Dustil Onasi – 5 Years Earlier
The transport had taken off. Somewhere down on Korriban, chaos was ensuing. The place that Dustil had considered home for more years than he wanted to count was now gone. Even if Lashowe hadn't said that new recruit was cutting through everyone when they left, there'd still be the problem that Dustil could never go back. Not after what he knew now…
So he took a little bit of it with him.
"I can't believe you hit me, Onasi," Mekel scowled at him, sitting up and practically leaning over the seat so that Dustil could see him.
Dustil paid him no attention and leaned back in the chair, feeling the almost unfamiliar sensation of lifting off settling into his gut. "Yes you can."
Mekel's mouth twisted angrily. "I can't believe I let you hit me."
"You were cracking up," Dustil felt the thrusters kick in. He remembered exactly when he and his father had gone over the stages and corresponding sensations of stabilization. He used to have this down to a science. Lately the only thing he had down to a science was the Sith.
"You're a man now, son."
"I did what I had to."
Mekel punched the back of his seat. "I was fine."
Dustil ignored it; it was more like a petulant thud in his back than a threatening gesture anyway. There were four of them. Dustil had honestly not thought any would actually come, but more changes were in the works than his best friend and girlfriend dying.
He knew she was dead. Hadn't wanted to accept it, but he knew.
It was still hard to believe that Uthar had something to do with it, but he'd had the cold hard proof in his hands. Now it was in his pocket.
"You were freaking out, rambling about Jorak Uln still being alive and torturing you and that new recruit. You weren't fine. We can shove you out an airlock if that'll make you feel better."
Mekel mumbled something out of Dustil's earshot, but seemed to be mulling the point over.
That was good enough. Dustil sighed and leaned his head against his fist. "Too bad we didn't get to Shaardan in time." He was an asshole. A complete dick. But Shaardan was solid. Never ratted anyone out. An hour ago that was the best quality for a friend in the Sith.
Kel Algwinn snorted next to him. Then his face softened a little, like he regretted it.
Dustil didn't know how he'd lasted a day. Weak. Weak. Weak. Korriban's chanting still picked at the back of his brain.
But they weren't on Korriban anymore. They could never go back. Dustil dropped his hand and glanced at Kel, trying not to look for weaknesses, or angles, or any other thing he'd gotten used to looking for over the years. He'd brought Kel because he was his friend.
Kel had already been leaving, because of that fallen Jedi that was making her way through the ranks on the fast track. Kel wasn't going to get Dustil.
If he had tried...if he had tried before Dustil's father had come – Dustil probably would have turned him in for prestige. Korriban was still chanting 'weak, weak, weak' in his ear There was no probably about it.
"How are you doing, Kel?"
Kel looked a little surprised at the question, he shrugged a shoulder. "Better than Lashowe."
They both glanced back between the seat where Lashowe, blond cropped-cut bitch of Korriban, slept, exhausted from crying to get them cheaper tickets. A puddle of drool was starting to pile up on Mekel's shoulder, who she'd slumped down against.
"Should say better than Mekel," Dustil said with a snort.
Mekel flipped them a rude gesture and settled back into his seat. His eye was going to have a shiner. An hour ago he probably would have tried to kill Dustil for that.
Dustil turned back in his seat and stared at the back of the chair in front of him.
"Must suck though," Kel said thoughtfully.
"What?" Dustil glanced at him. "What must suck?" At the moment, Lashowe drooling on his shoulder was better than considering all the things he would have done an hour ago. Was better than looking right at Kel and wondering (or calculating) how much longer he would have had left.
Wishing he'd known that when he was looking at Selene.
She was holding him back. Maybe two days ago he would have accepted that and moved on. That was what really scared him.
"Losing someone you care about like that. I mean, her and Shaar were…." Kel shrugged. "I don't know. I think it's all hard enough as it is, you know?"
"Yeah," Dustil stared at back of his seat again. "That must really suck."
He didn't say anything the rest of the trip.
Dustil – Now
The trip down to the planet's surface was shaky. It might have been the pilot, or it might have just been the unrelenting ragged stubbornness of the surface of Telos that just didn't want to heal itself. Sometimes Dustil couldn't really blame it. He leaned back into his seat and just took the turbulence as it came.
A few hours ago, before Revan had showed up again, he'd been a mechanic working at a parts shop for speeders and extra supplies for the Citadel with an occasional second job wherever he could pick up, the son of an Admiral, and a man with a life.
Now he was back again. Just like that. With a snap of her vaunted fingers and the galaxy being put back into its proper – in peril place. Dustil Onasi, the redeemed Jedi. Poor former Sith recruit stolen from a dying world who'd drifted through darkness until he was smacked in the face with reality again. But he was a Jedi and there was things to do, evil to fight, wrongs to right.
Or so it seemed.
If anything, Dustil was glad to have his lightsaber back on his hip. Months of hiding it in his room, his boot, his sleeve, his toolbox, was making him more paranoid and less comfortable than he wanted to be.
And he sure as hell hadn't missed her.
"I cannot believe that little worm didn't jump to answer my command," Revan threw her hands up and shook her head. "Give a man a helmet and he thinks he can run the universe."
Bastila Shan sighed lightly. She seemed to be doing that a lot. "I think we are all perfectly capable of handling the situation, given our current predicament." Her mouth twisted into what might have been a frown on someone else. "Though, I must admit, I am surprised you did not invite more of the Jedi from the Exile's crew."
Revan shrugged. "Traya might flip a U-turn and come back around. The Citadel could use the protection."
She was lying. Dustil wasn't sure how he could tell, but he knew. There was just something about the casual tone of her voice.
Dustil reexamined who'd come with them. Bastila Shan, a famous and well respected Jedi, Revan; a famous if not well respected former Jedi, a homicidal droid, a Mandalorian, him and their pilot, Athon—or something like that. He stared at the back of the guy's head. A small probe of his mind didn't yield anything, just…. Numbers, what the frack? Ship readouts, or—
The pilot turned his head away from the cockpit and stared at him for one long moment.
It was like a scent that Dustil could smell but didn't yet have a meaning. All it said to him was that he wasn't really pleased that this guy was flying the shuttle.
Except for the Mandalorian--Dustil tried not to scoff at that—everyone on the ship probably had something in common. Dustil tried not to let it rile him up.
He automatically shifted his thoughts to the next best thing. That stupid can-head Mandalorian was staring at him, blank visor over his face and a rusted kind of red all over the armor. Dustil knew the pressure points on that thing; hours of torturing them in those cells or in the pits for no good reason at all in every way possible, armor or no, gave a guy a lot of experience.
He let his voice lower into a challenge. "What are you looking at?"
"Someone's tetchy," the tinny vocoder in that stupid helmet made every Mandalorian's voice sound alike. "You'd think after all this time with your father, you would have calmed down a bit."
Dustil went to his feet, ignoring Bastila and Revan's chatter. "What the hell do you know about me and my father?"
"Geez, Dustil," the vocoder voice said in a not very Mandalorian way, "I'm just trying to make some conversation."
Dustil stalled for a second, his eyebrows drawn together in confusion. There was a certain rhythm of the words that sounded familiar. He thought he could place it, but…no, it couldn't be—
"Kel?" Dustil said in disbelief.
"Hey," the red-armored Mandalorian raised his hand in a wave, "I'm sort of wiggling my eyebrows in an almost charming way right now, but you probably can't tell."
There was a crssh sound as a now clearly Kel Algwinn lifted his helmet off.
Dustil felt like he'd been hit in the gut with a stunner. Now that he knew it was Kel, the armor seemed more intimidating. It made the Mandalorian seem bigger than he'd ever remembered the quiet boy who hadn't ever really fit in at Korriban. There were no echoes of weak now in his mind, but all he could say was, "You're blond."
Kel moved an armored hand through his hair. "Yeah, let it grow out after Korriban – the sun on Dxun probably helped too."
"Sun does a lot, apparently," Dustil muttered, crossing his arms over his chest. He was too stunned to realize that the small shuttle had gone completely silent.
"Knight Algwinn?" Bastila's full mouth had dropped open. "You—you were hiding with the Mandalorians during the purges?" She sounded like she wanted that to be the answer. Dustil kind of did too.
Kel shook his head. "Not exactly."
Revan was still frowning to herself, like she didn't recognize him. Then her eyebrows raised and she laughed loudly. "The small kid from Korriban!"
Now Bastila's face was turning red. "Canderous did not convince you to—" She closed her eyes and took a calming breath, but it did not seem to help with Revan laughing. Bastila snapped her head in Revan's direction. "This is not a laughing matter, Revan. The Order is short of qualified Knights as it is, and for Canderous Ordo to have—" Her cheeks were puffing up with the effort of keeping her cool; Dustil could practically feel her seething.
"Who ever heard of a Jedi converting to a Mandalorian?" Revan snorted and looked like she was trying to stop laughing, but instead started up again, "I love that bastard Ordo."
Kel looked grossly uncomfortable. "Maybe I should have kept my helmet on?"
"Maybe," Dustil agreed, while Bastila and Revan turned to each other in a silent argument. He glanced up at Kel and squared his shoulders. "Thought you might have been dead."
"Nope," Kel dropped his helmet onto the bench. "Just happy."
Dustil snorted at the saccharine ridiculousness of that statement and held out his hand. "It's good to see you, Kel."
Kel gave him a lopsided smile and took his hand. "Have you heard from any of the others?"
Dustil shook his head. "I haven't seen Lashowe since the Jedi split up and I only saw Mekel once after the last time I saw you."
"They're probably fine," Kel said. He sounded so sure of himself. Dustil never thought he'd be less optimistic than a Mandalorian.
He made his mouth twist into a smile. "Yeah. Sure. I'm sure they are."
There was a jerk as the shuttle landed and a moment later, the pilot—Atton?— walked out of the cockpit, his mouth tight. "These reunions and theological discussions are great and all, but don't we have an old bitch to kill?"
Revan nodded. "Show us where that ice tunnel you were talking about was. The one with Atris. That's probably our best bet considering."
Bastila jerked her chin away from Revan and brushed invisible dust off her robes. Kel slipped his helmet back on and hoisted up a blaster of a size Dustil had never seen him use in Korriban and followed Revan down the gangplank. The pilot followed and Bastila pursed her lips, but went after them anyway.
Dustil was all set to follow behind and keep up the rear. But he could see the snow at the bottom of the gangplank. He hadn't been down to the planet's surface much, and it certainly hadn't been snowing, but he probably should have prepared himself for the possibility when artic regions were mentioned. It didn't stop his boots from feeling stuck to the metal.
It hadn't been snowing on that terrible day, but for one moment with the ash falling from the sky, he'd thought it was.
"Dustil?" Bastila had paused on the gangplank and turned back to walk over to him, her boots making light little echoes in the almost empty shuttle. "Are you all right?"
Dustil made himself smile and nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine." He moved one foot in front the other until it was down the metal ramp and touching snow. When he looked around he couldn't see anything other than ice and the fuzzy light from the shields covering the area. Dustil wrapped his arms around himself and kept pace with Bastila as they walked behind the rest.
The breath that the older Jedi took was visible through her nose as she exhaled. "I have only been on the surface of Telos once since the Restoration Project began."
Dustil dropped his arms and then shoved his hands in his pockets to keep warm. "Not much to see yet anyway."
"Still, it is remarkable work they have been doing here, even after the Jedi had to… hide their earlier involvement." She shook her head.
Dustil didn't respond other than grunt and listen to the trudge of his boots into the snow.
Bastila looked at him and then glanced up at where Revan was loudly complaining about the cold with a Mandalorian and a pilot Dustil still hadn't completely figured out in tow. "I do not begrudge the current company, but I am at a loss as to how they were chosen."
Dustil snorted and picked up his feet. A lonely snow covered structure was dead ahead. "Experience."
Bastila raised an eyebrow. Her gait as she picked up the pace made it seem like she was floating on top of the snow. Maybe she was cheating with the Force. "I don't see what kind of experience we all share. You and I are the only ones who are still Jedi."
Dustil just raised an eyebrow back at her.
Bastila's face fell and then quickly contorted into something a Jedi might call anger. She stared heatedly at the back of Revan's neck as they stepped up onto the harder snow covered surface of the structure. "I see."
It was almost nice having something in common with the Hope of the Republic. They both didn't want to be treated like their only value was that they fell and came back again.
Though now part of Dustil saw where Revan was coming from. And that part was the reason he was glad to get out of the snow.
Jene 'the Exile' Wynn
It was a like a perfectly tuned song. One of the Beastriders that Jene had run into on Onderon had said something like that. Even Mira, the cynical bounty hunter, had become overwhelmed by the heart of Nar Shaddaa.
The second the neural restraint clicked off Jene's neck and she could feel the Force again-- no metaphor seemed worthy to express it.
She let it flow around her, through the room, against the ceiling, back towards the balustrades and the farthest corners, spin in all directions, dance around her toes and then back up to the tip of her nose, suck back in and spread inside her and--
Kavar said his words so softly, "In you, we saw a wound in the Force."
Die to a slow ember. Jene brought her hand up to her neck and eyed the Handmaiden carefully. "Why did you do that?" Her voice was still a whisper. She had no idea how many days, weeks, months, had past since Dantooine, but it felt like years since she'd had a decent drink of water.
The Handmaiden just stared at her with nervous eyes and held out her hands for Jene to take.
Jene took the other woman's hands and pulled herself to her feet. She let the Force surge through her unused legs that were dying of pins and needles. The woman next to her felt like that too -- pins and needles of Force, curling barely beneath the surface.
Vrook scoffed, "Yes... you can feel the Force again but you cannot feel yourself." She ignored the truth to his words, "You are a cipher, forming bonds, leeching the life of others, siphoning their will and dominating them."
"You have the Force," Jene whispered. She shook her head, ignoring whatever response the Handmaiden might have had. Of course she'd find another hidden Force user. It seemed to be a talent of hers. "What's your name?"
"I have taken a vow that prevents me from--" the Handmaiden turned away from Jene, "I suppose that does not matter anymore." She turned back and managed a pathetic smile. "My name is Brianna."
Jene nodded, stretching every muscle she could get hold of and clearing her throat a few times. "Brianna. Where is everyone?"
Brianna eyed her cautiously. "I was afraid you would be unable to sense it."
"What?" Jene rubbed her sore throat and the raw skin that had formed there from the neural restraint. She let the Force flow there, feeling great relief as the skin knitted together. She was still desperately thirsty.
She moved off the platform and away from the chair. The Force surged around her again. She needed her lightsaber. She needed to stop Atris and Kreia and find her crew. She needed to--
"I didn't see much," Brianna clarified, before falling into step beside Jene and taking her arm. "There was much arguing between my Mistr-- Atris and the other one who came. And then the old one fell and Atris left with my sisters. Her energy was so black, thick with it, I-" Brianna's voice was shamed, "I ran and I hid."
"Atris is gone?" Jene repeated numbly, she spread her senses out towards the artic holdings. The chill was strong and she had to wrap her arms around herself. "Do you have my lightsaber?"
She and Bao-Dur had spent so much time making it.
Brianna nodded and took off in another direction. "The lockers have all your supplies."
A lightsaber and a pair of robes from Ossus. Some supplies. Jene wrapped her arms tighter around herself. "They just left? All of them?"
Atris hadn't even said anything. Jene wasn't sure she was surprised; the only things the woman had said to her certainly hadn't been friendly.
Brianna was already far ahead of her. Jene quickened her pace to catch up. Her footsteps echoed along the pathway to one of the sparring rooms, answering her own question. The chill bit into her shoulder blades and Jene rubbed them absently.
The Handmaiden led her past a few doors until they reached a storage room. She pointed to one of the lockers and Jene wedged it open, letting out a sigh of relief the second her lightsaber flew back into her opened palm. It was like a representation of all she'd lost in her exile, and having it back distracted her momentarily from--
"This isn't my lightsaber," Jene said,frowning. She activated the blade and her breath caught as silver emerged instead of cyan. "This--"
"You said it was yours," Brianna frowned, "when you first came here."
It was her Jedi saber. The one she'd shoved into the stone pillar in the middle of a Council proclamation that she was to walk alone in the Unknown Regions. A punishment for being the only one brave enough to come back.
It was the one her Master had taught her to build, carefully under nervous fingers. It was the lightsaber that she'd sparred with Malak with, never quite matching his skill. It was the lightsaber with the silver crystal that Kavar had gifted her with after she'd passed her Knight trials. It was the one Atris had stolen and used for years while she gave information away about Katarr and betrayed the order far more than Jene ever had.
Hot tears slid down her cheeks, the only warmth in the room. She wiped them away angrily and looked down at the rest of the box. There were a few things, but nothing else that belonged to her. She knew she had more robes on the Ebon Hawk, but Jene had no idea what happened to the ship or her crew.
After Dantooine and being knocked unconscious by Kreia, the only thing she remembered was waking up here and knowing that Vrook, Zez-Kai El and Kavar were all dead, for proclaiming her unworthy of carrying the Force. For being deaf, dumb, and blind.
"I need clothes," Jene said numbly to the Handmaiden.
Brianna nodded and went around the corner. Her movements were swift, with a dancer's grace.
Jene tilted her head back and took a deep, shuddering breath, trying to put things back into order. She needed to find a shuttle to get back to Citadel and maybe rally with one of the Republic officers, the Admiral who'd talked about her on those holos maybe, find out where the Hawk was. See if her crew was still alive.
Mical, Visas, Mira, Bao-Dur, Atton...
Jene took another deep breath and Brianna came back around the corner, holding out a pair of white handmaiden robes.
Jene nodded her thanks and slipped them on quickly, clipping her lightsaber to her waist. "How long have I been here?"
How long has Kavar been dead?
"Weeks," Brianna said. "You were brought here directly before the Telosian attack."
"Telosian attack?" Jene asked, running her fingers through her tangled hair, trying to smooth it down.
"The Ravager attacked Citadel Station," Brianna must have caught Jene's worried look, because she added, "They are all fine. The Ebon Hawk boarded and took care of the Sith Lord."
"The Hawk? Are-- the crew, are they all right? Did Kreia hurt them?"
Brianna looked at the floor. "I'm sorry, that is all I know. My sisters and I were kept away from most news broadcasts in the last months."
"Your sisters?" Jene brought her hand through her blonde hair one last time before letting it drop. "Why did you... stay behind?"
Brianna brought a hand to her face. "I wear my mother's face. My sisters do not. They weren't very forgiving and I--" she shook her head. "I was afraid."
Kreia knelt down next to her and her milky eyes were creased in understanding, "It is because you were afraid."
Jene chalked the shiver up to the cold weather, in refusal to let it be anything else.
"They said what?" the young woman, who wasn't exactly a fourteen year old running the streets of Taris with a Wookiee anymore, screeched at T3-M4.She put her hands on her hips and glared at each member of the Exile's crew, who were just part of the assortment of people Revan had brought to Telos and were now loitering around the loading dock while TSF took a look at the Hawk.
Carth smiled in a way that felt unnatural on his face - it wasn't bogged down with the knowledge that Revan was in the Unknown Regions dead or alive anymore. "What'd they say, Misson?"
Mission turned towards Carth, "That Zabrak--" she pointed at the tech that could probably have done a lot more good on Telos, Bao-Dur, "said that T3 needed a memory wipe. He'd forget all about us!"
"It's not just his memory core," the Zabrak tech said, frowning. "It affects his systems, which I fixed," he said pointedly in Mission's direction, but from the whirring T3-M4 let out, it wasn't clear who the comment was actually directed towards.
Carth shook his head, brushing a hand over his uniform and walking towards the Hawk. The old girl had better days, but she still held up well. He missed piloting her, having Revan lean over his chair and chatter, laugh with him, be here. Instead of having to go to the surface of Telos the second she came back.
He frowned, and that felt all too natural on his face.
"Admiral Onasi?" the voice wasn't familiar, but when Carth turned around he could see the Onderonian regalia clearly and that was enough to straighten his posture.
The restoration project had done a lot with Onderon the past month, and they hoped to do more. He supposed he had the Jedi Exile to thank for that as well.
He nodded politely. "I'm afraid we haven't met."
"Faene Corr," the woman said, extending her hand. Carth shook it and she placed it back at her hip. "I'm in the middle of a diplomatic mission with the Mandalorians, but I wanted to ask how the Militia did in regards to the recent attack on the Citadel."
Carth tried not to frown in front of an obvious diplomat. Or ask what exactly Onderon was going to do about the Mandalorians that was diplomatic.
Mical's reports had mentioned Ordo's activities, but Carth hadn't had a moment to track down the man to get more details and he wasn't sure if Canderous would give him a straight answer if he asked. A Republic Admiral and the Mandalore was a lot further away from being a pilot and a washed up merc. And from the look of him, standing taller in that armor, Carth wasn't sure he even wanted to ask.
"They were a big help. We really appreciated it, especially considering Onderon's recent--" Carth cut himself off. That probably wasn't the best thing to bring up given Corr's facial expression. He wasn't loving this line of conversation either; the attack on Telos had been too close to destroying everything they'd tried to rebuild.
"Onderon trains their soldiers well," Carth offered.
Corr nodded, no expression on her face. "That's good to hear. I was afraid Vaklu might have ruined them in my absence."
Carth had read a great deal from Mical's reports about the recent struggles on Onderon and how that had led to actually having help when the Ravager attacked. This woman hadn't been mentioned, but neither had any of this Sith'ari stuff Revan had brought up.
He planned on asking her about it more when he could get his hands on her again.
Carth let out a sigh. Mostly he was hoping he would have a chance to get his hands on her before something else happened. For the moment, maybe he could talk with Mical, find out where she'd come from; all the details his mind needed to know and had time to find out while the TSF finished doing a sweep of the Ebon Hawk. "Excuse me, Citizen Corr."
If he'd missed a title or something important, the woman gave no indication she was insulted by it. He needed to be more careful with that kind of stuff now that he was an Admiral, which he'd been telling himself since he'd been promoted. So far it hadn't stuck.
Carth walked back to where Bao-Dur was now plainly ignoring Mission, who was typing away furiously on a keypad. A rueful smile came over his face anyway. There might have been new players, but it was always the same game. In some ways that was comforting.
Carth took a breath and tried to think of the best way to approach his operative without revealing his identity, but from the way Mical and that redhead--Mira? the report said Mira, a bounty hunter from Nar Shaddaa-- were wearing those Jedi robes they'd taken from the Ebon Hawk, he wasn't sure what Mical's position actually was.
"What'd you think?" Mira said, twirling around for the blond man. "Jene said they were Nomi Sunrider's."
"I highly doubt the accuracy of that claim," Mical said dryly, straightening out his own robes. "But they fit you well," he told her, before turning towards Carth. "Admiral," he acknowledged.
Carth nodded. "You mind if I speak with you for a moment, Mical?"
"Of course not," Mical bowed his head deferentially and glanced back at Mira. "Excuse me a moment."
Mira just snorted, waving him off and heading towards the Zabrak tech, who was still being accosted by an irate Twi'lek waving a datapad.
"What is it you need of me, Admiral?" The way Mical spoke was always plain, polite. There was nothing to read in that tone.
Carth had thought it sounded familiar before, but it wasn't until the younger man was wearing Jedi Robes that he realized it was the way Jedi spoke. "I was just wondering..." he fumbled with the words, trying to make them careful. He wasn't cut out for this kind of subterfuge. He was much better flying spaceships. "I just wanted to check-in. I haven't gotten a report in a while."
"Yes, well," Mical cleared his throat, lightly. "It has been a very hectic few months."
Sure. Now that Carth had pinned down the Jedi voice, he didn't trust a word out of Mical's mouth. He could catch little inflections now that might have meant completely different things. But Carth had always been had trouble dealing with Jedi the same way he had trouble dealing with diplomats.
People needed to just speak plainly. "Are you a Jedi now, Mical?" Carth asked, gesturing to the other man's robes.
The sudden question seemed to actually get a genuine reaction out of Mical. He shifted on his feet and straightened his robes again, like a wrinkle would kill him. Carth brought a hand down over his own uniform, unconsciously.
"The Council hasn't actually offic--" Mical started, but Carth's attention had to flip back to his duty again.
Because an officer of the Telosian Security Force was coming towards him again, and with Revan and his son on Telos' surface, the sight felt like a cold stone in Carth's gut.
"Admiral!" the russet haired officer said, breathing heavily as he ran up to Carth. "You told us to tell you if there was any shuttle from the surface..." He waited only for Carth to nod. "We just had a report of a small shuttle cruiser trying to book passage near Module 12."
"Occupants?" Carth said, frowning.
"A woman who claims to be a Jedi Master and a contingent of Echani. They were giving the docking director some trouble, sir."
There was a crackle over the soldier's comm. "--zzt attacking, send for reinforcements--"
Carth's hands were on his blasters and he was barking out orders to the TSF who were already making their way in the direction of the ship.
He hoped all this trouble meant Dustil, Revan, and Bastila were all right.
"Thought you liked the quiet life, Republic?" Ordo said, running at pace beside him. Almost like old times.
"I do," Carth said, and tried to ignore the fact that the Mandalore was definitely grinning behind that helmet of his. Some things might have changed, like the way he ran at this age, but in the end that bastard was still a bastard.
"Observation: The readings underneath our current location indicate a power source matching the greasy one's specifications--"
"I'm not greasy," Rand snapped at HK-47. "And it's right through here," he gestured with his hand and shook his head, giving Revan another careful look before picking up his pace.
"Statement: Master, as we now know the location, the greasy meatbag pilot is unnecessary. Supplication: As the company of the whiny orange meatbag is also back in Master's favor, this one is just extraneous baggage. Suggestion: Target practice is--"
"No," Revan said easily, feeling the snow crunch under her boots. She would have told the droid to shut up, but part of her missed his voice. The other part of her was very aware of the fact that he was the only one talking to her.
Their pilot hadn't said two words to her, and since she had a very good idea who he really was, she was fine with that. Dustil Onasi had never been one for long and touching heart-to-hearts, which was fine since Revan was still just pretty much thinking about getting his father alone the second she got out of this cold. And the Mandalorian -- Revan had to stop herself from laughing again -- Kel Algwinn was chatting it up with Dustil.
The thing Revan wasn't really sure of was why her bondmate, who hadn't shut up since she'd gotten back, was now eerily quiet.
What's got your panties in a twist, Bast? Revan shot through their bond.
She was rewarded with Bastila's steps momentarily stalling before they returned to their pace. Her lips were drawn together in a frown that looked too much like a pout on that face, but Revan was sure the younger woman wouldn't appreciate her pointing that out.
"Once we find this... Traya, what do you propose we do? You said these," those full lips twisted, "Sith'ari? These Sith'ari are next to impossible to defeat."
She'd said kill, but that wasn't really worth nitpicking at the moment. "They're a symbiotic species," Revan said breezily, ignoring the way the cold bit at her nose and chapped her lips. "They take up a shared space with other life-forms for survival. Used to be shared species with these Riiskiahhdkos," she said in Ancient Sith, "some smaller species that have no ears, and the Rakata."
"The Rakata?" Bastila's irritated expression slipped off her face with some surprise. "Do you think this could have some connection to the Star Forge?"
"Maybe," Revan shrugged. That's what I was thinking when I was looking into the Star Forge, but a lot of those memories still get mixed up with Ariate chugging down a swoop track on Deralia.
It wasn't hard to make the thought bitter. Now that she could remember all that she wanted before she'd gone Dark Lord of the Sith, and knew that all of it was what her fake life had, she couldn't decide if having her real memories back or still having her fake ones was worse.
Fifteen years of memories of her Da and none of them real, because the man had really died long before that and she hadn't seen him as much as she should have after joining the Jedi for the chance at a bigger library and a sense of adventure.
Bastila frowned again and stared off at a couple of snow covered hills before turning back to Revan. "So they need a host species to thrive?"
"Yeah, but after they found Ashla-- the Force I mean," Revan shook her head, trying to get the vernacular she'd been speaking with Jarsyh out of her head. Now that she'd seen Carth again and was back into the real universe, the guilt from faking her death without even leaving a note for the Oulianan was settling in a little.
She pushed it aside. "They started carving people open with the Force. Leaving them completely blank and taking their bodies. It's-- they used to be an actual entity. Now they're--" she moved her hand, "energy. I don't think they have their own form."
Bastila's hand gripped on her lightsaber and she looked ahead again. "There's a faint presence up ahead."
"Entrance is around this way, I think," Rand said at nearly the same time.
Bastila was frowning; her lips pursed again, this time in concentration. "The presence is... weakening. I think they're dying."
The pilot looked up at that. He pushed ahead with a frown on his face, scouring the snow covered area for an entrance. He either found it or felt like tearing through rock, because his lightsaber was out cutting the thing open and kicking it inside the hidden building before running inside.
"We should hurry our pace," Bastila said, while she was already doing that.
Revan followed her and felt Dustil and Kel following behind as they all made their way down the long staircase further into the ice tunnels.
The call of death was strong, thick with it. And familiar. They did not have to go far to find the woman dying.
But it wasn't Jene.
Rand's lightsaber was out, orange glow reflecting against the icy walls. He held it pointed towards the woman on the floor. "The old bitch isn't dead," he offered in explanation as Bastila pushed him aside, kneeling down at her side.
The last time Revan had met her the woman had told her to call her Traya. Maybe after the Trayus Academy, or maybe she'd named the Academy after herself. Revan had just thought it was a transitional call, something to give her a new name for her new Sith persona.
But after she'd traveled the Unknown Regions, Revan had known better; her first Master had been taken over by a Sith'ari. And now the Sith'ari was gone.
"What happens to the bodies once they leave, Revan?" Bastila said, quietly. The question she must have meant to ask earlier. Or she'd overheard Revan's thoughts.
"They die," Revan said, kneeling next to her bondmate.
"Revan," the old woman whispered, her thin hand grasping Revan's wrist with the same strength she'd had in her prime. "I'm glad you came."
"You --" Revan swallowed the emotions, "You're dying." How much was her Master aware of while it was happening? How much of her was still left? Did Revan have to explain? "That thing that was inside you--"
"I asked it," her former Master said in Ancient Sith. "A partnership of sorts. They are still looking for the perfect host."
Going from teaching a young Padawan Ancient Sith techniques to willingly merging with beings that were about as close to being the dark side of the Force as possible. Her first Master, certainly had a way of things none of Revan's other masters had.
"I don't usually agree with the Council," Revan said, turning her hand to wrap around the wrinkled one on her wrist, "but they were probably dead on, exiling you."
"Possible..." the woman said, still clinging onto life. "The-- it has taken another willing host, though her mind is warped. Atris. She will call herself Traya now. There will always be a change as long as this universe lies in constraints begging for balance." Her smile was almost dead. "It is good to see you again, Revan."
Revan gripped the hand tighter, ignoring the subtle prod through the bond from Bastila. She bowed her head as the life drained out of her first master and the old woman died.
There was nothing but silence for a long moment, before Revan broke it, her voice thick. "Master Zhar's dead too, isn't he?"
Bastila's eyes were clear, glossed over with tears she wasn't letting fall. Revan wasn't sure if that was the emotions she wasn't showing herself, or if Bastila was feeling that all herself. "We have not had a chance to discuss Katarr..."
Revan nodded numbly and stared down at the empty husk of a body. Devoid of the Force. Devoid of anything. Just nothing. The last of her Masters to die.
She dropped the hand from around her wrist and pulled the hood over the old woman's face.
She only got a moment to compose herself with a deep shuddering breath, before that composure was broken--
"Are you Revan?" came a voice from the far side of the large room.
Revan jerked her head up to be face-to-face with a young girl, steadily making her way towards her. She looked so familiar-- "Who--"
"Revan?" came another voice from the woman next to her, holding her lightsaber like a lifeline. Her voice sounded like was cracked from disuse.
"Jene?" Rand said at almost the same time Revan did.
The blond Jedi walked towards her cautiously, eyeing Rand with a small smile and a sense of relief that seemed to flood the room. She glanced down at the body on the floor and her eyes widened. "Kreia? She's--" she shook her head and bowled straight past Revan, obviously purposefully and towards the pilot.
Rand smiled easily and leaned back on his heels. "Well, see. First the old bitch knocked me out. And then she pretend to be you and then we knocked around a couple of a Sith Lords she had some issues with, ran astray of your old Mandalorian stomping grounds, Mira killed a Wookiee, ran into Revan, and hey, here we are rescuing you," Rand frowned at her. "You are you, right? How do we know for sure?"
"What do you mean Kreia was pretending to be me?" Jene grasped his arm. "What happened to the others? Are they all right?"
"What am I, chopped bantha gizzards?" Rand gestured to his chest and away again, grabbing Jene's arm in perfect parallel.
"No, that's not what I meant, Atton, I just-- are they--"
"Statement: Master, there are a number of HK-50 droids approaching on our location. Supplication: Because of their designation, I am unable to retaliate an attack."
"What?" Dustil snapped to attention, jerking his head towards the entrance to the ice caverns. "How many droids?"
"Qualification: I was speaking to my Master, sideburned meatbag. Suggestion: If you are having speech issues, I could cut through your throat, solving all the--"
"HK," Revan snapped. "Answer his question. How many droids, and why the hell can't you fire at them?"
HK-50. Why the hell did that sound so familiar-- she shuffled through her mind, trying to pick out the memory of that, but it was curiously blank.
"Answer," the droid whirred, his red eyes flashing, "Approximately, 45 HK-50 assault droids. Addition: You programmed me that way, Master."
"Crap," Revan called her lightsabers to her hand. "We need to get up there, before they try to cut us off and trap us in here."
She didn't get a chance to hear their responses, because that's when Jene started to scream.