|Star Wars KOTOR II: The Final Waltz
Author: Dante-Raven PM
Post KOTOR II, 2 years since the Exile left: will nothing stop the Sith and their conquest? Dante and Atton escape Nar Shaddaa, and Rena ponders the finer points of the Republic...Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 8 - Words: 36,764 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 08-13-07 - Published: 01-16-07 - id: 3346116
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
From the Stars and Into Oblivion
He was breathing hard, trying his best to ignore the pain in his ribs and the bruises that threatened to overwhelm him. He made his way to the cockpit, where his roguish companion continued to evade the inbound flight traffic that was heading towards their recent venture.
"How far are we from Nar Shaddaa?" Dante asked, climbing into the copilot's chair beside Atton, who continued his devilish tricks as he rolled between a score of freighters.
It took the Jedi a considerable amount of effort to strap in, knowing that it was only by the good graces of Atton that the inertial dampers had not failed on his high speed daredevil piloting. This also meant that Dante didn't find himself walking on the ceiling nor rolling around the confines of their ship.
"Well," he began, shifting the yoke and quickly pulling it to his chest, "I'd say our distance to Nar Shaddaa is not a problem. I'd say it's the Hutt patrol cruisers and that handful of Sith and Syndicate fighters on our tail that might be our problem."
Dante clenched his jaw and activated the navcomputer, hoping to select a target. "We need to make a jump, Rand."
"Are you kidding me?" Atton slammed the yoke to his left and towards his knees. "Right now I'm a little busy here, since a certain someone decided to upset the Syndicate and its thugs."
"I was trying to buy us some time for our escape—and it worked didn't it?"
"What? The escape? If you decided that having the Sith chasing us wasn't hard enough, you could have mentioned something to me rather than getting the Syndicate to join in on the fun."
Dante rolled his eyes and focused on the navcomputer, hunting for coordinates they so desperately needed. "Shut up and pilot, Rand. Let's hope you're as good as it as you say."
"You're still alive, aren't you?" The scoundrel quipped, steering the ship in a series of gut-wrenching turns and twists.
"I have it on good authority that you have a tendency to crash your flights." Dante punched in coordinates in the navcomputer, hoping he made the right choice. As far as he was concerned, their only chance was to make a jump far away from Hutt space and from the pincer grip of the Exchange. "Get ready to make the jump," he ordered. Dante took a deep breath as he locked the navcomputer, sealing the finality of that order.
"Are you crazy? We'll end up in the middle of nowhere!" Atton looked at the Jedi as if he were out of his mind.
"It's the best chance we have of losing them and I intend to take it." The tone of Dante's voice spoke of the finality of the subject.
The ship rattled from the stray blasts from their pursuers.
"I hope you know what you're doing, Dante, because if we so much as waltz into a lumbering group of pirates, we won't stand a chance."
"Just do it, Atton and let's hope I made the right choice."
Gritting his teeth, the pilot rested his hand on the lever before him, squeezing the security knob and shunting the lever forward.
Shutting his eyes, Atton didn't see the stars streak as they made the jump to lightspeed.
The other figure, Rena recognized instantly and sheer loathing filled her.
Even as the blur began to sharpen and eventually reveal details, Rena could tell Lotus had been assigned to the medical bay to ensure they would not die.
The assassin's dour expression said as much.
She fought back the vindictive enjoyment of Lotus' annoyance, and instead focused on sitting up from the metallic slab the doctors called a medical bed. She almost fell when reality became surreal and she brought a hand to rub her sore head, jolted from the movement. Rena glanced down and looked back at Lotus with a hint of minor annoyance. "Are the cuffs really necessary?"
The silver-haired assassin allowed a half-hearted smile and replied, "just following protocol. I figured a Jedi apprentice, of all people, would appreciate a strict rigid code."
She looked back at the assassin with disdain and sighed. "Very funny—I won't fight. You've all seen to that."
Lotus looked on with an unconvinced expression and finally, after another moment, she nodded to the white clad doctor and towards the door. Sliding open, a pair of Sith soldiers arrived, along with a trio of droids armed with heavy repeating blasters.
Rena observed the armoured figures and looked back at Lotus. "Prepared for all eventualities, I take it?"
She rolled her eyes. "Don't be so vain. I've been ordered to keep an eye on you and ensure no harm comes to you unless," she stressed the importance of the last word, "you try to turn on us."
"I see that your Masters keep a tight leash on you, their little watchdog."
The assassin snarled and closed the gap between her and the still bound Jedi. "Rest assured, if you weren't so needed by both the Masters and me, I'd see you dead."
The young Jedi appeared unimpressed, biting back the cold lump in her throat and steadying her beating heartbeat. Lotus had caught her unnerved and now she had to ensure that it did not go noticed. "Strong words coming from someone whose threats are made behind a safe barrier."
"They're not idle," Lotus spat, walking out of the medical bay. "Just make sure you don't go wandering all by your lonesome. Dante would hate to see you cut to ribbons before he came for you."
The young Corellian opened her mouth, only to be silenced when the door hissed shut, leaving her still bound and in the company of armed guards. She stifled the string of curses and looked at the white figure, an older man—human and no more than 40 years of age by her count.
"She's a demon, that one," he muttered in a deep, raspy voice. He coughed and hobbled over to a console several feet away from the medical bed. "You'd do well to stay out of her way when she's upset. More so now than before—especially since she's been so used up."
She sighed and looked around. She could tell from the man's gait that he had suffered tremendous injuries somewhere. Most likely some battlefield, from another time. He had the age and enough time to have suffered the damage associated with living with his wounds.
The guards stood watching, silent and grim as their dark armour, and beside them stood the droids, who showed more humanity than the guards. They paced back and forth, cradling their blasters with ruthless dedication.
Rena quickly calculated her chances of escaping, knowing that she'd have to convince the doctor to unbind her, and using her recovering strength, overpower the guards and droids.
She frowned and pursed her lips, waiting for the chance.
The older man turned to face her and all chances the young apprentice may have had evapourated.
His face was worn, gnarled on one side and relatively smooth on the other. One eye was milky white, forcing it to be covered with a prosthetic lens, which contrasted exceptionally with his brown eye. His hair was shock white, not a single ounce of colour stood on his head. He allowed himself a smile, revealing sharpened teeth and said, "you're not feeling up to talking? You seemed up to it earlier."
He frowned when there was no answer.
"I see that you don't want to chat then." He turned to walk, pausing and smiling when Rena stopped him.
"I don't know your name," she said simply.
He turned to face her and shrugged simply. "I have no name to give you."
"So what does everyone call you?"
He smiled and simply said, "doctor."
She shuddered at his smile and at the reference.
The smile was toothy, cold and very predatory. His voice grated on her nerves for the single word, almost as if he drawled on a regular basis.
"You must be Rena," he said at last, moving back to the console. "Lotus spoke much about you—in fact, much about your apparent Master."
Rena was stunned. She narrowed her eyes and looked at the old man, who seemed content to study readings on the console he worked so diligently on. "I believe Lotus gave you the authority to release me from this so-called security precaution."
The old man nodded. "You're quite right, my dear, but if I were to release you, how would I not know if you were going to try and overpower me and escape? What's more, how would I know if you were going to stay and chat?"
Rena paused for a moment. The old man was right and she undoubtedly knew that he had figured this out long before even Lotus had. In fact, Rena almost counted on the fact that Lotus was ready and waiting outside for just that very thing.
To kill her as she attempted to escape would sound very plausible, especially since the Sith credo was to kill or be killed.
"All right,' Rena said at last, trying to maintain her composure, "you have my word."
The old man chuckled, another grating sound that raked her nerves. "Your 'word.' How can I trust the word of a Jedi when the Sith are no different?" He turned to look at her, smiling mirthlessly. "No, I don't want your word. I want something more real. Something that I know meant that you wouldn't attempt to escape here and cost me my life."
"I won't kill you—in fact; I will do absolutely nothing here. I can give you something real." She studied his face more carefully and after another while asked, "how were you wounded?"
The old man snarled and looked away. "You're still staying put, young girl. I can't afford to have you running about in my medical bay."
"That's why you have the guards," she replied smoothly.
"What good are guards against a Jedi?" He snorted. "They might as well leave."
Rena stared hard at the old man's back. "You still haven't answered me."
He sighed and continued paying attention to the console.
She stared harder and put strength into her voice, "You will tell me."
The old man let out a deep bellowed laughter, turning around and staring hard at the young woman. "You think that I would be here if I weren't impervious to Jedi mind tricks? They work on the weak-minded, fool child, not the strong, twisted and experienced."
Rena sighed, slighted and crushed. The mind trick wouldn't work, perhaps if she poured all her strength into it, but she cast the thought aside. She needed to conserve her strength. She was still weakened from the fight and Deus still wasn't in sight.
Deus! Her head shot up and she looked around, examining each and every kolto tank in her view. Unfortunately for her, the kolto tanks were all over the medical bay, ranging from one side of the large chamber to the other side. Medical beds filled a quarter of the space, and consoles and science stations filled the rest. "Where's my brother?" She demanded.
The old man's face lit up and he smiled again. "Your brother? Ah, the male clone." The old man moved away and started to walk away from her, leaving Rena to herself. "He's quite all right—for the most part. For someone so adept at fighting and from what I hear, using the Force, he took quite the sucker-punch."
"What?" She hissed. "Release me, doctor, I need to see him."
The old man hovered close to her face, his rank breath hot on her face, forcing Rena to stifle the churning of her stomach and the rising of bile in her throat. "As I said, I need something to trust. I need some sort of…collateral."
She grimaced and saw the twinkle in his eye. "Tell me of your wound," she whispered, hoping that she still had the strength to hold the bile from reaching her mouth. "Tell me how you suffered. I could offer you something no one ever could." Her oceanic blue eyes filled with a spark of human emotion and vulnerability that pushed the old man to pause.
He stepped back and walked towards the console. "What can you offer me that no one else could?"
"A chance to heal."
He cast a sour glance in her direction and tapped a console. "You may leave us," he said to the guards, who at last, left without uttering a single word.
Rena felt the freedom from both her tangible and intangible shackles and rose, losing her balance for a moment before she could steady herself. After a few more moments of rubbing her wrists and shaking the nausea from her head, the young woman looked at the old man.
He sat down on one of the medical cots and buried a hand in one of his pockets, fiddling with whatever lay inside for a few moments before he brought it out into the light.
Rena watched the older man sit down with a sliver of some metallic instrument.
"I once fought for a galaxy I knew nothing about," he began. "It started with those damned Mandalorians and eventually, it brought us to a war with the Republic."
He looked up at Rena and continued.
"I was a healer once, for the Republic. A galactic alliance that truly meant nothing to us all. They turned their backs on us and Revan welcomed us with open arms. We fought in trenches against the Mandalorians on some backwater world. I was treating a wounded heavy infantryman when the shell came down on us. It exploded, lighting up some of the flammable materials we use, but the shell was closer to my workstation. The infantryman's body protected most of my body from the blast, but, the damage was done."
He ran the sliver along his pockmarked face. "My eye was torn, my ligaments and bones in my leg were shattered and my face was a portrait of the battlefield. They pulled this from my side and now I am a mess. When we went back to the Republic, they treated most of us wounded as if we were nothing. We weren't covered for our expenses, medical needs and other essentials."
She looked in awe of the old man. "So you went back to Revan?"
He nodded. "At least with Revan and Malak, we were welcomed back as heroes and taken care of as best as could be given. But then the war came and Malak turned on Revan. Those of us that represented Revan's might left elsewhere. We had followed Revan to uncharted places, where we returned to our new birthright. The Empire that has given us everything we could ever ask for."
"And now? You're here because you want to be?"
The old man looked at her and smiled. "This is my job—my only life. I am a cripple that heals others. Imagine that."
She nodded and after another moment, she looked at the tanks. "What did Lotus tell you of my Master?"
The old man grinned, revealing his fanglike teeth and waved a finger. "As I recall, you said you could help me heal."
Rena nodded. "And we've begun the task, but I need to know some things."
"Of course, quid pro quo."
"What did she tell you?"
"He is someone the Masters want to keep an eye on."
Rena furrowed her brow. "Why's that? I thought that they wanted us in their grand scheme?"
He chuckled and replied, "that's part of their plans. They have so many, for every eventuality. I've heard whispers that your Master may yet be of some use to the old Masters. Something about an ancient ability or weapon that they need to unlock. Biometrics and all."
Still puzzled, Rena stretched out with her senses, wrapping invisible tendrils around the old man and found that he was telling the truth. It was everything that had been told and summed up for her to know. There was no point in asking why, and so, the young Jedi didn't.
She sighed and tried to store the information away for later knowledge. Perhaps when she escaped, she would ask Dante regarding it. For now, despite her flutter at the thought of reuniting with him, she had to focus on the tasks at hand.
"I believe it is my turn," the old man whispered in Rena's ear, prompting the young woman to recoil at the surprise of the old man's proximity to her.
"You will need to remove your prosthetic lens," she answered, trying to appear as if she were unperturbed. She forcibly composed herself, idly straightening her tunic and keeping her eyes on the old man. She couldn't afford to have him act as quickly again.
"Of course," he replied. He brought his hand to his temple, lightly depressing several keys and preparing himself to remove his prosthetic when he paused.
Rena furrowed her brow and bit her lower lip. "Second thoughts?"
The old man shook his head, tapped several new key sequences and lowered his hand. "I'm sorry, but I must be blunt. I cannot trust you. I have had Jedi healers and specialists all over the galaxy claim that they could assist me, yet they could do nothing. What separates you from them?"
She couldn't help but smile ear-to-ear. "I'm a clone of Revan. I have his strength, his abilities. I have his determination and my singular wit."
He appeared unconvinced. "If you really do have a sliver of his strength as you so claim, you'd be able to completely heal me. I do not know if you are true in your abilities." He rose from the cot and limped over to a tank several feet away from where Rena stood.
"I do not have a sliver," she bristled. "I have his strength—his abilities! I can help you."
He nodded slowly, absentmindedly at first, while he gazed at the tank and finally, he pointed to it. "If you're as strong as they say, then you will have to show me how adept your abilities are." He turned to face Rena, his voice not wavering for a moment as he ordered, "heal him."
Rena walked slowly towards the old man, unsure of what he now proposed. "Who is he?"
"Isn't it obvious?"
Rena walked to the tank, pausing and taking in the sight of the half-naked figure floating angelically in the life-saving fluids.
He floated there, his entire face covered in a helm that ensured he could breathe. Dark marks along his wide chest and powerfully sculpted abdomen seeped with a fluid that resembled a thickness only associated with blood.
His eyes were closed and his expression remained remarkably serene, as if he were content to never awaken from his slumber.
She paused and opened her mouth in shock, bringing her hands to cover it.
"He's your brother."
Of course, this hardly mattered to Dante and Atton, who had landed in one of the large pyramid shaped ruins along the dense jungle moon. Their only intent was to ensure that they remained hidden until they could effectively determine the next best location to continue their search.
Atton kicked at a small stone along the densely covered grass. The blades rose as high as his hips: perfect cover for any predator stalking its prey. That very thought sent shivers down his spine. The rogue didn't care for many things, but his life certainly wasn't one of those things. "Any luck on your divine interpretation as to why we're in the middle of nowhere?"
Dante sat quietly perched along a large stone, eyes closed and sensing the Dark Side presence that shrouded the entire surface of Yavin. "This planet is strong in the Dark Side of the Force, Atton. It makes excellent cover for us—we don't want to be found."
"I thought the goal was to find our friends, not go into hiding from a bunch of angry thugs."
Dante paused to open his eyes and glance over at Atton, who stood fuming with his arms crossed over his chest. "The Sith are hardly thugs. They managed to kill many of our friends, and you would do well to remember that fact."
Oh I remember, all right, the scoundrel bit back. As much as he had begun to get over the fact of his dark past, it seemed to catch up with him at the worst times. And as much as he was beginning to like Dante, the last few months of uneventful searching had begun to take its toll. He knew he was getting edgy—impatient and desperate in wanting to find Theresa. She was somewhere out there, in the galaxy fighting Revan or fighting with him.
Dante seemed to believe that she was fighting alongside the former Dark Lord, but Atton wasn't so sure. Even with the timely arrival of the Mandalorians and the so-called 'Lost Jedi,' the fight had been brought to a standstill until the Jedi Remnant had managed to use Bastila's Battle Meditation.
Even then, the costs were high.
And when the Lost Jedi returned to the Order, they merely asked for reinforcements that even the Order couldn't give. There were just too few and of all the times, Dante took off with him in tow.
He left Visas behind, to face some cruel fate living in a tank for Force-knows how long.
When he thought about it, the ex-assassin began to ponder whether or not it was right to follow Dante and not wait until Visas—who was far more connected to Theresa than the lost-puppy Jedi—recuperated.
In fact, the only thing that the Jedi Knight that sat before him seemed intent on was merely the safe return of his Apprentice who had most likely turned and well into her way to the path of Sith Lord.
Atton shook his head, suddenly unsure of where his thoughts were taking him. This world is strong in the Dark Side of the Force, he remembered Dante saying just a few short moments ago. He shuddered at that thought.
His mind was still open to even the crudest form of suggestion.
He didn't want to go back to what he had been before.
He didn't want to ever face that road in his life ever again.
Fighting down the trepidation over the fact that he could be easily manipulated by something so raw and unseen, he spoke up. "Maybe you're right, but we're still no better in a position than we were in Nar Shaddaa. We need to find a way to get back on the road."
Dante smirked and closed his eyes again before he spoke once more. "My old Master would have once said that we should carry on and let the Force guide us. When the Force deems it so, we can do nothing but wait until it reveals a path before us."
"Sounds like the laziest Jedi I've ever heard of. He kick back with a few one-too-many while he was training you?"
Dante glared at him, a fury rising higher than he had expected at such a brash comment. He contemplated running the scoundrel through with his lightsaber until he pulled away from the nearly enticing thought.
Almost at that very thought, Atton narrowed his eyes and seemed intent on wanting to encourage that challenge, puffing out his chest for a moment then thinking the better of it.
"I'm sorry," he said lamely, "I didn't mean to offend you."
Dante nodded and replied, "no, I overreacted exceptionally. The Dark Side here is strong indeed. So much that even with Jedi training I might have given in to your challenge." He lifted himself from the rock and casually dusted himself off. "We need to leave this planet, but…" he trailed off.
In the back of his mind, a sound that bordered on a wailing screech resonated and caused him to perk his head up.
Far up high, in the blue sky large avian creatures fluttered away and towards several hundred-foot trees.
He looked back at Atton and noticed he had done the exact same thing.
Returning Dante's stare, he offered, "maybe the Force has just shown us a path we need to follow."
Dante pursed his lips and nodded. "Maybe you're right." He looked back at the trees where the avian creatures fluttered away from and out of sight. Or maybe I read too much into things. He felt that lurch within the Force. A disturbance great enough to catch the attention of many Force-sensitive species for light-years around.
His heart pounded in his ears for an eternity and he felt something jittering against his lightsaber. Eyes lowering to his hips, Dante saw his hand shaking.
Whatever had caused that disturbance, it was enough to unnerve the Jedi Knight.