Only Way is Up Rating: PG

Sometimes when I'm reading the EU books, I want to yell at the characters! So I write a fanfic and let someone else do the yelling, and hope they are listening. This one is based on one of the ending events in Sacrifice.

There was a time when I thought I could go no lower. When I thought I'd hit rock-bottom, or perhaps even deeper than that. I had killed for the sake of my friend — for revenge. I learned that this was not only the pathway to the dark side, but darkness itself.

Elegos must be weeping for me, in death.

It was tempting, I assure you. As I absorbed and accepted the darkness, things became clearer to me: things like battle awareness, living destiny, planetary consequence. Frankly, I don't know if I would have beaten Shedao Shai without the enhancements of the Dark Side. That's my doubt and my own darkness; I didn't embrace the Force as I should have.

Good thing that I'm hard-headed enough to also be disgusted by what I was shown, even as I used it to beat the Yuuzhan Vong commander. I was especially disgusted about myself.

I admit now, I did not go into that duel to help the galaxy, though I managed to fool nearly everyone, including myself. I now understand that I had not fooled Master Skywalker, who had consented to come be my battle second. He wasn't there to save me should something happen to me physically, i.e. if I had lost the duel. He was there to help claim me from the darkness. His sister had done that for him when he became the apprentice of the Emperor re-born; the man has the track record and hands-on experience.

My "win" didn't secure galactic peace; it only served to destroy Ithor, the planet chosen for the duel. Actually, it did much worse — it served to destroy trust in the Jedi Order, served to fracture the very organization I had vowed to uphold, and nearly destroyed my mind.

I felt totally alone in grieving for my ignorance. Your father was forced to distance himself from me; my wife, likewise, was forced to leave me to my own means. It was as if my safety nets were taken away.

But even alone, I knew that people cared for me, and that my self-exile was something they monitored. They cared about my soul, and that was the dangling thread that helped me climb back out of the depths of darkness back into the light.

And I never forgot the light once I saw it again, in full. It was more than just sight — it was texture, smell, sound, feel — it was something I felt was truly, truly me. Climbing back into it was an intensely rewarding feeling, all because of being forced to live in nearly absolute darkness.

So, why am I telling you this? Because of your mother, Ben. Mara died and did not discorporate; she stayed. I know your mother, like you may not know her, like your father may not. She stayed to say goodbye to you and to your father and to tell you something very important.

But you know this: she stayed because she wanted you to understand how she had died and who had done this to her. A body is evidence, which forensic testing would probe and facts will be revealed. With diligence and analysis, the impressions of the death would have created a pattern that would help point you to her killer.

How do I know this? Because I was Corsec, and we were trained to understand that a dead body was speaking, if only you could hear it! The nature of the wounds — do they not tell you what instrument made them? Was the victim disheveled or calm? Many answers lie awaiting, but you have to know the right questions, and you have to be able to listen to what the body is telling you.

Mara was not Corsec, it's true. But she's the greatest warrior and analyst of her time — better than me, better than your dad, better than Fett. And she would not leave a clue that she thought those who wanted to know would not be able to interpret. That you are grieving is masking much of your sense, it's true. But, here's my theory:

The person who did this, it was someone she knew and probably trusted. I know attempts have been made on her life, but this was murder, not a battle death, despite her injuries. The poison found in her body is a type that kills painlessly; the person who killed her hadn't intended for her to suffer, perhaps. Someone stalked her and made her die; that usually points to someone she knew and/or trusted. That is highly unusual for the likes of Mara, who was trained by Palpatine not to trust.

Imagine what might happen to you if someone whom you trusted died by your hand? Many criminals and gangsters don't kill by themselves; they hire others to do it. Having some relationship to the victim makes it less easy to do the final act, you see. That's why in murder probes, the person who dealt the killing blow is less important than the person who paid him or her to do it.

We have all been struck by Mara's death. We're all low.

But the person who'd killed her and reached a new low — I'm wondering, is that as low as he or she could go? If so, if that person has committed the most ignominious act to destroy trust in him ... what's next?

The only way you can go, once you've hit bedrock-bottom, is to go up.

I'm saying, you should start looking for the person who suddenly appears stronger, more powerful, more up. One who suddenly seems to have gained from Mara's death.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I truly believe that, having been the playtoy of the Force for so long. My mother and father were taken away, so that I could get out of myself and learn vengeance. The lesson did not sink in till many years later when I killed on Ithor for the sake of an old friend, and discovered I had killed more than my perceived enemy. All of this fed my soul and marked it, making me the best I could be at that moment.

It can take a while before that rising shows itself, for the pathway upwards is not clear nor straight. It's simply "up." And there will be many lives affected by this change in the Force to muddle the picture. But it is your destiny to learn and to know.

Remember that though you, specifically, are down ... but you're not down, and you sure aren't yet out. Mara saw to that; your mother is a powerful woman, even in death.

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