Revan- no, Karalina Jade- stood on the beach of the Rakatan homeworld, watching the sun set over the brilliant blue waters. It was finished, it was finally over. The Star Forge had been destroyed, Malak was dead, and everyone was, for the first time in months, at least relatively safe. She had succeeded in putting Revan behind her, and could look towards coming into her own... not as a former Sith Lord, or as the new Jedi hero, if she could help it. Frowning, she scanned the sky. The first stars of the evening were starting to show against the deep turquoise backdrop. Wispy clouds of orange contrasted against the dark, the beauty betraying the fact that an epic battle had been held there within the last 12 hours.
But that's all finished now, she thought to herself. Now for the real party. Grinning, she turned from the setting sun and made her way to the place further down the beach where Mission, Jolee, Carth, and Canderous were attempting to build a campfire.
"Ow!" Mission exclaimed, yanking her hand back from the pile of wood, and dropping the stick she had been holding.
"Careful, Mission," Carth laughed gently. "The wood bites back, I hear."
Examining her fingers closely, she noticed a trail of blood starting to trickle down. "I'll say!" She grabbed a small bandage out of one of her pockets and wrapped it around the miniscule wound. "Sheesh, you'd think it had a grudge against me for trying to burn it..."
Karalina smiled. "Well, you do know of the legend of the tree shepherds, don't you?"
Mission looked up, clearly not having any idea what she was talking about. Carth and Canderous gave her similar looks of confusion, and Jolee simply harrumphed.
"Some forests are said to be alive," she explained. "Ancient beings taught the trees to speak, and they can be heard communicating all the time. The tree shepherds were the ones who took care of the trees- made sure they were getting all the nourishment they needed, and that nobody was harming the forests."
"So, like, they can talk about anything?" Mission looked intrigued. "I'll bet they don't like sentient lifeforms much."
"Only the ones that destroy the forests, or try to harm the trees. It's why many cultures will not cut wood for their fires- they will only gather the branches that have already fallen to the ground."
"Sounds like inefficiency to me," Canderous observed, putting the last of the logs on the pile. "I have my doubts that a tree could do much of anything to hurt anyone."
Karalina smiled and shook her head. "Legend has it that the trees rose up against those who were destroying them, and woke up enough to fight back. An industrialized civilization was entirely felled, so they say."
"Maybe I shouldn't have tied the rabid gizka to a tree, then..." Mission mused. Earlier in the day, a gizka had tried to break into their ship. Having no success, it had been found gnawing on the landing struts as though it were a guunga fruit. Needless to say, the crew did not care to have it around any longer, so Mission found a way to snare it with some cable, and fastened it to a tree a decent distance away from the ship. It was content to snap at the wildlife around it, resulting only in a strange flower-like plant releasing a cloud of greenish spores into the air.
"Bah. Legends and superstitions." Canderous snorted derisively. "Give me a true story any day."
"You don't tell true stories around a campfire, dammit." Jolee huffed. "Entirely defeats their purpose."
T3-M4 cautiously approached the pile of logs, and extended the appendage that held his flamethrower. Beeping for everyone to stand clear, he shot a stream of flame into the logs, igniting them and creating a merry dance of light.
"All right, and now for the camp songs!" Karalina reached down and pulled out a seven-stringed tarro.
"Camp songs? You've got to be kidding me." Carth laughed. "I haven't sung any of those in years!"
"I'm not singing," Canderous crossed his arms. "What would Mandalore think?"
Karalina shrugged. "I thought Mandalore had a camp song."
Canderous gaped at her for a moment. "He did not!"
"Yeah, he does! Goes something like this; 'I am the model of the leader of the clans of Mandalore...'"
Mission's eyes lit up. "Hey, I know that one! 'I've information present and of all things that have gone before!'"
"Well... I've never heard of it, but I guess that doesn't mean anything," he conceded grudgingly. "Kriffing leaders, making up bouncy tunes in their spare time..."
Laughing, they continued to sing whatever songs popped into their heads, varying in content from a request to keep trash out of their backyard to a ditty about pink pyjamas that Jolee surprised everyone by singing.
After a while, though, people started to get tired. Yawning, Mission stood and stretched. "I think I'm gonna hit the bunk for the night... it takes a lot of energy to be a hero, I guess." The others present nodded in agreement, all except for Carth and Karalina.
"You guys go ahead," Carth waved them off. "We'll take care of the fire."
"Yeah, I bet you will," Mission smirked.
"Mission, go sleep." Karalina blushed. "Your input isn't required."
"Is it ever?" The Twi'lek shrugged. "I'm just sayin..."
"Good night, Mission," Carth said emphatically, which caused an exiting Jolee to chuckle.
Once the departing silhouettes had merged with the larger silhouette of the Ebon Hawk, Carth extended his hand. "Care to take a stroll down the shore?"
Smiling, Karalina accepted. "Of course." Standing, they slowly meandered away from the flames, further down the beach where they could clearly see the stars in the sky. Unmarred by the lights of civilization, it was possible to see the sky as it was meant to be seen- encrusted with thousands of gem-like specks, as though fabricated for a King.
"It's so... beautiful," Karalina sighed.
"You're beautiful," Carth smiled, pulling her close.
"You just say that because you know I could kick your sorry butt if you didn't."
"Oh, could you now?" He smiled easily.
"Of course I could! I used to be the Dark Lord Revan, haven't you been listening?"
"Right, I forgot." Shaking his head, he could only laugh ruefully. "I'm proud of you, you know."
"I think you might've mentioned that once or twice," Karalina grinned. "But you can go ahead and say it as many times as you want."
Carth looked down at the woman in his arms. She was small, but strong, and had come through more than he had thought anyone could. Her entire past had been taken away from her, yet she continued forward, laughing most of the way. Well, except for that rough patch after she first found out, where he thought he'd never see her smile again. Of course, he had also been overly paranoid and not particularly happy with her or the Jedi Council at that point, too. Tonight was the first time they'd truly been able to stop and just be.
Struck by a sudden whim, Carth stepped back and bowed slightly. "Would you care to join me for a dance?"
"Why, I believe I would, soldier." Grinning, she accepted his proffered hand, and they slowly twirled around the beach. It was... almost perfect. Humming softly at first, she added a tune to the dance.
People say they know a girl who's lost her way,
she's always angry.
No one bothers to ask her what she hears
or what she hopes for.
The air is cold,
she lives alone and tires of being her only provider,
she can't fathom grace tonight,
no not tonight, it's not an option.
Searching for more than mere tastes of living water,
tired eyes tend to wander, seek the light.
Create in her a sense of awe that sees your beauty,
let your splendor flash with blinding light.
"Now, that's not you," Carth admonished slightly.
"Maybe not, but it was. Remember those first few days after we found out.. what the Jedi Council did?"
He shuddered. They had not been good days by any stretch of the imagination. "Yes, I do. You locked yourself in when we were aboard the Hawk, and tried to throw yourself from a bridge once we arrived on Korriban. We were lucky Jolee found you in time to rescue you." His voice softened. "You don't know how scared I was to lose you."
"I know." She sighed. "I just didn't think I could live such a lie anymore... but I'm glad you guys were there for me. I thought that no one wanted anything to do with a former Sith Lord."
"Sweetheart, I know that's not you. That's not the real you. The real you is a loving, beautiful person, who wants to sing the rest of that song, I suspect."
Smiling, she nodded and began to sing once more.
Cities slowly suffocate,
what once was bright is now moth-eaten.
As young girls filter thoughts
that once were fresh now worn and beaten.
Clutching pity like a prize to her side her fingers grow weary.
"He cares so much for sparrows,
won't He toss something out my way?"
Searching for more than mere lies disguised as dogma,
tired eyes tend to wander, seek the light.
Create in her a sense of awe that sees your beauty
Let your splendor flash with blinding light
Standing tall, all the aspen trees drink water
As rain falls down like laughter from the sky
Carth was silent for several moments after the song's end. "I don't think I've ever heard rain described that way before."
"I know, it's an interesting way of putting it. But, after all we've been through, I think I like it."
"Just don't ever think we're not here for you- that I'm not here for you."
Smiling, she looked up into his eyes. "Never."
Pulling her closer, he cupped her chin and kissed her softly, lingering for several moments until they began to feel the patter of raindrops on their heads. Looking up, Karalina could only laugh ruefully. "I think the sky is laughing at us."
"Let it laugh. It's probably just because I was a dope for so long about admitting I cared for you." The rain started to pour more earnestly, and it wasn't long before they were both drenched.
"Think maybe we should head back inside?" Karalina wiped the dripping water from her face.
"Yeah, I think it's about that time of life," Carth admitted. "Though I must say it's much nicer out here with you."
Smacking him on the arm, she grinned. "Flattery will get you nowhere, flyboy. Now come on, the fire's pretty well taken care of."
Arm in arm, they walked back to the ship. The embers of the campfire smoldered, the rabid gizka croaked loudly as they walked by, and the rain continued to fall as laughter from the sky.