I know, sorry this isn't the next chapter of my story that has been on hold for WAY too long, but I am getting back to writing at least! Something new, a K2 story that gives some background for Bao-Dur and the Exile. His shoddy in-game introduction always bugged me, so I came up with this 3-part fic to possibly explain away why she is confused at not remembering him, and why he is so rightfully hurt by it.
The hitch in her step was embarrassingly noticeable, as was the stiff over-correction. But her stride had carried her too far into the room for her to turn back. That and he saw her. He always saw her, always looking, searching, for something…something she just didn't have to offer.
"General?" His smooth baritone floated calmly around her, contrasted sharply by the animated chiming of his Remote.
"I, uh, I'm sorry to disturb you, Bao-Dur. I didn't realize you were working in here." Why was he in the nav room? He usually kept to the garage, which is why she usually kept from it.
"I heard about your little problem with this locked nav-computer, thought I might see what I could do about it for you."
Her shoulders sunk a bit. He seemed to be trying too hard, like a puppy, to please her, but his efforts made her even more uncomfortable in his presence. She couldn't even look at him. "Oh, well, thank-you, but Kreia said she knows how to unlock it."
"I do too," he offered back.
Her head snapped up to look at him now, the previous unease melted away. "How…what does it say?" She moved closer to look at the monitor in front of him.
"I said I know how to unlock it, not that I could, and I doubt Kreia can either. This system has been voice-locked, and there are some deep subroutines installed on the information. They are very simple commands, nothing complicated at all, but they cannot be overridden."
"The initial protocol states simply any attempt to access the sealed info that does not use the voice activation to unlock the files will result in a total core dump."
"Oh," she said softly, the small spark of hope fading as once again the discomfort of being near to a man she should recall but couldn't washed over her. Her only thought now was to get out of there, quickly.
"Yes, I must admit it is quite a nice job of programming," he said admiringly. "Even if the threat is untrue, it is sufficient enough to keep anyone from attempting to poke around for fear of losing the files. I believe I will install a similar routine in my Remote." The unit beeped and hovered closer to him in response.
"Well, thanks, for trying, that was…really nice of you to think of it," she said as she began to back towards the door. "I guess I'll just go, um, do what I was doing."
"Where were you headed?"
"The cockpit," she lied, the only thing coming to her mind. "I wanted to ask Atton what he knew about Nar Shaddaa since we are headed there. I'd like to know what to expect." That wasn't a total lie, it was a pretty good idea, actually, she thought as she neared the door.
"He isn't there. Said he needed a nap."
"What!? Who is flying the ship?!" she said spinning back around.
"The astromech droid is up there monitoring the controls," he said as if it were the most ordinary thing.
"T3 is flying the ship? Is that…safe?"
"We are in a programmed hyperspace route, nothing to do anyway. Besides, I'd say the droid pilots better than the pazaak player…hasn't crashed the ship yet. Atton's got two strikes against him on Telos alone—he do that often?"
She smiled. "I hope not."
The Zabrak's expression clouded a bit, a mixture of confusion and concern. "You don't know?"
"I only just met him, really," she said with a shrug.
"I see, General," he said softly, turning his face away. But not before she got a glimpse of the pain in his eyes. "It's just, you spend so much time with him, I thought you knew him…better."
Her heart lurched, realizing the mistake and implication of her words. Her attempts to keep from hurting him ended up causing more pain than if she had just admitted, shamefully, that she simply could not remember who he was. "Bao-Dur, I…"
"I was thinking, General," he said quickly, cutting her off. His attention remained on the controls, his back turned towards her—but she could see the defeat in his posture as his shoulders rolled forward. There was no mistaking the disappointment in his tone, or the Force, as it leaked from him, bitterness and melancholy all rolled together. "I think when we get to Nar Shaddaa, I will strike out on my own for a while. Always wanted to see what makes that place tick."
"Bao, no!" she blurted, surprised that the thought of him leaving hit her so deeply. He turned to look at her, his face infuriatingly placid.
"It's okay, General, I understand. It was good to meet up with you again and learn you are well. But I know you wanted to put the war behind you, and seeing me must bring up bad memories." He winced as he spoke, heartache spiking from him and slicing through her.
"No, that's…" she sighed, then walked across the room, throwing herself into the seat next to him. "Actually, the truth is, seeing you has not brought up any memories, good or bad." She was almost afraid to look at him, but she couldn't block his emotions. She expected anger and disappointment, but instead, there was sadness…and relief?
"You don't remember me…at all?" His words were almost a desperate plea, wounded pride seeping through the Force.
"I am sorry, but no. I did not want to hurt you by letting you know, so I tried to stay away, hoping you wouldn't realize. But it seems I made things just as bad, if not worse."
"You were avoiding me so I wouldn't find out you forgot about me? Not because…"
"It wasn't just you, Bao!" she blurted before he could finish. "When you said we served together, I could not place you at all, so I went into my service records—I saw you listed, and every other soldier under my command. Each one was a blank, as if I were seeing the names for the first time." She looked around the room as she paused to compose her emotions. "Until meeting up with you again, I had not realized how faulty my memory had become. When I was exiled, there was no one to talk to about the war, and it wasn't something I wanted to dwell upon, so it never occurred to me that giant chunks of information were gone. I know Revan and Malak convinced me to join them, I know I fought, I know what battles I was in…but details are missing. What Revan told me that made me go with them, how the fighting went, the name of my ship, the names of my company, the friends I made, the ones I mourned…." Her voice trailed to a soft whisper.
"I'm sorry," he mumbled.
"Kreia thinks I turned away from the Force by choice. Hardly. I lost everything—my memories, my training, my sense of the Force—why the hell would I willingly give that up? And then, the Council exiled me, tossed me out, never even asked a single question of me, just sat there, spitting accusations. Now THAT day I can recall clearly. I stood before them, my head still ringing from the final battle, the Force strangely absent from me. I couldn't think, I couldn't sense anything but anger—at losing my way, and they wouldn't help. They didn't even care."
"You are doing okay now?" he asked, his concern deep and genuine. "I mean, your memory…you can recall everything after the war?"
"Yes, isn't that odd? I hope that means the damage is reversible. I don't know what happened, or when, or even how I lost it all. But Kreia is helping me. She seems to know how to return the Force to my mind, and I am feeling it again, like an old friend." She then smiled at him "I hope, as I regain my connection to the Force, I regain other old friends."
It was now he who turned away, unable to look at her. Guilt and sorrow flooded her senses. Remote beeped as it circled around its master, the only sound in the room.
"Bao, what is it?"
"I know what happened, General. I know what broke you, and I am sorry. I have been sorry for ten years, but never more than right now."
"What? You think you caused this? I doubt that, how could you possibly…"
"Malachor V, General," he said flatly, but somehow, there was poison in his voice, bitter and angry.
"You were at Malachor?" She realized the stupidity of that question as she spoke the words.
"We all were, General. Many of us are still there." He lifted his mechanical arm, the soft blue of the energy beam casting shadows on the wall. "Souvenir of Malachor V. I was one of the lucky ones. Pretty ironic, since I deserved it the least."
"I don't know what you think you did, but really, Bao, I don't blame you," she said soothingly.
"You don't blame me only because you can't remember. I did this to you, to everyone. I don't know which is worse—the actual killing, or what happened to those who survived, if you can call it that. And they wanted to give me a medal for it, too," he scoffed.
"For what? What happened at Malachor? Tell me." She was eager to hear more, edging closer to him in her seat. There was something about what he said that struck her as almost familiar. But her attempts to grasp the tendril of revived memory were futile.
He shook his head. "Be glad you can't remember, General. I've thought about it every day for a decade, enough for the both of us. I envy your unpolluted memory."
"No, Bao, please, tell me what happened that day. The battle, I need to know. It might spark something in my mind, help me overcome what was done to me."
"What if it doesn't?"
"Then at the very least I will share your burden. I feel somehow I am equally responsible, so I should know what it is we both did." She was so close, she could tell—he knew what happened, he could remember it all. If she just heard the events, she would regain her memory, she was sure of it. He had to tell her. He had to.
"It was me, General. I was the tech, it was my job, but I made the mistake, and it cost so much for so many."
"Stop talking in these half riddles, dammit!" Her voice rose in pitch as she slammed her fist on the console. The Remote chirped as if frightened and floated a bit away. "If you think you are protecting me by not telling me, well, you aren't. It doesn't help at all to be in denial. I was there at Malachor, I deserve to know what I did, what I was exiled for!"
"Very well, General," he said evenly. There was anguish in his eyes as he looked beyond her, into the past as he tried to decide where to begin.