The Sith Lords Cut Ending
Disclaimer: This story is the farthest from my own of any I have ever written. Not only did I steal all the characters from the creators of The Sith Lords, but 90 percent of the dialogue came straight from the incomplete sound files from the game, which Aurora and Highpriest posted online. (You can get there from Wookieepedia's article on Atton.) All I really did was add some detail. If you like it, that's probably because you like the game and it was, after all, those writers who thought all these scenes up too.
So here goes nothing. Oh, I almost forget: Ennyria, in the likely case that you don't know, is my light-side female exile. It's pronounced /enn-EER-ee-uh/. Not that it really matters. Feel free to call her Enn if that's easier. Also, I'm sorry that it will inevitably ruin the story a little bit for you that she's not the same exile as yours, but it's the standard KotOR Curse, right? Everybody's character is different and still "right". Maybe we'll get used to it eventually, but for now, please humor me and try to enjoy it anyway…
And many thanks to my friend Irish Whirlwind for reading over it and giving me feedback. It means a lot, even if you think (correctly) that I'm crazy.
Sorry, I lied before. Now here goes nothing.
In the heart of Malachor V, kneeling precisely in the center of the massive "flower" of stone, Darth Traya was meditating patiently. The currents of the dark side, tainted with the echoes of death that haunted the ruined world, flowed around her in an ominous symphony. Yes, this place was the source of the greatest power she could hope to achieve: the power to destroy the Force itself.
But that was not the reason for her journey today.
She was waiting for her student, and unwilling student though she was, Kreia knew she would come. The exile's sense of duty and her naïve faith that no one was beyond redemption would draw her here, despite her fear of the world that had already altered her destiny forever. Kreia was well aware of the terror that welled up inside herapprentice whenever anyone so much as mentioned the planet's name, but that was all the more reason for little Ennyria to face it.
There was one last lesson for that one to learn, and it could be taught nowhere else.
You refuse to cast off your weaknesses, and in doing so, leave me no choice but to dispose of them for you. So come, Exile. Come face your darkest fears here at the end of all things. Only then will you be strong enough to face the darkness that lies ahead.
From the shadows of the cave that opened into the yawning chamber, four pairs of eyes were fixed on the distant pinprick that was Kreia. Or three, to be more accurate, as one was blind and reached out instead through the Force.
"I say we fire a rocket at her right now, and blow her screaming, burning body into the heart of this planet," another whispered conspiratorially, sounding as if she wouldn't be sorry at all to break her vow that she wouldn't kill unless it was absolutely necessary.
She turned to the others for their reactions, flicking her red hair out of her eyes.
"It wouldn't work," Atton said dully. "If there were other distractions, maybe. If she wasn't telepathic, maybe. If you want to kill her like that, you need something else to occupy her attention. Otherwise you might just wound her. And then we'd all be in trouble."
"Really," Mira returned sarcastically. "And when did you become an expert on killing Jedi?"
"Can I choose not to answer that question?"
She shot him a sharp and searching look, hoping she had misunderstood.
"Do not waste your words on banter; we're too exposed as it is. She may have sensed our presence already." Visas' calm, breathy cadence silenced them, as well as distracting Mira from wondering about Atton's most likely shady past.
"This battle will not be decided by weapons," Mical put in, probably meaning to be helpful by reminding them what they were up against, but only serving to make Mira more nervous than she already was.
"You are wrong," Visas countered him quietly. "Manipulation is Kreia's strength, not battle. We have a chance… We just have to figure out how to make use of it."
"All in favor of waiting for her to die of old age, say 'ay'."
"That wasn't funny, Atton," the disciple reprimanded him.
"Never said I was joking," the scoundrel muttered under his breath.
"Well, we aren't accomplishing anything at this rate," Mira pointed out, starting to get fed up with all their stalling when action was obviously necessary. "If we had the assassin droid here, I'd send him out, and he'd probably think it was fun. But, seeing as we don't, I guess I'll be the distraction."
Ignoring the looks of guilt and horror that were more or less mirrored on each of their faces, she left the safety of the tunnel.
T3-M4 and Bao-Dur had remained behind to try to get the Ebon Hawk back in working order, while HK-47 and Mandalore eagerly took on the task of blasting all the storm beasts within a two-mile radius of the ship. Ennyria had been missing since before any of them regained consciousness, and was presumably somewhere inside Trayus Academy by now. Though they hadn't actually seen her, the bond that connected her to each of her companions told them she was alive.
No one admitted to having any idea where G0-T0 or Bao-Dur's remote were, however. And that left the four who were now plotting their ambush on the newly revealed Sith Lord.
"Mira! Wait!" Mical called after her, but she didn't so much as turn around. In fact, she picked up the pace, afraid she would chicken out if she allowed herself time to think.
"Well, there's nothing for it. Might as well follow her now," Atton said, not sounding remotely disappointed. He unclipped his lightsaber from his belt and started after the bounty hunter. Visas followed, falling into step beside him in silence. The last one left, Mical finally accepted that as foolhardy as their nonexistent "plan" was, it was too late to come up with another. He drew his own lightsaber and jogged to catch up.
Having finally reached Kreia, Mira took one last deep breath to fortify her resolve and pressed the activation plate on her own weapon. The hum of the emerald blade was the only sound to break the choking silence.
"We've come a long way, Kreia… don't bother getting up."
The old woman didn't even glance at her—just smiled in that mysterious and disconcerting way that suggested she was looking at something no one else could see. Mira was proud that at least her words sounded brave, if she didn't actually feel that way. Intimidation wasn't needless cruelty in her line of work; it was necessary for survival, and she had become fairly adept at the technique.
"Ahh…" Kreia said at length, "the huntress. To come alone… you are braver than I thought."
Mira's confidence wavered. Was she really that obvious? How was it the old witch never failed to say exactly the words she didn't want to hear?
She was spared having to come up with a reply by the arrival of the others.
"She is not alone," Mical announced, his voice ringing loudly enough to echo. "We stand with her. And with her, stand all the Jedi."
"And now I come in, saying something suitably heroic."
Despite their dire situation, Mira rolled her eyes.
Only Atton, of all the idiots in the galaxy, would say something so idiotic to a Sith Lord …
Yet in that moment, she found herself silently cheering him on.
She chanced a glance over her shoulder, to see Visas approaching as well. Their blades formed a rainbow of sorts, piercing through the eerie red glow that emanated from the floor: Atton's amber yellow, Visas' bright amethyst, and Disciple's sky blue in addition to Mira's own green.
"Children with lightsabers," Kreia said with contempt. "But not Jedi, I think."
Despite her scornful words, the Sith Lord finally got to her feet.
"Come close," Darth Traya bid them, with a sudden and suspicious air of consideration. "Let me look upon you and see what the exile's teaching has forged."
She made a show of looking at each of them in turn, though Mira had her doubts whether Kreia even had eyes under that hood. Nevertheless, she could feel the darkness probing her mind, and she knew that blind or not, Kreia was seeing an awful lot more than she would have liked.
It required a conscious effort not to flinch.
"A reluctant assassin, a worshipper of the vanquished Jedi, a blinded slave… and a fool." Kreia turned that unsettling smile upon them again. "Which of you wishes to try yourselves against me? As you can see, I am unarmed."
None of them felt sufficiently reassured to take her up on the offer.
And the answer Traya finally received was not the one she had hoped for.
"You really can't come up with a better insult for me than that? It's getting old," Atton drawled, putting on a good show of sounding casual. Each word sounded like an exasperated sigh. "Fool, fool, fool. It's all I ever hear any—"
Suddenly he froze as if solid, a shimmering barrier of purple energy encasing him from head to toe. Stasis field. So the comedy was over. Mira took the time Atton had bought to refocus herself. No more letting her guard down.
"I've had enough of your snide contempt, Atton," Kreia spat, looking as if she had half a mind to kill him and be done with it. "Now be silent. I am beginning to see that that may very well be the worst torture I can inflict upon you."
The demonstration of Force power caused Mira and the others to hesitate longer yet, but Kreia returned her attention to them now, and they knew they couldn't wait much longer.
Slowly and deliberately, Darth Traya finally nodded toward Mical. Mira grimaced, ashamed for being glad it wasn't her. Visas only frowned in worry, and Atton's expression didn't betray in the slightest what was going on in his head.
"Come, boy, face me now— do not make this one of the many battles you have run from." Her tone dared any of the others to interfere.
Mical stepped forward, looking every inch the hero, and aimed a lightning-quick thrust at Kreia. Seemingly without effort, she sidestepped his blade; once, twice, three times.
Then, apparently growing bored, she lifted him into the air with a Force Crush as easily as if he were a toy.
Mira lunged at her, but Kreia sent her flying with a negligent flick of the Force from her handless stump and addressed the wheezing Disciple. His face, contorted in pain, was going blue.
"Think!" she cried viciously. "Think before you throw away your life for her. Think of everything you will lose by dying. A love, requited. A hope of another life, beyond the shadow of the Jedi. Think before you give it up so quickly."
Evidently through with him, she tossed him disdainfully to the ground, much as she had with Mira, and turned to Visas instead. Mical continued to gasp and clutched at his chest, lying there in a broken heap.
"And you, blind one, you have hungered to strike me down ever since you saw the bond the exile and I share." Kreia's voice sounded like it was dripping poison with every word. It made Mira's blood boil. She picked herself up off the ground where she'd landed several yards away and started for the old woman once more.
How can you talk to Visas that way?
But the Miraluka was not so easily moved to anger. Though she stood in the core of the world that had driven her Master into madness with a hunger for death, her relaxed air suggested this was no more than a simple debate of philosophy.
With a measure of serenity that yet surpassed Kreia's own, she replied, "Can you not feel the Force running through me, even past the veil, past your bloodied eyes? You know you cannot win. The Force runs strong within you, Traya, but in the howling of a storm, it is difficult to hear the whisper of the blade. You have forever been the blind one. You were given a gift few are ever given, and yet you let your gift of sight warp you, tw—"
Calmly, as if flicking a bit of dust off her robes, Kreia wrenched the Miraluka off her feet and began to crush her in the same manner as she had Mical. Visas cried out in pain, but seconds later she couldn't have managed a whisper.
"You think your existence under your Lord was torture, Miraluka? I will make you see."
She let Visas collapse onto the floor, where she lay still. Only then did the dark creature that had called herself their ally return her attention to Mira.
The bounty hunter wasn't kidding herself with optimism anymore. She had seen how easily Kreia disposed of the others, and she knew Visas was probably twice as strong as she was when it came to resisting and commanding the Force. Still, she hardly had a choice, and if she was going down, it wasn't going to be without a fight.
Kreia's voice had a grandmotherly ring to it when she addressed the redhead again.
"And you. You were stronger than I thought— to spare the beast that wished to kill you. Yes, I felt it, faintly, even here on Malachor. So come, huntress. You have tracked me so far and killed many beasts to be here. Come. Cast away your past for this moment."
Mira sent a bolt of Force lightning at her, which Kreia deftly turned aside. Then, with another of those twisted smiles, she sent a full-fledged storm of white electric heat down upon the bounty hunter. Writhing in agony on the glaring red floor, Mira couldn't even think clearly enough to resent the irony. Her hair and her robes were smoking, her skin burned, and her insides felt like they were being stabbed repeatedly with a hot knife. A chain of explosions seemed to burst inside her head.
The pain went on for another agonizing ten seconds before Kreia abruptly stopped. Blinking blearily at the brown and black blur above her, Mira couldn't quite figure out what it was, but Kreia supplied the answer soon after.
"And now... at last, the fool. You only delay the inevitable. You have been difficult to sense before... but not now. You can cloak your mind only for so long. It is only a matter of coaxing the right thought to the surface."
Atton didn't pretend to ignore her words, though he gave no reply. He simply stood his ground, and let every last ounce of his hatred show in the venomous glare he shot her. So what if anger didn't befit a Jedi? He wasn't acting on it. Yet. Jaq was fighting to break loose, but Atton still held him down for now. He knew what "thought" Kreia was referring to, and it was the same one from which he drew the strength to resist the darkness that was almost tangible in this place.
This was what he was made for: to be the last one standing between Ennyria and danger. Somehow it gave him strength when he thought he had none left, even when she wasn't nearby.
Still, he wasn't quite ready when Kreia gave voice to that exact thought a second later.
"Your desire to protect the Jedi... and the hope that she truly cares about you... She will fall before me, you know. And when I am done with her, she will view you with all the contempt I do for a murderer such as you."
"No! She'll never fall, not to—"
But suddenly he felt a substantial amount of his life force leave him, sucked away in an instant like air into a vacuum, and watched a bolt of red lightning lance from his body to the Sith Lord's. No longer able to stand, he dropped to his knees. She paralyzed him with a stasis field once again, in that uncomfortable and demeaning position, and called out to Sleeps-with-vibroblades.
At that point, Atton would gladly have accepted the call of the dark side if he could only take the two Sith down.We failed, Enn. I'm sorry…
"And that is the last of them. Take them. They are strong in the Force… and they will have their uses. Except, perhaps, for this one." She indicated Atton, looking pensive. "My only use for the fool is as a corpse. Do as you will with him, but leave him where he will be found. I will remain here and await the one who comes."
to be continued with scene 2...