Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Star Wars franchise.
The Lady and the Lord
I let my new apprentice address the public. "Malak is dead. All hail the return of Darth Revan, the true Lord of the Sith!"
The crowd turned jubilant. There was little doubt the only one who could surpass Malak was his former master.
"All hail Lord Revan! All Hail Lord Revan!", they chanted.
Bastila Shan turned her power hungry gaze towards me and spoke with eager conviction. "The Sith bow before you. You've acclaimed your right to the throne. The Jedi Order is in tatters. It is a merely a matter of time before your Sith minions wipe them from the face of the galaxy. The Republic Fleet is decimated. The Core Worlds are defenseless against us!"
"Master, shall we return to the Star Forge now to reinforce the fleets?" Her eagerness was too transparent.
"No, we shall not."
"But master, your power is needed to drive the Star Forge into motion. The jawless usurper Malak had taught me that only those radiant in the Force could keep it going. The Star Forge will collapse in idleness without you!"
"We do not need its strength."
"Revan, my love, I—"
I backhanded her for her insolence. Knocking her back on the floor.
"Do not presume to snake past my defences, apprentice!"
Her expression was fearful. One side of me spurned her display of weakness, while another side of me wanted to allay her fright.
"Master, forgive my impulsiveness, but is it not our love that binds our fates?", she interjected. I had already raised my other hand, but before I could strike she continued, "Have I not mentioned at this very same spot that I would be utterly yours? And have you not strayed from the path of good, the path of weak, all because you listened to my passion?"
My mind's turmoil raged evermore.
"I am the Dark Lord of the Sith.", I repeated to myself. "To show weakness—"
"Forgive me, master,", she interjected, her voice seeped with desperation, "but don't you realize we are more than master and apprentice? Open your mind to our bond, Revan. Do you see it? Do you feel it? The raging rivers of power that connects us flows with passion."
"You speak the truth. I sense little insolence in your soul. However, it is easy to deceive others of your true motives."
"Master, compared to you, I pale in comparison. I hide no secrets from you. Can you not feel my sincerity? Can you not feel my devotion? When I proclaimed myself yours, I meant it in the strongest sense possible. All I ask is to see me more than just an apprentice. There is no need to anticipate betrayal from me, for being by your side is all I ever wanted. To stand alone as the Dark Lady of the Sith is a crushing existence without your presence. No, you are the true Lord of the Sith."
I paused at her words, trying to settle my increasing conflicting instincts. "You.. are right. Through both our bond and your words I can sense no deception, even though every inch of the Sith within me screams otherwise. To weaken myself to you in this manner is erosion, not strength."
"Then damn the Sith and their ways! We are different. We are stronger. More importantly, we are bonded. I would never dream of usurping your throne, for my rightful place is by your side. Do you not see that our union is strength, not erosion?"
"I must meditate and rest. With each passing moment long lost knowledge is returning to me, including the habits that come with it. I feel as if there are two currents flowing in opposite directions. Am I Sith, or am I Jedi? You must have sensed it as well, have you, Bastila? Even now you seek to twist your words into my subconscious."
To hear me explain how I mistrusted her unsettled her deeply. Her conflicting emotions raged throughout our telepathic bond. "Master, I will gladly endure any punishment you feel is necessary to inflict upon me, but I merely wish to show you can trust me, and love me with all your heart. Do you feel it?"
"I feel it, and I am sure you feel likewise. We have both been tainted by the dark side, but we still cling to the light that is left."
"Yes, Revan, all the anger, the pain, the fear, but also the love flows within us. Will you open your heart to me?"
Though the storms still raged inside of me, I had to acknowledge my love for her. "What a foolish question, my dear, has it not been open for all this time?"
She brightened immediately upon hearing my change in nature, but then she darkened when her thoughts strayed elsewhere. "My love, can't you tell me why you can't return to the Forge? Without its formidable powers we will surely fall!"
"Shush, my dear. You have not heard from the natives on the planet in the system, then."
"Why would we heed the petty tales of a fallen race? The Star Forge is ours to control now, and nothing can stop us."
"Your arrogance always had an endearing quality, but you do not see far enough."
She put on a clearly affronted face, though she was secretly enjoying my compliment inside. "Why Revan, how scandalous to say such!"
"It's a long story. All that matters is that we can not depend on the Star Forge to function as it were without a price. Malak fooled himself to think he mastered the Star Forge beyond me. So was my old self, for that matter. I see differently now. To be so far away from its touch for so long made me realize how corrupting its influence really was."
"It is not corrupting at all, master! Surely you must have felt the strength flowing within your body when you stepped inside! It—"
I cut her words. "It is much more than a tool of the Dark Side. It does not merely feed from it; it channels it in far greater intensity than anything else. No, to lend our strength to the Star Forge would inflict true erosion. I will never step foot on the infernal machine again, and I command you to do to do likewise!"
"With the Star Forge, your power and my battle meditation, we can conquer the entire galaxy! Is that not what you wanted, before Malak's betrayal? Now more than ever it is within our grasp!"
She was too charmed by the Star Forge to see the danger that lied underneath its use. "You are mistaken, my foolish apprentice. We do not need the Star Forge."
I backhanded her again, causing her bruise to redden even further.
"The Star Forge will run its course until it is expended, and then I shall destroy it from the face of the galaxy. Remember well how there was once an empire before the Republic that ruled the stars, and how deep it has fallen since. Their glory and their legacy has been utterly forgotten now as they wallow on the surface of a single planet. Their immersion in the Dark Side and the Forge had cost them their victory."
She gave in to my words, accepting my complete dominion over the Empire of the Sith.
"Very well, master. I will do as you say, but what of our fleets?"
"There is ample enough industry within our territory to fuel the war effort, and I have noticed in my travels that there are many eager souls willing to come to our side. We have power enough. Now, leave me be."
"But master, do you not want your love by your side? We can meditate together, just like we did in our travels."
She was stubborn. I had to give her that at least. However, it only fuelled my massive headache as my twin personalities battled for dominance.
"I must come to terms with my thoughts alone. You must organize the fleets with the admirals and make sure to spread the word for our dominion. Now go, Bastila."
"As you wish, Lord Revan."
Ah, I almost forgot something.
"One more thing, apprentice. Have you already received your Sith name?"
"I.. I have not. Defeating you would insure my side at Lord Ma— I mean, Malak's hand."
"In a way, you have still defeated me by stealing what was most precious of me, and what I had not known I possessed during my previous reign as the Dark Lord. You have stolen my heart and exploited it to the fullest. When you convinced me to stray from the path of the light, it was not because I relished the absolute power I would yield as the Dark Lord of the Sith. No, it was your passion that enflamed me. Sometimes I still think it was all a mistake. Even speaking my doubts is unbecoming of a Dark Lord."
"No, my Lord. You possess none but strength and power. I have no doubt at all who deserves the mantle more than you."
"My apprentice.. you may have swayed me towards the path of the Dark Side, but I know better now that I have had a taste of both. I must not let my fears make me paranoid. Thus, I will love you, and allow you to love me. In return, I simply ask that you not take Malak's teachings to heart. There is more to the Force than Light and Dark. Do not let your hatred cloud you or your vanity deceive you. But on the other hand, do not repress your every grieve, and suppress your passion."
"I.. will do as you say. That fool Malak was but a simple brute. Your words are wise, and I will take your lessons to heart, master."
I realized now that I could never become trapped within the limited vestiges of the Dark Side again. I had seen to much and lost sight of my goal in my quest for power.
"We call ourselves Sith,", I started, "but in our selves we can become more than that, Bastila. Do not let the Dark Side cloud you."
"The thought is.. somewhat unsettling. Are we not suppose to rule the Empire of the Sith? Are we not supposed to rule with an iron fist? Surely others will plot to betray you as soon as you—"
"You are correct, my apprentice. There are those who acknowledge only cruelty as strength, and they will seek to overthrow us. I will not cower from their threats; let them come. Have faith, my love."
"I stand by my words. You have defeated me by grasping my heart and attaching your own to mine. None have defeated me in this way, thus you are worthy. Kneel before me."
Hastily Bastila knelt before me in a submissive posture that makes her beauty stand out even more. Even in my muddled mind I could sense the inner serenity of the love of my life. Every past memory with Bastila flashed before my eyes before it finally rested to the present. I sensed a direction the Force, a current in the Dark Side that was not altogether resisted by the Light. I threw myself in the flow and let my voice carry its will.
"I name you Darth Bastion. Let every Jedi know that their precious princess has parted with them. Let every Sith rejoice as your Battle Meditation will bring them to further victory. You will stand by my side wherever I go to serve as the fortress that shields my heart. I will always defend you from the Jedi that would seek to take your life or allegiance. Is that agreeable to you, my apprentice?"
"It is all that I ever wish for. As Darth Bastion, I will gladly serve for your every whim. As you said, we are not Sith at heart. I would never plot to overthrow you, for even if I did, my existence would be rendered meaningless. Without your heart, what else can this castle protect?"
"Let our bond flourish with our love. Now, go about your task while I review the visions of my past. The ever-embrace of power since my turning has provided me with some unsettling memories. Even now hidden threats are dawning upon me."
"Let me eliminate any threat that endangers you, master! I would gladly slay those who seek your doom!"
She was eager as always. I shook my head at that and smiled at her. Bastila didn't realize that as soon as word would get out we would be pounced upon the instant we would separate. It was Sith tradition to pounce upon the weaknesses a Sith Lord displayed, and a lover would be extremely vulnerable to others. Though her Battle Meditation was potent in affecting massive battles, she was no match for the average Sith Lord. Besides, she shouldn't be wasting time dealing with small fry.
"Hush, my love. These are threats more dire and more encompassing than you know. They are the very same reasons that drove the Mandalorians into motion and had turned my hand on the Republic. The times are flowing at a critical moment, but still my mind is torn in two. I must deliberate my two selves into one."
"Very well, Lord Revan. I shall depart back to orbit and deliberate with the commanders of our forces, though I fear I am woefully inadequate in matters of strategy. I have never served in the Mandalorian Wars, after all."
"You shall be brought up to speed in due time. I will take no more than a day to prepare myself. Just take care of any leftover supporters of Malak and insure the loyalty of the rest. Remember my words; there is more to strength than cruelty. Only then will you truly become the Dark Lady of the Sith."
"As you will, Lord Revan."
With a last kiss, we separated.
My words were true, yet they went against the most important traditions of the Sith. A Sith Lord should not weaken himself to desire for his apprentice; it would bring naught but opportunities for the apprentice to control the master. As tradition dictated, the apprentice would suck every ounce of knowledge and power from her master, and slay the shell that would be left behind.
The passions weaved through the bond that connected us ever since Bastila used her powers to keep me alive after Malak's betrayal. I could sense her purpose, her steadfastness, but also her unrestrained desire for myself. It was difficult to relish in her feelings, but I knew I could not let them blind me, as the Dark Side had blinded me before. I was not a Sith.
Yet I have taken the mantle of the Dark Lord for myself. How ironic that I would retake my old role, but not with the same conviction as before. Every death, every murder and every slaughter I committed had been for the sake of my people, the inhabitants of the Republic. The Senate was but a lumbering dinosaur, ages past its prime. The people of the Galaxy needed a single leader to wage war against the enemies unknown to them. I knew that the grinding bureaucracy would never step up its defences in time. They were utterly blind.
But in turn, in my quest to protect the people of the worlds, I was blinded myself. The rage at the incompetence of the Senate consumed me. The slaughter of innocents at the brutal hands of the Mandalorians for the sake of honor in battle had maddened my bloodlust. The final death stroke to my sanity was given by the Jedi Council, who still sought to undermine the Republic forces by their misguided pacifist intentions.
Never again. I waded through my dual memories, discarding everything that was false within me. I plunged deeper in my meditation and sought out the very essence of my core. It was both Light and Dark. The flourishing energies of my radiant lifeforce revelled from both sides of the Force. However, there was turbulence. Massive amounts of friction tore into each other. Opposite intents waged a battle for dominance. Compassion duelled with ruthlessness. Anger grappled with peace. It was an epic struggle.
One that I intended to end. I drew the Force within me, drawing upon the life force of the surrounding environment of the peaceful planet of Rakata. Every plant, every insect and every Sith within the area must have trembled upon my power as it devoured a part of their energy. Already I could feel it flowing within me, changing the course of battles and resolving the conflicts within me. Compassion made peace with ruthlessness. Anger co-existed with peace. Evermore did the Light and the Dark settle within my core and made it pulse with revelation. The two energies melded together to become neither Light nor Dark, but both. As soon as the last piece of the puzzle fit, I was complete.
It was a revelation.
It was as if a veil had been lifted, and another one beneath it. The Jedi teachings were wrong. In trying to transcend base emotions they dismiss as bestial, they became emotionless droids with little loyalty or attachment to the people they served to protect. All but the strongest were vulnerable in letting out their bottled up frustrations, giving in to their suppressed desires as they worked themselves into isolation and distrust. Both sides of the opposite coin repelled strong attachments in their own ways.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
Peace is a lie, there is passion.
The two opposite tenets of the Jedi and Sith code were not completely right, but they weren't completely wrong either. All higher life forms held emotions; nothing could change that, even a lifetime of devotion to an order. Yet, to completely give in to passion at the cost of peace was destructive to others, and eventually to your own self.
There is peace, there is emotion, there is passion.
Nothing was a lie, everything existed. To deny one part would make you vulnerable to the other parts. Life, I realized, was a balance of emotions. None were too important, but none were beneath importance either. The Force was not something to be dedicated at. The Force was a truly wonderful and majestic phenomenon, but it was not a thing to chase your entire lives for, like the Jedi and Sith do. Everything was a tool, and the Force was just another one. A powerful and flexible one, perhaps, but it was not all encompassing. Light and dark, red and blue, just because they contrasted each other didn't mean they couldn't coexist with each other. They were simply two halves to a whole, and to become dependant one only one side would make you vulnerable to the other.
They were all wrong. To protect the weak without owing loyalty to the people you protect was an empty and loveless existence. To crush your rivals and gain absolute power for the sake of power itself was a lonely and meaningless existence.
Love. Loyalty. Dedication.
Life. Death. Fulfilment.
For a single moment, I was in pure ecstasy as my body exploded in power. It was as if my entire being was one with the Force, melded within its currents and blazing through the invisible energy that surrounded us all. I could feel an insect thousands of leagues away, deliberating whether or not to swallow a bug. I could feel the thoughts of a Sith soldier, who struggled to keep a hard composure while torn up inside for the fate of his mother. I could feel the apt surprise of a Dark Jedi just a few rooms away as he was fully subjected to the flows of my existence in the Force. The tentacles spread farther and the voices kept multiplying until even I, in all my might, was unable to keep up.
My eyes trembled at the sight of the mash colourful rainbow that permeated my vision. Complete torrents of power washed over my consciousness as they redirected through my mind and washed out into space as millions upon millions of tentacles. Bonds upon bonds formed within me and the forces under my control. I always had a talent for bonds, and it was at this moment that its potential was utilized to its fullest. Every life form in the system was connected to me. New bonds sprang up in its infancy, just waiting to mature in power. Old bonds, forgotten in the long years since my memory loss returned with ever blazing strength. I could feel my old Jedi masters, those that are still alive. I could Kreia, the one who took care of my training. I could feel the diseased minds of her apprentices, who suffered and hungered more than most. Everything reached clarity.
There were two bonds that reacted the strongest. My love, Bastila, was literally flung from her seat in the shuttle. I could sense her delight in the blaze of my burning sun. She mentally grasped her inner self towards my own self, and I indulged her by blinding her senses with my love. Revan!, she yelled. Let me see more! I wished I could, but she was not yet ready to face the magnificence that flowed within me.
The other bond was a complete surprise, however. Vague glimpses of memories surged into focus as the face of a defeated human woman glazed into sight. Her deep green eyes opened in surprise as well as revelation. She was hurt, terribly so, but the unexpected blast in the Force opened the gates of her receptors and flooded her core with something she had not felt since the Mandalorian wars.
General?, I asked out tentatively.
Her mind screamed in disbelief. She simply couldn't comprehend. It was too much for her. The Jedi Exile grasped her head in torment as the Force flowed within her body, the first time since ages. Objects around her in her meagre cabin aboard a transport began to hover and shake. They moved around her, picking up more and more speed. Soon the chaos within her room matched the chaos within her thoughts. How? Why?! Countless questioned bombarded her attention. How could she feel the Force after being cut from it for so long? How was Revan still alive and able to close her wounds and open her mind? It was too much for her.
Revan, I.. please, I need to know, do you forgive me? Do you still care for me? Do you still love me—
I withdrew my presence from the Force abruptly and cut off any channels within my bonds. Many barely noticed a snap. Some with latent potential in the Force felt as if they were slapped. Those who wielded in the Force were brutally dealt a mental blow and struggled to keep consciousness.
Bastila however, proved exceedingly stubborn. I heard that Revan! Who is that bitch who thinks—
With even greater effort I blocked myself from her as well. I could feel her rage pounding the walls of my mind. Vaguely I heard her yell to let me open, but I had no desire to confront the formidable lady at this moment. I stilled myself from all my bonds and even now, she faded away.
I knew I was going to have hell to pay when I would meet her next, master or not, but I still had business to contend with. The Galaxy was in greater danger than ever before, and for the first time in years my mind was open to the very dangers that permeated our lives. Business first.
I loosened my meditative stand and stood up from the simple mat. I went over to the comm and connected to the resident communications officer.
"Please inform my companions from the Ebon Hawk that I will meet them outside the temple."
"Very well Lord Revan."
I took my time relaying commands before I cut the communication.
There was ample time to dress myself in my new simple black garments. Like Bastila, I eschewed my former clothes and equipment. All that I had left was my trusted lightsaber, with a new red crystal instead of my old blue one. There was nothing particularly fancy about my weapon. There was a precious pair of crystals in my weapon that I had raided from the cave in Dantooine. It made the burning energy blade more intense so it would be easier to cut through material. The outer surface of the cylinder was infused with cortosis weave so it would not break or melt easily. Though expensive and powerful, I had no delusions that it would triumph over other Sith mauraders who were dedicated with their sabers.
No, my real strength lay in the command of the Force. There were the obvious destructive techniques to fry out droids, to command the winds and to seep the minds of others with insanity. But the most useful powers I held were far more subtle. I had a talent in divining the Force, and let glimpses of future battles wade through my vision. I held command in battle, tactically and more importantly, strategically because I could sense the right decisions. My precognition was perhaps unrivalled, and even without it my sound intelligence was formidable enough to shape the plans. With my talents in planning I could ensure my fleets held the advantage before battles commenced. With Bastila's Battle Meditation my victory would be complete as she would cement our strength during the operational phase of the battle.
I strapped on my force enhancing gloves before I left my quarters. On the way, the huge ancient temple called upon me. There was no time to admire its craftsmanship however. I had more important things to deal with.
"Canderous, HK-47, T3-T4, Zaalbar, welcome."
They each greeted me in their normal fashion, except for Zaalbar, who stayed eerily silent. The reason for his distress was painfully obvious. After all, it was but a few days ago since I manipulated his will into slaying his childhood friend. Though regrettable that it was that I had condemn the teenage twi'lek, it would save me agony in the end. The Dark Side within me felt compelled to block the stains of guilt from her death. It was not as if I had only one innocent murder upon my hands.
"Wooaahh gwooogrwaaawawww. WHreooaawwwh!", the wookie raged, unable to contain his emotion and grief.
"You have a life-debt to me. You, a wookie, should know best what it entails to."
"Wrooiaa rrwhgweew Ghewoowooor MIrwro!"
"Have I not aided your father in his struggle to regain his honour and his rightful place as chieftain? Have I not ventured in the Shadowlands to retrieve the legendary blade of Bacca? The very same blade you cut your former friend Mission…"
He finally snapped, and the mighty wookie roared into the sky as he wielded the very same blade I spoke of. Maddening with red, his eyes focused solely upon my simple form as he went into a mad dash to close the short distance between us. Before HK could level his rifle, before Canderous could sling his repeating blaster rifle from his back, I simple raised my hands and propelled a moderate Force push. Zaalbar was completely defenceless against my assault and skidded back several meters. Before he could do anything else, Canderous grappled Zaalbar's body on the ground while HK levelled his blaster rifle at his face. Reluctantly, he yielded.
"Woooheara eowr, Mirwroo woohreroer.."
"Your people are more important than your childhood friend, remember that. Now, I shall not torment you with my continued presence. You may complain about your life-debt all you want, but the fact of the matter is that you're of no use to me directly. No, I have a different task for you."
"Return to your people, inform them of my position as the Dark Lord, and reassure them that I have not forgotten their plight. Wookie slaves are of no use to the Sith Empire, and when the Kashyyyk System falls within our territory, I will not allow the wookies to be disturbed. All I ask for is their neutrality in the war between the Sith and the Republic, and an exclusive beneficial trade and mining agreement with our companies. Do I make myself clear, Zaalbar?"
The hairy humanoid paused before answering, "Woreaooh."
"Then go. There is a shuttle over there that will insure your passage into Kashyyyk."
Then, without a parting word he stomped over towards the shuttle yards. Frankly, I was glad I got rid of him, and that he didn't press onto his life-debt obligations. I was glad he wavered with indecision when Bastila and I confronted the Ebon Hawk crew at the shores. Now though, he was nothing but a liability. My old self, consumed in the Dark Side, would slay him in an instant. Now however, not a single emotion took preference over the rest. To keep him alive was not the consequence of any merciful tendencies within me. It was a purely pragmatic decision so that when Kashyyyk would eventually fall within our grasp, they would not rebel. To slay the son of the chieftain, who was in possession of their greatest artefacts would be a disaster in diplomacy.
I cut my thoughts and addressed the remaining crew.
The Canderous and two droids faithfully followed me towards the side of the temple, where idle pieces of rock and rubble littered the courtyard. We stopped before a single Rakata monolith.
"There is a task that I can entrust to no one else but you, Canderous. You will have to make a long and arduous journey throughout the Republic."
"I am honoured by your faith in me, Lord Revan.", he stated with the absolute sincerity as a soldier. "However, would you not have me by your side? There is nobody else who I would pledge my loyalty to you, who defeated our people in war that will be remembered for centuries."
I shook my head. "Canderous Ordo, I have no doubt of your prowess in combat, and it is indeed true that you would serve as a most capable subordinate. More is at stake, however, and I need you for something grander. I need you to gather the remnant Mandalorians under a single banner, at your own command."
"But what is your purpose? We are defeated, crushed during the battle of Malachor V. You yourself had bested Mandalore the Ultimate in single combat and taken his mask from his corpse."
The man had no idea what had befallen his people, and what caused the war in the first place. "I will leave the manner to yourself. I only ask that you gather the Mandalorians, and prepare them for battle against an opponent more formidable than you have ever faced."
"I find it doubtful that the Republic can wield an effective resistance."
"It is not the Republic that I speak of. There is an enemy. A hidden, ancient threat that had recently begun to surge. I can not speak of it now, all I can say is that I hope you will not be too late. We will need every advantage over this enemy."
"Very well, I will follow your orders, Lord Revan."
A small tingle of a smile appeared on my face. "You are a good soldier, an excellent commander, and a worthy companion. You still obey me even after I have retaken the mantle of the Dark Lord. For your services, I reward you with a gift."
With a simple flick of my wrist I commanded the Force to push away the dirt besides the monolith. At an instant, several cubic meters of soil blasted away, unearthing what lay beneath. Commanding the Force again, I pulled a cubic box towards my hands. I stretched my arms towards the Mandalorian, holding it before him.
Almost tentatively, he took it from me. He was a soldier, but he was also a sharp individual. I knew already that he already guessed what lay inside of him. His shielded mind practically screamed it.
"Is this..", he gasped, and he pressed the button to open the container. His eyes widened as he lay his eyes on what was inside. Reluctantly, he took out the helmet and gazed at it in pure awe. "The helmet of Mandalore.. for me?"
"Yes, you are more capable than other Mandalorians who are scattered across the stars. Take it, and lead your people. Establish a stronghold hidden within the Republic. Build up your forces, and wait for my signal. It will take years. Are you up for it?"
"Without a doubt, Lord Revan!"
"Good, I will part with you ample equipment and a generous amount of credits to start up your venture. They await in the shuttle in the courtyard. That is all, my friend."
Canderous saluted and said, "I thank you. Let us hope that we will both succeed in our preparations against this enemy you speak of." Without another word, he turned and headed towards the shuttles. He was a soldier through and through, and he did not press me for information I was not keen to part with. It was exactly how I measured him.
"HK-47, T3-M4, you two will both receive a mission yourself. It is one of utmost importance, do you understand."
"Statement: Master, whatever your command, I will follow."
I turned towards the hole in the ground and regarded the second case. This one was larger than the one that held the helmet. It was rectangular, large enough to encase a human. I used the Force to levitate the chest from its grave and laid it on the side, before me. I pressed the code to open it.
"You two will be sent back to the Republic to recover a.. former friend of mine. She served under me as a Jedi, and she was a capable general, but she was exiled after she returned to the Council after the Battle of Malachor V. I wish to retrieve her. Further details have been uploaded to the Ebon Hawk."
"Query: As you wish master. Does it matter the meatbag should be recognizable after her retrieval?"
"Do not kill or harm her in any way, HK. In fact, protect her with all your effort. I trust your skills in deception have not faded?"
"Answer: Oh master, of course. I shall follow your will, though illogical it sounds. I sincerely hope the meatbag has many enemies for me to blast."
"As long as you do not disobey me. T3-M4, keep him in check and keep the Ebon Hawk under your protection."
"Beeop beep beep!"
"You two are dismissed. Take the Hawk and begin your journey immediately."
With a simple salute and a beep, the two droids left my presence. As a new Dark Lord, I had but few who I could truly trust. The unexpected bond with my former general was definitely not a coincidence. The Force willed it, somehow, and I was not about to ignore this new development. I could feel the confused emotions that faintly settled within her mind on the other side of our bond. I purposely kept it blocked; I had no intention of frightening her.
I bent over the opened case and took out the pieces of my armour. A Sith Lord was always careful, and I had taken plenty of precautions, including planting spare sets of my armour on different strongholds. The intimidating helmet stared at me like a silent droid. I had taken great pleasure in crafting the peaces of plates into a light and functional armour. The metals were infused with cortosis weave, and when I learned more about ancient Sith alchemy, I upgraded it with several modifications. The black and red colourings only heightened the sense of intimidation. Slowly I parted with my robes to leave me with an undershirt, and fastened the pieces on my body. With a final click my helmet locked in place. I raised my cowl over it to intensify my image. I was ready.
Now to face Bastila.
The shuttle towards orbit was uneventful. Every Sith who stepped in my path couldn't help but retreat at my sight. Oh yes, it was good to be Darth Revan. The Sith Transport landed in the launch bay of the newly produced flagship of the 3rd fleet, freshly constructed from the Star Forge at the day the Republic was driven off. The hulls were thickened with cortosis, freshly supplied by other worlds as the ancient superweapon couldn't produce it itself. I couldn't help but pay my final tribute to my former best friend and name the Ravager-class dreadnought Malak's Doom. I could bet that many Sith had their doubts of my sanity, but it served to throw them off-guard.
The shuttle settled within the massive bays of the dreadnought. I was immediately greeted by the captain who I personally picked by hand. An old comrade from the Mandalorian wars, he was there at the very beginning. He accepted my offer immediately. He led me through the crisp halls and took several elevators. Eventually, we reached the massive flagship module, which unlike the command bridge was deeply inside the core of the triangular ship.
It was from here that the flag officers, though largely absent at the moment, would coordinate the battles through my directions. At one side, away from the others, was a specially designed spot with a strategic screen. It was simple, yet comfortable, and it would allow Bastila to utilize her Battle Meditation to the fullest.
Speaking of the devil, her charming features smiled deceptively at the sight of my armoured form.
"Lord Revan, so good of you to grace us with your presence.", she greeted. Her pale complexion stood out brightly from her dark form-fitting garments. Her gentle curves belied the raging storms of passions that undoubtedly raged beneath. Though today it was perhaps not the only emotion that settled in her mind.
I glanced around the table, taking in the sight of the gathered admirals that commanded the top levels of the Sith fleets. Three remained absolutely impervious. Four were sweating and cowering, though it took an expert to glean this fact. But I was not interested in the ones who still remained alive.
There were three remaining seats that held corpses. One seemed to be electrocuted with Force Lightning, and it seemed that Bastila continued her torment until every inch of his body was blackened to a crisp. Another seemed to be imploded into blood and meat. Nothing but gruesome gore remained at its seat, unsettling the neighbouring individuals. The final one seemed relatively intact. Presumably, he was simply choked to death, but perhaps I arrived in time before Bastila could continue to mutilate the corpse.
"Darth Bastion, I regret the sight of three who would not pledge their loyalty in me. I was hoping you could keep it down to a single victim."
I let the bonds between us slip open so that she could feel the slight hint of disappointment in me. Cruelty is not the only strength, my dear. A single death will have major repercussions, but three will unsettle the all Sith who have doubts.
Her seemingly pleasant smile twitched even further. Her emotions pounded against my walls. Hatred was overpowering within her. What could have..
Oh. It was more than simple anger. It was jealousy. She must have witnessed my connection to my former general, and had most likely drawn the wrong conclusion…
Her cultured tone brought me out of my thoughts. "These poor unsuspecting men thought they could get away with their defiance. They had no idea how fickle women really are."
Yep, she was definitely jealous.
"Very well, let us start our session. Take a seat, Bastila."
I took a seat myself at the head of the table and began browsing through the many piles of paper. "Let us begin the review of the Battle of the Star Forge, or the Battle of Rakata Prime as some would call it. Admiral Varko, you commanded the overall battle aboard the Star Forge, correct?"
The dark skinned human looked unfazed as he addressed me. "Ah yes, Lord Revan. I held overall command of the 1st Fleet that was stationed to protect the Star Forge."
"Tell me, how did the fleet fare in the battle?"
"Admiral Dodonna's hastily assembled fleet was outnumbered by our forces by 3 to 2. The margin was larger concerning fighters. The ensuing struggle was not beneficial to the Republic's forces. When..", and he took a brief glance at Bastila before continuing, "Darth Bastion initiated her Battle Meditation, the course of the battle was turned in a more favourable direction. Our fighters and cruisers operated at unparalleled coordination, while the Republic's vessels proved too sluggish to respond to the tactics our ships engaged with. Unfortunately, they proved to be capable to retreat when they most likely learned of the fact that Battle Meditation was working against them."
"Very well. What is the result of the battle?"
"The Republic's forces were routed, though their defeat was not complete as we could not catch their retreating vessels. What they lack in firepower, they make up for it with speed. Half of their Hammerhead-class cruisers were destroyed or disabled, numbering thirty. We have a tentative confirmation that twelve were moderately damaged, while the rest suffered negligible damage. Furthermore, we have incapacitated fifty Republican Blockade Runners and other corvettes, and over three-quarters of their fighter screen. It is a heavy blow to the Republic's offensive capability, but it will not likely cripple their war effort. Furthermore, we received further intelligence that although the flagship was destroyed, Admiral Dodonna and several Jedi escaped alive."
"Hmmm…" It was to be expected that that they would slip my grasp. Nevertheless, with the defeat of so many vessels the Republican Navy would be spread out even further.
"What of our forces?"
"We have lost forty-one Interdictor-class cruisers, a dozen corvettes, and a third of our fighter screen. There were few Corvettes present and no Ravager-class dreadnoughts present within our forces at that battle. The Star Forge itself has lost a significant amount of personnel, though most of them were guards, and it has suffered some light damage at the hands of bombers and a few capital ships." The admiral held a steady composure even as he spoke the words. His professionalism was commendable. "Strangely, the Star Forge's efficiency is dropping even after we have enacted repairs. It produced warships from a peak of 300 percent operation capacity to merely a hundred percent now, and there are signs that this decline is continuing."
I stood up from my seat and folded my arms. Several admirals feared some kind of retribution. Bastila however kept her steel blue eyes upon me. Plain discontent creased her otherwise beautiful face. It was only for the sake of appearances that she held her anger in check.
"Admirals, I regretfully inform you that the Star Forge will most likely run out of capacity soon enough."
The startling fact exploded the entire conference. Nothing else but panic, confusion, and fear permeated the ensuing discussion. I let the men and women voice their panic for a short moment.
"Silence.", Bastila provided, and at an instant, the leaders set back to their seats. I gave her a slight nod at that. She read the situation correctly, though I had a feeling she wanted it over as fast as possible so she could confront me in private.
"As you know, the Star Forge feeds on the Dark Side of the force, as well as powerful individuals in the Force. With the death of Malak, only I keep the Forge working."
"Then why don't you keep it running?", a female admiral asked.
I shifted my gaze to her, which she met with bold determination. "The Star Forge is a tool, a dangerous tool. Nobody can control it, not even I. It will eventually master over me as it will cloud my judgement. I can not let that happen to me. Therefore, once it used up Malak's remaining reserves, we will destroy it."
The gathering learned better than to descend into chaos, but I had no doubt as I gazed into each of their eyes that the very thought of destroying the superweapon would condemn them all.
"This is my decision. The Sith can stand strong without the Forge, especially with the recent victory. There was a reason why my original strategic conquests made sure that most of the infrastructure and industry were kept intact. These documents however show me that Malak had a different philosophy in mind. It is a pity that Taris and several other worlds were crushed to oblivion by indiscriminate orbital bombardment. I am sure though that we have ample enough worlds to produce more vessels. Do you not agree?"
Tentative agreements, no doubt opposite of what they had in mind, greeted me. It was of little consequence. Either they accepted the fact, or would likely perish in the inevitable coup that would occur. Discarding the Star Forge would most likely prove to be an unpopular decision.
"Very well then, let us continue with the disposition of our forces. Admiral Girreth, your 2nd fleet could…"
The rest of the day was occupied in reorganizing the fleets and assembling several battle plans. It would not take long before my fleets would push towards the lightly defended Mid Rim the preparation of a full scale offensive towards the Inner Rim.
As soon as I stepped inside the adjourning personal quarters I was met by the full fury of a woman scorned.
"Revan! How could you!?"
"How could I what?"
"You know, think of another woman behind my back! Don't tell me you're double-timing?!"
I pushed her against the wall with the Force, startling her and interrupted her tirade against me.
"M-Master, forgive me.", she apologized. Her eyes were remarkably different and held none of the confidence that she typically vaunted. I opened our bond and explored her open mind, not caring whether I could read her every emotion.
The revelation was unexpected. There was the intense jealousy, yes, but it was clouded with something else. There was fear, fear that I would cast her aside for another woman. There was despair that she would lose her reason to live once I would abandon her.
"Bastila.", I breathed. "To let your fear consume your heart is unbecoming of an apprentice of the Dark Lord. Look inside me and feel the truth. That other woman was merely speaking words. I had not seen her for many years, and we had broken up long ago."
Slowly the gates that barred my mind from her eager mind had opened. The resulting core of my fused identities blazed upon her own, taking her entirely off guard. Revan, your power! And even more, it is not sweltering in darkness.
"You know better, Bastila. Now you witness it."
Once the shock of my radiance had passed over, she sent out gentle feelers upon the images that I presented her. It showed my dealings with the former general, purely professional at first, but it grew more in time. She frowned visibly as the tension between me and my subordinate grew deeper. She could see how we still held fast to the Jedi Code, until at the end, shortly before the climax of the war at Malachor V we relented. I quickly went past the night of passion, utterly shocking Bastila to the core, and showed her the aftermath of the devastating end of the Mandalorians. I showed her our desperation, how my brilliant general's wounds inflicted insurmountable tension within our relationship, only to explode in a spectacular fight that led to her return to the Jedi Council.
It is all in the past, my love, I whispered to her mentally, the only one I love is you, Bastila.
Tears sprung into her eyes as she regarded her emotions and the visions I sent to her. "Revan, oh Revan, for a moment I truly thought I lost you."
I held a reassuring smile behind my helmet as I approached her. She unconsciously pressed herself against the wall to meet my gentle embrace. She raised her arms and slid back my cowl. The imposing helmet did nothing to hide the overflowing love and desire for the woman in front of me. Tentatively, she unclasped my helmet and raised it over my head, only to drop it in a corner. She stared at my naked face as I stared in hers. Her smile held so much relief, and her pale skin shone under the dim overhead lights.
I'm glad, my love..
"Kiss me.", I commanded.
"Gladly, master." Oh I love it how she says that word. She effortlessly deepened our embrace and met my lips with hers. A minute of incredible tongue-lashing followed, amplified with the sensations of our Force bond.
I amusingly commented, "If the other Sith Lords would see us like this, they would most likely cut us down in a second."
She smirked into response. "Then they are fools to attempt it. Nobody can deny your mastery of the Force. Your explosion has been felt by many in the System. No doubt countless of loyalists of other Sith factions have spread the word already. Even I cannot stare for too long. You are simply too blinding like the suns as you hold the power of one yourself."
"Nevertheless,", I turned seriously, "There are very few who would agree to my decisions. To love you unconditionally is one thing, to let the Star Forge descend into decay and destroy it is another thing. We must be prepared for the factions to rise up against us."
"Then crush them.", she finished innocently. Oh, how I wished it were that easy.
"There is a hidden Sith academy on the broken world of Malachor V where our assassins come from. I intend to pay a visit to my old master and her new apprentices."
She sensually licked my neck as I spoke. "Do you expect they would betray you, master?"
"There are several Sith Lords who have the influence to mount a coup. The three who run the academy however wield the greatest strength. I am reluctant to cast aside my old master though, even if she is called the Dark Lady of Betrayal."
"With a title like that, how could she not move against you."
"I suppose so.", I ended ambiguously.
Bastila took a small bite from my ear lobe, eliciting a small gasp of pain from my throat. Her eyes were filled with a mixture of mischief and lust. She sensually caressed my cheek as she carefully rubbed her body against my own. I was incredibly eager to shed my body armour so I could feel her curves even better. Those full breasts that so awfully teased me were rubbing hard against the plating on my chest. She smiled in victory.
"You're mine.", she whispered in my ear.
I flung her against the bed with the force, stripped my armour in three seconds flat, and jumped on her waist. Barely restrained desire directed my actions as I leaned over her helpless body and pinned her arms over her head. Her face showed the unmistakable sense of eager, but slightly fearful anticipation.
"I think I should show you who the real master is."
"Yes…", she moaned as she arched her back. "Take me."
"This is captain R'lima speaking."
"Gather your battle group and set a course for the Malachor System as soon as able."
"As you wish, Lord Revan, though are you sure—"
"I am quite sure."
"Very well, R'lima out."
I favoured the Twi'lek captain since the outbreak of the Mandalorian Wars. As a lieutenant he showed admirable flexibility and independence as the XO of a corvette when her captain was incapacitated. At the height of the Jedi Civil War he served as the captain of my personal flagship. Luckily, he survived the blast from Malak's vessel, though he put himself into great obscurity afterwards to avoid Malak's wrath. It took little time before R'lima sent a message to me, reaffirming his loyalty to me.
I had no need to intimidate the captain into obedience. I held far too much respect in him to resort to such behaviour. There were more ways to exhibit strength than behaving in a ruthless fashion. It would still initiative. It would lose important messages as messengers feared for their lives. More importantly, it was an unnecessary waste of talent and resources. High level officers typically excelled in their areas, especially in the brutally competitive Sith environment. It took many years of training and education to replace an officer, and many times it wasn't worth it to kill a man for questioning valid aspects of his superior's plans. A simple non-lethal choke would suffice in most cases.
Unlike Bastila, who had slain three admirals of nearly priceless value. At the highest post of the navy, these dedicated officers displayed the right talents and could be relied upon in the harshest of battles for directions. Each exerted their personal style honed over many battles. Their experience and grasp of tactics and strategy were unrivalled in strength. Admirals held the highest post a non-force sensitive Sith could hold in the Sith Empire. They held many privileges and wielded considerable influence.
These admirals exploited their power and influence to the fullest. It was one of the perks for the job. They had their own corps of eager loyal officers, ready and willing to do their superior's bidding and extend his influence beyond his official base. Any high level commander weaved their on webs, pulling a part of the Sith Empire into their own territory. They secretly battled it out against their rivals, enemies, or even allies. I was well aware of the friction between them before my capture. It would have been likely unchanged after Malak's reign.
Which means that the three deaths were most likely part of the faction that promoted a heavy-handed approach to steamroll through the interspersed defences of the Republic with steady deep thrusts. Though a valid strategy, Malak was simply too short-sighted to fully comprehend the threat that lurked beneath. Just as Bastila was too short-sighted to see that the power vacuum she created would have devastating consequences to the Sith forces.
Over time, they could have been cowed into sufficient fear to be replaced by more pliable subjects by silent manipulations. Instead, mistrust and dissention would sow through the ranks. No, I believed, I couldn't let their defiance take root. I had already planned to destroy them.
The Sixth Fleet led by the newly promoted admiral Garrett and the Eight Fleet led by likewise newly christened admiral Kavira would soon push into a concentrated strike towards the stronghold of Onderon. It was discontented towards the Republic after the brutal battles against the Mandalorians. The Onderonian fleet held a formidable number of corvettes and fighters, all manned by Onderon citizens. The population itself held a sizable number of beast tamers who would make effective recruits for the Sith troops by playing in with their cultural traditions.
The seven cruisers, escorted by a sizable number of corvettes and fighters, could crush the Onderon vessels in an instant, and stage enough of a ground assault to subjugate the only city on the planet, Iziz.
The only question was whether or not they would defy my direct order and go through with their slaughter. It served as a test as well as a trap. Would they be consumed by the Dark Side and Malak's brutal leftover habits and crush Onderon? They were sufficiently isolated to get away with it. After that, what would they do? They might have been ruthless, but they weren't stupid. They were already too committed by their own philosophy and they would have needlessly exposed themselves. So they would do the only thing they can do: rebel. They would gather their forces in some hidden part of the Galaxy and meet up with powerful Sith Lords hoping to usurp my mantle.
Yet, half of their ships were fresh off the Star Forge. I had specifically prioritized the Star Forge's capacity into replenishing their combat losses with the latest models as a peace gift. What they didn't know, was that their hyperdrives contained intentional series of flaws. If all would go well, their drives would break down after a certain amount of mileage has been reached. If they dare to travel beyond Onderon against my orders, they would find their drives suddenly inoperative, sometimes with fatal consequences.
That, and automatically transmit emergency calls towards the rest of space. They would either be hounded by nearby Republican elements or obliterated by nearby loyal Sith fleets. It was not a coincidence that the loyal 2nd Fleet and the reliable 3rd Fleet had orders to approach Onderon's neighbouring sectors after they have finished taking abandoned Republican systems into the Sith Empire's fold. Whichever fleet Garrett and Kavira would encounter, it would likely be a defeat. Whatever remaining forces would be able to escape the artificial gravity wells would lead my forces to their Sith Lord allies.
Hopefully, I would be there to await them. The Sith Lords at the hidden Trayus Academy on Malachor V were the next step up the Sith hierarchy. Meeting the battered survivors of two combined fleets with merely a battle group was a dangerous ploy, but I could not justify taking a larger escort without raising suspicion. So when the ragtag collection of survivors would stumble into the system, it was already too late to turn back once the gravity well generators onboard my vessels were activated. After exposing their treachery I would have ample backing to turn myself against the teachers of the academy. There would be no one strong enough left to challenge my will.
It took only a few hours for the captain to gather the dreadnought's escort. I spent time thinking about my plans, but also revelling in Bastila's sleeping form. It was amazing to be in a relationship, and it even more amazing to consummate it in bed. Despite being a prude Jedi for most of her life, she knew how to use her womanly wiles. She had me utterly wrapped around her finger in bed, showing only the slightest flesh or touching only the barest skin. She flamed my passion as she kissed my skin, whispering sweet promises of what she would do. I wanted to take control, to teach her who was in control, but instead she managed to defuse my superior strength with her sensual grace.
The utter display of helplessness to such obvious seduction was a weakness. Love, lust, they were feelings for the weak. A Sith needed only anger, hate or rage to fuel their strength. But was that really true? Being with Bastila was the only source of my strength now, and the bond between us amplified our unity. She would soon see likewise and learn from me the true meaning of mastering the Force, though patience was required. Even now there were still traces of creases, of sunken eyes, of even paler skin. She was still relishing on her newfound strength. She loved the Dark Side as much as she loved me. Over time, she would learn to regard the darkness as a tool, and not a master and a lover.
Until then, she would have to learn the hard way.
The familiar jolt in the gut told me the ship had entered hyperspace, presumably with its escort. I had the utmost confidence that I would not be beset with sabotage like I had planned for others. The crew were loyal Mandalorian veterans, while most of the ships and fighters were undamaged from the recent Battle of Rakata Prime. Betrayal might come, but I would not cower under my sheets. Let it come when it unravels.
In the meanwhile, I nudged Bastila's silent form. The gentle shake following the hyperspace entrance served to wake her up. Her warrior instincts caused her to flip up and reach her weapon. The sheets rolled off her form to reveal her full breasts.
"Good, I see your reflexes are still in shape."
Her marvelous black lips turned into a familiar smirk. "I'm even surprised I can still move with the way you kept going."
I chuckled. "I think you are mistaken who the real beast in bed was."
"Want to have another go?", she seductively asked. I hesitated when I saw her licking her lips with her tongue.
"If I can't beat you in bed, I think my energy is best put into sparring."
Before she could pounce on me I stood up from the bed and went over to dress myself with some fresh garments. Bastila stared me with hungry eyes, though her mouth was torn with amusement and frustration.
Finally, she couldn't help but burst, "Come on, Revan, I need you! You can't leave me like this!"
"Good. Use your passion and channel it into focus when we battle."
I cut her off with a single outstretched palm as I started to strap on my armor.
You can have me when you defeat me. You won't get a single kiss until then.
What?! You know as well as I do that I can't beat you in a lightsaber battle.
Then try to manage a single hit.
With waves of anticipation she rolled off the bed and dressed in her own garments. I had already strapped on my helmet and lifted my cowl over it. I was already on my way out towards the training hall when I called out, "Don't forget to switch your saber to training mode."
As expected, her arrogant nature showed up. "I'm not some padawan, Revan! I am Darth Bastion, the number two of the Sith!"
"You'll have a lonely night if you're not able to prove worthy of that title."
"Revan! I'm going to get you, drag you to bed and chain you to its posts if that's what I'll have to do."