It took them five days to repair most of the damage to the Hawk. It was also on the fifth day that Kairi recovered enough to be moved from the tank. Juhani flew into the ship's engine room, announcing the good news and practically hauling Jolee into the med bay. The droids had already taken her out of the tank and removed the ventilator. Juhani volunteered to help Kairi clean up and left out a set of clothes
Kairi recognized them as an old shirt and pants Mission had outgrown. The girl had already shot up almost three centimeters during their journey, and Kairi was shorter than her to start with. Whether intended or not, there seemed a silent message to her. She was not to refuse the clothing, or her continued survival.
Weak as she felt, she was able to dress with Juhani's assistance. As she was guided to a cot, Juhani tucked her in and propped up her head with pillows to better help her breathe. Most of this was done in silence. She barely had the strength to speak, and Juhani silenced most of her attempts to do so. After this was done, Juhani took a seat by her bed, smoothing stray locks from Kairi's forehead.
Did they know? Did they know the monster she was? Did they know what Bastila had done? Kairi was about to ask, but Juhani placed a finger on Kairi's lips to silence her.
"It was Revan who saved me from slavery…Lady Revan…leading an army against the Mandalorians…It was you…" Juhani's thickly-accented Basic seemed to bounce off the walls here, and her gentle concern and warmth made Kairi blush with shame.
So, they did know. And they still wanted her alive. Kairi felt a bitter disappointment at this. She hoped that they would destroy her once they knew, or just let her go. After all, Carth certainly rejected her hard. And Bastila…
But to have Juhani – a Jedi – know fully the abomination she was and still look upon her like a friend?
It was me…The Sith Lord…the ravager of worlds…She could not look Juhani in the eye, hanging her head with shame. "I remember nothing," she said hollowly. "They all know, right?"
"Yes," Juhani said. "Carth…told us. Jolee already knew."
There was a momentary flash of anger and betrayal, like when she found out Bastila's lies. Still, it made sense that Jolee wouldn't have been able to say anything…not if Bastila had begged his silence. "How…why didn't you all let me perish? No one would have cared if –"
Juhani grabbed her shoulders. "You did not strike me down when I embraced Darkness, and while you cannot remember – I can. I knew something had gone horribly wrong when I heard that you became the Dark Lord. You were the woman who saved me on Taris – the woman who held my future in her eyes. And on Dantooine, the Force brought you to me again."
"I never wanted you to feel obligated to me, Juhani."
"It is no obligation. Even if you had not been Revan, you are still Kairi – still my friend and companion, still the woman I…care for…as though she were my sister, my own blood."
A third voice broke in. "I don't see a Dark Lord in front of me. I see a friend – some who's been there through thick and thin."
Mission walked into the room, Zaalbar at her heels. Kairi searched them for any sign of condemnation or fear…and found none.
The large Wookiee patted the top of her head, almost causing her to want to shrink into the pillows. "I know nothing of Sith Lord Revan. I know only of Kairi Niko, and I judge you only as the person I have seen and sworn life-debt to, not on a past I neither know nor care about."
"Big Z and I will stick by you. We owe you our lives," Mission said, taking a seat at the foot of the bed. "Besides, you don't remember anything about being the Dark Lord, do you?"
Kairi shook her head. "Nothing before Taris. Well, aside from a few strange dreams, which I already told you about."
"Just a few flashes? Then, I don't see what's the big deal." The girl shrugged."You are who you are now, right?"
"Hey, last I checked, Malak and that Saul guy were the ones dropping bombs. You were hiding out in the Hawk with the rest of us."
She felt Juhani's lightly furred hand grasp her hand. Mission's hand covered it, and Zaalbar gripped their joined hands easily with his large paw. Kairi shuddered. It was overwhelming…support when she expected condemnation. When she deserved their hatred and worse… Why were they so willing to gamble their lives – and the lives of so many others – on her?
She yanked her hand away. "I'm…I'm sorry…"
Before anyone could say a word in response, the station shuddered, the lights flickering. They were able to keep their feet, but the alert signals sent them racing back towards the command center. Tam was swearing loudly as he banged the controls.
"They came back. Damn them. I told them I wasn't finished yet, so they decide to kill me and rob what they can." He looked up. "Better you get out of here. You no need to get caught in crossfire, and they won't be happy to see other guests."
Canderous had run into the room. Checking the sensors, he cursed. "Tam, the smart thing might be to save our hides and run, but I'm not about to run from a fight. Anyone else feeling the same way can stay put. The rest of you – head for the Hawk."
"They want what's here, so they will dock and board. Could get really ugly. I stay here. There still a few tricks I can use. Rest of you can use whatever you can grab of my inventions if you want to fight."
Juhani patted her lightsaber. "I will do fine."
Zaalbar drew Bacca's blade from the scabbard on his back. Mission handed him her own vibroblade for his off-hand before snatching up a blaster rifle. She whistled at the readout. "Yikes. This stuff could punch holes in permacrete."
Canderous carried his cannon, of course. It never was far from his reach. "Take positions, just like that drill I ran three days ago. Scenario eight." He hit his comlink. "Jolee, You've got the Hawk. The stabilizers aren't quite fixed, but she can still fly."
It was Carth who answered. "I've got her. Jolee's on the station somewhere."
"Are you crazy, man?"
"No crazier than you. The Trandoshan ship's extended the docking clamp. I'm giving you sixty seconds before you'll be neck deep in them. Get them distracted, and I'll take care of the rest."
The com signal cut. Canderous made a disparaging grumble, and motioned everyone to get into position.
Carth still wasn't 100 percent, and neither was the Hawk, but he figured that he might be able to coax enough from both of them. He knew the Trandoshan ship probably read the presence of the ship in the repair bay already. But he was willing to gamble that they didn't know how far along those repairs were.
Let's see…cut the power to minimum, keep the power grid misaligned so that the old girl looked to be on the way to the scrap heap. Of course, that came with the gamble that if life support wasn't 100 percent, he'd end up flash-frozen.
"C'mon, old girl," he told the ship as he readied the takeoff sequence. "Time to show you an old trick from the Mandalorian Wars."
"Query: Auxiliary Master, is there any assistance I may render?
HK-47? He turned around to see the red-plated droid standing in the cockpit doorway. Dimly, he recalled that Revan…Kairi…whoever she was…ordered the droid to assist him until she recovered. Under most circumstances, being given the keys to the Sith Lord's personal assassin would be the last thing he would ever want. Under the circumstances now…
"You probably checked the weapons status, right?"
"Statement: Our weapon status is aft turret operating at seventy-five percent while the forward turret is disabled. Shield generators are currently off-line. Query: What is it you propose doing?"
"Get in that aft turret. I'm just going to have to hope that we don't take a hit," Carth said, making another check of the panel. "The hope is that we can look like bait – and not become it."
The Scorekeeper's Triumph had a crew of two-dozen according to Tam. Out of that, he detected twenty of them in the boarding party. It had been a damn good thing, Canderous reflected, that he had the crew practice drills here.
The Trandoshans were good – splitting up into three teams to come in by separate airlocks. They probably hadn't counted on Mission and Zaalbar being stationed at one of those airlocks, using piles of cargo crates as cover. The second had the two Jedi watching it, and Juhani could sneak around with the best of them to pick them off.
It was the third airlock that wasn't adequately guarded. Tam tried to seal it, but it was too late.
"They breached," Tam said. " They got a good slicer. I can't access controls in that section. I'll send the droids, but that's only gonna slow them."
"All we might have to do is slow them."
"The bad news was that airlock is closest to this command center." Tam picked up a rifle from under his workbench – a particularly vile model with a few alterations that no doubt increased its capacity for damage.
"Just great," Canderous grumbled as he pushed a workbench away from the wall in order to provide cover.
Five of them were in the team that stormed the first cargo bay. Two carried nasty-looking vibroblades in their clawed, scaly fingers. The other three carried blaster rifles that bordered on small cannons. Their serpentine heads and yellow eyes searched the cargo bay. The squad's leader stopped the crew with the flat of his blade and sniffed.
"Tam lied to us about the Exchange not being here, and now he lies to us about his guests. There is a Wookiee's stench here."
"Wookiees won't fight. They let Czerka beat the courage out of them as they cower in the trees," said one of the rifle-carriers with a hissing laugh.
No sooner has it left his mouth than two metallic clinks hit the floor. There was only enough time for the leader to shout out a sibilant curse and dive for cover. Two of the smart ones followed suit. The other three hesitated a second too long.
BOOM! It was a two-for-one attack. One was a fragmentation grenade (one of Zaalbar's homemade ones) that sent shards of metal flying. The second was a plasma grenade - super-heated gasses that turned into white-hot flame upon contact with oxygen. The fire would only last a second because of the accelerant burning itself up, but it was enough to make contact with clothing and skin exposed by the rends the frag grenade made in their armor. One of them was dead before hitting the floor, the second was a unconscious mangled heap, and the third was howling with pain, covering his shrapnel-wounded face, blood leaking from one dead eye.
That left one rifle-carrying leader and the squad leader still in any position to fight. He made a signal to split up and charged to the left. The corridors were dark, but there was still enough light to detect movement, and still a strong enough scent of his prey in the air.
"Come out," he said. "Show your face and fight if you are willing. Or stand before me so I can slaughter you like the coward you are."
As if in answer, the lights switched on to blindingly bright, blinding him for a moment as he staggered back. When his eyes were able to adjust to the brightness, he saw the Wookiee before him – armed with a large warblade with intricate runes in one hand, a smaller blade (barely more than a dagger with his large size) in his other hand.
Covering his fear with bravado, the leader mocked. "I am Captain Saarast of the Scorekeeper's Triumph. And who is it I will slaughter so that the Great Scorekeeper shall know my deed?"
The Wookiee readied his blades. "Chieftain Zaalbar. And my people are no longer slaves, Trandoshan. We can – and will - fight."
The leader raised his blade. "Prove it." He charged.
Jedi Guardians and Consulars were the opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to factions within the Order. Being a Guardian, Juhani was more inclined to face the enemy head on, while Consular Jedi like Jolee were more trained for outthinking a foe. This sometimes made working in tandem a bit of a challenge. In this case, however, the differences in style meshed perfectly.
With a graceful flick of her wrist, Juhani's ruby saber deflected the volley of incoming blaster fire. In one case, the shot ricocheted right back to its place of origin, and the Trandoshan had to pitch his rifle across the corridor to keep from getting caught in the explosion when it overloaded. They kept firing. Juhani kept closing the gap.
"Jedi? Tam keeps Jedi on his station. We're in trouble now!"
"Shut up and keep firing."
There was a thin, orange glow about her – energy shield – they realized. This wasn't what they heard about Jedi – Jedi were strong warriors, they'd heard, but also had a reputation for impractical behavior in combat. The energy shield was indicative of a Jedi who was more practical than they expected. As she walked forward, the mercs fell back. Seeing a doorway with bulkheads they could use for cover, they ran in and found cover to keep shooting.
As soon as they did, a door came crashing down behind them. They were distracted for a split second, and the Jedi tossed her lightsaber in and almost casual manner, tripping a mechanism with the hilt before it returned to her hand.
The door in front of them crashed down.
Through the port on the aft bulkhead, they looked out to see who had trapped them. Jolee flashed them a toothy grin and waved.
The seven Trandoshans attempting to blast open the command center were furious indeed. They weren't about to broker any insult from what they saw as a cheating old Rodian and a handful of friends. When they finally "persuaded" the command center door to open by use of a putty explosive, they saw their quarry hiding behind a workbench, antennae poking up and snout resting on the top of it, along with the rifle barrel. One of them laughed.
"Making your last stand here, Tam? You give us what we want, or we take it from your wrinkled green hide!"
"You no scare me," Tam bluffed. "You must have seen the Ebon Hawk here. Exchange told you to go away or they come back with powerful friends. You shoot me, and Davik's crew be most unhappy with you!"
"The ship survived, Davik didn't. You just hand over everything on this station, and we might leave you here with life support operating. We not scared of Davik's surviving lackeys."
A cannon shot blasted through the air and hit the taunting mercenary square-on. Upon impact, his body exploded and soaked his fellows in what used to be his bones and organs. The rest dropped to the floor or jumped back. They returned fire. Tam let off another shot, wounding one of the Trandoshans before being forced to duck the incoming volley of fire. They shot everywhere and everything! Tam let out a howl of despair as a droid he'd been working on for months was turned to charred parts. But, at least they weren't advancing.
That's when he saw, out the corner of his eye, a silver sphere with a red line fly through the air towards the invaders.
"What? You crazy!" Tam shouted.
"Thermal Detonator!" yelled one of the mercenaries.
Fortunately, he picked his hiding spot carefully, right next to the emergency override panels. One jerk of the red lever at his feet brought down the fire door. There was a terrific explosion that rocked the whole station as a fireball shot out from the corridor and belched flame in a stream right above Tam's head that was so hot his antenna were singed before the door sealed. A jerk of a blue knob opened another emergency hatch and vented the area to space
No more gunfire. Tam leaned against the workbench, breathing heavily. "Me too old for this!"
Canderous snickered as he walked up to Tam. "It was just four-to-one odds, and one thermal detonator can certainly level a playing field when needed."
Tam looked up at him. "Mandalorian right, but Mandalorian also crazy. Could have killed us with them."
"And what a wonderful battle it would have been," Canderous said.
Tam pointed out the large window at the front. "Looks like they cut losses and started running."
The ship had withdrawn its docking clamp and boarding gear and was starting to take off from the station. From the other side of the station, the Ebon Hawk launched out of the bay, its movements wobbly and slow compared to how Canderous remembered the ship's gait.
"No, they aren't running," he muttered. "Damn fool, the ship's only half-repaired, and if he's doing what I think…"
"You mean, your pilot another Mandalorian?"
"No, but he fights like one," Canderous muttered. "Crazy bastard."
Tam shrugged in an almost casual fashion. "If you call him crazy, I wouldn't want to be the other ship…"
On the bridge of the Trandoshan ship, the pilot looked at the remaining officer. "Looks like Tam is going to run for it."
"Judging by the ship's status," said the officer. "It's not going to get far. Those who have survived can take care of whoever's left on Tam's station. We get that ship!"
They retracted the docking gear and started to move.
"They took the bait," Carth said. "HK, I'm pouring as much power as I can to those guns. Hold on."
The Trandoshan ship took a shot that nearly clipped the wing. Somehow, Carth managed to pull out of the way before it would have hit. Pushing all thoughts out of his mind, he went into the old patterns of starship battle. This was an old trick from the Mandalorian war – look like easy prey until they get into the gun sights. Unfortunately, that move meant you pretty much were easy prey until they closed in, and even then, you only got one good hit before they realized the trick.
Here was hoping one good hit was all they would need.
"The difference between a man and an animal, Onasi," Saul had once said. "Is that a wounded animal does anything to flee danger or to escape a trap. They were designed to run away. Now, a man…a man lies in wait for the fool that sprung the trap, plays dead until they approach and then makes them very sorry for setting that trap in the first place. There's no shortage of bodies, but I appear to be short on men…"
These Trandoshans were really going to be sorry, he hoped. He made another check of the readouts, and punched up the reserve power…steady…just enough to keep the boat flying. He pulled the controls back, and jammed it at a forty-five degree angle, anticipating another shot. Unfortunately, with the Hawk being actually wounded, and only pretending to be worse, the controls weren't responding fast enough, and the shot grazed the starboard side, sending a tremor and making the controls even more sluggish.
Carth swore and rerouted the power regaining some of the mobility. He'd show those bastards for damaging his ship! Time to give them a taste of what he showed a few of the Mandalorians. Another jerk of the controls, and the G-Force hit like a brick, slamming him back against the seat. His wounded hands ached with the effort of holding the controls, the ship's sirens were going off.
And the Trandoshans were getting right where he wanted them.
"They got a good pilot, but the ship's crippled. Plasma leak starboard."
"Where is the ship headed?"
"It's headed for some asteroids. Nickel and iron cores with a methane shell. Maybe it thinks to hide."
They took the bait! Carth twisted the controls around for a pass. With the shields out, this move would be even riskier, but from what he knew of Trandoshan scout ships like this one, their shields were designed for energy, and not anything else. Pirates like these spent their credits on weapons and went for ships that weren't going to fight back, so shield generators were often minimal, as they were quite expensive.
Carth cut the engines, going on inertia. Without friction in space, he would at least keep a steady speed. The last thing he needed was excessive engine exhaust. Unfortunately, steering was out of the question. If he timed this wrong…
Strangely enough, the concept of a nasty death out in the black didn't seem like such a bad thing.
One of the methane-coated asteroids loomed larger and larger out the forward port of the Hawk.
"He's gonna ram it!"
"No, he's not. No pilot is that stupid, especially one with a crippled ship like his. I think he's bluffing. Accelerate and close in!"
Trandoshan ship blasting forward at the rear, frozen death ahead. There was only a few seconds left.
"Warning: Uh…Auxiliary Master, we are looming very close to that asteroid. May I suggest course correction?"
"Not yet, keep those guns on the asteroid!" he shouted as he flipped the switches and dials. Hopefully, that damage was minimal and they still had enough power. Well, now or never…
He jammed a couple switches and yanked out a throttle. Full reverse thrusters! He gave a whoop of delight as the ship rocketed backwards, passing right beneath the Trandoshan vessel. The Trandoshan ship, still caught in forward acceleration, wasn't able to pull back in time as it skidded ominously against the surface. Space may have been soundless, but Carth half-imagined the scrape of metal.
A tinny, disturbing chuckle echoed through the com as the droid blasted the asteroid. Energy ignited methane. Methane evaporated in burst of flame. Flame caught the leaking plasma of the wounded pirate ship. Plasma exploded, shattering the asteroid's rocky core.
When the fireball consumed itself, the only things left of the asteroid and pirate ship were hunks of charred metal and fist-sized lumps of rock. The Hawk had barely made it clear, and was protesting over doing such maneuvers with a half-rebuilt engine, but they were alive, and Carth was able to coax the ship back into the docking bay.
The clang and crash of swords echoed off the walls, and the bulkheads boasted gashes as Zaalbar and the Trandoshan captain exchanged blows. Trandoshans were smaller, but very muscular. They had already wounded each other several times, the captain's face weeping blood from a long gash and Zaalbar bleeding from the shoulder and a gash near his ribs that was almost fatal.
"You fight well for a slave," The captain said as a back-handed compliment. "You surrender, and you live."
Zaalbar countered, blocking the swipe coming in for him, and moving for the counterattack. The captain blocked the swipe coming in on his right, but not the smaller blade in Zaalbar's off-hand. The shot landed true! Zaalbar yanked Mission's blade from the captain's chest, and blood poured from the wound. The reptilian pirate looked genuinely shocked to be taken down.
"If you are…your people's future…then they are lucky…"
Zaalbar started limping for the command center, away from his now-dead foe.
By the time he arrived, most of the crew had already met back there. Mission gasped when she saw his wounds. Jolee rushed over and started Force-healing, grumbling come comment about "never being able to stop helping out young Wookiees."
"Their captain is dead. I fought him," Zaalbar said. "Mission, did you kill the hunter sent after you?"
She scowled and shook her head. "I…I lost him somewhere on the lower deck. I thought he met up with the ones Jolee and Juhani trapped."
Canderous made a quick count. "Twenty Trandoshans. You and Zaalbar took out four. Seven tried storming the command center…Juhani, how many are stuck in the airlock?"
"There were six of them," Juhani answered.
"Damn!" Canderous said. "Three of them unaccounted for."
Juhani's eyes widened, and she gasped. "The infirmary! Come quickly!"
The three that remained knew they were doomed. No response from the teams, no response from the ship. The one with the rifle met up with the two carrying swords and charged the infirmary.
What they saw was a small human female lying in one of the old medical beds. She was small and looked weak enough. Just what they needed for a hostage to barter their ways out of this place. The rifle-carrier shouted to the other two to grab her.
The woman's eyes opened, but the rest of her face was chillingly blank. She seemed to stare right through them, and he felt raw fear invade his skull. It was like cold fingers had reached inside him and were squeezing his brain. One of the swordsmen dropped to his knees, shrieking and clawing at his head. The other started quaking, his sword falling uselessly to the floor as he slumped against the wall.
That's when, too late, he remembered one of the broadcasts from the other teams. Tam had Jedi aboard this station.
He raised his gun in his trembling fingers, anger trying to override the fear to keep his aim steady…
The other crew members burst into the room to see it – two of the Trandoshans on the floor, one screaming incoherently, the other propped up in the corner in a catatonic state. The third was about to shoot. Juhani shouted and made to jump him, but there wasn't enough time…
Kairi made a small gesture – squeezing her hand shut. Unseen to the pirate, the energy cell on his rifle was groaning under the pressure…
There was a bright green flash as the weapon discharged, but instead of blasting Kairi, the energy cell literally melted down and backfired, throwing the Trandoshan pirate against the wall and leaving a circle of scorch marks a meter in diameter. There was a gaping charred hole where the pirate's chest used to be. Armor, rifle pieces, and flesh had fused together in one foul-smelling burn.
The serpentine eyes were frozen in an expression of shock.
There was no change of expression on Kairi's face as she closed her eyes and dropped into dreamless sleep.
Carth pulled the Hawk back into the docking bay and powered down the systems, sending an updated list of the ship's diagnostics to the repair droids. He had risen from his seat with the intention of returning to his bunk.
But as he walked the corridors of the ship, he kept noticing the small things. A Pazaak card on a table. Carth picked it up and remembered all the games of it played to pass the time. He brushed his fingers against the table in the galley and remembered the last communal meal, singing ribald songs as they all laughed and passed around the rations.
The small details had been so invisible on a day to day basis, but now they seemed to be all he could notice. A picture tacked onto a wall to make the space appear a little less blank, a wooden box set on a bulkhead ledge full of small stones and other meditation foci. He walked through the armory and stared at a pile of crates. Once, he sat on those crates with Canderous, joking, boasting, and sharing war stories.
He passed one of the ports and started off into the darkness…"What is it you see?" He remembered Juhani's lilting accent asking the question back in the Kashyyyk forest.
Somehow, he ended up in the room Mission shared with Zaalbar. Exhausted, he plopped on Zaalbar's bunk and put his head in his hands. Mission kept a collage of holos above her bunk – pictures snapped during their travels. One of them had come loose and fallen to her bunk. Carth picked it up.
This had been taken back on Manaan when Bastila was recovering in the hospital. She had asked everyone to gather at the foonga field for this. Jolee was staring down the camera with an expression of mock annoyance. Juhani stood next to him, smiling serenely. Canderous stood next to her, grinning as the camera caught him in mid-joke. Zaalbar sat cross-legged on the grass, laughing. Mission waved to the camera, a smile like sunshine lighting up the whole picture as she leaned into Kairi's hug. In the picture, Carth was standing right in the back of them. One arm was looped around Kairi's waist, the other around Mission's shoulder.
As if she were my own… Carth's chest ached. Mission wasn't Dustil. Hell, she wasn't even the same species! But…it wasn't Saul talking about sending Dustil to the Sith that made him angriest. It was when that slime spoke of his plans for Mission…and when he believed the rest of the crew dead or worse.
I made a vow, Morgana. I wanted to see it through. But I didn't count on…I never counted on being happy.
As if in answer, he heard a voice at the door. "Carth?"
Mission was watching him warily. He showed her the picture. "It…came loose," he tried to explain. Try as he might, he couldn't seem to come up with excuses. He stood up, and touched Mission's shoulder. "I owe you an apology, kiddo, a big one."
She accepted his apology with a hug.
"Mission, I'm sorry. I never wanted to hurt you," he admitted. "I'm…I just don't…" he sighed. "Mission, I'm scared."
"Yeah," she admitted. "Me, too."
As a way to test out the repairs to the Hawk's hyperdrive, they found a habitable, but remote, planetoid to maroon the surviving pirates. When they returned, they weren't the only ones preparing to leave. Tam had a small ship he used for his jaunts to Yavin 4, and for the rare trip outside the system. They found him loading it with provisions and a crew full of his droids.
"There's not so much left here – no Exchange, no Trandoshans. I can pack up my weapons and sell them elsewhere."
"They'll fetch a good price Tam," Canderous said. "But you're sure you want to continue working for the Exchange?"
Tam shrugged. "Hutts don't pay their bills. Exchange does." He admitted. "But actually thinking of going to a couple other places. I can pretty much set up weapon shops where I like. Spacers always need weapons. So do mercenaries and colonists. Don't worry about me. I be okay."
"I'm sure you will."
"As for you, you treat Hawk well, and she treat you well. That's a fine little ship. I was happy to make all those modifications to her. You'll find that I made your guns nastier and shields stronger. Least I can do for you saving life and all."
"Thank you. Now, all I have to do is round up the crew."
"I saw the little Jedi woman a bit ago. She's in one of the workshops. I offered her a pick of any of my weapons, but she said she was going to build her own."
Tam's excavations of Yavin yielded the perfect ingredients. He had no use for lightsabers and the like, so they usually ended up being recycled into droid plating.
Kairi had asked each of the crew in turn if they wanted to continue their task. The vote was unanimous to continue. The vote was also unanimous to welcome her back aboard the Hawk, even though they all knew now of the terrible secret. Carth's vote was the most surprising, but when she asked him in private about it, he seemed a parsec away. It was as if a blast door had slammed down between them.
"The others seem to trust you, and I guess Malak really is the enemy here. Don't worry, I won't let my…personal feelings get in the way of this mission. We still have one Star Map to find if we're going to discover the Star Forge and rescue Bastila. But…" he warned. "I won't let you betray the Republic…"
His rejection was heartbreaking – but expected.
There is no emotion ; there is peace.
There is no love; there is loss.
Using the tools at the workbench, Kairi shaped the light metal into the perfect tube, wrapping leather around the hilt so that the grip fit correctly to her small hands. It was now time to set the crystals.
The first was from the Dantooine wedding – a soft blue shard. You will count your wealth in friends.
The second was from Iziz's collection of "shiny stones" he traded in gratitude for the release of his people. It glowed a soft purple from within as she set it. When you are sand, we will remember…
The last was from Zaalbar. He and Mission had found the stones while exploring the Dantooine caves, and he had placed one in the hilt of Bacca's Blade and handed her the other shard. I judge you only as the person I have seen and sworn life-debt to, not on a past I neither know nor care about.
Standing up from her cross-legged position, she ignited the first switch. A long blade the color of rich wine shot out from the end.
Purple – the color favored by Jedi Revan.
She swung it, testing the weight and the gyroscopic force of the blade. It was a powerful weapon to be certain. She held the blade out at ready and slid the other switch. A matching blade of deep purple grew from its other end.
Double-sided – the style Bastila carried. A tribute to both edges of her nature, both aspects of her creation. It wasn't the weapon of a mind-mannered translator-turned-Consular, ignorant of the truth. It was a weapon designed for a fighter.
Kairi nodded and turned off the blade. One more Star Map, then off to face Malak. And she would have to do both alone.