Porchia closed her eyes tightly and pinched herself. “I’m jus’ pullin’ a trigger…tha’s all I’m doin….”
As the Republic Officer came out, Porchia didn’t ask the how or why. She didn’t want to know how a Republic Officer got wrapped up with the Hutts, she didn’t want to know what brought her to his last night in the galaxy. Porchia wasn’t asking questions, she called on the pain. The hurt, the sadness. The loss of it all. And as she stepped around the corner, pistol held out in front of her and fired, all of it seemed to bleed out of her. There were no questions, she put herself in that place. The place where no feeling, no emotion could ever reach her. She pulled the trigger and placed a bolt in the center of the officer’s forehead as he turned. And planted another in his chest as he fell.
Quickly she put the pistol under her arm and walked quickly back the way she came. The deed done, Porchia had crossed the threshold. On to ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ things. She felt a little less sad or hurt than she did before, perhaps in time with more death, she could actually feel ‘something’ again. For her, the quest was just beginning. But, she had another engagement before she could report back to her new ‘friends’.
Walking alone through the streets, Karolin passed the denizens of the Holy City without disturbing their usual activities. Typically, a Master of the Order would be greeted by the Guardians, but in this case, Karolin had come unannounced. It was a personal trip, one she had to take in order to fulfill her sister’s last wishes. And Karolin could think of no better place than Jedda to hide Mrysti’s Holocron.
It all seemed rather silly, Vander had requested that Karolin just give the Holocron to him so that he could keep it for Sam. But, that would not be the case. Thinking back to the last recording Mrysti left for Karolin, made just before the final battle and after their trip to break up Vaylin’s party, Karolin smiled to herself. In typical Mrysti fashion, her sister had added a little intrigue to the last resting place for her Holocron. Dressed in her workout gear and clearly having just finished the final chapter in her Holocron, Mrysti left the note only to be auto played after all was said and done.
<…If you are seeing this, it means I’m dead…gone, killed…whatever you wanna call it. Just know, I saw this coming, I left this message for you Karolin, because I know you will be left here alone to pick up the pieces and I’m sorry for that.
You are hurting right now, I get it. But, remember…we saw this coming, for one of us. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that it was going to be me and not you. I have no regrets, I only hope I went out taking that ‘bitch’ with me. I hope I made all of you proud and that I did our bloodline and our family; both extended and our actually family, justice. Most of all, I hope I saved the galaxy.
Don’t laugh Karolin, I know you’re laughing…so stop. This was always the way I was meant to go out. You, you’re not the hero I am. You are far too subtle to do this by yourself and I know that now. This is MY destiny, what I was meant to do and all of it has led to this moment.
I will miss you, my sister…more than anything. I will miss Samantha just as much, but there is something to be said for a sisterly bond. We have always been there for one another. *sniffle* I remember the times you and I climbed into one another’s beds at the orphanage, when we were scared or worried. Sometimes just because we didn’t want to be alone….
Well…I am not going to be there anymore, perhaps not even in spirit. I can feel my connection to this world waning. I was never the seer you were, even with my gifts of foresight, I never had the connection you did to the Living Force. I can feel that I may not have that same connection in the netherworld either.
Don’t fret though, I have placed my essence and everything I know in this Holocron. I know Vander is going to want to keep it, he is a sentimental sort, even if he doesn’t look it. Any old trinket to keep some attachment to me. I need him to move on, I don’t want him to linger any longer than he has to. No doubt he will be torn and want to remain in some way attached to us. He will always be, just by virtue of Samantha, but I also sense he will send her to training now that I will be gone. It’s for the best really. It’s what needs to happen.
On the subject of Samantha, don’t let the little one grow up hating me. She is going to hear all kinds of things about her Mother from other people. You and I know the truth. Don’t let them get to her, protect her from the ones who would subvert my memory or her memories of her Mother. I’m sure the elder Samantha will help with that. Someday, she will find this Holocron…I know she will. I want you to take it to Jedda, hide it in the Kyber mines or near them. Allow my essence to draw on the power of the Force and keep my flame alive. Do this for me Karolin, I need her to know that her Mother is still out there and still loves her.
Well, I can hear you coming down the hall so I better sign off now. It’s going to be an amazing death. I can feel it, I only hope I don’t let you and the others down. I hope that I can do what needs to be done and not fail. I hope….
All my love…at least when you are not being ultra-annoying…
Karolin moved to the alcove. She took one last look at the Holocron as it floated in her palm before placing it in the culvert. Raising her hand, she pulled the rocks around the culvert down over it before chanting a seal in the Force to place the ward over the spot covering the Holocron. Anyone who dare touch it or move it without the proper incantation in the Force was in for a rude awakening. Not that they could open it without getting the shock of their lives from Mrysti herself, who’s essence also resided in the Holocron, but Karolin would know. She would be warned if it was disturbed before it was supposed to.
Stepping back Karolin smiled, wiping her face. “Goodbye…”
Beta was already in bed, in his lap rest several datapads. They lay loosely scattered around the bedspread as he got up to speed on the historical data concerning the Zakuul and their strange fascination with deities. It was Taja’s primary focus, being an investigator newly appointed by the Hall of Law and Order, Taja was to investigate and debunk several new cults that were springing up in the wake of Vaylin’ death.
The Zakuul were a very spiritual people, Beta though them gullible. How could a people that so believed in the Force also believe in gods that somehow wielded it? There was only one Force at work in the universe. But, it was not his job to convert souls. It was his job to help Taja. Beta chuckled to himself as he thought about the gullibility of the Zakuul, another people came to mind. The Mirialans. But he would never in a million years tell his Mother she was crazy. They too believed in the spiritual side of the Force, that their ancestors lived on in the Force after death and they spent their whole lives honoring them and seeking their guidance. It wasn’t so far removed from the Zakuul.
Entering on her side of the bed, Taja let out a tired sigh and reached up to turn her light off as she settled in. For a moment, Beta wrote it off as being tired. Taja had been working almost round the clock to bring order back to the Old World sector of Zakuul. Her former connection as one of the Herolds of Zildrog giving her the perfect ‘in’ to reach people that would normally turn a deaf ear to anyone who talked against the ‘gods’ or their prophets. But, something struck him as he turned his head to look at his girlfriend who lay next to him. On the other side of the bed, Taja lay with her eyes open, she could already tell Beta felt her angst.
Curling up along side of her, Beta draped an arm over her body and snuggled close, “Something is troubling you…I can almost feel your mind screaming out to me.”
For a moment, Taja didn’t move or say anything. Just sucking in the warmth of Beta as he got close. Eventually she turned slightly, “It’s this new cult that’s sprung up…I—“ She seemed alarmed by what she was about to say and instead clammed up, “—it’s nothing. I will figure it out.”
“No…no really. I want to know, it’s why I’m here.”
Sitting up suddenly, Taja pulled the sheet up and around her naked body letting her hands flop in her lap as she shook her head, “I wasn’t going to say anything. You know the cult has an offworld connection, we are labeling it a ‘Sith’ cult because of the name—“
“—Asivuter. Yes, I read the reports. It could be a possible attempt at subverting the government I need more information to—“
Taja quickly put her finger to his lips to silence him as she smiled weakly, “Like I said, I wasn’t going to say anything. I was writing this off as just another offshoot of one of the other religious cults. It happens all the time, heralds get disillusioned with their current structure, they move or form a different branch to preach how they want…” Beta gave her a concerned look as Taja let her head bow to her lap, ruby locks fell in her face as she let out a sigh.
“Oh this is big…what happened? It has to be huge if it bothers you so—“
“I saw her Beta.”
It was Beta’s turn to look confused as he crinkled his brow watching her, “Who?”
“Mrysti.”, Moving away from Taja, Beta pushed slightly toward his side of the bed, covering it by reaching for a glass of water, “I’m serious!! I know you don’t believe me..’I’ don’t believe me. I was there with you, I watched her entombment on Mirial. I know she’s dead, but…”
Already shaking his head, he smiled at Taja attempting to touch her face for reassurance, “No, you saw something else. There is no way—“ Taja slapped his hand away angrily.
“I know what I saw Beta!!! I’m not stupid you know!!” Allowing his head to sink and looking at his own lap Beta let out his own sigh.
“Ok, so explain it to me.”
“I don’t know if I can…" Taja looked up with a fright in her eyes, “One minute, I am following a lead. There was this Herald who told me about an attempt to kidnap some people from another cult and sell them into slavery. The next…there she is.” Taja looked at him with wide eyes, “I can’t explain it…the kidnappers, all dead and this blur runs past me…it was…her…”
Beta continued to look at his lap, the information on the newest cult scrolling in the ions next to him. It caught his eye and he immediately picked up the pad to begin moving his hands in the blue field. Taja watched him curiously, Beta seemed to grow pale as he stopped his hands moving to allow the pad to flop back down in his lap, which Taja quickly picked up to look at.
In the ions, floating above them both was the word <Retuvisa>. It was the name of the cult, spelled backwards….
The traps were not yet in place. Luckily, V’ictoria had volunteered herself to oversee the final phases of the tomb which now housed the body of Darth Retuvisa. It was an easy sell, Karolin and the rest of them were tired of the whole affair. No one had an opportunity to grieve properly yet and Karolin was anxious to get away, to let the whole affair go.
The facility was ornate, at least on the outside. Karolin commissioned several Mirialan engineers to recondition and reconstruct the old De’nabre Citadel. Once the place of worship for her bloodline, had fallen into disrepair after centuries of neglect. It was always Karolin’s intention to someday rebuild the Citadel, more of an ancient cathedral than anything. She thought she had time after her exile on Mirial. Karolin always figured that Mrysti and she would rebuild their family home together. But, no one ever plans for the unforeseen, or maybe Karolin just chose to ignore it.
At any rate, V’ictoria was now chief architect of the facility which would house Mrysti’s body for all eternity. It was a burden she was more than happy to take on as V’ictoria had ulterior motives the entire time. She was sad to see Karolin in such a state, sad to see such a perfect specimen as her sister die at the hands of Vaylin, but more; V’ictoria was excited at the prospect of getting the project back up and running. And that all started with Mrysti.
Silence surrounded her as she entered the tomb. For a moment, V’ictoria didn’t know if it was some Sith spell or just the closeness of being within feet of reaching her goal. She sat the stasis field generator down and passed her hand over the lid of the tomb across and unseen control. The lid popped suddenly and a decompression of trapped air released as the lid came free, V’ictoria pushing it out of the way with ease.
There resting in the bottom of the tomb lay Mrysti Alpha, Hammer of the Empire…savior of Project Alpha...
Moving fast, V’ictoria excused the engineers as she moved the rest of her work into the new hidden passage she had built. Testing the door, it closed so that no one on the outside of the facility was the wiser. V’ictoria smiled to herself, it was perfect.
“You have outdone yourselves Foreman…call your engineers, I would like to congratulate them personally.”
As the engineers all came in and lined up; bright smiles on their faces in anticipation of a reward, V’ictoria smiled. Reaching behind her she withdrew the large blaster rifle, gunning down the engineers who had built her such a fine secret facility.
There could be no witnesses…no one to know what she was hiding. Now, only she knew where all of them were. And V’ictoria could set to her work…free of distraction.
Lined against the wall, five large cryo containers rested. The green light lit on three of them as the other two showed signs of inactivity. Their names all decorated the outside of the containers. From 001 to 005, names from Trea’vor to Marstel. All of them sitting in perfect order, just as they were originally created. Work of this kind could not be wasted, V’ictoria knew that. She also knew that what she was doing was unethical, illegal and likely to get her imprisoned forever.
Shaking her head, she didn’t care; stepping over the bodies to give the datapad at her side a glance. All was on schedule, she had what she needed now and all would be well.
There was goodness in the Universe, Karolin knew that. It’s why bad things had to happen to good people, it’s why evil had to be shown the light so there could be no darkness. No one, no thing, could hide in the absolute light. RT had given his life so that good people could live. And though his act was brought about by darkness, the act in itself was selfless. Like his life, he died selflessly.
Karolin never had the chance to attend her Brother’s funeral. But she had seen many Military funerals before. Far too many to recount. It was steeped in tradition, from the beginning to end every movement, every sound had some semblance of purpose. It was all to honor not only the one being buried, but to honor all of those who had come before them.
Swallowing hard as she stood at the order of the funeral coordinator, she heard the Commander of the Firing Party give the order to fire three volleys. Twenty-One rounds to honor the dead, fired three times in the tradition of ancient warriors who would stand over the grave of their fallen comrade and chant their name three times in remembrance.
The last sounds of the rifles faded as the music began, the flag bearers folding the flag in exacting precision and in time with the music. As the music ended, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the Sergeant in charge of the flag detail turned and gave the crisply folded Republic banner to the Officer in charge. Even as he approached Karolin, as the next of kin, she did not shed a tear. All cried out, Karolin had no more tears to give to anyone. This flag was meant for Porchia and those tears had already been shed on her behalf.
“On behalf of the Supreme Chancellor, The Republic Military and a grateful Republic, please accept this flag as a token of your loved ones faithful and honorable service.”
It was all rehearsed. Karolin didn’t begrudge the men who performed the duty their task. As she watched them march off after saluting and giving her the flag, she had to wonder did they know whom it was they were burying? Did they know what his call-sign meant or where it came from? Did they know that he gave his life for the defense of his cause and in defense of his wife?
Watching from the shadows, Porchia tossed the cigarra out of her mouth and smashed it under her boot. She stayed by the tree until Karolin walked off, watching her Aunt reach down to touch RT’s casket and speak softly to it. Porchia and her husband never talked about death, they never talked about what either of them would do if it ever happened. But she remembered something her father told her as Karolin got in the speeder and left the Republic National Cemetery.
Her father once told her that he seen so much death and so many friends die that he became bitter. That on the occasion that someone he loved died, the more he loved them, the more ill he would speak of them. RT told Porchia that for him, it made their passing easier if he could pretend to hate them and not think of them as the person he loved.
Spitting on the ground, Porchia glared at the casket as it sat alone in the distance. She wasn’t going to approach it instead screaming out at the top of her lungs. It echoed through the deserted cemetery and across Coruscant, the sound of a wife who lost everything.
“I HATE YOU!!!! I NEVER LOVED YOU….” Porchia collapsed by the tree as she uttered the last words, her feelings opposite from the sounds that came from her mouth.
“…and…y-you were a terrible h-husband…”
It was almost as if Karolin heard it, something struck her deeply as she looked down at the flag she was still carrying. There WAS goodness in the universe, sometimes we get lost on our way to it. But we always find our way back.
Someday, goodness would find them all again. The light was too strong in all of them for it not to return.