Writer's notes: Here is Book III, updated as of 19 APR 07. This is much expanded and rewritten. Some of the material is borrowed from 'Forture Favors the Bold.' We start again with Revan, supreme in her power and arrogance. She tends to use 'I' a lot to espouse her accomplishments. I want to portray Revan as the admiral and give a believeable script for her command of the fleet and the strategies she uses. I tried to stick to what the game espoused regarding Revan's strategy.
I also want to look deeper into her psyche by using first person perspective in certain passages (i.e. her log). The log is also my attempt to be cutesy and use a fictional classified military style as Revan immerses herself in the naval culture. In my silliness, the classification caveats TS/PO/H are too silly/pissed off/hungry. Thanks, Dark Siders.
We also see the subtle shifting of Malak's character and the climax at Malachor V.
...you will come to think of things in a wide sense and, taking the void as the Way, you will see the Way as void...
...spirit is nothingness.
Shinmen Musashi - Go Rin No Sho
Aboard the Eagle, excitement electrified Revan's victorious crew. After Vortex, she struck the Mandalorians again in the Gala System with devastating ferocity. Malak stood proudly on the Bridge of the great ship and looked across to Revan. "The Mandalorians did not expect such a swift follow up as the Republic they had previously faced was ponderous and predictable," he said, stroking his chin. An infectious grin lit up his face.
"…and the Mandalorians were unable to adapt to Revan's dynamic approach to warfare," added Mai-Lyn T'Sing as she swept her hand toward space where the detritus of the Mandalorian fleet spun aimlessly.
Revan sat comfortably in her command seat, viewing her triumph. The strategic situation display revealed the Mandalorians in full retreat across the sector. "How are our losses, Bandon?" she asked with genuine concern.
"Significant, but manageable, Revan," he replied in a boisterous voice. "Ground forces are mopping up any resistance." She could see that he was growing to love this game of slaughter.
"Very well. Secure the system and begin interrogating any prisoners for intelligence. I will be in my ready room," she said, ending all discussion. She stood and turned abruptly, letting her cloak spin behind her. With a curt nod, she strode from the bridge as the others bowed low.
In her private room, Revan brought out her sacred holocron. For a moment, she envisioned Master Vrook presenting it to her, his face full of joyful pride.
Now is not the time for such nostalgia. I have a war to fight and a Republic to save.
The vision changed her mood and she felt sullen and alone now. Holding her holocron, she infused it with her energy and it began to glow and grow warm. It is time to enter my thoughts again. I wonder if anyone will ever see this…know my thoughts and feelings. I hope this will all be worth it. I wonder what kind of world I will leave behind. Her face was grim and drawn and she spoke in a low monotone, using decidedly military verbiage. She had quickly become indoctrinated into the culture and life of the fleet, such was her determination to lead by example.
Admiral's Log – Republic Naval Ship (RNS) Eagle – In orbit around Gala II
040104 – 2344Z
I have defeated Mandalore again, but at what cost this time?
My proud fleet swept their ships from the system in a bold maneuver. I ordered my destroyers and frigates to screen our approach and snipe at the Mandalorian Fleet from long range. This had the desired effect of wearing down their formations until the Mandalorians charged out to prove their honor; my study of the Mandalorian mindset is paying off. As their warships charged out piecemeal, I defeated them in detail, routing them from the system.
Captain Saul Karath has proven his worth and my support of him was a wise decision. His star is on the rise and he will no doubt prove to be an excellent leader.
I bypassed two of the more fortified planets after ringing them with defensive satellites for containment and obliterating their supplies with our new bacterial weapon…let them eat their Basilisk Droids for food.
It was when we began landing on the Second Planet that the Mandalorians bit back. We encountered heavy resistance in the mountains overlooking the capitol and our offensive bogged down. It was here that I was forced to make my most difficult decision yet.
In order to overcome the Mandalorian counterattack, I was forced to reallocate troops from one sector to another. I ordered Jorax to hold the rear guard and delay the enemy. Brave Jorax…his force was overrun and slaughtered. His sacrifice was not in vain; I personally led the Republic troops in ambushing the overconfident Mandalorians. Their annihilation was most satisfying. Malak and Bandon fought with a rare ferocity and Mai-Lyn was oblivious to danger as always.
I have to believe that Jorax's death is all for the greater good. I must believe it.
I finally had to confront the Minister of the Navy, bloated bureaucrat that he is. He was extremely upset with my lack of contact and coordination prior to Vortex and threatened to remove me several times. His incessant and useless demands for updates and meaningless documentation were part of what was costing the Republic the war. Since my victory at Vortex, he insisted that we accept his political appointees as part of my staff. I refused and we exchanged rather heated words. I finally agreed to accede to his demands and turn in my resignation at the same time. Apparently, the Supreme Chancellor had something to say about this as the subject went away, never to return. I suppose victory is job security.
I feel that I have become part of this fleet and it has become part of me. I have indoctrinated myself into the military culture and have learned their particular and sometimes idiosyncratic mannerisms; salutes, briefings…and, by the Force…the acronyms are enough to drive one insane. To this end, however, I have tried to learn everything I can about the running of a fleet. I have even piloted a starfighter and feel close to mastering its intricacies.
I have already reorganized the command and control, operational, and intelligence sections to streamline the fleet. I've made sure that rewards are given to the deserving and that promotion is merited. There was a lot of dead wood from the previous command to clear out. There will be no room for incompetence in my fleet.
Some of the changes I have made are in introducing 'Force Multipliers' into the fleet. These units will support operations and increase the effectiveness of front line units. Advanced detection, communications, and command and control will give us a decided edge against the Mandalorians, who funnel all of their resources into combat.
I will also begin aggressive intelligence operations. Indraal and Bandon have begun to train agents to gather information ahead of the fleet and to infiltrate the enemy. We will know their every move and blind them to our plans. Knowing the Mandalorian culture and their clannish tendencies, I shall fracture them by turning clan against clan.
Although the war effort has taken a positive turn due to my efforts, I fear that personally, I am…less well off. On the positive side, Malak continues to be my strength and he has taken on a new sense of confidence. He will be a great leader in his own right one day if he continues to follow my concepts.
However, I am plagued by strange visions…visions of my visit to the ruins in Dantooine. I find that I am changed somehow…more callous…angrier. I try and attribute it to the horrors of war…the dead that I have seen and the friends that I have lost. I should feel more for Jorax's loss, but I don't.
Above all, I keep dreaming of a dark circle, simple in its form. I try and convince myself that it stands for completion, but I fear it is the void…the utter darkness of the soul.
I must go now and attend to fleet matters.
End Admiral's Log
Revan stood and inhaled deeply, brushing her ebony locks back behind her ears. Despite her immersion in the military lifestyle, she kept to her Jedi rituals as a way of maintaining her focus and her power. She departed the bridge as marines came to attention and she retreated to her quarters to meditate.
Revan changed into a crimson robe and knelt on the carpet with her holocron beside her. With a respectful bow, she placed her lightsaber on the ground in front of her and closed her eyes. The holocron levitated and spun slowly, glowing with the Force and Revan drew upon its knowledge.
Inspired, she took a light wand and took several deep breaths; this was a technique that the Masters would often use to divine the will of the Force. The wand glowed brightly in the dark chamber and Revan allowed the Force to guide her hand. In a flowing brush stroke, she drew a perfect circle…no beginning…no end. The image remained illuminated in mid air and Revan's jaw dropped. With a gasp, she stepped back away from the circle.
It was the void.
x x X x x
Despite her meditation, Revan was still ill at ease. She fidgeted endlessly, drumming her fingers on her desk until she activated her intercom. "Malak, meet me in the training room…bring your lightsaber." She grunted and wrapped her hand around the silver cylinder that was her weapon. She found that she wanted a fight.
Revan entered the wide room and saw Malak waiting eagerly. Dressed in his red body suit, he cut an imposing figure. With a shake of his head, he flung his blond hair from his blue eyes and gazed down his nose at Revan. "I am growing daily in strength. You will be hard pressed," he said, his voice tinged with hubris.
She nodded slowly and walked onto the blue mat, her feet gliding over the soft material. She drew her lightsaber and held it up to him with both hands, palms up. With deep respect, she bowed and then drew her right foot back, taking an engarde stance. The weapon flared to life.
Malak duplicated her ritual, but took a wide stance, shoulders squared toward his opponent. A cyan blade shot forth, flickering as if shrouded in a blue flame. He held it forward aggressively in his right hand, letting the blade cross in front of his face.
Revan smiled. "You have mastered Ataru, I see…and that Barab Ingot you infused your weapon with…very impressive. It should be a challenge for my Ultima Pearl."
He advanced aggressively as was his style and delivered a powerful overhead cut, which Revan batted to the side. She torqued her hips and cut over the tip of his blade and sliced toward his midsection. Malak turned the point of his weapon down, parallel to his body and intercepted Revan's riposte.
There, they stood for a moment, corps a corps, eye to eye, blades sizzling in their power. Malak stepped forcefully forward, checking Revan with his powerful body, knocking her back. As her black hair swirled around her head, Malak cut her across the shoulder.
Revan grunted as the stun-powered blade bit into her. She grit her teeth, eyes reddening with anger. Something flashed in her mind…a dark circle.
Malak laughed. "You are distracted, Revan. I will soon be your equal with the blade, and then, I will be the stronger one."
The void hovered in Revan's mind for several seconds as her chest heaved with her breathing. It beckoned to her…called to her and her mind willingly emptied to it. Standing, Revan resumed an engarde stance.
With new confidence, Malak moved laterally and struck with an oblique cut. Revan stepped sideways and parried the cut downward. She delivered a blur of diagonal slashes, forcing Malak back sharply, and then placed her weight on her back leg, point to the heavens.
They circled for a moment until Malak stopped, trying to stare Revan down. She met his gaze blankly until he twitched. Revan felt his breathing change and Malak surged forward delivering his strongest overhead cut. At the last millisecond, Revan twisted her body, letting Malak's blade pass harmlessly in front of her.
The point of her weapon touched Malak's throat and he gasped at the warmth of the stun-set blade. Her need for battle had been sated and she withdrew the sparkling point from his skin.
Without expression, she said, "You may be stronger than me one day…but that day is not today."
x x X x x
Months passed as Revan continually adapted new strategies to keep the Mandalorians off balance and they steadily retreated in the face of her onslaught. From system to system, sector to sector, she ground them into dust.
Led by an operative named Jaq Rand, intelligence agents penetrated Mandalore's forces and spread mistrust and dissent while feeding disinformation about Revan's strategies. Iron discipline allowed the Republic forces to take the worst the Mandalorians had to offer and still hold the line. Command and control units coordinated offensives in Revan's grand orchestra of retribution. Her willingness to sacrifice for the greater good drew Mandalore into trap after trap. Finally, and most important, her reputation for victory and her immense charisma made men willing to die at her word.
Now, in her finest dress uniform, Revan stood in the conference room of the Eagle, surrounded by leaders, tested in battle, and nodded her satisfaction. "My loyal family… and that is what we have become, a family, forged in the fires of conflict. My pride in what we have become is boundless."
"I am pleased to announce my elevation to Vice Admiral by order of the Supreme Chancellor. I am to command the combined forces…."
Applause broke out, flooding the room with noise. Revan raised her hand, silencing them.
"…in the invasion of Malachor."
x x X x x
Admiral's Log – Republic Naval Ship (RNS) Eagle – Enroute to Malachor
040104 – 0444Z
Mandalore is finished. I have isolated thousands of his 'touted' warriors, many of whom have actually surrendered. My intelligence and psychological campaigns have borne much fruit. I now hold a dagger to Mandalore's throat with this Grand Army of the Republic. I must admit, he has my grudging respect…he has fought well and with honor, but, in the end, there can be only one left standing.
Malak has proven to be a capable leader and I have given him the Third Fleet, my former command. Sion will command the shock troops. His physical prowess is magnificent and his ability to endure pain is inhuman. I have assigned Bandon to be Malak's Second in Command. They have always been close and it shall strengthen our fleet…and of course, Mai-Lyn shall command the ground forces. Though her lack of concern for casualties can be disturbing, I cannot question her strategy or her dedication to the greater good.
Captain Karath continues to impress me. In the last battle he launched his attack at the outer range of his starfighters. Risky…but it paid off. He caught the Mandalorians as they were rearming and annihilated an entire wing. His Squadron Commander, Forn Dodonna…a strong woman and a fierce fighter. I shall observe her progress. Saul also mentions a Carth Onasi and puts a lot of trust in him. I have researched Onasi's skills and he would be a valuable addition to my inner circle.
My visions of the void no longer plague me…I have embraced it and it has empowered me. I have trained hard. The holocron I found revealed fighting techniques unheard of on Dantooine and I have incorporated them into my own style. My weapons are infused with the most powerful cells, the finest emitters, and the most focused lenses. My power in the Force grows with what I learned from that crone, Kreia. She promised to teach me more once this war is over.
I saw the fear in the eyes of the last Mandalorians I faced and I reveled in their terror. This is the fate that they have sown for themselves. Though I respect them, I give them no pity.
It is time…I have embraced the void like a lover.
End Admiral's Log
The admiral put her holocron on the desk and retrieved her lightsaber from a stand. With the greatest of reverence, she held it out and bowed to it. Then, slowly, she clipped the cylinder to her belt.
It is time. I can sense the change in the thrum of the ion engines. I can feel the energy in the Malachor System. I can smell the fear in the Mandalorian people. It is time.
Revan's grand fleet dropped out of hyperspace and the battle was joined. Immediately, her intelligence agent detonated charges on board several Mandalorian ships, throwing the line into confusion and doubt. Electronic warfare platforms then brought down much of the defense grid, stripping them of needed firepower.
The battle raged for three days three days thereafter with the Mandalore throwing every last warrior at Revan. Canderous Ordo and Bendak Starkiller staged a brilliant counterattack against Malak's forcer, nearly shattering them, but Revan's ships infiltrated the enemy fleet and obliterated their line.
As Revan, in her personal starfighter, slaughtered the Mandalorian fleet, General T'Sing battled the enemy on the icy surface of Malachor VII. In a final, brutal assault, Mai-Lyn ground the enemy to dust, suffering horrendous losses. As the Mandalorian fortress collapsed, Malak unleashed the ultimate weapon.
Aboard a Starfighter
Deep in space, the epic naval battle was winding down and a lone craft darted ahead of the massive Republic task force. Secure in the cockpit of her Jedi starfighter, Admiral Revan sat, grinning from ear to ear. The Mandalorian fleet lay in tatters and the detritus of war floated lazily in the vacuum of space. Bits of durasteel hull, ruined ion engines, and Mandalorian bodies drifted with the tides of battle. Here and there, a lone warship or a handful of Basilisk Droids fought on against the overwhelming might of Revan's war machine.
I have crafted the finest military force the galaxy has ever seen. It will be a shame to lay down my sword when this is over.
Raising the visor of her black helmet, she looked down at her systems display and several red lights were blinking. "Tee Two, I'm leaking oxygen and fuel. The lateral thruster is acting up as well. See what you can do."
As the astromech droid poked and prodded the starfighter's controls, the Force called to Revan. Enemy ships were trying to reform a defense. In her mind, she could visualize the Mandalorian warships gathering and she reached out beyond the confines of her body.
Malak, now is the time, my Rock. Strike the Mandalorians while they are reforming. You can cut off their escape. Capture as many as you can. I may have need of them later.
In her thoughts, she could see her lover nod. He was obedient, but there was something there…something he was not telling her. She focused her power and extended it into him, burrowing into his mind.
What is it, Malak? I sense something in you.
She could see him shudder under her mental probe, but the call of the droid broke her concentration. "Bleep bebop."
"Huh? Oh, good…you've made repairs. Excellent, let's get back in the fight."
Revan put the disturbing thought of Malak's resistance out of her mind and maneuvered the starfighter toward a cluster of enemy ships. With the Force, she could sense Malak's fleet closing in on the last line of resistance…along with another presence.
There is something else…a shuttle heading for Malachor Five…unusual power readings.
Attempting to focus in on the shuttle, Revan turned her thoughts in that direction, but something flashed by her canopy.
A laser bolt! Damn, I was distracted.
Revan jinked sharply to the left and a Basilisk Droid shot by, cannons blazing. She jammed down hard on the right rudder pedal and the nose of her craft spun to face the enemy…only there were now five of them.
Revan yawed the nose of her craft to starboard and unleashed a rippling tide of laser fire that tore through one droid. The droid tumbled end over end before bursting like an egg, scattering parts and plasma. "Guns kill!" she called on the comm link.
The other droids fired in unison, but Revan felt the bolts before they were launched and streaked away, letting the plasma trails burn through empty space.
With her helmet mounted sight, she looked right at one droid as they passed and a targeting reticule appeared over the enemy, followed by a loud warbling tone. She pressed the button on her stick and a missile shot from a weapons bay. "Fox Two!"
Peeling away from the formation, the bandit rolled and flares burst from its hull as the missile turned hard to starboard. Revan continued on, attempting to find another target – the missile would track on its own. She pitched the nose upward and unleashed another volley of energy, raking the belly of a passing droid. Bolts sizzled through the beast's armor and into its sensitive innards. A glow appeared through the holes in its hide, followed by flame and explosion.
"Guns kill, second bandit."
Revan looked to the left and saw her missile close on the targeted bandit. It weaved past flares, rolling and pitching with the Mandalorian and finally streaked into its engines. The warhead detonated, hurling plasma and frag through the ion turbines, rupturing the volatile fuel cells and the droid burst into orange radiation.
"Fox Two kill, third-"
Something slammed into her and flame and debris filled her canopy. A Mandalorian had rammed her in a suicide attack.
"I'm hit! Shields gone. Tee Two!"
There was no response. Revan's starfighter spun out of control with red lights flashing on her Master Caution Panel. Sweat rolled down her body within her black, form-fitting flight suit.
"Structural integrity compromised…shields inoperative…engine fire left…APU inoperative…sensors inoperative…."
The crack on her canopy was the worst of the lot. She looked back to see her droid sparking and its head spinning wildly.
Two Basilisk Droids darted by and came about. Revan reached down and grabbed the handles of her ejection mechanism, but the two droid erupted in flame.
"Admiral Revan, this is Commander Dodonna. We've got you covered," her squadron commander called as eight Republic starfighters flew by.
"Down ya go!" came another call from a man with a familiar voice.
Forn Dodonna spoke again, "Carth, shut up. The Admiral has better things to do than to listen to your hooting."
The admiral sighed with relief and turned her starfighter back toward the Eagle. "You two are a credit to the Republic. I shall see that you get everything you deserve."
"Thank you, Admiral. We'll escort you right into the landing bay," Carth said with a hint of pride in his voice.
Forming a protective ring around the admiral, the Republic pilots guided Revan into the bay, where she put the starfighter on the deck. She opened the cracked canopy and handed her black helmet to the crew chief, who gave her a worried look.
"I thought we'd lost you, Admiral."
She wiped the sweat from her face with a towel and stepped down from the damaged craft. "It'll take a bit more than a few Mandalorians to take me down, Chief."
"Glad to have you back, Admiral. You're needed on the bridge right away. There are some new developments."
Revan nodded and sprinted away.
On the bridge of the mighty flagship, Revan took her seat and analyzed the hologram of the battle.
"Admiral," spoke the Communications Officer, "Captain Karath reports his starfighters have eliminated the defense grid entirely."
"Put him on."
Saul appeared as a hologram on the bridge of the Eagle. "My compliments, Admiral Revan. The way to Malachor Five is clear."
"Outstanding, Captain. You may begin bombardment of the planet. Do your best to target only military facilities."
Saul nodded curtly and the hologram faded.
Suddenly, a blinding flash filled the viewscreen and Revan covered her eyes. Her insides were torn apart as the lives of billions were snuffed out. She let out an audible gasp and her being was engulfed in horror as the Force was torn asunder.
Snippets of visions filled her mind and she saw how Malak had hidden things from her. She saw the shuttle and a long cylinder hurtling toward Malachor V.
"Malak," she whispered, her body doubled over in pain, "What have you done?"
When the flash faded from view, the tactical display showed Malachor V as being nearly devoid of Mandalorian units. Revan and the Jedi on the bridge sat in stunned horror. Amid flashing lights and klaxons, a Republic officer shouted, "We have a shockwave and EMP…origin…Malachor Five!"
The display of the Mandalorian homeworld showed a dark splotch on the surface of the planet, like a void, which quickly spread like a raging virus to consume the sphere with radiation and toxic vapors. The greatest horror could not be seen, but by the most powerful of Force users. The essence, which bound all things together, was torn and wounded…perhaps fatally.
Revan watched in horror and then, she stood…stiffly, painfully. "Get Malak on the line this instant," she said with a cracking voice.
The hologram of the blond Jedi appeared. "Admiral? I have the honor of informing you that we have eliminated the Mandalorians once and for all…Is there something else that you need?" he asked with a hint of impatience. She sensed that he had prepared the statement for her and had expected her call.
Shaking, Revan pointed her finger at him. "You've tainted my victory and ruined Malachor Five. You've annihilated the entire planet! We are not murderers. The worst of the damage cannot even be seen."
She stopped and looked down, taking a deep breath. She hated to say this, but it needed to be said. Malak was becoming more willful, resistant…secretive. "Consider this a warning, Malak. I am very displeased that you did this behind my back."
He bowed curtly…his face contrite. "I am sorry, Revan…forgive me. It shall not happen again." He said with the barest hint of a smile.
Revan wanted to say more, wanted him to hold her and to beg for her forgiveness. She wanted the old trust, absolute and unwavering, but somewhere in her heart, she knew it would never be again. Her chest tightened into a cold knot and she nodded and switched the commlink off.
Malachor Five is destroyed. We've obliterated their homeworld…their people. All chance for peace is over. The Mandalorians will now fight to the death…every last one of them. Those that survive will haunt us for decades.
Her thoughts were broken by the Communications Officer. "Admiral, General T'Sing is calling. The destruction of Malachor Five is causing a lot of interference."
The general's hologram appeared, fuzzy and indistinct. "…evan, what happened? I am…tting EMP from within the system…have breached…fortress, but resistance is…heavy. Please advise."
"It's gone, Mai-Lyn."
"Gone? Wh….s gone?"
"Malachor Five…Malak destroyed it…. I destroyed it. It's my responsibility."
Mai-Lyn seemed stunned. "All of those people…obliterated. That's what I felt. The Force…."
"I felt it too," Revan added. She paused and took a moment to think. "General, we will address this later. For now, complete your assault. You can use this to your advantage. With their interplanetary communications down, the Mandalorians will not know what happened. Let them think that I have been destroyed and stage a retreat. They will smell blood and pursue you. You will know what to do."
The general nodded grimly. "I do. I will bring you victory."
Mai-Lyn's image faded and the final, savage assault brought down the fortress. When all was finished, Mai-Lyn and a cocky rust-colored droid stood in the ruins and told Revan of their victory.
The Bridge of the RNS Eagle
Revan smiled to the hologram of the general. "Excellent. I know you would not fail me. Gather the Mandalorians and treat them with honor. There will come a time when we must demonstrate to them who is the master of the galaxy, but they are not to be abused."
Mai-Lyn nodded, but said nothing.
Revan cocked her head as if observing the general. "Casualties? I sense our losses are heavy."
Mai-Lyn paused for a moment. "Ir…irrelevant, Admiral. We achieved all of our objectives," she said, her voice cracking.
"No, we must mourn every loss…when the time comes. Gather our dead. Leave none behind."
The general saluted stiffly and her hologram faded.
Revan watched the end game of the battle for several minutes until the Communications Officer received another signal. The officer's face took on an incredulous look. "It is Mandalore…on line one."
Revan raised an eyebrow. The Mandalore himself? This is unexpected.
"Put him on…."
Mandalore's deep, gravelly voice sounded over the PA, drawing everyone's attention, "Jedi Revan, it is I, Mandalore of the Unified Clans." Static and feedback screeched from the speakers momentarily while Revan sat, intent on his every word.
"I seek you out in honorable combat," he continued, his voice calm and even. "I offer you this…should you be victorious, the Unified Clans will bow to you and no other. Should I remain standing, the Republic shall leave our space and we will fight you no more. What do you say, Revan of the Jedi?" he said and then grunted his resolve.
"Let us meet in battle one final time. My only wish is to cross blades with you, face to face, as it was meant to be."
The admiral stroked her chin, thinking on his words. The Mandalorians are finished. What would I gain by fighting him?
Revan smiled – she could end it all in one duel. I gain the allegiance of the surviving clans for the Republic. I earn the respect of the Admiralty and the Senate that has eluded me. I show the Jedi Council that they were wrong. Surely they will all embrace me when I present them with the Helm of Mandalore.
Perhaps she had been too harsh on Malak, but what was said could not be taken back. Her swollen pride could not allow it. A vision of the dark sphere that had haunted her during the war appeared to her. However, instead of the cold, lifeless, soulless pain that came with the vision, the sphere was now warm and inviting.
The old crone, Kreia, said it would be this way and that it would be my power. I embrace the void. I am ready.
In her mind, she stepped up to the void and her hands touched the darkness. Raw energy rippled up her arms and she gasped as her being surged with power.
"Mandalore of the Unified Clans, I accept your challenge, though it is of no advantage to me," she said with a bluff to gain a psychological advantage. "Know this…I could obliterate your entire, miserable race, but I wish to spare my brave fleet further losses, and, more importantly, I wish to look into your eyes as I take your life," she added and then paused for effect.
"Cease fire and we shall meet on the surface outside your smoking ruin of a city in one hour." Pushing a button, she terminated the connection.
The admiral sat back into her seat and cupped her hand over her chin. On Malachor Five, what's done is done…we've destroyed an entire world and the blood is on our hands. What's done is done…it's for the greater good.
The Surface of Malachor V
Clouds of toxic, vaporous gas mushroomed up far above the background of the clearing – one of the last habitable areas of the dying world where men could breathe free. Fierce winds whipped along the plains, denuding the few remaining trees, swirling leaves into the air. Overshadowing the clearing, the tall, jagged peaks of the Mandalorian homeworld looked down upon the gathering, cold and heartless, unmoved by the slaughter of billions.
In the center of the group stood a tall man in heavy armor, his pride as broken as his planet. Though his thick, silver helmet shrouded his features, dark, poisonous clouds reflected off of his visor – an apt mirror of his soul.
Mandalorian warriors stood, surrounding their leader, the Mandalore, once the most powerful man in the known Galaxy. Now, his power extended no further than this small patch of land.
Two of the warriors quailed at the sight of the genocide in the distance where the capital city once existed and they fell to their knees, shaking. "What have we done?" cried Sherruk, the one in red armor. He dug his gauntleted fingers into the soot from the destruction of the nearby city as a madness of despair took him.
Another warrior seized Sherruk, a vibrodagger held in his clenched fist. "How dare you wail like an old woman, Sherruk! The hour of our greatest glory is at hand," yelled the warrior, Ergeron. He drew back his arm to strike, but the Mandalore stayed his hand.
Ergeron turned sharply, but the sight of his leader stole his anger. "Look at him," he said, pointing his hands at Sherruk, "This is not the way of Mandalore."
The Mandalore shook his head. "It no longer matters, brave Ergeron. There is no way of Mandalore…it is…all gone," he whispered, his voice nearly lost in the howling wind. "Sherruk is right – what have we done?"
Mandalore looked out over the devastated landscape, ruined by his failed plan to destroy Revan…ruined by the malice of Malak.
Ergeron recoiled. "What? Then Canderous died for nothing? He bled the enemy on Malachor Seven! He made General T'Sing pay for every meter of rock and ice! Canderous would weep if he saw us here, cowering like Kath pups. I will stand and die like he did…like a Mandalorian warrior."
Another Mandalorian, Geratt, approached, but the Mandalore waved him off.
The last of the great Mandalorian leaders seized Ergeron by the strap of his shoulder harness and held him fast. "And what good would Canderous' death be if no one remembered his deed? Except for Revan, the Republic has no room in its heart for honor. I tell you, Ergeron, that within half a year, the Republic bureaucrats and sycophants will claim her victory and erase our memory…and then, truly, the Mandalorians will be no more."
Before an astounded crowd, the Mandalore undid the fasteners on his helmet and pulled it off with one hand – never before had the warriors beheld the face of their leader. He held the piece out to Geratt and then fixed Ergeron with his gaze.
"I tell you this…my life is forfeit. Your lives are now given to the memory of the Mandalorians. Whether I slay Revan or I fall to her, you will do nothing but live and carry the honor of the clans. You will not let them forget us. You must promise me that one day, the Galaxy will again tremble at the sound of our name."
The clearing became silent and the ferocity of the wind died away for a while.
Then, as one, the assembled warriors stripped off their helmets too, standing as one with their leader. Ergeron tossed his helmet to the dirt, revealing his mocha skin and the scars of his many battles. He nodded at the Mandalore and at his fellows. Though it galled him to survive Canderous, he would live to tell the Galaxy of their exploits.
Sherruk drew his blade and held it to his chest. "I am sorry for my shame."
The Mandalore curled his lip up into a near smile. "The shame is mine. It is time my brothers and sisters. She approaches," he said as the whine of an ion turbine engine could now be heard.
A single shuttle emerged from the swirling, yellow clouds and fired retro-thrusters as it neared the clearing. A last ray of sun broke through the lost sky, surrounding the craft in a sickly glow, distorting its image as it settled on the ground with a loud whine of its ion turbines.
As the sound of the engines died away, the Mandalore swept his hand toward the shuttle. "Have respect. We are warriors and Revan has earned our esteem. If not for her, it would be I, landing on the Republica Avenue to take the head of the Supreme Chancellor, but the battles would not have been worth the wait."
The hatch of the shuttle opened to reveal a dark void and the Mandalore felt a twinge of fear for the first time. The reality of his inevitable doom began to sink in, overcoming his earlier bravado.
In a moment, a slender female Jedi, covered entirely in robes, blue as the deepest sea, stepped onto the soil of Malachor V, her footstep louder than the throes of the planet's destruction – never before had an enemy soldier stood upon the homeworld. It was at that very moment, that the supremacy of the Mandalorian war machine came to an end.
The Mandalore peered at his enemy, trying to discern her features, but the cowl hid all but her mouth and chin.
Ergeron leaned over. "Are you ready, Mandalore?" he asked as the wind began to howl again.
Next, a towering man dressed in red body armor with locks of gold, stepped through the portal and placed his foot on the soil of Malachor V beside Revan. This was Malak, the destroyer of worlds.
Malak swept his icy blue eyes over the assembly of Mandalorian warriors as his hair blew around his face. His strong chin jutted out in a gesture of pride over the defeated foe, giving him a severe look accentuated even more by his armor, which was cut in the form of his powerful musculature. He strode forward, his hand on the hilt of his thick lightsaber.
Thereafter, followed Mai-Lyn T'Sing, the General in Command of Ground Forces. Her platinum blonde hair trailed behind her in the breeze, mirroring the fluttering ends of the robes fitted over her Jal-Shey armor. The woman's piercing blue eyes and high cheekbones spoke to her presence of command – she was born to lead. Little did anyone know, however, the horror that ripped through her heart, an echo of the mindless slaughter that had visited the planet before.
For a moment, she closed her eyes and imagined the peace of Dantooine, the training ground of her Jedi youth where her innocence had carried her away to this far off world. Now, billions of destroyed lives later, the end of that long journey was finally at hand. This would be the war to end all wars, she thought.
The general's mind wandered again and focused on a friendly face – Atris, the Jedi Knight who had been her friend until their paths were sundered by this vicious conflict. Atris choose to remain on Dantooine, citing the Order and the Code. Captured then by Revan's charisma, Mai-Lyn had always thought Atris was the fool for clinging to the stodgy Order…but now, she understood who better deserved that title.
The general sighed. What was done was done and, in the present, there was one final struggle to be completed. "Miles to go before I sleep," she whispered to herself.
Rounding out the entourage was the dark-haired Bandon, scowling through his black goatee, robed in silver and gray. He fixed his gaze upon the Mandalorians and stood beside Malak, shoulder to shoulder.
Malak, General T'Sing, and Bandon marched proudly up to Ergeron, Sherruk, and Geratt, the Mandalore's seconds. "Behold, your conqueror," Malak announced boldly as the cowled figure removed her cloak and cast it aside.
Revan's ebony locks were tied back in a pony tail and her gray eyes scanned the assembly coldly, her angelic face unmoving and perfect as a porcelain doll's. She wore a blue, form-fitting body suit with high boots and her lightsaber was tethered to her thick belt.
In a deft motion, the admiral drew her vibrodagger, followed by identical moves from her followers. As one, they held the weapons to their hearts, points down.
Ergeron's eyes held a bittersweet expression – they honored him with the use of Mandalorian culture. Revan's understanding of their ways never ceased to amaze the clans. In response, he drew his sword and held it to his lips as the Jedi were known to do in salute.
He swept his hand back toward his leader and spoke according to tradition. "This is the Mandalore, leader of the united clans and the armored fist of the Mandalorian people. Who is his worthy opponent?"
The blond Jedi in red armor nodded in return and responded in their traditional way. "I am Malak and I introduce Jedi Revan as the Mandalore's worthy opponent. She has chosen me, General T'Sing, and Jedi Bandon as her seconds."
The mocha-skinned warrior acknowledged the Jedi. "I, Ergeron, and Geratt of the Clan Ordo, along with Sherruk of the Clan Kale are named as seconds for the Mandalore. I would like to affirm the agreement that was made between our leaders. Should Revan fall, the Republic will depart and we will fight you no more. Should the Mandalore be defeated, the clans will lay down their arms and be at Revan's mercy. Let us begin."
Revan's expression softened as she regarded the Mandalorians and it became easy for them to see why millions lay down their lives for her. Though intentionally melodramatic, her well-timed change of mood, confident stance, and noble bearing inspired all who witnessed this event. Soldier, Jedi, and warrior alike would hold their heads high in the coming years and say, "I was there, when Revan fought the Mandalore."
The seconds formed a box around the two opponents. Ergeron and Geratt walked up to the Mandalore and they each presented him with an Echani vibrosword in a stiff and formal manner. Both seconds then bowed and returned to their posts.
Revan plucked her lightsaber from her belt and waited respectfully, her stance balanced and ready.
The Mandalore bowed, now resigned to the whim of destiny. He saw in her eyes that his men would receive her mercy and that his people would survive. "Jedi Revan, I have dreamt of this moment. Victory or defeat, it is the fight that makes this worthwhile. Our duel shall be remembered for eons. This is the way of Mandalore."
His men pounded their vibrodaggers on their armored chests.
Revan returned the bow. "Mandalore, you have challenged my skills these past years. Let us finish our battle so that our sons and daughters may honor us."
The cobalt blade slid forth from its source and Revan brought the weapon to her lips. The image of the void flashed in her mind – a black circle with no beginning and no end, an image that was becoming increasingly hard for her to wipe away. For months, the dark picture had been haunting her waking moments, hovering in the recesses of her mind, drawing her deeper into its embrace like her lover Malak had done. Only, unlike the warmth of his flesh, the cold clutches of the black circle chilled her.
No beginning…no end…an endless, powerful darkness that had infected Revan since she found that holocron that contained the thoughts of an ancient crone named Kreia during the Serocco Campaign. To her surprise and delight, it provided a way to focus her power and energy. But like all roads to power, it had its price.
But that was irrelevant here. What mattered now were the two, razor-sharp blades that faced her and could spell instant death at the blink of an eye.
Mandalore inhaled and spun the vibroswords in front of him, taking a bold, aggressive stance. He lunged forward, swinging the two blades in parallel as Revan leapt in a backward somersault. He followed up with a duel thrust and Revan parried the weapons upward, past her shoulder, the vibrating steel singing near her skin.
Mandalore's strength was greater than even Malak's and he came on like a bull, forcing Revan to dodge laterally. Using the Makashi, she parried repeatedly with elegant, precise moves, but he continued to drive forward, alternating cuts and thrusts.
The fluid control of the Makashi was not working and Revan alternated to Ataru, trying to find an opening. Initiating the near impossible acrobatics of the Style, her mind raced, seeking a weakness that she might exploit, but for now, his offensive was overwhelming.
The possibility that she might actually lose crept into her mind and she stumbled as she retreated under Mandalore's onslaught. Seizing the opening, he slashed at Revan as she cart wheeled away. Her acrobatics avoided the brunt of the blow, but Mandalore's blade cut her across the upper chest and her robes sliced open, letting blood flow down her front. A second blade raked across her thigh, cutting deep into her flesh.
Revan gasped and the void flashed in her mind… consuming her thoughts… devouring her soul.
Despite the sharp pain, Revan somersaulted backward to open the distance and take a breath. A quick extension of the Force hurled rocks and dust into the Mandalore's face, interrupting his onslaught. Then, she stood upright and calmly took her most solid stance from Juyo, the most advanced and demanding of lightsaber styles. She exhaled power and tendrils of energy swirled around her like a swarm of fireflies.
With raw power, Mandalore came at her again, but before he could complete his strike, Revan spun and kicked his legs out from beneath him, leaving only a blue afterimage of her form. He rose and attacked again. This time, Revan sidestepped in a blur of speed. With two staccato cuts, she reached out with her weapons and cut one of his swords in two.
Mandalore paused, nodding with grim satisfaction in his opponent's worthiness and discarded the shattered weapon even as Revan nodded back. He took his remaining sword in both hands and renewed his assault with ferocity.
Minutes went by as Mandalore and Revan cut and thrust, charged and retreated in a see-saw dance of death. Something was different with Revan now, however, and it seemed that she had come to enjoy the battle and relished in the pain of her wounds. Such was the intensity of the Juyo Style, a form that often tottered on the abyss of the Dark Side.
As Revan accelerated the battle, the Mandalore's breathing soon came in great heaves of his chest and his guard sagged with fatigue. With a slight limp, Revan sped around him, nicking him with increasingly debilitating cuts of her lightsaber, scoring the thick armor that protected him.
I embrace the void.
As Mandalore staggered, gasping, he grunted with frustration. With a final great shout, he slashed diagonally into Revan. A blur of metal, flesh, and hot energy erupted in a microsecond until Revan staggered, holding her side. Blood flowed down her robes as she bent down on one knee in pain.
Mandalore smiled for a second even as he looked down upon the small dark circle, a void in the middle of his chest. Revan had thrust her lightsaber through his heart.
The Mandalore, scourge of the galaxy and conqueror of millions, fell forward with a resounding crash, the smile frozen on his face. In that one, violent second, the war that had consumed entire systems, was over.
In a circle surrounding Revan, the Mandalorians lay down their weapons and knelt.
A dark smile passed Revan's lips. I am the void.