Bad Blood

Written by Lord Zeuss

"...I still think that I should do all the talking."

"You? You could barely tell what was going on since you were so busy staring at Canderous' rippling muscles!"

"How could you tell where I looking? Your eyes were on my backside the entire time."

"Okay, Bastila, that's just ridiculous. I did more to help than you ever did."

"Oh, really? You've demonstrated time and again that you lack even the faintest bit of self-control. I wouldn't put it past you."

"Are you looking for a fight? Fine! Bastila, I think that you are a pretentious, self-righteous, hypocritical schutta who cares more about keeping her hairdo intact than helping with the mission."

"Why you...!"

From inside the Council Chambers, Masters Zhar, Vandar, Dorak, and Vrook could easily hear the bickering between Padawan Bastila and Colonial Draftee Calum Jan. They'd suspected from Bastila's preliminary communications that the two of them were not getting along especially well. Apparently things had come to a head. It was clear to anyone within earshot that the two cordially despised each other.

That was not good. Forget the Dark Side, this would completely ruin their plans. They couldn't proceed onward if the two most important individuals in their plan couldn't stand each other--that simply would not do.

"Do you still consider this a good idea?" Vrook asked. I-told-you-so was more evident in his voice by the lack thereof than it would have been had he laced his tone with sarcasm. He didn't need to.

Considering what they'd been listening to from the pair outside the doors for the last half-hour, Zhar had to admit the perpetually pessimistic Master might have a point this time. But it was Vandar who spoke up instead.

"Find the truth of these matters, we must, Vrook."

"I think those two may be a lost cause as it is," Vrook retorted.

"We will have to reserve judgment until we hear their stories," Dorak counseled.

"I agree with Master Dorak," said Zhar. "Bring in the Colonial."

"Why you first?" Bastila hissed.

Calum shrugged. "Because they asked for me first."

As he made to enter the Council Chambers, Bastila grabbed him by the collar and yanked him back, putting her quietly furious face inches from his. "If you tell anyone, especially Vrook, about how I misplaced my lightsabre..."

"Do you want me to lie to them, Bastila? I thought Jedi were all about the truth."

At his witty reply, Bastila backed off. He gave her a sarcastically chivalrous bow and strode confidently into the Council Chambers.

At just under six feet, Calum Jan was a tall man, easily towering over the shorter Bastila and the much shorter Mission. But he couldn't compete with Zaalbar--then again, he doubted many humans could. His build was modestly muscular, unlike Canderous whose shoulders were nearly as wide as young Mission was tall. That said, he was more than capable of being forceful when circumstances demanded. Underneath a carpet of short black hair, his face looked like it had started out blocky and roughly defined like his Mandalorian traveling companion's, but had been purposely softened into a more generic, classically handsome countenance. The stubble of a coarse beard, developed during the several days without a razor on Taris, had been freshly shaved just for the occasion of meeting with the Jedi Council on Dantooine.

He strode with a purpose to stand before the four Masters, to whom he bowed respectfully.

"Ah, so this is the one we have heard so much about," Master Zhar, a pale-skinned Twi'lek Jedi, said in greeting. "Welcome to Dantooine and our Enclave, Calum Jan."

"It is an honor to meet you," Calum responded with an additional, shallow bow.

"Grave are the times in which we live, Calum Jan," Master Vandar, a small Jedi of a species Calum had never seen before, spoke. "The destruction of Taris has weighed heavily on our minds. It was a lift to our spirits when we heard you had helped Bastila escape."

"However," Master Vrook, the one Bastila had warned him about, a grizzled old man with a surly disposition, interrupted, "we wish to know the particulars of several incidents to which we were alerted by Bastila's communique."

"So you want my story?" Calum asked. The Masters gave stone-like nods. "Alright then..."

Lower City Taris, Swoop Track

The crowd was cheering wildly as Calum cracked open the cockpit of the swoop bike and stepped onto the audience platform, immediately surrounded the other Bek drivers to congratulate him and help keep the crowd from pressing in too close. He didn't need to be told that he'd beaten Redros' best time, and a quick look at the tables confirmed it--he'd beaten the Black Vulkar by a large margin.

All the swoop experience he'd had running supplies back and forth across miles of wilderness during his colonial days had paid off; he was now the Taris Swoop Champion.

Reaching his arms across the closed shoulders of his Bek escorts, he graciously touched the hands of the crowd, his face lit by a beaming smile. While he paid his respects to the crowd, however, he kept glancing toward the announcement stage and the prisoner he knew was there. He'd done what he'd done to get near enough to Bastila to help her escape, not for the glory of winning the big race. Once he was "presented with the winning prize" Bastila would be free and he could concentrate on getting them all off Taris.

When he reached the announcement stage, Calum saw that Redros, the lead Vulkar rider, and Viviana, the sister of the Hidden Beks' famed rider Zaerdra, were already there. They had the second two fastest times, and were to be honored as winners themselves, though not the grand winner, as he was. He shook Viviana's hand and bowed respectfully to Redros - the Vulkar was not impressed by his chivalry and snorted in disgust - before turning back to the crowd and giving them a deep bow of thanks. Viviana gave him a light kiss on the cheek.

Viviana's finishing time was announced: 29.15 seconds, and she was awarded the medal for third-place finisher. (The medals - practically worthless discs of metal - were purely ceremonial and though they were respected symbols of victory among the Beks, the Vulkars regarded them as little more than trash.) Redros clocked in ahead of her with a time of 28.78 seconds, and was given the medal for second-place. Anyone who could his species' expressions could see he was clearly discontent.

Calum had up and away beaten both of them. His time was 26.50. He'd beaten Redros by more than two entire seconds--no mean feat on a swoop track. The crowd applauded him more loudly upon the awarding of his first-place medal than they did for the other two riders.

The Duros race manager then announced the leader of the Black Vulkar gang, Brejik, would be awarding the grand prize to the winner. When Brejik - a dark-skinned, irate Human with a glower permanently affixed to his face - stepped up to the announcer's podium, Calum could instantly tell things were about to get out of hand. Nothing that had gone this well for this long could possibly end well.

"People, hear me!" Brejik shouted over the PA system in a disproportionately high-pitched voice. "The winning rider, the so-called champion of the Beks, cheated his way to victory! He disregarded our sacred traditions and rode a bike outfitted with an illegal prototype accelerator--clearly an unfair advantage!"

Calum leaned forward and snagged one of the microphones. "Ah, would you like, then, to tell this wonderful crowd the number of 'illegal' substances your lead rider Redros was on during the race?" He reached into his pocket and brought out a handful of syringes he'd found amongst a stash in Redros' bike before the race. "I've memorized the regulations, Brejik, and there's nothing condemning a rider who can build a better engine than his peers." This remark drew angry yells from the gathered Vulkars and applause from the Beks. Brejik just glared harder.

"On the other hand," Calum went on, keeping a straight face, "illegal stimulants are pretty much still illegal."

Brejik looked like he might explode. "You insolent little whorespawn! I'll not award the Vulkars' share of the victory prize to you! I'm withdrawing it!"

"You can't do that, Brejik," the Duros manager protested. "It violates race regulations and goes against our traditions."

"Ha! You fool! I care nothing for your traditions!" Brejik looked like he'd snapped and crossed the line into insanity, plain and simple. "THE VULKARS WILL SLAUGHTER YOU ALL!"

Suddenly, the place was reduced to chaos. Beks and Vulkars opened fire on each other as the crowd either stampeded to escape, took sides, or were cut down by the crossfire. Brejik took a wild swing at Calum, who dodged and let the Vulkar leader fall flat on his face. He had more pressing concerns.

Calum dove for the two Vulkars guarding Bastila's cage. He pinned one but missed the other. Quickly, he put down the one Vulkar with a strong-armed punch in the face and tried to turn to face the other. Before the Vulkar could charge him, however, he staggered forward from a blaster bolt in the back. When the Vulkar toppled, Calum saw Viviana standing before him. She flashed him a quick smile before turning her attention back to the battle.

Grabbing the fallen Vulkar's pistol, he blasted off the locking mechanisms on the cage and pulled Bastila out. Unfortunately, she was hardly conscious. Even worse, a neural inhibitor was clamped firmly around her cranium that had been keeping her that way. Quickly, he pulled the headband off and dragged her to the back of the stage and away from the battle, where hopefully she would go unnoticed until she regained sufficient consciousness to be able to concentrate and take care of herself.

Drawing his vibrosword, Calum plunged into the battle.

The Vulkars had made a mistake by choosing to fight their battle here. Opening fire indiscriminately had turned much of the crowd against them, and no one went to a Taris swoop race without taking at least some precautionary measures. Of those who stuck to one side rather than flee, the Beks clearly held the upper hand in terms of support from the well-armed crowd. Their victory was practically a foregone conclusion. Gradually the fight started to drift away, until only Brejik and a few of his followers remained, desperately fighting the pitched battle.

Calum locked swords with Brejik, in close enough to smell the other man's sweat as he glared hatefully - perhaps a bit drunkenly - at Calum.

With a grunt of effort, he shoved Brejik back, and the Vulkar leader's wild eyes suddenly seemed to be popping out of their skull. Calum stared in amazement as the tip of a yellow lightsabre punched through Brejik's stomach, giving him little time to do more than make a few gurgling noises before he slid to the ground, dead.

As the Vulkar leader fell, Calum saw Bastila standing over him, pulling the single ignited blade of her dual-bladed lightsabre from his back. He might have even seen her spit on his corpse.

"Next time you bloody Vulkars should think twice before taking a Jedi prisoner!" she snorted at Brejik's corpse.

Calum cleared his throat to make her aware of him, and when she looked up at him a cross glare came to her face.

"And as for you," Bastila snapped at him, "if you think you can claim me as a prize, you are sorely mistaken." With a flick of her wrists, she twirled her lightsabre hilt and instantaneously ignited the other blade, holding the weapon threateningly at him.

Calum put up his hands in placation. "I didn't race for money or glory. In fact, I'm not even a Hidden Bek. I'm a Republic survivor from the Endar Spire. I'm Serviceman Calum Jan, of the Colonial Division, transferred to the Republic Marines garrison aboard the Spire by the request of your command party, Ma'am."

Put slightly at ease, Bastila extinguished her lightsabre. "Oh, well in that case, I'm glad I was here to save you from Brejik and his followers."

Calum frowned; she had most certainly not saved him. He'd done the hard fighting and all she'd done was stab an exhausted Brejik in the back; how honorable. "Excuse me," he began in a respectful, if slightly annoyed, tone, "but until I got you out of that cage you were out of it. I've done all the fighting here. It's nothing to be ashamed of, neural inhibitors can be tough to crack, I hear."

Discourteously, she brushed aside his words in a huff. "I think you misunderstand the situation, Colonial. A Jedi is never helpless, and regardless, were it not for my quick action, Brejik and the Vulkars would have left you for dead."

His temper was rising, but Calum forced himself to ignore increasing feelings of anger and frustration at the pretentious, spoiled woman Bastila was so far turning out to be. "Look, I went through this whole race to get a chance to rescue you from the Vulkars. I thought that should be my highest priority from the moment my pod crashed."

"Well, as far as rescues go this is a pretty poor example," Bastila replied with her arms crossed, looking down her nose at him. "You weren't able to manage much rescuing, and it's probably more accurate to say I saved you. You would be dead if not for me."

That was grating, and staying deferential and respectful was ever-more difficult for Calum. "Ok, look, we don't need to argue about this right now. It's really of little consequence since one way or another you aren't a Vulkar prisoner anymore. Carth and I have spent the better part of the last week looking for you. Now that we've found you," - Calum bitterly wished he could add "for better or worse" - "we'll need to plan our next move."

At this, Bastila finally seemed to come out of her grouchiness the slightest bit. "Carth Onasi is alive?" she exclaimed. "Finally some good news."

Calum decided his frown was going to stay.

"Take me to Carth, Colonial," Bastila ordered. "I'm sure between his expertise and my Jedi training I'll be able to find some way off this planet before the Sith realize we're here."

"My name," he growled, "is Calum."

Bastila looked like she was pretending not to hear him.

Upper City Apartment, Taris

"Bastila, you're alive! Finally things are looking up. All we need to do now is find a way off this planet."

Why Carth was so pleased to see Bastila, Calum couldn't figure. The woman was as difficult as a misfiring twenty-year-old transport engine. He guessed Carth was about to find out just how bothersome this spoiled little Jedi was going to be.

True to form, Bastila turned an incredulous stare to Carth. "You mean don't even have a plan to get off Taris yet? What in the name of the Masters have you been doing all this time? You haven't visited any cantinas, I hope? The Republic has laws and regulations regarding the conduct of its soldiers, you know."

Calum wanted to put a lot more sarcasm into his response than he subsequently did. Through either incredible willpower or pure luck - maybe both - it came out evenly-toned. "We've been looking for you, remember?"

"I see." Bastila took a moment to brush aside an infinitesimal strand of hair - or was it an invisible dust speck? - that had fallen over her eyes. "Perhaps now you would like to get back to your duty? If you'll remember, it's your duty to protect me. I am the ranking officer here, you're supposed to answer to me."

"You know, I respect you, Bastila, but a leader doesn't berate her troops when things don't go as planned," Carth growled in quite a reserved voice.

Bastila disagreed. "I am not berating you! I am merely reminding you of what your primary concern should be. And that is getting me safely off this planet."

"Bastila, I was wondering," Calum interjected, completely ignoring her tirade, "how did the Vulkars manage to capture you in the first place?"

"They did not have an easy time of it," Bastila replied, crossly. "Even with my Force powers nearly exhausted from the battle on the Endar Spire it still took more than ten of them."

"Ten? What, did you lose your lightsabre?"

At his remark, Bastila immediately bristled. "I did not 'lose' my lightsabre! It must have become dislodged during the crash and fallen beneath the seats. I am a Jedi, and far too disciplined to make such a lack of foresight as losing my weapon."

There was suddenly a knock on the apartment door.

"What?" Calum and Carth both yelled impulsively at the interruption.

A small voice was heard from outside the door. "I'm sorry, I'll come back later."

"No!" Calum yelled, not to be denied his distraction. He just couldn't deal with Bastila anymore. He opened the apartment door to find a green Twi'lek waiting anxiously for him. The Twi'lek had obviously read the hard annoyance in both Calum and Carth's voices, but he didn't know they weren't mad at him, just the obnoxious, self-important princess making them both miserable.

"Sorry about that," Calum apologized, "the wife and I were just having a bit of a disagreement." He could almost feel Bastila's glare on the back of his head. Let her glare.

The Twi'lek visibly relaxed and began relaying his message. It seemed a certain Mandalorian wished to meet with him...


"I think we've heard enough, Colonial Jan," Master Vrook said in what had to be his only tone; irritation.

"Thank you for giving us your account, Calum Jan. You may go now." By the way Master Dorak phrased it, it was less a giving of permission to leave as it was a command to leave. Calum bowed once more and turned to leave.

"Tell Bastila her turn, it is," Master Vandar called out as Calum was crossing the floor.

"I will, Master."

When he reached the Jedi princess, she was wearing a look that combined frazzled and anxious with boiling hatred. He angled her hands away from him when she tried to grab him by the collar again, but couldn't dodge her icy voice.

"I was listening. I told you not to tell them about my lightsabre!" If there was a word that would have adequately described Bastila's combined expression of sheer terror and deadly threat, Calum didn't know of it. Else he would have had something new to add to his journal. Such as it was, however, he would have to make do with the already quite entertaining entry he had planned for this little incident.

Gleeful to finally have the upper hand, Calum grinned crazily at her. "By the way, Bassie, they want to talk to you next."

She hissed something unintelligible and turned to enter.

Calum resisted the urge to swat her on the bottom as she passed by. Better not to give her any more ammunition than she already had.

Serene and peaceful inside, Bastila Shan ignored Colonial Serviceman Calum Jan's futile attempts to provoke her. She was above such childish games of taunt and tantrum, just another way the teachings of the Jedi Order had made her a better person. If the Jedi Council wished to speak with her, then so be it; she had nothing to hide, certainly not from the Masters.

Tall and statuesque, with stunning brown hair and matching eyes, she cut a regal figure in her tan outfit that blended the plain elegance of traditional Jedi robes with the fanciful splendor of Core fashion. Years of intense training had toned her slender body into a lithe, flexible, and deceptively strong figure, and there was little doubt in her mind that under fair conditions she could beat either Carth or Calum in hand-to-hand combat.

She gave an elegant bow to the four Masters; Zhar with his odd expressions, Vrook and his one expression, Vandar and his simple understanding, and Dorak with his historian's perspective.

"You sent for me, Masters?"

"As we asked the Colonial, we wish to hear your account of these events on Taris of which you informed us in your communique..."

Lower City Taris, Swoop Track

It had taken her a long time, hours and hours of agonizing work, but Bastila's dogged persistence was paying off. Slowly but surely, the neural inhibitor clamped around her skull was losing its effectiveness, her gradually building resistance was forcing its invasive presence from her mind and freeing more of her mental abilities with each passing minute.

She could hear cheering, see vague images through blurry eyes. She blinked to clear her vision until she could see a tall, muscular man making his way through a gathered throng toward the platform on which her cage was located. He was grinning and sneering with arrogance at the crowd's affection, soaking it in like a dry sponge.

When he reached the platform where stood two others, swoop riders by the looks of them, he cast one - Bastila couldn't tell which race to which the man belonged - with a discourteous glance and made a rude, offensive gesture with his hand. To the other, however, a Twi'lek woman, he gave a sudden, impulsive, suggestive, borderline-indecent kiss. She looked about ready to swoon and fall at his feet.

Bastila was growing more lucid moment by moment, and she started to catch the words of a Duros speaker. He was announcing the winners of a swoop race. The grand winner he introduced as Calum Jan, and the human man who had been the recipient of the crowd's adoration bowed to the praise of being declared winner.

There was something about him that made Bastila think she ought to recognize him, but her mind continued coming up blank. It was either his arrogance or his self-absorbedness, she couldn't tell which.

An altercation suddenly broke out. A dark-skinned man announced as Brejik, the leader of the Black Vulkar swoop gang, was protesting that Calum had cheated.

"If you can't handle someone better than you, maybe you ought to go home, Brejik!" Calum viciously taunted against the man's accusations.

"Your swoop bike was using an illegal prototype accelerator--clearly an unfair advantage!" Brejik whined. "So I'm withdrawing the Vulkars' share of the victory prize!"

The Duros protested mightily, stating something about race traditions and regulations--Bastila's Duro wasn't the best, and at the speed he was jabbering it would have been difficult for even a fluent speaker to follow his speech.

"Fool! Your traditions mean nothing to me!" Brejik declared triumphantly, as if he'd won something. "If I want to sell this woman on the slave market, there's nothing you can do to stop me!"

That was it, she'd heard enough. It was time for her to step in.

With a tremendous exertion of raw willpower, Bastila snapped off the neural inhibitor with the Force and blasted off the entire front of her cage. The two startled guards just outside had no chance against her surprise attack, and a few well-placed kicks in the neck downed them easily.

Even before the onlookers could catch a breath, Bastila reached out and snatched her double-bladed lightsabre from where it hung on Brejik's belt.

"I might have something to say about that, Brejik," she declared, standing firm.

Brejik was dumbfounded. "What? Impossible. You were restrained by a neural disruptor! You couldn't possibly have freed yourself!"

"You underestimate the strength of a Jedi's mind," Bastila shot back, trying to encourage him to back off.

He didn't. His face contorted in fury and he shouted sudden orders. "Vulkars, to me! Take back what is ours! Kill them all!"

Bastila had but time for a quick sigh of disgust, and she quickly ignited the lightsabre in her hands, giving it an experimental twirl in the air. Instantly, the Vulkars began blasting at everyone in sight. She deftly swung her lightsabre, deflecting shots and slicing apart blaster rifles. Most of the Vulkars, once disarmed, quickly fled the battle, joining the panicked throng of civilians and badly beaten Hidden Bek gang members.

One person refused to flee, however. The race winner, Calum Jan, doggedly fought increasing numbers of the bloodthirsty Vulkars even as his own allies diminished in number. If for no other reason than he too was opposed to the Vulkars, Bastila found herself tentatively supporting him. Indirectly, of course, by preventing other Vulkars from taking advantage of his own difficulties as he insisted on fighting a fight he couldn't possibly win.

Eventually, Calum got into a fight with Brejik himself, clashed vibroswords ineffectually with the Vulkar leader until he was tossed to the ground, his sword clattering away, far out of reach. Only a few Vulkars remained, which Bastila dispatched with a few swipes of her lightsabre and she turned her full attention towards Brejik.

Drawing upon the Force, she hurled her lightsabre at the Vulkar leader. Spinning in midair, the golden blades struck him in the back, impaled him just as he made to run his sword through the beaten and helpless Calum on the ground. Brejik collapsed to his knees and toppled over, dead.

As she strode over to take another look at Calum, Bastila retrieved her lightsabre from Brejik's corpse.

"Maybe those bloody Vulkars will think twice before taking a Jedi prisoner," she said as she jerked her lightsabre from the man's back. It was unfortunate he had to die, but some were violent and couldn't see reason. She'd had no choice. "And now there is the issue of you," she said to Calum, who was still on the ground, scratching his head as if trying to figure out what had just happened.

Just as she was about to continue talking, Bastila realized what it was about him that was familiar to her. Yes, the arrogance was unmistakable, and the appearance was remarkable, but it was the name that sent chills down her spine. She knew without a doubt that this was the same Calum Jan as the one created by the Council to cover the true identity of Dark Lord Revan. She would have to proceed carefully.

"Wait, I don't believe this!" she exclaimed, the words sincere. "You're one of the Republic soldiers from the Endar Spire!" Those words were less than sincere, but still basically truth.

Standing up, Calum brushed at his scuffed swoop rider outfit, extended an overeager hand. "I'm Calum Jan, Republic Armed Forces. I'm here to save you."

Bastila was tempted to be irked by his foolish pretension, but kept tight rein on her tone as she responded. "Well, I thank you for the effort, but I'm afraid it was unnecessary. I was quite able to free myself." She smiled, hoping he would relax.

He didn't. In fact, he grew quite upset. "No, I don't think you understand the situation," Calum insisted. "You were a helpless prisoner before I came along. You're lucky I was looking for you."

"I may have been a prisoner, but a Jedi is never helpless," Bastila explained, calmly, patiently. But everything she did seemed only to get Calum more and more riled up.

"I saved you. It's as simple as that! Without me you'd still be in the hands of a swoop gang!"

Since he couldn't seem to see reason, Bastila tried a different tactic; the blunt trauma of the truth. "Brejik and his followers would have left you for dead if I hadn't stepped into that fight. He had you at his mercy. It might be more accurate to say I saved you."

It was exactly the wrong thing to do.

"I can't believe I went through all this just to find a spoiled, ungrateful little schutta!" Calum snarled. "Do you know how long Carth and I have been searching for you? Do you know how many times I've been poisoned, infected, shot up, or clubbed nearly to death? I didn't think so! You're too busy thinking about yourself! Spoiled little Jedi Princess!"

"Carth Onasi is alive?" Good news indeed. "Please forgive my insensitivity," Bastila said, hoping to placate him somewhat. He did seem to calm down slightly at her words.

"Please, take me to Carth right away. I'm sure between your skills, his expertise, and my Jedi training we'll be able to figure out a way off Taris before the Sith realize we're here."

"Right," Calum agreed. "After we tell him how I saved you."

Bastila sighed to herself and decided to let him have his delusions for the time being.

Upper City Apartment, Taris

Carth, for his part, was happy to see her. "Finally things are looking up. I'm glad to see you're alive, Bastila. Now we can get down to the business of finding a way off this planet."

"So you don't have a plan yet?" Bastila had to admit she was a little surprised an officer of his stature hadn't been planning ahead. But then, of course, they'd been busy searching for her. "I'm sorry. Of course you've been spending most of your time searching--"

Before she could even finish apologizing for her presumption, Calum rudely interrupted her, with much flailing of his arms and untoward yelling. "Because we've been looking for you! Frak if you aren't just the most ungrateful little two-cred whore in the whole galaxy! And you're wrong, I do have a plan!"

Bastila crossed her arms patiently, waiting for him to blow off his steam. "And just what sort of plan would that be?" she asked inquisitively.

Calum glared at her. "A brilliant one, woman, that's what! I'll tell you about it when I feel like it and not a minute sooner!"


Master Zhar suddenly held up his hand, beckoning her to stop recanting her story. He'd obviously heard enough. And from the faces of the other three Masters, Bastila could tell they had, as well.

"You may leave us now, Padawan Bastila," Dorak said.

Bastila bowed gracefully and turned to leave.

Master Vrook shook his head. "Those two are hopeless."

"Agree with Vrook, I do," Vandar concurred.

"I must admit, this is quite problematic," Dorak added.

"Perhaps all they need is time," Zhar offered hopefully. The other Masters gave him unreadable looks.

"Time is part of the problem here, Zhar. The bond between the two of them was left dormant for too long. Revan has developed a personality that differs from the one we anticipated. Once they were reintroduced to each other, the Force sought balance and pitted them against each other." Vrook clucked his tongue as he shook his head again. "I doubt we can trust so much as a single word that comes from either of their mouths if it is even peripherally related to the other, rendering any information they may possess useless."

"I'm afraid you may be correct, Master Vrook," Zhar reluctantly admitted.

"Proceed with our plans, we cannot," Vandar concluded.

"Certainly not if the two most central figures cannot stand each other. Something will have to be done. Perhaps more modification is necessary," Vrook suggested.

"You would suggest we further alter Revan's mind, Vrook? You, who were the foremost opponent of this plan in the first place?" Zhar almost couldn't believe he was hearing this. But after listening to Revan and Bastila's ridiculous stories, it was conceivable that even Vrook was willing to deviate from his normal stances.

"If we do not do something those two will surely kill each other. It is for their own good and that of the galaxy."

"Right you may be, Vrook," Vandar remarked regretfully.

"What did you tell them?" Calum demanded.

Bastila sniffed spitefully and cast her nose up in the air. "I told them the truth. Jedi don't lie."

"I'll bet you didn't tell them about that kiss you gave Canderous as added insurance."

"I can hardly see how you were in any position to make judgments. Just how many dancers were you attempting to woo into your bed while I took care of what was supposed to be your meeting?"

"I was gathering intelligence. Not that you'd even know what that is, since you seem to have an abject lack of it."

"I am a Jedi, and above your childish taunts."

"That's your response for everything!"

As Bastila and Calum argued, a warm, tingly sensation passed over the both of them, siphoning away their hold on consciousness. Their minds were lulled into a waking trance-like state, and were overcome by a compulsion to enter the Council Chambers.

The four Masters were waiting inside.

They both dimly heard Zhar make a snarky comment to Vrook. "Well, this was your idea."

Vrook's gravelly voice then rang out. "You both really, really like each other..."