This is my very first fan fiction, a very different take on the events of KOTOR and KOTOR2, starting just pre-KOTOR. Yes, this is KOTOR 1, I promise. For fans of the games, the story may be a bit confusing at first, but hopefully all questions will be answered in time. Please, read and review, and I hope you enjoy!
Prologue – Finding a Phantom
The inside of the cantina was hazy, loud and uncomfortably warm, but despite all this, the place was packed, though that was typical of a smuggler's planet on the Outer Rim. Drunks shouted for another round, gamblers cursed loudly in a variety of languages, and the twi'lek dancing girls swayed slowly to the nearly inaudible music, a perpetual look of boredom on their thin faces. As smugglers whispered their secret dealings and prostitutes made "special deals" for their new clients, one woman seemed oblivious to the chaos swirling around her. She sat alone at a tiny corner table, her filthy black hair pulled sloppily back into a ragged braid, her clothing so worn and dirty, it was clear she had been living in them constantly for some weeks. In spite of the dim lighting inside the cantina, she wore a very dark visor over her eyes, though she appeared to be transfixed on the half-empty Juma in front of her.
With a resounding BANG the front door of the cantina was flung open, revealing a wild haired, wide eyed old man panting in the doorway. A tense silence descended on the crowd as the man's mouth moved frantically, yet no sound emerged. He finally managed in a half-shriek, "Th-th-there's a-a Republic War-warship here! I saw…JEDI!" Giving in to his terror with a squeal, the man fled toward the refresher, followed by scornful shouts of "Drunken fool!" by the irritated patrons. The noise level resumed and everyone returned to his or her business. All except the woman in the back corner whose head was turning frantically as she searched for another exit from the building. Before she could move, however, the front door opened again, this time slowly, almost hesitantly.
Again silence fell over the cantina, this time gradually, but so completely that it almost seemed that everyone had stopped breathing. A petite, brown haired young woman dressed in simple brown robes stood calmly just inside the door, two similarly dressed men standing solemnly behind her, blocking the doorway. The woman's face showed obvious disgust, but her sharp blue eyes were systematically scanning the crowd of faces, most curious, but some terrified and others openly hostile, until her gaze finally rested on the raven haired woman who sat utterly still at the corner table.
Moving as one, the three Jedi strode confidently toward her, the crowd of onlookers, now whispering curiously to one another, completely ignored. The singled out woman rose slowly but defiantly from her chair as the group approached, her expression hard, her eyes still hidden behind her visor. The brown haired Jedi, who, despite being the youngest, was clearly the leader, studied the other, slightly taller woman with an air of mixed disdain and pity as she stopped in front of the table. Several patrons made for the exits in a hurry, while the rest turned resolutely back to their own business.
After several long seconds of mutual study, it was the brown haired Jedi who finally said in a low, slightly accented voice, "The Council needs to speak with you, Exile."
The other woman sneered and shook her head mockingly as she hissed, "I am no pet of the Council, Padawan." She spat the word as if it were poison. As she lowered herself back into her seat, she added dismissively, "You just run back to the Council now, little one, and tell them they should have locked me up when they had the chance."
The brown haired Padawan ground her jaw in anger, but struggled to reign in her temper as she planted her hands firmly on the table and leaned aggressively toward the other woman. Her voice still low, but now edged by her irritation, she said, "It is about Revan."
It would not have taken Jedi senses to see the immediate effect the name had on the Exile. Her head jerked up as she inhaled sharply and her bottom lip trembled slightly as she studied the Padawan intently. In a whisper, she asked, "What…what about Revan?"
Feeling smug that she'd finally gotten the woman's attention, the Padawan pushed herself off the table and said arrogantly, "Well, now, Exile, there is much to explain and I am sure the Council will answer any -."
Rising so quickly, the chair beneath her tipped over backward, slamming to the floor, the black haired Exile shouted, "Damn you, Jedi, you will tell me what's happened to my sister!" Once again the cantina patrons stopped to stare, now hoping to see some blood.
The Padawan took a defensive step backward, her two accompanying Knights reaching instinctively for their lightsabers, but the Exile remained aggressively defiant as she waited for her answer. Seeing no alternative but violence, the Padawan sighed grudgingly and said, "It is over. She has been defeated." She watched in surprise, and a twinge of sadness, as the other woman seemed to wilt, her shoulders slumping, her head hanging in sorrow as she leaned on the table for support. She remained that way for several minutes as the cantina again resumed its normal speed and volume before finally straightening up and gazing at the Jedi.
"If it really is over, why are you here?" Her voice was flat and emotionless with none of the former bitterness. "I mean if this is about Revan and Revan is dead, what could the Council want with me?"
The Padawan shifted nervously, feeling impatient as she explained, "I know you have many questions, Exile, and I know you have no reason to trust me or any of the Jedi, but time is of the essence now. Suffice it to say, Revan left quite a mess in her wake and the Council believes you may be the key to cleaning it up. All I am asking you to do is come with me to Dantooine aboard the Republic vessel we arrived in, the Endar Spire, and listen to what they have to say. I will answer what questions you have to the best of my knowledge along the way, but as it is, it will take several weeks for us to get back. Please, come with me." Though it nearly made her gag to be so overly pleading, the young Padawan found herself holding her breath in anticipation as she awaited the Exile's answer.
Sighing in resignation, the black haired woman shrugged listlessly as she slowly said, "I will come with you to Dantooine and hear what the Council has to say. That is all I promise, however."
The Padawan released her breath in relief, smiling slightly as she said, "Wonderful. We can accompany you to gather your belongings and then we will take the shuttle back to the ship, if that is acceptable to you, Exile."
The Exile snorted and shook her head at the other woman, reaching under the table to produce a small, black bag, which she slung over her shoulder. "Belongings gathered, Padawan. Lead the way."
Captain Carth Onasi mumbled angrily to himself as he furiously paced the main deck of the Endar Spire. Being sent to the Outer Rim territories with no explanation whatsoever from his superiors was bad enough, but taking orders from the Jedi was even worse. His every question had been answered with a question, and the clearest reason he had heard for their presence on this Force-forsaken planet was the existence of a "Person of Interest." Now it had been three hours since he had last heard from the Jedi on the ground and his anger was mixing with worry.
Carth was so involved with his internal tirade that he didn't notice the approach of one of his officers until the man cleared his throat loudly. Trying not to glare as the private saluted him stiffly, Carth pushed aside his thoughts as the man explained, "Sir, we have just received word from Padawan Bastila. They have found their objective and are returning to the ship, heavy one passenger. They will be docking in a few moments in bay 14 if you…wish…to…." The officer trailed off as his Captain strode by him determinedly with a curt, "Thank you, Private," and headed for the docking bays.
Never slowing his pace for a moment, Carth arrived at bay 14 just as the shuttle landed. Determined to finally get some answers, and to see for himself this all-important "Person of Interest," Carth steeled himself for his confrontation with Bastila, who was now emerging from the shuttle. She was followed closely by the other two Jedi who had accompanied her, and behind them was what looked like a beggar woman. Though she was not old, the woman was filthy and ragged, the smell of old Juma and spice clinging to her hair and clothes. She wore a very dark, narrow visor over her eyes and walked slowly and carelessly, as if without a purpose. Carth was so confused, he found his well-prepared speech fly out of his mind.
Bastila asked one of the Knights to escort their "guest" to her quarters, to which said "guest" nodded half-heartedly and followed the Knight obediently from the room. Though she frowned when she noticed Carth, Bastila said calmly to him, "Captain Onasi, we are ready to return to Dantooine as soon as possible, at best possible speed."
Carth stared at her in blank, open-mouthed shock for several seconds before gesturing wildly after the filthy woman in rags and exploding, "THAT is the reason we came all the way out here!?!?"
Bastila squared her shoulders, swallowing her sigh of frustration as she stared defiantly up at the exasperated man and coolly explained, "Yes, Captain, she is the reason we came all this way, and she is vital to any and all efforts being made in the war at this time. Though I know it is nearly impossible for you, I must ask that you trust the Council in this matter and simply do your duty."
Staring down at those icy blue eyes, Carth felt the urge to strangle the arrogant Jedi, and not for the first time. Though all Jedi were cryptic, and many were impatient, Carth had never met anyone with a higher opinion of themselves than Bastila Shan. Forcing himself not to act on his instinct, he said slowly, "Look, Bastila, I have been patient, put up with all this Jedi hoop-jumping, left combat to look for what, a beggar woman on the Outer Rim? I'm sorry, but I think you are going to have to give me more than just a brush off this time."
Though she glared at the man menacingly, Bastila's shoulders slumped slightly in defeat. Sounding weary, she explained, "I know, Carth, but not now. I am to meet with that woman you just saw at 09:00 hours tomorrow in my quarters and you are welcome to join us. Hopefully that will bring you both up to speed on the situation and I will not be forced to repeat myself. Is that acceptable?"
After a grudging nod, Carth tried a persuasive smile as he attempted, "Well, can I at least know this mystery woman's name so I can change it from "Person of Interest" in the mission file?"
Carth was surprised to see Bastila tense and avoid eye contact as she mulled over the question. Finally she answered very quietly, "You may know her name, but you cannot input it into any of the ship's databases, understand?" At Carth's quick nod, she continued, "That woman's name is Aeryn. Aeryn…Raelis."
Bastila waited as first confusion, then surprise followed closely by suspicion washed over Carth as he stammered, "Raelis? As in…Revan Raelis? As in DARTH Revan?"
Holding up her hand to calm the agitated man, Bastila said, "Yes. She is Revan's sister, twin sister, in fact, and the Council believes she may have vital information." Clearly uncomfortable, Bastila snapped, "Now, if you do not mind, I am in dire need of a shower after being exposed to that filthy hole of a planet, especially for that amount of time."
Pushing aside his shock at their new passenger's identity, Carth forced his attention on the moment, responding, "Yes, you know we were getting quite worried about you up here. What exactly was the hold up? I mean, I though Jedi were supposed to just know where someone is at all times?" Though his tone was teasing, he was sincerely curious about the long delay.
Narrowing her eyes at the man, Bastila practically snarled as she responded, "If you think you could do any better, Captain, you would be welcome to try." Seeing Carth's teasing smirk, she relaxed slightly as she explained, "Planets like this are…crawling with life. It makes the individual difficult to track – it is probably why she came here in the first place. Finding one person here is like finding a phantom in the mist."
Alone in her private quarters, Aeryn Raelis stared at her reflection in the refresher mirror, her mind a jumble of confusing emotions and thoughts. Though it had been five years since she last saw her sister, she had always tried to delude herself into thinking that someday Revan would come to her senses and turn from the dark side. They hadn't parted on good terms, either….
"So, what? You're just gonna order him to follow you and he's just supposed to jump at your command? Who the hell do you think you are, Revan?" Aeryn's face was a mask of shock and disgust as she studied her twin's cold, passionless expression.
Revan smiled darkly at her sister, amused by her indignation. "He will follow me, as he always has, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You did not actually believe he loved you, did you, Little Sister?" Her smile turning into a wicked sneer, Revan chuckled mockingly at the other's pain.
Shaking, Aeryn turned to the tall man beside her, her eyes pleading with him to see reason. "You said you would come with me. Leave it all behind. The war is over now and we can be together. I…I don't understand." Her confusion and fear threatened to overwhelm her.
The man merely gazed down at her, silent and unfazed. "This war is far from over, Aeryn," he finally said before turning his attention back to Revan.
Aeryn nearly stopped breathing as Revan's evil laughter filled the room, so shocked that she felt numb to the core of her being. "The Jedi were right, Little Sister. We should avoid emotional attachments. Just look what it has done to you." Without another word, Revan turned her back on her twin, followed closely by the tall man.
Fighting back her agony, Aeryn watched as the two people she loved most walked out on her, left her to face her exile alone. As tears ran freely down her face, she whispered, "I will always love you, Malak."
Choking back a sob, Aeryn shook the tears from her eyes as she fought off the unwelcome memory. She reached for the scissors on the counter, prepared to remove the tangled mass of hair from her filthy scalp. She had always worn her hair very short, almost a necessity for a Jedi Guardian, but in the years of Exile, nothing had mattered, especially her looks. Revan would be proud, she thought, somewhat bitterly. She always begged me to grow my hair long, told me I looked like a boy with my short hair. Sighing, she moved the scissors to her hair, but found that she could not bring herself to cut it. Confused, she tried again, but for some reason, she felt an attachment to the dirty mess on her head. Grudgingly she thought, Fine, this one's for you, Rev, as she traded the scissors for a stiff bristled brush.
After twenty minutes of struggling, and a rather creative string of curses in a variety of languages, Aeryn stood under the near-scalding water in the shower. She watched the muddy water swirl down the drain with a twinge of guilt. As she ran her hands over her protruding ribs, feeling the numerous scars covering her bony frame, she wondered, How could I have let myself fall this far?
Carth stared at his nervously drumming fingers, his gaze occasionally flickering indecisively to the information terminal in front of him. Leaning forward suddenly in his chair, he began to type R-A-E-L-.
"No, no, no, no," he chided himself quietly, leaning away from the panel. Bastila said not to enter her name into the computer. He frowned. Yes, she said not to enter her name, but she didn't specifically say I couldn't look up her records, right? Finally giving in to his much-less-rational side, Carth finished typing -I-S, A and pulled up their newest passenger's record.
Though he was disappointed to see that most of the really useful information required very high security clearance, Carth did find a fairly thorough biography on Revan's twin. He skimmed through the information, impressed by the number of languages the woman spoke, and pacified by the rather large number of missions she had successfully led. Carth was deeply surprised to read that she was a General during the Mandalorian Wars, and that it had been her order that destroyed Malachor V.
Letting out a low whistle as he leaned back in his chair, Carth wondered at the last line on her bio, which read, "Status: Exiled."
Bastila Shan knew she should be meditating. The sharp click, click, click of her shoes on the floor as she paced her quarters nervously was driving her mad. Finally, she sighed and tried for the fifth time to settle down into a comfortable meditation position. As soon as she felt herself begin to relax, the long-range communicator shrieked loudly, causing her to startle and gasp.
She activated the console, breathing a sigh of relief to see the calm smile of Master Zhar. Her last communiqué had been from Master Vrook, and it had been…unpleasant, to say the least. Bowing respectfully, Bastila said, "Master Zhar, I have news. We have achieved our objective and are making all haste back to Dantooine. The Captain believes we will arrive in sixteen days time."
The blue twi'lek nodded kindly, "That is good to hear, young Padawan. And tell me, just how is she?"
Bastila tried to hide her nervousness as she answered, "As well as can be expected, I suppose. She has many questions and I will do my best to answer them when I meet privately with her tomorrow, but…." Master Zhar waited patiently as she hesitated. "Master, I do not question the wisdom of the Council, but I must ask: How can we be sure this is the right way? She has not been gone all that long, and already she looks so…so…undone." She was unable to hide the tremble in her voice.
Master Zhar tilted his head slightly as he asked, not unkindly, "Are you truly fearful that she will fall to the dark side, or that you will?" Seeing Bastila's shocked indignity, he continued, "The only way one stays on the path is by questioning oneself constantly. Do not fear, young one. The Force finds a way." He smiled again as his image faded, leaving a frowning Bastila staring at a blank wall. She shook her head as she tried to return to her meditations. Why must Jedi be cryptic even with each other?