Lost Stars by Claudia Gray and Disney are the owners of all characters and content contained in Claudia Gray's Lost Stars: Journey to the Force Awakens. C.R. Marks dies not own any characters or content in Lost Stars.
Loves Stars by C.R. Marks contains original content and characters, all of which are the sole property of C.R. Marks.
The First Visit
Ciena heard the sound of Thane's boots fading as he walked away. His pace was slower than when she heard him arriving a half hour earlier.
It was their first visit since Thane rescued her from the Bridge of the Inflictor weeks before. With no time to spare, Thane dragged her to an escape pod and ejected before the star destroyer crashed into the sands of Jakku.
The initial impact of the escape pod crashing was violent. When it first came to a stop, Ciena was already unconscious and injured. But matters worsened when the enormous star destroyer came crashing down beside the pod, engulfing it in a sand tsunami. When it finally came to a stop, they were half buried and she was twice as injured.
But the physical trauma wasn't the worst of it. When Ciena awoke, she was overwhelmed with despair because she was alive. Thane had stolen the one chance she had to escape the hell of Imperial service with her honor intact.
It was a gift from the Force when Rebel forces achieved the impossible by infiltrating her Imperial ship. Destroying the Inflictor was precisely what was called for to prevent the enemy from acquiring the vessel. As the ship's Captain, Ciena's choice to ensure its destruction by locking herself on the bridge as it plunged to its death would be considered an act of the highest courage. And this opportunity brought Ciena the first moments of peace she had experienced in years, because it gave her a way to escape serving the Empire without bringing dishonor and harm to her family and loved ones.
And now she'd be free from the pain of living without Thane - a life without purpose, happiness, or hope - a life where they each served the other's enemy. The guilt and shame for not defecting with him years before would be over. She was haunted, in both conscious thoughts and sleep, that she might injure or kill Thane in her service to the Empire. The pain of never being with him again and not knowing if he was alive or dead never relented.
She wasn't supposed to wake up in pain and still hopelessly trapped - only now as a prisoner of the New Republic. She wasn't supposed to wake up - period.
But she did wake up, and the agony that came from the awareness that it wasn't over was incalculably worse than the pain from her broken and battered body.
In the week that followed, Thane had been trying to see her, but she refused him. When her resolve finally weakened and she asked to see him, he was gone on a mission. For Ciena, it was merely another sign that being alive meant being alone and miserable. Indeed, it was the will of the Force.
And then suddenly Thane was there - standing outside her cell. She had only to meet his gaze, and in that second what she had simultaneously feared and longed for the most came true.
Seeing Thane gave her hope.
It seemed his visit was over before she had time to say anything of significance. But then, what could she possibly say that would make sense. Everything had changed, and now she was locked in another nightmare. What words could make all that was wrong - all that had always been wrong since the moment they watched the Empire use the Death Star to destroy Alderaan - right? All of the tears, anger, fear, frustration, betrayal, loss and despair had brought them to where they were: Ciena in a New Republic Cell and Thane on the other side fighting for the New Republic and still fighting for her, too.
For a long while, Ciena stood where they had placed their palms against the energy field during his visit, and began to replay their conversation in her mind.
"I wish you had left me on the Inflictor."
She said it, but did she mean it? Standing there with Thane only a breath away? She didn't know. It was hard to change her outlook when "living" might include being labeled a war criminal and never getting out of a 10x10 cell.
Regardless, Thane did not flinch. He remained defiant in his confidence.
"If you're waiting for me to apologize for saving your life, you'll be waiting awhile." A moment of silence passed, then his expression and voice softened. "Either way, you know I'll be waiting for you, right?"
Ciena felt her heart flutter. She couldn't help it. Hearing his voice telling her he was committed to her was almost too much.
"You shouldn't." She meant it.
"You would, if it were me inside that cell."
Ciena couldn't have hidden the truth had she tried. Not when she looked up at him and his piercing blue eyes captured and held her gaze.
"Yes, I would."
Ciena would wait for Thane forever if their positions were reversed. She would have no choice. There would be nothing left of her heart to give to anyone else if Thane disappeared from her life. It would break beyond remedy. It would be easier to reassemble the pieces of a dead star gone supernova than her shattered heart from losing Thane.
Only after lying awake for hours, replaying the visit over and over again - the way Thane looked at her, his disarmingly handsome smile, his blue eyes that always told the truth, and his palm pressed mere millimeters from hers - was Ciena finally able to sleep.
And she dreamt of cool rain falling on the mountain as they lie together in a very secret place back home. She dreamt of passionate kisses that became the tender, soft whisper of Thane's lips grazing her skin.
Almost as wonderful was waking up the next morning. In place of the greyness that filled every corner of her life for so long, her eyes saw a myriad of colors and possibilities. Finally, against all odds, Ciena had hope.