A/N: I'm still retired from Kotor writing until the new game, but I was digging through some old files and found this. I hardly remember writing it and was surprised to find it. I was doubly surprised to find that it's a completed work, as many of my old files are full of half-started fics that will likely never see the light of day. Anyway, I didn't do anything to polish it up, just thought I'd leave it rough as the moment I unearthed it.
The End of the World As We Know It
Malachor V, three hours after the Exile enters the Trayus Academy in search of Kreia…
Mira stumbled over a fissure in the cracked and gray earth. It was difficult to see in the greenish-gray fog that permeated the air. All was silent but for an occasional growl of some animal in the distance. Mira didn't hurry her step. Too tired, she thought. Too tired for anymore.
She tumbled on, clutching her torn shoulder. The four deep rents in her flesh sent deep, agonizing stabs of pain deep into her chest and back. It should have worried her, that pain. It had settled inside her with a heaviness that felt unnatural. But the bleeding had stopped somewhere along her slow, random trek across the ruined planet. That was okay by her. The bleeding had made her dizzy and though she held little hope for getting back to the Hawk, she felt that her journey wasn't quite over yet. Close, but not yet.
One kilometer, then another. aHawkMonoliths of stone jutted all around her, forming a canyon that, for all its immense size, felt like a tomb. Somewhere, on the other side of those steep, smooth walls, was the Academy. The Exile was there, battling Kreia or joining her. Mira couldn't guess which and she didn't care. Her journey with the Exile was over, for better or worse. And it was the same for rest of the crew.
As soon as the Hawk had touched down on the gritty, blood-soaked soil of Malachor V, the rudimentary brotherhood of the crew had instantly disbanded. All the fears and guilts and long-remembered pain of each came roaring to the fore and separated them in one ephemeral, unidentifiable moment. Mandalore and Mical disappeared; HK-47 went uncharacteristically silent; G0-T0, Bao-Dur, and his remote all departed the ship even before it had finished its final touch down; the Exile had left and Atton had followed after. And Mira followed the same inexplicable notion that had inflicted the others. It led her out of the Hawk and out into the strange, desolate landscape. The shaking, rumbling, death-soaked planet was anything but inviting, and yet none of the crew had had a choice. It called and they answered.
Mira had followed that strange whim until she had found its purpose, impossible though it had seemed. And as too much of her blood had soaked the stony soil, Mira felt her penance had been paid. This was the Exile's Malachor V, not hers, and Mira owed nothing more.
And so she stumbled along amid the cold soil and thick fog that crackled with unnatural green electricity, wondering if the others had answered their callings, if their stories had come to an end too.
Another hour passed and the Ebon Hawk was still nowhere to be seen. Mira wondered idly if it had departed—escaped—Malachor V without her. When she saw Bao-Dur lying amid a nest of cracked stone, she knew her journey was at its end, and she left the Exile and the Hawkand any other surviving crew members to their own fate.
He lay on his back, his head pillowed on a slab of colorless shoal; his legs akimbo, his prosthetic arm broken and quiet. Blaster holes erupted from his torn and dusty shirt, leaking his blood and lending it to the greedy soil of Malachor. He looked up at her through eyes glassy with pain.
"You should go," he wheezed. "I've won. The machine…it is working…"
Mira followed where his eyes trailed and saw the ruin of G0-T0 a few paces away. It had been blasted open and lay now like a cracked and blackened egg, spilling its mechanical insides over the stones.
"Where's your remote?"
Bao-Dur licked his lips. His breath was uneven and ragged, speaking was an effort. "Ready. Ready to finish…You should go."
Mira crouched down beside him, balancing her rear on her heels. "Have you seen others?"
Bao-Dur shook his head. His eyes went to the wound at her shoulder. "Who…?"
"Hanhaar. I know, it doesn't make any sense. Or maybe it does. This place…" Mira sighed, her eyes scanning the bleak vistas around them, "…it's an end of a lot of things, I think."
"Mine," Bao-Dur said. "My end." Blood flecked his lips and Mira turned to look at him.
"Mine too." She smiled gently, a smile few had ever seen. "How much time you got?"
"Not much," he replied. "Hour, maybe. But you…you could m-make it. The H-Hawk…"
Mira sat beside him, stretching her legs out and leaning her back against a rock. "No, I have nothing more to do with the Exile." Her heart was fluttering weakly inside her chest like a caged bird, making her dizzy. Blood loss. She thought she'd be lucky if she had an hour. I'll stretch it out if I have to… for him…
It was starting to get cold. Night, such as it was on Malachor V, was beginning to descend. Darkness began seeping into the cracks and fissures around them. The shadows were growing long and thick. Bao-Dur began to shiver.
"P-Please…go. M-my remote…I've p-programmed it…not much time…"
"Are you cold?" Mira asked. "I wish I could give you my jacket but I think it's stuck to my shoulder."
"Ssssh," she said. "I'm not leaving you alone. Not here. Force no, not here." She shivered once herself, and drew her knees up to her chest. "Do you think the Exile won?" she asked after a moment.
"I d-don't know," Bao-Dur replied. He was shaking almost violently now, and he spoke as though his body had been plunged in a sea of near-freezing water. "I hope so."
Mira nodded. "I don't know either. Funny, you'd think after all this time we'd have a guess. "
"I w-won too," he said.
Mira smiled down at him. "I know you did. You've finished it, didn't you? What you set out to do?"
He nodded. "But Mira…"
"Me too. I've finished. I am finished," she said with a tight laugh. She felt him protest through the Force but it was weak. "I'm so tired, Bao-Dur," she said. "Can I lie here with you? Get some rest?" She leaned closer to him, stroked his cheek. "Please? I'm so fracking tired."
His face was stony, stubborn. "Y-you could still m-make it…"
"It's okay. For the first time in a long time, I'm exactly where I should be."
His answering smile was weak and his hand trembled as though he were trying to lift it, to touch her. She stretched out beside him and laid her head on his turbulent chest. Reaching over, she pulled his living arm over her and tucked her head under his chin.
"Y-yes," he said quietly. His shivering abated somewhat. "Thank you, M-Mira. Ah, Force, thank you."
The darkness grew thick around them, as did the cold, but Mira hardly felt it. Time was slipping out from under them but she hadn't the energy to stop it, or even mark it's progress. It might have been minutes or days later when the roar of the Ebon Hawk finally tore through the quiet. Mira watched it streak across the night sky, and smiled sleepily. She snuggled closer to Bao-Dur, even though she wasn't cold anymore and his shivering had long since ceased. So had his breathing under her cheek and the erratic thump of his heart in her ear. Wait for me, she told him, and somewhere, in the twilight world she was sinking into, she heard him…Yes, of course…
As the earth beneath them began to protest, her smile widened. She could imagine somewhere in the ruins of stone and metal, Bao-Dur's little remote coming to life. Maybe it was a simple thing; a red light on its face changes to green. Maybe a small sound, like a click, reverberates in some stony cavern—hardly audible—but creating a cacophony enough that the entire universe will soon hear and know. Even the Exile—especially the Exile!—escaping across the sky would know and feel Bao-Dur's triumph.
And mine,Mira thought. She closed her eyes a final time, letting the rumbling of the dying planet lull her to sleep, and saw again Hanhaar's body slump lifeless to the ground in front of her, like a mighty tree felled by her little axe. She felt Malachor reaching for her, as though it had stony hands that would pull her into the rotten soil. But even as the sand seemed to seep into her skin, the earth was trembling and breaking under the dissembling power of Bao-Dur's machine. And as the stones fell and ground shifted, Mira could imagine it screaming in protest. The thousands of souls it had laid claim to were going to be free, and the dark energies that had held sway for so long were weakening.
"Me too," Mira whispered, and her words were torn away by the wailing wind that was at once a hurricane of the generator's destruction and the final death cry of the planet that had taken too much. Mira felt Bao-Dur fall away from her but she wasn't afraid. Not anymore. Not ever again.
She would see him again, she knew, for when the dust had dissipated into the vastness of space, and while the pieces of Malachor drifted away from the whole as impotent, tumbling rocks, the Force would find her and him and gather them to its formless self and they would begin again.