STAR WARS: The Dying of the Light
She was gone. In that one last quiet moment with Anakin, Ahsoka Tano had walked away from it all. The Jedi, her Master, all of her hopes and ambitions. She was free to rewrite her destiny before others could do it for her.
Ahsoka put her best foot forward and walked away. Where will she go now? Her despair was so great she could have fallen to pieces there. Anakin watched in shock as she left. One strand of hair would hold a lifetime of memories. Anakin stood and watched, but he was not the only one to watch. In the distance, Ventress casually watches the events unfold and conclude.....
Anakin let her go. Ahsoka kept on going, further and further from the Temple. She had no money, no possessions, almost no strength to live. Though her walking took her far from her troubles, she realized she couldn't leave the planet except as a stowaway, or a brigand. As her stomach growled, she wondered how long it would take before she would start doing the unthinkable just to survive.
She had walked for hours, yet the temple was such a large building that it remained a major site in the panoramic view of the city behind her. She turned down an alley to escape the crowded streets. To escape the view of that Temple. Coruscant from the air looked so majestic for first time tourists, it becomes quite a disappointment when one reaches the smelly streets and exhaust filled sky ways of constant traffic. The beautiful lights of the night blind the unwary to seedy happenings and squalor of those who do not live like the Jedi, the politicians, or the criminal kings.
Down the alley was a hole in the wall bar, Shadout Mapes' Place. She walked in, tired and dejected. There were a few people in there. Not exactly a hive of scum, they were just more poor dregs of society who came here to either drink to remember or to forget. Ahsoka wondered which kind of drinker she would be if she could afford it.
She sat at a bar stool in a dark corner, just trying to be a fly on the wall. She put her head down and drifted away. Maybe this was all a dream. A bad dream. She would wake up again in the Temple, where everything was back in place. Anakin would be his old snarky self. The Council still full of wisdom, her friend Barriss....still a friend. The attack never happens, the war ends. The universe would be put back into proper order.
She knew it was a false dream to hope for. Hope had finally left. All she had left was herself. What has come to pass cannot be undone, unmade, or reversed. With any luck, she thought in her last waking thoughts, I will just become another cog in the Coruscant machine to be forgotten.
She awoke after a time, maybe thirty minutes later. The nap helped her, though her stomach growled mercilessly. "What now?" she murmured. She had suddenly noticed a large bowl of hot soup in front of her. She sat up from the table. In front of her was Ventress, sipping from her own bowl.
"Fancy meeting YOU here" Ventress greeted. Ahsoka hesitated, looked at the pale former apprentice of the nefarious Count Dooku. She looked down at her bowl. It was calling to her.
"Go on, eat. It's not poison". She grabbed the spoon and tried not to slobber like a gundark. Eating it slow took a lot of discipline.
"Thank you, Assajj" Ahsoka whispered. Ventress couldn't reply. She didn't know how to. She continued to eat.
Ventress tried a new approach to greeting her former enemy "I've been getting used to Coruscant, its locations, the eateries. Places to go, contacts to make. It helps me to survive. This place is not exactly a 4 star resturant, but the food is good, the darkness is warmth, and the patrons don't look twice. In case you ever need a hangout. You could do worse"
They continued eating. It was Ahsoka's turn. "You have good skills to find me here".
Ventress simply shrugged "Amazing how we keep running into each other on a huge city planet. It's like we were destined to always meet"
"I hate that word" Ahsoka frowned "Destiny". She spoke it in a hushed tone, as if it were a four letter word not to be heard by children. "Everyone seems to think it's so important, fulfilling a damn destiny"
"Well, Isn't it?" Ventress was curious now "You Jedi all believe in that stuff. It was your destiny to leave the Jedi, to abandon them as they had abandoned you" Ventress finished her bowl, shaking her head "A bombing attack on the Temple.....*pfft* Only a Jedi would try a stunt like that....and to put you, of all people, on trial. I'll bet Obi-wan thought it was such a twist of destiny. Your own friend, setting you up as a terrorist, and using my blades as weapons against the very people she was supposed to protect..."
Ahsoka was not ready to face horrible truths "Please don't. I can't talk about it. About *her*. I don't know what happened. How it came to this...."
Ventress shrugged again "It just seems more like irony than destiny. I know what it's like to be betrayed, to be abandoned....."
Ahsoka took some comfort in Asajj's familiarity. "How did you deal with it? When you had no one to turn to?"
Asajj looked at her, matter of fact "I'm just numb. I've been numb to everything around me right now. Not sure how I should feel I suppose I should be angry and bitter. Trouble is, I was angry and bitter at the Jedi for so long....that I have nothing left to express after what Dooku did."
"Nothing at all?" Ahsoka looked at her "Your anger and passion were driving forces. Wouldn't you just be angry at Dooku and the Separatists?"
Ventress turned the tables "Shouldn't YOU be angry at the Jedi? You walked away from them, why not walk away from their philosophy?"
Ahsoka looked at her "I can't be mad at them....but I can never trust them again. They destroyed any sense of order and justice I ever had. I guess I'm numb too. It's a horrible feeling."
"And what about *her*? Surely you want revenge?" Ahsoka looked down at the table, more sad than angry.
Ventress signaled the bartender for drinks "Drinking helps. Not too much, though. I didn't survive the war this long without staying alert". Two glasses were placed before them.
Ahsoka tried her beverage. A quick gulped, it burned down her with a warm alcoholic sting. She coughed like a rookie. Ventress smiled a little, though it was a warm smile without malice. "You taken your first step into a bigger world, Ahsoka. One filled with bitterness, despair and disappointment. I've been on this road a long time. The only difference between your betrayal and mine was that I should have expected mine. First rule of being a Sith....is you never trust a Sith."
Ahsoka took a bigger gulp, felt warmer. She stared into space. "This war....this war has destroyed all we set out to do. I suppose it truly destroyed the Jedi and their values, just as Barriss said."
"It seems to have destroyed her as well. Corruption begets corruption, and the road to Hell is paved with *good* intentions." Ventress took a drink.
Ahsoka raised an eyebrow "Don't mock me!".
Ventress replied without too much sympathy "I'm not mocking you. It is simply the nature of chaos. Sooner or later, chaos will destroy any orderliness, just as the chaos of war destroyed your order, and corrupted a wise Jedi to commit murder. It's not the first time wise Jedi have fallen to corruption. Look at Dooku....."
Ahsoka thought upon it and became more upset. "How can we fight against it? How come I never fell to the corruption? How did I escape the war's ugliness?"
Ventress wiped her mouth with a napkin "You were a lucky one. I suspect Anakin is the answer to that. I've seen how Jedi are. So restricted, so uptight. Anakin gave you room to breath, to live. He treated you like an equal, a person. Most of them, like Mace Windu....they live like robots. That's one of the reasons I hated them so much. Sooner or later, holding back one's passions causes one to snap. I guess Barriss wasn't as strong as everyone thought. War takes its toll, and breakdowns happen. You survived that dest-...sorry, you survived falling into that trap. The trap of creating Jedi order in a galaxy full of unrepentant chaos."
"Maybe I'm a fallen Jedi too" She sighed "I'll never be as great as Anakin or Obi-wan. What's more, I don't want to...."
Ventress was quick to correct her "If you were a fallen Jedi, you wouldn't be sitting here getting drunk. You walked away, you didn't fall. If you did....you'd become like me" Now Ventress sighed and felt despair "I have committed atrocities beyond scope and decency. I have destroyed whole worlds.....Why am I not on trial right now? Why doesn't Anakin hunt me down like an animal? Why does Obi-wan continue to think I am so damn redeemable?"
Ahsoka looked at her. Ventress finished her drink. It must have been a stronger drink than what the former Sith could handle. She was starting to warm up to Ahsoka and spill all her inner feelings through a bit of jolly inebriation "You know, Obi-wan's the only one who ever thought about reaching out to me.....trying to bring me into the light" Ventress started laughing a hopeless laugh. Ahsoka listened seriously "Dooku just saw me as a tool for his own glory, Anakin saw me as a trophy.....most Jedi just wanted to have me jailed and hung. Can't blame 'em. but Obi-wan....he always had this twinkle in his eye when we fought....like he knew the punchline to the greatest joke in the galaxy.....and he wanted to tell his stupid jokes rather than fight....I suppose if I weren't so angry all the time....I would have....wanted to listen...."
Ventress got teary eyed. Ahsoka noticed how weary she was. Ventress held back, but her eyes watered. "Look at all of us now....." Ventress started getting belligerent "LOOK AT WHERE DESTINY PUT US TODAY!" Patrons turned at her outburst, but looked away. Just another day, another sad sack at Shadout Mapes' place. Ventress looked at Ahsoka like she was the last good friend who would listen "We all got screwed, Ahsoka. You, me, Anakin, that idiot joker Kenobi....Bartender, I want a refill!"
Ahsoka put her hand on Ventress' shoulder, feeling awkward at trying to comfort her. "Maybe you've had enough."
"No...no I haven't" Ventress took the refuill and took another swig. She was getting schnockered against her own advice "Look at what Destiny did! I hate that Bitch, Destiny! You know...."
Ahsoka leaned in to listen. Ventress was fully buzzed "Even as you walk away, you will be remembered as one of the greatest Jedi.....Me? I'm living like a womp rat....next to Dooku, I'll be remembered as one of the war's favorite punching bags. Anakin will be the poster boy for the Supreme Chancellor's agenda, And the Jedi Council get to look like a bunch of criminals. The war will break us all sooner or later, just like your friend. I suppose it doesn't matter. Destiny has one more page to write for us all, and it doesn't look like a happy ending, Ahsoka. Destiny has left me with nothing...just as it has left you with nothing. I just wish.....maybe....maybe Obi-wan could just tell me one of his stupid jokes.....before the knife of Fate turns one final time."
"No" Ahsoka responded. She pushed away her drink. It would solve nothing, and Ahsoka could see the road she might go down if she gave in like Ventress. "No, you are not controlled by Destiny! You are NOT a punching bag!"
Ventress looked at her. They were both at a crossroads in their hearts, Ahsoka could sense it. "We make our own destiny, we have a chance to walk our own path before the final page is written in history. Asajj...." Ahsoka pushed Ventress' drink away and grabbed her hand. Ventress was startled by the ex-Jedi's aggressive behavior "Maybe it WAS Destiny that brought us here today, not to destroy us, but to open a new door. The war cannot affect us anymore. The Jedi, the Sith. They cannot hurt us anymore!!"
"I'm starting to either really like you or be scared by you. What the hell happened to the squeaky clean little 'Snips?"
Ahsoka stood up, re-energized by their talk "Snips is gone, but what I am now....well, is the right person I need to be. Now, I'm going to help you be the person YOU need to be!"
"And just who am I supposed to be?" Ventress started to sober up, started thinking and getting a little scared at Ahsoka's energy.
Ahsoka leaned in to her "What you were in the past is gone. The hard, vengeful Sith killer Ventress is gone. Now....you can be what ever you want. You're here, alive, and you can either keep drinking and waiting for Destiny to write the story for you, or you can step up and become greater than the sum of your past! Do you have a ship?"
"I know where I can get one in an emergency. It ain't much to look at, but it's got what it takes. Why?" Ventress started to feel Ahsoka's excitement rub off, shaking off the drink that would have stopped her in her tracks.
Ahsoka found a new purpose "We are going to get out of here. The war is already destroying the hearts and minds of people here. We can escape."
Ventress started thinking "And go where?".
Ahsoka just smiled "Let's go. Let's go before we drink ourselves into becoming what we hate the most." They exit the bar.
In moments, they are on high landing pad atop one of the ports. Ventress pulls strings to gain access to a large Bounty Hunter ship. "I'm still making payments on this bucket, but it's pretty smooth" Ventress smiles proudly. On the side, in big letters, it was named "Sophonisba".
"It's a pretty name." Ahsoka smiled.
Ventress looked at her with a parental expression "More than just a name. Sophonisba was a legendary Princess of a more punic age in the Republic. Princess Sophnisba was on the losing side of a great war, long ago. Rather than surrender and be paraded as an animal in the capital....she...she took destiny in her own hands. She controlled her own Fate by drinking poison rather than being a prisoner of someone else's agenda. Hmm....now THAT'S ironic...."
Ahsoka grinned "It was a Destiny we are shaping now".
Ventress became concerned "And how do you know we are still in control of our own destiny? What makes you think you are not just being steered again? What makes you think we can win against this? Who can stop Fate from destroying us like it has destroyed the Sith and the Jedi?"
"Faith, my young padawan!" She gently patted Asajj's face in reassurance "Have faith!" Ahsoka gently grabs skeptical Ventress' hands tightly "Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, RAGE against the dying of the light!"
"You're quite the poet" Ventress cocked her head in surprise.
Ahsoka smiled "It means....we don't take shit from nobody!"
Ventress felt warm with her touch, and felt renewed strength "Where shall we go....my friend?"
Ahsoka's eyes looked towards the temple, not in sadness, not burning revenge, but with a new fire. A decision that would suprise even her. "We're going back for Barriss!"
"What?!" Ventress' jaw dropped "Even after all that's happened!?"
Ahsoka took a deep breath "She is in a dark place now, almost as dark and oppressive as the Jedi. If we leave her now....she will become the next Darth Maul, She'll become what you were. Destiny will destroy what is left. I can feel her from here and there is good still within her. But she is teetering on a tightrope between justice and madness. The Jedi cannot and will not help her. I have a plan."
"You'd better!" They board the ship. Ventress checks her supplies, weapons, and power. They sit in the cockpit and plot a breakout. Their combined knowledge and skills would be enough to make it work. "She must mean a lot to you, doesn't she?" Ventress started the lift off.
Ahsoka looked on as the ship faced the temple. Wise Ventress' Heart knows dark is right, because her words had forked no lightning. We will not go gentle into that good night.
The ship blasted towards the Temple.
Inside the temple, in a dark prison cell, fallen Jedi Barriss Offee awaited her destiny, to be stripped from the order, expelled or executed. She had no emotion left, only a numb feeling. Her meditation was of little comfort. She was alone, and despised.
Anakin entered the cell with a tray of food. He put it before her without saying a word. Because there were no words left to be said. She could feel a temper boiling up in him, disgusted to be in the same room. He snapped a little "Have you no regrets? No remorse for your actions?! How could you DO this to us? To HER?"
Barriss closed her eyes and looked down. No explanation would be good enough. Not for him, not for the news networks that had plastered her face all over the planet, and across the galaxy. Her destiny as a cold, psychopath in public opinion seemed to be settled. "What answer can I give, Skywalker? That I was trying to.....to do the right thing...."
Anakin just shook his head "You're scheduled for execution, Barriss. They simply have to go through the formality of passing sentence in court" He left her with one last dagger of a thought "Your treachery made Ahsoka leave. At the very least, she does not have to be here to see what a monster you've become!". The coldness of the temple was all around her as he closed the door. She closed her eyes and sighed. She bit her lip for control. The war had taken its ultimate toll on her, mentally and spiritually. In the last days, she had become one more casualty
"Soldier" by Gavin DeGraw: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DLo__…
A ship passed by, she could hear the engines roar. They were very close. The door opened again. Another robed figure stepped through. Barriss waited for another barrage of threats and taunts. The figure lifted her hood up. It was Ahsoka Tano.
Barriss' eyes went wide. She was frozen in apprehension, failing to hear a noise rev up outside the temple wall. She waited to hear Ahsoka's rant, but Ahsoka went into a dive at her "GET DOWN!!" They both hit the floor. An explosion rocked the cell as a hole was blown open. An alarm sounded.
Ahsoka pulled a shocked Barriss up. "You've come for revenge.....I am ready." Barriss seemed to accept her fate all too quickly.
Ahsoka didn't have time for dramatics "Would you shut up and get going? We're on a rescue mission!"
Ahsoka pulled her to the hole. Ventress ship hovered nearby, a hatch open and ready. Ventress grinned "You make it look so easy, Ahsoka!" Ahsoka helped the confused Barriss into the hatch.
Anakin and Obi-wan reached the cell door and watched her in shock. She looked back at them for a moment, thinking about them both. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING, AHSOKA!??" Anakin's surprise and anger startles even Kenobi. His old Snips was now an even bolder figure than before. She looked at him, without judgement or remorse, but with resolve "I am rage. A rage against the dying of the light!"
Ahsoka hopped on board and Ventress pulled the ship away. Obi-wan reached the hole and almost smiled in pleasant surprise when he saw Asajj at the helm. Obi-wan suddenly realized why.
Ventress and Obi-wan locked eyes for long seconds as Anakin ran like a maniac to the fighter bays to pursue, staring at each other as Ahsoka and Barriss settled in and closed the hatch. Asajj could sense his elation, He sensed a renewed spirit in her, a positive one, and both suddenly knew why.
Brave Asajj and Obi-wan, near death, who see with blinding sight. Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Both would Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
"You have brightened my day, Ventress, but taking a prisoner away will put a damper on our usual good cheer, if you have any good cheer to spare. If you don't surrender, I'll have to give chase to bring you back" He smirked, with that twinkle in his eye "Though, I'd rather enjoy the chase!"
Ventress smiled with a hint of mirth. "We're game for a rematch, Kenobi! I'll show you good cheer if you can catch me. Loser buys the winner lunch at Dex's diner!" She blasts away and kicks the Sophonisba into the high atmosphere.
Obi-wan watches. He is interrupted by a frantic Anakin "Master, what's happening!? Why aren't you going after her?"
Obi-wan casually holds up his communicator "It's only good sportsmanship to give them a head start. I'll be up in a moment." He started humming. The gloom of the Temple and its oppressive spiritual weight melted away. He felt his young adventurous self return as he made his way to his ship. One more good chase through the galaxy was in his heart.
Ventress' ship blasted through the last of the planet's layers, and prepped past fleets of ships to make one more sail into history.
Ahsoka and Ventress coordinated an escape route "What's next in this plan of yours?"
Ahsoka drew up a mapped path "We can start hear" Ventress looked at her in suprise. They are interrupted by gunfire as Republic gunships pursue them up into the reaches of the atmosphere.
Ventress smiles "Your clone troopers are getting sloppy. Took 'em almost ten minutes to get here!"
Ahsoka felt the ship rattling with blasts in the hull "Can we make it to our destination, Asajj?" Ventress punched in the coordinates "Almost theeeere".
Ahsoka opened a hailing frequency ahead. On the other end, Lux appeared in a nice shade of blue
"Ahsoka!! It's good to see you!!" Ahsoka smiled as he smiled at her. She could sense his warmth from even such a distance.
"I'd like to book a table for 4 at your best resturant! You got room for some vagabonds, Lux?" Another blast rocked the ship, and Lux knew that her situation was serious.
"We'll be waiting, Ahsoka! Be safe. I miss you...." She reaches out to touch screen, to touch Lux's image
"I can't wait to be there. There's so much to do and say before...."
"Before what?" He asked curiously.
"Strap your olive green and orange butts in! We're gonna have a bumpy ride in 25 seconds!" Ventress shouted
The ship rocked again.
"Lux....I will see you soon." He blushed and reached out to her. Wild Lux who caught and sang Ahsoka's heart in flight, And learned too late, he grieved with his eyes to say 'Do not go gentle into that good night.' His blue image felt real for a moment before he switched off.
Ahsoka turned to Barriss. She sat and kept her eyes closed, unsure of her Destiny now. "Hey" she called out gently. Seconds were counting down to hyperspace, but she didn't care. There was one more Heart to bring to the light.
Barriss looked up up at her "Don't die for me. I left you to be destroyed. I have failed you. There's nothing left of what I once was." she whispered.
Ahsoka took her hands next "I sensed the good that was still in you. Letting you fall into darkness would be a greater crime. You are worth saving before Destiny writes the final note on your life."
Barriss looked at her confused "You can't fight Destiny, the Living will of the Force. It has led us all to-"
"-It has led us to here and now, and the future is still far off. I said it, and I still mean it. We can find our way to the light, and I'll take your pain when we do. And you, my Barriss, there on that sad height, Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light!"
Ventress laughed excitedly at Ahsoka's poetic comments "RAGE against the dying of the light, Barriss!! That means....we don't take shit from NOBODY!"
Ahsoka drew her close and held her tight. Barriss saw the light in Ahsoka's face for her, a bright joy hinted across the horizons of her eyes. She could almost feel the corruption leave her heart. Her face started to scrunch up, eyes drew up a little more wet and a little smile in her as Ahsoka leaned their heads together in the most magical Jedi power that could be shared: Forgiveness.
Just past them, Ventress gave out a "Yeehaw!" cheer as the hyperspace kicked in and the stars surrounded them. Ahsoka and Barriss' silhouettes got even closer as the ship blasted off to new adventure, defying the very galaxy that would condemn them.
What would become of them? Fate knew in the future, but for now.....They would open their own path. Wild and free.