It was in the late hours of the night, so late that morning was preparing to make its big entrance soon. For now, however, the darkness still claimed the sky, and if it hadn't been for the presence, Sebastian never would have known anyone was out there. He opened the front door and saw Morgan sitting in the chair; she'd been crying. "Sweetie," he said, coming over quickly, "Is something wrong?"
"Yes," Morgan said, and looked at him with enough pain in her eyes to freeze him in his tracks. "Yes, something's wrong. In fact, everything is wrong."
"You killed her."
Sebastian gaped at her as the full implication of the words burrowed into his mind. There had been no accusation in her voice. When he looked back on this moment through the years to come, that's what he'd remember. No accusation, no condemnation, and that's what made it so terrible. Without that, all that left room for was the sound of bitter disappointment, that he had failed to measure up to his daughter's expectations. Nothing could have been worse. "How do you know that?"
"I saw it father," she said quietly, and new tears followed the path blazed down her face by earlier ones. "I saw it through your eyes."
Sebastian felt his heart starting to pound as the metaphorical ground began to shift beneath his feet. "How did you-"
"Put yourself in the here and now, father," she said sharply. "However it happened, I saw it! I saw what you did; you killed that woman in cold blood!"
"Executed," Sebastian explained. "She was a very, very bad person who killed many people and has been trying to hurt even more."
"But you are a Jedi," she said in a voice like liquid nitrogen. "You don't execute people."
Sebastian bent forward, running his hand through his hair in the hopes it would reach in and stimulate the brain. "In that place, sweetie, I'm not."
"You can't live that way father," Morgan said. "You can't be a Jedi here and a Borg there. We're both, remember, and however difficult that is, you always taught me that we can't forget the responsibilities that entails."
"Morgan," Sebastian said, "this is too much for you to understand all at once."
"No, it isn't," she said, and her lip trembled as she tried to hold the emotions in. "You made me too smart, father; too crafty. If you hadn't, then I wouldn't have figured out the secret you'd been hiding all this time." She looked down and shook her head. "It's a hell of a thing to find out you're not real."
"But you're real!" Sebastian pleaded. "As real as-"
"This is Unimatrix Zero, father!" she shouted. "A programming glitch that one Borg in a million taps into whenever they regenerate. That's why you've been sleeping so much, because when you sleep here you awaken in the real world."
"This is real!" he insisted.
"It's a lie!" she replied. "It's a lie you want to believe in, but at the end of the day, no amount of wishful thinking can make a lie real." She shook her head. "Why did you do it? Did it make you feel important? Is it nice being the center of a world built around you?"
Emotion burst through. "Everything I did here was because I love you!"
"I'm not real!"
"That doesn't change anything, not to me!" Sebastian wiped at his eyes. "You started as a dream, a wonderful dream, a dream of what should have been. And like it always happens, the dream ended." He wet his lips; this was so hard to explain to anyone, especially under the circumstances. "But there was a way to keep the dream going, here in Unimatrix Zero. With no other Borg to influence it, it reshaped under my willpower. But I never did it for any reason other than... other than the fact that I couldn't lose you again."
"You can't lose what isn't there, father."
"But you are here! You know you're real!"
"I know I'm real only because you want me to be," Morgan said. "Like I said, you made me too clever. I'm not me, I'm you, the part of you that wants a child to live up to all your expectations." She paused. "You said 'again.' What happened to the real me? Did she not measure up?"
"She-" Sebastian faltered. "You died before you were born. I never got the chance to know you." He punched the duracrete porch, which cracked under the blow. "It's not right," he said, more to himself than to her. "It's not right to have to watch the annihilation of all that matters to you. And it’s not right to dangle it before someone a second time only to snatch it away again. No, this is real, Morgan. It's real enough for all of us." Morgan was crying harder now. "I promise, everything-"
"You are a LIAR!" she screamed. "This has nothing to do with me!"
"That's not tru-"
"It is! Because if you loved me, you'd mourn for that dead little girl instead of making some fake to take her place! It's not about me, it's about YOU!!! You and your selfishness that says you'd rather turn away from emotion so you wouldn't have to feel anything!"
"That's not true!" Sebastian insisted.
"Is it?" she demanded. "Is it really, father? Well, if so, then let's put that to the test, shall we?" She reached into her pocket and pulled out a hypospray; Sebastian’s eyes widened. Before he could move she held it to her neck and hit the release. Sebastian cried out and snatched it away, but it was too late; he could feel her weakening from the poison already. "What will you... what will you do now, father?" she asked. "Will you burn my remains and move on, or will you... will you just shrug your shoulders and make daughter number three?"
"Morgan hold on," Sebastian said emphatically, "I'll get some help."
"There's no time, father. No," she coughed weakly, "no time. What will you do? What will you do..."
Morgan slumped out of the chair and Sebastian caught her, weeping. "Please," he pleaded. "Please don't die Morgan... Please... I don't want to live without... it's not fair... I love you more than anyone... please don't die... we'll be so happy together... there’s so much I had planned for us... please don’t die again…"
This is the life of Sebastian Skywalker.
There was still the faintest hint of the sunrise taint on the eastern horizon, and the smell in the air of damp from the storm the night before. The solitude is a weight on his soul, because he knows that he's lost one of the people he wants to share this life with, and in a larger sense, he's lost everyone here. At the center of this place full of the people he loves, he is horribly alone.
The presence was felt long before he arrived, but Sebastian didn't turn until after the grunt of exhaustion as his father took a seat beside him. There was a blue and white aura around Luke Skywalker as he looked sternly at the tightly folded hands before him. "So..." he said gravely, "what happens now?"
Sebastian looked away, back towards the rising sun; it was easier. "I can remake her," he pointed out.
"Yes," Luke said, his voice like an echo in a mausoleum.
"I can make it so this never happened," Sebastian said. "I can do anything I need to."
Luke nodded. "Because this place isn't real." Sebastian felt the words coming, but he didn't speak them. The argument with Morgan had covered all he could say on the subject. "I don't fault you for this," Luke went on. "I can't see how anyone could. The human spirit is strong, courageous, resolute..." Luke's eyes were downcast. "...but still only human."
"I haven't turned my back on the galaxies," Sebastian said, perhaps a little too strongly. "I have been fighting the good fight."
"Killing in cold blood," Luke said.
Sebastian jumped off his stoop and whirled around on his father. "What do you want from me?!"
"'From?'" Luke asked. "Nothing. I want things for you, not from you. Happiness, love, success, for your life to be wonderful, just like every parent... just like you do for Morgan." Luke leaned forward. "That's what's got you torn up right now, isn't it." It wasn't a question; Sebastian could see his father completely understood. "We all want our children to be smart and strong and good, to be better than we ourselves are, to excel. And Morgan did that, and because she did, she was able to find out your secret."
"Then I'll make sure that doesn't happen again," Sebastian said.
"How?" Luke asked. "By holding her back?" The question hung in the air, practically taunting Sebastian to try and answer it. "It's different, you see. If Morgan was born with a sub-standard IQ and irreversible blindness, it would break your heart, yet you would love her with all your being. But not a day would go by when you wouldn't wish that you could do something to help her, anything to make her better. What do you think drove so many parents to genetically enhance their children? Oh, some were selfish monsters, I'll grant you, but most simply couldn't live with themselves if they couldn't help, no matter what the law said. But for you, Sebastian, the only thing holding her back would be you... and you would know that the one thing you couldn't do was to make your daughter what you want her to be, because then she'd find your little secret out. And this paradise that you've created will lose all its charm... it would just remind you all the more of what you've lost." Sebastian said nothing. “Why didn’t you save her just now? If you truly have the power to make it so that this never happened, shouldn’t you have had the power to prevent it in the first place?” Sebastian still didn’t have an answer. “She wouldn’t let you, would she… and she’s a part of you. I think you’re trying to tell yourself something.”
“She’s real,” Sebastian said quietly.
“I’m starting to think that’s true… it’s just not in the sense you mean.”
Sebastian dropped wearily on the stoop. "It's not fair," he said finally, his voice crushed with defeat. "And yes, I know life isn't fair... but it won't stop me from commenting on it."
Luke put his hand on his son's shoulder; it felt surprisingly solid. "You remember your mother's story about the city of Ohr, yes? The city that came from nothing?"
"What about it?" Sebastian asked.
"You do know that it's not just a story."
"What, the Force taking advantage of the situation to do some good? What about it?"
"Some things are needed, Sebastian. Something... or someone, needs to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, even if that's supposed to be impossible."
The remark froze Sebastian to the core. It was the question he never asked; no, the question that was asked once and just dismissed with a shrug, never to be thought about again. You don't dwell on questions like that, but here it rose like the fetid contents of a swamp and demanded an answer.
How does a Borg have a child?
And the answer, of course, was, they can't. But here he was all the same. They'd had Sisko's cryptic remarks, and that had been enough. But now... now there was an answer, and Sebastian didn't like it very much. "So," he said slowly, like a man about to begin a very long climb, "I'm here because I'm needed, and that's all. My life never belonged to me; I was just a tool."
"No," Luke said emphatically, "you know better than that. Your life is yours, your choices are yours. But you're here because-" Luke ran the back of his hand down Sebastian's face with a smile, "because you're my son, and are smart and strong and good and thus will make the right choices."
"After all that's happened?" Sebastian asked. "'They're going to take it all away,' and they did."
"Yes," his father conceded.
"It keeps happening, father. Knock me down, wait for me to pick myself up and dust off, then do it again." Sebastian shook his head. "I can't go back to that."
"No, Sebastian," Luke said, "it's because of that that you can. The enemy-" He cut himself off, biting his lip as he fought some kind of internal battle. "The enemy that you face can spot your every weakness, Sebastian. It knows how to pick it out and exploit it. If you face it, you will find everything you care about taken away, all at once; it will destroy you."
"But when the worst has already happened," Sebastian said, more to himself than to his father, "what's left?"
Luke nodded. "The yammosk found a way in, Sebastian. It preyed on your love, and used it as a weapon against you. No matter how strong in spirit, you were still vulnerable. You weren't ready then, because you hadn't endured all that you have. But now you're going to face something even worse." Luke looked washed out as he spoke. "Evil is ultimately self-defeating," he explained. "They've sought to destroy you a piece at a time. What they didn't realize, though, was that with every blow they only hardened you, until you can withstand the worst they can throw at you."
"'That which does not kill me makes me stronger?'" Sebastian asked.
"That which makes us stronger does not kill us," Luke corrected, "it just feels like it does."
"So," Sebastian said with his head down, "I go back. I fight the good fight and try to save the universe, right? Because it's my destiny?"
"Because you're Sebastian Skywalker," Luke said, "and it's impossible for him to stand aside and do nothing." He got up, grabbed Sebastian’s shoulders, and pulled him to his feet. "Remember what I told you," he said. "I may have moved moons... but you will move civilizations." He walked to Morgan's fallen form and vanished; as he did, she blinked her eyes and got back to her feet. He was a little surprised with himself he didn’t feel different about that, but then, he wasn’t looking at the world quite the same way any more.
"You know what I'm going to do," Sebastian said.
"You're going to do the right thing," she said with a nod. "Just like I knew you would." He reached out and squeezed her with all that a father's arms had. "And you better," she said with a choke, "because I'll be watching you," she tapped the side of his head, "in here."
"In here," he said, tapping his chest. "Forever... forever, my little dawn."
Sebastian opened his eyes and stepped out of his alcove. The Borg Queen had been examining a holographic display, but she stopped as he walked, and turned towards him slowly. She looked him up and down, as if never seeing him before. Then she spoke; it was as close to regret as anyone had ever heard in a Borg's voice. "Our thoughts are no longer one."
"No," Sebastian said. "No they're not."
Romal scratched just below his right horn. "I'm still not sure I get this. Why are you not a Borg?"
"I am a Borg," Sebastian said, lacing up his boot. The foot inside was real; most of the cybernetics were able to be removed without a problem, although his other cybernetic leg was still necessary. "But I'm a Jedi too. I can't keep being one or the other, it's really messing with my head."
"But-" Romal looked about as if the answer would be written on the walls, "but you can't just leave the Collective!"
"I made it," Sebastian said. "I'll leave it any time I like."
"No," the Queen said. "You will not."
"Don't try anything," Sebastian warned, although the whole conversation seemed odd, given how the Borg had not only removed his implants and such, but had replicated new clothes and equipment.
"Not all who are members of the Borg Collective LLC are drones," the Queen pointed out.
"I can't stay here," Sebastian explained. "I've got greater concerns than running a business."
"We are capable of running the business without you," the Borg Queen said.
"People skills, people skills," Romal said under his breath. "Gotta work on those people skills."
"You are part of the Borg Collective," the Queen said. "You won't walk away from that."
Sebastian finished tying the boot. "Watch me."
"I mean that you will not walk away from us," the Queen said, "because we are going with you."
Sebastian blinked. "What, all of you?"
"Well, if it's all the same," Romal said, "I'd be more than happy to mind the store while you go off into certain death."
Sebastian ignored him. "Why are you doing this?"
The Queen hesitated. "We remember the time before you re-united us. Were it not for you, the Borg would remain pathetic refugees, throwbacks to a forgettable era. We will not let you become an outcast."
"The Borg have no sense of obligation," Sebastian said.
"We adapt," the Queen said.
Sebastian shook his head. "Are you sure you want to do this? If you go, there's going to be lots of bloodshed."
"Yes," the Queen said, "but that's their problem, isn't it?"
Sebastian grinned despite himself. "Bravado? From you?"
"I see," Sebastian said with a nod. "Then in that case, we'd best be moving."
"Uh, where exactly would we be moving to?" Romal asked.
There was a snap and a glow of blue, quickly followed by a second. Sebastian examined the blades of his new lightsaber. "The right place, at the right time."