She sighed and pushed some hair behind her ears. She deftly typed in a code to let her access the files. Fourteenth time was a charm after all.
Okay, now it was getting personal. She rolled her shoulders back and started to type fervently every access code that came to mind. Some of them came from places she didn't even realize were there. After trying Hairless Wookiee four times in a row, Ariate Talke gave up.
She let out a breath and rested her chin on her fist. What was the good in being a "Jedi" if she couldn't get anything out of it? Sure moving stuff was pretty neat, and an excuse to beat Bastila up had been fun, but most of the time she'd been bored out of her mind.
"Bet Da would get a kick out of his little Spark attempting to save the galaxy by breaking into a library," Ariate mumbled under her breath, tapping her finger against the information terminal. For a moment the terminal seemed different and her fingers moved on their own accord, typing in a code backwards with three letters off – something that wouldn't have even occurred to her.
The screen buzzed.
Ariate leaned forward, too focused on the possibility of the screen opening the wealth of information it held to pay attention to what was behind her.
Master Dorak cleared his throat and Ariate shot up in her seat.
She barely had a chance to glance at a screen that said PASSWORD CHANGED before the darker man waved his hand and the screen went blank.
She smiled warily at him. "My password wasn't workin' out too well."
"Work-ing." He repeated with a sigh and then shook his head, giving himself a look before his eyes turned to her. "Padawan, why were you trying to access those files?"
"Well," she flashed her teeth and sat up straighter. "Just tryin'- trying - to extend my knowledge and such." She chewed on the nail of her thumb. Hard to drop her accent after all these years, but everyone kept giving her odd looks so she was working on it. Sometimes it was easy, like she'd been practicing for ages to drop it, but sometimes it just felt like her mind was wired to make her talk a certain way.
"And what would the Mandalorian wars have to do with your studies?" There was something in Dorak's face that made Ariate wary. He was less closed off than that crank pants Vrook, but his eyes were always showing something else – she would've called it nerves -- but what was there to be afraid of here? Maybe Jedi Masters were real literal with the whole 'the galaxy is on fire' thing and didn't get much sleep.
"Well," she smiled again, this time more sure. "Everyone keeps on talking and I'm not getting my info straight – feel kinda stupid around the war heroes." She shrugged. "I just wanted to learn some more on the wars. That's what I'm here for right?"
For the master of the archives he seemed really stingy with his information. Ariate had to convince Zhar to talk to her about Revan and Malak and even then he had gone off on his own and then left the room. It was all too foreign to her – and in some ways too familiar.
Of course the Mandalorian wars were common knowledge, but salvage ships and living on Deralia hadn't given her the best information. Asking Carth always went somewhere else and he ended up going somewhere else, which tended to make her skip the subject. Asking Bastila led to lecture on the perils of the darkside sometimes even when Ariate hadn't asked, which led to Ariate either falling asleep or trying to stab her finger to distract from the boredom. And asking Canderous – well that was out of the question, get him started on a war story and the man would never shut up.
Dorak sighed. "There is not much to know. What would you like to know, Padawan? I can't promise I'll answer, but I will listen."
Ariate snorted. Figured. "Well – just the basics, I mean I know the Mandies liked to tear up the place, but what really happened? What started it? I mean the Jedi didn't go, because blah blah dark spirits and bad mojo. I got that."
"Blah blah darkside?" Dorak laughed, it was a nervous awkward sort of thing. "That's-" he shook his head. "The darkness there was horrible and its consequences were the direct result of Revan and Malak's refusal to listen to the wisdom of the council."
Once again, lecture on the darkside. Jedi seemed to hand them out like gum. Ariate resisted rolling her eyes. "Well okay, the darkness that devoured Revan and Malak, got it – but don't you think they just got a little power crazy? Like Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma did, didn't they?" She blinked for a moment. And she knew that how? Must've read it in a report somewhere and then forgotten – that happened sometimes.
"Yes… technically," Dorak glanced at the blank screen behind her for a moment. "But none of their atrocities could compare with the utter strategic malevolence of Malachor V."
It felt as if her brain had just buzzed in. Ariate sat up a little more. "Malachor what?"
Dorak snapped his head back towards her. "Nothing. I said nothing." He brushed a hand over his scalp. "You should get back to your studying, Padawan. Something not in the realms of the restricted areas."
Ariate narrowed her vision at him, but stood up and gathered her stuff together. "If there wasn't a galaxy to save I would so not let this go."
Dorak nodded. "Yes, but there is a galaxy to save – and unfortunately you must be the one to clean up this mess Revan made."
And just like that her brain did the same thing the screen did – it blanked out and she didn't have the new password. Ariate sighed and shook her head walking towards the door. Maybe Bastila would let her beat her up again.
"Objection: Master, I have scanned all my processors on a recurring basis this maintenance is not warranted." HK-47 whirred apprehensively.
Revan adjusted her stance and finished removing his leg. "It's warranted because I said so – and I said so because I'm bored."
T3-M4 beeped in the background, spinning on his hydraulics.
"Besides," Revan continued, grabbing for the hydrospanner. "An extra look won't hurt and I promise to put you back together after—" The ship shook on its bearings, causing her attention to waver. She stood up. "Too slow and too soon," she mumbled, brushing off her pants.
"Query: Master, you aren't going to leave me in this state, are you? My wires are showing." HK attempted to lift one of his arms, but it sparked and fell back limply. "Master?"
"Power down, HK," Revan waved her hand and walked over towards the cockpit, slipping into what she still considered Carth's seat. "Well," she glanced at T3 who had already jacked into the controls to help steady the landing without being asked, "Here we go."
It was a shaky landing, but all of her landings were. She'd never gotten down guiding anything larger than a swoop bike and landing a ship wasn't exactly the same as a swoop race. T3 beeped in relief as he whirled out into the common room. She stepped behind him and stared at the supplies she'd packed days ago. Somehow she just knew – this was the first step. She strapped on her lightsabers, trying to ignore the swirling miasma of dark energy on the planet just outside the steady walls of the Ebon Hawk.
She knew she had to do this, it had been too late to turn around after she had left Citadel, but now she wanted to even more. Instead she steadied herself and threw her sack over her shoulder. "I locked the Navicomputer, Tee so you're the only one who can get at it." She would definitely remember the password too, she'd been pissed enough at Canderous to remember every Mandalorian swear word known to man. "Put HK together if I don't come back."
T3 beeped a response, tartly.
Revan glared at him. "Be nice, you little trash compactor." She sighed and knelt down to his level. "Listen. I need you to do me a favor."
T3-M4 whirred nervously and came closer to her.
"I need you to watch the ship and watch everything that happens," she pushed some hair behind her ears. "And I want you to find help if things go wrong and I don't come back. Find Bastila; find the Jedi – whoever you can get at. And," she frowned and rested a hand on top of his headpiece, "don't break anything." She patted him and stood up, adjusting her shoulder strap.
T3 chirped at her irritably.
Revan grinned at him. "I'll miss you too, footrest."
All she could hear as she descended the boarding ramp was the low mournful noise T3 made behind her. The grin slipped off her face and she stepped onto the cold, unforgiving surface of Malachor V.
Stepping onto the solid ground of Malachor V had been hard enough, walking past rubble and devastation of the planet she'd completely destroyed had been the worst. There were no survivors on this world – each one had been carefully picked out to die here. Good men and women, sacrificed for the greater good.
Because they would have disagreed with her.
The decision gnawed at her now, like it would have done then if she had let herself feel anything. She had been too focused on finishing to really pay attention to the destruction she had caused. But if she had to do it over again – she didn't know.
She still had been right. There would have been years of bloodshed and more lives would have been lost than the ones she took. But it shouldn't have been her decision to make. Except that she had the power and the knowledge and who else was in that position to make it?
No one. So she'd taken the prerogative and she'd ruined lives and almost leveled the galaxy to save it.
And here she was again. In front of an old stone building, ready to do the same thing. Save the galaxy.
Who would suffer this time? That was what scared her most.
Revan had been walking and thinking for about an hour when something tingled in the back of her mind. A familiar and yet unfamiliar touch that drew her towards where she had been set to go all along. Revan walked down the long walkway of what looked like an abandoned Mandalorian temple – or maybe something even older than that. Ancient and unbreaking, the stone spires reached up to the black-clouded sky.
Trayus Academy was written across a long stretch of stone, it was carved in obsidian and not written in Mandalorian. In Rakata.
A shiver ran up her spine and she downed it. If the storm beasts that had charged her and fallen in a fell swoop her saber hadn't scared her this wouldn't either.
"Okay, so what's been leading me here?" Revan said to the doorway that didn't seem to have any indication that it was a door other than the fact that it was of different stonework. "Some answers would be nice, almighty power of the Force," she drawled, crossing her arms under her chest.
Revan tapped her foot against the dusty ground and frowned as nothing happened. It seemed rather anticlimactic, until after a few minutes there was a loud click and the stone started to move aside. It slid slowly to reveal a long hallway, lit up with candles to a seemingly endless walkway.
She glanced at the sky. "Always have to be ominous don't you?" She sighed and hitched her sack further on her shoulder before heading into the building. She could hear the doors closing slowly behind her as she walked down the dimly lit hallway.
There were doors lining the walls that seemed to disappear as she passed them. She ignored the doors and headed towards the end of the hallway, her senses leading her towards that all too familiar presence. She made her way up to the end of the hallway, where a large wall with a set of obsidian statues stretched towards the roof of the academy. She heard and felt presences coming towards her from behind the large statues.
What stepped in front of her was a surprise. Two men, dressed in black and ornately attired regarded her carefully. One had deep cuts still bleeding on his face the other looked uninjured but had his head down as he glared at her.
Revan arched her eyebrow and crossed her arms under her chest. "You two the welcoming committee?"
The injured one stared at her for a long moment before responding. "The Master awaits."
Revan took a deep breath and regarded them carefully, before dropping her arms. "Lead the way then."
The room was dark and calm when she entered. Like the eye of the storm that was Malachor V. The two lurching guards stopped at the doorway and Revan walked towards the figure in the center of the room.
"It has been a long time… Revan." The voice was the same, but age had faded her first teacher into something new. Even the aura of Force around the woman felt different.
Maybe Malachor had changed her former teacher. Or maybe it was Revan who was different and couldn't recognize her anymore. Revan frowned. "It has."
Her old teacher spun around to face her, eyes lost of all their color and white hair tied back in black was all that seemed grossly different. "I see you no longer have the need to call me Master."
"You're not. So no." Revan narrowed her vision. "What do you want me to call you?"
Her old teacher glanced to where the two less than cheery men were still by the door and then back to Revan. "You may call me Traya."
"Traya. Interesting choice," Revan frowned. She wasn't sure how much she wanted to know about Traya's plans on Malachor V or anything else she'd been doing.
"You've grown," Traya murmured taking Revan in. "In more ways than one." Her eyes seemed to pierce through Revan and see more than just the outside.
Revan tried not to fidget and glanced behind her at the two figures that were staring daggers into her back. "You really need the body guards?"
Traya waved her hand. "They are my students." She said once they had bowed and departed. "… in ways. Not like you—" She reached a withered hand out and then drew it back. "What is it you came for, Revan? Answers?"
Revan wanted to say something smart back. Wanted to say something hurtful. But now that it was just them, all she could say was: "Could you give them to me if I asked?"
Traya was quiet for a long moment. "Not the ones you are looking for, I'm afraid." She turned her old mouth up into something of smile. "But I am willing to listen."
Revan shook her head. As much as she wanted to share everything, she still didn't want to open up that part of herself that doubted. Doubt could get her killed. Doubt would hurt more people than her heavy-handed self-assurance ever would. "I'm going to the Unknown Regions."
"By yourself?" Traya's voice was tinged with incredulity. "You really have grown."
"I lace my own boots and everything," Revan clipped, crossing her arms under her chest.
Traya looked unimpressed and her white eyes examined Revan carefully. "What awaits you there, Revan?"
Darkness. That was what waited for her. That was what Revan saw every time she closed her eyes. What would keep her awake. What make her give up everything she never deserved and still wanted so badly it burned at her soul. The darkness that could overshadow the dark of this world waited for her and she was going to meet it head on. No matter the consequences.
"I noticed patterns," Revan glanced around the dimly lit room. "At first I thought it was just the Star Forge, trails from an ancient race of builders that had once controlled the galaxy." She licked her lips and stared directly at her old master that had once given her so much to fear and so much to strive for. "But you already know this don't you? Or you wouldn't be here."
"The Rakata were just pawns, Revan," Traya laughed lightly. "Tiny dots to the scale of what is really out there." She nodded to herself. "I taught you well."
"I've had many teachers, but in the end," Revan stared up at where the ceiling should have been and spires tore up to the sky trying to catch the dark clouds swirling around. "In the end – it's not the teachers, it's what I learned and how I used it."
Her old teacher took a step forward. "You know where to go, don't you?"
Revan looked down and nodded. "I've always known. The patterns were just there waiting for me to put them into something discernable. I know where they are and that's where I'm going."
Traya looked oddly proud for a moment. "Be glad that you know the language."
Revan strained her voice to answer back in that tongue they had both spoken a lifetime ago. "I am."
"There are a few working ships from the destruction of this planet behind the academy." Traya paused. "What exactly do you hope to accomplish with this Revan?"
Revan sighed and answered her honestly. "I don't know." After all this time of not wanting to be the Force's puppet – that was exactly what she had turned into. "I just know I have to."
"I have noticed patterns as well," Traya shook her head. "Not the ones you speak of, more tantalizing and closer than where you set off to. It might be in your best interest to stay and help me."
Revan tried not to curl her lip up in disgust at the thought. "I have my path. I'm going to keep to it."
Her old teacher scoffed. "This quest for light you have been set on since the council destroyed your mind is – disgusting and unbecoming of you. You are the Force, Revan – do not let it go to waste."
Revan looked at the woman that she had once held so revered. Another line of men and women who she had tried to replace her father with. People she wanted to be family. But this woman was not family, was not her teacher, was nothing. And Revan was once and maybe always, alone. "Life is a balance. Neither the dark or light hold clarity for me," Revan said carefully, "Not anymore."
"It's fitting that it would end here. Is it not?" Traya shifted towards her once again but kept back.
Revan shook her head. "It's something. But not that." She walked past the old woman and stopped at her side. "Good luck… Traya." She put her hand on the other woman's shoulder and smiled before releasing and heading towards the back of the Academy.
"May the Force keep you safe, Revan." A voice said quietly far behind her.
Revan took a deep breath and walked off.
The ship was running. That was pretty much all it had going for it. An old beat-up Republic cruiser with plenty of leg room and nothing tangible to get a hold of, but it would get her through space with less drama than the Ebon Hawk. She pressed her hand on the console, activating the landing sequence. The ship made a frightening noise, but lifted itself into orbit and broke the atmosphere.
The bare minimum.
Revan slid into the pilot's seat, trying not to think about how this setting was going to remind her of the Leviathan and everything crashing down. She rested her head against the seat and took a deep breath. This one didn't smell like Carth, but she could close her eyes and pretend he was next to her – bemused at the fact that she was sleeping in his seat.
She opened her eyes and stared at the empty air next to her. "Next time, Carth. I'll come back whole." She stared out at the view panel and typed in the coordinates for the hyperspace jump.
"Revan?" His voice came before he knocked on the already open door.
She didn't turn towards him. Her eyes were too busy focused on the screen in front of her, a series of numbers, coordinates, and a new plan for attack. Just one more in the long list that Jedi Knight Revan Talke had accomplished.
"Revan," He sighed and closed the door behind him. "You've closed yourself off for days."
She had before too. Her fingers brushed the lightsaber resting calmly in her lap. But someone else had come to bring her out of it. Had made her get some air. Maybe if she hadn't that someone would still be alive.
"Go away, Malak," her voice sounded strange to her. She hadn't used it in a few days, maybe longer. All the orders and reports were sent out by hand now. Malak was the face man – she was just the behind the scenes.
Patterns, codes, data – that was all she was good for. But it was so important. So important to stop those Mandalorians. Stop them all.
"It's been weeks," Malak said softly ignoring her request and stepping closer. Edging towards her like she might retreat from him. Become a cornered animal.
"Fifteen days," Revan corrected him. "It's been fifteen days." Her hand wrapped around the lightsaber for comfort again. "Fifteen days."
He sighed and sat next to her, putting a tentative hand on her back. She didn't move. Malak seemed to think this was a good sign and brushed the hair from her face. "You can't trap yourself in here again. Talvon… died. Yes, I know you were close – but—" He dropped his hand. "I'm worried about you."
"Jedi don't worry," Revan snapped. "They trust in the Force." She tightened her grip on the saber again. "Force." She lowered her head and closed her eyes for a moment, drowning out all the noise in her head. All the screaming. She just needed to get back to work, make sure it didn't happen again.
"It's war. You know that better than anyone, Revan," Malak leaned towards her, trying to get in her line of vision. "People die."
"He wasn't on the casualty list," she said hoarsely, rubbing her throat. She needed water, but she had to finish these reports. She was close to the answer. Maybe she could fix everything, end it all.
Malak rubbed his jaw. "What casualty list?"
Revan waved to the pile in the corner of the room. Malak strolled over to them. The datapads were just filled with predictions, accurate to none based on the abilities of those she sent out. They'd been almost perfect. Only twice had the big ones gone wrong. Jene had lived and Talvon had died. It was supposed to be the other way around. Her predictions were perfect. Talvon should have been fine.
"Revan… what are—" Malak's voice cut out. He was shuffling through the datapads. "Are you having Force visions about – this?"
"Death." Revan said for him, since he seemed to be scared to. She shook her head. "Death is just a prediction of the stronger forces against the weaker. They should have been right," she gritted her teeth. "He should have been fine." She had to stay focused on the screen. She rolled the lightsaber in her hand for comfort and scrolled through the scenarios again. She was so close.
Malak dropped the datapads on the floor and shook her shoulders, turning her sharply to face him. "You can't predict death with numbers, Revan!" He yelled at her, his face showing more fear than anything else. "These are people not pieces on a dejarik board."
Revan glared at him and turned back towards the screen. "It's all strategy, Mal. What am I supposed to do? Send out more troops to get slaughtered and do it randomly. Or know exactly who I'm losing and how to counteract that. I go for the least amount of losses for the most gain." She stared back at the screen, a few more runs and she would have it.
"And what happens when I'm one of these losses? For the greater gain?" His voice was grating at her.
Revan sighed. "You wouldn't be."
"But what if I was?"
"You. Wouldn't. Be." She repeated through gritted teeth. Just one more run and she'd have it. She'd know the answer – it was so close.
"How do I know that? Talvon was."
Revan's hand was touching the screen, just moments away from knowing the answer. She turned slowly, her eyes stinging and her jaw tight as she stared up at him. "I lose everything." She stared down at the console, unable to change the screen to the answer. "Why would you be any different?" She said quietly.
Malak sighed and knelt down next to her, pulling her into an awkward hug. "You're not going to lose me. As long as I don't lose you."
She shifted her face so it wasn't squished against his chest and sighed. "I know how to defeat the Mandalorians faster. That's what I've been doing."
His grip on her tightened slightly, they'd both lost so many men and women under them. The hunger for the spill of Mandalorian blood was strong. "How?" All the fear and disgust at her previous actions had disappeared.
"It has to be a concentrated attack." She murmured, rolling the lightsaber in her hand. "Cutting Mandalore off at the head and taking out most of their army, something they won't expect us to do – we need to lure them in to a place that will put them off balance and give us the advantage."
Malak rubbed a hand on her back and pulled her back slightly. "And where exactly would that be?"
Revan moved out of his grasp and back to the screen. She waved her hand over it to move up the final run. She knew the answer now. "Malachor V."