A/N: This is a first. A fandom I get obsessed in and I jump right in and write something. ::grumbles:: right after I'd sworn off writing fanfiction, of course. Anyway, Lucas and Bioware have all the rights and such, I'm just doing this for my own sick enjoyment, but that's obvious. If I mess anything up about the Star Wars universe and Jedi training that's not SUPER important... please don't tell me. I'll fret and then start going through every archive to make it accurate. And I would like to pass college thank you very much.
The Ties That Bond
Chapter 1 – Restless Spirit
At the tender age of seven all children have extreme difficulty with keeping still for a time that lapses anywhere between fifteen minutes to a half hour. Jedi apprentices are taught at a young age to contact the Force to keep them balanced and still. It was one of the first lessons so that they could get a feel for the Force with a simple assignment. Of course most of the older Padawans would say that it was just an excuse to calm the overactive ones.
Calling this particularly seven year old 'overactive' was the under statement of the millennia. And keeping still, was not an option. She was trying as hard as she could to stay still, but everything was so... so distracting. The wall panels were changing tint slightly every time the dimming sun graced them. The protocol droids were making a slight variation of noises compared to their usual routine. And most importantly her chair was digging into her thighs.
Master Vandar was calmly explaining the many ways that a slight suggestion in a diplomatic mission could be used to turn a possibility of war into a mere confrontation.
Revan had little self-control. It was the only thing that held her back at the academy. She was told repeatedly that if she were to just calm herself and rely more on the Force she could possibly earn her Padawan status at the age of ten instead of twelve like most of the other students. She failed to see how three years from now would make any difference. She had lived most of her life already. Seven years was long enough to wait, she was already ahead in her studies that she managed to get into the more restricted levels of the library. All things come in time, they would say. You must have patience, they would say. Call upon the code, they would say.
But the only thing that Revan would say was that she was bored. Completely and utterly bored with learning the little that needed to be learnt. She wanted to move up and earn her lightsaber. Well of course the first step would be letting her practice with the viroblades... officially anyway. She just wanted to do something. She was tired of being here and being bored.
She was bored to the highest extreme of the word and it showed. "I'm bored!"
Revan had not realized that she had spoken aloud until all eyes turned to her. She let her small form crumble, as she became bright red with embarrassment. It was not the best approach to act like a spoiled seven year old in her class; she was in the class with all the older apprentices after all.
"Calling upon the code at times of indiscretion warrants greatly," Master Vandar seemed to be smiling, but she could not tell with all those wrinkles.
She sighed and a few strands of her hair flew up from her face. "There is no emotion, there is peace... There is no ignorance, there is knowledge..." she sighed deeply and (almost) restrained herself from rolling her eyes, "There is no passion, there is serenity... There is no death, there is the Force." She finished with a high exuberance and she held no superiority in her eyes, but started to feel a bit more insecure as the eyes that were shifted on her looked on in disbelief.
She could swear one of them was taking notes.
Master Vandar made a sound that only he could make and waved his hand. "Class dismissed. I would like to speak with our young apprentice here."
Revan felt her stomach sink as she saw two of the older students make the universal symbol for 'you're dead.' It took a few moments for the class to calmly leave and she tentatively got up from her chair, but made no move to inch closer.
Neither did Master Vandar make any moves to scold or look at her. He shuffled some data pads and sighed deeply, she could not tell if it was an amused sigh or one of those deeply disappointed sighs she was not used to getting.
"Young one, you seem much too eager in the ways of the Force."
Revan took a shy step forward and pulled on her robes. "I like learning."
Master Vandar smiled. "Spoken plainly is best, always."
She opened her mouth to say something, but then promptly shut it and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry for being rude... I just hate having to listen to things over and over again."
He moved closer to her and put one hand lightly on her shoulder, which he could just reach. "If you were to be Padawan now, that would be your first test, to learn code so quickly is unusual."
Revan bit her lip. "I... just read through all the archives," she corrected herself quickly, "the ones I'm allowed to look at."
"Then sure I am that you could further explain all these teachings to me."
Her face was red; she did not know why she felt so shameful at knowing things.
He smiled and walked over to the door. "But knowledge is good in itself, a certain understanding must be wrought."
Revan blinked. "Calling on the code?" she had heard the other students refer to it, but she never truly understood it herself.
"Yes... the code. For one to call on it, one must know it. Padawans are older," he grasped a few datapads in his hand. "They have experienced more, experiences lead to need of the code. A padawan cannot grasp truly the Force if she does not need it."
Revan looked down at her hands, she had never experienced death, except maybe her mother, but she never knew her anyway. Emotion was always an easy thing for her and could never exactly be downed, because she did not need the peace of the other Jedi to work as well with the Force. What was she missing?
Master Vandar left one last piece of wisdom before he left out the door. "Young apprentice should focus on the passion part of code."
Revan turned red. She walked him walk out the door and climbed back into her seat. Know the code. She knew how to recite it, but she needed to truly know it. She breathed deeply and calmed herself. She had seen, no make that, felt the older students do this, mediating. She focused on it. "There is no passion, there is serenity."
Revan frowned. She was smart for her age, but she could not think for the life of her what serenity meant. This must be why everyone had to wait. She sighed and took herself off the chair, she would go the archives in the morning and look for more information, but for now she wanted to go to bed and sleep.
At nine Revan was one of the youngest Padawan in the whole Jedi Academy. She was also one of the loneliest. As much as calling on the Force to guide and calm you helped, being nine and eating by yourself was still very harrowing. She pushed her food around glumly. She knew she should eat something and she was constantly hungry from all the training that she was throwing herself into, but she always lost her appetite the moment lunch arrived.
She looked somberly at a group that brushed by her; they were all older and looked to be much more advanced in social niceties. She observed them; the boy in the middle was the center of attention. He seemed to quietly command the presence of the others around him... without the Force.
Now that was a different concept for Revan. She was used to thinking things out logically with or without the Force, but when it came to people she assumed that you had to exude a certain amount of Force to get people to come to you. She had tried it many times, but it rarely worked outside the classroom situation. Out of the classroom, people did not rely on the Force to make friends they just knew how to do it.
She kept her vision lowered enough to be unobtrusive as she watched him. He stood straight without appearing overbearing, but his stance was something to look up to. He held his shoulders out and open, an inviting gesture. And the most important thing that Revan noted, was that he did not seem to be trying.
She was over thinking this. She looked to her food with a frown, now she really was not hungry. But Master Zhar would have a fit if she went another session without eating, and the sneaky Twi'lek always seemed to know.
She scanned the large hall noticing something. In her quest for self-pity she had failed to realize that her situation was played out exactly the same at four distinct sections in the hall. When she looked more closely she saw a few apprentices and Padawans sitting with others, but they seemed to be separated in their own way.
She had not even realized that she was doing it, until she was standing, but she made her way over to the table closest to her where a girl was pushing her food in a vaguely familiar way.
"Hi," she said brightly.
The girl looked up at her with disbelief. It was like she had never been spoken to before. "...Hi..." she said uncertainly.
"I'm Revan," she sat down next to her and the girl eyed her carefully.
"I know..." she bit her lip, but something, something made her open up. "I'm Britate."
By the end of lunch Revan had convinced Britate to travel with her to two other tables, warming up the two lonely apprentices
By the end of the month Revan had gathered all the straggling loners in the hall to one of the largest tables.
By the end of three months her group was so large that she had to split them up in three sections.
By the end of six months she had made friends and gathered the loyalty of nearly half the academy.
And by the end of the year she was one of the most popular Padawans at the school.
"See you after lessons, Revan!" one of the older Padawans grinned at her. "I'll try not to beat your perfect record."
She was about to make a comment on that, but decided against it as she saw Master Vrook approach. She straightened her posture and tried not to squint as his approaching figure blocked and then let the sun into her eyes. "Master Vrook," she spoke calmly. There was no way for him to know that she had been pilling extra supplies from the droid bay, or the four apprentices that she had shown how to rig the locks on their rooms to a timer.
He gazed at her with scrutiny. She was getting better at hiding her emotions, but the uneasy guilt that she emitted like radar was still strong. He ignored it. He would find out soon enough and then she would be scolded and on to the next unapproved task. He supposed he should fault her, but somehow this Padawan had caught his attention above all others. He felt he was getting soft in his old age.
He liked her.
He ended his scrutinizing glare with a heaving sigh. "What are we to do with you, Revan?"
She blushed, an edge of grin forming on her lips. She knew she was not in trouble and the relief of that almost poured out of her. She stood a bit taller. "That is for the council to decide."
The sarcastic edge to her voice was not lost and a few wrinkles on his face seemed to plainly show how he felt about that. She ducked her head a bit and smiled sheepishly. "Well, Master Zhar tells me that you have once again broken the standard of training for ones..." he resisted the urge to smile fondly, "of your age group."
Revan twitched. She hated that. She was finally old enough to have Padawans her own age, but she was an experienced one. And she had broken every practice droid and older Padawan that they had sent at her during her combat training. She reflexively took pride in that and downed the feeling. Jedi are not proud. "Is that why you wish to speak with me?"
Master Vrook allowed a smile and shook his head. "If you would be so kind as to be," he stretched out the word, "patient with us we are ordering some new droids that should arrive in a month."
She made little effort to hide the frown. She was hoping he would set her up with someone stronger. "But wouldn't another," she caught herself before saying what was truly on her mind, "wouldn't another Padawan be a better approach?"
He looked at her with caution. "Padawans have enough to deal with without you bruising their fragile egos."
She resisted, she really did, but the smirk came nonetheless. "I guess I will wait until the droids arrive..." she looked down to where her lightsaber was awkwardly hanging on her nonexistent hip. "Or..." she continued.
Vrook knew where she was going. He did not want to have to explain to her the many rules she would be breaking by engaging in a battle with a Knight. Padawans were not allowed that 'luxury' until much much later. "Or what, Padawan?" he strained the last word carefully.
She sighed in defeat, he would never agree to it. "Or until a better challenge comes along."
Master Vrook nodded, glad that she had taken silent defeat, he would not be able to hold her off much longer, she was already surpassing those in their late teens with her studies. "May the Force bring one to you," he said smartly and put his hand on her shoulder for a moment. "Now, you have no more classes for today and I do not wish to see you in the training room for nothing, so I suggest you occupy yourself with something else."
Revan nodded somberly. "Yes, Master Vrook."
He curtly nodded and walked away trying not to think on what would occupy her time. He would have to deal with it later.
She grinned to herself when she knew he was far enough away not to notice and took a deep breath. The sights of Coruscant were not new to her by any means, but coming outside the Academy for a breath of fresh air was appealing.
Not that she was off the Academy grounds; she was just in a larger courtyard. She shielded her eyes as she looked above her at the crisp blue sky. She smiled fondly as a Republic Freighter flew above her. Her thoughts wandered to her brother. He was probably on some important Republic diplomacy mission this minute. She had seen him six months ago and still missed him like crazy. She calmed her thoughts. She should be grateful that she got to see her brother at all; most of the others never heard hide nor hair from their family.
She sighed deeply. Not that she ever did talk to father again. She wondered vainly if he had even tried to make contact with her. She supposed not, he was quiet quick to send her off to become a Jedi. At first she had thought it would be like Brenan, fighting enemies and holding up the glory of the Republic. Coming home on special occasions and being hailed as a hero... the best thing that ever happened to the family.
She let her thoughts wander on this useless train of thought while she strolled through the courtyard, it was better now than during a class. She supposed that Brenan would be back on his next supply run, which if she calculated right was not for another two months. He had made it out for her birthday and he had convinced her Masters to let her ditch out on her lessons.
The other students were thrilled to have her gone. Maybe they could catch up. She caught herself grinning wryly and promptly allowed it to melt into her own form of Jedi solemnity. Her version was more of a knowing smile, she could never quiet pull off that somber look that the Knights totted about. She supposed it was because, subconsciously, she did not want to.
One day she would be her own Knight. She would be sent around the world on missions just like her brother, fighting for freedom and justice and all that good stuff. She frowned. Which would not happen any time soon if she could not find anyone suitable to spar against.
As her mind wandered again as she pictured herself a crusader of the light, when a loud shrill voice brought her out of her daydreams. She turned to the sound of the noise and saw a small group her age and older forming sides around two Padawans who were fighting.
She frowned. They were supposed to use the training room. Not outside. She frowned again, not because she disapproved, but because she had not thought of such a great idea first.
One of the boys was familiar to her, Lyan. He was one of the more popular Jedi among the prepubescent girl population. Revan just thought he was all talk. His stance was tall and empowering, he did put on a show.
She did not recognize the other boy. He was holding his practice sword quiet oddly. He was very pale skinned and the first thing you noticed was not his lack of hair, but the sharp tattoos in its place. She racked her brain and came up with a small system near the outer rim that had that custom. She was not aware of any Jedi hailing from that sector, but there weren't many from Deralia either. She stood to the outer edges as an astute observer.
The boys went back to circling each other. Lyan looked haughty, he had a welt on his face, obviously from a practice stick, but his stance screamed that he was winning. The other boy appeared to have no welts or bruising and his face was the definition of calm.
"Ready to really play, Malak?" Lyan was not being malicious. He seemed amused. From what Revan could figure, the boy, Malak, must have gotten one shot off on him proving he was a good opponent and was now being beating down.
As the boys paired off Lyan went faked to the left and went to the right. Malak's gaze followed him in an instant, but attacked left. Revan was confused as Lyan shouted in victory and held his stick over Malak.
"I guess you win," said Malak coolly.
"Well played," Lyan grinned and helped him to his feet.
While Lyan was walking off center, Malak stood completely still. Revan looked in awe. He had purposefully let Lyan win. He could have easily beaten him; he had not even broken a sweat. She shook her head in disbelief. He was obviously skilled, but why was he pretending to be bad?
As Lyan patted Malak's back, Revan understood. He was trying to fit in. She frowned again. That was no way to win respect... it was a good ploy to win people over, but they would never think more of him. She shook her head. That was a waste of a worthy opponent.
And then it hit her. That was exactly what Malak was, a worthy opponent. And damn her if she let a good challenge get away from her. "Are you going to fake limping too?"
The attention turned to her and some in the small crowd were not exactly happy to see the girl that beat them in their studies standing there. Lyan cast her a cautious glance. "What do you want, Revan?"
She smiled plainly. "I want to fight him."
Malak looked nervous, but Lyan looked amused. "Why? I'm the one who beat him," he flashed her a charming smile, "Don't you want to fight me?"
She scoffed. "And wipe the floor with you, again? No, I prefer a challenge."
The smile dropped off his face. "I'm the winner, which makes me stronger, which in effect makes me a challenge. If you think Malak is a challenge, then you are sadly mistaken."
"Then why are you limping and he's barely touched?" she smiled at his reaction. Lyan looked affronted and turned expectantly to see if Malak looked like every other loosing duelist, hunched over holding his injuries. He stood tall as before.
Lyan frowned. "You didn't... did you?"
Malak looked paler than before, if that was possible. He turned an accusatory glare towards Revan. He knew who she was. There was no one in the Academy that had not heard of the 'prodigy.' He had not liked her the second he heard of her, she was just another popular brat that got the best of people. No skill, no talent, just wasting away on charm. He knew that she was going to be a rival when he arrived here. He had expected a few months to warm up and collect some loyalty, before she tried to step all over him.
She saw him as a threat. And that made Malak very insulted. "Get out of here," he spat.
She blinked in confusion. Sure she had ruined his chances with Lyan, but no one would want to be friends with that core-slime that badly. She shrugged off his vehemence. Only made it more interesting. "Why? You seem to be the first person to offer any sort of skill. I want a challenge," she grinned, "unless you don't think you can beat a girl?"
He did not waver in his glare. If she thought that foolish taunt was going to scare him. "Some of the bravest and best warriors are women. Only ignorant fools don't know that."
Once again she blinked rapidly. This boy was so confusing. She shook her head and smiled brightly. This made Malak seem a bit off kilter. He shook it off and returned his demeaning glare. She just laughed. "Why don't you put your practice sword where your mouth is, baldie?"
His face seemed to turn a deep shade of purple and his knuckles turned deathly white around his sword. "You are a fool to think you could face me."
Lyan looked at him horrified. "You DID fake out in that battle!" he looked gravely injured. "I wouldn't have cared if you had've beaten me..." he trailed off.
Malak ignored him. He was beyond the point of caring whether this low boy of his esteem was his 'friend' or not. "I think you should reconsider your options."
Revan's smile turned into a smirk that made Malak's blood boil. "I think you should try me out before you judge me."
She motioned to Lyan and he begrudgingly handed her his wooden blade. He backed into the small crowd that was growing a bit each moment. Revan took off the top part of her robe and lightsaber and handed it to another Padawan. The white top underneath hung loosely on her but not as much as her oversized robes. Besides it was hot.
Malak matched the gesture and took his off as well. He, however, was not wearing anything underneath. Revan stifled a giggle as she looked at his underdeveloped chest. Then she remembered how underdeveloped her own was and quickly put on her knowing smile Jedi serenity façade.
They circled each other for a moment, pacing each other for weakness in stride. Seeing if one would glance the wrong way, show a sign of weakness. Revan admired his patience. Usually the other challenger would charge at her first, she was used to a show of bravado, trying to take her down a peg or two. She decided she would attack first, he was expecting her to wait. Trying to bait her.
Her first lash was short and restrained, enough to get him to dodge, her sword was instantly at his throat and would have been threatening, but his sword matched hers perfectly. She smiled. She was impressed.
They played an intricate dance of dodging and weaving. He managed to get three shots off of her, one to her arm, and two on the same hip. She had gotten four, but they had all been on different places. She was trying to get him to waver his balance, but her stride was weakening. She could not believe it - he was tiring her out. She wanted a challenge, but one that she could overcome.
He showed no outward signs of weakening, except that sweat was running freely down his bald forehead. She calmed herself and lunged at him, he quickly blocked her, but that was what she was expecting.
She pushed her sword down at him in a greedy power play. He furrowed his brow at her; she should not be using her strength alone. He was three inches taller than her and obviously larger. But her sword seemed to weigh heavy on him and it took all his concentration to hold her back. He pushed her off him, but in doing so lost a moment of balance. A moment she took complete advantage of.
He was on the ground before he knew it; she had tripped up his legs with one of her own, while he was focused on pushing her back. She smiled defiantly.
He grunted in defeat and threw his blade to the side.
"You almost beat me..." she panted, holding her side carefully.
He glared at her with all the hate he could muster; he was about to kick her feet out from under her when he heard a loud clearing of a throat. "I suggest you all get back to your bunks," Master Vrook's unyielding voice rang out clearly and cut through the now large crowd as they split up. "I see you found a sparring partner up to your standing, Revan?" she could not tell if he was amused or not.
He stared at Revan in disbelief. She smiled sheepishly and leaned against her sword for support. "The Force works in mysterious ways?"
He held down the urge to laugh and her and managed a tired sigh. "So it seems. I will take you two to the medbay, immediately."
At the medbay Revan was all lights and smiles. She felt refreshed, finally getting that Tach off her back. The nurse handed her a kolto pack, which she put gently on her bruised ribs. "Thank you," she said brightly, getting a calm smile out of the Nurse, who was obviously bemused by happy patient in her condition.
Malak glared at her. He hated this girl. She was leaking her emotions into the air without using the Force. She seemed to carry the room around her. It was sickening. It was disturbing. And most of all it was humiliating that he had been beaten by such a cheap ploy. He would get his chance to strike her down. He would prove her the fool as she so callously tried to do to him.
Revan turned to him and smiled brightly. "I almost gave up on meeting anyone with skill here!" he was shocked at her compliment and his glare lessened slightly, very slightly. She seemed not to notice that he was even glaring. "Not to say anything bad about the other Padawans. But I'm ahead of them..." she sighed. "I sound really cocky when I say that don't I?"
He was surprised with what came out his mouth. "There's no way not to make that sound cocky or impertinent."
She nodded. "It's true though... I'm not the best at everything, mind you," she nodded and winced as she moved the kolto pack lower on her ribs. "But I'm pretty good at most things."
"Like what?" he grumbled, thinking combat would be the first out of her lips and she would mock him for losing.
She smiled again. "Linguistics... I'm a wiz and I'm the only one here who can speak Shyriiwook," she bit her lip thoughtfully. "Uh... I mean I think I am, unless you are fluent in wookie speak?"
He shook his head. "Of course not, what use would that serve?"
She looked undeterred. "Well... it should come in handy sometime. What if you have to deal with a bunch of wookies?"
He scoffed. "Most of them know basic."
She frowned considerably. "Only the ones that belong to slavers."
He considered that for a minute. The fact that she would think so carefully about that was unusual to him. He never over analyzed simple annoyances like that. Maybe he should start learning a new language. He remembered that she was only trying to mollify him and he scowled. "You're a great fighter too."
She looked at her hands. "It was a cheap shot," she sighed deeply, "I thought you were going to beat me... I don't loose easily."
He was flabbergasted. He never calculated her admitting to it. He rethought the situation and shrugged. "In a life or death battle there is no room for honor, sometimes you need those..." he managed a smile, "cheap shots."
She looked at him in a new light. "You know you look rather human when you smile..."
His smile fled his face. "Why are you being so nice to me?" he suddenly demanded. She must have something horrible planned for him with the way she kept going on and on. "We are obviously meant to be rivals or else the Force would not have brought us here and..." he spluttered, "I don't understand why you are acting so strange!"
She waited a moment and the look in her eyes scared him. He had no idea why, but the brightness of her eyes had faded and she looked hurt. She stared at her hands and said quietly. "I thought the Force brought us together to be friends..."
Now Malak was really confused. She wanted to be friends with him? When he was obviously not going to be crushed under her heel into submission, he was an obvious threat to her glory at the Academy and she wanted to be friends. He could not wrap his mind around it. Then it hit him. No one had ever offered outright like that when he acted like himself. The only ones that wanted to be his friends were ones that wanted something from him. But this girl wore her emotions so loose, she was so open, no thoughts of malice whatsoever came from her.
"I might beat you next time..." he said casually, she looked up slowly, the hurt still in her eyes, "I won't go easy on you, just because we're friends."
Her face changed and her eyes brightened again. She put out her hand towards his and grasped it from thumb to tip. "The best!"
He had to laugh. He did not think he had laughed for the longest time. But she just looked so earnest. He stretched his hand into hers and shook sharply once.