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"They concern themselves with the cost of war... but they don't look at the faces of those men and women who fall in these battlefields. They don't see the tragedy that is just one death. They don't see anything but a negative cash flow to their bloody bank accounts. It's an insult to all the Revanchists and the Republic is sacrificing to protect their meaningless way of life. They live in luxury while countless others suffer and die. I don't fight for the Republic or their bloody Senate... I fight for the soldiers... for the people, for all those who have suffered under the Mandalorian's merciless onslaught. I had hoped that you of all people would understand that."
~General Taya Kenobi to Jedi Master Atris, shortly after the Battle of Iridonia~
Chapter 1: Awakening
A startled gasp escaped Taya Kenobi as her eyes flew open, only to snap them shut again tightly as an acidic burn stung her very sockets, seeping into her brain. A whisper of a power lost to her for a decade urged her to fight off the exhaustion and crushing wish to just give in to the lethal amounts of sedatives polluting the kolto tank around her and the former Jedi Knight and General pushed back with a fury she hadn't felt for years.
The nightmare she'd had was an old one. It was an end of sorts... the last time she spoke with Malak and the last time she had deemed Revan a man worthy of her respect. The sociopath lurking behind a mask of civility had been unleashed during the war and what pale imitation of empathy and feeling he had was crushed beneath emptiness and loathing that had burned a dozen worlds and ended countless lives.
It took a moment for Taya to put a name to the voice echoing against the very depths of her ravaged soul and she gasped aloud, the feeling of gravity pulling her down as she coughed violently and pushed away the breathing apparatus that had sustained her life moments before.
Cold air, acrid with the scent of antiseptics and taxed machinery bombarded her senses and panic gave way to uncontrollable shaking as the chemicals in her body and the sense of blindness drew a painful and violent purging of her system.
Bile joined the remnants of contaminated kolto around the shivering form of the Exile and Taya rubbed at her eyes in a futile attempt to clear them. Tears pushed forth from ravaged ducts and the young woman wiped at her mouth with a grimace as she stood, her arms crossing over her chest protectively as she looked around the room in confusion.
The Force, it was there... For the first time in a decade the powers of a Jedi flowed through the woman in a myriad of violent echoes and crippling pain. It was like trying to walk on a broken leg, the body knowing what to do, but not entirely able to follow through.
Death was the last thing Taya Kenobi had felt through the Force before it'd been lost to her ten years before and it was the first thing her eyes and senses took in after she involuntarily purged her body of the poisons meant to keep her sedated.
Memory was lost in a haze of sensations that drove her to cower briefly and claw at her eyes before she pushed aside the childish, animalistic desire to flee and forced herself to stand.
Pale, blue-green eyes took in the circular medical chamber and the occupied kolto tanks of the crew she had once traveled with.
Memory was slow to return, but Taya remembered traveling with the old woman that had once been Revan's Jedi Master and she drew in a shuddering breath to clear away the grogginess that had taken hold of her to her very bones.
A dull, passive set of eyes scanned the room as training demanded before the young woman rose and brushed off the bitter sludge that remained of her kolto treatment. She could tell without checking the instruments that the men and women who had crewed the Ebon Hawk with her were dead and it drew up a bitter reminder of Revan's treatment of her crew when she'd begun the new part of her life that she simply titled, Revan's handout.
She was determined to earn her keep, though and Taya had been relaying information of strategic and economical importance back to Revan. The man had yet to reply directly to her communications and Taya remembered the way messages had been passed during the Mandalorian wars, insisting on keeping them as brief and professional as possible.
It was something familiar in an alien environment and it brought a brief sense of nostalgia to the woman before she pushed aside the feelings for something more practical.
"Right, then."Taya muttered, casting a shadowed, slightly mortified look at her clothing... or lack there-of. A simple skintight thermal unisuit covered her torso fairly well and ran down to just past her hips before being cut off much too short for her comfort in the chilled, recycled air of the medical bay. While it provided some covering and warmth, the garment was merely superficial and with the fabric soaked in kolto, Taya knew her options were limited if she wanted to avoid sickness or even hypothermia if the temperature dropped anymore.
In her mind, Taya could hear the sneering voice of Revan echoing a familiar cadence. It pushed against the pain and confusion and brought focus and clarity. Even with the Force acting almost like a hammer to the side of her head, Taya fought against the voice in her mind asking her if it was too much for her, if she was too weak. She supposed it was fitting that it sounded like Revan. The man... the coldness that had overtaken him after Malachor V, that had been there when she'd last seen him on Coruscant in the room appointed to him by the Senate when he came to ask for permission to pursue the Mandalorians beyond the Rim; haunted her.
Still, there was work to be done and unsettling as an internal voice filled with Revan's cold, emotionless baritone was, it filled its purpose. Bare feet took purchase on kolto-slicked durasteel and Taya coughed violently, spitting remnants of bile and spittle from her mouth with a disgusted and feminine grunt.
"This is intolerable!"Taya groaned, pulling back her strawberry-blonde hair into a ponytail to keep the residue of her treatment from her eyes. The sticky, cold feeling of the kolto seeped into her pores and the former Jedi Knight scowled in annoyance, moving with careful steps out of the kolto chamber and finding a set of three doors on opposite walls.
The center door appeared damaged and the Exile's annoyed scowl turned to a frown as she really took in her surroundings. This was a medical bay, well-stocked and modern and there was no-one there but those from her crew that floated dead in their tanks.
Turning to the right, Taya checked the console beside the door leading to the morgue with a troubled furrow to her brow. It was security-locked. This wouldn't normally be a problem for Taya, except for the whisper of the Force in the back of her weary and sore mind telling her she needed to be in that room.
"I don't pay you to do, I pay you to think."
Not that Revan actually paid her, Taya noted with a scowl. The lecture had been given after one of her more disastrous but successful defenses during the war. A right bloody mess, Revan had called it and she found the description fitting. Had she held her position, her men would have lived for another battle, but then the civilians they were supposed to protect would be dead.
"They aren't the ones fighting, Taya. We can't stop and save them all, no matter how much we want to. They need to make their own way, not get in mine."
It had been one of the first signs of Revan's change. He'd been growing into a bit of a recluse during the course of the war, but his change had been quick and perhaps it merely exposed what he was and not who he'd become.
Taya muttered darkly, her blue-green eyes flashing in the medical bay's artificial lighting as she turned and inspected the door to her left. Thankfully the console was functional and easily granted access to the storage bay. Cursing aloud, the Exile tossed through the cargo containers for clothing, only to find a few possibly useful odds and ends. A set of mechanical components and an emergency medical kit of... questionable origin fit nicely in a medical satchel, though Taya would have much-preferred a cloak, or even a tunic to ward off the chill.
Spikes of frozen agony pierced the Exiled Jedi Knight's brain, driving the woman to her knees with a choked gasp. The shrill cry of misery she wished to make was cut off by a nauseating quiver that worked itself from her very core. Bile burned its way through her throat and the former Revanchist General spat and coughed with abandon as she huddled in the medical storage bay.
The Force, for all its nuances was not subtle in its warning and Taya drew in a shaky breath, regaining her composure as she tried to recall the events leading to her current predicament.
She had been poisoned, that much was obvious and it would have even been fatal to her as it was to the others who had crewed the Ebon Hawk except for the Force suddenly returning to her after ten years... after she had all but forgotten how it felt. It was overwhelming and even a tad bit unwelcome.
The Exile's body and mind fought off the foreign, yet tantalizingly familiar invasion of the Force's influence and with a slight gleam to her eyes; Taya drew her brow together in a confounded expression. She was certain this was all Revan's fault, but she was not sure how exactly.
Pushing aside the irrational resentment for her former leader, Taya crawled along the cold durasteel floor, using a console to pull herself to her feet unsteadily. It was no coincidence that her fingers brushed the sequence necessary for opening the morgue and the former General pushed down her ailments to follow the Force's suggestion.
It was painfully slow progress, but Taya regained her senses long enough to recognize Kreia amongst the dead within the morgue. The old woman who had helped to train Revan and in essence unleashed a monster upon the galaxy lay stiffly on one of the room's medical cots, her eyes opened and staring at nothing. The milky-white clouding the atrophied eyes of her deceased companion drew Taya's gaze briefly before she looked away with a shudder.
Revan, for all his emotionless tendencies was going to have a conniption of epic proportions. The man treated the majority of the galaxy with indifference that bordered on a sociopath's apathy, but those few he cared for... he cared for deeply. Kreia had been useless to Darth Revan without the Force, true; but the woman had been a surrogate mother to the boy once and had led him briefly to his station as a Jedi Knight.
Of course, the Revanchists had remained within the confines of what was once Hutt Space and certain sectors of conquered former Sith territory and since the mysterious destruction of Kataar, no diplomatic relations had opened between what was left of the Sith, the Republic and the Revanchists.
A brief debate raged within Taya's mind to take the pale dark brown cloak Kreia wore, but she resisted the urge. Modesty and comfort were secondary to respect. The dead deserved some respect in the very least.
Moving beyond Kreia's body with a sigh of sadness, Taya stared down at the mangled body of a man wearing a miner's hazard suit. The body was twisted in agony, rigamortis somehow emphasizing the pain in which the man had passed.
The Force focused on the man's hand, causing an almost imperceptible sparkle that caught Taya's weary and bloodshot eyes. The answer to the security lock-down that kept her trapped in the cold dead medical bay lay there in the death-grip of the fallen miner, taunting in its dull and scorched durasteel casing.
A standard issue plasma torch.
Whispering an apology to the dead miner, Taya fought the stiff and sickly grip of the corpse to liberate her salvation, nausea working its way up her throat as her mind raged at what she was driven to. Indeed, it was intolerable.
"Searching for answers amongst the dead?"
The voice tore through the sorrow and anger that had drawn Taya's focus and replaced it with shock. Gasping as her heartbeat skipped, Taya turned, raising the plasma torch with a clumsy motion and staring with surprised horror at Kreia.
The old woman was adjusting her robes casually, as if her apparent undeath was nothing more than a mundane awakening from an afternoon nap. Shivering in reaction to the adrenaline that had fought its way into her system and letting out a shuddering breath, Taya regarded Kreia with an incredulous expression.
"Wha- I thought you were dead!"
Kreia's sightless eyes rolled slightly, the old woman's face pinching in a slight frown of disapproval.
"Merely meditating, child. I only appeared dead. The Force preserved my life as I recovered from my injuries."
The Force, the very thought of it brought on a headache to the Exile and she grunted in an unflattering manner, brushing a hand over her face in distaste.
"Well... welcome back I suppose, Kreia. What is this place? Why are we here?"
A pale brow rose on Kreia's wrinkled features and the old woman scoffed at Taya's question, visibly showing her disbelief.
"Do you not remember? Revan dispatched his mechanical servants to collect us. Something... perhaps a Republic or remnant Sith vessel... or possibly even a pirate craft assaulted us. That rusted beast Revan keeps as a pet was damaged and you tossed it into a repair bay before ordering that rolling trash can to assist with the ship's repairs. A secondary assault dealt what very well should have been a death blow to me and I can tell you no more of what occurred."
From what she remembered of the Force, the currents whispered to the Exile that Taya spoke the truth and she frowned in concern. Revan? Why had Revan sent his two most trusted droids and not come himself or sent his Mandalorian attack dog?
"The crew is dead, I am sorry to say, Kreia. Murdered it appears by an overdose of sedatives that should well have slew me as well. I- I believe the Force sustained me until I was able to awaken... You- that was your voice I heard in my head when I awoke, wasn't it?"A thin line formed in Kreia's lips as the Force around her stirred with honest confusion. The stern expression melted into a condescending smile shortly there-after when Kreia stretched out with her senses and finally saw for the first time in five years. The Force took away the darkness that had blinded her and cast a sight far superior to mere eyes.
"Convenient, I suppose that the Force would return to both of us at such a time. How our minds sought each other out I can only assume was through familiarity. We have had few other companions in the last years and both of us were given to similar fates."
A scowl marred Taya's face as she considered Kreia. The old woman looked far from similar to her. For starters, Kreia was clothed and obviously not overcome by the flows of the Force. Her composure drew a hint of resentment from the Exile before she violently pushed it away, disgusted at her pettiness.
"You appear well for having been nothing more than a corpse moments ago."Taya finally settled on a neutral, almost patronizing tone and a huffed laugh that Kreia could not suppress escaped the old woman's throat before she offered a simple acknowledgement of their predicament.
"Indeed. I think you should return your attention to escape, though. Doubtlessly the ones who assaulted us are nearby, still searching. As I am nothing more than a corpse to the logs on this station, I suppose you should be worried."
Worry settled in Taya's expression, marring her pale features as she let out a sigh and turned to the doorway. It took only a few steps before the Exile realized Kreia was not following and the former Revanchist General turned with a scowl that escaped the old woman's notice.
"Aren't you coming? If what you speculate is true, we should make haste to free ourselves of this prison."
Kreia appeared nonchalant over the entire affair, merely moving the center of the morgue and lowering herself into what was clearly a meditation position."I have other matters to attend to, child. Rest assured I will do my best to guide you from here, but I would be of little use to you until I am fully in control of my... returned powers."
Annoyed, Taya turned with a shake of her head and stormed to the door, missing the small smirk that curved Kreia's lips.
"The first lesson, my young apprentice is that power is nothing without control."
Words spoken two decades before to a young Mandalorian child echoed in the silence of the Peragus station's morgue and Kreia drew on the Force, reacquainting herself with the near-forgotten subtleties she had once been a master of. It would be a hard path, but one she walked in her youth without regret and one she would walk again.
Ozone burned Taya's nostrils and the Exile pushed down what little remained in her stomach through sheer force of will. She could not afford the dehydration that accompanied vomiting, enough had been lost already. The plasma torch made short work of the lock before her and an orange ring cast a faint glow on her features as the charred center of the damage shifted.
Urging the manual lock release on the door upwards, Taya shifted away from the doorway when the mechanism hissed ominously. She'd survived enough explosions to know what a pressure build up sounded like.
Without much fanfare the seal gave way and the doorway opened, much to Taya's relief and she stepped out through the hatch to a second that was mercifully intact. Whatever had damaged the mechanism to the medbay's doorway seemed to be isolated to that doorway. There was still power and if not for the warning of the Force, Taya knew she would have died moments later when a mining droid turned to her and charged her from where it had been dormant seconds before.
The arachnid machine scuttled across the durasteel deckplates, kicking up the most awful racket in Taya's slightly drugged and ravaged mind. Pressure built up in a throbbing cadence within the Exile's skull and she fought down the nausea and disgusted groan that tried to escape her, relying on reflexes that had served her well since the Force was lost to her.
Those reflexes persisted of staggering back away from the machine and jamming a full-intensity plasma torch into the raging droid's exposed and centralized control matrix. The hissing of the torch against the metal was all the Exile could hear as she was shoved back by a death-rattle that would have made a Gammorhean proud. Knocking her shoulder against the bulkhead, Taya cursed as she stumbled away from the droid, her hand falling against something wet and soft.
The violence of Taya's movements cause whatever she had braced herself against to give way and the young woman looked down in horror at the mutilated and bloody body of a human miner.
"The dead have no use for frivolity. Do not concern yourself with their comfort."
A vibroblade rested in the cold, dead grip of the slain miner and Taya swallowed back her sorrow as she pried the fingers free of the hilt. Revan had been a brutal teacher during the beginnings of the Mandalorian war and his lessons were hard-learned and hard-accepted. They were necessary for progress and survival. Rearranging the corpse in a semblance of peace, Taya wiped her hand clean of the drying blood as best she could, shivering in the chill that overtook her in the corridor.
The Exile's eyes recognized the Peragus mining colony symbol on the corpse and while she was surrounded by death and chaos, she felt a small amount of comfort in knowing where she was. The weight of a vibroblade in her hand added to that comfort and Taya proceeded in a much more careful manner, her bare feet gliding along the deckplates with barely a whisper.
She'd have to take a bit more care exploring her prison or it would become her tomb.