Solstice Knight

Fear, Trust and Love

Anything worth having is worth fighting for – Susan Elizabeth.

The third of three, the last one and as he predicted the most dangerous, but that didn't change how he felt underneath everything else he was ready. His thoughts wandered to his friends the two he lost at the hands of the same enemy Edge and Coins the latter a member of his team, a pilot and a damn good marksman the former leader of that team and his best friend. He missed both of them greatly. The enemy that killed them was the first of three and although it was destroyed along with the second there was still one more and even with that one's downfall the war still wouldn't be over…not yet.

"Verdugo Finale" Liliana said her datapad connected to a projector showing the full image of the final Goliath, "It means the Final Executioner".

A tall machine although no where near as large as its predecessors, but still far bigger than even a wookie and if he were to be bothered by such a thing its size alone would be intimidating, but he wasn't going to let himself be afraid not of this.

The final goliath was humanoid, but disproportionately shaped its legs and arms skinny in comparison to its body mainly its chest. A dome shaped head without a neck the head was just a bulge sitting atop the center of its shoulders. Brown and grey colored armor everywhere with a black strip across the center of its head where the eyes would be. On its left forearm starting just below the shoulder was a massive canon that ran past the full length of its arm and bent and curved with the arm as the hologram moved. The right arm a similar, but smaller weapon one that started from its elbow and ran to the end of its hand a rotary cannon from the looks of it.

The hologram moved again showing the goliath in motion as the long appendage on its back folded up and over its shoulder, another canon and then it folded back and its shoulders opened revealing multiple holes seven in each of its massive box shoulders. On its waist there was some sort of stick-like object with a grip and the goliath grabbed it and swung it outward, it was a hilt and it extended into a sword some kind of plasma or energy blade just like a lightsaber. And then after its weapons had been shown off the goliath crouched down slightly barely bending its back and some kind of energy field surrounded it and flares appeared at its feet, legs and back and the massive object began moving or rather gliding around with surprisingly speed and agility.

"This goliath" Liliana began pausing to either gather her own thoughts or to wait for the Jedi around her to fully prepare themselves, "Is hands down the most dangerous of the three and proportionately the most destructive each of its weapons are built with a single purpose, but can be modified on the spot to factor in to any situation".

She took a breath as the hologram zoomed in showing its head first, "First off just like the other two its optical sensors are equipped with infrared, night vision, penetrating x-ray and thermal imagery allowing it to see and target anything in any environment".

The image zoomed out and zoomed back in on its body, "It stands twelve meters tall and weighs two hundred thirty-three tons with all of its weapons without all, but the saber weapon it only weighs one hundred forty-one tons a big difference considering its size. Its armor again like the other two is made from the same material used to make war ships making it completely invulnerable to anything short of heavy artillery fire".

The image zoomed out again and zoomed in on its right arm and the weapon attached to it, "This is its first and primary weapon a massive rotary canon that fires heavy piercing rounds that will tear through anything. The good news it's a projectile weapon and not energy based so its ammo supply is limited".

The image changed to its left arm and the massive canon that outstretched its arm, "Its secondary weapon is a canon that as you can see is longer than its arm and just like the Judge this one can bring down star destroyers if it hits".

There was a cold silence as she said that, the first goliath The Judge had been able to bring down star destroyers that were still in orbit, it was solely responsible for the loss of half a dozen star destroyers and now there was another with the same abilities.

"It gets worse" Liliana told them again pausing for whatever reason, "Unlike the Judge this one has a precise aiming programming. If it is at the right angle it can aim and hit a star destroyer's bridge from the planet's surface the first shot will take down the shield and the second will destroy the bridge. To make it even worse this canon fires a charged shot of plasma that will disrupt shields upon contact from everything to mobile ray shielding to cruiser shields as I've already stated".

The image shifted again moving to the even large weapon on its back, "This canon is also capable of bringing down cruisers and even leveling an entire fortress and fires the same type of ammunition as the one on its left arm meaning it can take down two cruisers at once. Thankfully however" she quickly continued to spare everyone the shock of the monster's power, "This weapon is also projectile based meaning its ammo is limited".

The image changed and zoomed in on its box shoulders as they opened revealing the inside of them they were rocket launchers, "Each of its shoulders are actually silos each housing fourteen rockets as you can see there are only seven launchers in each shoulder, but each one actually houses two rockets for a total of twenty-eight. These rockets can be locked on to multiple targets at once up to a maximum of fourteen and they are precise and heat seeking".

The image zoomed in even further showing one of the rockets, "It gets worse I'm afraid. Each rocket has a unique steering program allowing it to make turns on the dime allowing it to stay locked onto fast moving and hard turning targets such as fighter craft. These rockets have a seven meter blast radius which can stun and cause severe injury at its edge and it's absolutely lethal in under five".

The image zoomed out and held its position showing the whole goliath and then all of its weapons detached from its body, "The goliath can detach its weapons at any time becoming faster with each weapon it discards".

The image zoomed in on its legs, "It has thrusters built into its feet and legs allowing it to move with incredible speed considering its size and allowing for maximum maneuverability being able to glide to one side and immediately stop and change directions".

The image changed again zooming in on the goliath's waist focusing on the hilt at its waist, "And now we come to its final weapon a saber that's basically a giant lightsaber so obviously it'll cut through anything".

The image zoomed out showing the full monster again and then the energy field that surrounded it before, "And now we come to its energy field a protective shield that surrounds its entire body. Its impenetrable capable of stopping missiles orbital bombings and so on and as if things weren't already bad enough the shield can be expelled outward in a shockwave that will disrupt and redirect any guided weapon fired at it".

The hologram shut off and Liliana looked around at them, some of them were still taking in everything she had said and the rest were wondering how something like that could be defeated then her eyes landed on Leon. There was a fire in his eyes one she had never seen before he wasn't going to let himself be afraid not that she had ever seen him afraid not that she would blame him even she felt a little afraid of the final goliath. She watched him turn his gaze to her and lock eyes as if trying to communicate with her through thought alone and then just as she did he searched the expressions of the Council all of them clearly wondering the same thing and then he turned around and left.

Ahsoka and Liliana followed him back to the temple courtyard where he just leaned against the railing and stared out at the city. He said nothing, for the longest time he just stood there. Ahsoka wanted to say something to him, he just wasn't the silent type until something big was on his mind, but Liliana stopped her.

"He wants to be alone right now" she told Ahsoka.

"How can you tell?"

"Trust me" she almost pleaded, "Let's give him a bit longer to himself".

She put an arm around Ahsoka's back and pulled her back inside the temple before letting Ahsoka lead the way leaving Leon outside to his thoughts.

"There's a way to beat that thing" the confident voice in his head said, "Nothing is invincible nothing".

"Yeah because Titan squad proved that" the other voice said, "The best out there…what the hell was I thinking?"

He roughly shook his head throwing the bad thoughts from his mind, "We're going to win dammit, if I have to kill that thing myself. I don't care how powerful that thing's shield is I doubt it can withstand an orbital bombing from an entire fleet at once or if I crash an entire damn star destroyer into it".

His thoughts burned he could feel his anger building not that he really cared he was on the verge of not caring at all anymore.

"Why should I?" he asked himself, "I've gotten this far playing by my own rules and I'm still alive where too many Jedi have died abiding by the code".

In a time like this fighting honorably and winning were incompatible goals thankfully honor was something that didn't apply to him at least not in war time.

He took in a breath and sighed it away wondering how long it would be until they ran into the final goliath the Final Executioner as the Seppies were calling it. Since there was only one left it was obviously only a matter of time and no matter when it would be a hell of a day and not in the good way. He sighed again he had replayed everything Liliana had shown the Council over and over in his head trying to think of something outside the box that the Council was hiding in, but nothing was coming to mind.

He crossed his arms over the rail and leaned his head forward resting his forehead against his wrist and closed his eyes for a moment and for some reason his mind wandered away from the goliaths away from the war away from everything and drifted to Thalia. What was she doing now he wondered, was she happy, were her people ok. He wanted to see her again to talk with her again to feel her in his arms…he loved her as much as he did Ahsoka even if it wasn't in a romantic sense kind of in the same way he loved his former master.

He shook his head against his wrist as he felt a hand on his shoulder, "Why can't anything ever be easy?" he asked not bothering to check who it was.

"Nothing worth having comes easy Leon" the voice was his master's the one he considered his real master, Luminara Unduli.

He kept his head down, "I'm just so tired of it all you know?" he asked, "I just want a break for everything to stop just for a few days so I can catch my breath…its all so exhausting".

"I know what you mean" she admitted casting her eyes out around the city, "Of course you're private training sessions do contribute to your fatigue".

He fell silent as she spoke to him, "Leon I placed my trust in you I want to believe that I chose wisely when I did".

His shoulders jumped a bit he was laughing quietly, "I know…"

She moved her hand to his shoulder again, "Leon I am proud of everything you accomplished, but I still worry about you. You're an amazing Jedi and you hold the core truth of being a Jedi close to your heart, but there are times where you let all that slip away I just don't want to see you throw away everything you've obtained up until now".

That's when he finally looked up turning to face her with eyes that looked ready to cry. At first he stood there silent as he gazed into the gentle eyes that guided him through most of his Jedi life and found that he couldn't think of anything to say and finally he understood why he felt so tired.

"I'm afraid" he told her.

"It's ok to be afraid" she told him, "Sometimes we have to be in order to persevere. To have courage one must first face challenges to find the strength to face oneself that is where a Jedi's true power comes from because then we achieve understanding of ourselves and through the Force we find our places in life".

"If you say so" he replied, "That doesn't mean I have to like being afraid".

She smiled at him, "It doesn't matter if your afraid or not. When you fought Count Dooku and General Grievous were you not afraid then?"

"More pissed than afraid" he answered in his head, but she was right he was afraid back then.

He didn't really like talking about that day at first because he felt like he failed as both of them escaped and then it was because he was tired of hearing about it when it came to examples of his skill it always came back to that day, maybe that was just a bit of narcissism on his part, but he had done other things why not mention those? Then it was because he was fighting for Thalia to protect her and Luminara who Dooku almost killed, he wanted to save them no matter what. He wanted to believe the other Jedi with them that day would have done the same if they were there, but he also believed that his strength outclassed theirs because of why he was fighting.

It wasn't until now that he realized even though he was beyond angry that day he was also afraid. He wasn't afraid for himself he knew that if he failed Thalia and Luminara would have died as well and that is what scared him that day.

He nodded and looked away, "I was. Not for myself I was worried about what would have happened to you and Thalia if I had failed. I told you before Luminara that you are important to me you're one of the reasons I am who I am today" he inhaled and exhaled gathering all of his thoughts, "I know it goes against the Jedi Code, but I'm just not capable of detaching myself from others I need the bonds I have with my friends people like you and Ahsoka. Not just because they give me the drive to keep going" he looked back at her his eyes red now, "It's because if I didn't have someone to turn to at the end of the day I wouldn't be here anymore. I need someone I can tell my problems to and listen when they need to do the same. I need someone to laugh with and be sad with. Emotions are part of who I am and I'm trusting the ones I trust like you, Ahsoka and Edge…I need people like you to help keep me in check because I know I've gotten too close to the line before and yes I'm worried that one day I may cross it, but as long as you're there I'll be able to come back".

Her smile grew as he turned his gaze back to the city, "I don't know if it's the way you talk when you say that, but there's something in your tone that makes it hard for me to not believe in you. The confidence you have when you speak is almost enough to make me question my own belief in the code".

Again her hand found his shoulder, "You make me proud Leon in a way I cannot describe. You have your own way of doing things and while they often conflict with the Jedi way you get things done and your heart is always in the right place. I believe in you despite your occasional extreme actions I have complete faith in you".

"I thank you for that" he replied, "I know I make it hard to keep trust in me sometimes".

"I have faith because I trust the Force to guide you and because I believe you will always do the right thing for the right reason".

He watched her walk away watched her vanish back into the temple halls she trusted him and he thanked her for that, Luminara Unduli the Jedi Master that became a mother figure for him another person he would defend until his death. He would fight to protect anyone that's just who he was if someone needed help he would do anything he could to help them, but there were only a few a handful of people he would truly fight for and if necessary kill for to protect.

The remaining members of Titan Squad, Baron, Boulder and Chip, his first master Luminara, his friend Anakin and then there was Thalia and especially Ahsoka. The two women he loved more than anything for those two he would stop at nothing if it meant keeping them safe he would tear down a fortress. His thoughts centered around Thalia again, he loved her he really did and he missed her enough that his heart mourned from the thought, but his love for her was born out of a feeling of responsibility that he had been the one responsible for what happened to her while his love toward Ahsoka was true.

His affection toward Ahsoka started with a few jokes and an occasional tease it was his way of passing time and easing stress. But the way she reacted made it impossible for him to resist doing it again and again sometimes he wondered if he may be going too far with his playful ways, but in the end they became friends a relationship he valued and since then it had grown more and more. He had asked her to dance with him at a festival once and she accepted it was on that night that he realized that he had fallen for her; he still couldn't pinpoint the exact reason if one even existed. The way he felt when he looked into her eyes that night, the way his heart skipped when he held her hand and waist and led her through each step it would be hard for one to notice from the way he smiled as he looked into her eyes, but he was happy and terrified at the thought of falling in love with her.

He smiled and looked up to the sky. Now however he was happier than he could ever be in time she had come to have feelings for him to and after she confessed her love back to him he felt so happy that he wanted to lift her into his arms and carry her a full lap around the cruiser they were on. He loved her to the point he was ready to sacrifice everything for her just to keep her safe he had willingly turned to the dark side in an effort to protect her and because he loved her he was able to turn away from it.

"All because of one dance" he thought with a smile.

His thoughts shifted and merged with images of both Ahsoka and Thalia, the latter he loved and would give anything to protect her at first because he felt responsible, but now because he wanted to protect his friend. And the former he loved with all his heart the one that he would protect and fight for, the one where no force in the galaxy or anywhere could keep him from. The Jedi and Sith both shunned that emotion believing it to be a bad thing either causing them to fall or weakening them, but he believed otherwise. It was an emotion of true power, something that could give anyone a strength they didn't have.

And with that thought he felt he could take on anything and his thoughts returned to the final goliath and after admitting he was afraid he smiled and his eyes narrowed as he stared up at the sky, determined and sure, unshakable. He was going to win.

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out – Roy Croft

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