She was dead.
Her body crumpled under the harsh glow of a lightsaber. Zaalbar's eyes trailed up in the natural progression of the moment; from the shocked look of her face, to the lightsaber withdrawing from her chest, to the hilt, to the hand that held the weapon.
Revan. In his surprise, Zaalbar forgot to add on the human man's other name. That was something he had never failed to do. Even when the Jedi known as Kerran Averre had requested not to be called by his Council-given name, the Wookiee had still used it. His life debt had been to Kerran Averre, and the extra name didn't change that. And even if Kerran Averre Revan didn't like being called that, he said nothing, as a token of respect for Zaalbar's culture. He had always been respectful. But now…
He looked different. Something dark glittered in his eyes, and his expression could only be described as malevolent. It reminded Zaalbar of the expression the Czerka Corp employees showed when they looked upon a Wookiee. The expression Chuundar had had when Zaalbar had been brought before him as a prisoner. The same expression Chuundar had worn when he had killed his father.
Bastila Shan, the missing Jedi cub, stood at his side. Her black robes hung loosely off her frame, contrasting with the pale brown robes that Kerran Averre Revan wore. Zaalbar didn't have the benefit of the Force, but he knew power, and it was running through Revan and Bastila Shan in dark waves, almost darkening the sun that shone high in the Rakata sky.
And, powerful or not, they had killed Mission. Anger made his body shake and his vision narrow until all he could see was her vacant expression as her body lay prone on the sand. A part of his mind wondered where the hot tempered Juhani-Cathar and the Old Man of the Shadowlands were, but the ever sinking feeling in his heart told him that they were dead as well.
Carth Onasi had fled. The footprints his boots left still remained, not yet erased by the movements of the waves. He had called for Mission to run, to escape the fate that had befallen her. But she had never paid much attention to the older man's words, resenting the presence of a father figure in her life where there had previously been none. Any kind of authority reminded her of her blood-brother Griff Vao, and she never liked to talk or think about him if she could help it. Carth Onasi had a predisposition to be fatherly, and therefore, Mission had never listened to him. And now she was dead.
Why didn't she listen to Carth Onasi? Why didn't she leave?
Kerran Avarre Revan whispered something to Bastila Shan, his voice low and soft. Dangerously and deceptively calm. Canderous Ordo stared at Mission's body, his face impassive. Zaalbar didn't know if the older man would grieve for the Twi'lek, but he knew that Mission had been the Mandalorian's last tie to Taris. Whether Canderous Ordo would celebrate or pity her death, the Wookiee couldn't say.
The droids were silent, as they ever were. They were not a factor. The assassin droid, HK-47, seemed to revel in the recent death, the sun glinting off an angry red off his photoreceptors and his blaster rifle. The smaller one, T3-M4, let off a series of nervous beeps. Mission had always liked the small droid, even programming it to be able to play Pazaak with her.
Zaalbar didn't know what to think. He felt rooted to the sand, as he had when Kerran Averre Revan had argued with Mission. If only she had left, if only she had run… the possibilities of what might have happened ran through his mind, and Zaalbar's anger at the man he had chosen to follow increased tenfold.
He owed a life-debt to Kerran Averre Revan…. But Mission was his life. He had spent so much time protecting her, from their first time meeting on Taris to the moments before her death, that he couldn't imagine not being by her side.
And Kerran Averre Revan had killed her.
Bastila Shan loudly proclaimed the return of Revan, Dark Lord of the Sith. After a final look a the Twi'lek's body, Canderous Ordo declared his loyalty. The droids had no choice in the matter. Their programming bade them to follow, and to do anything otherwise was out of the question.
"Well, Zaalbar?" Kerran Averre Revan asked. "You owe me a life-debt. Follow me."
Zaalbar didn't look up. His grip tightened on the blade in his hand- Bacca's. Kerran Averre Revan had liberated it from the body of the Tarentatek in the Shadowlands on Kashyyyk. To own it was to be the example of Wookiee leadership: strong, wise, and an apt protector of his people. And he hadn't even managed to protect his best friend.
"The life-debt is the solemn vow of my people, Revan," Zaalbar growled, raising the blade in front of him. "I cannot break it for a single person." Revan started, surprised that Zaalbar hadn't used his Council-given name. He didn't realize that Kerran Averre was forever dead to Zaalbar. Kerran Averre didn't kill Mission. Revan did.
He stepped closer to the man, his shadow darkening Revan's face. "But you gave my homeland to the Czerka Corporation, and I was exiled from Kashyyyk by my blood-brother Chuundar. The Wookiees are not my people anymore. Mission was."
Revan sighed and drew his lightsaber. He sounded regretful. "So this is your final decision? To die with Mission?"
Zaalbar didn't answer. Raising the blade, he charged. I will avenge your death, Mission, or die in the attempt. In his heart, he knew he would die. Revan would defeat him, and then he would be free. Free from the pain of Mission's death and the conflict of betraying his life-debt. And he would be with Mission in the life that followed. And nothing would separate them after that.
Author's Note: This was written for the 20th DCC at KFM. It's been edited a bit from the KFM version, but that will be edited soon as well. There is also a fabulous picture that goes along with this story, drawn by the amazingly talented MissCora at (http/ www . kotorfanmedia . com? p 5074 ) Delete the spaces. :P We were both very pleased to bring home the first place prize in art and fiction with this, but I tend to think it's mostly because of the picture. So go look at it!