Livin' on the Edge
The throbbing pain in Dailana’s skull brought her painfully back to reality, “That’s the last time I get mouthy with an Imperial Stormtrooper,” she said sarcastically, chuckling to herself.
“Wonder what they hell they did with my ship,” she thought as she surveyed her cell. It was tiny, cold, and sterile, everything she had come to expect from the Empire’s hospitality. Outside of the cell she couldn’t really tell much. The occasional click of Imperial boots sounded in the hall but it was mostly quiet, the humming whirr of the ship the only other background noise.
Sitting up, she hissed as the throbbing in her skull intensified for a moment and then returned back to a dull ache. They’d clocked her good. Looking down with non-existent hope, she checked to see if maybe, just maybe, they’d been dumb enough to leave her armed. Nope.
“Here’s to you Commander,” she said to the empty room, “Your troopers are moderately competent.”
She sighed, settling in with her back braced against the wall, this time she suspected she’d be here a while.
As a smuggler, she was no stranger to run ins with the government. A little sweet talking, the right palm greased, and she was usually out in a few hours and back on her way to deliver the goods…but this time the stakes were a little higher. This time, the cargo was stolen Imperial weapons.
Stretching with a groan, Dailana’s mind wandered off to a simpler time. Back when she was a pilot for the Republic, back when the Galactic government had some morals. She and her fellow pilots had worked diligently to protect the Galaxy…but when the Universe goes to shit in the blink of an eye, there isn’t much you can do about it.
She still remembered the gasps and screams that came from her fellow pilots as they learned of the destruction of the Jedi at the hands of the very Clone troopers they had been commanding. She still remembered the searing shock that ran through her body at the revelation that one of the Jedi’s own, Anakin Skywalker, had murdered the inhabitants of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. She still remembered the sensation of falling as she collapsed to the ground, realizing she’d never see Kale alive again.
Shortly after the news had begun to spread, Senator Palpatine took to the senate floor. Telling a tale of betrayal by the Jedi and an attempt on his own life, he took the opportunity to create the Empire and seize control of the Galaxy. Most of the planet rejoiced. The entire senate applauded his steps to make the Galaxy safe…but a few, like Dailana, remained skeptical.
Shocked and abhorred by the proceedings, Dailana had retreated from her position with the Republic, now the Empire, and sought a new way of life. She began using her skills as a pilot to smuggle goods, information, and people. For years she successfully smuggled goods in a small ship she had bought with the last of her salary as a pilot. Slowly, life achieved some form of normalcy for her as she accepted her new existence without a home and without Kale. But even this seemingly stable foundation would be shaken for her.
Five years ago on what was supposed to be a relatively uneventful trip to Ryloth to deliver a shipment of various technological devices, Dailana saw him. He was a few meters away, mingling through a crowd of Twi’leks in a market where she was picking up some more rations for the trip home. Shaking her head and blinking, Dai though she was seeing a ghost. Dropping everything she began to tail the spectre through the streets, a hand on her blaster just in case. She dodged in and out of the crowds, remaining hidden. A final turn deposited her in a dark alley. Pursuing the phantom to the end, she saw nothing but a high wall. Laughing at her absurd display of foolishness, she started to turn when a voice sent shivers up her spine.
In an instant she turned, drawing her blaster and pointing it straight at a hooded Kale. Her eyes were the only part of her that betrayed her emotions…a mix of fear, love, suspicion, and surprise.
“You…you’re dead,” she breathed, her hands shaking ever so slightly as she kept a vice like grip on her blaster and her finger on the trigger.
“No, no not dead. I think you should put that away,” he said cooly.
Tightening her grip, she shook her head, “I don’t think so. Skywalker killed everyone in that temple. You’re dead.”
Rolling his eyes he waved his hand and used the force to knock her blaster to the dirt. “I told you to put the blaster away. Skywalker did kill everyone, I wasn’t there when he went on his little spree.”
“Then why…why didn’t you come find me? We could have left together,” She questioned him, her eyes softening a little, “I thought you were dead.”
“I wasn’t dead but I couldn’t stay. Besides, the Jedi Order…it was nothing but lies. If anything the order is what killed me, and it killed me long before Skywalker tried. Do you have any idea how much sneaking around with you affected me? Do you know how much I worried about you? About losing you? How long do you think we could have continued going on like we had been? Do you even have any idea what happened after I left you that last night?” he asked, anger seeping into his voice.
“No. I don’t. I don’t have any idea what’s happened the last eleven years!” she blurted, growing exasperated, “Why are you acting so cold? So cruel? So…angry?”
“We were found out Dai!” he shouted, his hood falling back revealing crazed eyes. “One of the others, she followed me that night, wanted to know why I was always sneaking off. She saw me kiss you and in that moment, Korra saw, she knew. She was going straight to Jedi Master Yoda. I had to…I had to stop her! I had to protect us!”
Dailana’s eyes opened wide, “What did you do Kale?” she asked, her voice quivering with each word.
“I did what I had to! I couldn’t let her tell Yoda. Do you know what they would have done? They’d have kicked me out! I’d have never been able to finish my training!”
“What did you do Kale?” she repeated, her voice steadier this time, but filled with despair.
“I slew her,” he said, his eyebrows narrowing as he glared at her, “I did what I had to do for us. She wanted to tell Yoda, to stop my fall. But I had already fallen. I had fallen for you! I couldn’t risk them pulling us apart or kicking me out of the order. So I killed her…immediately I realized that meant I had to flee. At least for the night. I had to make it look like someone else had killed her. But hours later Skywalker massacred everyone in the temple and order 66 was given to the clones. So they never knew what I’d done…but I couldn’t come out of hiding.”
Tears began to fall in rivers down Dailana’s face, “How could you? How could you murder an innocent woman?”
“I did it because I loved you!” Kale shouted, “I did it to keep us together! How was I to know Skywalker would go off the deep end and ruin everything?”
“Ruin everything? You ruined everything. What you did…that wasn’t an act of love,” Dai spat at him, “Love isn’t dark. It isn’t something you can protect with murder and cruelty. It cannot be nurtured in anger and hatred. You destroyed everything you had hoped to become Kale! You destroyed us, more than Korra could ever have.”
“I didn’t destroy us! I didn’t destroy what I was to become! I rose above it! The Jedi Order was full of lies. Lies that only separated us. No emotion? No passion? What we had was all emotion! It was all passion! How could they tell me to my face that what we had was wrong? That it shouldn’t exist? How can you call me a liar? After what I did for you! After all these years I find you and you look at me…like that? You accuse me of destroying us?”
He moved towards her, causing Dai to step back. Soon the hard stone wall pressed against her and the fear in her eyes increased. She had nowhere to go.
“Do you not still love me?” he asked, his body coming into contact with hers and pressing her hard against the wall, his right hand dangerously close to her face.
Dailana’s tears fell faster, her voice so choked she could barely speak, “No,” she lied, “I mourned you long ago when I thought you were dead. I accepted that fate. There is nothing left of my love for you.”
With a roar he slammed his palm against the wall, causing it to crack. In the chaos Dai grabbed her fallen blaster and fled.
His dark eyes followed her, tortured, “I will find you again. I will make you love me as you did.”
A few slow tears slid down Dai’s face as she pulled herself from her memories. Of course she still loved him. She just couldn’t love the monster he had become. Killing the padawan Korra had cemented his fall and ripped him away from her, it had changed him. She couldn’t love a murder. And yet, despite the pain his betrayal had caused her…she couldn’t help but want to save him. She hoped one day their paths would cross and she could. But in the meantime…she had work to do.
Standing up and rubbing her hands together against the chill of her cell she cracked her neck and squared her shoulders, “Alright. Time to get out of this dump.”