Disillusionment (Juno Eclipse)

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Disillusionment (Juno Eclipse)
Date of Cutscene: 25 March 2015
Location: The Empirical
Synopsis: Juno Eclipse reflects on purpose, place, and loved ones.
Cast of Characters: 428

"You can go now, PROXY. I think I'm finished for tonight." Her dismissal is weary, and her hand aches when she sets aside the hydrospanner and the welding lance. "There's nothing more I can do for the sublight drive that can't wait until tomorrow."

"Are you sure, Captain Eclipse? Structural integrity in the port ion sublight drive is—"

"Perfectly. The best thing you can do for me is to find your master. Tell him to report here; I'll be waiting for him."

"Yes, Captain Eclipse." The lanky droid shuffles away in search of his master, to all appearances unconcerned at her curt answer.

With the wake cycle long over and the most critical repairs nearly complete, she allows the lights of the Empirical's private hangar to dim. Her eyes sting too much to go any further, and there has been a dull ache settling in behind her eyes for the past hour. None of her work past this point will be productive, she knows.

Slowly, she leans forward, seated cross-legged on the hangar's metal deck plating beside the Rogue Shadow.

Her mind runs in weary circles, still winding down from the adrenaline of earlier. The dark hangar does nothing to soothe her, despite the comforting smell of oil and starship engines and the last traces of ion exhaust; the familiar scents are overlain by charred hull, blood, and the last vestiges of smoke. She would be inside the hull, for the Rogue Shadow itself is more of a comfort than this cold, clinical ship, but the smell of smoke is still too heavy in there, and it rasps against her throat.

It's going to take a while to mop up the blood, she decides, and she's going to have to cycle the ventilation systems several times to clear out the smoke from the damaged engine. It's not a task she's in a hurry to start.

For some reason she's content to sit here in the darkened hangar beside the stricken ship; one leg stretched out and the other leg hugged against her chest, chin atop her knee. The position is almost a vulnerable one, except she's too tired to think about strength or vulnerability, or at least too tired to want to think about it. Regardless of her desires, she finds she's thinking about it anyway, because she thinks she's feeling uncharacteristically vulnerable right now.

Juno Eclipse is not afraid of death.

She has flown over one hundred combat missions in the cockpit of a TIE fighter, a craft whose hasty and slipshod construction is acknowledged even by its engineers to be just as deadly to its pilots as the Rebels they're designed to hunt. Her steel nerves, quick thinking, and cool professionality had always saved her, and her unshakable confidence in her Imperial service had sustained her.

After Callos, her faith in that service had withered and died, just like the surface of that verdant planet. Before she had been able to reflect on that betrayal of the institution she had once believed in, Lord Vader had reassigned her to Starkiller's command. She was to fly him where his missions required, and keep his ship running.

Juno lets her eyes drift half-closed, ignoring the chill of the hangar and its cold metal deck.

It had been rough at first. They hadn't gotten along at all. Yet, she reflects, for all that, she had grown so close to the man known only as Starkiller, the man who had later confided his forgotten name was Galen Marek, that she couldn't imagine life without him.

For a little while, he had been tasked to hunt the Jedi Master, Shaak Ti, alone. That had been a bleak time, too. She doesn't remember much of those months before he returned; she only remembers being tired, and more than a little lonely, and utterly without direction.

Juno Eclipse is not afraid of death. She is afraid of having no purpose and no place. She is afraid of being lost and adrift, for she has been there before, and she is afraid, desperately afraid, of that.

Most of the time, she tries not to think too hard about her place and her duties. She derives no satisfaction or pleasure from serving the Empire; indeed, in her secret heart of hearts, the only reason she serves at all is because it allows her to stay by his side. If not for that, she isn't certain where she might be.

She listens to the hum of the capital ship's engines around her. It's a deeper sound than the Rogue Shadow; a commanding thrum in contrast to the transport's electrical whine. Even now, in the quiet of the hangar, she thinks back to Lute's words.

It's probably why I'm going to force respect out of the Multiverse. I will have respect. I will have loved ones. I will have a purpose in life. Even if I can't think of any purpose I might have...

Her tired gaze drifts to the viewports, where distant stars hang in the void; pieces of Scarl's asteroid belt drift serenely past the Empirical's massive hull. Out there, among them, there are rebels and smugglers and thieves and ordinary people living out their lives. There are Imperial soldiers and officers and senators and civilians.

...I'm jealous of you.

What place is that, she wonders, that she drags herself through each day dreading what she might be commanded to do; that she might be ordered into another Callos? That she might be ordered to fly him to another dangerous place, and that this time, this time, it might be the last? What is there to be jealous over?

Loved ones. A place. A purpose.

There are only one of these things she is certain of; absolutely certain beyond any shadow of doubt. But the other two – she is less certain of those.

Is there a place for her in this meaningless, galaxy-spanning entity, whose cold, calculating, and cruelty make her want to weep sometimes? Whose heartless machinations force her into such a careful, careful balancing act of hiding her very thoughts and feelings from everyone but the person closest to her? After all, if it became known that one of the best and brightest of the Inquisition's pilots harboured such doubt, she has no illusions about what would happen to her.

One of Galen's first remarks to her when they'd met comes back to her, unbidden.

Good. I'm sick of training new pilots.

She has no doubt that he would be training another pilot if Vader ever found out about her lack of Imperial certainty; her outright shame in the thing she serves.

Will there ever be a way out? No, she thinks, because the Empire does not let go of its own. Neither does the Confederacy, who in its desperation to do things its own way does not care who or what it tramples underfoot. She is less concerned with the Confederacy, anyway; its members may do atrocious things from time to time, but somehow it's easier to ignore than the Imperial reality that she is faced with every day.

In the silence and the darkness of the hangar, Juno Eclipse draws in a deep breath and lets it go, unsteady. It's there where he'll eventually find her, huddled as though to keep the cold and dark at bay, thinking her own tired, slow, and utterly despairing thoughts.

Forcibly, she turns her thoughts away from her own despair.

She thinks of him, instead; willing him, perhaps, to hurry here to the hangar. He is a much better thing to consider, for while she has no idea what the future may hold for either of him, she is absolutely certain that her place is at his side, just as his place is at her side. What else do they have but one another?

Surely she doesn't have the Empire.

She hasn't had that, she thinks, for many years.