Title: From That Eternal Silence
Fandom: Star Wars
Characters: Luke Skywalker, Rostek Horn
Word Count: 1,653
Written For: jedibuttercup
Prompt: Luke finding out more about Obi-Wan's and Anakin's career as Jedi
Spoilers: I, Jedi
Summary: Tho' much is taken, much abides
“I was wondering when you’d turn up,” Rostek Horn said, standing to greet his visitor. “You can go now, Tosruk,” he said to the aide who had faithfully stayed with him all these years. Tosruk turned, and Rostek watched him make his way across the private sitting room that was too large by half. Once the door had closed behind Tosruk, he sighed, memories of the small house he’d raised his family in floating to the surface. He was feeling nostalgic, today. “That’s the problem with this barn the Empire built me. Even with the Diktat’s watchdogs gone, it’s too big for me to take care of alone.”
Master Skywalker cocked his head. “You have affection for them, though, Director Horn.” It was not a question; given the many differences between the new Jedi order and the one he’d known, however peripherally, Rostek hadn’t anticipated that same air of omniscience, of the kind of arrogance that only came with extreme humility combined with extreme power.
Rostek smiled. Nothing could bring Nejaa back, or any of the others; but it was good to know that something remained, and that his efforts, however small they might seem today, had contributed. “I once dreamed my retirement would allow me a simple life,” he said. “And please, Master Skywalker, call me Rostek.”
“If you’ll call me Luke,” Skywalker replied.
“All right, Luke,” Rostek said. He gestured to the seat across from him. “Please, make yourself comfortable. Can I offer you any refreshments?”
“I’m fine, thank you,” Luke said politely as he sat down. If he was impatient, he didn’t show it; quite different from his father.
“I don’t know what exactly you want to know,” Rostek said, taking his own seat on an opulent nerf-hide upholstered wing chair. He’d considered replacing it with something simpler once the Diktat was deposed and he no longer needed to placate the nervous politicians, but it seemed a shame to get rid of it after spending all that time breaking it in. “I gave everything I had to Corran. There’s not much more I can tell you.” He smiled. Now, that had been something. His grandson—in every way but genetics—standing before him, a Jedi. Nejaa would have been proud. So would Valin.
“I wanted to thank you for all the information you kept safe,” Luke said. “It’s been very helpful over the past year.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” Rostek replied. “But a call would have been enough to say thank you, for one of the busiest—and most important—men in the galaxy these days.” He was used to playing verbal games after all these years; Nejaa would hardly recognize him, and not just from the result of age.
Luke hesitated. “You worked side-by-side with Master Nejaa Halcyon, one of the most prominent of the Corellian Jedi, for almost ten years. And you must have met other Jedi in that time. The records have been very helpful, but I was wondering if you could tell me what it was like to work with them.” And there it was … that fire in his eyes, a dim reflection of the great burning inside his father. Anakin Skywalker’s intensity had been painful to be around; his son, it seemed had either inherited little of it or learned to keep it banked. Given what he’d accomplished, Rostek was inclined to think it was the latter. If the Hero Without Fear had learned that, maybe he wouldn’t have burned out so young.
Rostek leaned back in his chair, letting his eyes lose their focus, remembering the best friend he’d ever had. “Nejaa was … a good man. It sounds like such a banal thing to say, particularly about a Jedi, but he was. Very down-to-earth most of the time, almost normal, particularly if you saw him in street clothes. He had a wife and child, and lived in a normal house, which was strange for a Jedi even here on Corellia, where the rules were laxer. I know some of his fellow Jedi sometimes looked down on him for it, as if his dedication to the Order was somehow lessened, but I never saw that it was, and if that bothered him he never showed it. Sometimes—hanging out at his place after shift, for example—it was hard to remember that he was a Jedi. But when the time came, there was no mistaking that he was a Jedi to his very core. He had that presence about him that Jedi often had. Not gravitas or charisma, necessarily, though Jedi often had that too, but a kind of weight to him. A stillness that went bone-deep. Result of growing up in a religious order, I guess.”
His guest listened intently, with a kind of focus that Rostek recognized meant he was listening as much to Rostek’s emotions as to his words. He hoped this was something of what the younger man needed; he’d seemed a bit surprised at the mention of the Jedi as a religious order. It seemed no one remembered that these days, from what Rostek could find on the Holonet, and what Corran had said in his visit. But the stamp of that faith had been a deep well of strength in Nejaa. It had shone through in the fragments of Jedi history, philosophy, theology, poetry, that he had managed to piece together and encode into the genes of his hybrid flowers. It made him wonder: if the old order had remembered it, instead of trying to be soldiers when the Clone Wars came, would the purge still have happened? Would they have all been taken by surprise? He shook his head. There was no point in thinking up “what-ifs” at this late a date.
“Did you know any other Jedi well?” Luke was leaning forward, hanging on his every word. It was wrong, to have a Jedi so eager for the knowledge a non-Jedi could give him; but less wrong than many things in the past several decades.
Rostek shrugged. “Not well, but I met them from time to time.” He studied Luke. “I even met your father, once. Along with Master Kenobi. It was during the Clone Wars—I was assigned as liaison for them during a brief visit.” He shook his head. “Those two bickered like brothers, which was a change from most of the Jedi I’d met.”
“How so?” Luke held his breathing as steady, but Rostek could tell it was discipline and not true composure. He supposed not many were willing to speak of the man before he was a monster.
“Most Jedi liked to project an air of serenity,” Rostek said. “Master Kenobi could do so, but when he and Jedi Skywalker started in on one another, it went right out the window. Master Kenobi could be a bit smug, almost condescending, but that wasn’t unusual for a Jedi. He also had a bit of a temper and could be quite cutting, verbally, when he wanted to be.”
Luke frowned. “Really?” He seemed almost as interested in Kenobi as in his father, Rostek noted.
“Oh, yes,” Rostek said. “I never caught his tongue myself, but one of my fellow liaisons did; and sometimes his banter with Skywalker got a little more pointed than normal between friends. But when he let himself be still, he had that bone-deep presence Nejaa had. Very different from Jedi Skywalker.” He shook his head. “Different as night and day, those two. There was no stillness in Anakin Skywalker, no serenity, even on a surface level. He … the only way I can describe him is that he burned.”
Luke leaned forward, eager to hear.
“Skywalker was overconfident, arrogant,” Rostek said, choosing his words with care. This was the man’s father he was speaking of. No matter what else he’d done, that could not be forgotten. “So much so that Master Kenobi had to constantly rein him in. I wasn’t surprised to hear he’d come to a bad end; even then, I’d seen too many young hotheads in CorSec not to see the signs. You could feel the power in him—you couldn’t miss it—but he sometimes came off as petulant, petty. The Holonet called him the Hero Without Fear, and it’s certainly true he wasn’t afraid of the Separatists, but I think he was afraid of something.”
“What?” Luke asked.
“I don’t know,” Rostek said with a shrug. “I don’t even know if he knew. Himself, maybe? But he seemed more driven than any other Jedi I ever met; more than most people I ever met, for that matter. And not by what he desired, as far as I could tell. I was glad they kept Kenobi with him—the two were close, and Kenobi seemed to be able to handle him. Though not well enough in the end, I suppose.” He sighed. “It was a long time ago, and I’m not sure how much my impressions of the two have been tempered by passing years, at this point.”
“I understand,” Luke said. “Thank you for sharing this with me. I really appreciate it.”
Rostek laughed. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to someone who really wants to listen. Nejaa was my best friend, and I spent so many years unable to even admit I remembered his name. Now that Diktat Gallamby is finally gone, and the last vestiges of the Empire with him, I can … but the galaxy is still in so much turmoil that no one has time to listen. It’s good to know that Nejaa and the Order he was so tied to haven’t been forgotten.” It was good, also, to know the risks he’d taken in safe-guarding what he could hadn’t been in vain. That his treasures had been entrusted to the next generation. The real ones, the ones that mattered, not this great barn of a place.
AN: Rostek Horn’s partner Jedi Nejaa Halcyon was killed during the Clone Wars; during the Purges Rostek protected Halcyon’s widow and son by marrying the widow and destroying any records tying her and her son Valin to Nejaa Halcyon. Valin’s son Corran did not learn of his heritage until he was a grown man; when he visited Rostek soon afterwards, he found that Rostek had preserved as much information about the Jedi as he could by encoding it and splicing it into the genes of the plants he grew for a hobby.
Yes, I know this turned out to be more about Rostek Horn than about Luke Skywalker. Sorry. I wasn't planning it that way. I had it all written in Luke's POV, and then I realized it may have been in his POV but it wasn't really about him. Aargh.