The Darkest Lord
Chapter XXIV: Bitter Reunion

If there was one thing that he could depend on in all of time and space, Lando Calrissian would have to speculate that it would have been luck. Luck had won him most of his prized possessions in life. Card and dice games had garnered him ownership of the Millennium Falcon, his mining facility on Bespin, and more than a few spectacular nights with some choice women. Granted, he had used some particular methods to tip the scales in his favor with regards to all of those scenarios but luck had to have played a key role in all of those successes. It most certainly had to have been the reason that he had survived his brief but decisive encounter with Luke Skywalker back in Cloud City. As he had been plummeting to what most likely would have been his death, his long flowing cape had snagged on the railing, which tore it loose. Rocketing at nearly break neck speeds, he had managed to grab hold of it and use it as a makeshift parachute, which rapidly slowed his descent. The winds had whipped him about until, by some miracle of some higher power, he found himself above one of the sub-cloud mining outposts of his facility. With a less than graceful landing, he managed to slam quite painfully into a water purification tower. The pipes that he had landed on had ruptured, but the force of the high pressured water shooting up at him had canceled out quite a bit of his impact, effectively sparing his life. He'd be sore for quite some time. Nonetheless, Lando Calrissian was alive.

Upon speaking with the general manager of the small platform, he learned that an unknown enemy force had invaded Cloud City. The main mining facility had come under fire by unfriendly ships and most of the tiabanna gas had been ignited. Cloud City was in flames. Lando swore violently when he heard this, pacing back and forth about the manager's office as he tried to think of a plan. His security had been completely overrun and communications traffic in and out of the city had been cut off. More importantly, star fighters had flown over every outpost and station within more than one hundred miles and opened fire on their signal towers. From his current position and every position nearby, it would be impossible to call for help. Nonetheless, Lando still felt lucky. If ever there was a time for an attack on his business, it was when Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon were on space dock. The dark skinned man just hoped that his old friend hadn't killed already.

Back when the smuggling freighter had been his, Lando had installed quite a few illegal modification to its systems. A smuggler needed those sorts of upgrades to slip by Imperial enforcers. As far as he had been concern, no one had been harmed and he had made a small profit. It was a win/win situation. Now he silently thanked any higher power that may have been listening that he had been so greedy. The Falcon's internal radio frequency had been modulated just enough that it could penetrate most types of jamming signals. While the rest of Cloud City had gone quiet, Lando was fairly certain that he could still make contact with his people through the old ship.

Using his personal communicator, which had received the same upgrades as the ship, he put in a message to Han and Chewbacca. It was a simple and short text based message but it contained his coordinates, instructions on how to remove any locked docking clamps that the invaders had activated, and a demand for help. He sent it off quickly, hoping against home that someone would find it and respond soon.

Luke Skywalker laughed darkly as he strolled down the corridors of Lando Calrissian's mining facility. A wave of people ran from him, screaming in terror as he approached. The Sith Initiate watched as his men gunned them down in cold blood. Women and children were among those to fall before the oncoming party of soldiers. His golden armored troopers simply continued to shoot every time another individual crossed their path.

"Spread out!" he ordered when they reached a fork in the halls. "Find the Jedi and bring them to me!"

"Yes sir," they responded before disappearing down multiple corridors.

Luke stayed at the intersection, near a hyperlift. He crossed his arms and waited a moment, contemplating the best use of his time. His men had locked down the entire city fairly well. While his star fighters had crippled the facility from above, his slicers had infiltrated the building and cut off all communications. The civilians couldn't call for help. The Jedi and Cloud City Security personnel were all that stood to oppose him. Even they wouldn't be much of a threat. Moreover, his men had also disabled the docking ports. All clamps were securely locked in place and the Rebels would be hard pressed to break the security protocols that his slicers had put into place. That meant that they were trapped. No one would come for them and they couldn't run away.

All he had to do was wait for the Jedi to reveal themselves to him. They would eventually. According to Darth Malak, Bastila and Obi-Wan followed a code of honor that wouldn't allow them to hide or protect themselves while other people died. They would come to him, sooner or later. As for Revan, Luke knew that he would be able to hunt down the rogue Sith Lord. Bioscanners could be used to track down any stray survivors after the first few sweeps. If Revan wouldn't face him directly, then he would be rooted out like an infestation of insects. He couldn't hide from the Sith. Today was his day to die.

Luke didn't want to wait idly, however. He enjoyed being a part of the main force. He wanted to be hunting on his own. All of the knowledge passed to him through Exar Kun made it simpler. In the few weeks that he had been possessed, he had learned every military tactic and Force trick that the ancient Dark Jedi had known. Small traces of Kun's personality had also started to emerge in the former moisture farmer. His blood lust was one such trait. The Dark Jedi retrieved his father's lightsaber from his belt and depressed the activation switch. The cerulean blade sprang forth with the usual snap-hiss and the hum echoed through the air.

"Come on out, Jedi!" he jeered down the empty corridors. "I know you're out there!"

With the bravado of a teenaged boy, Luke took off down the halls, eager for blood. He didn't have to wait long. Minutes after his search began, a door in front of him opened and Bastila emerged. The Talravin Jedi stood, still dressed only in the work out attire from a few hours previously. She held her active double bladed lightsaber in hand. A thick layer of sweat and blood covered her body. She had obviously been busy with his men. When she saw Luke, she stopped abruptly.

"Luke," she whispered to herself as she cupped her off-hand over her mouth.

It had been nearly four months since Yavin; four months since she had lost him to Exar Kun. In that time, Bastila had always blamed herself for the young boy's disappearance. At only nineteen years old and with no proper schooling to speak of, he had never been a match for the dark spirit that had taken him. She should have been more attentive to her friend. True, he had not been her pupil, but he had been her ally. She should have protected him and she had failed. Seeing him alive brought a warmth to her and a feeling of relief that she had never dared to hope to feel.

The feeling didn't last long, however. It took only a moment for her to realize that something was off about her friend. His attire, his condition, his disposition, and his aura were all different. When they had met, he had been a thin boy with sunburned skin. There had almost been a leathery quality to him, due to his growing up on the harsh desert world of Tatooine. He looked completely different. His skin looked healthier, probably due to time spent away from the twin suns, but pale. The color had drained from his face and his previously vibrant blue eyes were now a dull gray hue. He also seemed larger. It looked as if he had put on a great deal of muscle in a very short period of time. His stance, his eyes, and his demeanor had all hardened. He looked angry and more than a little insane. More importantly, she could sense the change in his aura. The once vibrant blue swirls of energy that had surrounded him were gone; replaced by a thick dark red shade that pulsated violently.

"Kun," she corrected her previous statement.

"No," he replied as he straightened up. "It's Luke."

"How did you break free?" she asked him sadly.

"Lord Malak saved me from Exar Kun," he explained, twirling his lightsaber for showmanship. Luke smiled as he looked his friend up and down. It was a perverse smile, filled with lust and desire. Dressed only in the a pair of form fitting pants and a dark green tank-top, she certainly looked appealing. Her clothes accented her naturally curved form nicely and the Sith Initiate couldn't help but recall his old feelings for the woman. He had wanted her ever since they had met aboard the Death Star. Now he had the power to take her. "Malak didn't say that I had to kill you, Bastila," he told her as his blood lust quickly dissipated to make room for old fashioned lust. "Come with me. The Sith could use someone with your abilities."

Bastila shook her head. "Luke, stop!" she ordered him. "This isn't you. This isn't what your aunt and uncle would have wanted. Call off your men and let's talk!"

He chuckled softly, brandishing his weapon towards her. "My aunt and uncle didn't want to be murdered for a war they weren't even a part of!" he retorted. "What they want really doesn't seem to matter."

"And this is what you want?" she inquired. "To be a murderer. To be like the ones who took them from you!"

"You don't get it!" he snapped. "Power is the only way to stop bad things from happening to the people you care about! The power to fight back! I may not have anyone left to care about but I sure as hell have the power to make the Empire pay!"

"I can't let you do that," she responded as she fell into her double bladed Ataru stance variant.

"A shame," he muttered. "I would have really liked to do some things with you." He shook his head. Without any further words, Luke leapt at Bastila, closing the gap between them instantly. In the close quarters of the narrow hallways, the Jedi Knight had no room to roll to the left or the right. All that she could do was back up and parry his saber with one end of her own. The other blade sliced the wall, sending a shower of sparks into the air.

Luke didn't stop. He kept swinging his weapon, utilizing a fairly standard Makashi form to keep her off balance. She couldn't respond properly in such a small space. She continued to walk backwards, deflecting his blows and slashing the walls as they went. The Sith Initiate pushed the Jedi Knight back at a fairly constant pace. Finally, they reached a door at the far end of the hall, making it impossible for Bastila to retreat any further without breaking her concentration on the fight. Nonetheless, she knew that she wouldn't be able to hold him off without more space and until she got her bearings. Thus, she diverted her attention to the door controls for one moment and used her mind to press the button that would activate it. That single moment cost her dearly.

The Dark Jedi seized the opportunity and plunged his lightsaber towards a gap in her defenses. Bastila saw the oncoming attack and moved to avoid it but she didn't move quickly enough. The blade, which had been aimed at her heart, nicked her shoulder, charring her pale skin black and sending pain lancing down her arm and through her upper body. She cried out in pain as she fell back through the door as it opened. The Jedi Knight collapsed into a large open room, illuminated by pale red lights. Given the amount of equipment in the room, she would have guessed that it was some sort of droid assembly line. Spare parts of decommissioned protocol, mining, and astromech droids were scattered about and piled into overflowing plasteel crates.

Bastila had very little time to take any of this in. Luke had seen his advantage and pressed it harshly. He was over her in the blink of an eye and brought his blade down towards her. Bastila knew that she couldn't safely roll with her weapon in her current position. She tossed it away, causing both amber colored blades to retract into the hilt, and rolled in the opposite direction. His cerulean saber slashed the ground where she had been less than a moment before, leaving a glowing orange burn mark. Bastila stood up and brought her arms up into a fighting stance. It hurt to keep her right arm elevated. The damage to her shoulder was severe and the blade had cut deep. Nonetheless, she remained defiant.

Luke chuckled at her determination. "You don't have to throw your life away, Bastila," he told her as he pointed the tip of his saber at her. "Join me. Together we can overthrow Malak and the Sith Empire. With their resources, we can conquer the Emperor and take control. The galaxy would be ours!"

Bastila's features hardened and her lips curled into a snarl. "You don't know me, Luke," she spat at him. "I don't want that sort of power. I never have!"

"You're a disgrace to the Force," he rebuked her. "And now it's time to die!"

Luke lunged at her. At the same time, she called on the power of the Force to retrieve her lightsaber. It soared through the air, towards her hand. Luke saw it coming and swiped at it as it flew. His blade cut through the the center of the device, causing only one end to reach Bastila. She ignited that end and brought her weapon up just in time to protect herself. The two blades hissed angrily as the two grappled. Luke was physically stronger than the last time they had met. His superior muscle and weight allowed him to push against her, inching both sabers towards her head. The Jedi Knight grunted as she saw that she was losing their contest. Desperately, she called on the Force to grant her strength and tried to push back. She couldn't. He was simply too strong. Her muscles began to twitch as she put all of her strength into repelling her enemy but to no avail.


The pressure against her suddenly subsided as Luke was snatched away from her and went sailing through the air. Not having expected the sudden shift in weight, Bastila stumbled backwards and fell onto her bottom, crying out in slight shock as she went. When she looked up, she saw her rescuer standing in the door way, massaging his muscular right arm as he glared at Luke.

"Revan?" she gaped as the former Dark Lord.

He wasn't paying attention to her. His focus was on the Sith Initiate picking himself up off of the ground. Luke glared at Revan as he got to his feet. "You!" he hissed at his master's former master. "It wasn't your turn."

"I'm not much of a rule follower," Revan replied. "Keep your hands off of Bastila."

Luke made a perverse sound that resembled a laugh. "You've grown attached to a Jedi, Revan? Malak was right. You are weak!"

This bright a genuine smirk to the Sith Lord's lips. He fell back into a hand-to-hand combat stance, bringing both hands up in a defensive measure. He bounced softly on the balls of his feet, shifting his weight from side to side as he did. Luke noticed the lightsaber, nearly identical to his own, that was clipped to Revan's belt. The Dark Lord was choosing not to use it. His over confidence would be his undoing. Luke flipped his saber upwards and charged Revan.

He attacked with a broad stroke, which his opponent easily ducked to avoid. As Revan came back up to his main height, he jabbed Luke in the stomach and again in the jaw before side stepping to avoid another slash. Revan moved with speed that was difficult for even the Force endowed Bastila to comprehend. When Luke would strike, Revan would dodge and retaliate with a light punch or kick in a poorly defended area. The Lord of Revenge could have hit much harder. He didn't want to spoil his fun though. In his own way, he had come to care for Bastila. The bond between them made him vulnerable and he detested the idea of someone had gone after her. The damage that it could have done to his mind was severe. Therefore, he wanted to hurt Luke. He wanted to humiliate him and show the boy that nothing he could do would be enough. When he finally did get around to killing the young man, it would be after the boy had realized that there was no hope. It would be after he had given up. And so Revan continued on. Unarmed, he made light jabs here and there to frustrate the Sith Initiate.

It did frustrate him. Luke became angrier and angrier as the fight went on. He swung more wildly and with less refinement than when he had started. He soon realized, however, that Revan did have an advantage in terms of speed. Luke was not the idiot that Revan believed him to be. He knew that he would need to change tactics if he were to survive. Therefore, after an aggravating punch to his kidney, Luke turned his attention to Bastila and threw a wave of Force energy at her. It hadn't been a strong one. It simply knocked her backwards again. She hit the wall and felt the wind fly from her.

Revan let his guard down too. While he glanced at Bastila to ensure her safety, Luke send a much stronger wave at him. The Dark Lord flew backwards, crashing into a crate of droid parts and toppling over. Metal debris and defunct components poured over him. Luke didn't give him a chance to regroup, however. He reached out and extended his fingers. Tendrils of white lightning burst from his fingertips, which struck the pile of droid components and Revan. While the electricity rolling over him hurt like hell, the deposed Sith knew what was coming next. He'd always been good with electronics and engineering. As he predicted, the currents that ran through the droids caused several of them to overload. One by one, several of the droids exploded. Revan cried out in pain but that quickly subsided.

A huge cloud of smoke filled the room, obscuring the result of the attack from view. Luke, satisfied that Revan would stay down for the moment, turned to Bastila. "Sorry. Where were we?" he asked her politely.

Before she could respond, a golden droid arm flew through the air and knocked Luke in the head. With a swear, he turned and looked back into the smoke. As it started to dissipate, Revan stepped forward. His clothes were singed and he had some mild burns on his face but overall, he looked no worse for wear. "Kid," he muttered darkly as he shoved the smoke in the room with his mind. "Why'd you stop?" The former Jedi moved quickly, kicking Luke in the stomach. He hadn't pulled the blow that time. He had delivered a bone crunching, full strength kick. Luke could tell the difference as he doubled over. He sputtered for a moment as the air flew out of his gut. His enemy didn't relent though. Revan kept on him. He grabbed Luke's sword hand and twisted it behind him painfully until the Sith Initiate dropped his weapon, which Revan deftly caught. The Dark Lord quickly nicked Luke twice with his own weapon; once in the stomach and once on the kneecap. The younger man's leg gave out beneath him but the sheer force of Revan's grip held him aloft. The Dark Lord physically threw the boy into the wall, which dented on impact. He pressed on, grabbing the Initiate's head and banged it into the metal frame as well, before lifting him by the hair and shoving him violently to his knees, which hurt even more due to the burn wound on one of them. The unrelenting Sith Lord kicked his losing opponent directly in the kidney, causing him to sprawl forward onto the ground.

Revan rounded on him, picking Luke up by the neck and belt before lifting him up overhead. With a feral growl, the Lord of the Sith dropped his fallen enemy to the ground. Luke's back landed directly on Revan's knees. There was no crack or pop. An incredibly loud cry of anguish rang out across the room as the young boy felt pain explode through his entire body. It didn't stop either. He continued to howl as the agony continued to wrack through him. It didn't subside. It didn't go away. It just kept hounding him. That was exactly what Revan had intended. He knew exactly how to drop Luke to inflict the maximum amount of torture. If he had broken the boy's back, it would have been over. The pain wouldn't have been present. It would have been replace by the dull numbness that paralysis brought. He hadn't wanted that. He had simply wanted to hurt the boy as much as possible. He had achieved that goal.

As he prepared to move in for a killing strike, Bastila ran forward and grabbed him by the shoulder. "No!" she cried as she placed herself between the injured moisture farmer and the Sith Lord. "Don't kill him!"

"Get out of my way, Bastila!" he snarled back at her.

"This isn't right! It's not the Jedi way!"

"I'm not a Jedi!" he thundered as he straightened up, making himself as large as possible.

"But you used to be! And by your own admission, you didn't leave the order because you wanted to kill. You left because you abhorred killing the defenseless. Look at him!" She stood aside and gesticulated sharply towards her fallen friend. "Really look at him! He can't fight you anymore! You've won!"

He felt his muscles tense. Revan hadn't resisted the desire to kill in years. Since the end of the Mandalorian Wars, he had always been able to kill who ever he wanted. The lives of others had become so insignificant in his quest to perfect the galaxy. If people didn't fall in line with his idea of perfection, they deserved to die. He wanted to kill Luke. More importantly he wanted to hurt Bastila for defying him. Even though he knew that using lethal force on her would damage his own mind, he wanted to at least punish her for insubordination. He hand curled into a fist but he didn't raise it. Instead, he simply turned and stormed out of the room, leaving Bastila alone with the injured Luke Skywalker.

"Time to rumble," Carth Onasi muttered to himself as he glanced out of the door to Princess Leia's quarters, spotting six or so Sith troopers. He turned and glanced back at Leia, who stood with her E-11 blaster rifle in hand. "Six," he mouthed to her silently. She nodded her understanding before he looked out again. Another person's quarters stood directly opposite Leia's. If the door was unlocked, he could take cover inside and Leia could use her own door frame. The two could open fire on the Sith and probably take them out before they had a chance to retaliate. He glanced back at her. "One, two, three!" he said softly.

On "three," the star pilot dove out into the hallway and hit the button to the door opposite the one where he had been hiding. Much to his surprise and terror, it was locked. He swore loudly as the Sith turned on him. Leia, from cover, started shooting at the squad while her ally was forced to shoot from within plain sight. His twin pistols fired quickly, picking off most of the troopers with ease. The princess was able to finish off the rest of them but not before return fire was initiated. She ducked for cover as most of the shots flew by her door. Carth, on the other hand, had not been so lucky. He took a blaster bolt to the stomach, and collapsed down to one knee.

He grunted painfully as he looked down at his scorched flight jacket. It had absorbed most of the shock of the blast but there had still been enough power left over to pierce his under shirt and the flesh of his stomach. The bolt had fizzled out before going too deep but the soldier definitely would have some trouble walking. "Damn," he muttered to himself as Leia came to stand beside him. "I was having such a good day too."

The princess smiled as she helped him up to his feet and put one of his arms around her shoulder. "We should get to the Falcon," she advised. "We need to get back on the move."

"What about the others?" he asked as he raised his free arm, making sure that he could still shoot if the need should arise. Leia dropped her rifle, finding it too cumbersome to carry in this position and borrowed his secondary pistol instead. The two began to walk in the direction of the docks, slowly, but surely.

"I can worry about finding them once you're safe," she replied as they rounded a corner.

The facility shook again as she finished speaking and the pair looked at each other. Carth shook his head but they kept going. "I don't think that that's such a good idea," he spoke with a pained grunt. "You don't know how many of them are out here. You shouldn't go anywhere alone."

"Sorry Carth," she retorted as she struggled to pull his weight. "You'd just slow me down."

He sighed deeply, knowing the truth of her words. They walked in silence for a few more moments, only covering a few meters in that time. When the tension became too great, he piped up. "So what was that back there?" he asked her seriously.

"What was what?" she responded, though she was more than certain of what he had been referring to when he spoke.

"Us, back in your room. We-,"

"I don't know," she cut him off firmly. "It's been a confusing day for me. I'm not sure what to make of all of it."

"But you kissed me, Leia," he urged her. "Why?"

"What do you mean why?" she snapped.

"I mean why?" the soldier continued. "Was it because you actually like me or because you felt sorry for me because I told you that my wife had died."

"I don't know," the princess answered honestly. "We kissed. It happened. I'm sorry."

"You're sorry," he repeated as he stopped walking, thus bringing her to a halt.

"I didn't mean it like that," she groaned as she rolled her eyes. "And really, I don't think this is the best time!"

"I could bleed out before we reach the ship. This is the perfect time," he retorted.

The Jedi padawan growled in frustration as she started walking again, dragging him along slightly. "Carth, Master Yoda just died. I lost my planet four months back. Darth Vader is my father. Luke is my brother. We were drinking. I kissed you! I don't know what it means!"

"Well do you like me?" he wanted to know.

Leia looked up at him as they kept walking. She didn't say anything. Instead she simply planted a soft kiss on his lips before continuing. They were silent again before Carth couldn't contain himself. "Alright, well now I'm even more confused."

"Good, everyone's here!" Han Solo quipped as Leia and Carth stumbled aboard the Millennium Falcon a good fifteen minutes later. The smuggler walked by the boarding ramp and continued towards the cockpit.

"Everyone?" Leia repeated.

"That old windbag wouldn't get off my ship and I sure wasn't leaving her here alone," he shouted from the captain's chair. "Chewie and I stayed here. The old man showed up right after the explosions started. Revan stormed in a few minutes ago. And best of all, Bastila brought Luke back!"

"Luke?" Leia repeated as she looked to Carth. He nodded and pushed her arm away. She gave him an appreciative glance before running towards the men's quarters. Sure enough, Luke was sprawled out on one of the beds in a state of semi-consciousness. He looked as though he had sustained a few serious injuries. Most of his face was now covered in bruises and a nasty looking gash had opened on the right temple, which continued to bleed freely. His shirt had been stripped away and several discolored welts and contusions were visible across his tan skin. His stomach sported a rather large third degree burn wound, which had cauterized and now had a crusty ash-like look to it. A similar injury would be seen on his left kneecap. What ever had hit him had burned away most of the fabric of his trousers in that area, leaving the ghastly wound fully exposed. As for the young man himself, him whimpered pitifully in agony.

Both Bastila and R2-D2 were beside her estranged brother, providing what little medical attention that they could. Leia's Jedi Master held a bloody cloth in her hand, with which she had been cleaning the bloody wound on his forehead. The astromech droid had fixed a tray to one of his many normally concealed arm attachments, providing a medical table for the Jedi to utilize. It chirped softly as Leia entered and came to kneel beside her brother's bed.

"What happened to him?" she demanded as she accepted the cloth from Bastila and took over first aid.

"Leia," Bastila said calmly as she put a hand on her apprentice's shoulder. "There's something that you need to know."

The Princess of Alderaan barely paid her friend any attention. Her training had kicked in and she had diverted most of her focus to checking her patient. Based on what she could see, it was likely that he had a few cracked ribs and his shoulder looked to have been dislocated. Based on the regular pattern of breathing and steady utterances coming from him, she deduced that neither of his lungs had collapsed and that he was safely breathing on his own. His eyes stood about half open but appeared to be glazed over. He probably had sustained some sort of a concussion. Fortunately, that looked like the most serious injury.

"Luke," she murmured, trying to see if he was cognizant of his surroundings. "Can you hear me?"

"Leia, listen to me!" the Jedi Knight ordered as she grabbed her friend by both shoulders and turned her so that they were facing one another.

"What?" the princess snapped angrily. "He needs medical attention!"

"I know what Obi-Wan and Yoda told you! I know that you want to help him but you have to listen to me. Luke has fallen to the dark side. He tried to kill me back there!" To emphasize the point, she indicated the burn mark on her right shoulder, where his lightsaber had pierced her defenses.

Leia didn't say anything. Her eyes found their way to the floor and she thought deeply for a moment. Then she knocked both of Bastila's arms away with one of her own and turned her attention back towards Luke. She didn't have a significant amount of first aid experience. All she could do was clean the gash and the burns. The rest would simply have to heal on its own. A bacta pack for the concussion might help, though she didn't know to what extent. As she considered this, Leia idly began to dab at the bleeding injury across Luke's forehead.

Bastila nodded, knowing that her friend would need some time alone to process the information. In his current state, Luke didn't pose a threat to his sister. The Jedi put a reassuring hand on Leia's shoulder as she stood up. "If he starts to wake up or become self-aware, call me," she ordered. Leia nodded but didn't say anything in response. So with that, Bastila exited, leaving the twins alone for the first time in their lives.

The Princess of Alderaan felt the ship lurch beneath her and knew the they had just taken off. She didn't know how many Sith troopers were still aboard the facility and she didn't really care. All that she was aware of was a familial need to take care of her brother. Maybe he had fallen to the dark side of the Force. Maybe he had tried to kill them all. It didn't matter. Right now, all that she care about was helping him; relieving his agony and getting him nursed back to health. Everyone would deal with the consequences when the time came.


Leia rolled her eyes, a bit agitated that her moment of solitude had been interrupted so quickly. She turned and looked at Carth as he painfully walked into the room, holding the wall for support. She only fixed him with an inquisitive glance but didn't speak. He hobbled over to one of the other beds and took a seat. Relief was apparent. He slowly tried to unbuckle his flight jacket but had considerable difficulty due to the hole in his gullet. The princess sighed, a feeling of sympathy for her friend washing over her. She glanced at her brother before setting aside his blood stained cloth and walking over to Carth.

"Hold still," she ordered him softly as she began to undo the toggles of his jacket.

"You don't have to help me," he told her as he tried to push her hands away.

"Carth stop," she said firmly as she grabbed both of his hands between her own. They looked each other right in the eyes and in that moment, the emotions flowed more freely between them than if a Force bond had been connecting their minds. Her delicate brown eyes were quivering, as though she were holding back the sheer weight of what she felt inside. Incredible sorrow, regret, and depression were apparent within them. They plead silently with him, begging him to just listen to her and let her help him. She had been through enough in the last few months. Her mission to recruit Obi-Wan Kenobi had resulted in the death of her ship's entire crew. She had been taken aboard the Death Star and tortured for days before her rescue. Her entire home world had been wiped out. Months later, on this very day, she had learned that the man who had overseen her interrogation and agony aboard the Emperor's space station and who had used it to destroy her home had been her own father. Now, to compound the pain she felt, her estranged brother had returned with the intention of killing her. Simply put, she had had enough. She just needed peace. She needed solace. She needed to feel like there was something in her life that wasn't beyond her control.

Carth returned her gaze with his hardened brown eyes. Despite everything that he too felt behind his eyes, he understood what she wanted. He knew that it would be selfish to turn her away. With that, the soldier let his hands fall limply beside him and allowed the lovely young woman to unbutton his jacket. He grimaced painfully when reached the partially singed mid-section of the garment, which had partially melted into his skin. The Republic pilot grit his teeth as it separated from his charred flesh and let out a loud grunt when at last it came free completely.

"Sorry," she mumbled as she continued.

"Your bedside manner could use some work," he chuckled through still grit teeth.

Leia somehow found it within herself to smirk at the comment as she reached the top button. Once it was loose, she pushed the jacket down his shoulders and let it fall into a slump behind him. He wore a black skintight shirt beneath the out layer, which accentuated his strong build. "This is going to hurt," she warned him as she slipped her fingers beneath the hem at the bottom of the garment. He nodded as he steeled himself for what was about to come. She quickly pulled the shirt up, over the cauterized flesh, peeling it away from the wound. He coughed violently as the muscles in his arms and legs tensed as raw fleshed pulled away from his body. He didn't have the focus to pull the shirt over his head. It just hung above the injury, well out of their way. The princess stopped and looked up at him. He simply nodded that he was alright and she turned her eyes back to the hole in his gut. "It doesn't look good," she commented. "But a bacta patch on it for a few hours should help considerably."

"Han has a supply," he commented through the pain that radiated in the torso area.

"Lay back," she told him as she pushed him onto his back softly. Carth begrudgingly obliged, groaning as he did.

"I'll go get you a patch," she told him. "But then I need to take care of Luke."

Carth nodded that he understood and Leia stood up to leave. Before she could, he reached for and took her hand into his own. The Rebel Senator looked back at him and saw that he looked so pitiful, looking up at her. It looked as if he wanted to say something in that moment but didn't have the nerve. She felt that it was probably for the best. Discussing what had happened between them earlier really didn't rank on her priority list. She tugged her hand away gently before walking out of the room, leaving both of the injured men in her life alone in the room together.