A/N: My father has informed me that my military terminology is a bit off. I did not let him know what I wanted to know for. So I'm not fixing it, but I'm basically smushing Navy/Air Force terms together. And I'm trying to shove as many characters as I can in here. Basically the only ones not making an appearance will be Mission, Zaalbaar, Canderous (officially you can assume he's in one scene), and T3-M4. As I am already about 12,000 words into this, I noticed that HK-47 says he was created during Revan and Malak's war as 'Sith' so I pretty much messed that up, but I love the scenes and refuse to change them! Sorry for the inaccuracies it has brought about, because of it.Ties That Bond
Chapter 3 – Wounded and Broken
"You look..." he searched for the word, "ridiculous."
Revan glared at him. He would have been more threatened if he could actually see her face. She breathed out and the air went against the metal and hit her eyes. She frowned and the metal shifted. She groaned and took it off. "I thought I looked menacing..." she pouted.
Malak sighed and pulled her close to him slipping off the top of her cloak. "What are you trying to accomplish with this," he gestured to her dark outfit and the bronze mask held loosely in her hand. His lip quipped. "Other than looking 'menacing.'"
She frowned at him. "It's not polite to make fun of me."
He wrapped his arm around her and sighed as he looked around on the small freighter. They were currently traveling to where the majority of troops were stationed. The council had not been pleased. They had been even less pleased when only two days after they left, more students from the Academy had left to help out. He looked at her. "Why are you trying to scare the Republic soldiers? I thought we were going to help?" He arched an eyebrow at her.
She shifted in his arms and sighed. "They won't respect me if I..." she tried to put this plainly. "If I'm a woman."
Malak was not expecting this answer. "Why not, they have female soldiers, captains, and admirals, don't they?"
She shook her head. "Not the Republic... they won't care, I'm a Jedi..."
"Then who?" She matched his even stare and it hit him. "The Mandalorians?" She nodded. He was confused. "Why do you want to intimidate them?"
She sighed. "I've been researching their war tactics, since..." her eyes went hollow and her throat cracked, "before, before I approached the council," she lied and hid her pain, "They are a war mongering people. It's not about procedure and battle strategies with them; it's about winning. They won't fail to change position in the middle of a fight and ignore their commanding officer if it means a greater victory."
The Mandalorians fight for their clans to gain land and power. They fight for the sake of fighting. They don't have soldiers. They have warriors. With each impending victory they drink in the sounds and sights of suffering. They live for the thrill of battle. They prove themselves as warriors by killing and pillaging," she sighed, "And a small female Jedi is not going to seem threatening."
Malak furrowed his brow. "But I thought you wanted to catch them off guard?"
She sighed. "I do, but I don't want them to fight harder for a sense of honor because I'm a woman," she eyed him wearily, "Not all men are as... mature as you, they still think that women hold the clan houses and the children, while men bright home prosperity."
She went quiet and fiddled with her mask. He looked at her. "What else?"
She went red and looked down. "Can you not stand so close to me when we go in?"
He was taken aback, was she really going to stick to this dressing like a man thing? "Make them think you have good taste," he grinned and nipped her ear.
She shied away. "No... we can't- I mean... not in public, but that's not what I meant..." she looked at him pleadingly.
"What would standing next to you do?" he queried, a bit put off. He was hoping he could finally show her off a bit.
She was turning red again, a good reason for the mask. "Because you make me look short."
That was not the answer he was expecting and a sharp laugh left his lips. "You are short, Rev."
She pouted and crossed her arms. "I'm not! You're tall, even for a male... just it's more obvious when I'm standing next to you that I'm female."
He let his fingers trace around her and breathed huskily in her ear. "There are other tells, love."
She blushed and pulled on her robes. "Maybe if I wear the black ones, I'll blend more."
He frowned. "Yes, with the walls..." he put a hand through her hair, "You're not planning on cutting this are you?"
She looked shocked. "No, of course not. I'll just keep my hood up."
He laughed. "Yes that's a fool proof plan."
She frowned and crossed her arms in front of her. "You're not helping."
Malak sighed deeply and leaned against the metal of the wall. "I'm trying my best..." he looked at her critically. She was too focused on this, even when she was speaking to him her eyes were hollow and he could tell her mind was elsewhere. He would give his left arm just to see her grin in that haphazard way of hers one more time, but he realized that he would not be seeing that for a long time, if ever again.
He supposed the council was right all along with their credos. Revan should never have spent that much time, if any, with her brother and she would have a clear head and best serve the order. He should have gone to Dantooine when Vrook offered the first time. Then there would not be this aching in his heart and she would not look like a warrior resigned to her death. Of course some would argue that the Force led them this way, but if that was true, then the Force was a cruel mistress who picked whichever side suited her fancy at the moment.
He knew he should be focusing on the battle ahead, but it chaffed at him how she was acting. He knew she carried herself as a solider; a commander would be a better term. But his ego was not currently fairing well. A little voice in the back of his conscious was annoyed at how the pilot of this bucket of bolts had assumed that she was in charge. The sensible part of Malak knew that she was in a way, because it was her idea. He would have just as soon stayed on Coruscant, making love and helping students in their practice.
But a small part of Malak, the part that had held him back from leaving her and from being with her, knew that he was the stronger of the two. They had decided to never do battle again, to stay friends. But that did not stop him from comparing his progress with hers, or her stance to his.
That little part of him was the one that wanted to finally prove that he was stronger.
And that part frightened him to his very core.
"Why are we in the Lower City?" a younger Jedi asked tentatively as Revan made quick strides towards the large double doors.
She shrugged thoughtfully and turned, she had to catch her mask from falling and swore. Malak chuckled and received an elbow to his ribs for his trouble. "It's not going to stay on, love."
She huffed and adjusted it again. "It will too stay on, I just need practice," she turned back towards the other Jedi, "The transport isn't arriving for a few hours so we have time to look around."
The Jedi bit his lip and twisted his hands on his lightsaber. "But why aren't we looking around the Upper City?"
Revan scoffed. "Because the Upper City is full of prejudice snobs... and I heard of a bazaar that was down here, we might find something useful."
Malak rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath about women and shopping. She shot him a glare that he ignored and kept up to match her pace. "Looking for a new mask, are we?"
She frowned and the mask fell again. "Damn it!" she put it back on again and growled deep and low. "Maybe... I will look for a new mask."
They slowed their pace as they approached a set of large double doors, enclosing the bazaar that Revan had heard of. She pushed the doors open and was shocked at what was behind them. There were a few illegal tables set up with weapons and other unidentifiable objects. There were shifty eyed patrons all around, shuffling through the tables and other merchandise. Her eyes roamed around and she noticed what was making her sick. There were cages lining the back area and she sensed the pain, fear, and confusion coming from them.
Slave traders, this was not a bazaar but an auction lot for suffering. She felt heat rise up in her chest at the injustice. She had been raised on Deralia, where every life was thought of as sacred, not only that, but her Jedi training made her disgusted at this mistreatment of sentient beings. The two parts of her conflicted and she unsuccessfully tried to down the anger rising in her.
"Now this is interesting..." a slimy voice brought her out of her trance. A man was perched over one of the cages where a diminutive Cathar girl crouched back in the cage out of fear, Revan could feel the horror she was projecting, she was Force sensitive. "Now, didn't I just exterminate a Cathar six months ago on Taris, I can't believe that there is still one here..." he had a strong accent that reminded her of Mandalorian and her anger boiled. He did not match the look of a Mandalorian, but the language and voice was perfectly matched.
The shady Rodian that was selling her leaned in at the eagerness of the sale. "Price good, yes? She is young and strong, breakable."
Revan did not even notice that she was advancing on them until her blue lightsaber was in her hand and had slashed across the lock on the cage. "I'd be willing to make an offer!"
The Rodian would have normally reached for his blaster, but he did not move as quickly without hands, as Revan's lightsaber moved so suddenly it was unseen. She brought it up towards the purchaser, until she heard the little Cathar girl mewl pathetically. Revan's heart stopped and she brought her lightsaber down immediately, frightened with what she had just done. She shook her head and turned back towards the Rodian and the man. "Both of you get out of here, before I change my mind."
They had no hesitation as they and a few other patrons ran off. Malak and the other Jedi approached cautiously as Revan leaned in towards the cave. She looked at the pitiful girl in the cage. "Come on out, little one, I won't hurt you," her Cathar was a bit off, but she caught the girl off guard and she cautiously stepped forwards. When she got close enough, Revan stretched out her hand and the girl let the soft fur on her face come up against it. Revan smiled and her mask clanked down unnoticed.
The Cathar looked up at her. The light that was burning her eyes earlier was now casting Revan in an ethereal light. She shined and was the most beautiful thing that she had seen. Revan lifted up the girl slowly and tried not to wince as she felt the scabs on the back of the young girl's neck. She let the Force seep through her and touched the girl to heal some of the superficial wounds.
The girl gasped and found new arms upon her. The Jedi from earlier took her. "I shall find someone to look after her, Revan, the transport shall arrive soon," he looked around, "We should get going anyway."
She nodded and took out all the credits from her pocket; it was barely over ninety. She had spent most of it on passage on the first freighter. "Here, give to this to whomever you find," she let the back of her hand touch the Cathar's face. "Stay safe, little one."
Malak handed her back her mask unnoticed. The little Cathar girl's last image was of Revan still shining in the light putting the mask to her face.
"Admiral Karath that formation is... well its suicide," the Lieutenant flanking the Admiral's side spoke plainly.
Karath looked out of the large screen at all the troops below him waiting for the order. If he had more of a solid hand in the fleet earlier, instead of some stuffed up Senator who had less battle experience than a Tach, then maybe they would not be in this position. Maybe they would have listened to him when he expressed his concern at the ruthless fighting style of the Mandalorians. Maybe they would have moved their operative bases away from civilians. Maybe, just maybe, his sister and nephew would still be alive.
He knew the way a soldier acted. He never married for the same reason; he hated acting on emotion. It was messy and encouraged mistakes. He blundered when they were taken. He left too many good men open, if not for decisive action from Officers like Onasi and Nagasan he would have lost more than he had. He had straightened up after that, knowing that anyone the Senate decided would fare better would just be another overblown spoiled brat who graduated with top honors at the Academy, but never experienced one battle.
He had tried to petition the Jedi council to assist. The first three times he went, he was certain that they would grant his request. Unfortunately, after the third time of receiving a washed out diatribe answer about timing, he ran out of time. The merciless tyrants were coming from every angle and Karath was without any hope of stopping them. He almost gave up and was idly researching means of surrender, when a miracle happened.
Two Jedi walked onto his ship. At first he was outraged that after all the waiting the council only sent two pithy Jedi, fresh out the Academy, but when he was told that another fifty or more were on their way, because of these two that had left on their own volition, he wanted to kiss their feet.
Revan and Malak, the saviors of the Republic. He could tell just by looking at them that Revan was the one to be listened to. Malak was strong in his own sense; he had a sense of ferocity that Karath deeply admired, but the way Revan spoke, the way that Revan's strategic brilliance broke through, he was amazed. If he had this with him a year ago, the war would never have escalated this far and his beloved sister and nephew would not be a charred pile of ash.
He would follow Revan and Malak in whatever they would do, because they alone were the only hope of his men seeing their families.
"Admiral?" the Lieutenant broke through his thoughts again. "What is your decision?"
Karath looked him over and turned to where the two odd looking Jedi were standing only a few feet away from him. He stared into the cool bronze metal of the mask that Revan wore. 'We all have masks,' Karath mused, 'to wear one so boldly is courageous.'
He turned to his Lieutenant. "Follow their orders exactly, spare no mistake," he looked over the officer, "Or I will have you strapped to the front lines."
The Lieutenant's eyes flashed with a wash of anger and fear, but he nodded curtly and made his way to tell the troops.
Revan ignored the look of disgust as he passed. Malak did not and the Lieutenant caught himself tripping over a bulkhead that he usually avoided.
Karath arched an eyebrow as he noticed Revan elbowing Malak sharply in the ribs, her mask slipping, while he looked decidedly unapologetic. He chose to ignore it, what Jedi did in their free time was none of his business, as long as they won this war he would not care. "What is the next step, Master Jedis?" he queried.
Revan turned to him and he felt coldness seep into the air. "We take Mandalore's head."
Malak seemed sick at the prospect, but Karath nodded. "You shall have it personally, Master Revan."
Revan made no move to correct his address, nodded curtly and walked out.
The strategic brilliance of Revan and the aggressive tactics put to use by Malak turned the tables of the war. The Mandalorians were crumbling, finally falling under the full weight of the Republic. They were outnumbered, outgunned, and outsmarted, but they still refused to give up. It had happened just short of seven months since Revan and Malak had joined the Republic effort. A message appeared, carried boldly by a stocky Mandalorian messenger. Many of the officers had been confused by the invitation. It was for the one they called Revan to join in a 'cudant' (koo-dahnt) with Mandalore himself.
She had stepped forward and explained that he wanted a man-to-man battle to the death to decide the fate of the war. The instant reaction was mixed. Some flooded with relief that the war could finally end, some plotted a way to exploit it, but the general consensus was worrying about loosing. Revan had not had to use the Force to draw their loyalty to her, she put every mind at ease with a few simple words and vowed that Mandalore would not live past the month.
They reached Malachor V with little trouble. The fighting had not stopped all together, but most of the stronger forces seemed to be at a standstill. The reason for this was obvious when they walked into the large grandiose hall of Malachor V. Mandalorian warriors lined the long metal walkway and curved around the back, each position denoting their level of importance.
The commanding presence that Revan exuded was overwhelming. Each step she took had power resounding off the echo of footsteps left in her gait. The mask that had hung comically off her face, now cupped it perfectly, leaving a frightening chill in the air. The ebony robes that had given a boyish young figure, now laid gracefully on her, blocking out any source of weakness or gender. A flowing gray cape now graced her shoulders and added an aura of distinction.
The soldiers behind her trembled at the sight they never though they would see. Malak stood in the shadows, worry lines carefully etched in his face, while Karath stood by him in absolute awe and horror. She walked a path lined with enemies, tall strong warriors with a hunger for blood tainting their eyes. They lusted for this moment more than the flesh of their enemies, the riches of their clan lands or even the silky thighs of their clan mate.
She walked the coals of fire only to jump in the flame. At the end of the looming walkway stood the brethren of fear, the spawn of death and terror. A man who stood with red eyes. The leader of them all. Mandalore.
"This day is well met," he spluttered in gritty basic with a thick accent. His voice was booming and bellowed though the hall. He grinned at her with a wide toothy smile. Her stomach hardened as she pictured those teeth ripping though her skin.
She realized immediately what he was doing. He was projecting the image at her... Force Adept. Fortunately he had little practice and in the image she was not of her sex, which allowed her to shake it off easily. She smirked under her mask and projected the image back to him, where he choked on her flesh.
His hearty laugh broke hard throughout the room. "I pity the fact that you were not born Mandalorian, Revan," he spoke in the same thick burrowing voice of his people.
She strode closer. "I pity that your head is still attached to your neck."
He smiled and sharply thrust his heavily tattooed arm out to a brother of his clan house, who in turn handed him a deadly double bladed sword in the same sharp fluid movement. The blades reflected blue off the hollow lights and metal of the hall.
Malak was at her side now. The honor was beyond him. He begrudgingly handed her the same weapon, her lightsaber was cradled in his other hand. He leaned to her, "Die and I will never forgive you." A flash of green flickered in her eyes and he knew she was grinning under mask.
She turned and felt his hand briefly grip her shoulder before he stepped back. She blocked out the guilt he was emitting, she did not know if it was for her or about her, or which one would make her feel worse. She blocked all emotion out, except for the one that still burned in her core. There was no name for this emotion. It started as grief, numbed into pain, boiled over in anger, burned in rage, and went right back to grief again. She channeled strength from this emotion, it was the only constant she had.
This battle was what It wanted after all. It demanded blood for all those lost and most of It demanded atonement for the one she had lost. It tore open that hole that always made her feel less than complete and made the hole more, until the hole was a swirling vortex of negative energy. It laughed and mocked her, because It knew, that It was the only thing keeping her alive.
A loud wailing broke through as Mandalore declared the battle to begin. She could faintly hear one of the officers translating and Malak's intake of breath. "It ends now!" she proclaimed and blasted the knowledge of those words into everyone in the room. The warriors seemed to glow with a fierce hunger for blood; the soldiers also seemed to glow with an emotion now foreign to her, hope.
She hated them at that moment, but she channeled that hate into her arm and that energy transferred to the double bladed sword in her hands. He did not mock her by attacking her with a full strength charge; he trusted that she would dodge. She met his sword with equaling strength and he stepped back to regain his composure. The battle was short; she made him look like a simpering child picking up a sword for the first time. Her blades hit once, twice, and then broke through his chest.
He choked as blood dripped out his mouth. Using every last bit of strength and honor he had left in him, he held himself upon one knee to pay her the final homage of his clans. She took her foot to his chest and pushed, releasing her blade and making him take an undignified fall to the ground. She leaned towards him as close and gentle as a lover and removed her mask for him to see. He gasped or that was the closest it sounded like with the blood rising in his throat.
"I am death incarnate," she hissed. "I will scatter your clans, destroy your honor, and purge the universe of your foul stench."
A mixture of fear and contempt washed over his black eyes. He spit out blood on the floor beside him and snapped his thick neck back to her. "Who was he?" his voice was a harsh whisper. "Some pithy Republic worm, who couldn't maneuver better than his woman?"
She bore down on his neck and moved unbearably close to him, she could feel the rancid heat of his bludgeoned breath. "He was the brother of my blood." She released the pressure in his neck and his eyes glazed over, she saw a flash of understanding and respect before he died, but she would not mistake it for pity or remorse. Warriors are beyond such things.
She wiped the blood from her hands and put the mask back on her face. She rose slowly and made a slow decent down the long path of metal, now stained with Mandalore's blood. She turned to Admiral Karath and another officer. "They are yours for the taking, strip them of everything, destroy their weapons, droids, and ships. Leave each man with only the clothing on his back and the now obsolete clan tattoos." She nodded as the voice modifier crackled. "Leave them alive... they have nothing left worth fighting for," she put her hand out towards them and made a swooping gesture. "Scatter them."
Malak found her in her quarters hyperventilating. He locked the door behind him and rushed to put hands on her shoulders. He pulled her into his embrace and tried to ignore the pleasure he took in ripping off the mask and pulling the hood off her shoulders. She wrapped herself in him, as if she could crawl inside him for comfort. She sobbed heavily letting the tears flow down onto her cheeks and into Malak's robes.
He held her until she was too tired to cry anymore. "Do you feel better?" he asked and she knew what he really meant.
She reached inside herself and if anything that emotion inside her that was tearing at her was getting stronger. "No," she breathed as he held her closer and started to undress her.
He coddled her like a child and held her close to him as she fretfully fell into a deep sleep.
Malak eyed her suspiciously. "The Star Forge?"
Revan nodded and ate a cautious bite of her food. It tasted horrible. She grimaced and put it down. "Doesn't anyone clean out the pipes out in the synthesizer around here?" she muttered.
"Rations are never tasty, Rev," he tried not to smile as she made another face. "But what's this all about?" he quickly brought the subject back around.
She took a datapad out of her sack and handed it to him. "I did some research on the ship's archive... it's supposed to be powerful, but what for I can't tell..."
He arched an eyebrow at her. "And what do you expect us to do?"
She scoffed. "Find it, of course!"
Malak was eyeing her again. "Are you completely out of your mind?"
She sighed and pushed her food to the side, she was never going to stomach it anyway. "We need to do something, the council will be nice, because they have to, we saved their rear..." she flashed him a grin that did not completely reach her eyes.
He sipped a bit of his drink and shook his head. "It's a scavenger hunt for something that," he looked critically at the datapad, "has a serious connection to the dark side."
Her finger traced the edge of the table. "I know that there are a lot of risks, but... the Republic is weakened after the Mandalorians, maybe if we can find this thing we could help them heal better..."
He read between the lines, maybe if she was doing something useful, she would heal better. He sighed deeply. "Well I guess we're headed to Dantooine then..." She grinned and almost leaped over the makeshift table in their quarters to tackle him. He tried to steady his drink so that it would not spill all over him. He gave her a halfhearted scowl, but it was gone after she kissed him soundly.
They parted and he grunted disgustingly. "I'm going to try and talk you out of this the whole way there, you know?"
Revan grinned and kissed him quickly again. "I know... I wouldn't have it any other way."
A haze of shadow blocked out any source of light, from every direction. The air felt thick and heavy. If she reached her hand out she could swear that she could carry some back with her. The only sound coming through the dark landscape was a whisper, tickling the edge of her ear. She could not understand it at first. It spoke a language that seemed to have no relation to any of the languages she had heard before. It was harsh and alluring at the same time. The first time she had this dream, she could barely hear it, now it taunted her and crawled deeply into the recesses of her ears. She could even hear it's guileless taunts when she was awake, but she could not grasp it's meaning.
"What are you?" she tried to scream, but the cold thickness of the air gripped her and took the sound. She battled frantically to regain her lungs and could feel the cold seeping through her.
"Listen..." the voice said clearly.
This time she had understood. This time it echoed to her bones so that all she could was listen. She shut her eyes and blocked every sense from her, so she could focus on the voice. It was silent for a while as she struggled, but she held true.
"Now see..." it boomed.
She opened her eyes and the darkness had parted to reveal a pillar of smoke. She walked forward and parted the smoke. Her hands came in contact with smooth metal and she ran her hand against the length of it. The darkness moved again and a net of lights spread into a perfect sphere. She tried vainly to identify the pattern, but the rotation and colors kept her attention distracted. Then the light expanded and over took her, just as the air had before. Instead of cold, heat burned down to her core. Her irises felt like bursting and she could smell her melting flesh.
She awoke and the screams were audible now. It took a strong moment to regain composure and realize that she was in her bed with his arms around her and she was not burning. He held her fast and strong and she was vaguely aware that he was talking her down. She realized that she was not dreaming; she was on a cruiser that was preparing to take her to Dantooine. She was awake now.
But that voice... that voice was still tickling her ear and she could understand the words clearly now and it frightened her as nothing had before.
"Find me..." it demanded.
And she knew she would.
"Apprentice Bastilla you are progressing at an amazing rate," Master Khan smiled lightly at her.
The young apprentice felt a burst of pride and instantly downed it, she had gotten very good at controlling her emotions and she knew that Khan would not have noticed her slight lapse. She would meditate on it later. "Thank you, Master Khan..." she looked out on the harrowing courtyard for a moment and quieted. "When are the... Jedi Knights set to arrive here?"
Khan arched the thick skin above his head that acted as an eyebrow. "Am I correct in assuming you mean, Revan and Malak?"
Bastilla was shame faced, but nodded meekly. "I was just curious..." she sighed, "Which is disrespectful, I am sorry."
Khan shook his head. "You should not jump on your emotions so quickly, Apprentice, you need to focus on them as they arrive and deal with them properly, if you keep blocking them out immediately they will hide from you and spring later when you least expect it."
She nodded thoughtfully. "I shall consider this in my mediation."
He sighed, she obviously missed the point, but he could go no further in correcting her today. He looked up towards the sky as the small cruiser was preparing to dock. A faint smile traced his lips. "It seems our Knights have arrived..." He turned towards Bastilla. "You may accompany me if you wish, Apprentice Shan."
Bastilla nodded and attempted to drown her excitement. She had only seen Revan a few times when she had visited the academy here on refueling stops or just to stop in with the Master's here on one of her missions. She was bright and cheerful and walked with a grace and power that shone brightly to those with eyes sharp enough to notice it. She would be discouraged if they knew the extent of her admiration for Revan.
Even though it went against the strict orders of the Jedi, Bastilla admired the way that Revan and Malak had left everything to go fight for the Republic. They stood strong and helped those in need. She would never have the strength to do such a thing and disobey the council. A tiny string of regret and indifference circled her and she shoved it back down. Revan made her distracted and it was getting hard to control her emotions while she was around.
As they made their way over to the landing pad, many of the Jedi and a large group of settlers gathered to see the Jedi as the emerged from the freighter.
Both were dressed plainly in simple blue and gray Jedi Knight robes. Revan's face looked stretched and sore, but she hid it with a bright shinning aura and smile as the crowd broke out into applause. She waved weakly and walked with Malak strong by her side. He seemed to be providing a strong sturdy presence for her to hold her self up on, without actually touching him.
They walked, flanked by a few of the ship's crew and made their way towards the crowd, answering questions, kissing babies, smiling and being hugged.
Bastilla had to down the jealously that flowed through her as Master Khan wrapped Revan in a very un-Jedilike embrace. She was now in a place between jealously and admiration and she could not tell which emotion to control first. She settled for admiration as her cheeks flushed when Revan walked over to her and flashed her a smile. "Love the hair," she winked and Bastilla decided then and there that she would never change it.
Revan fell back onto the bed, exhausted. "Who knew that could be so draining..."
Malak had the remnant of a smirk still on his face. "It wasn't all that bad, Revan."
She snorted in disbelief. "I still can't believe how much pleasure you took out of correcting the clerk," she narrowed her vision, "loudly I might add, that we would be sharing quarters."
He walked the distance to her and let his fingers trace the back of her neck as he curled up next to her. He placed her head on his chest and began to work out the kinks in her neck. "This could work you know?"
"Mhmmm... definitely, keep going," she felt like purring as his other hand started to caress her spine.
He let out a sharp laugh and shifted so that she was sitting in his lap. "No, I mean... this," he sighed, "All of it, could just work out..."
She bit her lip and tried to ignore the feeling of dread. "What do you mean?"
"A hero's welcome, Revan. We don't have to leave the order at all," he leaned back against the wall and took her with him. "We could do what we always wanted travel the galaxy writing wrongs and..." he let his voice go a bit quiet. "We could do it as Jedi." She was silent. "No one has reprimanded us, Revan, we're being praised for our bravery. And... they don't seem to mind us, either."
"I don't know, haven't seen Vrook around here, have you?" she quipped. "I'm sure the old codger would just love to bore into our minds with a lecture..."
He laughed softly and stroked her hair. "It could work out, you know?"
She sighed deeply and lay on the bed, pulling him with her. They stared at each other closely and then her eyes flashed blue and she looked down to where their hands were intertwined. "If you hadn't repeated yourself so much, I would have believed you..."
He lifted some hair from her face and kissed her deeply. "There's always hope..."
She ignored the pain that attacked her from those words and fell into the kiss. She tried to ignore everything as he comforted her in his favorite way.
It was much later when he was finally asleep, with a silly grin on his face. She smiled lightly and traced a hand over his jaw. She rested her head under his neck and left her hand there. She never thought she would get to this point. She was so confused and frustrated with everything. She had no handle on anything that the code preached. She bitterly thought of the last line. There is no death. There is the Force. She ignored the tears that were ebbing and buried her face in his neck, willing sleep to come.
And it did.
The voice had quieted down while she and Malak were on Dantooine. But the moment she shut her eyes and fell asleep It screamed unbearably loud in her ears. She shot up and was amazed that Malak could sleep through all that. She blindly groped for her robes and grabbed up the dark ones she had worn on Malachor V. She felt like her arms were working without her as she lifting her cloak up over her hair and put the mask over her face.
The voice stopped screaming and she breathed in relief.
"Revan? What's wro-" Malak stopped short and shot out of bed. "Why are you dressed... like that?"
She could no longer hear him. She could no longer hear anything. The screaming came back. She almost doubled over and he rushed to her side. "Get dressed," she strained out.
He eyed her warily, but did as she asked.
Soon he was following her out of the enclave and into the wild underbrush of Dantooine. Kath hounds roamed silently in the deep of the night and there were some creatures that flew ahead. As they trudged silently through the grove he felt terror gripping the corner of his being, she was acting so strangely. They had only been to Dantooine a handful of times and they rarely left the enclave, but she was steering them towards some ancient ruins that Malak recognized immediately.
She stopped by the door and made no movement.
Malak looked around he could feel everything eating at him, the darkness calling out to his soul. It was tempting and alluring, and unbearably strong. He was frightened at how calm Revan was, or maybe it was just the mask. "The Dark Side is strong in this place," he paused and brought his hand up to his chest, curled into a fist before he brought it down again. "I can feel its power."
Revan still said nothing. And walked closer to the door. The voice screamed at her to lift her hand, so she did. The voice was what caused the stone panel in the middle to lock in and sink beneath the door; it began to spin with a loud clicking noise.
"Is this wise?" Malak was alarmed, but the weight of the air was getting to him and he felt drawn in, he tried to keep his strength. He looked at her and realized her decision had been made. She had said it in the bed earlier that evening. "The ancient Jedi sealed this entrance," he tried to appeal to her. "If we go though this door, we can never go back."
The voice's volume was too high in her ears; his words went unnoticed as she watched the door open.
"The order will surely banish us!" he protested vainly, "Are the secrets of the Star Forge truly so valuable? Can its power truly be worth the risk?"
Revan was beyond words now, she could not even understand the voice that made her head throb as she walked into the darkness of the chamber.
They left early the next day, with a datapad filled with coordinates. Malak was giving her the silent treatment as he took the small ship they had secured out of the docking bay. She looked desolately out the window; her heart was heavy with the knowledge that they had acquired. The voice was dull and that gave her no amount of relief, because she knew that it could resurface at anytime. She also was not completely sure that she was hearing a voice leading her, or if she was just going insane.
"Where to, Commander?" he scoffed.
She scrunched up her nose. "Tatooine, bantha-brain."
He shot her a look of mock contempt and she stuck her tongue out at him.
"I hate the desert," he grumbled.
She flashed him a grin. "Don't worry I'll get you a hat, so you won't burn your head."
Malak's eye twitched and Revan found herself on the floor. She grumbled and dusted herself off, resigning herself to a quiet flight. She sat back in the co-pilot seat and shot him a scowl. "Grouch."
He shrugged. "I've accepted it, you should too."
She laughed and kept an eye on the controls. "Don't worry, Malak, I've accepted all your many flaws."
He grunted and decided to revert back to the silent treatment.
Malak was not quiet sure where to look. The heat and the urge to be inconspicuous had caused her to ditch her Jedi robes. She instead was wearing low cut tan trousers that stopped at her calf, a very small sleeveless top, and lace up sandals. He wanted to complain about how it was not conducive to the environment, but he rather enjoyed the view. She had managed to pass off as a civilian; one that got quiet a few eager looks from the many scores of miners set up in Anchorhead.
They had stopped after his lightsaber had gone through a table, to be honest he was aiming for one of the miners, but Revan had deflected it. It had worked so far and people were keeping a safe distance from the pretty Spacer and her Jedi bodyguard. Currently, Revan was tinkering with a droid that they had picked up from scraps and bits on the way to Tatooine. It's head, when activated partially claimed to speak the Sand People Dialect, but it was a very base droid that had not even been fully completed and Revan was constantly tinkering with it. She had to bring together parts and pieces to build it up, the previous owner must have started the project and stopped before finishing it, with only the basest of protocols set in.
Revan had been working in the hot sun for three hours trying to fix it. Malak was only providing shade and bringing her water when he deemed it appropriate. "Why do we have to deal with the Sand People anyway?"
She waved her hand and smiled as the droid lifted its head, but it proceeded to spark and fall down. She sighed and pulled her arm across her forehead. "Because the only place for a star map to be, that makes sense, is out in the desert and since I don't have any plans of searching the whole damn thing, the Sand People would be the best place to start."
His mouth twitched. "Why not ask the Jawas?"
She stopped for a moment and balanced on her legs looking up at him critically. "Have you TRIED talking to one of those guys?" she shook her head, "It's impossible to get anything coherent out of them... they only learned enough of that mumbled language to communicate and trade, it's not even their own..."
Malak arched an eyebrow. "Really?"
She nodded and turned back to the droid. "If I can just get this droid to work – there!" she cried in triumph as the deep red droid stood at attention and it's eyes flashed on.
"Statement: HK-47 assault droid is now at your disposal, Master."
Revan and Malak shot each other a worried glance. Revan turned back to HK-47. "What do you mean, assault?"
"Clarification: I am equipped with all the latest assassination protocol and functions," he turned towards her, "Observation: You seem to be well equipped in repairing and building up my programming, Master. I would be best used in protection."
Malak shot Revan a look, but she just shrugged and grinned sheepishly. "I think I installed the wrong program, hey maybe it'll come in handy?" Malak did not look amused, but she turned back to the droid. "Okay, HK-47, can you speak the Sand People dialect?"
"Conformation: Affirmative, Master. I am fully able to assist in any translating or destruction you may have use of."
Revan grinned. "Helpful little guy, isn't he?"
Malak felt sick and he was sure it had nothing to do with the sun.
Translating the Sand People dialect had not come nearly as handy as Revan had thought. They had been attacked time after time and Sand People did not want to hear any of Revan's futile attempts at trade. HK-47 had proven his worth during the attacks in a different way, he turned out to be a highly efficient fighter and lived up to his statement of protecting Revan.
He had successfully deflected at least fourteen gaffi sticks that were headed for her. They had had some luck later on that day, when they stumbled into a different section of the dessert. There was a cave that had a deep energy pull to it and Revan was immediately drawn to it. She had to sneak past a Krayt Dragon to get to the map, but HK-47 and Malak proved to be good distractions.
Malak had a hard time hiding his pleasure that they were leaving the sun filled hole, Tatooine. He had, in fact, burned the top of his head and spent a good time complaining about it to Revan who had to coddle him and rub healing salve on it. She knew he was just being fussy and could fix it himself, but she decided to humor him.
They reached Kashyyyk with little to no problems, other than Malak complaining about another location where he could not speak the language.
Revan had dealt with the local government fine. Czerka had a growing stronghold over 'Edean' and had no intention to stop anyone from going into the Shadowlands. Revan had the smarts to ask around the 'natural government' and converse with them about the lower levels. Since she made no intent as a slaver they let her and Malak use one of the lifts down with a comment on their weak arms.
Malak had found it extremely amusing that Revan kept checking her back for Kinrath Spiders. "Why are you afraid of them anyway?"
She sighed. "Brenan..." she choked on her words, "he used to put dead ones in my bed when I was little..." she smiled fondly and blocked out the voice tickling her ear as Malak wrapped a supportive arm around her.
He squinted in the darkness and rested his hand on his lightsaber. "I sense that there are more than spiders in this place..."
She nodded and looked towards the forest with an impish grin. "Hey, Malak?"
He seemed to awaken from his thoughts and looked at her. "What?"
She had a devilish look to her eyes that made him nervous. "Ever done it in the forest?"
He had no words, but spluttered through anyway. "And leave ourselves, open to attack?"
She grinned and nodded, purring up to him. "It'll be fun," she paused and pouted, "Are you saying you don't want to?"
His face was noticeably red in the darkness. "No... but... it's well, it's not a good idea." Her hands started to reach lower and he gasped. "Revan! Not in front of the droid!"
HK-47 whirred. "Statement: As long as my master is pleased, I will not need any special treatment. Although allowing me to kill some of these Kinraths would be a very nice distraction."
She giggled and waved HK-47 on. She looked back at Malak and arched an eyebrow. "So you're saying no?"
He looked at her for a moment and shook his head. "I'm a male, of course not," with that statement he snatched her hand and dragged her off into one of the bushes.
They both emerged a half hour later, looking bedraggled and giggly. Malak was straightening his robes unsuccessfully and Revan kissed him and straightened him out. They both heard a small crackling of leaves and spun around immediately, but their lightsabers were still lying in the bush and HK-47 was presumably out hunting the spiders that threatened his master. They realized why they had not sensed anything, other than the fact that they were distracted.
"Youngsters can never keep a handle on Force emotions, you practically woke up the whole forest!" an old wrinkled Jedi snapped. "Now go get those lightsabers of yours, I rarely have company that's not fur covered, so I'm going to be hospitable!"
They nodded numbly and went to grab their weapons.
"Jolee Bindo," the dark skinned old man said when putting down some herbal tea on wooden table that Revan and Malak were currently seated. "Or 'the hairless one' as the Wookies tend to call me."
Revan smiled at him, she liked this old coot. "So Jolee, why are you out here?" she gestured outside herself.
He scoffed. "My own business. I was about to ask you the same question?"
Malak looked at him skeptically. "We're on our own business," he crossed his arm and had made no move to drink any tea.
Revan on the other hand was drinking it with sounds of delight; she kept a stray eye on HK-47 who was passing the windows keeping the perimeter safe. "Actually maybe you could help us, Jolee?"
Jolee arched an eyebrow and shot Malak the same look he was giving him. "I don't know how much a man of my age can help you two young," he coughed, "exuberant kids with, but I might give it a try."
Malak looked sharply at Revan and whispered in her ear. "Maybe you shouldn't be asking everyone about it."
She shook her head. "He doesn't look like he's with the order, does he?" she turned to Jolee and smiled. "He's got too good a sense of humor to be in the order."
Jolee laughed and shook his head. "So is that why you two left? Didn't like the entertainment?"
They both fidgeted with their chairs and Malak looked darkly at Jolee. "Why don't you tell us your reasons, Master Bindo?"
Jolee winced. "Call me that again and I'll put you out with that homicidal droid you got..." he turned his attention directly towards Revan. "I have my reasons and I'm sure you have yours, but what was it you wanted to ask me?"
Malak shook his head and Revan waved her hand. He got up from his chair quickly making a loud scraping noise; he unapologetically walked out and slammed the door behind him. She winced. Jolee turned to her and shook his head. "I like you, lass, but him I'm not so sure about."
She sighed and looked out the window where Malak was eyeing HK-47 suspiciously as ever, but trying to make conversation just to prove he would rather have the company of a droid than the old Jedi. She smiled slightly. "He's an acquired taste..."
Jolee grinned wryly. "Can't control who you fall for."
She matched his grin and set down her teacup. "Have you seen anything in the area about a star map?"
Jolee sat down and smoothed out his white beard. "Can't say I have... is it anything specific?"
Revan tapped her fingers on the table nodded. "It would be old technology, very old, it looks like a sharp metal flower closed up."
Jolee nodded slowly. "Saw that thing by this old damn computer," he grumbled, "never could get past any of the safe guards..."
She smiled warmly. "Could you send us in the right direction?" she looked down and sighed. "I'd invite you along, but Malak's persnickety about these things and I'd rather not deal with it."
He nodded. "That one is not a keeper..." he chuckled, "But to each his own," a deep sigh escaped his lips, "Go along the southern path... hold on I'll draw you a map."
She took it gratefully. "Thank you, Jolee. If you ever leave your hermitage, look me up," she winked.
He laughed. "I have a strong feeling I haven't seen the last of you, Revan."
On the route back from Manaan, Revan had taken to tinkering with HK-47 again to improve his conditioning. Malak was a bit perturbed with all the attention the killer droid was getting and would take it upon himself to huff at every opportunity. The attempt at getting the star map on Manaan had not helped alleviate his frustration. Going underwater and dodging the local wildlife to find the map had been a hassle to say the least.
The trip to Korriban was making him on edge. His emotions had been out of control and Revan's dreams were getting more persistent. He also was aware of the Sith Academy on Korriban, which did little to ease his nerves. He was trying to make annoyed noises at various moments, but Revan was not paying attention to him.
She grinned as HK-47 straightened out and complimented her repair skills. "So other than repair skills, what do you think of me?" she had been getting strangely attached to the droid who had saved her life on more than one occasion and had a level of sentience that you rarely saw in his model, or at least his legal model.
HK-47 whirred and his eyes flashed. "Assessment: You are by far the best specimen of any species I have witnessed. You show great skill in dispatching enemies and have a tactical mind that I greatly admire."
Revan beamed and was about to thank him when she heard Malak scoff. She turned towards him. "What?"
Malak shook his head. "Of course it's going to say that, it just wants to placate you, because you're the master."
She frowned. "He does not."
He laughed bitterly. "Revan, you don't really think this droid cares about you, do you?" she pouted and he sighed, scratching the back of his neck. "Look, it's a droid; they just tell you what you want to hear, watch this," he turned to HK-47 and cleared his throat. "HK-47 what is your opinion of me?"
HK-47 seemed to be computing figures. "Response: I am very surprised that such a high quality of human such as my master would hang out with a weakening meatbag as yourself."
Malak's face drained of all color and his hands clenched together. Revan was doubled over, trying desperately to hold in her laughter. "Did you want to hear that?"
He glared at her. "I hate that stupid possessed scrap metal!" he stormed off.
Revan let all the laughter go and was in stitches. "C'mon! I'm sure meatbag," she snorted, "is a very flattering term coming from a droid!" she laughed some more as she could hear Malak storming around the cockpit. "Stop being such a baby!" she sighed and giggled, turning to HK-47. "HK-47?"
He whirred and turned towards her. "Acknowledgment: Yes, master?"
She tried to control a few stray giggles. "I'm going to go 'placate' Malak, but do me a favor, would you?"
"Supplication: You do not have to ask to ask, unless you prefer it, Master. I am here to please."
She grinned. "Then make it part of your new protocol to keep that term," she giggled inanely. "And make sure you slip it up every once and a while, when he's being a stodgy gimp."
"Affirmation: Yes, of course, Master. Conjecture: May I say that your sense of humor is superb."
She giggled and lifted herself up. "Thanks, now I'm going to soothe his wounded ego."
"I think if I get this artifact to Master Kumar, I'll earn a large amount of prestige!" the sounds of idle Sith chatter were numb to Bandon ears.
He stretched out his long legs as he stared down into the glass of brown ale. He supposed he should be at least partially concerned that other students were attempting to gain on his lead, but he severely doubted that anyone at this run down Academy would provide even the slightest threat.
Since Exar Kun's defeat the Sith had been trailing down in the lower dregs of society. They had a base on Manaan and some slight war with the Republic always going, but they were constantly beaten back and humiliated. They needed an edge, more importantly they needed better leadership. The Sith Academy was supposed to be a place where the leaders were trained, not the lowly recruits that made their way to the front lines, not that there was many front lines any more. Joining the ranks of the Sith was easy, becoming a Dark Jedi or commander of a Sith fleet was the real challenge.
With the way the Sith was acting they could not afford their tradition of accepting one recruit per year, but that is what they continued to front. He knew better. He knew that if they saw real promise, or real talent, they would swoop that person up and try to manipulate him to their best interests. It was the way of the Sith.
It made perfect sense. He had been a Jedi at one point in his life, but Dantooine had been a wasteland and the code was a way to coddle the apprentices not train one in the ways of perfection. The reason that the Jedi only took children was that children could be molded and formed into perfect goody-goody Jedi. But adults, adults knew better. Adults could see, unless they were blinding by years of Jedism, that the code was foolish. By acting with your emotions you were stronger. By acting with your passion, you were wiser. By creating chaos, you control. The only two parts of the code that made any sense were that there was no ignorance and that there was no death.
There was no death, because a true Sith never dies. He had come to realize in his traveling that the Jedi were worthless, not worthy of his time. He sighed deeply and took a strong sip from his ale. He supposed that the Sith were not worthy of his time either, but he needed some kind of structure. He needed something to build on. Creating a whole society based on the rules of truth was too much hassle, but if he could just grasp that power that the Sith used to control in that far off past, he would have the power he so craved for.
"Stop being such a crank, you big baby," a female voice brought him out of his reverie; she was glowering at a towering man next to her.
The man turned to her and matched her glower. "You do realize that this is where they have the Sith Academy... you know, Sith, the bad guys?"
She shook her head and laughed. "After all we've been through, you think that there are bad guys and good guys?"
He was about to say something when a menacing looking red droid walked to stand by her. He glared at the droid. "I'm beginning to think that you like that damn droid better than me!"
She crossed her arms over her chest. "He complains less."
"I don't complain that much!" he protested, keeping a wary eye on the droid.
Bandon eyed them carefully from his position, the Sith hopefuls next to him, must have been Force Deaf not to notice the power emanating from the arguing pair. He could feel the anger and passion just lusting to get out. It was starting to whet his appetite.
She shook her head and with all the anger boiling inside her, Bandon expected her to lash out, but she did the unexpected, she laughed. "Malak! I love you, but you're crazy! What do define much as?"
Malak, now that was a very familiar name. Bandon was gaping, with the Force he was sensing from them, this had to be Malak, but whom did that make the woman?
Malak stumbled over his words and she answered before he could. "Let's see," she started to tick things off on her fingers, "Tantooine was too hot, Kashyyyk was too dark, Manaan was too wet, and oh what did you call that space station we stopped at for supplies?" she snorted indignantly, "Too metallic!" He frowned at her, but she continued. "It's alright, I accept this part of you, but would you shut UP for three minutes, so I can get a plan going..."
He grumbled, but obliged her while she searched around the room, her eyes landing on Bandon. She was very bad at hiding her emotions and he could immediately sense that she was going to hit him up for information.
She stuck out her hand and flashed a knowing grin. "I'm Revan... and you're not that good at keeping your emotions to yourself either."
He openly gaped at her.
Bandon quickly learnt that they were not wanton Jedi yearning for a spot in the Sith Academy, but that did not mean that the pull of darkness was not strong within them. Malak who seemed to be the first to shun the influences of that sultry whisper of glory and vengeance immersed himself deeply in all the vestiges that Korriban had to offer. He was constantly in the ruins or challenging other classmates. He lusted at a chance to be the best and Korriban brought that from him in full force.
Revan on the other hand... Bandon had assumed from the energy pulsated around her that she would immediately jump into the inner chasm of thick and diluted air. But Bandon had been incorrect in his assumption of her; she did not pulsate with dark energy, but the swirling vortex that surrounded her and dragged you in, was just that, energy. She could be pushed in either direction and it would not be as strong as it was at this moment. She had a middle ground and balance that the Sith instructors were too foolish and idiotic to notice.
Bandon noticed. If he could just manipulate that shallow understanding that she had of herself he could bring her to the dark side completely. But more importantly he could have someone to follow and eventually someone to bring down. As was of course, the way of the Sith.
He watched with a lingering gaze as her hands created a steady stream of crackling blue energy. She seemed entranced, like a child with a new toy. She maneuvered the energy, or lightning, into a pulsating spire and it twisted and grew in her hands. He could tell she was feeling the ululated feeling of euphoria that she could push this into someone's life source and snuff it out with a single flick of her wrist.
She put her hands down dejectedly and shook her head. "I... I can't do this," she sighed.
Bandon sat down next to her. "You cannot do this, because you do not accept that you can."
She locked onto him with a cool even stare that transfixed him. "I don't want to release this, but..." she never broke their stare, but lifted her hands in frustration. "Now that I know it's there... I don't think I could stop it."
Bandon smiled and carefully turned her around, letting his arms slip down near her shoulders and down her arms until he was holding her wrists against his. "Let it flow through you..." she hesitated and he smirked. "Unless you are afraid, oh mighty Revan?"
She grunted and scoffed. "It's your funeral."
With his hands guiding hers she let the lightning shift in her hands and out again to fingertips it crackled menacingly and with the combined Force of their two arms it came out a sickly shade of green. She frowned and he could feel her jaw tighten as she changed the color of the power into a delightful shade of red. He blanched for a moment and it nearly dissipated. She had changed the color of his energy.
"How did you-" he began, but she waved her hand.
She smiled wickedly. "I change a lot of people, it must be my charming smile."
He shook his head. "I don't think-"
"No you don't," said Malak coldly from the side of the door.
Bandon was feeling a flush rise up his neck as he removed his hands from where they were still lightly resting on Revan's. She, however, did not even blink. She frowned at Malak. "Where have you been?"
Malak shot a disparaging look towards him and Bandon felt one of his windpipes collapse for less than a second and then release, he resisted gasping, but recognized the warning. Malak regarded Revan with a dry amusement. "I was eating... it's late into the night, you have been in here all day."
She frowned and lifted herself up, seemingly unaware of the tension between the two men. "Why did you have to tell me that," her stomach growled. "Ignorance is bliss!"
Malak's mouth quipped at that but he decided to ignore it. "If you're nice I'll tell you where I hid the Echanian tea biscuits."
She pouted as he walked closer to her. "That's not fair," she wrapped a finger around the clasp on her dark robes and flashed him a devious grin. "I'm never nice."
He laughed and wrapped a territorial arm around her. She curled into him and snaked an arm around his waist. He allowed himself one sharp glare backwards at Bandon.
A warning. Bandon rubbed his neck cautiously and decided that this was one warning he would not be soon to forget.
She scanned the texts aggressively and began to fear her findings. 'In using anger and hate, one achieves a massive surge of power, unfamiliar to those who played with peace and serenity to achieve their means. Using these more powerful, highly fraught emotions, the user is much stronger. The greater the emotion, the greater the strength.'
"I've been doing this..." she murmured mostly to herself, as a surge of blackness swept through her. She felt for the first time in months that someone, something understood her. She felt almost at ease knowing that there were others calling upon their emotions to power this new, incredibly strong energy. She knew how to use it now, but she needed to know more about it. She shifted through more of the archives and was only brought out of her trance by strong hands on her shoulders. It took less than a second to realize they were not hands that should be touching her.
Bandon's attentions were becoming frustrating. She did not know if he was attempting to wean her away from Malak, or if he was in a desperate power struggle for Malak's attention and using her for his means. He had even begun to shave his head like Malak, and quiet frankly it looked rather idiotic. She tensed as he began to speak.
"You are very tense, Revan." He began to rub her shoulders, noticing her stiffness. "I've never seen a student here work so hard," he chuckled bitterly, "Other than me, of course. I've overextended myself to the point," he whispered hoarsely in her ear, "where I am so wound up I'm about to burst..."
She moved forwards out of his grasp and turned to face him. "You underestimate me, when you size me up like that, Bandon."
He grinned lazily and shrugged. "I'm glad..." he straightened out his collar. "You're going to get a lot of that here, its best if you keep your guard up."
She cocked an eyebrow. "You were either testing me, you are incredibly good at backtracking."
He smiled and nonchalantly tilted his head. "You decide." He cast a worried glance behind him and frowned. "You should go, someone high ranking student has already challenged Malak," he grinned again, "It should be fun scrapping the challenger off the walls..."
Revan frowned but said nothing. She had a feel that Bandon's attention was just at the dark energy that was pulsating around her. He seemed to be more interested in Malak lately, which led her to believe that Malak was delving more into this than she was.
Bandon had already gone after the excitement and left the door open for her.
She sighed. "I should have let him go to Dantooine..." her hands curled around the datapad on the desk. Tears stung at her eyes, but she quickly banished them. It was too late for regrets; it was too late for anything. The Star Forge awaited her and it's promise of freedom and power left her trembling.
After finding the star map in the tomb of Naga Sadow, the rest of the year went by like a blur. They finally had the coordinates to the Star Forge System; it took them a few weeks to reach it, as the route was not well traveled. Revan and Malak traveled on their new cruiser alone, but a few Sith ships followed. Revan had made her way up the ranks and destroyed every last bit of competition in her way. She had defeated Master Kumar without an ounce of effort and demanded the allegiance of every Sith in the Academy.
Darth Allant, by some freak coincidence had been at the Academy when Master Kumar was defeated. He offered to make Revan his apprentice, but she refused and tore him down as quickly as she had Master Kumar. The darkness had begun to overwhelm her. She was reveling in the power that it bore her. The few students other than Bandon and Malak that had seen her without her mask had been quickly disposed of. She refused to let anyone see her without it. She banished the image of a happy carefree ex-Jedi. She was Darth Revan, leader of the Sith and soon to be leader of the Republic as well. Her strategic mind could not pass up the advantageous opportunity of attacking the Republic now in there damaged state.
With the power of the Star Forge and the Republic already weakened, Revan could crush them into submission and bring about a new golden age, just as Exar Kun had attempted to almost forty years back. She had dealt swiftly with the Rakata, promising each tribe knowledge and power in exchange for her help. The Elders had been a different story, they were not as easily duped with promises of glory, but when she falsely promised to destroy the dark artifact, they had agreed and even broken traditions to allow Malak to accompany her.
She stood on the large temple of the Elders as she watched the Star Forge lift off into the sky. She walked slowly her new robes, crimson and black, with a floating gray cloak, pulsating with dark energy, flowed in step with her. They were just another fringe benefit to the Star Forge's great power. She walked the expanse and stopped near the edge of the temple, Malak stayed back by the launching gate. She pulled the mask off and the darkness that was all around her intoxicated her very being.
She looked out towards the small world that was just the first of many to fall under her grasp and let a cool unemotional smile cross her face. Her once bright eyes were dark and tinged with shadows.
She brought her hands out to grasp the energy the flowed from everything around her. "All mine..." she whispered bitterly.
She silently sat down in a small booth by one of the large windows showing the beauty and simplicity of the Telosian landscape. She could be lost easily here in this simple place. No demanding stares, no one awaiting her orders, no one trying to gauge her weakness, just another young woman in a crowd. Malak was easily recognizable here, but that was for the best, she had been growing apart from him lately. The separation that had been made clear was when the roles of 'Master' and 'Apprentice' had been designated. She had refused to acknowledge anything of the sort; bruising Malak's tender ego would be of no use to her.
But he did not give the orders. The troops listened to her command, her voice. They would bow to her, because they knew she was stronger. Malak knew she was stronger and that was where the tiny crack in their relationship had become a canyon. All because of selfish male pride. She supposed that if she were male it would not have made it much better. Malak would have the same feelings of anger and resentment, but they would not be tinged with the confusion that she was sure he felt.
She could feel that the overflowing pot of emotions he carried for her was doing just that, overflowing. Soon there would be no love to call on; no late night visits to his quarters. She was resigned to let this happen, just as she was resigned to beat down the Republic into submission, when her heart screamed no.
But what was the pithy screaming of her heart, compared to the haunting strong voice of the dark side, not just promising, but delivering in all the power and control that she desired. She could ignore her heart; it had nothing left to it. She could remember thinking with her heart, letting it guide her compassionate and altruistic tendencies that the Jedi had twisted out of her.
She was no longer a pawn of the Jedi council. She was not even a pawn of the Sith. She was the Dark Lord Revan, leader of them all. Revan sighed and immersed herself in the view. Right now, her heart was louder, right now she was listening and she knew she did not want to be Darth Revan, the ruler of the galaxy. She wanted to be Revan Talke, little sister to Brenan, normal girl who had many admirers and helped with the farming.
"Normal..." she scoffed, halfheartedly. She had never been normal. Even on Deralia she was always at arms with her father, never paying attention to the nursemaids words of wisdom about cooking and cleaning and raising children. She would rather climb the trees and cut her skirts to shreds, or throw rocks at the other boys when they made fun of her. Instead of attending to her older cousin's needs when she visited, Revan would go jump into her brother's arms and beg him to take her to his ship, so she could sit in the bridge and listen to the engines hum with activity. She would climb on the roof and watch the stars, wishing she could be there with him, fighting and saving the galaxy.
Now she looked down from the stars from the greatness of the Star Forge and the ships it provided and she wished that she could just go back down. She wished she could learn all the etiquettes involved in courtship and the intricacies of the droids that helped with farming, instead of building up more of HK-47's assassination capabilities.
She wished that the stench of blood did not follow her where she went. More than that, she wished that she could just disappear right here and not think of it again. She found herself contemplating the possibility. No one had seen her as Jedi Revan; they had seen a cold mask and billowing robes. She admired her reflection in the glass near her. Her hair was pulled back loosely and a large over-shirt hung off her skinny frame, the height of Telosian fashion. She could fit in fine here.
A waiter came and spoke in a breezy voice, she paid him little mind, but indicated that she wanted some tea. He nodded and gave her a warm smile before he walked off. She sighed lightly; he would never assume that she had killed Mandalore with barely breaking a sweat. She gave a quick look over she shoulder to the reason that she had this excuse to pop off from reality.
Saul Karath was still chatting up some Republic officers; he seemed to be taking one of them to the side and talking to him seriously. She turned back around, ignoring him. Karath was all fine and well, but he valued Malak's ruthless risk taking more than her battle strategy, as of late. It was a waste of an officer and it was obvious why he had not been promoted to Fleet Admiral sooner.
She let her gaze wander back to the window, shutting all thoughts of battle and strategies from her mind, the next target was on the close edge of the outer rim, she did not want to think about it until... later. For now she took in the autumn that hung crisp in the air and the browning of the leaves that blew in the wind put her heart at peace, if only for a moment. She liked it here. It was calming her nerves, making her forget all that she had done and all that she was about to do.
She spied the shipyard from the corner of the window. She supposed that Malak was still sulking on the ship. He would stick out like a sore thumb here, but she... she could just disappear. She sighed deeply and took the warm beverage from the waiter with a serene smile. She warmed her fingers around the cup and took a sip, letting the warmth run through her. She took another careful glance back at Karath; he was now in a jovial routine where a few of the Republic wives were complaining that he was talking away their husbands.
She wished she could be that at ease. She mind wandered into a state of half meditation as she watched the progress of a leaf fluttering uselessly in the wind.
"Rev Talke?" a male voice brought her out of her reverie. She tried to place his face... it was vaguely familiar. And there was hardly anyone who called her 'Rev' anymore.
She put the mug down and turned to look fully at him. "Yes?"
He caught that she did not remember him and gave a friendly smile. "I'm Jones Aden..." he looked off to the side. "I was in Brenan's company."
She nodded and felt her hand grow numb. "I remember you..." she indicated him to sit and he took the seat next to her a bit awkwardly. "You were the one to get Brenan to hit on that Gammoreon mercenary..."
He smiled wryly. "I still can't believe he did it, almost got his arm cut off for the trouble," he chuckled bitterly, "Talke did anything for a dare."
Revan nodded and looked down at her cup. "Yea..."
Jones rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "Uh... he, he was a real good guy."
She nodded numbly and felt the vestiges of tears she thought were gone sting the edge of her vision. "He was..."
Jones waved to the waiter and sighed as he was brought a cup of some steaming black liquid. "He was really proud of you, you know?"
She looked up and was surprised at how much that simple phrase lightened her heart. "He was?"
He nodded and leaned back in the booth. "Never shut up about his 'perfect Jedi sister.'" He shook his head. "We honestly were considering shoving him out an airlock to shut him up..." he laughed. "He was even proud of your Swoop Racing skills!"
She looked incredulous and crinkled her nose. "He used to lecture me for hours about that!"
Jones waved her off. "Nah, that's only cos he had to... big brother thing and all," he took a sip of his drink, "But he used to watch the swoop races on the vids and would always point out where you were."
She smiled lightly and did not need the drink to warm her. "He never told me that..."
Jones took another sip and grimaced before taking a larger one. "Talke was, well he was never one for telling people what they meant to him, but you knew it... cos well, he just had a way of expressing himself..." he sighed dreamily. "Made me ask the misses to marry me, you know?"
Revan shook her head. "No, I didn't know you were married."
He grinned. "Three years; she's over there harassing Karath with Onasi's wife right now..." he chuckled. "Poor guy."
Revan made a noncommittal sound. "I didn't know he was so big on setting people up?"
Jones laughed hard and held his chest tightly. "That guy even got Hurst a steady woman!" he sobered and looked down at his empty mug. "Lost Hurst too, I miss that lecherous bastard." Jones shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs that were threatening to take place. He looked up to where his wife was and nodded hard. "Look, Rev?"
She nodded, enjoying her nickname being used by someone who reminded her of brother. "Yes?"
He released his mug and pulled out a few credit chips. "I've got to get back to duty in a day or so, but I'll be back for shore leave next month, you should," he sighed, "well you should look me and the old lady up, you could have dinner with us or something. It'd..." he scratched his chin. "It'd be nice."
Revan bit her lip and realized she would like nothing better. "I'll think about that..."
He smiled and got himself up from the table. "Alright lemme see your datapad, I'll put my house on there, mind you it's a run down piece of crap, but ya get what you get." She gave a small smile and handed him her datapad, he quickly put in the coordinates. "One month, young lady, I expect to see you there?"
She nodded. "I'll try."
He smiled. "Well I'd better save Saul from the clutches of my wife, before he gets himself killed."
She looked despondently back out at the view and lifted herself out of her seat with a fresh sigh. She glanced at the table and saw that Jones had paid for her drink as well as left a hefty tip. She quirked a small smile and started to walk out of the establishment, sensing that Karath was making some excuse to follow her. She would see him back on the ship along with the officers he recruited.
She would see him on the Star Forge after he had proven himself in the advancing battle near the Tekros Station.
Malak's footsteps echoed ominously in the greatness of the Star Forge's viewing bay. Revan was staring out on the highest platform her arms crossed across her chest. A few Dark Jedi and Acolytes wandered around the lower platforms, attending to trivial tasks and being eyes and ears for the Sith fleet. His stride was unmistakable and overconfident. He felt empowered and the darkness of the Star Forge bled into him and wrapped around his emotions. His red robes, made personally by the Star Forge's many talents, trailed behind him.
He made his way up to the platform to stand a short bit away. He could hear her breathing, it was slow and steady, but too forced, she was angry. He would never have been able to tell otherwise, she was guarding her emotions unusually well, a skill she had never truly mastered until her acceptance of the dark side. Her face was covered by that mask and her hood was up, she had only taken it off in his presence a month ago after they had left Telos to move the fleet to a fresh location.
"You wished to see me, Revan?" he kept the disdain from his voice, after her visit to the planet she had her attention focused on other things than him, she was constantly making upgrades to that damned droid and sending him out on missions, she had even advanced his assassination protocol to an all time level. The once accidental program had now become part of his core.
"What happened?" it was a simple question. He knew her too well to not know what she was asking about. If she was someone else he would have strangled her for her vagueness, but Revan needed few words for him to respond. He did not, however enjoy the force in her tone, it sounded like a commander asking for a report.
He shrugged away his rising disgust and turned his nose up. "The planet is in complete ruins, that Leviathan is a very useful ship. The interdictor class is of high use," he gave a feral smile, "The planet was left in almost complete ruins, it was," he paused for a moment as he realized that he was slipping back into talking to her as an equal, as his friend. "Satisfying," he finished with no undertone his voice.
She was still turned away from him. "There was no need to decimate that planet."
He scoffed. "There was every need, because the power was there and I used it."
He saw her shoulders visibly tense as she kept her vision planted firmly out the windows. "You were very vocal with your order to destroy Telos... a worthless," for a moment, a brief moment, she paused, "target with no tactical advantage," her voice became something to fear, he could feel the anger, passion and that emotion she carried with no name coming from it, "And you quiet possibly alienated any possible hope of gaining loyalty from grateful Republic soldiers."
He felt defiance at her rebuking tone. "Admiral Karath needed to be tested. He needed to prove his loyalty, you said so yourself."
"No. Karath had nothing to do with it. You wanted them to know who was to be feared," she finally turned her cold gaze at him, it was visible under her mask from the short distance. He could see the fury burning in her eyes. "You put on a show of male chauvinistic bravado just to give you a stronger image," she left the 'than me' unsaid. "You destroyed a planet just like the Mandalorians and desecrated countless lives for no reason."
He glared at her insolently, ignoring the rage seething underneath her seemingly calm exterior. "There is no death, There is the Force," he hissed, knowing it would slice right through to the weakest part of her, her heart.
It took all of a second and her arm whipped out. Her wrist jerked up and two fingers stood erect. She made three quick sharp motions with her wrist and let her arm drop. Malak's eyes bulged in pain and it looked almost comical as his jaw began to drop off, severed completely and even artistically from his mouth. Blood gushed and a look of terror washed over him with a numbing kind of pain that caused him to drop to his knees in horror, while he desperately tried to scream.
Revan bent towards him with a cold calculating stare in her eyes. "You talk entirely too much, Apprentice." She waved her hand again and the wounds began to close around his face, they were sloppy and not her best work, but the bleeding had stopped. She kicked the pointless body part across the floor and it slid on the blood until it fell off the edge of the platform with a sickening crack.
She turned her to face him again and he looked at her with fear and a mixture of confusion. "Go see a medic," she lifted herself up and walked back to her vantage point over looking the fleet. "And never make an order like that without my consent again."
She noted to herself which of the Sith finally got up to help him out.
"Who the hell is Bastilla?" Revan said releasing the Force choke from the unfortunate Sith that had been given the task to report the first, second, third and fourth failure in a little over two years since she had taken charge of the war.
The officer tried desperately to regain breath, but she kicked him aside and turned towards one of his companions. The officer did not dare look her directly in the eye and had to focus on the sallow man with a metal jaw hovering the background. After the feeling of disdain and anger was shot at him he quickly turned to looking at the point right above Darth Revan's head. "She is a Jedi, my lord."
Revan almost laughed, but it came out as a sharp scoffing sound instead that made the officer wince. "You lost, because of a Jedi?"
He felt the Force wrap around his neck and his breathing become more laborious and he could only manage to throw out a few words. His companion from earlier was finally getting his second wind saved him, by speaking up. "She has a skill called Battle Meditation."
He was smart and did not mock Revan by assuming she did not know what it meant. After all the Dark Lord knew everything. "So why hasn't she been killed?" she looked towards Malak.
He shook his head and gritty synthesized voice came out. "Task forces that went after her were destroyed, she proves..." a slight hint of emotion could be discerned from his metallic voice, amusement, "elusive, master."
She chuckled. It was a sound not heard of from her form for a long while. "Well, we'll just have to set up a trap for this, elusive Jedi mistress, won't we apprentice?"
Malak nodded, his face impassive and unreadable. "What are you plans, master?"
She waved her hands at the two Sith officers. "Find her location and I may spare your lives," she shrugged haphazardly and smiled unnoticed under her mask. "I know what their plan is, they should be easy enough to lure in..."
"What is her plan, master?" Malak still had not moved, but the officers were edging to the door, careful to leave without upsetting the Dark Lord.
Revan turned to him and crushed an imaginary enemy in her grip. "Like any good Jedi going after the most powerful person in the galaxy..." she crossed her arms casually over her chest. "They will try to 'redeem' me."
Malak laughed, or at least his voice synthesizer did. "Amusing to say the least."
Revan nodded. "Stay on the Argos. I will be on my Flag Ship, when we lure them to us, I'll be 'unprepared' for attack." She turned towards the door and made the small distance towards it. "They will try to be prepared, might even bring four Jedi to get me," she laughed languidly again and walked out, the doors shutting quickly behind her.
If Malak still had lips they would have curled into a sinister grin. "Perfect."
She sat up stiffly in her bed. She quickly realized that it was not her bed. She could not even remember what her bed looked like. She turned around and fought desperately with the sheets that were tangled in her limbs. She tried to make a noise, but it was futile, her hands drifted towards her head and she felt the thin gauze of bandages wrapped around her head. "Unhh!"
She was desperate. She was so confused; nothing was making sense any more. Why could she not distinguish where she was? A portly woman rushed in and set at putting her arms down. She could not fathom how she could hold her down; she should have been able to break her with a flick of her hand. But then in a moment she could not remember why she had that thought. And in another moment she could not remember having that thought.
"Simmer down, kitten," the portly woman spoke in soothing tones and started to run her hand through the hair that was poking out under the bandages. "You've been through a lot, sweet'eart. I was not 'specting you up this early. But the Jedi must 'ave done some of that poking around in there and 'elped ya out a bit."
She felt her muscles relax as something was injected into her. "There ya go, kitten. Just sleep a bit longer and t'en maybe we can get ya to sit up tomorrow."
She fell into a deep dreamless rest and all the thoughts that she could barely hold onto slipped from her grasp.
"Ariate's a bit of an odd name, kitten," Lorana, the portly woman who ran the care center, where she was staying, murmured thoughtfully.
"Why is that?" she asked staring up at the large expanse of sky. Haven was a beautiful and peaceful place and sitting on the roof in the middle of the day was not the best place to have lunch for most people and some might say that a recovering patient from a serious head injury was not in the condition to do so. She would have ignored them, she felt fine, save some muscle atrophy from the coma and the severe memory loss that occurred.
"Well the Jedi, nice folks they are saving yere life like that," she smiled and worked her hands through the complicated weaving process that was situated on her lap. "The pad that they left with the little bit of information we 'ave on ya says yere from Deralia."
"And?" she asked where her fingers were carefully learning how to sew buttons back on one of the workers shirts. She could honestly say she never remembered doing this sort of thing before, but it made the tremors in her hands calm down.
Lorana smiled at her and straightened out the fabric she was working with. "I don't know too much 'bout that planet, but I do know that they name their children before they're born and it's always a more masculine name, something t'at could go either way..." she brushed off some dust from the shingle beside her. "Only 'emembered t'at because it sounded awful strange to me."
"So why is Ariate Talke an odd name?" she asked, genuinely curious and not the least bit offended.
Lorana waved her hand feebly. "Never said 'Talke' was odd, that's a very common Deralian surname from what I hear, but Ariate is mighty pretty for one," she smiled, "Your parents must have really wanted a girl."
She frowned at her and let out a sharp, "No." She blinked and shook her head; the feeling that had caused her to say that disappeared. "I'm sorry, I don't know where that came from."
Lorena smiled. "Well, kitten... that's alright you deserve a few slips with the rate of healing that yere progressing. I'm not surprised that ya are already wanted back at work, ya are progressing at an amazing healing rate. This should have taken years, not months," her eyes twinkled. "Ya even picked up sewing nicely, although the cooking could still use some work."
Her face reddened and she thought to quickly change the subject. "So what ship am I reporting to again?"
Lorena sighed. "Too soon if you ask me, child," she shook her head, "You'll be going to the Endar Spire. The Jedi have some need of you as a translator or something of that sort... surprised that knock to yere head didn't take out all those languages ya got in there."
"How long?" she stretched her legs out on the sloping roof and brought a protective hand to the back of her head carefully.
"Four weeks they says, 'course they might be late, might be early. They'll be picking ya up on a supply run. Just enjoy yere time here and now, 'ave fun bein' normal, kitten."
She looked out at the open skyline and sighed deeply. "Normal..." she smiled quietly and let her fingers continue their sewing work. "What an unusual concept."
Nagasan will NEVER be mentioned again.
A/N: Was that long or WHAT? I left out a bunch of stuff I wanted to put in, too. So this concludes Revan's life before the Endar Spire. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I liked writing it. I'm working on the sequel (and the sequel's sequel), but this can stand alone, just like the next one will be able to stand alone (and the one after that). Anyway, I'll shut up before I start getting stuff thrown at me. I finished this at exactly 1.26am on my Birthday as a random fact.