"Yes Master Vandar, a planet with acid rain." Revan finished his report on his memory. "This seems to be the place where Revan found the map that led to this 'Curse of the Rakatan'."
Vandar pursed his lips and entwined his fingers. "Hmmm, interesting. But there are so many planets with a hostile atmosphere like the one you speak of, Revan."
"Well, Bastila has an idea that could discount some." Revan glanced at his lover and motioned gently to her.
Bastila stepped forwards, as the Jedi Council members looked towards her. "Masters, we all know that a facility designed by the Rakatan will produce a strong dark side aura. The more active the facility, the greater the dark side aura. We should compile reports on the planets that match Revan's memory, with the reports of dark side sense from the various Jedi for as far back as the records allow."
Vrook shook his head. "Even with that narrowing it down, it leaves far to many planets to explore. You do not have enough time, the Sith have already moved against you!"
"But." Revan began, only to have Vandar hold up a hand.
"No, you have such little time. Perhaps it might be safer to stay here in the Enclave and await them coming to you. Strength in numbers."
"I refuse to wait for them to attack me in the Enclave. Too many innocent people are here every day, and besides," Revan glanced at Bastila, felt the fear for her safety and shook his head. "Assassins will hardly attack me in the open. All it takes is for them to get lucky once, and I or Bastila or one of my friends could die! I won't let that happen!"
"Such arrogance and anger!" Vrook snorted and Revan sighed as Bastila placed a single restraining hand on his shoulder. "So, what would you suggest?"
Revan glanced at Bastila and opened his mouth to speak, but she gasped before he could get out a single word. He glanced over, realising that she had felt his intentions through the bond.
"No!" She told him firmly, gripping his face with her hands and staring into his eyes. "I will not let you sacrifice yourself for me, or them! Not when we have other ways to fight this."
"I'm not sacrificing myself," Revan muttered defensively, knowing that she could read him like a holocube through the bond. "I was just taking the target away from innocents."
"By taking a single freighter into Sith space? What would you do when the Sith finally captured you?" Bastila fought against her rising fear and swallowed deeply. "But then, you have no intention of allowing yourself to be captured by them, do you?"
"Do not 'Bast' me Revan!" She whispered her voice full of pain. Unable to look into his eyes anymore, she turned away from him and he felt her call to him in the bond.
"You would sacrifice yourself for me, and for them, again! When will your sacrifices be enough Revan?" Revan winced, even as the Jedi council stared at the two of them patiently. "Is it not enough that you almost died trying to bring me to the light, to rectify the terrible mistake that you and Malak brought to the galaxy?"
"It's not about redemption Bastila." Revan tried, knowing how futile it was before he began. "It's about keeping you safe, them safe. I was all for trying to find and stop them before this all began, but from the looks of it, that's impossible. The least I can do, for them and for you, is to get the target away, me."
Vandar coughed politely. "What you intend... that would be foolish. What if they capture you? You would become a dark lord again, unstoppable."
"Because he has no intention of being captured Master!" Bastila's voice rose. "He intends to act as a sacrifice, and once he's got them where he wants them, he'll kill himself in some foolish last ditch enterprise!"
Vandar looked at Revan, realised that the young Jedi was silent. "Revan?"
Revan turned to Vandar and sighed. The old Master had expected him to show anger, even rage at Bastila's insight into his plan. Instead, all he could feel, all he could see, was despair.
"What else should I do? Can I do?"
Vrook snorted, but Vandar tapped is cane with thought. "I see, so you would sacrifice yourself to protect them? A noble sacrifice indeed. I asked you this once, and I do again. Would the reward be worth the cost?"
"There are a number of people who would say yes, Master. Thousands."
"And yet there is one who would feel nothing is worth that, not even her own life." Vandar murmured softly and watched as Revan hunched in defeat. "I also doubt your friends would also agree. Even the ex-Sith Master would frown on such an enterprise."
"Yuthura frowns a lot, about a great deal of things." Revan muttered. He could feel Bastila's pain, annoyance... her upset and it attacked his very core. "What else can I do?"
"I would suggest you begin searching the various matching planets." Vandar tapped his cane once more. "With the Spirit under Carth Onasi's command acting as your base. With Captain Denarra commanding its Republic troops, I think any Assassin will find it hard to reach you there."
"I suppose so." Revan managed.
"You can use the Sprit to hunt for the planet in your memory. Once you find it, we can send as many Jedi to aid you when the location of this 'curse' is found. Remember though, a Jedi is never alone, he or she has the Force as an ally."
"Revan, You really know how to wound me, my love." Bastila whispered through the bond, as Vandar assured Revan that the Force was the answer.
"I don't mean to," He whispered back. "I'm trying to find a way to keep you safe."
A sudden commotion at the entrance to the Council chamber made the Masters and two Jedi look in surprise to the open corridor.
There, standing with a Jedi Padawan under his arm, was HK47. The Padawan struggled against the metal arm securing him, but as HK was designed to defeat Jedi assassins, a gift from Revan's past self, he was finding it almost impossible. Next to him, beeping in a frightened and warning tone, was T3.
"HK! Put him down!" Revan yelled, quickly striding up to the blood red droid. "Put him down!"
"Statement: As you wish, Master." The droid dropped the Padawan, who fell to the ground with a thump. Even as Revan crouched to help him up, the droid audibly sniffed. "Discretion: I had to perform this act Master, please do not be angry with me. According to the tin ca.... the droid next to me. He has valuable and important information regarding our quest."
"That may be, but it doesn't explain why you had to manhandle a Padawan."
"That droid of yours wears the dark side like a cloak Revan!" Vrook sighed and shook his head. "This assault on one of our students is proof that he is dangerous!"
"Objection: Have I been placed in the list of those that are disallowed entry into the Council chambers?" HK asked, almost plaintively, Revan thought with a frown. "If not, then why did this Padawan bar me entry?"
"Most people wait for us to finish debating, HK47, was it not?" Vandar murmured, almost amused, much to Vrook's horror. "Still, no harm has been done to young Kyysk."
The young Padawan picked himself up off the floor and stared at the droid with suspicion. "I said it couldn't come in, but it wouldn't listen, Master's. When I stepped in front of it with my lightsabre, it walked up to me and.... grabbed the hilt."
"Objection: I do not appreciate meatbags holding offensive weapons near me, I can never tell what they may do with them. Normally, my course of action would have been to remove both the weapon and the meatbags means of using it." HK paused and his red eyes flickered. "In deference to my Masters woeful appreciation for human life, I decided to just remove the weapon."
Revan sighed, as did the entire Council. Bastila merely shook her head, too shaken by Revan's plan to muster any emotional response. Quietly, she stepped away from the Council dais, and slid against the wall. How many times would Revan try to sacrifice himself for her, for the Republic? He'd warned her against that path herself, and yet, despite this, he was trying to walk it himself.
"Both of us are damaged, the dark side has scarred us in some way." She thought privately, only faintly aware of Revan quietly scolding the red assassin bot. "While I still feel such terrible guilt, Revan feels guilt I cannot imagine. He tries to hide it from me, and he can, but it escapes occasionally. But then, knowing you were once a monster... how worse is it, not knowing, not being able to remember what it is you are guilty of? Is that why he always tries to protect me? To... atone for the damage he did. Does he... blame himself for Malak taking hold of me? What do we do? How can we find a way through this mess... What do I do, or think?"
Revan paused, fading out HK's defensive response, as he felt Bastila's sorrow chill him. He looked around, his dark eyes catching her smooth blue ones instantly. For a second, they stared at one another, the bond giving each the others emotions. Each could feel the thoughts and fears of the other, in such a depth, that words would only scratch the surface. Bastila's bone deep fear over their relationship and its problems made Revan sigh. Despite all their problems, she loved him, desperately.
"Master?" HK47 broke into Revan's thoughts and the Jedi turned to stare at the droid. "May the rust bucket explain why it has dragged me here?"
Feeling Bastila slip into place by his side, Revan stifled a sigh and nodded. "Sure, why are you here?"
The star droid extended a holoprobe and a shimmering hologram of a chemical structure appeared in the middle of the room. All the Jedi turned to look at it, and Revan shook his head.
"Detailed chemistry not being something I excel on, care to enlighten me?"
"Explanation: This is the detailed breakdown of the acidic compound that damaged the Cathar meatbag's lungs. The tin can here, downloaded this from the medical computer."
"Would you mind explaining what he was doing downloading confidential medical information?" Vrook's voice was frosty, but HK shrugged.
"Explanation: The tin can here was interested in the chemical composition of the smoke that obviously carried this acid compound into the Cathar's lungs. It seems that we may have another clue as to the location of the Brotherhood, Master."
Revan's head snapped up, and he felt Bastila tighten her grip on his arm. "Explain."
"Affirmation: Yes, Master. It would seem that the explosive used to crack the permacrete of the building is a rare composition of two elements. According to the can here, there are three locations in the galaxy that currently mine and sell these elements."
"Only three?" Bastila asked the red droid. "Are you certain?"
"Yes, Mea..." HK looked at Revan, and his eyes flickered. "Jedi Bastila. It would seem so. These elements are so rare, due to the planet composition and atmosphere needed to allow the elemental structure to form."
"Do you know the names of the planets?" Revan's eyes gleamed, for once he felt hopeful, almost eager.
"Affirmation: Yes, Master. They are Vjun, Pegarsus and Kessel."
Bastila glanced over as Jestra coughed slightly for attention. The young woman shuffled slightly and pressed a few buttons on a pad. "Only two planets can rain acid, Vjun and Kessel. Kessel is far less likely though. It is a Republic owned planet."
"What about dark side auras? Revan asked her quietly, feeling the relief flow out of Bastila. "Have we reports from any Jedi in that area?"
Jestra tapped a few commands into the memo pad she held and frowned in concentration. "Hmmm, we have two reports, both from Jedi on other missions. It seems Jedi Sjert was on a mercy mission to Pren, when he was forced to head to Vjun to avoid a Sith patrol. As he flew over the planet, he sensed a cold take him."
Bastila nodded with growing hope. "This is looking more hopeful."
"The second is one from the Master who was assigned to..." Jestra looked up in surprise. "Assigned to trainee Ban..."
"What?" Revan shook his head. "You mean that Yuthura has been to Vjun?"
"Yes, as part of a survival skills lesson." Jestra hit the pad and more text scrolled on the screen. "Vjun has nothing of use, and her Master thought it would be useful to demonstrate the hostility of some worlds. While there, they came across a depression in the acid pitted earth. It led to a sealed door, unknown design. Her Master sensed a great darkness, and he decided to report it."
"Why did no one follow up the report?" Vandar asked quietly, studying his cane. "Usually we send Jedi to locations such as that."
"Um, it was a few months after Revan began his attack as leader of the Sith, Master." Jestra shrugged. "The Council deemed it more important that all Jedi continue with their assigned tasks. But a report was placed into the Archives... I can't explain how it was not followed up."
"Satisfaction: Master, it seems that we have a target. Shall I load the Hawk with as much weaponry as possible?"
Revan glanced at the droid, a reluctant smile playing across his lips. "Maybe. I'll let you know."
Vandar glanced at the other Council members and nodded slowly. "Hmm, it would seem that you have a starting point, Revan. Yes... I think that you should begin the search at Vjun, and be careful."
Revan gripped Bastila's hand tightly and she flinched slightly in surprise. The grip was one of reassurance, not protectiveness. "Yes, Master. Safety is the first thing on my mind."
"I thought it was something else." Bastila murmured, unable to help herself. Revan glanced over, his smile fading as he took in her conflicted expression. He knew that his previous decision had only just begun to be discussed. Another problem to add to all the ones that crowded around them. "Yes... I... we will discuss this later."
Licking his lips in worry, Revan turned to Vandar and bowed slightly. "With your permission, Master?"
"A moment before you go, Revan." Vandar inspected his cane. "May I ask who you are taking with you to Vjun?"
Revan frowned and nodded slowly at the small green Jedi. "I have been, informed, by my friends that they will all be accompanying me. The only one who will not is Zaalbar, as he is on Kashykk. I intend to wait for Juhani to recover before I go. Why, Master?"
Vandar raised an eyebrow. "May I suggest Yuthura Ban?"
"Yuthura?" Revan gazed thoughtfully at him. "She needs rest, having just survived an assassination attempt. I'd prefer it if she stay here, where it's safe. Besides, she herself told me that she needed time to heal before coming with me, I don't think she's ready. Especially after her brutal mental rape at the hands of the Sith."
"On all those points, I would agree. However, she has one vital fact that you will need." Vandar sighed as Revan's eyes widened in understanding. "Yes, she was there when they felt the darkness. You will need her help to find it."
"I understand." Revan nodded, his eyes fixed on the ground for a second. "If she wishes to help me, then I'll let her come. But I'm not forcing her to!"
"No one said you had to." Vandar nodded slightly in approval. "Ask her, see if she will help. If not, we will keep her safe as best as we can while you try to stop the source."
"Yes, Masters. May I be excused, it seems I've got a lot to prepare for."
Vandar nodded and watched as Revan, Bastila and the two droids quickly exited the chambers.
"I am very worried about them." Vrook murmured in the quiet that followed. "So much emotion, from both of them. Now... I fear that their personalities are clashing. One of the very reasons why we... frown on relationships is because of the problems that come with them. Bastila and Revan have much... negotiation to do."
"They draw strength from each other," Vandar looked at Vrook quietly. "Would you try to disrupt that which the Force has created?"
"It would depend on which side."
"Maybe this was just the Force. No sides... just what is. Revan and Bastila love each other, Vrook. How would you stop them feeling that?" Vandar cocked his head slightly. "To separate them would stop them meeting physically, but the pain that it would cause would be on our heads."
"Perhaps, but the death of one could push the other to the darkness."
"Master?" Jestra quietly raised her hand. "The death of one, would lead to the death of the other sooner or later. The bond of two souls is so strong that to lose either of them is to lose the other."
"Well, then we should consider the other problem of sending Revan and his group to deal with this brotherhood." Vrook turned to Vandar. "You didn't tell him."
"No, I did not. I feel they have enough to worry about." Vandar sighed. "What good would it do to tell Revan he has someone else to guard against? What good would it do to tell him that House Terat has gone against the Senate and placed a private bounty on his head?"
"He deserves to know, Master!" Jestra muttered.
Vandar smiled weakly at her. "I know, but he is under so much stress. I will tell someone, someone I know who can keep an eye on him for us, keep him safe. In the meantime, I need you, Master Vrook, to request that the Council on Coruscant send some of their best Jedi to aid Admiral Dodonna. She has already informed me that she is trying to track down the Senator and have her remove the bounty. She'll need all the help she can get, especially as a portion of the galaxy agrees with the senator..."
"Well, there is little we can do but aid her. We promised to stay out of politics." Vrook sighed. "So much to be done, and so little time. Come, we must prepare."
Ebon Hawk, six hours later.
Revan leaned back and threw the holopad onto the table with a sigh. "Well, that's about it."
Carth toyed with his tarisian ale bottle and nodded, while Denara pursed her lips. She leaned back and shook her head. "It's a trap."
Carth nodded, appreciating the fact that Denara agreed with his own opinion. "Yup, plain and simple. You mean to tell me that any half decent assassin would use chemicals for a bomb that are so easy to trace? Tell me that with a straight face and I'll show you a Jedi doing comedy on Commonor."
"I know." Revan sighed, smiling faintly as Carth and Denara gaped at him. "Of course it's a trap, an obvious one too. Would you let Assassins carry such an easily decryptable message to their target? Sith, would you give them one at all? As you mentioned Carth, why set off a bomb, the chemicals of which paint a massive arrow in the right direction? No, of course it's a trap, one they want me to spring."
"Then why are we going?" Denara asked, only for Revan to rub a hand through his hair and look wearily at her.
"What they expect, is for me to go in alone, trying to protect my friends by sacrifice." He glanced guiltily at the corridor leading to the bunkroom that Bastila slept in. She'd shaken her head at him when they got on board and walked quietly away, but he knew their discussion wasn't over. He sighed inwardly. "With the Spirit in orbit, and you lot with me, I think we can make the trap spring backwards."
Carth nodded, slowly. "I can see that, yeah... do you think we'll find anything there?"
"Well, from the memory fragment... Whatever pointed Revan in the direction of this "Curse of the Rakatan" was inside whatever is hidden on Vjun. So, it's as good a place as any to start looking. Besides, if this is their main headquarters, we can stop them from attacking in one strike."
"The problem is numbers. Ordinary Sith troops are no problem." Denara raised a finger and both Carth and Revan turned to her. "My troops are well trained, they can keep them at bay. The problem is any dark Jedi. This is a trap, so how many will we have to face?"
"I'm not calling on your troops at first." Revan tapped a finger on the desk in thought. "My group is small enough to slip past any defence they have set up. I'll call you in once we've judged the threat."
"Stealth?" Carth looked at Revan with a sly smile. "Just like on our previous little jaunt, eh?"
"It worked before." Revan grinned faintly at Carth and suddenly yawned. "We've been working on this for six hours... lets get some rest. We can't leave for at least another day or two, Juhani and Yuthura need to be fit to travel first."
The two Republic soldiers leaned forwards in shock. Carth was the first to speak. "The Sith? She's coming with us?"
Revan gazed at him carefully, and felt the sudden ripples of distaste and anger flowing from him. "Yes. She's atoned for what she did. I'd hope you'd welcome her, as you did when you found out I was Revan."
Carth flushed, but he couldn't hold back the bitterness in his voice. "She tried to take my son away, turn him into a twisted version of himself."
"Really? Carth, have you ever thought that Yuthura had been twisted herself?" Revan placed a supporting hand on his shoulder. "She was as innocent as Dustil. Exposed to pain, suffering and horror at such a young age. So, they both ended up joining the Sith, desperate to take the pain away rather than face it. How can you blame her for that when you don't blame Dustil?"
"Why the hell not?" Carth snapped suddenly. "He's my Son! She tried to corrupt him! Why shouldn't I blame her for letting her anger corrupt him as well as her?"
"Because, you almost went that way with Saul." Revan whispered, watching as Carth winced in sudden memory. "As I, or as Lord Revan did, when he fought the Mandalorian's."
"You saved Dustil from her, from the damn Sith." Carth muttered reluctantly. "You saved him from himself."
"Then I saved Yuthura from the Sith and herself. Carth, she isn't evil. She needs compassion, love and understanding. Please, try to give her that."
"Do you trust her?" Denara asked him, making the two men jump slightly at her quiet tone. "Master Revan, would you let her guard your back in combat?"
Revan gazed at her, realised it was a simple question. She had helped him rescue Yuthura, not realising she had been a Sith at the time. Now, all she wanted was an affirmation of trust. "Yes, I would. She isn't a Sith anymore."
"Then I have no problem with her coming." Denara looked at him with curiosity. "Except, why is she coming?"
"She was with a Jedi Master, who stumbled across a possible entrance to this temple, as a Padawan. I need her help to find it."
"Ahh, Sithspit." Carth muttered, only to sigh. "Fine, fine, she'll be coming then. I'll make sure to arrange quarters for her too."
"Carth, thank you." Revan smiled at him and his friend shrugged irritably.
"Hell, you saved Dustil... and you're right, I don't blame him for giving in to his anger. I suppose you're right about Yuthura too."
"Have you talked to her? Actually sat down and talked to her?" Revan spoke quietly, evenly. "She was almost broken by them Carth. If you talk to her, I think you'd see how much pain she suffers."
"I don't want to talk to her, not yet." Carth shrugged. "It's still too tender for me to explore, sorry."
"It's not a demand or order Carth," Revan smiled faintly. "Just, when you're ready."
"Yeah, fine." Carth stood, and finished the dregs in his bottle. "Well, I've got a ship to get back too. Sorry Rev."
"No problem, I have... things to deal with too." Unable to help himself, his eyes strayed to the bunkroom and Carth glanced at Denara.
"Can I offer you a lift?"
"Thank you." Denara nodded and stood quickly, brushing her uniform down as she did so. "Revan, a pleasure as always. I look forward to being your backup."
"Thank you for coming." Revan shook her hand and Denara smiled. "I'll see you tomorrow. Admiral Onasi, shall we?"
"Carth, Denara... just Carth. Revan, see you tomorrow."
Revan watched as the two soldiers strode towards the exit ramp of the Hawk. With a sigh, he turned towards the corridor leading to the bunkroom and quietly walked towards it, and Bastila.
Jedi docking bay six.
Carth took in a deep breath of the night air and slowly let it out. Damn Yuthura Ban and the Sith. The memory of Dustil, so twisted and full of hate, remained raw. Ban had been part of that, even if Revan had managed to make her see sense. No, he couldn't forgive her for that, yet. Maybe never.
"So, Jedi Ban will be joining us on this adventure. I hope he knows what he's doing, trusting her." Denara glanced at Carth and, seeing his stiff expression, carried on. "What do you think we'll find on Vjun?"
"I dunno," Carth glanced at the woman next to him, a thought striking him at the sight of her fresh and alert face. "Look, I need a drink, to wash away some bad memories. Join me?"
"Sure." Denara smiled slightly. "You can tell me all about the missions that made Carth Onasi a war hero."
"Nothing much to tell, sister. What you see now is what you get." Carth looked over and smiled slightly. Denara had her eyebrows raised and an intrigued smile on her face. For a few seconds, he forgot about Dustil, forgot the pain. Just for tonight, he wanted to enjoy the company. "What about you? I've heard your name crop up a few times too."
"Nothing much to tell, brother. What you see is what you get." Denara turned her blue eyes on Carth and grinned. "How about two career soldiers tell how it really happened, over a few ice cold bottles of ale?"
Carth grinned back at her. "Sure, why not. Come on, the cantina at the Starport is open 27 hours."
"Lead the way fly-boy, lead the way." Denara grinned as Carth bowed slightly and then swaggered off. She coughed and, as he turned, wagged a finger. Oh, and the Admiral is paying, with his admiral's salary."
The bunkroom was dim, the lights dipped low as Revan leaned against the door jam to the room and stared at his lover. Bastila lay on her bunk, eyes closed, hair spilling on the pillow and fast asleep. With a sigh, Revan slid off the jamb and walked quietly across to her.
Sitting very gently on the bunk, he stared at her soft beautiful face, softened by the dim lights and sleep, and he sighed.
"I never thought what running off, like a Bantha towards schaf grass, would do to you. I'm sorry."
"You never do, and it hurts." Her voice murmured, making him jerk back in surprise. Her soft blue eyes slid open, filled with pain. "What is even worse? That you keep telling me not to be so foolish, to not sacrifice myself."
"Bast... I didn't think. All I wanted was to protect you." Revan felt his fingers whiten and grip the sheet gently draped over her. "When I think about what that Sith wants you for... it frightens me, frightens me to the core. I'm a Jedi, and in love, something that the code forbids. To lose you would send me to the darkness, I'm sure."
"This is not about me, or Juhani, or any of the others. It is about you, and your own sense of guilt, of the need to readdress the balance." Bastila reached out, both physically and mentally. "Understand this, I am one of the few Jedi who understand you, understand what you feel. You cannot remember what Revan, Lord Revan, did. However, it still gnaws at you, comes to you in dreams, in flashes."
"Shush, listen. The other problem still remains. You seem to automatically want to guard me against every knock, bruise, problem or danger. I'm sick of it. I can cope... I am a Jedi, I have had to look after myself and the universe for a while before we... fell in love."
"You've been able to look after yourself fine up to now?" Revan muttered quietly, and watched as her eyes narrowed. "Sithspit. I know how strong you are... I'd agree with everything you said. Except that I don't think you could cope... you were close to snapping when we fell in love."
"What?" Bastila felt her temper rise, and for once let it flow unchecked. "I was not! No, I snapped when I gave you everything! Look where it took me! I ended up in the hands of Malak... and he damaged me so badly, you had to rescue me from destruction! Now, everywhere I go, the fact I fell affects my life. Even my own mother, sends you, the one she knows protects my every step, my things!"
"The fact that you fell, that it still hurts you.... I know it does and I am so sorry for it, I can't say in words how I feel. Your mother sent that thing to me, because she didn't know how to find you. But this isn't really what it's all about is it?" Revan said calmly. "The fact remains that, even now, you hate having to give up the Tauntaun reins."
"What?" She snapped again. "What do you mean?"
"All those years... living alone, being alone. You had to rely on yourself. There was no one to talk to really, no one else to rely on, to ask for help. So, you had to rely on yourself." Revan watched her face flush red with anger and he felt his own spike. "Now, I'm here... and it annoys you that I can help. That I got inside what you kept others out of! So you grudgingly accept my help when you have to. I love you, but it can get annoying to be pushed away, to be snapped at or refused all the time!"
"I do not do that!" Bastila managed, struggling as his words hit home. "I... I simply hate that every time I turn around, you are either fixing my problems or trying to save me. I can manage! A relationship is about trust for Force's sake... So trust me to cope!"
"I do! But when I can help... why shouldn't I? I want to help the woman I love, I trust her to help me when she can!" Revan closed his eyes and breathed deeply. This wasn't helping. "Besides, what's wrong with wanting to keep you safe?"
"Nothing... except you seem Sithing determined to keep me out of everything! Any danger! Almost as if you want to wrap me in safety webbing... like a goblet of precious glass. I won't let that happen!"
"Well, I'm not going to let what happened to Juhani and Yuthura happen to you. So, if you hate me for trying to protect you, I don't care!" He snapped angrily... before closing his eyes and struggling for control. "I don't care... even if this ends our relationship... Because you'd be safe and you mean so much to me."
Bastila stared at him, felt a sudden weight lift ever so slightly from her heart. Her anger trickled away, like water off a slick surface. "It's the explosion. The very fact that Juhani is in hospital with Yuthura, isn't it. The threat of the Brotherhood frightened you, and that's why you've been so possessive. Now, with Juhani in hospital, it's reaffirmed your fears... for me."
Revan got up and turned to her suddenly. His eyes were wide and Bastila braced herself. "Yes! Is that what you want to hear? Juhani is in hospital, all because of me! The brotherhood are attacking us, all because of me!"
"Revan," Bastila reached out to him, tried to calm him down. "You're angry."
"I know!" He snapped, trying, struggling against his darker emotions. "They bombed the damn enclave to send me a message and kill Ban at the same time! Juhani is in the hospital because she went to rescue Yuthura!"
"I told you, that's not your fault." Bastila whispered quietly. "It's not!"
"That's not it! Not really! What if it had been you?" He asked her, his voice fading to a pained whisper. "What if they'd bombed your quarters, what if it had been you in hospital?"
"Revan, my love."
"What if it had been you caught in the blast, or inhaling that acidic smoke? Juhani almost died! The only reason she ISalive is because of her Cathar metabolism, and even that almost failed her because she couldn't breath! Do you know that while she was in hospital, lying there... pale, struggiling to eke each breath?I kept getting visions of you there? Lying there, blood tricking out of your mouth, gasping for breath!"
"Revan..." All Bastila could do was sit there, feeling his pain, his fear. She realised how long he had been holding this back and desperate to try and heal some of the pain, she reached out with her love into the bond. "It didn't happen. Juhani is alive and recovering, she is too strong to give up. Yuthura is also well, and has escaped because of you. You cannot be everywhere at once Revan! No Jedi can!"
"I wish I could... By the Force I want to be." Revan paced the room, and his mind repeated the Jedi code slowly... trying to bring his emotions under control again. "You say that I'm always protecting you. You may be right. I do want to protect you... because I care about you!" He looked at her and sighed. "But you have to admit that it's because you're not used to it. Not used to having someone to trust... someone who cares about you."
"I... possibly." Bastila managed... her own mind struggling. "I... you still smother me, or I feel you do... and what about Mother?"
"I told you about that." He sighed and shook his head. "We have to sort this out, between us."
Bastila nodded. Some of the pain, the anger... had faded. But she still felt resentment that Revan always pushed into her business, was always... there, all the time. Sighing, Bastila walked gently over to the door leading to the crew annex. "We are both too angry, too emotionally charged to sort out what remains, for now."
Revan glanced up... his eyes dark. But he nodded slowly, his body language softening as he stared at her. "Yeah. I suppose so... But, we both said some stuff that I think... could help?"
"Perhaps..." She whispered. "I need to think... on this. I... I'm still cross with you, for always being there, always... solving everything, stifling... But... I understand why now, and that... I... I need time."
Revan stared at her and nodded slowly. "I know... I can feel it. I... take your time."
Bastila watched as he slumped onto his bunk and gazed at her with those dark eyes. Slowly, she turned and moved to head towards the crew annex, she needed a drink.
"Bast?" Revan said gently, making her turn in the corridor and stare at him with dark blue eyes.
"I... I love you. Despite all this... poodoo between us right now? I love you."
"I know." She whispered. "I love you as well."
With a small smile and a nod, Revan watched her go. He wondered how they had gone from happy to miserable... in such a short time. Unable to work it out, he slid into the bunk and gazed at the metal ceiling.
Bastila slipped out of the bunkroom door and quietly strode to the crew room. She heard quiet laughter and the sound of flicking Pazzak cards coming from Mission's room. She felt Jolee's presence and shook her head. How did the old man stomach Mission? Even though she respected the Twi'lek, her personality irritated her to the extreme. Right now, with all that had been said running though her mind, Mission was the last person she wanted to speak to.
With gentle shake of herself, Bastila kneeled down next to the cupboard and rummaged around. True to his word, a bottle of Dantooine brandy lay hidden at the back. As she pulled it out, she sighed quietly. "Ah, Mission... for a professional sneak, you didn't find this one, did you?"
"Course, but I left it there, cause Rev likes it an I don't." Mission watched as Bastila's body stiffened slightly. "Hey Bast, how ya been?"
Bastila stood slowly and stared at Mission's faintly amused face. "Damn, not now."
"I am well, you?"
"Can't complain now that Juhani is gonna be okay. Rev too, he missed you loads."
"Did he?" Bastila turned and reached up for a glass. As she did so, Mission walked up behind her.
"Yeah, he did. I'm glad you're, like, here. Look, I... Jolee says that relationships are a lot of give and take... it takes time. I don't really understand that myself, so that's all I'm gonna say too." The young girl hit buttons on the synthesiser and watched as two mugs of caffa splashed out of it. "Have a good night, Bast."
Bastila stared at the young Twi'lek and as Mission turned, balancing two caffa mugs, she called after her. "Mission, I like the lip stain, it suits you."
Mission paused and tossing a grin over her shoulder began to walk forwards again. "Thanks, it's yours."
Bastila sighed, surprised to feel mild amusement pierce the pain, the annoyance and the confusion for just a few seconds. Shaking her head she gripped the bottle and slipped down the Hawk's landing ramp. She needed time and quiet to... to think.
Jedi Medical wing.
Juhani's yellow eyes slid open in the dark, glowing as they reflected the starlight that shone in from the windows of the ward. The Cathar looked left and then right, trying to work out where she was.
Juhani choked slightly and swallowed, wincing in pain at the rawness in her throat. Her lungs itched, and she groaned at the need to scratch them, to make it stop.
"What happened to me?" She thought quietly, her glowing eyes flicking around the medical ward once more. "I remember holding onto Yuthura in that burning building... I... I remember Revan helping get her out... Then... then mission holding onto me, and.... oh, by the Force, my lungs burning!"
She leaned forward, her fingers straying towards her chest and probed the fur and skin. No holes, no burns... She breathed in slowly, and let out a tiny cough. She could breath, thank the Force. Her probing fingers slid across six puncture marks on both sides of her body, and she realised they were the injectors of a full life support pack.
"How close did I get come to becoming one with the Force?" She winced at the tender flesh around each mark. "I owe Mission my life, she was the one who dragged me to the medical wing. Another person I owe a debt of gratitude to, how they stack up in life."
A sudden murmur made Juhani lean forwards to increase her night vision. Her eyes widened in surprise and tenderness. There, sitting next to her bedside, head slumped in Juhani's lap, lay a familiar purple face. Yuthura Ban slumbered, exhaustion from her physical and medical exertions had claimed her, even as she had sat holding Juhani's hand.
Juhani stared at the passive, sleeping face and smiled. "She claims to struggle to understand the Jedi ways, yet she stayed with me. To the Sith, it would be a sign of weakness. She knows truthbetter than she will admit, even to herself."
Slowly, Juhani stretched out a hand and with a moment's hesitation, where she almost drew her hand back, Juhani gently touched the lekku that lay curled around Yuthura's neck. She marvelled at its warmth, the smoothness of the skin, the roughness where the tattoo ink had been inscribed. The tattoo's... intricately detailed, they ran the whole length of each lekku. Symbols, scrollwork, strange patterns all blended into an intoxicating design of beauty. Juhani wondered what they meant, to Yuthura and other Twi'lek's.
As she touched the scrollwork, Yuthura's lekku twitched at the tender touch. Juhani knew that Twi'lek lekku were very sensitive, packed with more nerve connections that any of their other appendages. Now, they pulsed and rippled as she stroked them, fascinated.
Yuthura's lips gently parted, and her warm breath rippled into the cool air of the medical ward. Juhani stared at her, feeling the warmth inside her grow into need. She shivered and gently pulled her hand back, watching as Yuthura's lekku slipped into stillness.
"I cannot... I am a Jedi, she is trying to come back from the Sith. I... I cannot let my own lack of control affect her!" Juhani sighed into the quiet of the ward. "If... if only I was as brave as Revan, I would... I."
Who was she trying to fool? She had a growing attraction to Yuthura, and denying it was foolish. "Maybe, I can... distance myself from Yuthura. I... I can stay out of her way... She is better off without my foolish attraction."
Her fingers trailed down the back of the sleeping Twi'lek's neck of their own violition and began to finger the hospital gown around her neck. As she did so, Juhani noticed another Tattoo. This one was designed to represent a... a band? It wrapped around Yuthura's neck and the scrollwork, while intricate, held many glyphs of Huttese. As she stared at the band, trying to work out what it was... her fingers slid across the front of Yuthura's neck and paused. The skin was rougher there, callous. Pulling the gown down slightly... Juhani gasped at the sight of a neat scar. Deep and precise, it slashed across the band, breaking it and erasing what seemed to be a complicated set of Huttese glyphs. Juhani frowned. "What was this meant to be?"
"N...no.... Don't!" Juhani jerked in shock at the sudden, frightened whimper and glanced down in concern as Yuthura's warm baritone washed over her, frightened and in pain. "Omeesh, no!"
The Twi'lek, passive a few seconds ago, now writhed in her lap, caught in a nightmare. Juhani instinctively reached out to touch her, caressing the lekku as she had done before. "Yuthura, it is alright. You are safe with me."
"N... no.... damn you!" She tossed in her gentle hold, unable to wake. "Kara, wake up... Don't leave me alone!"
"Yuthura... wake up." Juhani touched her gently, watched as he lekku trembled. "Wake up... it is a bad dream, nothing more."
"I... I... What?" Yuthura woke suddenly, her head shooting bolt upright to stare in disorientation at Juhani's fur covered face. "Who?"
"Shh, you are safe."
Yuthura stared at her for a moment, and Juhani watched as recall crept into them. "I... I apologise for that."
"There is no need." Juhani smiled. "Thank you... for staying with me until I woke."
"I... I felt I had to, you helped me in the burning building... I felt it was only right to be here with you."
"I understand." Juhani stared at her and Yuthura returned the gaze, until the Cathar looked away. The look in Yuthura's eyes had been intense, and she could feel her own desire stir. She sought for a topic. "Was it bad? The dream?"
"I... it was nothing." Yuthura watched as Juhani's eyes drew back to hers... felt the stirring of her own need, long buried. "It.... I was back with Kara, my, my lover in Omeesh's chamber... when she was killed."
"I... I am sorry." Juhani licked her lips, realising that this was a bad topic after all. "I did not mean tocause you fresh pain."
"You didn't... I know who caused it. That I... feel it again, it feels good." Yuthura flushed and her lekku slid around her neck defensively. "I was so... empty, so very empty. To feel anything, anything other than anger and rage... it feels good."
"Even pain?" Juhani asked her quietly and Yuthura shrugged.
"I... the memories of what happened are painful... but I... for the first time in years I remembered Kara... that felt good." She glanced at Juhani, wanted to tell her that one of the last images had been her face, smiling at her, but she couldn't. "I... I hope you have recovered."
"So it would seem, but I am exhausted." Juhani stared at Yuthura and then, unable to help herself, yawned. Herferal incisors glinted in the moonlight as she did so and Yuthurafound her gaze fixed to thesmooth white teeth, and then the full lips thathid them from view once more. Juhani cocked her head at her gaze and smiled."As you can see."
"I... I'll leave you alone then. I am sure I can find someone to allocate me some new quarters." Yuthura, skin flushing aslightly deeper purple,slid to her feet. She moved to leave, only to have Juhani place a hand gently on her arm.
"You... you could stay, I have never liked medical centres, they... disturb me." She felt Yuthura pause, and a look of longing slid into her eyes. "Please?"
"I... very well." Yuthura watched as the Cathar let out a sigh of relief as she slid back into her seat. "I shall stay with you."
Juhani smiled and glanced over at the bed next to hers. "I would suggest using the bed? It would be more comfortable."
Yuthura stared at her for a second, her lekku curling in embarrassment, and then she nodded. "I... of course."
As she moved smoothly to the bed, Juhani found herself unable to resist watching her, the curves, the way her Lekku moved gently as she did. "What am I doing? You promised yourself to stay back!"
Yuthura slid between the sheets and turned to see Juhani's shining yellow eyes staring intently at her. "Is she... interested in me?" Yuthura thought and then sighed. "No, don't be foolish. Who would find a shattered Sith interesting?"
"I... goodnight Jedi Ban." Juhani whispered, groaning as she settled back into the sheets. "I take it that the following days will be busy for all of us, including you."
"Yes, I... I do not know what is in store for me." Yuthura sighed and pushed her longing away, a great effort that left her Lekku trembling with residual need. "Maybe Revan will be able to suggest a Master who is not against taking... foolish, yet redeemed, Sith."
"Shush, you are not foolish." Juhani gazed up at the stars and unable to hold back, whispered. "You have a friend in me, if you ever need one."
"I... I thank you." Yuthura whispered, as her own pale purple eyes stared at the starlight. "You have no idea how much that means to me."
"You would be surprised." Juhani told her, feeling her eyes close slowly. "I... I need to sleep."
"Yes, sleep Juhani, I will guard you."
Yuthura stared at the night sky, until the gentle breathing next to her slipped into a soft purr. She smiled for a few seconds, imagining what it would be like to sleep next to that, with the purr in your ear, before focusing on her future. She still pondered as the light rose the next day.
Continued in Revenant 6: Revenant rising.