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Saga - OT “All the Joy, but Not the Care”| Kanan one-shot, drama| Restoration Song Challenge

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Mar 22, 2019.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Title: All the Joy, but Not the Care
    Author: Raissa Baiard
    Genre: Drama
    Time Frame: OT, Rebels Season 4, during the events of “Jedi Night”
    Canonicity: canon
    Synopsis: After Hera is taken prisoner by the Empire, Kanan receives an unexpected offer of aid.

    Notes: written for the Songs of the English Restoration Theater Challenge. It is inspired by “Let Ambition Fire Thy Mind”, a song from The Judgement of Paris by John Eccles, in which the goddess Juno offers Paris unlimited power if he will choose her the most beautiful of three goddesses; his ultimate choice sparks the Trojan war. I will say that this story is inspired by the theme, rather than being a literal take on it.
    Let ambition fire thy mind,
    Thou wert born o’er men to reign,
    Not to follow flocks designed,
    Scorn thy crook, and leave the plain.

    Crowns I’ll throw beneath thy feet,
    Thou on necks of kings shalt tread,
    Joys in circles joys shall meet,
    Which way e’er thy fancies lead.

    Let not toils of empire fright,
    Toils of empire pleasures are;
    Thou shalt only know delight,
    All the joy, but not the care.

    Shepherd, if thou’lt yield the prize,
    For the blessings I bestow,
    Joyful I’ll ascend the skies,
    Happy thou shalt reign below.

    Note that the story contains some mild depictions of torture.

    Many thanks to @Findswoman for beta-reading and encouragement. @};-
    ————————-

    It was done.

    Kanan laid the knife down next to his mask with a sigh. He ran a hand down the line of his jaw, feeling the last bits of stubble on his freshly shaven face, then through his hair, short and somewhat spiky now that he’d cut off his queue. It was done; he was ready now.

    He drew a deep breath to center himself in the Force, to draw in its energy and banish the bone-weariness he felt. Had Phoenix Squadron’s disastrous mission to destroy Thrawn’s advanced TIE factory really only been last night? It seemed like an eternity ago that he’d watched helplessly as Imperial forces brought down the squadron’s fighters one by one. Only Chopper and young Mart Mattin had returned to the Rebels’ base, with news that was both better and worse than Kanan could have hoped for: Hera was alive, but she’d been taken prisoner while helping him escape. At that, Kanan had raced off into the night on his speeder, his only thought to bring her back, even if it meant he had to fight every stormtrooper in the Imperial complex single-handedly.

    And no doubt he would have tried and no doubt failed—one Jedi, not matter how angry and resolute, was no match for an entire detachment of stormtroopers—if he hadn’t been intercepted by a Loth-wolf somewhere on the road to Capital City. The wolf had, impossibly, spoken to Kanan in perfect, if somewhat guttural Basic. Its message was simple, just a single word: Dume, but Kanan understood. It was a reminder that he was above all a Jedi. No matter how much he loved Hera, no matter how his soul burned at the thought of her in Imperial captivity, he couldn’t let that anger and fear control him. Though it nearly broke his heart, Kanan forced himself to turn around and go back to camp.

    He’d mediated throughout the rest of that endless night, into the small hours of the morning until the sun rose, tracing the tangle of possible futures, following each of them as they branched off, splintering into smaller, less likely futures, and weighing the cost of every action, however small. No matter how many possibilities Kanan traced, though, they all led him back to a single path. All the pathways are coming together; I’m just not sure we’re going to like where they lead. He’d told Ezra that back on Yavin, and now that he’d seen their ultimate conjunction, he was certain of it. But even if it wasn’t the path that Kanan would have chosen, it was the path, the one he had to follow.

    So while Ezra, stunned that his master had given him the responsibility, led the others in planning the rescue mission, Kanan prepared himself for what he had to do. Even though his heart kept insisting he should join them, that he needed to be with them, to guide them, to tell them, Kanan spent the hours meditating and fasting, the way he would have if he’d ever faced proper Jedi trials in the Temple. He found an ancient blade in one of the cliff dwelling’s chambers. With it, he cut his hair short and shaved his beard, re-dedicating himself to the Force in a ritual symbolizing his willingness to break the ties that bound him to this life—an acknowledgement that he was in spirit and in truth still Caleb Dume, Jedi Knight, servant of the Force, and prepared to do its will.

    Shaving with the dull knife had stung. It had even been painful at times, but not as much as the the thought of severing those ties, the attachments he’d formed over the years: the crew of the Ghost whom he’d come to love as his family, and Hera, the woman he loved more than life itself. But what he did tonight, he did for them...for her. He was reconciled to his path; he accepted what he must do.

    And yet…

    “It doesn’t have to be this way, you know.”

    The voice from behind Kanan was quiet, insidious, familiar… Against his better judgement, he found himself turning towards it.

    There was a figure standing in the doorway, an older man, tall and stately. He was dressed in a gray brocaded robe, and his wavy white hair was brushed back from his temples. Despite the air of dignity he exuded, his blue eyes had a crinkling of laugh lines at their corners, and his mouth curved into the benevolent smile of someone’s kindly grandfather.

    The fact that Kanan could see him was only the first disturbing thing about him.

    The second, more important thing was that Kanan had seen him before. Not in person, of course; Padawan Caleb Dume had never been significant enough to be in the presence of Coruscant’s elite. However, that visage had appeared countless times on the holonet during the Separatist Crisis and the Clone Wars, first as Senator, then as Chancellor and finally as Emperor, announcing the fall of the Jedi and the rise of the New Order. Sheev Palpatine no longer looked like anyone’s kindly anything anymore, since the dark power of his own Sith lightning had melted his features into a twisted mask. But when you were a powerful enough Sith to send your image from Coruscant to Lothal, you could appear any way you chose.

    Not that it mattered. Kanan was neither fooled nor impressed by Palpatine’s sending. “Get out of my head,” he growled. “I’ve made my decision.”

    “My dear Master Jarrus—or perhaps I should say Master Dume?” Palpatine chuckled warmly, if a bit condescendingly, as he surveyed Kanan’s makeshift altar and the knife and mask lying there. It seemed that the Emperor could make himself sound any way he chose, too. The same Sith lightning that had disfigured him had left his voice nothing more than a grating rasp. When he spoke now, though, it was in the rich timbres of the orator who’d convinced the Senate to turn its powers over to him. He stepped into the dim confines of the ancient dwelling without waiting for an invitation. “I couldn’t be here if you didn’t have some doubts about what you mean to do. So I say to you again: it does not have to be this way. I can help you.”

    Help from a Sith—what was that worth? Jedi history proved time and again that when the Sith offered their help, the bargain you got was never the one you thought they’d given. Ultimately, the only one a Sith ever helped was himself. Kanan turned away from the illusory Palpatine, laying one hand on his mask, the other on the knife. This was what was real, this was what was important, Palpatine and his promises were just shadows. “Is this where you try to get me to join the Dark Side? Offer me power beyond my wildest dreams if I will? Because I’ve seen what happens to those that take that offer, and I’m not interested.”

    “Indeed?” The word brimmed with cultured derision. “Well, then it’s lucky for me that I have something you are interested in.”

    Kanan snorted. “And what might that be?” Why was he even asking? Why was he giving this man one second of his attention when he needed to be focusing on what was to come?

    There was another condescending chuckle. “Why, General Syndulla, of course.”

    Though every instinct he had told Kanan not to listen to a single lying word the Sith Lord said, he spun towards Palpatine. The scene visible through the doorway behind him had changed. It no longer showed the sun setting over the grassland; instead it had become a portal to another place: a dimly lit chamber where everything was in dull shades of Imperial gray—walls, floor, and furnishings. Not that there was much furniture, only a euphemistically named “interrogation chair” in the center of the room.

    Hera was shackled into it. She wore a loose orange prisoner’s jumpsuit, though at least her captors had let her keep her flightcap to cover her head and lekku. She leaned back against the chair’s metal frame, eyes closed and panting slightly, her forehead beaded with sweat. A yellow bolt of electricity suddenly arced from the chair’s front bar, and Hera was wracked with spasms. She clenched her teeth against the pain, seeking to deny her captors the pleasure of hearing her scream, but Kanan could tell this was far from the first jolt she’d taken and her control was hanging together by bare threads. Soon it would give way entirely, and she knew it.

    Once, Kanan had been bolted into a similar chair and tortured by the Grand Inquisitor. He remembered vividly the agony of the electroshock slamming into him, overloading his neurological system and making his muscles contract uncontrollably. The pain had been close to unbearable, even when he drew upon the Force for strength, but watching Hera suffer was a thousand times worse. His hand closed around the dull knife laying on the altar, and he took several quick step towards Palpatine before he stopped himself, as if by attacking this phantasm he could stop Hera from being tortured. As if there was any satisfaction to be gained from such a futile action.

    Palpatine smiled. “Yes, I thought that would get your attention.” The image behind him faded, the darkened interrogation chamber and Hera’s anguished features replaced by a scene of Kanan standing in front of the imposing dome of Imperial headquarters in Capital City, waiting, hands clenched at his sides. The door in front of him slid open, and two stormtroopers ushered Hera out between them. She was still dressed in the prison jumpsuit, hands cuffed behind her, and though there were dark circles beneath her eyes, her expression was grimly defiant. She stopped short when she saw Kanan, and though Palpatine’s vision was silent, he could see her call his name. Hope and fear warred in her eyes, turning to disbelief when one of the troopers released the binder cuffs at her wrists.

    “One word from me, and she goes free while the troops stand down. Grand Admiral Thrawn himself couldn’t gainsay my order.”

    Kanan watched as his counterpart in the vision took Hera’s hand and pulled her into his arms. He read her lips form “I don’t understand…” and his own reply “It’s all right; you’re safe now.” She clung to him for a moment, as if she was certain this would turn out to be nothing more than a dream. He didn’t miss the tears she was trying to hold back or the hand she laid against her abdomen as he led her gently away on legs that were still unsteady from repeated electroshocks.

    “And what exactly would this cost me?” he asked slowly.

    “Cost you? Why, nothing…” Palpatine’s mouth curved into the gentle, grandfatherly smile again. His voice was rich with compassion, and he seemed to be the very soul of benevolence, or he would have been except for a certain glitter in his ice blue eyes. “All I ask is that you take her and leave Lothal. Go somewhere far away and settle down. Marry her if you wish. Live, as they say in the tales, happily ever after. So long as you leave the Rebellion behind, my forces will never trouble you again.”

    As he spoke, the image framed by the doorway changed again: Kanan and Hera, hand in hand, on a beach beneath a brilliant azure sky. The crystal water lapped at their bare feet as they walked down it, laughing. Hera wore a brightly patterned scarf tied over her lekku, its fringed ends fluttering in the breeze, a white shirt that left the smooth skin of her shoulders and arms bare, and a flowing skirt that swirled around her legs, the hem damp with salt spray, though Hera seemed not to mind.

    Kanan’s heart clenched painfully. He’d never seen Hera look more beautiful or carefree. He’d asked her before she’d returned to Yavin what kind of life she wanted to have after the war was over, and he knew that if she had asked him the same question, this was what he would have described: a future together, full of joy and love and hope.

    And yet…

    It was a future they could never have. Kanan knew what his path was; he knew what he had to do for Hera and their family. He shook his head mutely, and wished he could make himself look away from this vision, that he could be as blind to it as he was to everything else.

    “Are you really that eager to sacrifice yourself, Jedi?” Palpatine’s voice was soft and wheedling, seeping into the cracks of Kanan’s resolve. “Think of what you could have—a lifetime with your beloved...and your son.”

    Kanan stiffened as, in the vision, a small boy with emerald green hair pattered down the beach towards him and Hera, splashing in surf as he came. He had a sea bird feather clutched in one small fist, and he beamed as he held it up to his parents for inspection. No. Kanan shook his head again, harder this time. No, Palpatine couldn’t know; no one knew, except…

    “Come now, don’t act so surprised, MasterJedi!” The Emperor’s patronizing laughter rattled against Kanan’s thoughts like a handful of stones. “If I have seen that future, you surely must have. A fine boy, so much like his mother…” he mused, regarding the image playing out behind him as Kanan scooped the boy up and tossed him into the air. The boy spread his arms like wings and seemed to hang there weightless for a moment before he came down laughing into Kanan’s arms. “It would be a shame if he had to grow up never knowing his father.”

    In the vision, Hera put her arms around Kanan, embracing him and their son between them. It was a perfect moment, a perfect family and every bit of Kanan longed for it, rather than the path the Force had shown him. Would it be so bad, so wrong if he chose happiness? The Force could do very well without him; what was one lapsed Jedi in the greater scheme of things? Anyway, Kanan had already given more in the service of the Republic and the Rebellion than any being should have had to give—his master, his name, his sight. Why should he he have to to lose the woman he loved more than life...and their child?

    No, the question wasn’t why should he give more to the Rebellion than he’d already given. The real question was what would he sacrifice to save Hera, and he already knew the answer to that: everything.

    With one exception.

    “You will give me all this...and all it will cost me is my soul.”

    A look of derision flickered over the Emperor’s features—it seemed he felt that that souls were overrated and unnecessary things— but he quickly smoothed it back into a look of condescending concern. Kanan continued before the Sith could utter another persuasive lie. “You’re right,” he said gesturing towards the image of himself and his family, together. “This is all I’ve ever wanted, but I’m not willing to betray everything I hold dear to get it. And if you believe that Hera would want me under those circumstances, you don’t know her at all.” Kanan took a long last look at Palpatine’s vision, at Hera and their son. He knew he would never see them this way, but still he treasured the image of what might have been in that perfect moment, and held onto the love he saw between them. He was going to need that memory later. At last, Kanan turned back to the stone altar and laid the knife he was still holding on it. “So, Emperor, I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline your offer. I think you know the way out.”

    “So be it… “ Palpatine’s cultured tones shriveled back into a snarl, and crackles of blue light exploded as the kindly man melted into a withered, hunched figure cloaked and cowled in shadows before he flickered out entirely in a shower of sparks, leaving Kanan alone in darkness again.

    Kanan exhaled deeply, and dropped to his knees, bowing his head. “Forgive me,” he whispered, not knowing exactly who he addressed. The Force, for that moment of weakness when he had very nearly turned away from its path again? Hera, for not choosing to free her and spare her this pain? His unborn son, for following a path that would take him out of the boy’s life? His family, for leaving them to finish this fight without him? “Forgive me, but I have to…”

    “Kanan?” Another voice came from the doorway, as quietly familiar as the Emperor’s had been, but full of compassion and understanding—Ezra’s voice. “It’s time.”

    Kanan rose slowly. Forgive me. Stay strong without me. I love you, all of you. Always.

    “I’m ready.”
    ==========
     
    Kahara, GregMcP, divapilot and 2 others like this.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Bravo on showing Palpatine in all his slimy sheeviness. :p

    Oh, you don't know how much I Want that visionary future for Kanan, Hera, and their son! How VERY VERY MUCH! :* :*

    Words fail me at Kanan's continued resolve.

    "No one has love greater than this ..." Those resonant words of truth are timeless. @};-

    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing, superlicious, & heart-tugging response to the challenge.

    =D=

    [face_love]
     
  3. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    This is almost biblical. (Wow, such a sentence really coming from me old heathen!) The snake tempting with a sweet apple which leaves a vile & fool taste in the mouth. Of course our hero basically spits the offer out.

    Very excellent writing! The characters stay true to themselves, but you still manage to give them a new dimension: Kanan Jarrus/ Caleb Dume, Palpatine, Hera & even unborn Spectre-7/ Jacen Syndulla.
     
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    WOW! :eek: I’ve been eagerly awaiting this story ever since you first told me your ideas for it, and you really took your prompt and knocked it out of the park. AMAZING expansion on this pivotal moment in Rebels—a pivotal moment that in a way is too short in the show, but that’s what fanfic is for! You really capture the mixed whirl of emotions that must be going through Kanan’s mind here, torn between dropping everything to rescue his love and remaining true to his Jedi calling—also in order to save both her and his friends.

    The exchange with the Emperor is gutwrenching and riveting. The calm, happy, love-filled future he offers Kanan is so tempting—more than tempting—and we readers can feel just how much it pulls at him and can hear those inner voices talking to him: you’ve suffered enough in this war, so why not? What’s one fewer Jedi, more or less? Wrenchingest of all is when the Emperor plays the “Jacen card”: first because of the way he’s turning Kanan and Hera’s sweet secret into a way of manipulating Kanan, second of all because that is just exactly the kind of tranquil future Kanan and Hera had no doubt been hoping to enjoy after all their trials are past. The image of the three of them walking so happily on the beach as a family really drives that home, as does the sweet little “born to fly” moment that shows how much Jacen will be like his mom. It’s poison, of course, but such sweet poison that plays on our hero’s every longing...

    ...and he can have it if only he gives up his very soul, his will to fight, the safety of his family. I love the moment where he realizes that; it reminds me of the way knights like Galahad and Percival rejected similar temptations in Arthurian legend. This is the clincher right here:

    BAM. Because I could see that being perfectly true. This, right here, is why the path he chooses is ultimately truer to his love for her than the easy-out future offered by Palpatine (as much as it hurts to call it that because it reallly is so beautiful). Absolutely spot-on. So yes, Palpy, you’re excused. Buh-bye. :p

    And yes, at the end there, I think he is asking for the forgiveness of all of those named, all at once: Hera, little Jacen, the crew, the Force itself. I think they all do forgive him and understand, in the end, even if it will likely take time just because of how devastating his loss will be to them. And there could be no better voice to bring him back to the here and now than that of his own faithful padawan. His few but gentle words are such a contrast to the Emperor’s faux-genteel nonsense—they must be a balm to Kanan’s own troubled soul at this moment, as well as an encouragement to his resolve. Now he can truly be ready, and mean it.

    Just beautiful, poignant, wrenching, all of it, all at once. You really took this prompt and ran with it, and your love of these characters shines so splendidly through. Thanks so much for sharing and being part of this little challenge! =D= =D= =D=
     
  5. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Excellent story! You've really focused in tightly into the very meaning of what it is to be a Jedi. It isn't an adherence to a culture, or membership in an exclusive fraternity. It's all in your heart.

    Kanan has spent the entire run of Rebels trying to determine who and what he is. After the purge, after his master's death, he tried to divorce himself from being a Jedi. And yet, he could never do so completely. He will always be a Jedi in his heart.

    The temptation - a life so ordinary, so rich in the simple pleasures that he never could have -- almost has Kanan second guess his ideas. But then he realizes that if he did not follow through with his duty, he would sell his soul. And what kind of man would that make him then? It calls to mind the famous line of "To Lucasta, Going Off to War" by Richard Lovelace: "I could not love thee, Dear, so much / Loved I not Honor more." Without his honor, without his valor and integrity, Kanan is not Kanan.

    And then, his heartbreaking moment:
    To think that he says "forgive me" instead of "goodbye."

    Such a beautiful moment you've captured, so full of bravery and loyalty. He knows he is going to his death, he has accepted it, he knows what he is leaving behind. And yet, he still goes. Because it matters. @};-