Chapter 1: Confessions

Revan waited quietly in a small, spartan chamber. The walls were painted white, with no furnishings but for the chair she sat on, a desk with an inactive console and a light fixture. She wondered idly if they were monitoring her, and perhaps wondering why she wasn't pacing in anxiety. She smiled inwardly. Her face, however, never wavered from the serene expression it held.

The door chimed and slid open soundlessly. A protocol droid leaned in and beckoned to Revan respectfully. "Jedi Revan, the High Council has summoned you. They are waiting for you in the Council Chamber." The droid stepped aside and bowed.

Revan slid to her feet gracefully. She straightened her robes and touched a hand to her lightsaber. That the Council had not taken it from her said... much. She stepped out and followed the droid.

The Council Chamber was filled with the sussuration of quiet conversation; the large vault made the sounds echo endlessly, making it seem as if there were more people than there were.

Silence descended abruptly when the doors opened, and all eyes turned to the slight figure that emerged. There was no sound but for the tak-takking of her boots as she walked across the wide expanse of the blindingly-white marble floor.

Eyes searched her face intently, looking for they knew not what, but her expression revealed nothing but serenity. Force senses were strained to the utmost to detect the least amount of anger, hostility or fear, but there was nothing but calm. Eyebrows were raised, surprise otherwise expressed if they had none.

The woman halted within speaking distance of the assembled High Council.

Master Vandar stood and spoke to Revan. "Jedi Revan. You are called here today before the High Council to present your side of the events, from the Endar Spire and all that transpired, leading up to and including the Star Forge." His slightly raspy voice was Force-projected to all the corners of the Chamber.

"Do I stand in judgment, Masters?" asked Revan quietly. Her voice, too, was projected to all ears. Surprise again registered on faces when they realized her voice did not benefit from Force amplification. Revan's gaze passed from one end of the room to the other. Each Jedi there would swear they felt her gaze alight momentarily on him.

"No. We simply wish to hear your account, specifically your thoughts and feelings, since we already know in detail your actions and how events actually transpired," said another Master, one unknown to Revan.

Revan had raised a skeptical eyebrow, but shrugged and nodded agreement to his request. She settled herself more comfortably on her feet, taking an at-ease pose; feet slightly apart, hands clasped loosely behind her back.

She began her recitation. She spoke of the Endar Spire, of how she had felt mostly fear and anger when she found that the ship was under bombardment and had been boarded by the Sith. Fear, rage and frustration when Trask Ulgo, her companion on the mad scramble to the bridge was killed by a Dark Jedi, Darth Bandon so that she could escape. Relief at meeting a friendly face at the escape pods and of not being alone on an unknown planet. Gratitude towards Carth Onasi, who had retrieved her unconscious body from the escape pod.

Throughout Revan's speech, her face never wavered from its mask of serenity. The assembled Masters marveled inwardly at that. There was still no anger that they could sense in her aura.

Revan was now speaking of the time after they had escaped from the Leviathan. The mask finally cracked a little, revealing the remembered pain of her revelation. Despite the training they have had and used all their lives to maintain a calm facade in the face of any situation, some Masters shifted a little uncomfortably.

"I will tell you all the truth, Masters, that I have not even told all of my closest companions on the quest for the Star Forge. Only one of them knows the entire dark truth of it all. Not even Bastila knows the whole of it."

Revan sat on the floor of the cargo bay in the Ebon Hawk, hands grasping her hair, looking as if she was ready to pull out entire hanks by the roots. Her face was an agonized rictus, mouth open in a long, silent scream, eyes closed tight. Tears had made trails through the grime, sweat and dried blood on her face. She had not cleaned up after the scrambling flight from the Leviathan. Most of the blood was not hers.

Her hand went automatically to her vest pocket and stopped abruptly when she realized what she was doing. She clenched her hand into a fist and slammed it into the wall. The dull, meaty thud seemed to reverberate throughout the entire ship.The hand was already bloody and bruised from when she had slammed it against the wall repeatedly. She welcomed the pain. It felt better than the void she felt in her heart.

Booted footsteps sounded outside in the corridor. She recognized them as Carth's--not that she needed such physical signs to show that he was near. She could feel his presence. She always could. And would.

Carth looked in at Revan's huddled form, sitting in a corner next to some cargo containers. He tried to muster up some sort of hate or anger towards her, but his overstrained heart was too stretched from finally completing his revenge on Saul Karath. Too tired. It ached a little.

She's the Dark Lord of the Sith, you should hate her with every fiber of your being, he thought. She's the manifestation of all the evil, the cruelty and utter ruthlessness of the Sith. But the thought kept getting obscured by memories. Memories of her giving credits to beggars, to people with bounties on their heads for not paying their debts to crime lords, datapads she scrounged from all over the sewers, just to give hope to the Outcasts.

A veritable parade of scenes streamed before his mind's eye. The widow on Tatooine walking off with 700 credits for a trophy worth only 500. The freeing of the Wookiees from slavery on Kashyyyk. Nico the swoop rider looking extremely happy at the new contract she had wrangled for him from the Hutt. The prospective Sith students she'd saved from their own stupidity. Reconciling an estranged son with his father, a broken-down old Republic soldier.

He blinked away the memories. His boot came down on something round that issued metallic protests at his clumsy handling. He bent down and saw Revan's beloved music pipe, broken into several pieces. He picked them up and stared at them. A part of him idly marveled at her strength, to be able to break metal with her bare hands. The rest of him wept at the depth of her pain, to have destroyed something she had once treasured with all her heart.

He was suddenly angry. Angry at the Jedi Council, and even Bastila, for making a person into a puppet, to dance at their whim. Never mind the necessity of needing to pick Revan's brain for anything on the Star Forge. He was frustrated at not being able to help Revan with her battles.

He stopped, frozen at the thought. He wanted to help Revan, former Dark Lord of the Sith, with her problems? He was incredulous at himself. As if he didn't have enough of his own. But the person he saw sitting there weeping silently wasn't any sort of Lord, Sith or not. The face was that of one who has found that all she knew, the world she thought she lived in, has come crashing down. And found that what was left--had no meaning. It was an expression he had seen staring back at him in the mirror for years.

She hadn't looked up at his entrance. When it became apparent through her numbed apathy that he wasn't going to leave any time soon, she wet her cracked lips with a dry tongue and spoke a word in a hoarse voice. "What." She still did not look up.

Carth stuffed the remains of the pipe into his pouch and walked tentatively towards Revan. He sat down on the cold floor in front of her. He reached, haltingly, hand stopping several times, before it finally touched her face. He grasped her chin gently, and tilted her face up to the light.

She was a mess. A beautiful mess, with dirt and blood smeared across her face. Dried sweat had made her hair greasy, making it stand up stiffly in places. Underneath all the filth, her beauty still shone. Pain had etched faint lines around her eyes and mouth, but it only served to bring the beauty more into focus.

Her eyes opened at last, and he nearly flinched at the dark pools they had become. Blackest despair and soul-wrenching pain rose up in them like bloated corpses floating in water.

"What do you do when you find that you have nothing? All that I thought I knew, all that I have known, is nothing but a lie. No, it's worse than a lie. Not only is my entire life a lie, the real truth is that I'm a monster. A monster with a conscience. Can there be a more pathetic thing in the galaxy?" Revan said hoarsely. A smile hardly worth the name, full of black irony, appeared briefly on her face. Tiny flecks of blood appeared on her cracked lips as they stretched.

"You still have us. You... still have me. You heard what they said out there. They all still stand by you, even if you were Darth Revan," whispered Carth.

"Do I? Still have you? I seem to remember you saying you won't let me betray the Republic. Again," Revan replied, the black humor still stretching her face in a parody of a smile.

Carth winced. It was just like her to latch onto those words and throw them back in his face. He was therefore totally unprepared for what happened next.

Carth felt himself grabbed by his collar, Revan's knuckles digging into his throat with nearly enough force to stop his breathing. Revan flung him up from the floor and slammed him into the wall of the cargo bay with a bone-shattering thud. His breath left him at the impact.

Revan's face was now no more than inches from his own, her eyes boring into his. He shivered at what he saw in them: pain and despair and not a little madness. Like the eyes of a wounded animal, that knows it is dying.

"I also seem to remember you saying, on Korriban, that you'd like nothing better than to put a blaster to Revan's head. Well. Looks like you've got your wish, soldier boy," Revan said harshly. Her knuckles still dug uncomfortably into his throat, but they weren't cutting off his breathing. Much.

"No. No, I couldn't... I can't. That was before I knew..." Carth whispered bleakly. Did she know he would rather shoot himself than hurt one hair on her head? He put his hands over hers. They were so cold, and slightly sticky with blood. I can't take this much longer, I'm not strong enough, he thought despairingly.

"That Revan and I are one and the same? And so the Force doth makes fools of us all," Revan half-laughed, half-sobbed.

Revan snarled into his face. "Why not? Did I not destroy Telos? Malak may have given the order, and Saul Karath may have carried it out, but where would they be if not for me? Saul Karath would never have been suborned and Malak would still be a Jedi. They never would have had a fleet capable of blowing Telos to space bunnies if not for me.

"I'm the one who killed your wife and tore away your son. Remember the oath you swore over her cooling body?" A tiny bit of Revan quailed at what she had just said, at the pain that flared in Carth's eyes. The rest of her just wanted to die, to goad him into giving her release.

She shook Carth savagely. "Your revenge isn't complete yet. Will you stand forsworn? Why won't you take that blaster I know you're so capable of using, and put me out of my misery?"

There was no sound but for their breathing; Revan's breath coming in short, sharp inhalations, nearly hyperventilating, Carth's labored, heavy, as he tried to get his breath back.

Carth swallowed. Each word she had said about Telos, his wife and son, were like bombs dropped with pinpoint precision onto his soul. Old wounds, only lightly-scabbed over, opened and bled. "We... we still haven't found the Star Forge yet. There's still one last Star Map to collect," he finally said. He marveled at the steadiness in his voice.

Revan's face twisted. "So. I am nothing more than a mere retriever of ancient artifacts, courtesy of a few broken memories still left from my previous life. I expected as much from the Council, but you... you disappoint me greatly." She shook Carth again, hard enough to make his teeth rattle.

"I offer you a chance to square your revenge away, I present to you a point-blank target, and you dare to spout Bastila's words at me in her stead?" She pitched her voice in a fruity mockery of an officer's, "You swore an oath to the Republic, soldier. Do your duty! It's your responsibility to exterminate Sith wherever you go, especially the biggest, baddest one of them all, THE ONE WHO IS STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!" Revan screamed into his face.

Revan started weeping again. She let the tears of frustration fall, unheeded.

Carth saw the anger now, and was glad it seemed to be pushing the insanity away. But anger was not a good thing, either, not for a Jedi. Especially this particular one.

"Why me?" Carth asked quietly. Revan jerked a little, her hands loosening a little their hold on his throat.

"You, of all the people I know, are the one I have sinned most greatly against. The most. The deepest. If anyone has a greater right to call the hours and minutes of my life, it is you. And because you are the only one I can trust to do it." The anger seemed to be draining out of her.

Carth took a shuddering breath. Revan's hands had released their grip on his neck, but he still held them there. She slumped, the adrenaline and desperate strength leaking from her, leaving her looking bone tired and utterly weary. He suspected he didn't look much better.

"If I ever had that right over anyone... then I say you still need to live a little longer. You still need to find the Star Forge. And Bastila," Carth said.

Revan's eyes blazed at the mention of Bastila's name. "Yes... yes, I still need to find her..."

Carth was relieved to see the madness recede from her eyes, but he stiffened at her next words.

"She's lucky Malak got to her first, because I would have ripped her limb from limb," said Revan coldly. Carth's blood chilled at her deadly earnest tone.

Revan straightened as much as she could, but Carth could still see her pain and weariness in the stiffness of her movements. She turned her hands in his, palm to palm, and gripped them tightly. "You must promise me something."

"What?" Carth asked warily. He wondered what she was thinking. He was too tired to play games.

"Promise me... swear to me you will shoot me, in the head, if I do fall. Again," said Revan pleadingly.

She begged him. Him. That was so... wrong.

"Why... in the head?" Carth had to ask. He waited with morbid curiosity for her answer.

"So that no one can possibly resurrect me again. Swear it to me, Carth," Revan answered. Her tears finally stopped.

"I... want something in return. You have to promise me to, to keep on living. To stay alive, long enough to defeat Malak and destroy the Star Forge. That you won't take it into your head to go fall off a cliff or something," Carth said grimly.

He wanted to give her a better reason to keep living, but his nerves were scraped too raw from the hateful words she had just said, to give voice to his feelings. He didn't have the courage right now. Or the strength. He felt so damned tired.

"I swear," Revan said gravely.

"Then I swear that I will make sure you will not ever betray the Republic again, if you should fall to the dark side. Again. A shot to the head," said Carth, just as gravely. Could he trust her word? Did he have a choice? His heart quailed at the thought of possibly having to fulfill his promise.

"Good. Good," Revan said softly, her shoulders slumping a little, as if his words had given her some sort of relief. Maybe they had.

She relaxed her hold on his hands, and pulled them slowly away. The blood had dried in their mutual grip, making it necessary for her to peel her sticky hands out.

Revan stared at the dried blood on her hands. "I suppose I just swore a blood oath to you. How... appropriate."

"Thank you, Carth. It... means a lot to me," Revan whispered. Her eyes were sane again, but they were utterly devoid of hope.

Revan stepped a little away from him. "What is our ETA to Manaan?" she asked in a tired voice.

"Just a few hours. You should... clean up, get some rest, while you still can," Carth replied as he looked at her appraisingly. She looked like hell. The Selkath would freak if they saw her looking like she had come off as the loser in a battle with a rancor.

"Almost there. Just a little while longer. Then I can rest." Revan walked listlessly to the door. She did not look back.