To Sit in Darkness

To sit in darkness here,
Hatching vain empires.
John Milton – Paradise Lost

Coruscant – The Recent Past

The heart of the Republic was gripped in fear. The massive Senate chamber on Coruscant was filled with the murmurs of panicked bureaucrats. Beneath the high, vaulted ceiling, senators and councilmen, dressed in elaborate robes, paced about, wailing and waving their hands.

"Revan has attacked the Republic!" they cried wildly. "What are we going to do? She cannot be defeated." Panic was setting in and the crowd was on the razor's edge as giant holonews screens played out the latest updates.

Republic troops, dressed in blue and silver armor, slammed their Force Pikes on the tiled floor. Frustrated, Supreme Chancellor Locarno stood and yelled loudly, "Silence!"

The murmurs died away and the grand chamber became silent. The Chancellor pointed his finger around the room melodramatically. "You are all like fearful children. There is nothing to fear," he said, trying more to convince himself, "only a few worlds at the Outer Rim have been affected. We are safe here in the Core Worlds. I have sent our heroes of the Mandalorian Wars, Admirals Vrex, Deritz, and Burnslider to bring Revan back in chains. That arrogant girl will soon kneel before me as a prisoner."

The gathered politicians bowed as one before the Supreme Chancellor, but many of their faces showed doubt. Despite the propaganda, there were many who realized that there was not a strategist in the Republic who could match Revan.

Task Force 8 – Enroute to the Outer Rim

Grand Admiral Vrex stood on the bridge of the Republic Senate, a sleek vessel with powerful engines and a vast array of armament. She was the flagship of the fleet and the pride of the navy. He looked down on his crew with a sense of superiority; he was the first person granted the rank of Grand Admiral in forty years…and he had great hair.

A commander approached the powerful man and bowed, showing due deference to a man of Vrex' status. "Grand Admiral, I have your juice…. It is just as you like it, not too cold." Another officer, Commander Neelos, stood nearby, holding a napkin while a third officer, Brutus Ergot, held Vrex's hat. A Grand Admiral of the Republic needed a grand entourage to be…well, grand.

"What of the hourly reports? Have my captains called in?" he asked as the napkin holder dabbed Vrex's chin to catch dribbles of juice.

The juice man looked fearful for a moment. "Grand Admiral, some of the captains are behind schedule. They claim…haha…that they are focusing on battle readiness drills," he said as if that were the height of stupidity.

"Nonsense!" Vrex bellowed, his second chin shaking. "Commander Grrelo, as my tactical officer, you know how important it is that I stay in the loop! Have them cease and desist until those reports are completed. You bring them to me personally when they arrive."

Commander Grrelo, the former instructor at the Naval Academy on Coruscant, strode haughtily to the Communications Console and pushed the Communications Officer out of the way. He activated the holonet, sending his holographic image to all ships in the fleet. Radio-frequency energy shot in all directions from the vast communications array along the ventral surface of the magnificent vessel. The ships of Task Force 8 received the urgent, priority message and their captains nodded. Little did they know, but the RF energy was intercepted by a probe droid and relayed back to be viewed by a young woman sitting in the darkness of her own bridge.

On one of the ships of the fleet, Captain Tolkas beat his fist on a bulkhead. "These status reports are killing us. They want another inventory of our fuel supply and small arms? We did one two hours ago. It will take half the crew another hour to do this."

The XO of the ship sighed. "I'll get on it. Sir, I'm also reducing our long-range scouts by twenty percent. The command staff has told us we are over budget on starfighter maintenance."

Tolkas groaned. "Perhaps you were the smart one, Saul," he said under his breath.

Back on the flagship, Admiral Vrex observed the galactic map, which showed the locations of Revan's forces. Rear Admiral Beppo Smidt smiled at his map. "Sir, my intelligence has pinpointed Revan's fleet at this system. My spies have told me that she has 'made anchor' here because her supply lines are too long and she is indecisive as to what to do next. Sir, we must strike her while she ponders her next move. We can end this rebellion with one battle."

Beppo, an obnoxious Twi'lek of great social standing, had risen through the ranks on guile and treachery. He had made a career undermining the positions of others while making himself spotless through administrative purity. Beppo was not a man to be trifled with and could ruin a fine officer's career with a word.

Little did he know, but all of his spies had been doubled back through the work of Bandon and Moritz. He was warned by subordinates that this may have happened, but he stated that the Grand Admiral did not want such news – it would spoil his day and make him angry.

Off to the side, Captain Tolkas' report arrived via data transfer and Commanders Grrelo and Ergot picked it apart with ruthless glee. After all, if you didn't have perfect form, what did you have?

"What? This report is not in the proper format! He has only one space after this period!" Grrelo cried. Surely, a man who didn't have perfect punctuation couldn't command in battle.

Ergot wailed, "He was suppose to reference 'armaments stores' not 'weapons stores' and 'troops' should have been listed as 'ground force personnel.' This is all wrong!" These important things would surely lead them to victory over Revan.

Grrelo sneered. "What was he thinking? Send it back. Tell him there will be no battle drills until this report is done correctly." An adjutant dutifully took down the instructions and transmitted them back to grammatical felon.

Aboard Captain Tolkas' ship, the XO read the message. "Those arrogant fools. They're going to get us all killed."

The Captain sighed. "I told Rear Admiral Smidt that these reports are counterproductive to our war effort, but he told me that the Grand Admiral didn't want to hear it – it would spoil his day and he would become angry. Defeating Revan is difficult…taking down one of us is easy. Redo the report and the inventory…." He said with resignation. There was no use fighting these bureaucrats. He'd rather take on Revan anyway.

Then, the Communications Officer turned. "Captain, incoming message on an ultra low frequency band…it's encrypted with an old algorithm. Okay…it's…it's from Revan and Saul…directed to you, sir."

Tolkas' eyes widened as he viewed the message. It was something he had never thought of before.

The Outskirts of the Bastion System – Day Five

Aboard the grand flagship, Rear Admiral Beppo Smidt stood in front of his massive display of the system. Intricate illustrations of Revan's fleet were depicted, showing her smallest ships in the center.

"Foolish girl, she doesn't even know we're coming. Look, her center is weak!" he said derisively. How the heck did she get such a reputation for strategy?

Admiral Vrex smiled as he was given a glass of juice. "Excellent, we've caught the 'famous' admiral with her pants down. When she is tamed, she will make a wonderful concubine." He snickered as an officer dabbed his lips with a napkin. The staff forced a laugh at his prediction.

Beppo chortled out loud. "I hear her beauty is magnificent."

Vrex waved his hand across the bridge. "Indeed, it will be my pleasure to bring her to her knees. Signal my fleet to prepare for battle. We will strike Revan's center. Do not fear; we outnumber her two to one." Again, RF energy streamed from the flagship off into space, where bits of information wound up in Revan's hands.

An officer approached Smidt with a concerned look. He made a curt bow to the admiral. "Sir, this smells like a trap. They're just waiting for us. Raven has never been idle like this. Speed and violence of action are her hallmarks."

Beppo glowered at the officer, who retreated back a step. "Hold your tongue. The Grand Admiral does not want to hear such poppycock – it would spoil his day and make him angry."

As the chastised officer slunk away, Vrex' navy dropped out of hyperspace at the edge of the system and powered forth with ion engines. Near the fifth planet in the system, Revan's fleet appeared to respond slowly as the Republic vessels advanced to within firing range. Laser and ion bolts began to fly between the combatants and Revan's center began to fold.

"This battle is over!" shouted Vrex, standing up and shaking his fist in victory. He imagined Revan prostrate before him in chains. "Now, push forward!" Nearby, Beppo drew himself up tall, standing with immense pride; they had accomplished what no other could…defeat Revan.

Suddenly, the Republic Senate shook and the lights grew dim for a second. Sith starfighters raced by the viewport, lasers twinkling. Vrex looked around, stunned, his jaw slack. "Beppo, what is happening?"

The Communications Officer turned. "Sir, our flanking ships are under attack from Revan's wing elements. They have a new vessel of unbelievable power. Their starfighters are among our formations. I'm getting requests for instructions."

Commander Grrelo stood. His face was full of shock and his eyes had a blank, vacant look of near panic. "Have them…have them…submit the request to change formation on…on the Form Five Oh Two. We'll get back to them."

Another explosion rocked the ship and sparks flew from overhead. The Communications Officer's face registered horror, his eyes wide with fear now. "Sir, Captain Tolkas has defected…with six vessels!" Confidence was drying up in the Republic fleet. Ignoring Revan's ability at deception and diplomacy was a fatal error. A cloud of Sith starfighters tore through Vrex' element and one of his cruisers exploded in a bright ball of flame before being extinguished by the vacuum of space. The starfighter then turned on the Republic Senate, lasers flashing across the vessel's shields.

"Shields are down! We've lost ion power!" yelled an officer as sparks flew from the consoles.

As the Sith shot by another message came to the attention of the Communications Officer. "Grand Admiral…it's Revan…on line one."

The holographic image of a young woman at the controls of a starfighter appeared. The visor of her helmet was up, showing a condescending smirk. "Welcome to the Bastion System, Grand Admiral…and congratulations on your promotion."

Vrex sneered at her arrogance. He would still show her who was boss. "We will defeat you, you upstart!"

Revan shrugged as she maneuvered her craft. "Perhaps you will, but not today. Grand Admiral…the whole concubine thing…very tacky. I am flattered by your comments on my looks, however. I want you to know that I do this for the greater good. Surrender to me now and I may find you a place in the new utopia."

The Grand Admiral shook his fist in rage. How dare she offer him a place? "Never! I'll never bow to the likes of you!" He looked wildly around, wondering how she had known everything he had said. His great hair had become slightly mussed. The Republic Senate lurched as thruster control was lost. The massive ship glanced off of a nearby destroyer and flames burst from shattered parts.

The hologram of Revan shook her head sadly. She looked down into her cockpit. "Malak, you may kill them all. They refuse to see reason and have decided to resist us."

The neat formation of Sith starfighters spun about and made another pass. As the flagship awaited requests for authorizations, lasers tore into its guts, sheering off engines and vaporizing weapons mounts. Assault shuttles then landed and breached the hull of the helpless ship. Then, the slaughter began.

The Bridge of the Republic Senate

Sion hurled a Republic officer through the galactic map, shattering it into splinters of plexiglass, such was his strength. Shirtless, he flexed his massive muscles and spun his ruby lightsaber. Bandon followed, slicing the head off of another officer. Now bald and pale, Bandon sneered to those around him and then slashed the arm off of an attacking marine. The furious assault of the fallen Jedi was unstoppable.

Amid the chaos, Malak strode in. His extended palm radiated orange lightning and many of the enemy fell to the deck, screaming. Acrid smoke filled the room, giving Malak a sinister appearance with his new Sith tattoos. Unlike Revan, who thought it a tool, he truly believed the alien Sith philosophy.

The senior officer of the Republic Senate groveled at Malak's feet and the Dark Jedi found he savored the feeling. One day, the galaxy would bow to him and no other. It would surely happen.

"Spare us!" whined Brutus Ergot on his knees. Malak thought he smelled urine coming from the man.

Malak snorted in disgust. He looked back and forth between the prostrate men. He then focused in on Commander Grrelo. "Remember me? You insulted Revan and I back on Coruscant."

Grrelo groveled, holding onto Malak's boot. "No! No," the man cried. With a gentle smile, Malak raised the man up and Grrelo sighed with relief before Malak split his head open with his lightsaber. As Grrelo fell to the deck, the others burst into tears.

The Dark Jedi stood tall above the quivering forms on the deck. "You're not worth the energy to kill. Your existence aids our war effort. Go home and tell your cowering masses of the might of Revan and Malak." He felt stronger than he ever had before and the feeling of victory was intoxicating. Why was Revan so upset by his laying waste of Telos? It didn't matter now. It was all part of his destiny. One day, he would be the master…just like Sith Master Jorak Uln predicted.

The Star Forge

In the heart of the Apex of Infinite Conquest, Revan stood, observing the holographic map of the galaxy. Her forces had conquered most of the Outer Rim and were pouring through the Republic defenses. Despite her victories, something did not sit right with her. She pulled out a small mirror and gazed into it. Revan gasped as she noticed her golden eyes and graying skin. The application of the Force lessened the effect somewhat, but Revan's lack of physical perfection grated on her.

She paced about for some time and then walked to the controls of the Forge. The young woman entered some commands and black robes and a crimson mask appeared. She removed her Jedi robes and examined her body, aghast at the gray pallor of her flesh.

With a motion of disdain, she cast aside the Jedi robes and donned the mask and black covering. "I am now Darth Revan, Dark Lord of the Sith," she said to herself as if it were a joke. She had taken the Sith moniker as a rallying point for her cause. The true Sith were a beaten force, scattered like the Mandalorians. Taking their philosophy was a convenient way to bring disparate peoples and disaffected Republic troops under her banner.

At that, Malak entered and approached. He bowed curtly to his master. "Revan, it is time for our training." Bandon and Sion entered as well and stood off to the side.

Revan raised an eyebrow under her mask. An unsettling feeling filled her gut. Her instincts told her something was amiss. Could this be a coup? The Sith always preach that nonsense. Malak does believe in it more than he should. She was beginning to feel some fear. Malak trusted that old crone, Kreia, too much. His love of the Sith philosophy was all too powerful.

Malak cocked his bald head. "Why are you hiding your beauty, Revan? Are you afraid of something?"

His arrogance was growing and she found him annoying. The Dark Lord laughed, a strained, high-pitch laugh. "Are you here to jabber or train?" She thought for a moment on how their relations had become strained…resentful as of late. For a brief moment, she thought of the blond young man on Dantooine…the tenderness of his touch…the nobility of his manner. But that was all in the past. Darth Revan could not find it in her heart to return to this simple time.

Malak ignited his lightsaber, which hissed forth its warlike intent. The ruby blade sparkled. He took a stance from Makashi, feet wide apart, weapon held aggressively in one hand. Revan responded, powering her crimson blade. She whirled it about like a baton and swung her right leg back, putting her weight on it. She knew that the Makashi was an elegant form, designed for combating another lightsaber. She knew that Malak was a master in several forms, most of them aggressive. She would keep this in mind.

The two Dark Jedi eyed each other, breathing slowly. Then, Malak sprung. Like a tiger, he launched his muscled body at her, cutting upward diagonally with great precision. Revan angled her body, letting the blade slide over her. She spun, slashing at his legs, but he deftly leapt over the strike.

Malak landed, delivering an overhead cut, which Revan parried. She pushed his blade away and sliced him across the belly with her weapon on low power. He grunted, switching to the aggressive Ataru Form, and cut her down the shoulder. She saw the shift in his power, but it came as a surprise. The ruby blade sliced through Revan's robes, baring the flesh across her chest. Revan staggered back and gasped; Malak's weapon was set to full power. How dare he? This was the moment that she had feared for some time now. Her mind darted between despair and angry resignation. Quickly rubbing the red skin on her chest, Revan narrowed her eyes. "So, this is how it has to be, Malak?" She would not be made a fool of.

He nodded with a smile and flexed his muscles, taking an Ataru stance, balanced and two-handed. Revan leaned back, putting her weight on her rear foot, letting the Shien Form dominate her defense. Springing forward, Malak delivered an oblique cut to her cheek. Revan parried the cut and shifted her weight forward. A kick to Malak's behind sent him off balance just enough. She saw an opening and time seemed to stand still. In a microsecond, she saw images in her mind of her first meeting with Malak, then named Eviran. She saw his devilish grin and his luxurious blond hair. She saw him beneath her as they played at love. It would end now. It would never be as it once was – too much had changed. As he recovered his stance, Revan sliced away Malak's jaw. Bone, marrow, and sinew, sprayed the ground and Malak fell, gurgling. Blood erupted up over the cauterized flesh from his mangled face and he writhed on the deck, grasping at the wound in agony.

Bandon and Sion tried to rush to the fallen Sith, but Revan turned to them. "Let this be a lesson to you. If you try this, you will meet the same fate."

Revan looked down on Malak's mutilated form and pity took her. She should kill him then and there, but her heart wouldn't allow it. There was still a place in there for the past. She pointed to Bandon and Sion. "Take him to the medical facility."

As her minions fled with the gurgling Malak, Revan bent over and picked up the shattered jaw. Raw and wild emotions flooded her mind. How did it come to this? How could her lover betray her so completely? She saw the signs, but did nothing, letting his anger fester in his soul. Everything would be different from now on. Her hands shook and she retired to her chambers and turned out the lights. In the darkness she sat, holding the mandible…and wept.