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the almosts.

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Ezra falls backward with a cry of pain, bringing a hand up to rub at his temples.  Groaning, he blinks the stars out of his vision as he stares at the ceiling.

The nearly limitless knowledge provided by the holocrons still swirls in his mind, but one piece of information stands out the most—a name.

Luke Skywalker.

A hand enters his vision and he blinks again before reaching up to accept it, allowing someone to pull him up.  He studies Maul with a bleary gaze.

“Alright, so you- you got what you wanted to know, right?  And I got what I came for.  So let me and my friends go.”

Maul looks him over for a long moment before nodding, almost decisively.  Ezra’s eyes narrow slightly as the man speaks. “Of course, my apprentice.  I shall go...make them aware.” He begins to walk away before stopping and glancing back.  “Ah, but I did have something else I wished to teach you before you left with that excuse of a Jedi you seem so desperate to give the title of ‘Master’ to...I shall send a droid in my stead.”  He turns away from Ezra again, pulling out a comm and speaking into it in a tone too soft for Ezra to hear. The Padawan studies him, gaze narrowing further as he folds his arms. Finally, Maul clicks off the comm and approaches, gesturing to the viewport our into space behind them.  “It would be best if I...showed you.”

Maul has barely opened his mouth before his comm chirps again.  “Excuse me, Ezra.” He steps away again, and Ezra watches him through the reflection in the viewport, mouth twisting into a frown.  The Zabrak turns back more quickly than he did before, clearing his throat as he approaches and places a hand on Ezra’s shoulder. The teen forces himself not to shrug it off, though the contact makes his skin crawl.

“I am...deeply, truly sorry about this, Ezra.  I...had not hoped that it would come to this.”

Alarm bells are going off in his mind and he turns abruptly, throwing Maul’s grasp off.  “Would come to what?!

“It…appears that your...Jedi, along with his Twi’lek companion and the Mandalorian and Lasat...have abandoned you.”  No. No, no, no, no, no.  Hera, Sabine, Zeb—even Chopper— they wouldn’t– Kanan wouldn’t—

“No, you’re- you’re wrong,” he protests hoarsely, mouth suddenly dry as he backs up.  “No, they wouldn’t– you don’t know them, you don’t know Kanan– Kanan wouldn’t—

“Ah, but it seems that, in light of this...new evidence, he would.  Maybe he rescinded his vote at long last, after seeing you willing to pursue knowledge that he himself was too cowardly to…?”

Vote?

“No, he– there wasn’t– there wasn’t a vote, and Kanan’s not– Kanan’s not a coward!

Maul had to have killed them, or– or something made them leave.  They’ll come back– they always come back—

“But there was, Ezra.  Did they never tell you?”

“Tell me what?!” he snaps, more furious than confused now.  Maul chuckles in a low tone, but the sound is...sympathetic, almost?

“While I was touring their ship, previous to your arrival, Ezra, your captain was very enlightening about how they acquired you...supposedly, they put it to a vote.

No.  No no no nonoNO!  They wouldn’t have, he knows Hera—knows Sabine—knows Zeb and even Chopper—knows Kanan—knows they wouldn’t have put it to a vote.

But hadn’t Hera emphasized that she made sure that everyone in the crew felt like they had a voice?

A...vote, even?

“Your Jedi, it seems, was the deciding voice.  Ultimately, it was his decision to allow you onboard...however, maybe circumstances have changed….Maybe the Lasat wanted his room back?”

He’s just messing with you, don’t listen to him….

But the worst part is that it makes sense.

“Ah, there they are now.”  Ezra whirls, rushing to the viewport in time to see...to see the Ghost...leaving….

Kanan?  He tries to contact his master through their bond, nearly choking when he feels the void where he should be feeling his master instead.

Their bond feels...no, it is... severed.

Kanan! ” he screams, pounding a fist against the viewport in—rage, confusion, hurt?  He’s not sure. “Kanan, please!

“He cannot hear you, Ezra.  I...know that this is likely not what you want to hear, particularly at this time, but... I would be willing to continue your training from where the Jedi left off.  After all, I know that the loss of Lady Tano was a deep...wound, I suppose, is the way to put it, especially now that you are the last Jedi beyond your master….”

With a scream, he spins and throws a hand out, shoving Maul halfway across the room before the man is able to slow his momentum with a half-crouch and a hand on the floor.  He rises, a storm in his eyes as he dusts himself off and makes his way toward Ezra. The teen knows he should be afraid, but he can’t be—not when Kanan, his master, his father, has abandoned him.

He only feels rage, and confusion, and pain.

Wait.

The holocrons.

He had come here for knowledge, right?  And the Bendu had said that they would tell him anything he wanted to know, right?

Closing his eyes, he thinks of his question.

Frustratingly, there’s no answer.

Maybe it can’t verify recent events.

But he sees the vote without warning, sees Kanan’s hesitation– Kanan’s hesitation– Kanan’s hesitation—

A hand on his shoulder makes him jump and glance up at Maul, all fury drained from his gaze and body.  Now, he only feels tired.

He realizes he’s kneeling, shaking.

He doesn’t have the energy to change that.

“Apprentice...I know it is against the Jedi way...but seeing as the Jedi have now abandoned you as well...would you consider vengeance to be an option?”

Ezra exhales slowly, blinking back tears.

“Well, I don’t want the best teacher.  I want you.

“You shouldn’t have come here, but I’m glad you did.”

“You would’ve done the same for me.”

As he makes his decision, flounders for words to express the stabbing pain he’s feeling, his voice breaks.  “I...I...yes. I- I would.”

“Wonderful, my young apprentice.”  Maul’s voice is pleased, which normally would put him on edge, but as the Zabrak helps him stand and faces him, he can’t find it in himself to care anymore.  “Then let’s begin.

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The ground hurtles toward her, there’s nothing she can do, nothing, nothing, nothing, Kanan Ezra Sabine Chopper Zeb I love you—


Chopper blatts worriedly, rattling in the X-wing.  Hera isn’t responding.

Chopper fires his thrusters, boosting himself out of the ship.  The droid clunks to the ground beside it, rolling up and tapping it.

No response.

Grumbling about the uselessness of organics, Chopper starts his thrusters again, landing heavily on top of the ship just behind the cockpit now.  The astromech extends a manipulator, nudging Hera’s limp form through the shattered glass.

No response.

The droid is beginning to worry.  Chopper starts a bioscan, which takes surprisingly long considering how small the area he’s scanning is.

Nothing registers.

The astromech’s circuits stop, running the information through again.  It still doesn’t compute; nothing’s showing up on the bioscan in the eight by eight meter area that’s the minimum scan size.

Runs it through again.

And again.

And again.

Does not compute.

Chapter Text

“I know you’re in there!  I’m not losing you to these monsters!

Kanan raises his ‘saber, about to strike again, and Ezra realizes what he has to do.

He shuts his eyes, drops his lightsaber at the last possible moment.

Surprisingly, the pain doesn’t last.  It’s enough to make him gasp, enough to make him crumple to his knees, but it vanishes soon after.

The worst part is that Kanan still stands above him, now unmoving.

The last thing he sees is green mist pouring out, his master’s lips moving with a voice that isn’t his own before darkness falls completely.