Saviour, Conqueror, Hero, Villain.

Author's Notes: Someone suggested I write a fem!Revan version of my "Revan's Second Chance" fanfic. Those of you who are getting sick of all the fem!Revan fics, I assure you she's neither a goody-goody, nor will she instantly fall for Carth. Gimme a snowball on Tatooine's chance here, pretty please? Thank you. I never did appreciate the petty-thug element of the game's dark side options - I appreciated it even less when I acted like a scheming evil-overlord should act, and still ended up on the light side.

x x x

Chapter 1 - Tarisian Dream

I woke up with a splitting headache and a desire to kill whoever gave me said headache. On remembering it was the Leviathan that had blown up the ship I was on... again... and was probably the cause of my headache, I added that to the list of reasons to make Malak suffer.

I fully remembered being captured by the Jedi, and their attempts to reprogram my mind. It had been a close call that they hadn't succeeded. I had projected false gaps in my memories to let them think it had worked. The false memories they gave me are intriguing.

They tried to program my mind with a semi-normal life. A good little girl called Kira Lunari. A Scout working on contract for the Republic fleet. A girl whose parents died when the Sith struck Deralia. A girl who saved her sister's life when she was fourteen, against a Mandalorian raid, but who chose to run and hide, somewhere safe where she could protect her sister, instead of joining the fight.

A girl whose sister was later raped, tortured and murdered by Dark Jedi when the Sith caught up to them. Kira hadn't been able to get to her sister in time to hide her. She had seen what had happened, but the Sith hadn't spotted her. Vengeance was sworn, and she signed up with the Republic. Lovely story... it's not fun to be on the receiving end of such psychological tortures, however much of a power-trip it may give me to dish out torment. Though I will say I was entirely unaware of any of my underlings raping any prisoners... if I were aware of such things, the underlings in question would quickly have become eunuchs.

My hair was, thankfully, uncut. I have a thing about my hair. I never cut it in my life. It is jet black and reaches past my waist. I'm proud of it, and I would kill anyone who came near my hair with scissors, let alone actually cut it.

There was a man standing nearby, looking out the window. He had dark hair and wore a ridiculous-looking orange jacket. I examined his aura, and saw a great deal of darkness swirling angrily and bitterly around a near-blinding core of light. A powerfully good man who had been grievously hurt by something. Or possibly someone.

I checked my attire - the tan trousers and waistcoat, and cream shirt I had worn when I escaped the Republic vessel. Then, I stood up and walked slowly over to the man, "Credit for your thoughts?" I asked, effecting my best innocent tone (which is incredibly convincing).

He jumped and turned to face me, "Oh, you're awake. I wasn't sure you'd make it."

"I'm resilient, I assure you." I said flatly, "So what's so fascinating out there?"

He turned back to the window, and I moved to stand next to him, "All I need is a Mandalorian Basilisk and good aim. Right there." he pointed to a silver speck in the sky, glinting in the rising sun.

"A ship?" I asked, "Why do you want to bring it down?"

"It's the Leviathan. Darth Malak, Saul Karath, and a whole host of other unnamed traitors are on that ship." he growled. The darkness around him swirling stronger, almost drawing me to him. I backed away, instead. Hatred so alluring, but that glowing good heart under it all repelled me.

"You really hate them, don't you?" I asked quietly.

"You bet I do. Traitors deserve to pay for their crimes. They destroy the worlds they once swore to protect. I- forget it, we should be focusing on the current mission, not petty vengeance. My petty vengeance will get its day eventually."

I smirked slightly, "There's a mission, now?"

"We got shot down escorting a Jedi envoy. We're on a planet under Sith quarantine. We have to find Bastila and get off this rock." he explained flatly.

Bastila. The name sent up alarms in my mind, "The Battle Meditation brat?" I asked flatly.

"Well she's not so much of a brat." he said, then though for a second and added, "Unless you're in the same room as her."

I sniggered, "The one time I met her we exchanged insults and almost came to blows."

"That bad?" he asked, grinning, "Well you're going to have to put aside your animosity for the greater good. Can you do that?"

For the greater good. I used those words as an excuse for my evil deeds up to the point I didn't need an excuse anymore, "Fine, Captain Needs-A-Shave, I'll play along for now."

He glared at me, and I grinned evilly. "Let's just get out an look for Bastila, shall we?"

"With great displeasure, Admiral Hair-Brain."

"For the record, I'm only a Commander." he muttered.

"So noted." I said, grinning viciously, "Commander Never-Owned-A-Comb."

"What are you getting at, exactly?" he growled.

I smiled too innocently, "It's how we Sith Lords ask what the hell your name is, Commander Can't-Take-A-Joke."

"Sith Lords?"

"See what I mean? Can't take a joke." I jeered.

He glared at my with deep suspicion, before saying, "Well if you want to know my name... it's Carth Onasi."

"Darth Onasi? I like it." I said brightly.

He glared, and I saw a muscle near his right eye twitch, "I said Carth."

I laughed, "I know what you said, but I couldn't resist. It rhymes too well."

"I seriously dislike you." he muttered.

"The feeling is mutual." I replied cheerfully.

He turned and stormed out of the apartment. The ensuing sound of blasters triggered my battle-response. I grabbed a nearby vibroblade and followed Onasi, to find him surrounded, three-against-one, by a Sith officer and two battle droids. A quick mental calculation told me the Sith were licking Malak's boots now, so wouldn't appreciate me, and Onasi seemed to think I was on his side for now.

Therefore, I dismembered the three Sith with my vibroblade, fairly easily.

"Nice fighting." Onasi noted.

"Would be better if I had my own sword." I muttered.

"I though that was your sword?" he asked.

"No, I looted it off a Sith soldier on the Endar Spire." I said, shrugging, "I lost my sword some time ago."

The Duros, that Onasi had apparently been trying to save from the Sith, approached us nervously, and thanked us for our assistance.

x x x

As we walked out of the elevator into the Upper City walkway, Onasi asked me, "What exactly is your name, anyway, Lady Obnoxious?"

I smiled, "Darth Revan."

"You killed the joke the first time you called yourself a Sith Lord. It's not funny anymore. Seriously, what's your name?" he asked. I always found it amusing to tell the truth as a joke. I'm amazed how many people fall for that type of cheap trick, too.

"My service records say I'm called Kira Lunari." I said flatly.

"Ah, I thought you were a lunatic. Looks like I'm right." he said brightly.

"Look who's talking." I muttered. He shot me a glare, and I smirked, "So where do you suggest we start this little mission, Onasi?"

"I heard that several escape pods crashed down in the Undercity."

"Then we should go there." I had been here before on my way to fight the Mandalorians, and I knew my way around. I turned and took two steps towards the elevator down to the Lower City, before Onasi stopped me.

"The Undercity is a dangerous place. We can't go in unprepared." he said, his hand on my shoulder to stop me. It would be so easy to remove the offending hand from his wrist... but then he wouldn't be able to shoot things for me.

So I chose instead to smack his hand away sharply, "I can handle it, I assure you." I said acidly.

"Fine, but don't complain to me when you get captured by swoop gangs and sold into slavery. Or worse, you run afoul of one of the Undercity mutants."

"Who says I'm going alone, Commander Cowardly." I snapped.

"Oh, you're insulting my pride, now. My hair I can let you get away with, but-"

"Just prove me wrong, then." I said pointedly. I win that round.

x x x

The Sith guard was easy. I told Onasi we would wait for the guard to fall asleep, reasoning that his job was so dull it's bound to happen. Then I surreptitiously used the Force to plant boredom and drowsiness in the guard's mind. It didn't take long for the guard to be fast asleep.

We slipped past him unnoticed, and into the Lower City. My vibroblade made short work of the thugs that we passed, and I pulled the same stunt on the guard to the Undercity elevator.

Soon we were in the Outcast village. I had never sunk to these levels when I had visited, and while I was aware of the rakghouls, I had never encountered one. As we stepped off the elevator, two beggars demanded we pay a toll for using the elevator. I took out my vibroblade, and waved it at them. They ran.

"Are you going to settle everything with violence?" Onasi asked me acidly, as we walked through the village. The place was sickening, and I considered it would be a mercy to slaughter the lot of them rather than let them live in this squalor. Of course, mercy is weakness, so let them rot here.

"It's the only thing some people understand. Show me someone down here who's willing to negotiate with us and I'll be happy enough to do so." I said flatly.

"Well maybe we should ask some of these people if they've seen the escape pods. They do live down here-"

"If you call that living." I noted.

"-so I'm sure they would know where the pods crashed." he finished, glaring at me.

I sighed, "You have a point. Never let it be said I ignore logical advice when it's given me." I thought about that for a second, then added, "Unless I can pick gaping holes in the logic... which I can't in this case."

"Right." Onasi said, scowling.

I walked over to the nearest Outcast - an old man. Age usually brings knowledge with it. "Hello. Can you help us?" I asked politely.

"You - you come from the world above! Is this the time of destiny, then?" he asked, eyeing me cautiously, "Is this a portent of the salvation of my people? Or merely another false sign to mislead us from the path? Are you the herald of prophecy? The beacon to guide us through the darkness? Or are you merely another harbinger of shattered dreams and unfulfilled promises? Speak to me, up-worlder! Tell me what fate you unleash upon us - salvation or damnation! Speak, up-worlder - I beg you!"

"You beg, hmm? What do you want? I'm listening." I said, smiling a shark's smile. I like someone who knows how to grovel well.

"My apprentice is... lost." he said sadly. "I sent her out into the Undercity to find... well, I cannot tell you. Not yet. Sadly, my apprentice has not returned. Please, up-worlder - will you help an old man? Will you seek out my apprentice in the Undercity? Her name is Malya. I must know of her fate, whatever it may be. I must know what she... found."

"Right." I said flatly, "I don't have time for your foolish prophecies. I assure you I've already given out a fair share of shattered dreams and unfulfilled promises. But if I happen to see your apprentice, I'll tell you."

I turned and stalked away from the old man before he could reply to that. Onasi rushed to keep up, "What did you mean by that?"

"If you can't figure it out for yourself, you don't deserve to know." I said acidly. If he's fool enough to ignore the fact that I literally told him my name, who am I to correct him? He glared at me, but didn't talk back.

The next Outcast we found was more helpful. He told us the direction to find two of the crashed escape pods, and I set off for the gate out of the village.

x x x

As we approached the gate, I heard a woman's voice shrieking, "Hurry, Hendar, hurry! I can hear it coming!"

An older man retorted, "He'll never make it. He's doomed. Argh! I told him he was a fool to leave the village."

"He WILL make it! Run, Hendar! Run!" the woman shouted.

I walked over to the gates to see a young man racing towards them, glancing fearfully over his shoulder, "Open the gate! Quickly! There isn't much time!"

"Ugh... I... I can't... the rakghouls are too close!" the older man said edgily.

"The mutants will kill him if you don't open the gate!" the woman snapped.

"And if I open the gate they will kill us all!" the old man snapped right back at her.

"No! You can't do this! It isn't fair!" the woman cried. She turned to me and grovelled well, "Please, make him open the gate. Hendar will die if he doesn't!"

"I can't open the gate... not while the rakghouls are so near." the older man retorted.

I looked out through the gate, and saw a hideous beast - more ugly than a Terentatek, though only human-sized - loping out of the shadows towards the man. It was void - no aura, no life. An abomination, even by my standards. I took an instant dislike to the species as a whole. "I'll kill it for you." I said flatly. Not out of any kindness to the fool who went out there, but out of a desire to kill the creature. Besides, if she's eager enough to grovel to a stranger for his life, she's sure to be grateful. Owning people through gratitude, debt and honour, however pathetic the people are, is always worth my time.

"You would risk your life for a stranger? Heh. You are brave, up-worlder." the older man said, "I will open the gate for you, but you've got be quick. In a few seconds I must close and lock it again."

Onasi gave me an odd look, "And here I thought you were heartless."

I grinned cruelly, "Who says I'm not. I just want to rip that beast's heart out, too."

"Delightful." he said flatly.

The gate opened and both of us stepped outside. Onasi barely levelled his blaster at the beast before I had kept true to my word and removed its rotten heart with my vibroblade.

The younger man - Hendar - ran into the village, while I knelt next to the monster. Examined its corpse. "These rakghouls..." I said quietly, "They're mutants... used to be human?"

"That's right." Onasi said, standing over me. I picked a torn piece of fabric from around the beast's putrefied neck, and showed it to Onasi. It was a Republic uniform collar, with lieutenant's pips on it.

He winced, "I don't know which is worse. If that was an officer, or if it killed one to get that."

"It was fastened around its neck." I said flatly. Onasi shuddered, and looked at the corpse with an expression of mingled horror and disgust. "I am a cold-hearted individual with a healthy taste for vengeance." I said, "But I wouldn't wish that-" I pointed to the rakghoul, "-on anyone." I shuddered slightly, and stood up, rubbing my arms as if suddenly cold. The idea of turning into such a beast, a venomous killer, it scared me. At least as a Sith I had some control over myself, I knew exactly what I was doing. Those... rakghouls... they're nothing but animals. Beneath animals, even, because at least animals have a readable aura.

"Neither would I." he looked at me with an expression of surprise, "Who do you have a vengeance against?"

"Personal grudge against Malak himself." I said, smirking darkly.

"You've met him?"

"Once or twice." I said flatly, "Who's your vengeance wish for?"

"Saul Karath."

"So that's why you mentioned him specifically." I said distantly, "Interesting. Tell me more about yourself, Onasi." I said out of idle curiosity.

"Me?" he asked, surprised that I cared. "Well, I've been a star-pilot for the Republic for years. I've seen more than my share of wars... I fought in the Mandalorian Wars before all this started."

I nodded, "Who hasn't?"

He raised an eyebrow at that, but continued to speak, "But with all that, I've never experienced anything like the slaughter these Sith animals can unleash. Not even the Mandalorians were that senseless."

"Animals?" I asked distantly, "If you want an animal, look at that." I waved at the rakghoul's corpse, "The Sith are not senseless. There is a logic behind their actions. A perverse and twisted logic to be sure, but a logic all the same."

He glared at me, "My home world was one of the first planets to fall to Malak's fleet." he said acidly, "The Sith bombed it into submission, and there wasn't a damn thing our Republic forces could do to stop them!"

"So that's your vengeance?" I asked, "Your home. I can understand." I frowned slightly. The artificial memories the Jedi gave me included the little detail that Kira's homeworld was one of those the Sith destroyed. In truth, my own home was destroyed by Mandalorians, while the Jedi kept me penned up and refused to let me defend my world. "Perhaps we should talk about this later. This is not a safe place to be standing around chatting, is it?"

"Indeed it isn't." he agreed.

x x x

We found the first escape pod empty. Footprints, a scuffle on the ground, but only clawed-tracks leading away. Rakghouls, possibly even the one I killed at the gate.

I rooted through the wreckage, but the only thing I found was a dented but still functional datapad, "This familiar?" I asked Onasi, showing him what I had found.

He took the datapad and read it, "It's a private journal. Lieutenant Terrex." he shook his head, scowling, "I met him once."

"What's the betting he was the rakghoul we met?" I asked distantly, a look of disgust crossing my face.

"I don't want to think about that." he muttered.

"What would you rather think about? Dying down here, or living down here?" I hissed. He shot me a glare. "On the bright side, if it was him at least I put him out of his misery."

"You really are heartless." he growled.

"I'm not. I'm just practical." I sighed and climbed up on top of the wreaked pod, scanning the area. In one direction, I saw a group of rakghouls swarming around what I could only assume was carrion. In another direction, I saw the other escape pod, and what looked like humans around it. "Over there." I said, jumping down, and jogging across the Undercity to the second pod.

I got there in time to see a group of mercenaries leaving the area. One of them spotted me and panicked, "Don't... don't move! I'm... I'm not afraid to use this blaster if I have to!"

"Settle down, kid." the clear leader of the group of mercs said, stepping forward, "We've already lost enough men to those damn rakghouls! The last thing we need now is more casualties from a needless firefight." he then sized me up, and I couldn't shake the feeling those steel grey eyes and that beautifully dark aura were familiar. "Hm... by looks of you I'd say you're down here for the same reason we are: to salvage something from those downed Republic space pods. Let me give you some advice: forget about it. Do yourself a favour and just head back the way you came."

"Why? You already looted it?" I asked.

He snorted, "Davik sent me down here with this motley crew to scavenge whatever we could from those Republic escape pods. But the Lower City gangs got here first. Anything worthwhile in those Republic pods is probably in their hands now. Davik won't like that."

"Which gangs?" I asked.

"Most likely the Black Vulkars. They're the ones who've been disrespecting Davik's rule recently." he explained.

"Any idea what they found?" I asked.

"If I knew what was there to be found, I'd have taken it myself." he retorted coldly.

"What about survivors?"

"Here? You're joking. Take a look around, you might find a survivor or two trying to claw your arms off."

"Already have done." I said flatly, "Seriously, though, I'm looking for a snot-nosed little girl who was on that ship."

"A girl?" he snorted again, "If the Vulkars found anything like that you'd find it on the slave-markets."

"Charming people, these Vulkars." Onasi muttered sarcastically.

"Canderous, I heard something!" one of the mercs said to their leader, sounding panicked, "Over there, in the shadows! Sounded like a rakghoul!"

True enough, four of the beasts loped into view and charged at the mercs, "Looks like we've got company! Get those blasters ready, boys!" the lead merc - Canderous - said, charging a repeating blaster that looked like it might have been able to take down the Leviathan if he aimed it right.

Onasi levelled his blasters at the rakghouls and started firing. One of the rakghouls took out a random mercenary, before I charged into the middle of the group of beasts, then ducked and spun to take out their feet - all four of them. One almost clawed me, but it lost its arm for the attempt. The four rakghouls didn't stand a chance against that firepower, let alone a Sith swordswoman.

When I stood up and surveyed the carnage I had created, I smirked. That was exhilarating, the thrill of the fight. But it still bothered me that I had sensed no life from the rakghouls. Nor had I sensed them join the Force as I did when I killed human enemies. Though that is probably for the best - the Dark Side doesn't need that sort of filth cluttering up the Force.

"These three were outcasts." I said flatly, "Oh... that one has a tattered black, red and orange shirt." I glanced at Canderous, "What was that?"

"A Black Vulkar. Good, serves them right." he said flatly.

I scowled at that thought. "Right." I said in a tone that made it clear I didn't agree with him.

Seeing I didn't want to talk anymore, Canderous decided it was time to move on, "I told Davik this salvage mission was a bad idea! His men aren't trained for this kind of thing, and I can't babysit them all! Okay, boys... we're getting out of here before I lose anyone else. I can't carry all this salvage back by myself!" he glanced at me warily, "You'd be smart to get out of here as well. Even if you can handle the rakghouls I doubt there's anything worth finding anymore."

"I think you're right. I'm going to see about negotiating with the Vulkars." I said, sheathing my vibroblade.

Canderous literally laughed at me, "Good luck trying. Don't expect me to show up at your funeral."

"Thank you so much for that vote of confidence, Canderous." I said snidely.

He shook his head, "Come on boys... let's move out!" he led the group of mercenaries away from us, towards the village.

"Nice guy." Onasi said sarcastically.

"He seems familiar, but I can't for the life of me remember where I saw him." I said distantly.

"You said you fought in the Mandalorian wars..."

"Well, my exact wording was asking who hadn't."

"You implied it, then." he said coldly.

"Yes, I did."

"He's a Mandalorian. Can you do the math from there?"

"Funny, Onasi. Really funny." I said acidly, "And how did you know he's a Mandalorian?"

"Are you blind or something?" he asked, smirking, "Did you not see the clan tattoo on his arm?"

I tilted my head to one side, "And which clan is he?"

"How the hell should I know? I just recognised the tattoo. I can't read it." Onasi snapped. As we talked, we walked further into the Undercity. I wanted to check out the second pod for myself before I went to the Vulkars. Onasi followed me closely.

"Well what was the symbol?" I asked.

"It looked like the symbol on it was a snake."

"Emphasis on the eyes?"

"Yeah." he said, nodding.

"Ordo. Favourite weapon: Basilisk droids. Guess why their symbol's a snake." I said, grinning.

"Right. I get it. How the hell do you know that?"

"I researched Mandalorian culture before the wars." I said distantly. We reached the pod, and I searched it. When I turned upside-down and rooted right in under the chair, I found a very valuable piece of salvage, "This was Bastila's escape pod alright." I said, dragging myself out from under the seat and holding up a lightsaber for Onasi to see.

"Why would she leave that behind?" he asked, stunned.

"Perhaps she was unconscious... or just dropped it." I said, grinning. I ignited the blade and looked at it. Yellow. A Sentinel... unless she just likes the colour, but so few good Jedi are that finicky. Wouldn't put it past her, though.

"Careful with that. Only Jedi can use those things without taking off their own arm." Onasi warned me.

"Or jaw." I muttered.

"Funny." he said sarcastically.

"I thought so." I deactivated the lightsaber.

The sound of padded feet on the dirt ground alerted me before the rakghoul came into sight. Onasi noticed it too, and we were ready when it came at us. I ignited one end of the lightsaber and waved it in the rakghoul's direction. The creature seemed to have the sense to be afraid, and backed off.

"I thought I told you to be careful - only a Jedi can use those." Onasi snapped.

"I wasn't fighting with it - I was waving the pretty coloured light at the rakghoul to scare it away. Scary monster no like fire. There's a slight difference." I said acidly.

Onasi glared at me. I grinned and deactivated the lightsaber again. I pocketed it and set off towards the village.

On the way, I found a corpse, and stopped to examine it. I found a diary, which said it belonged to a woman named Malya. That crazy old coot's apprentice. Well I did say I'd tell him if I saw her. And we were going through the village again.

x x x

"Greetings once more, up-worlder." the old man said as we approached him, "Do you bring news of my apprentice? Have you discovered her fate, and proved yourself to be a true saviour of my people?"

I sighed - the tone in his voice really annoyed me, for some reason. "She's dead." I said flatly, "I found her journal on her body."

"It is as I feared, then." he said, shaking his head sadly, "She joins the list of those who have given their lives in the service of our cause. But though I am saddened by this news, there is yet hope. By finding my apprentice you have proved yourself worthy, up-worlder. You are to be the beacon on our path to salvation. You will guide us to the Promised Land!"

"Whoa, wait a second. I'm no beacon of salvation, I assure you." I said, holding up my hands.

"You are marked, up-worlder - even my dim old eyes can see the mantle of destiny that cloaks you."

"Yeah, and I know what my destiny is, thank you very much. It has nothing to do with your Promised Land, or this Force-damned planet, either, for that matter." I snapped. Carth gave me an odd look for that.

"I offer you wisdom and you turn me away?" the old man asked, "Perhaps you are not ready to accept the role you must play in the destiny and salvation of my people."

My eyes narrowed, "Is that a challenge?" I growled, "I'll listen to you if you really want me to, but don't expect anything good to come of it."

The old man smiled. He wins this round, clearly, "The great city of Taris covers the entire surface of this planet. There is no land to grow food. Kelp harvests and the creatures of the sea are our only food source. A century ago rising levels of toxic pollution poisoned the oceans and famine swept the planet. The rich hoarded food for their own use, and the poor were left to starve and die. But the poor rose up against this tyranny and civil war engulfed the planet. Millions died in the fighting and huge sections of Taris were destroyed or abandoned. The rebellion was crushed in the end, thousands were taken prisoner. The jails could not hold them all, and so the practice of banishing all prisoners to the Undercity was born."

"And what has this to do with me?" I asked impatiently.

"Many brave men and women were banished here to the Undercity for their part in the rebellion." he explained, "People like my father and grandfather were cast down, along with their families. Now we live a dark existence beneath the streets of Taris, a life devoid of all hope but one: the Promised Land. And you will be the one to show us the way to get there."

"I sincerely doubt that." I muttered.

Onasi shot me a glare, and asked - more out of courtesy, it seemed, rather than real interest, "What is this Promised Land?"

"Legends tell of a self-sufficient colony founded just before the famine and lost during the civil war; a paradise beneath the Undercity where droid servants tend to every need." the old man told him, "For many years I searched for the Promised Land, just as my grandfather and father did before me. When I became old and grey my apprentice continued the search on my behalf. I have collected many clues hinting at its location; the journal of my apprentice provides yet more information. But still there are too many pieces missing from this puzzle. But I know my father and grandfather each had journals where they recorded their own discoveries. Perhaps with their journals I could at last uncover its hidden location."

I rolled my eyes, "I don't have time to go on a treasure-hunt for an imaginary paradise."

"Please, up-worlder - I am too old to search for the missing journals myself, and the other villagers think the Promised Land is nothing but a myth." the old man begged.

"I tend to agree with them." I said acidly.

"I see." the old man sighed, dejected, "Well, perhaps you are not the saviour I seek after all. I can only pray that if you find the journals you will have a change of heart and bring them to me."

"Yuhuh." I turned and wandered off.

"Must you be so rude to people?" Onasi snapped as we ascended in the elevator.

"If I think they deserve it, yes." I said calmly.

"What did he do to deserve it?"

"He's an insane old coot, ranting about a mythical dream of something that he thinks will save his people." I then remembered that I wasn't far off insane, ranting about the Star Forge to Malak. People thought that was a myth. I thought it would save us.

I realised I must have been miles away when Onasi waved a hand in front of my face.

I jumped, "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye out if we have to go back down there. But I'm not going out of my way for him."

"You never cease to confuse me, you know that?" Onasi asked.

"I know it. I'm proud of my ability to do that to most anyone." I said, grinning. Even the Jedi Masters never knew what to think of me.

x x x

We made our way into the Lower City cantina. It was a dive if ever I've seen one. Onasi kept close to me, and the way his aura seemed to wrap around me indicated he was trying to protect me. I didn't really mind it because the aura around me seethed with distaste and revulsion - he was loath to be in this seedy bar, and I could literally feel it.

"Much as I appreciate that you want to protect the damsel in distress, Onasi." I said quietly, "If I'm going to locate and sweet-talk a Black Vulkar, they're not likely to be all that enamoured with you looming over my shoulder. I assure you I can take care of myself."

He glared at me, "I never considered you a 'damsel in distress'. But all right. I'll back off. Let's see if you can solve our problems without violence, shall we?"

"Is that a challenge, Onasi?" I asked, grinning.

"Yes, it is." he said, smirking.

I turned and walked towards the bar. There was a green Twi'lek man there in a black, red and orange jumpsuit. Black Vulkar colours, if Canderous of Ordo is to be believed.

I sat next to the Vulkar, and caught the bartender's attention, "Whatever's cheapest." I ordered.

The bartender presented me with an amber coloured drink that at least couldn't be Tarisian ale, for two reasons; Tarisian ale costs a shitload of money, and it's colourless. "Five credits." I tossed a five-credit chip at the bartender and sampled the drink he had given me. Not bad, considering you get what you pay for. At least it didn't taste like one would imagine Rancour urine to taste like.

I wrapped the Force around me, a sort of glamour spell, to make me unmissable, and just sat there sipping my drink. It didn't take long for the green Twi'lek noticed me, [What is a pretty human like you doing in a dump like this?] he asked in Twi'leki.

[Looking for someone.] I glanced up at him.

He smiled slightly, [Anyone in particular?]

[Well, actually... I was interested in doing business with the Black Vulkars. But I'm new here. You wouldn't happen to know where I could find one?] I asked innocently.

[I could arrange for you to meet Brejik. For a price.] he said, clearly eyeing me up.

[Hmmm.] I looked at my drink as if examining it carefully, [And who is Brejik, exactly?]

[Brejik is the leader of the Vulkar gang. I am his lieutenant.] the Twi'lek said, shifting his seat closer to me.

[And exactly how important are you in the Vulkars?] I asked, not looking at him but sensing his aura. Very dark, especially at the core. But something in him felt sleazy and vile... rotten. That repulsed me more than the light in Onasi.

[I am Brejik's right hand man. I know almost everything he knows.] he wrapped an arm around my shoulders and ran a hand down my arm. It took all my self-control not to shudder with disgust at the touch.

[What if I said I were in the market for buying a slave from you? I hear you have a special one available.] I said, keeping my voice level.

[That depends on how you define special. You aren't one of those Sith undercover operatives, are you?] he asked.

[No, I am not working for the Sith.] I said, choosing my words carefully so as not to deny being a Sith. [But I do believe a Republic officer could buy me quite a few favours with the right people. Not to mention, from what I have seen of her she is most attractive.]

That startled him, [You wish to purchase her for... personal use?]

[You could say that.] technically true. I wished to personally use her Battle Meditation, but best not to tell him that. [How much do you want for her?]

[She is incredibly valuable, as I am sure you are aware.] the Vulkar said, seemingly not deterred by my - quite deliberate, if entirely false - insinuation that I wasn't interested in males.

[How much?] I asked flatly.

[Well, that would be for Brejik to decide, but I would certainly think she is worth - at the very least - twenty thousand credits.] he said calmly, [Though as I said, you would have to speak to Brejik about it.]

I turned to look at him, letting my eyes lose focus slightly, letting the Force back up my words, [Why don't you arrange for me to meet with Brejik to negotiate for the woman?]

His eyes, in turn, also lost focus as he responded, [I could arrange for you to meet Brejik tomorrow evening.]

I smiled, [Thank you...] I hesitated with the clear insinuation that I was asking his name.

[My name is Kandon.]

[Thank you, Kandon.] I said, smiling. I stood up and made my way quickly to the exit.

x x x

Onasi met me outside the bar, "Well...?"

"We meet the Vulkar leader to negotiate, tomorrow night. I need a shower. And we need a lot of money." I said flatly, stalking towards the elevator back to the Upper City.

"What do you mean, you need a shower?" Onasi demanded, following me, "What happened?"

"The Vulkar I found was a slimy creep and his very presence made me feel dirty." I said honestly.

"And why do we need money?" he persisted.

"To buy back Bastila." I said flatly.

"And how do you propose we get the money to buy someone on the slave-market?" he asked.

"Hmmm... I don't really know. I was thinking the Upper City may have some rich fools who could be parted from their money." I said calmly.

"What, you're planning to rob someone?" Onasi asked, clearly horrified.

"I prefer the term confidence trick." I said, smirking, "I'm good at them."

"Uh huh."

"Pick a Tarisian landmark." I said, grinning.

"You are kidding." he said flatly.

"No, I assure you I am not."

"Ok... how about the Luxar Bridge?" he asked.

"Is it expensive?"

He gave me a really odd look for that, "If it were sellable, I'd guess a couple of million, why?"

"So a stupid person looking to buy it would be happy to get it for half a million." I muttered, "Now we just need a gullible idiot."

We stepped off the elevator and I was immediately confronted by a shouting voice nearby, "The evil walks among us! The enemy is here! We must act now before we are overrun with the vermin invaders!"

"Bingo." I wandered over to the street preacher, to find several nobles gathered around listening. The man himself didn't look particularly rich, but one noble practically oozed wealth from his aura. I stood near him, and listened to the street preacher, purely out of morbid curiosity.

"Friends and fellow humans - I bring you a warning!" the man shouted, "A warning of a great plague spreading across our planet! Please, listen to me! My name is Gorton Colu." he spotted me and focused on me, "Will you join my cause? We must band together if we are to stop the spread of vermin and scum throughout Taris!"

"Which vermin might that be?" I asked innocently.

"I am speaking of the hideous looking aliens who walk the world of Taris! The Wookiees and Ithorians and Rodians and Bith - all of them! Listen, friend, for these are dark times. That is why I, Gorton Colu, have formed the Anti-Alien League. The time has come for action! We cannot sit idly by while aliens blight our glorious planet!"

"Aliens? These are your phantom vermin?!" I asked, bristling at the idea. I had many hatreds, and one of them was this particular brand of human, "If anything here is vermin, it's you. Humanity itself is a weak and vile thing, and at least some of us recognise it and strive to better ourselves. Delude yourself into thinking you are better than those you cannot hope to compare with and you will only get yourself killed! Believe me, there are races far more powerful, far greater than humans, and even you would be awed to witness their presence, worm!"

"Uh, Kira." Onasi grabbed my arm, "You're making a scene."

"As I damned well should!" I shouted, shoving Onasi away from me, "The Sith should have shot this man the moment he opened his mouth to spout his liable against non-human species. I know if I was in charge of them, they bloody would have." I snarled at the man, using the only truly inconspicuous Force power I had at my disposal - fear. The man cringed away from me.

Random nearby Sith were noticing the scene. To say I was enraged would be an understatement. The man was generalising everything that wasn't human, and there is one race that is so much more, so much better. The Sith'ari are transcendent, beyond perfection, and to group them in a supposedly inferior category was a grievous mistake on this man's part.

"Seriously, old fool." I continued to snarl, "Do you think you are better than all non-human species?"

"Y-yes. Yes I do." he said, amazingly standing tall in spite of the projected fear, "Humanity is the superior and only deserving species."

"Oh you have a lot to learn, you little piece of Rancour dung!" I snarled. I wanted to choke him. Wanted to throw lightening at him. Wanted to squeeze the life out of this pathetic little core-rat. But I couldn't afford to blow my cover. Onasi would turn on me and the Sith nearby were on Malak's side - I couldn't fight them all off. "Let's start with the list of species that are better than you. I can think of one for a start - rakghouls."

The man glared at me, "You are like all the rest! You will not see the truth! On the day of reckoning you will suffer with the rest of the alien lovers!"

"When the day of reckoning comes, old man, I will see you burn, and I will laugh as you scream for mercy!" I snarled, then turned on my heel and stormed off, projecting enough anger around me that even the Sith gave me a wide berth. Onasi quickly followed me.

x x x

"So much for our little con-artist plan." I muttered. Onasi and I were sitting in the apartment, and I was trying to think of a way to scrape together the money to buy the Jedi brat from Brejik.

"You mean YOUR con-artist plan." Onasi replied, "I still say we shoot Brejik when we go to meet him, and that's that."

"I guess we could try that." I said, frowning. It would be messy, but it could work.

"You got a better idea, your evilness?" he asked. The sarcasm in the title made me smirk.

"You think I'm evil?" I asked innocently, "I'm flattered."

"Well your little display with that bigoted street preacher was frightening." he noted.

"You ain't seen nothing yet." I said brightly.

"Now you are scaring me." he muttered.

"Oh, be afraid, Carth Onasi. Be very afraid." I said, smirking. I wasn't trying to be evil or scary at the moment. I found it refreshing to talk to someone without them cowering in fear, for a change.

He smiled at me, "Are you always like this?"

"Actually, I used to be a sweet adorable little girl, if you must know." I said flatly, "But I grew up fast once the Mandalorians hit. To put it in Jedi terms, the dark side holds sway when something pisses you off."

He laughed, "Jedi don't talk like that, I'm sure."

"No, they don't. But the 'dark side' tripe is all theirs." I noted.

"'Tripe'?" he asked.

"They're afraid to feel. Don't you find the very idea sickening? Cold and emotionless." I shivered slightly.

"As opposed to passionate and heartless, like the Sith?" he countered.

"I am not heartless!" I snapped.

He raised an eyebrow at me, "Two points. First: you could have fooled me. And second: I never called you a Sith."

"I called myself one, the first time we met, though. You do remember that, don't you?" I asked innocently.

"And I also remember you said you were joking." he said coldly.

"Ok... whatever." I muttered. "I have a few questions for you."

"I'm all ears, beautiful." he replied, grinning.

I raised an eyebrow at that, "I like the sound of that." I said, smiling.

"Which? The fact that I'm all ears or the beautiful part?" he asked.

"The beautiful part. Keep calling me that." I said smugly.

He smirked, "I might consider it. What are you going to call me, in exchange?"

"How about my personal slave?" I suggested.

He laughed, "I don't think so. How about you call me 'the most handsome pilot in the galaxy'? What do you think?"

"I think I'm going to be ill." I said flatly.

"Well, then, I guess 'gorgeous' will have to do then, won't it?"

"In your dreams, Onasi."

He gave me a brief smile that made me wonder if he'd taken that suggestion literally. Then he said, "Kidding aside, I bet you're not about to give up on those questions of yours. Are they really necessary?"

"No. If you want to keep your problems to yourself, that's your business." I said flatly, "I'm just curious."

"It's late. Maybe we should get some sleep and talk some other time?"

"Nice excuse." I muttered sarcastically. But he was right. It had been a very long day.

x x x

I spent the next day modifying my vibroblade while Onasi went out to find food and supplies. There was a small stall near our apartment, but we both decided it was worth the walk to get supplies at the marginally cheaper store near the cantina.

That evening, we went down into the Lower City again, and Kandon met us as we stepped off the elevator. [Who is this?] he asked, eyeing Onasi with suspicion that Onasi was only too happy to return in kind.

[He is my bodyguard, Kandon. Never worry about him.] there was only a slight hint of the Force in my words. Not enough to be noticeable to Onasi.

Kandon nodded and beckoned for me to follow him. I was led into a run down apartment, and the door slammed behind me, locking Onasi out of the room. [I regret to inform you that we will not be selling that particular slave to you, human.]

I instantly reached out with the Force and sensed the room out. A dozen Vulkars surrounded me, under stealth fields. [I suggest you reconsider, Kandon.]

[You will either be added to our slave collection, or you will die here.] he said calmly.

I growled, "You picked the wrong person to piss off, Kandon." I tapped into the dark side of the Force, and summoned strength from it. Kandon took a step back from me, with fear, and gave the signal to the cloaked Vulkars, who attacked simultaneously, with vibroblades and blasters.

I drew Bastila's lightsaber and deflected the blaster bolts at the Vulkars stupid enough to shoot at me, then blocked one overhead swing of a vibroblade and kicked another Vulkar in the groin. Then, while they were all reeling from that, I held up my left hand and sent flashes of lightening throughout the room, electrocuting everyone around me.

I felt eight of them become one with the Force, and quickly turned on the surviving Vulkars, running them through with the lightsaber before they could respond. It didn't take long for Kandon to be the only survivor. "No one screws me over, Kandon. I want that Jedi."

[Vulkars do not deal with Sith.] Kandon said, though his voice was weak and fearful. The edges of his aura were lightening. Seems he wasn't such a bad person after all. I disliked him even more, for that weakness.

I tilted my head to one side, in feigned innocence, "I will have that Jedi if I have to slaughter every Vulkar on the planet to get her. I assure you. It would be simpler if you would sell her to me, then no more blood need be spilled."

Kandon shook his head fearfully, [Please, I beg you. Don't hurt me. I only did as Brejik told me to. I have no authority to sell her to you.]

"Then take me to Brejik!" I snarled.

[I can't! Brejik will kill me if I let you in!] he whined.

"Who do you think is more skilled in the art of painful deaths, Kandon?" I asked, "Brejik... or Revan?"

[R-Revan? But Darth Revan is long dead!] he said, eyes widening.

"Rumours of my death have been greatly overstated." I said calmly.

[Oh crap.]

"Now take me to Brejik." I snarled.

He bowed his head, and stared at the floor, "I can't." he whispered in Basic. Then in his own language he added, [I beg you... do not make me suffer.]

[This is the greatest show of mercy you could ever see from a Sith.] I whispered in his own language. Then I beheaded him with the lightsaber, killing him cleanly. I felt him join the Force, and even a faint thanks in the back of my mind before his body even hit the ground.

I deactivated and pocketed the lightsaber. Then I set about the arduous task of slicing open the sealed doors.

x x x

By the time I got the doors open, the dark side energies in me had faded and the rush had gone. I felt tired and craved more.

"What the hell happened in there?" Onasi demanded.

"It was an ambush. I killed them. We need a new plan." I said, stalking away quickly before Onasi could examine the aftermath of the fight. He followed me.

"Any ideas where to start?" he asked coldly.

I shrugged, "The cantina's as good a place as any."

"If you like that sort of place..." he muttered.

"I don't." I said flatly, "But I believe it would be a good source of information, if we find the right people."

"Uh huh."

We got to the bar and sat down at a table out of the way, "What we need is someone to help us. Aside from anything else, I want to get bloody vengeance on the leader of the Vulkars for standing me up like that." I noted.

"Um... 'scuse me for listening in." a young female voice said quietly. I glanced up to see a blue Twi'lek girl standing there. Her aura radiated near blinding light and innocence. Even tempered with experience, it was still too bright. I was nauseated to be near such goodness, "But I couldn't help hearing you don't like the Vulkars. I'm Mission Vao-"

"Go away, kid." I snapped, interrupting her. Onasi actually kicked me under the table for that. I shot him a withering glare for it.

"I ain't no kid, y'know!" Mission snapped at me, "You shouldn't just judge someone on first impressions!"

I snapped. The darkness and anger flooding back to me so easily after the fight with the Vulkars. I stood quickly and turned on the girl, backing her into a wall, with my hand on her throat, "You shouldn't stick your little nose into other people's business, kid." I emphasised the word kid, out of spite, "Some people are a death-sentence to piss off, as I'm sure even such a naive child like you would know." I snarled.

"Kira!" Onasi grabbed me and tried to pull me away from the girl. I shoved him away.

Mission whimpered, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything by it. I'm sorry." Fear radiated from her in waves. From such an innocent, it practically hurt. It shouldn't, but it felt like psychic acid on my skin.

I winced and loosened my grip on her throat. Logic found its way into my mind and I remembered that she had asked about my not liking the Vulkars, "You asked if I didn't like the Vulkars?" I said, forcing calm into my tone.

"Y-yeah." she whimpered.

I tilted my head to one side, "I'm in this bad a mood because of them. What's it to you?"

"Well... I overheard you say you needed someone to help you get revenge." Mission said quietly... timidly, "The Hidden Beks gang are at war with the Vulkars. They're nice people and they'd be happy to help you get back at the Vulkars."

I smiled and nodded. Then I let go of her and took a step back, "Thank you."

She rubbed her neck nervously, "You're welcome... I think." she muttered.

The fear in that blinding aura of hers wouldn't let me leave without an explanation. "As I said... the Vulkars have put me in a bad mood. While I am an incredibly dangerous person at the best of times, I'm not usually that irrational with my violent outbursts."

"I get it." she said, nodding and seeming to regain her confidence, "The Vulkars got everyone down here in a twist. And you're one'o those people that doesn't like being corrected, ain't ya?"

"Yes. I most definitely am."

"I'll not be rude to you again if you don't try to kill me again. Deal?" she asked hopefully.

I grinned, unable to hate this child no matter how much I wanted to, "Deal, kid."

Her right eye twitched, but she didn't snap back at me, "I've gotta go now. I promised I'd meet a friend about now."

I nodded and let the girl leave.

After Mission left, I noticed that Onasi was giving me a disgusted look. "What?" I asked.

"You almost killed that girl." he said coldly.

"Almost being the important word there." I growled.

He looked at me with an expression of mingled disbelief and disgust, now, "You don't seem to care that you did, either." he said quietly.

"Should I?"

"Yes!" now he was horrified. At me. At this conversation. "I can't believe you did that. I can't imagine anyone- no... no, I can imagine a Sith would do something like."

"Imagine all you want, Onasi." I said flatly, "I didn't actually hurt her." I took a deep calming breath, "I lost my temper and scared her a bit. That's all."

"You really need to learn to control that temper of yours." he muttered.

I glared at him, "You are not the first person to tell me that. The last one lost a limb for it."

He winced slightly, "I kind of hope that was a joke. Though if it is, I really do not like your sense of humour."

"I'll leave you to wonder if it's a joke or not." I said, smirking darkly.

"I really dislike you." he said flatly.

"Live with it." I grinned evilly, "Because if you don't, you'll not likely live long at all." he opened his mouth but I continued speaking before he could retort, "That's not a threat. Think about the shit we've landed in, neither of us is getting out alone. Even I can see that."

He sighed, "It's either work with you or wait for the Sith to catch me." he muttered bitterly, "Lesser of two evils... though not by much, you understand."

"I'm flattered." I said, smirking.

x x x

The Hidden Beks weren't exactly hidden. Their base was almost directly opposite the cantina, with a guard outside the front door. The woman looked fairly vicious, and though I wasn't afraid of her at all, she had an air of authority about her. After I explained I was looking for revenge against the Vulkars, she happily let me in to speak to their leader - Gadon.

"Hold it right there - who are you and what is your business with Gadon?" a purple Twi'lek woman demanded, blocking me almost as soon as I entered the base. She wrapped anger around herself like a shield, and practically threw venom at me mentally.

I liked this woman's aura, though the fact she was in my way was... extremely annoying. I opened my mouth to speak, but the dark-skinned human man she seemed to be protecting spoke first, "Calm down, Zaerdra. Nobody is going to try anything here in the middle of our own base. It would be a suicide mission."

"You're too trusting, Gadon." Zaerdra said coldly, "Brejik and his Vulkars want you dead. Anyone we don't know is a potential threat, and it's my job to make sure you're safe!"

Gadon glared at her, and I noticed his eyes were white as if blind... though he seemed able enough to see well enough, "Do you want us to start attacking strangers on sight, Zaerdra - like the Vulkars do? I will never let it come to that! Now step aside and let them pass."

"As you wish." she said, sulkily, "You can speak to Gadon if you want, but I've got my eye on you! You try anything and you'll be vaporized before you can say 'Vulkar spy'!"

"I'd like to see you try. I'm not an easy person to kill." I told her coldly.

"Give me a reason." she growled.

I stepped past her to the human man - Gadon. "Greetings, Gadon." I said politely.

He smiled warmly. His aura was light, though not blindingly so. Darkened by pain, but still strong and good. "You'll have to forgive Zaerdra. Ever since Brejik and the Vulkars began this war against us, she's been a little over-zealous in her security duties."

"I'm not big on forgiveness, but I'm in no position to exact bloody revenge on her. I need your help exacting bloody revenge on the Vulkars, as it is." I said brightly.

"The problems with the Sith haven't helped things." Gadon noted. Clearly he heard what I had said, but he pretended he hadn't, "Zaerdra seems to forget that I know how to look after myself! Now, how can I help you?"

"As I said. Bloody revenge... and grand larceny." I said a little too cheerfully, "The Vulkars have something I want and they tried to kill me when I tried to buy her back."

"Her?" Gadon asked, picking up on the one word. It wasn't a slip-up on my part. I wanted to see exactly how smart the man was. "The Republic officer the Vulkars captured?"

"That obvious, huh?" I asked innocently. Smart man.

"What interest do you have in her, exactly?" Gadon asked.

"Getting her off Taris before Malak's lackeys find her." I answered. Technically true.

"Good luck getting off Taris with the Sith blockade in place." he said flatly, "But I can help you regarding that Republic officer."

"That is why I'm here, really." I noted.

"She's too valuable to leave with the Vulkar scum at the base." Gadon explained, "Brejik's probably got your Republic friend hidden away somewhere safe until the big swoop race. You'll never find her."

"On what planet do you call that helpful?" I asked flatly.

Gadon smiled slightly, "Perhaps if you listened longer you would find it more useful." he suggested, amused. Clearly he was in control of this negotiation. "I'm afraid your friend has become a pawn in Brejik's game to take over the Lower City. He's offered her up as the Vulkar's share of the prize in the annual swoop gang race. By putting up such a valuable prize Brejik hopes to win the loyalty of some of the smaller gangs. Their numbers will allow him to finally destroy me and my followers. The only hope you have of rescuing Bastila is to somehow win the big season opener of the swoop race."

"It could be worse." I muttered.

"How?" Onasi asked.

"When I think of a way I'll tell you." I retorted. Then to Gadon I asked, "How do I go about entering the swoop race?"

"I might be able to help you with this, if you'd be willing to help us." Gadon offered, "We both have something to gain here - and much to lose."

"What are you proposing?" I asked.

"The swoop race is for the Lower City gangs only." he explained, "I could sponsor you as a rider for the Hidden Beks this year. If you win the race, you'll win your friend's freedom. But first you have to do something for me. My mechanics have developed an accelerator for a swoop engine. A bike with the accelerator installed can beat any other swoop out there! But the Vulkars stole the prototype from us. They plan to use it to guarantee a victory in this year's swoop race. I need you to break into their base and steal it back."

I sighed, "Do I have a choice?"

"Not really. I'm your only ticket into the swoop race." he said, smirking.

"Fine, how do I break into the Vulkar base?" I asked.

"Getting into the Vulkar base won't be easy - the front doors are locked tight. But I know someone who might be able to get you in the back way - Mission Vao." Gadon said.

"Mission?" Zaerdra demanded, "Gadon, you can't be serious! She's just a kid - how is she supposed to help them with this?"

"Mission's explored every step of every back alley in the Lower City. Plus she knows the Undercity sewers better than anyone." Gadon said, with conviction, "If anyone can get inside the Vulkar base, it's her."

"Any clue where she might be?" I asked.

"She and her Wookiee friend Zaalbar are always looking to stir up a little excitement." Gadon explained, "They like to go exploring in the Undercity, despite the dangers. Your best bet is to look for her in the Undercity. But you'll need some way past the Sith guard post at the elevator."

"We've been down there already, don't worry." I said brightly.

Gadon gave me an odd look, but then shrugged, "Very well, then. Good luck."

x x x

Down in the Undercity again, the next morning, we passed through the village uneventfully. And got three steps away from the gates before Mission appeared. She bolted out of the sewers, looked around, spotted us and ran towards us.

"Please, you have to help me! Nobody else is going to help me. Even the Beks won't help me. But I can't just leave him there - he's my friend! You'll help me, won't you?" she was addressing both of us.

I stepped towards the girl, and she took a step back. Onasi's aura behind me flared with anger and I swear he would shoot me if I made a wrong move. "What do you need help with, Mission?" I asked.

"It's my friend Zaalbar. He's in trouble - big trouble! We have to help him. If we don't they'll sell him into slavery!" she said quickly.

"Slavery? What happened?" I asked.

"Me... me and Zaalbar were just wandering around here in the Undercity. You know, looking for stuff we could find, just kind of exploring. We do it all the time." she explained, "Only this time they were waiting for us. Gamorrean slave hunters. We didn't even have a chance to run. Big Z threw himself at them, and he roared for me to run! I... I took off; I figured Zaalbar would be right behind me. But there were too many of them - he couldn't get away. They're going to sell him to a slaver - I just know it!"

"You left him behind?" Onasi asked, clearly disapproving.

"Logical thing to do." I said quietly, "Better you got away to tell someone than you both got caught. It's what I would do."

"The very fact it's what you would do makes it the wrong choice." Onasi growled.

"Excuse me, but I'm not pure evil. Damned close, but not quite." I snapped at him. I then turned back to Mission, "I'll help you find Zaalbar and you help me get into the Vulkar base. We got a deal?"

"It's a deal." she said eagerly, "As soon as we get Big Z back, I'll show you a way into that Vulkar base! Now, come on - We have to find Zaalbar before they sell him to slavers - or worse!"

I nodded, "Where would we find these slavers?"

"I don't know for sure, but those Gamorreans like to hang out in the sewers. The stink reminds them of home, I guess." she said brightly, "That's probably where they took Big Z."

I nodded, "Let's go, then." I set off towards the sewer entrance. Onasi and Mission followed me closely.

The sewers did stink. I thought the cantina was bad but this is worse. The Gammoreans weren't difficult to find. Giant pigs in the sewers may blend in with the smell, but aside from the fact they were the only auras to sense... they were giant green pigs, which isn't easy to miss. They were especially difficult to miss with blasters. They squealed like piglets when they died, too.

After I killed their leader, I sensed around for more, and spotted a lighter aura behind a sealed door. Strong, light though not blindingly so, tinged around the edges with shame and fear. I walked over to the sealed door and examined the lock. "There's something behind here, but this isn't a lock I can slice." I told Mission and Onasi.

Mission stepped towards the door, and examined the lock, "This is one of those old style manual locks. No computer codes or nothing. The sewers is the only place you'll see one of these on Taris." she said knowledgably, "You can't use conventional security spikes on these old locks, but don't worry. I've come across them before. I've rigged up a little device that should do the trick." she fiddled with the lock for a minute, then the door opened.

A Wookiee was sitting in the room, and looked up clearly ready to snarl, or possibly even attack, but then he saw Mission, [You're a sight for sore eyes, Mission.] he growled, standing up as the Twi'lek charged at him and tackled him with a hug.

"I'm glad to see you too, Big Z!" she said. Then she backed off to arm's length, wrinkling her nose, "You didn't think I'd forget about you - Mission and Zaalbar, together forever!"

[Who's that with you?] Zaalbar asked, eyeing both Onasi and myself with suspicion.

"These are my new friends, Big Z. Without them I never could have got you out." Mission said brightly.

"You call this woman a friend, huh?" Onasi asked, sniggering. I glared at him.

"I was only too happy to kill those slavers." I said flatly.

[You have saved me from a life of servitude and slavery.] Zaalbar growled, looking specifically at me, [There is only one way I can ever repay such an act: I will swear a lifedebt to you.]

"A lifedebt?" I asked, my eyes lighting up.

"Are you sure about that, Big Z? Think about it carefully. You better be sure about this." Mission said warily.

"Bad idea." Onasi said quickly, "Seriously, I don't speak Wookiee, nor do I know exactly what a lifedebt is, but swearing any sort of loyalty to her is gonna be dangerous."

"Shut up, Onasi. It's his decision." I snapped.

Onasi glared at me, "I'm just warning him."

[As your friend says.] Zaalbar said to Onasi, [It is my decision.] then to Mission he continued, [I am sure, Mission. This is an issue of great importance to me.] he turned to face me, and when he spoke I got a face-full of bad breath, [Because of our great physical strength, Wookiees are being used as slave labour on our own homeworld. They see us as brutes and animals to be exploited. Over the years slavers have taken many of my people; we must always be on guard against raids against our villages. When the Gamorreans captured me, I thought I was doomed to a life of servitude. I have been saved from such a fate, and the only way I can repay that is through a lifedebt.]

I waved my hand in front of my face, trying to breathe without smelling, to no avail, "I know Wookiees don't brush their teeth... but can you try this?" I took out a packet of breath mints and offered them to him.

Warily, Zaalbar took one, and before he put it in his mouth, Mission quickly noted, "You don't swallow breath mints, you know... let it dissolve in your mouth."

The Wookiee shot her a glare, [I know that. Though such things are a luxury on Taris, certain herbs on my homeworld can be used to similar effect.]

Mission grinned at me, "I should be swearing a lifedebt to you too, for sparing me from bad Wookiee breath. I mean, Zaalbar's a great friend and all, but his breath smells like bantha poo-doo, especially today." she turned to the Wookiee, "What did those Gammorreans feed you, buddy?"

[They didn't.] Zaalbar growled, around the mint I had given him, [I wasn't their guest, Mission. I was a prisoner. I don't think they cared much what happened to me.]

"Oh, Zaalbar, that's terrible!" Mission said, "I know how grouchy you get if you don't get your eight square meals a day. I'm amazed you didn't pass out from hunger."

[I did manage to take a chunk out of the arm of a guard that wandered too close to my cage.] Zaalbar noted, [But it tasted awful, so I spit it out.]

"Ewww! No wonder your breath is so bad, Big Z." Mission said, miming gagging and vomiting.

I laughed at the girl's antics, and she grinned at me.

Then she sobered up, "Big Z swearing a Wookiee lifedebt to you. Wow - this is major. Do you realize what this means?"

"Yeah, it's a sacred vow." I said, "If he makes a lifedebt to me, he'll be by my side for the rest of my life, fight for me, protect me, help me. It could only be broken if one of the two dies."

"Now I really think it's a bad idea." Onasi warned the Wookiee for a last time.

Zaalbar knelt so he was at eye level with me, face to face. And I was eternally grateful for the breath mint I had given him. [In the presence of you all I swear my lifedebt. Forever after I will be by your side. May my vow be as strong as the roots of the great Wroshyr trees of Kashyyyk.]

"I am honoured to accept this vow." I said solemnly. I know how much honour means to a Wookiee.

"Why don't you admit it, Kira. You just want a Wookiee slave." Onasi snarled.

I turned on Onasi so fast no one knew what happened until I had him against the wall much as I had attacked Mission when I first met her, "Show some respect for his culture, you ignorant bantha." I snarled, "Wookiees are a noble and honourable species and far too powerful to call a slave. Ever."

"What would you know about honour?" Onasi hissed, barely able to breathe past my grip on this throat.

"I know five types of honour, and I believe in elements of all but one of them."

"Five?" Mission asked, stunned.

"Jedi, Sith, Wookiee, Mandalorian, and Cathar." I said quietly.

"And which one don't you believe in?" Onasi growled.

"That is for you to figure out." I said, letting him go.

Mission grinned, "Well I guess if Zaalbar's going with you, that means you're stuck with me too. Wherever Big Z goes, I'm going. I almost lost him once - it's not going to happen again."

I sized the kid up. She had held her own against the Rakghouls, with a blaster pistol, and she seemed to have good street-smarts. I smiled slightly, "Glad to have you aboard... kid."

"Hey, I-" she suddenly remembered I didn't like to be corrected, and stopped her retort, biting her lip, "I guess I still owe you one secret path into the Vulkar base. That was the deal, wasn't it? Don't worry, I know a backdoor into that scum den!"

"Just tell me how to get there." I said flatly. While the kid was smart, I didn't want to get a weaker ally killed when I could put her intelligence to good use at a later date.

"I better come with you - the Vulkars put up a force shield to keep the sewer dwellers out." she explained, "I'm one of the only non-Vulkars on Taris who can get you past it. I can't remember exactly how to get there, but I know it was somewhere here in the sewers. Over to the northeast, if I remember right. I just hope the rancour monster isn't still there."

"Rancour?!" I said, shocked, "Oh just what I need." I muttered, sulkily.

"There used to be a rancour monster that made its nest in that part of the sewers." Mission explained, grinning at my reaction, "Pretty much eats anything it can get its claws on. That thing is huge! Luckily rancours aren't too bright. I was able to sneak past it before, so I'm sure we'll figure something out. That is, unless you want to change your mind."

"I'm not afraid of any rancour. Let's go." I said flatly. Truth be told, I'm not afraid of a rancour... unless I'm unable to use Force choke and lightening... which I happened to be unable to use today for fear of my allies turning against me.

"Okay then, off we go. Like I said, somewhere to the south-east. Just look for the force shield and we'll know we're there." she said brightly.

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