Knights of the Rebellion

"Definition: 'Love' is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope. Statement: This definition, I am told, is subject to interpretation. Obviously, love is a matter of odds. Not many meatbags could make such a shot, and fewer would derive love from it. Yet for me, love is knowing your target, putting them in your targeting reticle, and together, achieving a singular purpose, against statistically long odds." HK-47

Chapter 1

about one year after the events of Knights of the Old Republic II

The woman who had once called herself Darth Revan lay on her back in the grass on Dantooine, looking up at the clear, blue sky.

Her eyes were unfocused. Occasionally she cast her gaze about the surrounding landscape or over her own red-and-gold clothing, but otherwise she remained very still. Peace enfolded her mind, peace she had needed for a long time. Through the Force she knew the parades of insects which crawled over the ground, the majestic floating creatures in the air, and the footsteps and thoughts of the group of people headed in her direction.

But what amazed her most was that through all of these things, she knew herself. Not as a woman bent on revenge, not as a Force-user, nor as a conqueror. She simply knew herself as the person who woke up each morning and wanted a nice cup of caf to warm her hands around…knew herself by her real name.

Casual musing changed to intent alertness as she realized exactly who was coming her way. She turned over and crouched, some pieces of blue-black hair falling over her eyes, but when she realized how silly that half-alert state looked, she flopped onto her stomach and relaxed again with her feet in the air. These people certainly would bring some excitement to her life.

And she almost resisted the flood of emotions for him.

Force, this day was getting interesting.

Anna Sacul, the so-called Jedi Exile, felt insignificant beside the heroes she was about to meet.

It was not that her own life had been easy or unadventurous. Since the destruction of Malachor V, she had been living with the weight of the galaxy on her shoulders every day; her choices were not as clear-cut as light side and dark side. They asked her what war was worth, to what point did going far for your friends mean betraying their cause, and whether honor really existed. She had felt the dark side as if she were drowning in it at Malachor, but had still been able to kill Darth Traya—Kreia—when she had no other choice. She knew herself as a nexus in the Force, almost an object, which drew people to it and turned them to its own ways. It had given her loyal friends, even after she had been away from the Jedi Order for so long.

And a guilt weighed on her.

It had been clever of Admiral Carth Onasi to search Republic travel data—a daunting task, even for a droid made for research—for Revan's name or a likely fake one. And it had been convenient that he had needed a private ship and asked Anna and the members of her crew who were still left to take him to find her.

And, the Exile had had to ask, the former Sith was not on some obscure Outer Rim world battling shadowy forces of evil? Nope. She was, apparently, lounging on Dantooine.

Carth began to walk quickly as Revan came into view. Anna hung back with Bao-Dur and Mical. She had grown close to her two loyal apprentices over the last year and, even though Atton Rand was unable to accompany her because of an injury, they came. Anna felt more comfortable with them than she did with almost anyone. All three of them had remained quiet, though, throughout the voyage to reunite the heroes.

Revan rose when Carth approached. Anna had blurry memories of the Jedi General as a commanding woman not much older than herself, with impeccable charisma and the ability to inspire her troops with only a few sentences. The Mandalorians feared her.

And although Anna was on par with most Mandalorians in terms of combat skill, she did too. How, she wondered, could Revan be content with all that she had done? And what of her mission to the Outer Rim? Was Anna about to get herself embroiled in another war with Sith?

When she really looked at Revan now, the older Jedi appeared to be a rather short, trim woman. She wore a red outfit with a utility belt, a lightsaber hung through a belt loop on either side of her hips. She had short, functional hair like Anna's, although it was an almost-blue black and very straight, unlike Anna's perpetually ruffled blonde hair.

Revan stepped toward Carth as if she were going to hug him, then relaxed and simply smiled. They looked at each other for a long moment.

"I've missed you," he said.

She smiled wider, and Anna had the distinct urge to look away. From what the Force was giving her, she could tell that these two were attached to one another—but Revan's emotions were more complicated than that. But apparently, Carth picked that up too despite his lack of Force-sensitivity.

He asked, "Where…have you been? You were gone for so long; when I tracked you here it was almost like…did you ever leave?"

"I did," she said. She gracefully sat down on the grass and gestured for at least Carth to join her. Anna approached, and sat on her knees in front of her fellow Jedi Master. "I went to the Outer Rim, looking for what I had imagined lurked out there. But…what I found wasn't True Sith. It was just old worlds and stars, stars forever.

"I may have imagined all of that about the True Sith, or they are hiding better than I foresaw. I was very disappointed for a time…but someone helped me out of that." Revan looked up at Anna. "Nice to see you again, Anna Sacul. Your rank almost matches mine now, doesn't it?"

"In name if not in prowess, er, Revan," Anna replied, bowing politely.

"My name is Gwen Bolwyn," the other woman said graciously. "Revan was…a part of me. But I imagine that you too have felt the call of the dark side. We are past that. Our names are our own, are they not?

"And who do you bring with you?"

"My apprentices, Mical and Bao-Dur. Bao-Dur served with us at…at Malachor."

The Iridonian Zabrak politely inclined his head to Revan, but did not speak.

Said Mical, "It's an honor to meet you. I've heard so much…I've studied, I mean. I am a historian, not a monger of rumors. Your story is…breathtaking. Sweeping."

"Thank you?" Revan chuckled. "As a life…perhaps sweeping is indeed an appropriate word."

She stood up and extended a hand to Carth. Anna and her companions followed the two across the verdant field and into an area shaded by blba trees and two of the distinctive low Dantooinian plateaus. A small starship crouched in an alcove created by the risen ground, its gray skin dappled by the sun through the leaves.

Out of it leapt a small, blue Twi'lek, followed by a lumbering Wookiee.

"Mission!" Carth exclaimed. "And Zaalbar! I thought you two were out being tour guides somewhere."

"We tried," said the teenage Twi'lek. "But when Gwen's ship passed through…we knew she needed help. She didn't, not all that much, but that's what getting good at stowing away is for."

The Wookiee barked the staccato laughs of its kind, and Revan also chuckled again. "They really did help me," she said. "They taught me to laugh at myself. You have to, sometimes, even when you make mistakes as big as a Jedi Master's tend to be."

"I would think a Jedi Master would make fewer mistakes than other people," said Bao-Dur. He looked at the ship instead of at Revan's eyes, as if appraising it.

"Oh, we do make fewer mistakes. But when we make them…they're big. Galaxy-scale."

Anna could not tell from the Force or from Revan's tone of voice whether she was joking or being serious.

"Many people wonder where you are now," Carth began.

Revan replied, "And I think that many people, out of a whole Galactic Republic, looking out for me counts as enough of an excuse to avoid being found." Her voice took on a more serious, softer tone then, and the Force told of her deep calm. "And the Mandalorian Wars are over, as is the Jedi Civil War, Force curse the concept of one of those. The galaxy as a whole doesn't need me anymore, whereas, I needed to find myself. As they say. And…of course I did not want to be completely alone…" She looked up at Carth for a moment, her eyes shining, but he failed to respond promptly enough and she simply took his hand again to guide the group, including Mission and Zaalbar, around the back of the ship.

"Ironically enough, I did find something interesting on this planet." In the shadowed place behind the ship's starboard side, the wall of the plateau was not made of natural dirt as it should be. Instead a slab of rock, marble-like in appearance but shining like water even with the shadows on it, had been set into the side of the plateau. In the center there was a turquoise stone apparently suspended in thin air. When Revan took the stone from its place, a golden, claw-shaped socket behind it was revealed.

Anna immediately knew that the stone was imbued with the Force. The life energy of each person in the group whirlpooled around it, swirling and emitting an impression somehow opposite to that of destiny. However, it was not a dark side object, but a neutral one.

"Huh," Carth said under his breath.

"What…does it do?" asked Anna.

"I don't know." Revan replied. "Nothing, so far. But I think it can be opened further, if the mechanism was discovered."

"Ask Bao-Dur to try it," Anna suggested.

The stone was handed over to the Zabrak. He looked at it and squeezed it.

"I'll have to get my tools from the Hawk," said Bao-Dur. "But I may be able to get this open."

"Ah, the Ebon Hawk," said Revan as they all walked across the savannah again toward the ship. "I owned her once, did you know?"

"Admiral Onasi told me he had flown with you," Anna said. She still felt like she should tack an honorific onto her sentences for Revan, but did not know what it should be. Master, perhaps? "The ship is doing fine I guess. Except for having that HK-47 on it."

Revan laughed. "No one's disassembled him yet?"

"Not for lack of trying," the Exile replied wryly.

"At least you don't have any gizka."

They drew nearer to the ship. Its ramp stood open before them. Anna was beginning to relax. She had expected to have to rescue Revan out of a nest of bad guys, or at least out of an angsty depression, and here they were, laughing at every other line they spoke, under the bright sun. If only most of her missions were that simple! Some of the weight lifted. Some sank further into her inner knot of bad history, muttering about optimism only leading to disappointment.

HK-47, one of the few members of the Exile's party who had not gone off on their own after the cataclysm at Malachor, met them at the top of the ramp, peering suspiciously at the new people with twitchy movements of the faceplate that encased his red eyes. Anna was going to say something consoling to him, forgetting that he probably recognized Revan as his former master, but Bao-Dur gasped.

He held the stone in two pieces in his hands. One turquoise half was ovoid and hollow, like a perfectly cut half of an eggshell. Within the other side, a clawlike mechanism grasped a smaller, red stone just as the socket set into the marble plaque had grasped the turquoise one.

Like an aftershock, like the sound after a seismic charge, the Force exploded into a sense of danger. It seemed that a literal explosion blinded Anna behind her eyes—she heard some people screaming in pain and others calling out names in confusion. The Wookiee roared like an animal. Someone strong grasped Anna by her upper arm and propelled her onto the ramp of the Ebon Hawk. She frantically wondered if something had physically exploded and continued up the ramp, eyes and mind tightly shut against the pain, trying to instinctively duck behind a bulkhead and at the same time press herself closer to the solid person behind her.

A noise that may have been the ramp closing was herald to a sudden silence. Then people started to breathe and move again. Anna looked up.