A hundred and twenty three chapters. Congratulations, Madam, it's a Hutt!
When I started this endeavor over Thanksgiving 2003, I never expected to still be working on it through Valentine's Day 2005. After the Fall was started solely for the purpose of getting a little closure on the Revan/Carth romance. All I wanted was the same fade-to-black kiss that the guys got in-game with Bastila. Everyone else's side stories were simply meant to provide vague hints that life continues and resolves after the Star Forge, except for Canderous and Bastila. They weren't supposed to be anything more than a band-aid for each other.
But then the characters sort of ran away with the story. Carth had a dark side that needed exorcising, once he'd run out of people outside of himself to save. And Dustil had an issue or two to work through about the crew of the Hawk, and the people-especially the new girlfriend-his dad had taken up with.
And who could resist the call of the entire galaxy, who declared they wouldn't be silenced over the knowledge that Darth Revan walked again in their midst. People weren't just going to sit back and take the word of the Jedi that "it's okay, Revan's good now." Especially when Revan wasn't quite sure of it herself.
All the while, Canderous and Bastila-well, mostly Canderous at first-kept insisting their story wasn't over. That there was more behind their start and finish than I'd originally suspected. I'd already known that Bastila's story was far from over-one doesn't simply walk away from a fall to the Dark side and just continue business as usual. She wanted to work through it, and she wanted to drag me with her. The more times I played through the game-even small bits and pieces to simply review some single event that happened on one planet-the more I saw of the depths of Bastila's character-especially in the company of a female Revan, and the more I wanted to explore why she'd chosen the path she did to deal with her fall. And of course, I had to know why Canderous let her draw him into it. Beyond the obvious (duh). ;)
At the end of it all, hindsight is 20/20, and looking at the story now, I can see it's really kind of a trilogy. The first book is Revan's Fall, and comprises chapters 1-18. The second book is Carth's Fall, and runs from chapters 19-42. The third book is Bastila's Redemption and the Epilogue, and is made up of chapters 43-123. Mission's story runs through all three books, and is still not quite resolved. She's got some growing up to do.
For those of you who have given me compliments on my Mandalorians, I thank you all very much. Truthfully, there's precious little out there on Mandalorians. There's a pretty extensive site that's a source for an online roleplay group that has a history and such, but that history isn't based on canon that I've found from any other source. Mine isn't much based on canon, either. There just isn't much canon out there. What I've done, is developed a culture based on a military society. My sources include the following comics: Jango Fett: Open Seasons, Tales of the Jedi Vol. 1 (Knights of the Old Republic), Tales of the Jedi Vol. 2 (Dark Lords of the Sith), Tales of the Jedi Vol. 3 (The Sith War), and Tales of the Jedi - Redemption (selected portions, as I can't find a copy of my own cheap enough) for the Mandalorians and Vima Sunrider.
Other sources I attribute to my design of the Mandalorians are real-life cultures oriented around clans or tribes. My Mandalorians are a combination of Vikings, Highland Scots, Berbers, Mongols, Samurai, and Ottoman Turks. The culture in its height was comprised of several classes of individuals. Only the warrior class earned citizenship and essentially served as the ruling class. Administrative and agricultural/industrial classes existed as subgroups of the Mandalorians, and the warriors negotiated trade and protection agreements with the other two classes. Both men and women of the warrior class served in the military, although many women of the warrior class serve as teachers, technicians, defensive specialists, or rear-guard support while they are in childbearing years.
Folk from other classes were not prohibited from moving into the warrior class through wartime battle activities, or peacetime dueling skill, however it wasn't very common, as it was difficult for the other classes to find battle opportunities. Conquered peoples are integrated into the lower classes, with the exception of warriors from the conquered who distinguish themselves. Conquered warriors from compatible cultures are put to work in military support, and occasionally adopted into the culture.
Honor duels are fought regularly, and every major social stage in a Mandalorian's life has battle in it in some form or other. Most Mandalorians take spouses from other clans, or other branches of their own clan, via Bridal Raids, as Canderous did. Mandalore himself, however, has been known at periods to have taken multiple wives, and it was not common, though not unheard of, for his most powerful generals to do the same, to cement clan alliances. Mandalorian young are raised within the clanhold, at first fetching and carrying armor or munitions for older warriors, then training from the time they can pick up a stick. Clanholds have clanmothers-female warriors no longer young enough to fight or train-who serve as nannies to young children while their parents are engaged in martial activities. In their early teens, after the typical Mandalorian has been training for several years, they are taken to their first real battle. Canderous fought his first real battle over the skies of Althir, at about age thirteen, which puts him at 53 in the game.
The Wayfarers originated when I asked myself-if Mandalorians put everything at risk when they war, and if they held the Republic in contempt for mixing military with civilian, then what must they do with their noncombatants? Especially when their idea of the combat zone is so broad as to include entire planets and systems. I figured they still had noncombatants-they don't just spring fully formed from each other's helmets-therefore, they must keep them far enough away to keep them out of combat zone range. In spite of-or perhaps because of-their warlike nature, Mandalorians place high protective value over pregnant women and small children. In the distant past of their history, before the first Mandalore united the clans, they were simply a loose collection of intertribal wars, and children were often kidnapped and raised by rival clans-a clan would be more hesitant to fight against its own, and it was a grave insult to any clan that failed to protect its own children. Clan tattoos became a way to mark at birth the members of a clan. When the first Mandalore united the clans under one banner, he took a wife from each of the clans, thus rendering family ties between the clans-the children of all the clans became children of Mandalore through matrimonial affiliation. When the Mandalorians began warring with other cultures, they re-adopted the practice of raid-and-kidnap of children. When the culture is conquered, many of the society's young people are already accustomed to Mandalorian ways. Mandalorians protect their own children from the same fate fiercely. Even though the Mandalorians kept the locations of their homeworlds secret, the very old-the ranks of whom rendered clanmothers-and the very young were evacuated in long-range transports and sent on evacuation routes around wild space, stopping to resupply at outposts along the routes.
The Jedi of KOTOR and the Jedi of the era as portrayed in Tales of the Jedi have differences that I attempted to address. At the time of the first TOTJ comic, Andur Sunrider was a Jedi with a family-a wife and daughter. Jedi were scattered, serving as individual, nomadic conflict-resolution specialists, and it was basically left up to the Force to guide Master and Apprentice to each other. After Nomi Sunrider called a convocation of Jedi in "Redemption," and since so many Jedi had been lost in the Exar Kun war, and at the destruction of Ossus, some Jedi felt that it was necessary to formalize their educational philosophy, and protect their students from the lures of the Dark side that corrupted Exar Kun, so they began training children at earlier ages, removing them from families so that they could be immersed in the Jedi culture and fully integrate the philosophy. So rather than being a venerable old institution, the Dantooine enclave is actually more of an experiment. With a few spectacular failures to their credit. ;)
I attempted to keep the combat in the story close to the combat in the game. Bottom line is that these characters are at or approaching 20th level at the end of the Star Forge battle, so they are pretty indestructible, and the use of medpacs and Force healing has fast effects. I realize this isn't exactly realistic-but rather served as a stylistic choice on my part. I wanted to keep the story sensibilities close to those of the game, and Epic level characters tend to be able to put up with a lot. At the same time, I approached the story from a humane, character driven perspective. I sought to place emphasis on the internal personal growth of each of the characters, and the plot sprang from that.
A note about KOTOR2: The Sith Lords. When I started writing this story, TSL was only a vague promise of a future development sponsored by LucasArts. I have had the ending of this story drafted out since July of 2004, so there are several points of divergence I expect to find between my story and the fates of the characters put forth by TSL. However, I'm treating TSL as another piece of fanfic in terms of the KOTOR1 characters-the original developers from Bioware were not involved in the making of TSL. In the future, I may or may not include some pieces that synch up the storylines, if I discover I feel the need to do so.
And now...for those of you who are interested in knowing what happened after Jolee's final commentary:
Ambassador Varenna Aktil continued her efforts to bring her people up from the mists of superstition, however, when word of the galaxy's prevailing opinions of the Yavin system inhabitants reached the elders of her people, they chose instead to return to their tribal roots and withdrew from galactic matters-and galactic record-until a time when the galaxy would be more welcoming to the heirs of Exar Kun's Sith legacy.
Belaya journeyed to Coruscant to keep her promise to Carth and Dustil to research more on the nature of the Sith poison in Onasi the younger's body. The Twi'lek female implicated in the bombing of the Governor's, Tann Teksa, remained in the care of the Jedi and eventually stabilized. Belaya researches on her behalf as well as Dustil's. Her journey took her to several more planets, and when her research permitted her, she formed a base of operations on the rebuilding planet of Taris, where she chose to make her eventual home.
Juhani assisted in the rebuilding of Taris. Her voice, as that of a Jedi and a Cathar, remained a strong one in the forming of the new Tarisian government-one infinitely more just towards nonhumans. She serves as the guardian of the sector.
Mission Vao accompanied Borx'amatto to Slooka the Hutt's compound. Once there, true to Borx's prediction, Slooka declared Mission his new "it" girl and set about making her a holovid star. Mission entered a well-respected Twi'lek dance and etiquette academy as part of her performing lessons. While there, she attended "extra" lessons that honed her skills in espionage. She's never far from her quirky astromech droid, and has a reputation in the holonews gossip programs for being a real party girl, however there are scattered reports-no more than rumors, really-of folk on worlds where Miss Vao tours, who've found themselves mysteriously relieved of debt to the Exchange.
Bastila and Canderous, with the Wayfarers in tow, made their way towards Mandalorian space. More and more Mandalorians joined them on their way-many to see the new Mandalore, some to challenge him. All challengers failed and the growing contingent of Mandalorians who followed the man they considered the true heir to the legacy of Mandalore. They finally settled on Canderous' homeworld of Ordo, prompted by Lady Mandalore telling her husband, "Pick a homeworld, you nerf herder. I'm not having this baby in hyperspace!"
Zaalbar went to Coruscant, and with the help of the Jedi, petitioned the Senate to levy heavy fines on Czerka corporation for its exploitation of his race. His efforts, while costly to Czerka, failed to put them out of business altogether, but earned the Senate's notice and a small but growing contingent of Republic senators began to respect the eloquence of the young Wookiee, and through him, began to reexamine their attitude towards the entire race. He returned to Kashyyyk where his father is grooming him to be a Chieftan, and he is grooming his father to consider a petition to join the Republic.
Dustil Onasi was grabbed by the ear by one Vima Sunrider and ordered to escort her to her next destination. The two were last seen in the Outer Rim, at the edge of Sith space. They are most frequently seen in the company of various Twi'leks, one of some former notoriety-a purple female with elaborate tattoos. The time bomb in Dustil's head was still ticking at last report, and the young Jedi and his unconventional Master-or rather, Masters-wander still. However, once a month, a single Nebula Orchid, native to Yavin 4, is delivered to Mission Vao wherever she happens to be, the note simply reading, "Friends are the only things worth having in the galaxy" followed by a random number.
Carth Onasi, along with HK-47 and the Jedi known as Revan, boarded the Ebon Hawk at Yavin 13 and headed into hyperspace towards Telos. While en route, the Jedi toyed with changing her name to something like Skywalker, but decided it was too holodrama and settled for Solo instead. Her hair never did grow back evenly over the bald spot Canderous gave her. The Ebon Hawk dropped out of hyperspace before reaching its destination, and the trio never resurfaced. It is believed that all hands were lost.
I've been writing fiction for a long time. In that time, I've learned that the writer's subconscious is responsible for probably 90 of a half-decent plot. Mine seemed to be working overtime with this. So my story is dedicated partly to my "Girls in the Basement." Also to my dear soul mate and husband, who put up with my pen-and-paper RPG experiments and "hey, let's see how this plotline unravels in game terms," brain-storms (plus the act of putting up with a writer in general, which is alone cause for admiration). To the folks at with whom I've had several hundred hours' worth of discussion about character, plot, SW universe canon, and whether or not Revan should be male or female. Y'all know who you are. Special thanks go to Intrepid, who's been beta, idea-bouncer, and all around galactic hero in general. And to those of you who reviewed, and kept reviewing, and kindly refrained from pointing out that I started being "almost done" around chapter 42 or so. The reviews I've gotten, I treasure-each and every one. I've saved them all on my hard drive just in case the internet disappears overnight. I go back and read them over and over again, each time getting a little thrill that someone cared enough to post something for me. Never doubt that your reviews mean something to those who write.
I've derived much enjoyment from writing this, and I hope that those who read it-and stuck with it through the huge amount of chapters-get as much enjoyment in reading it as I did writing it.
-Athenaprime - Feb 2005