by Kwenn

There is no death, there is the Force.

The mantra drifted through Luke Skywalker's mind like a glow-rod in the Shadowlands of Kashyyyk. He had memorized the precept after finding a copy of the Jedi Code decades ago, on Ossus. Or was it Coruscant? It had all been so long ago.

His lightsaber rested on his chest, held in place by his hands, one of flesh and blood, one of wires and circuits, both crossed at the wrist over his torso. The weapon's battered, marked surface belied its age, and the circumstances in which it had seen itself wielded. But now, the blade was sheathed, finally and irrevocably. It was, in a way, a reflection of its owner.

Luke let out a breath, low and weak, and cast his glazed blue eyes around the room. There was little to see, other than a crude, wooden door, a simple fireplace in one corner, and the cot he now lay upon. It reminded him of Ben Kenobi's hovel back on Tatooine, before it had been claimed by the shifting sands. He smiled at the memory of that old hut; of the smell of sand that permeated it, of the little trinkets that cluttered its interior, of the pure, unadulterated life that sang out from its sandstone walls; and of his mentor, long ago passed on into the light of the Force.

Soon, Luke would join him. This he knew. He was dying.

There is no death.

Luke’s smile remained, despite the pain it caused him. He found he no longer feared death. He had faced it so many times already, the concept was almost familiar to him. Besides which...a Jedi knew no fear. Not as long as the Force was with him.

There is the Force.

No, the Force would indeed guide him into the next life, Luke knew. He was as sure of this as he had been of anything in all his years in the galaxy. The Force would not abandon him now, in death.

There is no death.

The smile widened. He should, he supposed, have known. Although the room was empty...

He was not alone.

Almost on cue, the shimmering flames in the hearth flared briefly, shifting from molten red to searing blue. The glow grew deeper, more intense, filling the hearth, casting light upon the walls of the little hut. The fire fuelled itself, but there was no smoke, only light, as blue as ion efflux, as radiant as a star.

The flickering flames resolved themselves into the effervescent form of Obi-Wan Kenobi, white-bearded, clad in the simple robes of a Jedi Master, smiling down at Luke’s twinkling eyes, his aura shining blue reflections in those two glassy orbs.

"There is the Force," the apparition finished, eyes glittering.

"Master," Luke replied reverently. Though he himself had assumed the mantle of Grand Master of the Order some time ago, he had never thought of himself as anything but a student before the gentle power of his first mentor. Obi-Wan stood serene, content to regard his once-apprentice with that wise, kindly look Luke remembered so well.

"Soon you will pass the final challenge, Luke, and become a true Knight of the Force," Obi-Wan stated gravely, though that mild-mannered look never left his face.

"Yes, Master," Luke replied. He knew this to be true.

"And you have earned it, my student. Yours has been a life like no other, knowing nothing of rest but everything of duty. Your duty is now complete, my son, and you will henceforth lay in the waters of eternal rest."

For many moments, Luke was silent, his mind set upon a higher plane. Possibly he was recounting his many adventures, his loves and losses, his friends and foes, the light and the dark. Or perhaps he was looking forward, to the light that beckoned his fading body, calling to his unchained spirit.

Wherever his mind was, his eyes were upon Obi-Wan's. "Thank you, Obi-Wan. You gave me the galaxy."

"And you gave so much more. I am proud of you, Luke. The Force is with you," Obi-Wan said, and slowly faded back into the dying embers, slipping back into the netherworld of the Force. Luke was left alone, for but a moment, as he never would be again.

He smiled, and breathed out his life into the air of twilight. He had done his duty.

Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, closed his eyes.

And lived on, forever more.

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