Wanderer's Redemption: Esoteric Pilgrim
Chapter 12: 'The Blood Remembers…
Nar Shaddaa: Refugee Sector, Slums…
The man had spent the night awake and tense, his mind in an utter state of disbelief and turmoil, and his body unable to cope with such a shock. He paced the length of his small rented room; an old space cargo shipping container, rudimentarily renovated to house the poor and slaves of Nar Shaddaa. The man wiped his sweaty palms on his threadbare trousers and concentrated once more, reaching out through the Force to touch her. She was there, alive and close and there!
She was different, altered in an unexplainable way. The way she appeared to him was not what he remembered, but after nine long years of having the loss of her an emptiness inside his skull; the little black hole that her comforting presence had once filled; it was more joy than he could express with words to know that she was there.
But with her return swarmed memories…
Memories of war and destruction, pain and suffering that were deafening, the darkness that had consumed him and the hatred that had driven him for so long. Overcome, he sat down heavily on his bed, head hanging low and hands dangling between his knees. Silent tears of joy formed at the corners of his blue eyes and trickled down his scarred face to drip off his chin.
She had come back, his little Falen… returned to him.
Nar Shaddaa: The Ebon Hawk
Falen was awoken sharply by the door of her dormitory opening with the usualwhoosh of all pressurised doors. Atton stumbled unsteadily into her room, in one hand a mug of steaming tea, its scent already reaching her across the room. In his other hand were two pieces of thick brown Telosian wheat loaf and some plump green pears. He grinned at her from behind a third pear that was held firmly between his own teeth and walked across the room, handing her the mug and one of the bread slices, which was lightly buttered, before plopping himself down on the foot of her bunk.
"Morning, sunshine!" He chirped once he had spat out the pear. Falen glared at him across the rim of her mug, her hair a messy black halo and her eyes smudged and blurry with sleep. She may be a Jedi, but she had never been a morning person.
"What? No thanks? Here, let me help you… How 'bout, 'Atton, you sexy beast, thank you for bringing me this delightful breakfast feast.'" He parroted her voice, a devilish grin plastered over his face.
Still scowling Falen reached out with the force and lodged the pear tightly back between his teeth.
"There," she sighed with relief, ignoring his outraged glare and taking a small sip of her tea. "That's much better."
It was moments before she finally eased up on the Force and allowed him to yank the pear from between his teeth. Atton massaged his jaw and took a bite of the pear, trying to look threatening in the process. Falen chuckled and carefully pulled herself up into a sitting position, her knees up against her chest and both hands full with breakfast. She ate stolidly through one piece of the wheat loaf and started upon a pear, unsurprised at how hungry she was. The amount of kotlo she had pumped into her body last night, the obvious side-effect was a massive appetite. Her body was making up for energy it had expended during her sleep, speeding up the healing process of her various wounds.
Atton watched her eat with an open curiosity. For once, in the peaceful silence of the dormitory, he didn't feel the need to hide his interest in her. Falen returned his curious gaze, the mechanics of her eating never faltering while her unnatural eyes locked his own. He smiled slowly, enjoying the unspoken intimacy. Falen's lips curved in response.
"Were your eyes always like that?" Atton wondered aloud, and instantly wished he could snatch those words back.
The moment and intimacy shattered. The smile faded and her eyes became cold, composed and defensive. Atton knew instantly that he'd hit a nerve.
"That's none of your business," Falen snapped, rising from the bed and speaking to him with her back turned and body tense. "Leave please, Atton. I'll be on deck in a few minutes."
He did not argue and gathered up the remnants of their meagre breakfast. It hurt him to see the relief in her eyes as he left the room.
"I'm sorry." He murmured, pausing in the doorway.
"Just get out, Atton."
Ebon Hawk: Med Bay…
Falen was still reticent as she stood with Bao-Dur and Kreia, watching the Miraluka assassin slowly wake. Atton had avoided her, she could tell he wasn't sure what he'd done, but he was being man enough to give her some room rather than press the matter. She had thought that kind of deep thinking beyond the scoundrel. After all, he liked to make out his mind never went further than his blaster and the fly on his trousers.
"You should not have let her live," the crone said, her voice as bitter and prophetic as always. "She will be a burden, another mouth to feed and body to protect. She will most likely betray you. This is a great risk, Exile. Her Master will follow her, follow through her to you."
"For once, Kreia," Falen replied, too tired for diplomacy. "Keep you opinions to yourself. I for one don't care to hear you preaching so early in the morning."
Affront was stamped harshly with her wrinkles, but the old woman held her tongue. On the small medbay cot the assassin stirred, murmuring something, and shifting. Her wounds had healed cleanly enough, but like Falen, she would be left with more scars. The grey blanket was pulled up to her shoulders, her burgundy veil still in place even though she was naked underneath. Atton's warning -however odd- had seemingly struck Bao and he had not removed it.
Bao, ever the gentleman, noted the Miraluka would wake soon and quickly bowed his head in Falen's direction and left the medbay. Kreia too, after moments of heavy silence turned and left, calling over her shoulder as she passed.
"Come and speak to me once you are finished, Exile. There is much to discuss…"
The sound of the medbay door closing was the final element needed to pull the Miraluka out of her healing sleep. She sat up quickly, combat instincts pushing her further than her body could handle. A pained cry escaped through her pale lips and she slumped back onto the bed. Falen placed a gentle hand on her injured shoulder and sent out comforting waves through the Force. Already she could feel the minute force bond developing between them, much like the ones that tied her to every other member on the ship, although each bond varied. This bond was like the finest thread, still very delicate. Falen sensed it for the moment, sensing it strengthen as she used more of the Force to calm the alien.
"Do not push yourself,' Falen said, placing her spare hand behind the woman to ease her up gently into a sitting position. "Your body is still weak."
When it looked like the Miraluka could support herself Falen moved away to pick up her black and burgundy robes that sat neatly folded in the corner. She placed them at the end of the woman's bed, looking uneasily at the part of the veil where her eyes should be. Falen liked to look people in the eyes when she spoke to them.
"Here are your robes. What is your name; I cannot call you 'assassin' forever." Falen asked as she sat down beside the robes at the end of the bed.
The corner of the woman's mouth turned downwards, but she replied nonetheless. "My name is Visas."
"Tell me then Visas, how are you feeling?"
Visas gathered up her robes and cautiously slipped herself out of bed, and upon finding she could stand began to dress herself, uncaring of her nakedness. Once she was finished she looked in Falen's direction, her head bent deferentially. "I am able to serve. If we enter battle, I will fight and die alongside you."
Falen's eyebrows jumped in surprise, but she maintained her composure. "That is not what I asked. I asked how you were feeling."
She could sense Visas' shock at her correction and the Force she applied to somehow lessen the growing bond, or at least stunt if for the moment. "I… have not heard that question for some time." She said cautiously, as if everything might fade before her. "My flesh is… healed; if that is the answer you seek."
"I didn't mean to hurt you…" Falen said lamely, feeling as if the words were not enough.
"I know." Visas said in reply, settling herself back upon the medbay cot gently and making sure to keep a suitable –deferential- distance between herself and Falen. "And I fear others will see mercy in your actions… and in my survival… and use it as a weapon to do you greater harm."
Falen shrugged off the warning and continued with her questions. "How did you find me?"
"I…" Visas lapsed into silence, lips pursed as she found the right words. "I felt you –heard you- through the Force. It was like a sound, upon the edge of hearing. And when I heard it, I found I could not ignore it."
"What of your Master? Was he the one behind the attack on Peragus?" Falen asked, Kreia's warning returning to mind. 'Her Master will follow her; follow through her to you…'
When Visas answered her voice was different, even more empty and distant than it had been before, Falen had not thought it possible. "My master did not cause the end of the planet you speak of. There are many factions within the Sith, all seeking to take what little remains in the wake of the Jedi Civil War. Where one moves, it is not always known to the others. But their purpose is the same – the death of all Jedi, everywhere. They believe you are the last of the Jedi, and their hatred for Jedi unites them. All their eyes are upon you, and it is a terrible, quiet darkness that pursues you."
Falen rose sharply off the bed, deeply unsettled by the Miraluka's tone. It was empty, yet promising, flat as if she were talking about something trivial rather than doom and darkness. "I will leave you now, no doubt you are tired and need your rest."
"Forgive me," Visas called as Falen made for the door, "but before you go, I must ask. Why do you do this? Why do you seek to help me, teach me?"
"Because I believe you can be saved." For if I cannot save you, then all are lost…
Visas half-coughed, half-laughed. "So you say, but that is something I have not observed – or seen."
Falen rounded on the woman, feeling slightly insulted. "What does that mean!"
"I remember little of my homeworld before I entered my master's service. It is not as it was, there is little left of such memories – or the planet itself."
Falen wondered what this had to do with her question but she sat when Visas motioned for her to do so, and listened intently as the woman shared her grizzly story. It was a tale of death on such a new scale that Falen was stunned. It was a new death, not by weapons or men, but through the Force. The silencing of everything, from the tiniest of creatures to whole planets. Falen shuddered, remembering her own terror at the sudden silence she had experienced upon the bloody fields of Malachor.
"And he made me see. And for the first time I saw the galaxy. And I wished to die."
"He made you see?"
"To this galaxy, my world, absent the currents and spectrums of the Force, was nothing but crude matter, rock, flesh, emptiness. He showed me the flickering of life on other planets. The mass of beings that swarm through the empty places of the galaxy. To see such creatures, disconnected from themselves, their world, and their place in it, unable to see the currents and how they affected everything around them." Her voice was far-away, no doubt reliving the events. They were the kind that one would never forget.
"And why did your master show you this?" Falen asked, enchanted by the truth and terror of her story.
"He showed me to make me believe in his cause. He convinced me the galaxy, all life must die. He fed upon its ugliness, it's screaming, and in its place, he left silence… and where there was chaos, he brought stillness… and order."
Stillness…and order. Like her own stillness? Like her own silence? To remove the Force was to remove life and to remove life was to impose order… and stillness. Falen felt a deep fear consolidating in her belly. This war was not about removing the last Jedi… it was about removing the very Force from the galaxy.
"I'll be going now." Falen said quietly, feeling nauseas.
Visas nodded solemnly and rolled over, readying for a meditative healing sleep.
Falen had ignored Atton's concerned looks and Bao's questions as she had rushed from the medbay and off to find the Kreia. There was much to discuss, and much more to understand and she was sure Kreia had the answers. She always did, if you could wade through all the words to find them.
Kreia was waiting for her, perfectly poised in her mediation position on the floor of the cargo hold, knees crossed and hands folded. Hooded head bowed in thought, she did not react when Falen entered suddenly.
"You know what these Sith are up to, don't you? You've known for quite a while!" Falen all but hissed at the elderly woman. "It's not me they're after, it's the Force. Somehow using me to get to the Force…"
"You have befriended the seer." Kreia replied calmly, as if Falen had not spoken at all.
All Falen's fear and frustration crashed against her resolve like waves in a rough sea. Kreia had the upper hand in this particular discussion. She had the knowledge, so she had the power. Knowing this game well -she had learnt its intricacies at Revan's feet- Falen bit back on her urgency and calmed herself. Finally asking, "Why do you call her a seer?"
"Her species do not see as we do. They perceive the galaxy through the Force… and it is how she found you. It is a rare gift, squandered on her people." Her lips thinned at the thought of such gifts bestowed on the unworthy, and motioned for the Exile to sit before her. Falen obliged and assumed her meditative pose, legs folded neatly beneath her.
"The Sith carry battle to you, and you spare them. And as we travel, the empty places of the ship are filled. I hope your thoughts on this matter are clear. If you take her on as a servant, know that the Sith meet their end at the hands of their apprentices. It is not something I would wish to happen to you. This one you have saved… has another master. Though blind, she has ties to darkness. Her presence is a threat to us. To you. Do not under estimate her… or her loyalty."
"Ties to her master perhaps? And I intent to follow that bond to its source when the opportunity presents itself." Falen said, happy with her own skills of deduction.
"Then you are learning." Kreia replied, her lips curving into a somewhat eerie smile.
"Her planet was wiped out; it was the only colony of her people in this sector of the galaxy." Falen said thoughtfully, hear head full of what she knew of Visas and Miraluka.
"And what do you make of that?"
"It seems a Force-sensitive world has been obliterated." Falen replied gravely. Once sector of space blind to the Force… not that there were many eyes left to begin with…
"You are right to trust your instincts. Something is wrong… it is only a matter of discovering what - and why. If your instincts lead you to an answer, seek me out. Perhaps we will discuss it more." It was an obvious dismissal, but Falen had not finished.
"I had other questions." She said determinedly.
"Ask and I will answer." Kreia replied, her voice sounding weary.
"When Visas attacked, she did something to my eyesight." Falen said, uncertain how to explain what had happened to her during that battle.
"She did nothing to your eyesight that was not already there. She has forced this upon you, but crude methods are markings of the Sith. Close your eyes." Kreia ordered and Falen did as she was told, curiosity winning out.
"Feel the ship around you. The welding of the droid as it goes about its work." Kreia's voice took on a different sound, but not one unfamiliar to Falen. It was common for Jedi to change as their minds left their body to flow with the currents of the Force. She followed the older woman's lead and allowed her consciousness to expand beyond herself. She could feel everything, see and hear and know all at once. It took great concentration to cut out the racket and focus on a single sound or entity. Crewmembers were like beacons of noise and light and heat inside her mind as she wandered down the Hawk'scorridors. She followed the lure of Kreia's voice until she concentrated on T3. The droid was not visible through the Force, but she could hear him.
"Hey, T3 has a stuck motivator."
"Shhhhh..." Kreia hissed. "Now stretch out. Hear the rumble of hyperspace, the hum of the hyperdrive."
The engine was warm, so warm. But she could not see it. Only hear it.
"Hey, I can hear a catch in it. It's not fully fixed."
"Ignore distractions, and focus on my voice. The breathing of the blind one as she meditates in the darkness. Now listen deeper. Past her breathing… and listen."
The Miraluka was a violet colour. Smudged around the edges and the colour faded in some places. Falen had heard of Jedi seeing colours tied to other Force-sensitive beings. She had not thought much on the subject until now. The occasional red flare bloomed among the violet. Falen guessed these were the dark ties Kreia spoke of. She then focused her hearing. The alien's breathing was deafeningly loud and then, like the slightest whisper she heard words. They floated disembodied through her mind, yet they were spoken in Visas' voice…
"…As my feet walk on the ashes of Katarr, I shall not fear, for in fear lies death, and…"
"I heard her thoughts!" Falen exclaimed, amazed and proud.
"You are strong indeed… what you have heard were surface thoughts only, but it is something that masters have trained for years and years and never learned." Kreia's voice reflected her pride in her student.
"But… how did I do it!"
"That is not the real question you should ask - is such listening enough to perceive the world around you? It is not. Because to listen to the thoughts of another is much like attempting to see the universe with only your eyes. It is equally limiting. Now leave me be. I must rest." Her tone was firm, this time leaving no room for argument. Well, almost none…
"You still haven't answered my first question."
"I cannot answer that question for you, Exile. You must discover your own answers. Now go."
Nar Shaddaa: Refugee Sector, Slums…
Falen had always found that helping others alleviated her frustration or stress. Not because she set herself above them in the act of helping, but because she could always see that there were others with worse problems, and hers would always seem trivial in comparison. So she helped the needy, and Nar Shaddaa was never short of the needy and impoverished.
It disgusted her to see the conditions in which many were forced to live. Old shipping containers with makeshift beds were the closest things to houses that the Refugee's had. Many had not had proper homes for nigh on ten years, always running from war. First the Mandalorian's then the Jedi. It was deeply shaming to see what conditions Revan had indirectly forced these people into; the hate and desperation that hung around the sector in a great miasma.
So she made her amends, helping whoever asked. Tending to the sick or sparing a few credits, engaging in 'aggressive negotiations' with mercenaries and confronting the local Exchange mogul Quarren, Saquesh, that had kidnapped a woman's daughter in compensation of missed payments. And met his end at her feet.
Falen, Atton, Bao and Visas made there way back through the confusing tunnels of the Exchange offices with the small girl safely in the centre of their part, stinking like the Gamorreans they had just fought, but all –in their own way- feeling satisfied with what good they had accomplished. The little girl Adana was brash and strong-willed and instantly took a liking to Falen. She walked a step behind her the whole way, asking questions on how life was to be a Jedi.
"Have you killed many bad guys? Where is your lightsabre? I saw a man with a red one once… Was yours red!" Adana asked, leaning forward to tug on Falen's sleeve when she didn't receive an answer.
If any of her companions could have seen her face they would have understood her hesitance. It was marked with pain and confusion, lips pressed thin and eyes hard. The buzzing was back, and far worse than ever before. It was a sign of her strength that Falen remained upright and walking in a straight line. She had been sure that Visas had been the cause of the noise in her head, but now, through their even increasing bond, Falen could sense that she was not the source.
At her lengthy silence Atton finally spoke up, putting an end to Adana's incessant tugging. "It was yellow wasn't it gorgeous? I remember you telling me once that it was yellow…"
"You should not disrespect the Exile with such a demeaning title as 'gorgeous'." Visas snapped at the pilot.
"I'll call her what I damn well feel like!" He retaliated.
"Atton calm down…" Bao-Dur intervened, sensing Falen's withdrawal from the situation. She was usually the only one that could control the scoundrel enough to shut him up, but Bao hoped to try. Atton glanced at him, and Bao seized his opportunity.
"Can't you see something is wrong?" He said quietly, gesturing towards Falen's stiff back.
Atton forgot his quarrel with the Miraluka instantly and moved to Falen's side, placing a concerned hand on her shoulder - one she shrugged off instantly. She ignored his concerns and doggedly avoided his questions, leading them back through the slums to the cargo container that Adana and her mother, Nadaa, called home. Adana raced through the crowds and launched herself into her mother's arms, both weeping with joy.
Falen accepted Nadaa's profusions of thankfulness with a tight smile, Atton standing behind her in a sullen silence. She refused the woman's few credits and said her goodbyes, staggering slightly as she walked away. Atton steadied her with a firm hand above her elbow and Bao also quickly moved to her side, leaving Visas behind to stare off into the crowd, her head titled slightly to one side in obvious curiosity.
"Are you feeling sick, General?" The Zabrak asked, not waiting for her answer to rummage through his packs for some Kolto strips.
"I'm fine, Bao. There is something wrong with the Force. It's just shaking me up a bit. That's all." She replied, stopping for a moment to close her eyes and massage her temples.
"Hey!" Atton spoke over Visas' soft voice. "How come you answer his questions and not mine!"
"Atton please…" Bao said exasperatedly, glancing at the dangerous glare that had formed on Falen's face.
"No. I want to know what's going on here… between you two." He said.
Falen's face went slack with shock –the buzzing forgotten- and Bao had to drop his eyes. She wanted to slap his for such a ridiculous accusation, both her hands clenching and unclenching. Atton quickly realised he had made a mistake and opened his mouth to speak but Falen cut him off.
"Because I trust Bao-Dur, Atton. Because I know he has no amorous agenda!"
"So that's it is it?" Atton cried, embarrassed that she had caught him out and hurt at her lack of respect for his genuine concerns. "You think I'm hanging around –helping you- just for a fuck!"
The crowd of refugee's watched on with avid interest, the commotion a welcome break from their monotonous despair. This time Falen did slap him. Hard. It looked as if Atton might raise a hand to retaliate, and Falen lashed out with the Force to impede him. He simply shrugged of the Force blow and stepped closer, leaving Falen amazed at his resistance.
"What!" Falen yelled, rounding on the woman in her anger.
"That man is watching you…" She said calmly, motioning with her delicate chin in his direction.
Falen intended only to glance quickly, some admirer was not her concern. Not when Atton had yet to be dealt with. The man was simply a hooded figure between to cargo containers, but in the seconds before her gaze left him he removed the hood of his cloak.
Her heart stopped and the world crashed around her.
There was a face she knew so well. A man she loved deeply. One she hadn't seen in nearly a decade. One she hadn't expected to see ever again. He should have died in the Jedi Civil War…
His blue eyes were bright with tears and emotion. His face was an exact of her own. Masculine to her feminine. Their eyes identical, apart from the colour, the long, sharp nose –although his was slightly bent from a repeated break- the high cheekbones and the pointed chin. He was taller than her by a handful of inches, broad-shouldered and well-muscled. A jagged scar ruined his lips, turning what would have been a smile into a lopsided grin. He wore dirty clothes. Far from suiting the man he was… who he had been.
Falen returned his grin and ran through the crowded refugee's, pushing them out of her way until she could throw herself into the open arms of her brother.
"Fal," He whispered, still disbelieving. "You're alive. I hadn't thought to hope in so long…"
"Vynn…" She chocked out his name, tears staining the cloth of his shirt.
He pushed her backwards to get a closer look at her face and kissed her on the forehead. "How I've missed you."
"How did you survive? I though Revan wiped out the last of the Jedi! The Sith most certainly believe I am the last…"
She did see his grimace or the pain in his eyes. "I managed. There will be time enough for our stories. I am not letting you out of my sight again!"
Atton watched on in despair as Falen threw herself into the man's arms. He knew him well, well enough to be worried. His stomach tied itself in knots before dying in a most painful way. All the work Atton had put into hiding what he had been was now most certainly undone by the man's most unfortunate appearance. The need for a drink overwhelmed him and he slinked off into the crowds to find a cantina. Gods, he needed one. No doubt tomorrow Falen would find him and try to take his head. He did not want to die, but he did not want to hurt her either…
A/N: WOW A BROTHER! faints