She has faced charging beasts, standing as unflinching as a rock before a tide of fury and tearing claws.
She has faced Sith without fear. She has been unswayed by their words, untempted by their offers.
She has faced the Empire’s troops blade to blade, and knows there is no time for dread in the heat of battle, as her blood sings out for theirs.
She has duelled with some their finest minds, move to move, tactic and counter-tactic, and has felt nothing but pleasure in the competition, and vicious delight as she takes advantage of their weaknesses.
She has not always escaped unscathed from these battles, but knows that when she has prevailed it is because her strength has proved greater than their own, her will less yielding.
She does not fear her enemies. They hold no terrors for her, and she has proved to herself time and again that no man is invincible.
No, it is not the enemy she fears.
It is when her own people stand before her, unarmed and undefended, that she knows dread. Their faces are twisted by anger or grief, but the only weapons they wield are questions, and against those she has little defence. She cannot refute their bitter accusations, she cannot give relief to their sorrow, she cannot give them the answers that they seek. She does not know how to comfort them in their grief, and she can only watch as they give vent to their rage.
What could she say? Valour, fortitude, honour, heroism – the words are empty to her. There is no honour in an execution, no nobility in being chosen to die by an unseen hand, played as a pawn in a game they do not understand, a match with consequences beyond their comprehension.
She cannot share their grief. She has her own burdens, and there is no room in her heart to mourn the unknown dead, to lament for the loss of those she never knew.
She cannot apologise. She cannot speak words of regret or contrition when she knows that her cause was just, her decision necessary, her results acceptable. She cannot atone knowing that her path, however paved, was one she would walk again, deliberately and unflinching.
She cannot answer, and so she wraps herself in silence and turns away from them.
She questions what drives other Jedi onwards: if they know more than anger at those they must fight and satisfaction in triumphing over a worthy opponent; if they are impelled by more than the Code that binds them to this life. She wonders what connection they feel to others that pushes them to make decisions rashly, to use their resources unwisely, to fail and and feel no shame in it.
She watches as they appeal to people with soft words and vague assurances, or as they inspire flagging allies with speeches infused with hope and passion that promise nothing. She watches as they find comfort in those that surround them, drawing on the strength and faith of their associates, and she wonders at their boldness, to reveal their weaknesses to those who could so easily turn on them.
She finds herself mistrusting those who would profess trust in her; how can she place her faith in those who blindly accept the word of another? How easily will they betray her if another should demand it? She trusts her blade, she trusts the hand the wields it, and she trusts the Force to guide that hand.
Anything more is an invitation to failure.
She reports to commanding officers or Jedi masters with distant calm, even as she watches the glances they share, and listens to their reserved praise even as she hears their unspoken rebukes. They understand, however much they may disagree, and she does not fault them as she is sent to more distant locales to deal with more problematic elements than other members of her Order.
These assignments are not punishments. No, they are affirmation of her ability to not only survive, but to succeed. These are places where her unforgiving sentences are more readily executed, places where her results matter more than her methods of obtaining them. Out here she has seen the darker side of the Order, of the Republic itself, and more than once she has found herself its instrument. She is the hand of justice untempered by mercy, and she will do what must be done, no matter the cost.
There can be no room in her heart for regret.