Fading Away Into Light
A/N: Many, many thanks to LadyPadme. Sadly, this story doesn't do her beta-ing job justice.
It was a misty night on Yavin
4. Faint clouds so thin as to be the shadow of a whisper drifted across the sky,
hardly dimming the cold light of the stars. The jungle, oddly, had fallen quiet;
normally, there would be the noise of nocturnal creatures scurrying about the
daily business of life. But today – tonight – it was silent, as if nature itself
realized the great loss that had occurred.
The memorial had been held hours earlier, and now Luke Skywalker’s living family gathered together to celebrate a truly amazing life. Away from the group, a man, shrouded in a dark cloak that appeared black in the night, could hear them, although the noise of the gathering was muted by distance.
His family had chosen Yavin 4 as Luke Skywalker’s resting place because it was a place that had held such significance in his life. Here, he had bunked with the pilots that flew with him against the first Death Star. Here, he had rebuilt the Jedi Order. And here and elsewhere, he had led the Jedi through the Yuuzhan Vong War. Yavin 4, as well, was a place of vibrant life. The Force was strong here.
Kyp Durron had always liked it. Smiling and breathing in the fresh air, he threw his hood back, revealing black hair liberally streaked with white. He was certainly no longer young. With age, he had learned much – maturity, patience. Though of course, experience alone doesn’t teach that. Teachers do.
Luke had left behind no body. He had left the physical world to join with the Force, and to join with his wife Mara Jade, who had died years before him. Kyp imagined that Anakin Solo, and all the other casualties of the war, were there as well. The war was ended now, though, and so he supposed such was no longer a concern of theirs. As there was nothing to burn or cremate, Luke’s family – Ben Skywalker and Luke’s niece and nephew, mostly – decided to burn a few items of his instead, symbolic of his leaving. Ben was a good kid – not a kid really, he was actually nearing thirty-five these days, Kyp mused.
Kyp Durron walked into the jungle. Despite his age and physical weakness, he moved with a lightness in his step. He allowed the Force to flow through him, guiding his footsteps deeper into the thick, dark green mess of living organisms. After a time, when he could no longer hear anything but the jungle itself, he stopped. Casting a quick glance around, he found a boulder lying nearby, and settled himself on it. He shifted slightly, realizing it was not quite as comfortable as he had expected.
He laughed, shortly, shaking his head. He glanced up again, seeking the stars through the maze of branches above him. A few stars twinkled here and there, strewn across his vision like pebbles.
Then he began to talk. “You know, its odd. I can’t imagine why, but I always thought I’d ‘join the Force’ before you,” Kyp said quietly. “Maybe . . . it was that I was reckless, and I didn’t care. Or that I always sought battles that I could fight. I wasn’t stupid, you know, I knew my diplomatic skills were damn near worthless. That’s why I never tried – to be like that.”
He paused again. “Another thing – you promised me a free swing at you, Luke. Now, why did I not take it when I had the chance?” He laughed, and folded his hands in his robe. “You were a manipulative . . . Sithspawn, in those later years of the war. And even worse, you knew it.”
Faint laughter was heard – or perhaps it was merely a rustle of leaves. Kyp listened for a moment, then continued. “So many things are always left undone, I’ve observed. We all know it will happen to us and our friends someday, but we never expect death, the finality of it.” He sighed, looking down for a moment. “I never said thank you.”
He fell silent. Reflectively, he dug a tiny rock out of the moist and loose soil, looked at it for a moment, and then threw it out into the jungle blindly. As he did so, he stretched out with the Force, feeling the tiny ripples such an occurrence created. Kyp was a Jedi Master, and a very skilled one. It amused him, at times, to do such things, to feel the tiniest detail that others would completely miss.
As if he had never halted, Kyp began to speak again. “I think it’s fitting, though, the way you died. Maybe you think that’s odd – hell, who knows what you think in that Force of yours? But of all the ways I could have imagined you going, dying to save the life of some random stranger really seems to be appropriate. You didn’t go out in a blaze of glory – you went out doing what you’ve always done. Doing the right thing.”
“I’m glad you think so.”
Kyp sprung to his feet, and whirled, panting in startlement. With one hand, he raked through his shoulder-length hair, while his other hand instinctively dropped to the lightsaber at his belt, even though he felt no danger.
Luke Skywalker stood a few feet away, and Kyp could see right through him. Luke wore Jedi garb, as he had done in life. His hair was almost completely white, and his face wrinkled and aged. But his eyes sparkled with boyish kindness. He did, in some ways, look like his old mentor, Ben Kenobi.
“Sorry,” Luke added, but his grin said otherwise.
Kyp breathed out, and relaxed out of his fighting stance. “You know,” he observed, “I still can’t take a swing at you.”
Luke laughed. It sounded completely normal, as if it wasn’t coming from a Force-ghost. Not that Kyp really had any experience in that area . . .
“I know,” Luke replied, smiling. “That’s not why I’m here,” he added, gently this time.
Kyp stopped for a moment, thinking over that statement. “The disease.”
“From the war,” Luke said softly, finishing. Years ago, long before Luke’s death and during the end Yuuzhan Vong War, rogue elements of the Yuuzhan Vong began to use biological weapons against the Jedi, their hated enemies – those that had, in time, brought the Yuuzhan Vong to their side, even to an understanding of the Force. The Jedi had discovered, in the years, how to sense the Yuuzhan Vong through the Force, and the Yuuzhan Vong had in turn developed a respect for it.
Among those infected by one of those biological weapons was Kyp Durron. The disease Kyp developed was in some sense similar to what had infected and nearly killed Mara Jade, but unlike her, Kyp had never been able to fully fight it off, and the synthetic tears of Vergere had only worked against that one disease. Kyp simply had to deal with the symptoms as best as he could. But as time wore on and Kyp grew both older and weaker – even as his strength and knowledge grew in the Force – he became tired. As he was tired now. He had spoken with doctors and healers, and they had predicted a messy and painful end, similar to what the Krytos virus had done.
“So . . . what is this? A choice?” Kyp asked.
Luke nodded slowly, meeting Kyp’s gaze squarely. His blue eyes held all of the same old determination and wisdom. Kyp had sometimes thought, privately, that those eyes were sometimes ancient as a thousand years and sometimes like those of a child.
Kyp said nothing, unsure of what to say.
“You were right, Kyp,” Luke said suddenly, his smile widening into a grin.
Kyp blinked. “I was?”
“You don’t prepare – you just don’t think of when you’re going to die all that much. Not to the extent you prepare for it, that you have your say about life.” He grin turned softer. “At times, I almost did regret saving you from the persecution of the New Republic for Carida. I’ll admit that. But when it came down to it, you were – are – a Jedi. I’m proud of you.”
“Master . . .” Kyp breathed, his eyes stinging for a moment. “Thank you.”
Luke stepped forward and calmly, as if it never occurred to him that he was ghost and he shouldn’t be able to interact with solid objects, sat down on the boulder Kyp had occupied before. He paused and frowned, then shifted, causing Kyp to laugh at the absurdity of it. The two of them shared a moment of amusement.
“As I said, you have a choice. I know your control of the disease is lessening, and it’s becoming more painful. You can stay or . . . you can come with me,” Luke said simply.
Kyp stopped breathing for a moment. He turned away, thinking.
“It is your choice,” Luke repeated.
“Yes,” Kyp said abruptly, facing Luke once more. Luke blinked at him, apparently surprised by the swiftness of his decision. Kyp explained. “I’m dying. There’s no question of that. The healers – even Jedi healers – have all told me it will likely be a very painful way to go. My friends . . . I’ve already talked with them. I was thinking about leaving, going somewhere where I could – meditate, be at peace with myself, and immerse myself fully in the Force when the time came. I’ve known for quite some time now that this, my death, was coming.” He paused. “I want to go peacefully. Let me do it peacefully for once.”
Luke nodded, then after a moment smiled. While Kyp had truly learned over the years from his mistakes, his anger and his aggression, he still remained Kyp Durron. Calling him ‘fierce’ was being polite.
Luke rose silently, and held out his hand. Hesitating only a moment, Kyp took it. He was startled to feel warm flesh. He felt only a slight nervousness, despite how quickly this was all happening. He had known he was dying, his friends knew it, and he knew that his passing would be felt but not commented on. He smiled at his old Master, knowing he would guide him through this as with so many things – even if he had been stubborn and recalcitrant through so many of them.
And teacher and student walked away, into the Force.
Kyp was never found, though many felt his passing and acknowledged the loss. Not even his lightsaber or clothes were found. His name would be remembered and then forgotten in time, as such is the way things are. It was as if he had never been.
The Force knew otherwise, of course, and so did those within it.