You're Not Her
Disclaimer: I do not own KOTOR.
Note: I'm operating under the assumption here that Revan will never fully regain her memory and that it will only ever be bits and pieces that she sees.
Other Note: This may seem a little confused, but then, I imagine that this would be very disturbing for Malak, seeing Revan again but not really.
Revan is alive.
Three words. Three simple words. They wouldn't mean much to most people; after all, who care if some traitorous ex-Sith Lord was still among the living, as long as they weren't still out for galactic domination? I did, for one.
Revan…Revan was always indomitable. No matter where she went, no matter why, or for how long, it was never the same after she left. And no one was the same after meeting her. I know I wasn't.
Admiral Karath contacted me, saying that Revan's ship was captured and that if I just went to the leviathan I would see her. I hadn't seen her without her mask for over three months before I tried to kill her.
That bounty hunter from Taris had said she was alive, but had had no proof. Had, in fact, never met her, just seen pictures. Karath, however, could recognize her in his sleep. There could no longer be any doubt.
Revan is alive.
It surprised me, but not as much as I thought it would. I suppose that I never truly believed she was dead. After all, she was Revan. Revan. Revan, who singlehandedly beat the Mandalorians, who found the Star Forge, started another war with her Sith and was systematically decimating the Republic Resistance. How could she be dead?
I hated her. We'd been best friends for twenty years, I'd been in love with her since I was sixteen, we'd been through two wars, the search for the Star Forge, and the Jedi Council's decision to throw us out of the Order and I hated her.
I hated her cruelty. I hated how she acted like she didn't know me. I hated how she made me feel like I didn't know her.
I really did hate her, but I still tried to save her. Maybe it was just a moment of weakness, maybe it was born out of my impatience about letting her lead, again, when she had no more experience being a Sith Lord than I did, I don't know. What I do know is that when the Jedi boarded her ship, and it became clear they aimed to take her alive, I couldn't let that happen. I didn't care that I wasn't ready to challenge her yet, didn't care that I didn't fully understand her winning strategies for taking over the galaxy and the plans she'd already laid in place, didn't even care that it would make me seem weak in front of my troops. I didn't care, because I could not let her get captured.
I hated her, but I knew her better than anyone. She did not compromise. She would not help them. They would be left with no choice but to destroy her. She had never feared death, neither of us had. I don't think anyone properly trained to use the Force really did. What had always terrified her was the concept of oblivion, of having her mind destroyed, because there is no coming back from that.
It made sense, tactically. Killing my former friend and later master, to ensure the Jedi couldn't use her against me and discover the star Forge. That was the justification I used, in fact. But that wasn't why. I hated her, and she may have deserved it, but destroying someone's identity is horrifying on a level that I can't even begin to comprehend. I've killed people, brutally, thoughtlessly, callously, but death isn't the end. I've tortured Jedi until they've turned against everything they've ever believed, but if they truly sought it, they could find redemption in death. What the Jedi planned to do, what, I suppose, they really did do, there's no going back from.
Bastila ran down the hall, a man dressed in a Republic jacket and a woman in Jedi Robes following closely at her heels. Her eyes widened when she saw me and she stopped suddenly and cried out, "Darth Malak!"
The non-Jedi took out a blaster and shouted, "Down you go!" while shooting at me. Please. I'm the Dark Lord of the Sith, like that'll work. I easily deflected his shots with my lightsaber and laughed at his pathetic attempt.
"I hope you weren't thinking or leaving so soon, Bastila. I've spent far too much energy hunting down you and," I paused, not looking at Revan. "You're companions to let you get away from me now."
My gaze shifted and I saw her blinking her large green eyes at me, no hint of recognition whatsoever. "Besides, I had to see for myself if it was true. Even now, I can hardly believe it." The Sith were supposed to be the monsters, not the Jedi. At least we're honest about our 'crimes against the galaxy.' Well, except on Manaan. But that's a whole different issue. "Tell me, why did the Jedi Council spare you?" Spare her, right. Not kill her, perhaps, but there was no mercy here, regardless of what I'm sure they like to tell themselves. "Is it vengeance you seek at this reunion?"
Revan…no, not Revan. This girl, whoever she was, was not Revan. Revan would have made some snappy comeback and swung her lightsaber at my head. This girl did no such thing. Instead she simply stared at me in confusion and echoed, "Reunion? What are you talking about?"
"What?" I forced a laugh. It had been over a year since I'd tried to kill her, five months since Taris, surely something, anything, survived. "You mean you don't know?" I saw Bastila trembling out of the corner of my eye. Please, does she think just knowing who she used to be was enough to turn Revan? Her identity wasn't what caused her ascension, it was the power of the Star Forge coupled with the idiocy of the Jedi, well-documented here, that did it.
I laughed again. It was unbelievable, really, that after everything Revan had survived, it was amnesia that brought her down. Force-brought-on amnesia, granted, but amnesia just the same.
"All this time and you still haven't figured it out?" Another laugh. Who in the world did they replace Revan with that couldn't see the innumerous clues the Jedi undoubtedly let slip? "I wonder how long you would have stayed blind to the truth? Surely some of what you once were must have surfaced by now." How else would the Jedi have known about the Star Maps? "Even the combined power of the Jedi Council couldn't keep your true identity buried forever, could it?"
The girl said nothing, absently pushing a bit of her red hair that had fallen out of her ponytail behind her ears. Revan never wore her hair up. I was never entirely sure why, something about it being her best feature, but she wore it down even in battle when it was sure to get in the way. And now this girl…
I made my choice then and there. Even if this girl never became Revan, she at least deserved to know why, and I was getting sick of her staring incomprehensively at me.
I forced my way into her mind. Her defenses were pathetic. Clearly the Jedi hadn't bothered to teach her basic mental defenses, for fear she'd remember and turn again, and they wouldn't be able to tell.
There was Bastila, shaking here had pityingly and explaining self-righteously, "The Jedi do not believe in killing their prisoners. No one deserves execution, no matter what their crimes."
There was Zhar, who'd always worried about Revan, who'd wanted her as his padawan, before Arren Kae...convinced him otherwise. "The Jedi would not normally accept an adult for training, but you are a special case." Of course she was, she always was.
There was Vrook, who'd trained me, who'd always blamed Revan for my inability to meet his impossibly high standards. "I fear this quest to find the Star Forge could lead you down an all too familiar path." Was he even trying to hide her identity? I knew him well enough to know he would never have supported this. After all, this girl can't redeem Revan since she never fell.
Bastila again, staring at the Star Map, sounding slightly more interested than a Jedi should. "Tatooine, Kashyyyk, Manaan, Korriban."
There was the Republic soldier in front of me, standing in what appeared to be a rundown apartment. "They say the Force can do terrible things to a mind. It can wipe away your memories and destroy your very identity." It would appear this inconsequential soldier had a strong moral fiber than the entire Jedi Counsel. But then, that's not exactly difficult, they can't swear an oath to protest the Republic until they think that 'something bad could happen.' Hypocrites, the lot of them. Yes, I hardly think they're HAPPY with this new war I'm waging, but things wouldn't be better under the Mandalorians, either, which is something they don't seem to grasp.
Bastila, a final time, sounding strangely ominous and slightly sinister. "What greater weapon is there than to turn an enemy to your cause? To use their own knowledge against them?" It might have been slightly more effective on Revan had she still existed. And of course, that explains their compulsive need to 'save' everyone they come across, to use their knowledge and power in order to be the darlings of the Republic and remain in power, hero status firmly cemented by their self-serving actions.
Then, to make it impossible for even this girl to ignore the truth any longer, I showed her one final image. A simple image, really, but one from my memory. Revan and I, outside, in the sun, at the Academy, and she took off her mask. And the face was identical.
I pulled back from what remained of her mind and saw her gape at me. She knew now, but was too deeply indoctrinated into the Jedi Cult to accept it.
This greatly annoyed me. This may no longer be Revan, but it looked like her, and the Jedi wouldn't trouble themselves with seeing the difference and I couldn't let them make a fool of her. She couldn't just blindly trust them. As much as I didn't want to, I would have to make her accept it, using any means at my disposal. Including, of course, her name.
"You cannot hide from what you once were, Revan." I didn't even know what it was they were calling her, but if I convinced her she was Revan, then maybe she would make it through this and refuse to be a pawn. Because, quite frankly, watching her now was just sad. "Recognize that you were once the Dark Lord-and that I have taken your place."
She shook her head, trying to clear it. "I'm…Darth Revan?" No, you're not. She no longer exists, but she once had your body. "How is that possible?" Knowing the Jedi, they probably set it up so that even if she did find out, she'd be disinclined to believe it. I would just have to try harder, then.
"You don't yet remember, Revan? The Jedi set a trap. They lured us into battle against a small Republic fleet. During the attack, a team of Jedi Knights boarded your ship. The Jedi strike team captured you and the Council used the Force to reprogram your mind; they wiped away your identity and turned you against your own followers."
Turned you against me. I could accept it if you hated me for trying to kill you, for not challenging you personally, for not being able to stop them, for being your apprentice. I can't accept it for you to hate me impersonally for being a Sith. For destroying Taris, when Revan hadn't so much as batted an eye at the planets I'd destroyed since Telos. She had cared then, but about me, not the planet.
This girl was looking more horrified by the second and desperately burst out, "Why wouldn't the Jedi simply kill me?"
This mindwipe must have had some lingering side-effects if she doesn't remember about needing to find the Star Forge. Deciding that commenting on that would be pointless and depressing, I merely repeated what Bastila had said earlier, without the sugarcoating. "The Jedi are fools; they do not believe in executing their prisoners. Originally, I assumed you had died in the battle."
I had hoped that you had died in the battle, Revan. And you did, in a way. You're just not quite as dead as I would have hoped. The Jedi really are fools. They condemn us for being 'evil', and then they go and pull something like this. They destroyed Revan. Not just killed her, not gave her a chance to 'redeem' herself, destroyed her. Well, two can play at that game. I've still got those bodies from Dantoinne and we've just finished identifying; they'll be in for a surprise if they ever get to the Star Forge.
"Imagine my surprise when I found out you were still alive, Revan." And horror. Plenty of horror.
Revan still seemed to be more concerned with what I'd done than what the Jedi had. NO. That girl was. Strange how she looked just like her, even now, after the Jedi had run her through the mill.
"I don't believe you, Malak!" she declared dramatically. She wasn't looking at me, though. She was looking at the soldier. She seemed to silently beg him to back her up, but he was pointedly not looking at her. He must have found out recently and was just a big a fool as the Jedi if he though my dead best friend was going to return just because her name was invoked. If that would have worked, I would have broadcasted her picture on all the planets with Star Maps, so I could challenge her properly. So she would still exist when she died.
"You must have seen flashes of your old life in your dreams; memoires bubbling to the surface? Surely you must remember the battle in which you were captured?" Now I was desperate. She had to believe me. If she did, then maybe I didn't fail Revan as badly. I've heard people have flashbacks of traumatic events, even if they don't remember them. Me shooting at the bridge of her ship would probably be considered one such event.
Finally, I saw doubt. "How did they capture someone as powerful as Revan…I mean me?" No, not her. But close enough for this question. After all, they sent Bastila to babysit her. Quite unnecessary in my opinion. She should be a good little Jedi drone and mindlessly stick to the light. I would rather she did, actually. Better than deciding that the name that some felt the need to call her is reason enough to join the Dark Side. Revan had more cause than that, she had a powerful motivation that I never really understood, and to disregard that in favor of a lust for power and claim the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith under that name would be an insult to Revan's memory.
"I helped them, Revan," I confessed. I'm sorry. If I had only aimed it better, fired it sooner, you might have been allowed to die. The Jedi never understood that, however. To them, we Sith will always be mindless beasts. Ironic, really, given what they did to Revan. How senseless was that? Either way, I knew I needed to put it in terms they could understand.
"I always knew that one day the title of Dark Lord would be mine! When the Jedi strike team boarded your vessel, I saw my day had come, I ordered my own ships to fire on your bridge. I though I could destroy all my enemies with a single, glorious victory! I never dreamed the Jedi would take you alive from the wreckage."
It was my mistake and lead to this. Had I known, I would have further decimated your ship. It's funny, all of this was technically true, yet does not even begin to address my motives. The difference between wanting to destroy you and wanting to save you when I fired is a quaint subtlety, but that was always the sort of thing Revan had enjoyed. That's part of what made her such a strategic genius, I suppose.
That girl turned to Bastila, nearly trembling. "Bastila," she hesitated. "Is this true?"
Bastila nodded reluctantly, clearly still expecting her to snap. Even if she did, she'd come after me first, giving Bastila plenty of time to escape. "It's true. I was part of the team sent to capture Revan…to capture you." Apparently Bastila didn't see Revan when she looked at this girl, either. "When Malak fired on the ship, you were badly injured. We though you were dead. Your mind was destroyed, but I used the Force to preserve the flicker of life in your body. I brought you to the Jedi Council. They were the ones who healed your damaged mind."
Well, tat's one way to put it. Honestly though. If the Jedi Council could forge a whole new identity with decades of memories and experiences, clearly they could also restore Revan. But they didn't.
That girl looked quizzical and asked the first sensible question I've heard from her. "Then why don't I remember being Revan?"
I was quite pleased that she had actually said something intelligent, and so I quickly answered her, for fear that Bastila would make use of that famed Jedi damage-control and make it sound like they were doing her a favor. "The Jedi Council didn't restore you wounded mind, Revan! They merely reprogrammed it with a new identity-one loyal to the Republic! They tried to make you their slave!" And it seems like they succeeded. Still, I knew that one thing Revan couldn't stand was slavery. She'd even made a big production about ending it on Taris when we'd been stationed there, despite her attempts to not be quite so melodramatic since she was off to war and whatnot.
"Why not just let me die?" the girl said, eyes flashing. Clearly she had some issues with slavery, too, and the imagery did not sit well with her.
"The Jedi hold all life sacred, even that of a Sith Lord," Bastila said, a little too quickly. "I could not just let you die, Revan. Not if it was possible to save you."
I felt my anger flare up. SAVE her? Is that what they truly thought this was or were they just adding insult to injury by continuing to lie to her after there was no longer any point? "Bastila hides the truth behind noble words, Revan! The Jedi needed the memories buried deep in your wounded mind; there was no other way to bring them out. They had to keep you alive." They used you. Can't you see it?
"But why program me with a new identity?" That, at least, sounded irritated. Maybe there was hope for this girl after all.
"We couldn't simple restore your true identity; Revan was too dangerous," Bastila tried to explain. "But locked inside your mind was information the Republic needed; the secrets of the Star Forge. The Council created an identity for you; a soldier under my command." Bet she loved that. "Your subconscious memories were supposed to lead me to the Star Forge; there was no other way to get the information."
I'll bet they didn't even try. "They made you their puppet, Revan-and Bastila was the handler pulling your strings!" They used her and still have the gall to call it saving. Those self-righteous hypocrites.
"But what if I remembered who I really was?" The girl asked naively. You won't. You may see flashes of Revan, but she is dead. Dead and gone and your knowledge of her won't bring her back.
"That was a risk the Jedi Council had to take. I had to try and draw out the secrets of the Star Forge. It was the only hope of stopping the Sith! There was no other choice!" Bastila keeps saying that, but she seems to spend an awful lot of time justifying her actions since there was 'no other choice.'
"Why you, Bastila? Why did the Council choose you?" That girl is focusing on all the wrong things. I suppose focusing on the little, inconsequential (and obvious, considering the Force Bond) thing is giving her time to get her thoughts in order.
"I used my Force powers to heal you on that bridge; we share a bond." Surely the girl must have realized that much by now? "I convinced the Council I could use our bond to draw out your memories and lead us to the Star Forge." Liar, they didn't even know of the existence of the Star Forge until they began probing Revan's memories. All they had was a slight chance that they could find out why we're unstoppable.
"Tell the truth, Bastila," I commanded. "You wanted to taste the dark side for yourself! You knew the only way the Council would permit you to explore the Sith's power was through Revan's lost memories!" Personally, I think it would have been less hassle to have simply joined us, but perhaps Bastila was simply skittish about the thought of taking the plunge and turning.
"No!" Bastila shouted. "I…I wanted to help you Revan." Strange, how she sounded like she was trying to convince herself. "I thought this mission would redeem you, that it would atone for your past crimes. How else could you be saved?" Yes, because even had Revan not been destroyed, stopping her conquest would have made up for everything leading up to it.
Revan bit her lip, considering our words. At last, slowly, she said, "I understand, Bastila. You had no other choice."
I understand, Bastila. You had no other choice. Revan would have torn her a new one, at least verbally if not physically, if she had felt Bastila was essential. Who was this girl and how could she be so…different? The exact opposite of EVERYTHING Revan was? "Forgiveness, Revan?" I scoffed. "You are weak; I was right to betray you." If only I had succeeded. "You are not fit to rule the Sith!" So don't even think about using Revan's legacy as a means to power.
"A small part of me has always regretted betraying you from afar. I always knew there were some who would think I acted out of fear, that I did not want to face you. But now, fate has given me a second chance to prove myself. Once I defeat you in combat, no one will question my claim to the Sith throne; my triumph will be complete!" It was all well and good to invite doubters when my actions had served some purpose. Now that they hadn't, now that they had, in fact, facilitated the Jedi's atrocity, there was no longer any reason to accept it. I would kill this girl and then, maybe, things would work out.
"Triumph, Malak?" the girl laughed. "You seem to forget that I'm still alive!" That, at least, sounded like Revan, but I knew better. And soon, so would she.
"The Jedi Council were foolish to let you live. I won't make the same mistake. We shall finish this alone in the ancient Sith tradition: Master versus apprentice, as it was meant to be!" I declared dramatically, freezing Bastila and the soldier in stasis. Then, we began to duel.
The girl was better than I expected, and so I had to temporarily retreat to readjust myself to fighting her. Then the battle was back on and I was winning. Just as I was about to strike her down and finally end things, a lightsaber came flying at my head. I looked over, and that girl took the opportunity to move out of my reach.
"This isn't over, Malak!" Bastila said, standing in the doorway and looking quite annoyed. I suppose this wasn't exactly how she'd pictured that girl finding out about Revan, but I really didn't care if I was inconveniencing them. I don't deal in lies; I've never seen reason to. As a Jedi, I believed they were wrong. As a Sith, I knew just how painful the truth could be. Revan never had, either, but clearly this girl didn't care, as she'd forgiven Bastila within five minutes of finding out that her life was a lie and so I couldn't think about that now.
"Your friends do not give up easily, Revan; you always could inspire loyalty. But even the three of you together cannot stand against my power!" I raised my lightsaber to resume the fight, when Bastila charged recklessly at me.
"For the Jedi! I'll hold Malak off. You two get out of here! Find the Star Forge!"
And then the door shut and that girl was gone and Revan was further away than ever. But Bastila was here. And so help me, I wouldn't waste this.