Summary: The story of Revan leaving for the Unknown Regions. Carth/Revan.
A/N: Thank you to Pallas-Athena for beta'ing!
Feedback is utterly loved!
"But it was like the war didn't end for her. She would keep remembering things she had done, and it kept driving her. She kept using it as a wall between us. And I think she finally remembered something terrible she had done during the Mandalorian Wars. And she went to put an end to it. She left without warning. She didn't say where, only that it was a place she could not take anyone she loved."
--- Carth Onasi, KOTOR II
Revan supposed it was some sort of unintentional apology. She'd gotten part of one, more formal and much later, along with the usual trope of 'it was necessary' and 'ultimately good for you,' but the box of her things meant far more to her than mere words. They were tangible remnants of her past, things imbued with meaning and memory.
She had wondered at first why they kept them - didn't burn them, destroy them. Then she realized they were like pieces of the puzzle of Darth Revan's fall, the only knowledge left, since they'd burned the ultimate truth from her mind in their vaunted Jedi mercy.
Since she had fought for the Republic, killed for it, nearly died for it, she supposed they considered her trustworthy enough to bring her in on her own history - to let her into the mystery some of them wanted to solve, the flaw in their training that had led so many Jedi Knights to the Dark Side. And not only that, but that they had not just fallen, but done so with such completeness. What had happened, what aspect of war had entwined inside of them, twisting their thinking and leading to such a quiet, vast turn? With her, Revan, in the forefront, able to take so many with her, to her cause - she could only have done so with the complete understanding of just how the Jedi had failed, what the flaw was. Or so some thought.
Bastila was the one who gave them to her, a slight apologetic smile, quiet and unsure. Her fall to the Dark Side remained with her, and Revan thought it always would - Bastila could not forget, as she had.
"I hope you find some explanation in them," Bastila said. "For all of us, who don't understand what happened." Revan heavily suspected that it had been Bastila's idea to give them to her, and Revan wondered if it was because she thought Revan was strong enough, now, to face it - her past - so completely. She was near-certain that the Jedi had fought Bastila on that point, their faith in Revan shaky. Bastila, of all the Jedi - far more than even Juhani or Jolee - understood her. She'd understood Revan's fury at being deceived, the feeling of betrayal, and it had been that understanding that had shaped Revan after Bastila's capture and her feelings on the Jedi and her path while on her own. So it was not surprising that Bastila had understood this, too.
The items were in a box. Her mask lay on top and on the bottom lay her robes, with crystals attuned to Dark energy.
Not at all like Jedi robes, dark, fitted, almost like armor, with superior technology embedded to designed to increase her reflexes, heal her wounds, with flat, little stones too small for a lightsaber laid out in lines, quixoni stones that didn't gleam or shine with an inner light like the crystals, but nevertheless could be used as focuses for the Force. She took the mask in her hands, fingers tracing over the slat that would be before her eyes.
Darth Revan had known well, she supposed, the power of an inhuman symbol. Unstoppable, as she had been in the Mandalorian Wars. Even then, she had turned people to her, to follow her, obedient and blind to her will, so much so that they followed her into more war and more pain and death. She had inspired incredible loyalty - fear among the Sith, but loyalty among the common soldiers.
Here above Telos, on the newly built Citadel Station, in the apartment she shared with Carth as he worked with Republic crews to rebuild the world her apprentice had so callously destroyed, that life seemed very far away, even unreal.
She put the robes down on the couch, went to the window.
They had an incredible view, if you wanted to call it that. The Ithorians were settling in, starting to build shields to work on areas one at a time, the only way to keep the corrosive atmosphere from quickly undoing their work. They lay across the land in giant lines of grey mortar and blue shielding. Right beneath the station, there was some greenery, a few trees and some grass. In the distance, there was red mist, the atmosphere unchanged, hills and some larger buildings faintly seen, barely rising above the acidic clouds.
In the Force, the planet felt weak, life meager, nearly dead.
In the eyes of Carth and the TSF and the people of Telos, it was home. And worth saving, one of many, the first of the worlds to be repaired and reborn.
She couldn't help but feel the immensity of the task, and wondered if it would ever be completed. For Carth's sake, she hoped so.
Where they lived was a small, but homey place, two rooms, the main living area and the bedroom. The Jedi had wanted her to return with them to Coruscant, and so she had, briefly. Didn't stay, didn't want to. They were wary of her, though they didn't show it and didn't broadcast it in the Force - she just knew. The way they watched her, that they watched her so diligently, it all indicated quite clearly to her eyes that they still didn't trust her - their faith unsteady, even with the gift of Darth Revan's things. She couldn't really blame them.
Carth had. She'd more than proven herself, he said indignantly at hearing their wary words.
She'd kissed him, right there in front of them, and scoffed at their disapproval.
His faith in her, his love for her, had kept her going as she ran through the Star Forge, feeling the weight of the Dark Side and her own memories, an ache at the edge of her consciousness, burdens that slowed her, made her step hesitant. She hadn't come to face Malak with the righteousness of the Jedi, but the wearied necessity that was her life, after she learned the truth. There was no other way for her, but to go on what she knew then, not the stories of what she once was. Or what the Jedi had wanted her to be - neither one would work, neither one was her path.
And yet. She wondered. More than the 'flaw' that some of the Jedi Council were curious about - some insisted there was none - she wondered why she'd taken the path she had, not just turning, as the Jedi focused on, but the actions, the facts of Darth Revan's life.
Her actions to conquer the Republic weren't solely strategic - weren't solely based on the idea of conquering at any cost. No, she had left major structures and governments intact, even lines of trade. Why? Malak hadn't. It wasn't the way of the Sith to care about such things: either the conquered planets would learn to kill the weak and be strong, or they would fail and die. She hadn't wanted them to fail and die, she had held herself and Malak in check, and then moved on.
Which brought her back to the robes.
She turned from the window, the red swathes reminders of her dead apprentice as much as they were of Carth's determination, and back to the couch, to the robes.
She wanted so badly to remember, and she knew just how much that bothered Bastila and the Jedi Council. They wanted to know where they had gone wrong, but didn't want to take what they felt were risks - they wanted her to tell them what had gone wrong so they could fix it, but couldn't seem to accept that doing so would require Revan be at least partially restored. If not restored, able to retrace her steps so that she could understand them. They thought that was dangerous, would lead her to the Dark Side yet again, unnecessary. They thought that the amount of retracing her steps she had unwittingly done had exposed her enough, any more would be too dangerous.
Revan didn't think they were right, in that respect. To remember, she would have to feel it again, too. Pure intellectual knowledge would not work, if it was even possible.
She wasn't as convinced that it was as dangerous as they claimed. Whatever had caused her to turn, she had the Light now in equal spades. And Carth. It was part of the reason she left with Carth, hadn't remained with the Jedi. There were other reasons, too - they wanted to keep an eye on her, but didn't dare let her teach or take students, a most needed occupation with the Jedi numbers sorely depleted. They wanted to understand, but didn't want to take any risks to do so. They wanted to talk to her, make sure she stayed on their side, help with the cleaning up efforts. She spoke publicly against the Sith, of course. But other than that, she wasn't needed or wasn't trusted enough to be needed. Bastila had encouraged her to stay, had been one of the few to feel so honestly, and not out of wariness. Bastila, since she had returned to the Light, had been a great deal quieter. Their bond remained, and in it she could feel Bastila's struggle, and her success. And she knew the bond was a reassurance to the younger Jedi, as it had helped Revan bring her back, persuade her that it wasn't too late. It was reluctantly she had left Bastila, but Bastila had understood, when she saw Revan with Carth.
The other Jedi had not. But she felt no need to consider their concerns.
This act would bother them. They would counsel against it, saying that one cannot know the Dark Side and stay away from it. However Revan had turned, though, she was fairly certain it had not been blindly, had not been a fall, but a choice. She could choose, again, not to, if she wished. But it was the facts that she required, the knowledge of why and where and when.
She paused, though. She still thought the members of the Jedi Council were blinded by their fear - but that did not mean they were necessarily wrong. She believed that they were wrong, but that itching small bit of doubt remained like a burr under her skin.
So she paused, and seriously asked herself what the hell she was doing. She could practically hear it in Carth's voice.
The only answer she got was that she was remembering; that she had to remember. That there was some secret in her mind that she had yet to learn, to relearn if necessary.
And so her hands moved as if they had done this before, held these robes, knew every inch of them. The armor was silky in her hands, strangely soft to the touch, only the mask, lying on top, unmoving and unbending. She put the mask aside, fingered the clasps, opening them.
She took off her Jedi robes, as if shedding that skin, that title, and slipped the armor on effortlessly. It fit her perfectly, still, and was comfortable on her skin. She pulled up the hood, covering herself, and then took the mask.
Everything went black as it settled over her eyes.
She flexed her hands in the gloves, closed her eyes. And before her she saw waves of Mandalorians coming at her, basilisks coming down from the sky in long streaks, the roar of them ringing in her ears, her blue lightsaber before her, the hum as she sliced through shields, as she saw every flaw in their counterattacks, the Force speaking to her and filling her very being, each death she caused perfectly controlled and perfect, the reverb of their passing lives like power -
She tore off the mask, turned. Carth stood there, eyes wild. "Carth," she said, softly. The memory retreated, and she held out her hand. "I -"
"Take it off."
She didn't argue. Stripped, and stood before him there in her underwear. She walked up to him, seeing him calm, a flush rise in his cheeks, eyes glance away. Stroked his cheek, down to his jaw, her thumb across his lower lip, then kissed him.
His hands settled on her face with a sigh she felt against her lips. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Why?" he asked, drawing away from her, looking into her eyes.
She brushed the few strands of his red hair from his face, and said, "I guess I had to know. What it felt like. What it was."
He paused, eyes intent on her. "Did you remember anything?"
"Not from then," she said. "But before. The Mandalorian Wars, for just a moment. It was the beginning of Darth Revan, I think. In those places that we fought and killed so many." Other places came to her mind, faint and translucent like seeing through a fog. She closed her eyes, but saw them no better, and opened them to concern on Carth's face.
"But you're trying to remember. Something specific," he said. "Revan." Her name, not the name he'd called her by so often, but the name she insisted be hers, still. "This is dangerous, you know that? I talked to Bastila, and she's worried."
"I know what I'm doing."
"I hear that's what a lot of Jedi say. Right before they turn."
She laughed, couldn't help it. "I won't turn, Carth. I've had that temptation, and I've faced it."
"You didn't the first time." He was starting to get angry, she could see - frustration and worrying leading to it neatly.
"I'm not sure what happened then, Carth. Whether it was my choice, or something I was led into, or what my plans were. What I hoped to gain. And I don't know because those memories were taken from me."
"The Jedi said you were injured - "
"They're lying," she stated. Carth blinked. "No mere physical injury can erase memories, much less that of a powerful Sith Lord. It was a thing that let me see my darkness in a way I couldn't have otherwise. In that, I'm thankful. In the rest ... there's something, Carth. Something else behind what I did. And I - I know I did more than the Jedi know of, something "
She looked at him, saw how disturbed he was by the conversation, but continued on anyway, because she couldn't lie to him, not when he was right here asking. "Something very evil. Something still out there. That the Jedi don't know about."
"Something you regret?" he snapped, more angry than before.
"Of course, Carth. I do. I'm not - I'm not doing this because of some idle curiosity. The Jedi think the war is over, and I'm not sure it is," she said, a little uncertainty creeping in despite herself.
That got his attention, his anger fading. "What do you mean?"
"I'm not sure," she admitted. She sighed, decided to give up on it at the moment. She didn't know anything more. "We don't need to worry about it right now." Her hand skimmed along him, from his face to his shoulder to his hand, taking it in hers. She pulled him towards her as she backed up. "Especially not when we could be doing something else."
He laughed, shortly, still slightly uneasy by their conversation. "You're distracting me."
"I can be very distracting," she agreed, pulling him towards their bedroom.
"Revan," he said helplessly. She turned him around and pushed him forcefully enough to throw him onto their bed. He looked ridiculous, she thought, in full uniform lying on the fluffed up comforter and pillows.
"Yes?" she whispered, straddling him, face right up close, waiting.
"Never mind," he breathed out, and kissed her lips and her smile as she laughed.
Carth was curled up around her, his arm lying on her waist, his head to her nape, her dark hair curled underneath her, strands moving from her breath. He was deeply asleep, but the urge to protect her - even from herself, she supposed - was always strong for him. He was warm beside her and he snored, lightly, which she had teased him about before. She let her fingers trace his hand where it lay over her, the small wiry hairs on his fingers, the calluses on his palm and fingertips from the constant use of blasters and vibroblades.
Her strongest memories were of the two of them, the struggle to find the Star Maps, the entire journey. The life the Jedi had created in her memories had faded over time, as much as the true memories had arisen - as if the two could not coexist. It made her life feel incomplete, her origins uncertain and unknown, what was in her memory more of a mish-mash than reality.
But all her memories of Carth were solid and real, and each one that he gave her, that he spent with her despite her past, she cherished. She memorized him, the sleepy, dazed look on his face when he first woke up, the anger at the damage to his homeworld, when he spits fire with his words, the determination with the slightly furrowed brow, that she so often saw in his dealings with the Republic over Telos's reconstruction, and the shy joy at seeing Dustil with the Jedi, tentatively learning his way out of the Sith teachings. She knew them all, and could bring them to her mind instantly, in perfect detail. It was a comfort to her.
The others were on Telos, as well. Mission, Zaalbar, Canderous, T3-M4, HK-47. Juhani had returned to Coruscant with Bastila, and Jolee had chosen to wander Telos's surface with the Ithorians, but they all remained in contact with her. She wasn't sure why - as much as they had bonded together, and even gotten past the big reveal of her true identity, there was no reason for them to remain bound to one another. And yet, it was like she was a link keeping them all together - as if they were tied to her in some way. History and the murmurings of the Jedi told her that it had been much the same in the Mandalorian Wars, that she had brought others to her with such desperate loyalty.
She wasn't sure what to do with them now. She wanted them to return to their peoples, to live their own lives, but they hadn't, yet. Even Bastila and Juhani, separated from her by distance, kept in contact with her frequently and didn't let go.
She lifted Carth's arm from her, sitting up, then settling it on the bed gently, so as not to wake him.
It was daylight out, light streaming in, but Carth was facing away from the window, his face in shadow.
She reached out, unable to stop, fingers trailing the side of his face. She couldn't imagine not having this, being here with him every day, waking up with him every day. It wasn't until the Endar Spire that her life really started, the few actual memories she had of joining the Republic fleet a far second beginning.
Taking the datapad from the bedside table, she wrote a brief message for him, then put it on the bed where she had been lying.
Then she slipped on her Jedi robes, the intricate folding familiar more to her hands than her mind, and left the apartment.
What had been built of Citadel Station - which would eventually hover in orbit over much of the planet - was mostly living quarters and a giant spaceport for the Republic supplies, like the plants and animals the Ithorians needed to restart the ecology on the surface, once they'd eliminated the corrosive air and the remnants of buildings and bombs. The living quarters were mostly for those Telosians who had been off world when the planet was attacked, and wanted to return home and rebuild. Most were working towards that in some capacity, even if they weren't doing so as engineers or biologists.
Mission and Zaalbar were the ones she wanted to meet with first. They were young - relatively speaking, in the case of Zaalbar - and she thought she could convince them best to leave, to return to Kashyyyk, or to build new lives for themselves. Mission, she thought, would be good with Republic Intelligence, if she wanted to remain fighting for the Republic, and Zaalbar would follow her. Zaalbar could not be released from his loyalty oath, but she could order him to go. That would be best, she thought.
There was something out there, some secret evil - and it weighed on her, that thought. And she wanted no one near that terrible secret when she discovered it, whatever it was - this thing that she feared existed. Something, she believed, that she had hidden even from her old apprentice and perhaps, now, from herself. It was like there was a block to her times as a Sith - she was starting to access the memories before, the memories of the Mandalorian Wars, but not after. Perhaps the Jedi's job of erasure was better than she had suspected, more complete - too complete.
Zaalbar and Mission lived halfway across the station, and worked doing odd-jobs for the Republic. As many people had come to help rebuild Telos, half that more came in search of credits they could siphon off by any means necessary, and both Zaalbar and Mission were excellent at discovering and finding evidence against just those people. Mission in particular was the crafty sort, once she relaxed and no longer seemed so concerned with other's opinions. Which she had yet to succeed in entirely, but the young Twi'lek had matured a great deal on the journey to the Star Forge.
She found them at the TSF detention area, bringing in a thief.
Few knew that Revan was here. As a Sith Lord, she'd almost always worn her mask, and so most knew her that way. Among those in the Mandalorian Wars, only those who had met her knew her face - her name was more renowned than her looks, which she preferred. It granted her an anonymity she liked, now.
The TSF officer at the front desk gave her a slightly confused look as she passed, as if trying to remember her. Wearing Jedi robes, she was allowed to go practically anywhere on the station freely, and that was part of the reason she wore them - that, and people saw the outfit and tended not to look any further. If anything, they would probably remember her as Carth's companion.
Mission came running towards her, out past the front desk and hugging her. Revan laughed, returning it, then looked up at Zaalbar. "Hey, you two."
Zaalbar roared an enthusiastic greeting, but refrained from an embrace, thankfully.
"What's up?" Mission asked.
"I was hoping we could talk," Revan said, forcing a casual smile. "Can we go somewhere more private?"
"Sure," Mission said, after a glance at Zaalbar. Those two always were very attuned to each other - she hardly ever saw them split up.
They went to a small courtyard that looked out at the small section of Telos the Ithorians had managed to decontaminate. There were people milling around, but they ignored the three of them as they settled down at a bench right at the window. Mission was as bouncy and excitable as ever, almost determinedly so. She sensed something was off, even though Revan knew she'd given little hint of it. Mission's sensitivity to her age had broadened to be a sensitivity about people in general, one that might serve well in Intelligence. Zaalbar had also picked up on it, and met Revan's eyes with a concerned flow of Wookiee words.
"I know," Revan said simply. She smiled sadly, and looked at the both of them carefully. "I'll get right to it. I think you both should leave. I know you're both staying here because of me, and I appreciate that. But you two have lives of your own to lead, apart from mine."
"Are you serious?" Mission protested immediately. "This isn't because I'm young, is it? Because I can handle it, whatever it is."
"It has nothing to do with that, Mission." Revan took a moment, to let Mission calm down and look at her. "I trust you, Mission. I do. And I think your skills would be better served doing work for the Republic, not just hanging around here and doing odd jobs." She shifted her gaze. "You, too, Zaalbar. If not going back to your homeworld, then looking out for Mission, like you always have."
Zaalbar's response was a forlorn wail.
"I'm not trying to get around your oath, Zaalbar," Revan said. "I think Mission would be an asset to Republic Intelligence, and you with her. Staying around here isn't doing anyone any good."
"But what about you?" Mission objected, confused by Revan's words.
"What about me?" she returned. "I can help the Republic in my own way, as a Jedi. My path is different than yours, Mission. You and Zaalbar. And it's because I'm concerned for you that I'm insisting on this."
"Insisting!" Mission said, disbelieving.
"Zaalbar," was all Revan said.
Zaalbar moaned, and let loose another string of words.
"I don't want to order you," Revan replied, looking at him, willing him to see her honesty. "I want what's best for you, and that you would recognize that, too. Both of you."
Mission slumped back, staring at Revan, flipping a headtail over her shoulder in an almost-sulk. Revan couldn't help but smile sometimes Mission was so very young.
"You really think so?" Mission asked quietly.
"I do. I think you'd be a good officer, Mission. And Zaalbar is a strong protector no matter what you do, and I know," glancing at him again, "that he wants to stay with you."
"Okay. But I don't like this," she said, pointing at Revan. "I'll be asking Carth for updates!"
"I knew you and Carth would get along someday," Revan retorted, raising an eyebrow.
Mission snorted, and Zaalbar gave her a look. Revan just watched the interaction between the two, and smiled. They would be fine on their own, as long as they had each other.
Revan was doing the right thing here. She was certain of that.
When she got back to the apartment, after arranging Mission and Zaalbar's new careers with an interested Republic Intelligence officer, Carth was gone.
The datapad she'd left was on the floor, with no response on it. She picked it up, placed it on the bedside table, then walked back to the living area. Carth had apparently picked up her robes, folded them with the mask and put it aside.
She walked past the window, took the mask, traced the markings. She didn't remember designing it, of course, but she knew she must have. She took pleasure in tinkering with things, making them work in new and interesting ways - HK-47 was proof of that.
But in the end, she had so little proof of things - of what she had been and, most importantly, why.
The small glimpses she had about her past life did not fit into neat slots, didn't make sense or explain anything, only left her with more questions. She had done horrible things, tortured and killed many Jedi. She didn't remember it, not yet, but she knew she had. She'd captured Jedi and turned them, as Malak had done with Bastila, but her Jedi that turned did so more completely, more utterly fallen than Bastila had been. It was at the failure of her 'stronger' power that Bastila had seen the truth of the Dark Side, that it took much and gave little - certainly no more power than existed in the Light.
But none of the Sith Lords and apprentices she had met had ever done that, even as they lay dying at her hands, they believed. None of the Sith had been taken alive, save her. Save Darth Revan, attacked by her own apprentice and unconscious.
She held the mask, and stared into the slits for the eyes, as if Darth Revan could stare back.
She had apologized to Carth for this, but she couldn't stop. Not until she was certain they were safe. The Force was not silent on this subject, kept whispering to her of danger.
Her grip on the mask tightened, and she closed her eyes.
Focusing never seemed to work - letting her mind drift, come up with its own topics to think about, appeared to work best most often. Flashes of battles, her lightsabers in her hands, wielding two and cutting down armored opponent after armored opponent, in all fields of battle - from cities to plains to jungles, all horribly scarred.
Images of Taris, the mass destruction of it as they fled, also came to her mind. She'd often wondered what happened to the people in the Undercity - if those journals she had collected had in fact led them somewhere safe, if anyone had survived the destruction of Taris. She'd barely been able to feel it then, hadn't recognized it as such, but she'd felt the death of that world in the Force, an echo of screaming that lasted for days, not ending until they reached Dantooine. Bastila had never given any indication of feeling any such thing, certainly not for so long, so she had decided not to bring the issue up at the time.
Why that came to her, instead of what she sought, eluded her. The glimpses seemed so random, but what if they weren't? Was there some secret in Taris? She'd never been to that world before the Endar Spire was destroyed, but its destruction stuck with her, seemed oddly familiar.
She opened her eyes, sighing, and Carth stood before her. She repressed her instinct to jump in reaction - how had he gotten in without her noticing? she couldn't have been so lost in thought - and smiled at him. She walked back, put the mask back on top of the folded robes. Carth came up to her, looking at her closely.
"So, what were you doing?" he asked conversationally. "You were gone before I got up."
"I left you a note," Revan said mildly.
"Yeah. 'Gone to see Mission and Zaalbar', real descriptive."
"You're angry," Revan stated.
"Took a lot of Jedi perception to get that one, didn't it?" Carth snapped.
Revan frowned. "What is wrong with you today?"
"I haven't forgotten yesterday, that's what." At that, the anger seemed to drain out. "I don't want to fight with you. But I'm concerned. At this whole trying to remember thing you keep persisting in."
Revan arched a brow, watched the anger return to Carth. Felt the need to poke, to find out the truth. "Why? Because you want to forget what I really am? A mass-murderer, a Sith Lord?"
"You're not a Sith!" Carth shouted.
"I used to be!"
"I don't want to argue about your past, Revan. That's not who you are now - you turned away from that. You turned away from all that power, you passed the test," Carth said, grabbing her by the shoulders, staring into her eyes.
"And yet it still remains, Carth. My past. I can't forget it, not when I don't understand why."
"Why? Why play these games, give into these memories? I know you have nightmares, Revan. Aren't those enough of a punishment, or are you trying to punish yourself more? Do you think I don't see what you're doing? I'm not a fool, however much you think I am."
Revan sighed, put her hands on his chest, his shoulders, then down, to his elbows, so their arms were locked together, and his hands slipping from her shoulders. "I don't think you're a fool."
"Then why won't you listen to me?" Carth asked, clearly trying to reign himself in, the anger almost turning plaintive. "Are you seriously doing this, or just using it as an excuse? Because that's what it looks like to me."
"An excuse for what?" Revan demanded, looking upward at him in surprise.
"For defying the Council, staying with me ... I know it's got to be hard, dealing with them and trying to look towards the future instead of the past." He paused. "But it's our future. I'm not leaving you. I want you to remember that."
Revan stopped, suddenly overcome by his words. "Carth. It's not an excuse, I promise you that. I want to be with you, so much," she whispered. "Trust that, at least."
He didn't reply, but he rested his forehead against hers, and she closed her eyes. She felt his hands cradling her head, expected the kiss - felt the first on her lips, the second on her forehead.
"I don't want to fight," he finally said.
She opened her eyes, and said wryly, "I'll try to stop giving you reasons to do so."
He gave a soft laugh. The moment lasted, then extended, silent.
Then finally, "How was your day?" she asked.
"Not done yet. I was in meetings with the Ithorians and Czerka about how to use the TSF during the reconstruction."
Revan nodded. Carth was part of the TSF, at least temporarily, while things were getting back on their feet. He was on leave from the Republic military for the time being, and if he returned, he would probably be promoted. But for now, Carth preferred to be on Telos, frequently talking to Dustil on Coruscant with the Jedi remaining from the destroyed Enclave. She also knew that he was staying away from the military because of her. He'd left his wife for war, and it had resulted in her death, and however much he wasn't at fault, he still blamed himself for not being there. He didn't want to leave Revan. He feared it. And while she would have preferred he not have that fear - she was certainly capable of protecting herself, she told him numerous times - it was a fact she was still grateful for, that he stayed because of her, that he had decided to have a future at all, beyond revenge.
"I can come with you to meetings, if you like - get a Jedi's opinion on it."
He smiled. "That'd be welcome. I've been trying to get Telos's temporary government to get rid of Czerka - I mean, hell, we saw what they did on Kashyyyk - I don't want them here. But they're such a big supplier it's been difficult." He frowned, clearly thinking about it. And distracted from her, as intended.
"We'll limit their involvement as much as possible, then," Revan said. "The Ithorians are more respected, anyway."
"It's daunting - this project will take decades, at least. And it's just the first of worlds the Republic plans to reconstruct," Carth said, sounding worried.
She was worried herself, for entirely different reasons. The Republic was rebuilding, but what if it wasn't over yet? She stretched out with the Force, striving to see the future of Telos. There were glimpses, flashes of people she didn't recognize, maybe one she did. In equal spades she saw a lot of uncertainty, but no guarantee of failure, at least. "It'll happen," she said finally. "One day."
"Good to know," Carth said, mouth quirking into a smile. He looked around, seemed to gather himself. "So what did you talk to Mission and Zaalbar about?"
She hesitated. "Just to see how they're doing - you know they've been doing those oddjobs for the TSF."
Carth nodded. "They okay, then?"
She smiled. "Yes. They're fine."
"Sometimes I can't believe we all made it out of that alive," Carth mused.
"It was the will of the Force," Revan said.
"And a lot of luck," Carth said dryly.
Revan took a breath, then said, "Why don't we look over those Czerka plans? I'll see what I can do."
"Sounds good to me."
Carth was out of the apartment when Revan received the latest message from Juhani. While Revan had received basic training from the Jedi Masters on Dantooine and, later, from Bastila during their journey, Juhani had also been learning. Not nearly as quickly as Revan - bolstered, she supposed, by instinct trained for years, even if mostly forgotten - but she had gone quite a ways. She was considering, last Revan had heard, of taking a Padawan herself. The numbers of teaching Jedi had been badly hurt by the Jedi/Sith War.
Revan was not asked, nor even considered, for any such thing, of course.
"Greetings, Revan," the message went. "I have been training under the Jedi Masters here on Coruscant, with Bastila. I learned so much from you, and I have learned so much more." Juhani's face was full of excitement, curiosity, interest. "I believe I am ready to take Padawan. My master, Quatra, would have wanted that, I believe." A moment of sadness, for her last master, only one of the Jedi to be lost. "There are less Jedi initiates than ever, though. Many see the Jedi as little different from the Sith." Then, more angrily, accent thickening with it, "They do not remember the good things that the Jedi have done for them, only the mistakes."
Revan nodded to herself.
"You asked after Bastila in your last message. I believe she is doing well. She spends much time with the Masters, and her guilt weighs on her heavily still, though I know she does not speak of it to you."
Revan knew that was because Bastila did not want to place blame on Revan - although their bond had, no doubt, exposed Bastila to the darkness hidden within Revan.
"But she has improved much, and will continue to do so. She said to wish you well."
Juhani's depthless optimism for others - though not herself, her self-doubt still lingering from the grove - coming forward.
"I have also attached some of the Jedi records that were found after the Mandalorian Wars, written by Jedi who were with you then. I apologize for the time it took, but they were not easy to find, and I do not believe the Council intended them to be easily accessible. I do not know what you hope to find them that is not already known, but may the Force guide you. I hope to receive another message from you soon." The message ended.
Revan tapped the controls, and opened the attached records. While only one Jedi had formally returned to the Jedi Order, many of the Jedi who had gone to war originally had kept records of their battles and experiences, which were found later by Jedi and scavengers. Most had been traded around a great deal, and many of those that included any Jedi teachings were gathered up by the Sith. But some found their way to the Jedi, and were kept in the Archives, silent and unseen. Juhani's message had indicated as much - that no Jedi had even bothered to look upon them, to try to see the meaning held within.
And there was meaning. Revan was sure of it. It was during the Mandalorian Wars that she had changed, that all the Jedi who had changed. The question was, what caused it? What was so persuasive, so influential on herself? What had she found?
What was still out there?
She didn't know where she was - what planet, what plains she graced. She saw the basilisks coming down from the sky, saw the Mandalorian troops in full armor come racing out, felt her own body moving to block lightsaber shots, what ones she couldn't block she effortlessly absorbed the energy into herself, using it to project outward Force lightning, and she felt her firm grip on her lightsabers as she felled those that weren't killed immediately by the raging energy.
Deaths echoed in the Force, screaming long past the initial dying breath. As she ran forward, Jedi by her side - Malak, face whole and unbroken - she headed deeper into the Mandalorians, higher-ranked ones. The others were left behind, slowed by the fighting, but she could feel the Force guiding her, telling her where to go, and she barely paused as she sliced down Mandalorian after Mandalorian, each higher-ranked than the last.
And finally, she came to this one. He wore a helmet as did the others, but he faced her down with his double-vibroblade in hand and met her strike to strike.
Until finally, she cut him down, and she felt the Force snap. This one. This one was important, and then, finally, she - dreaming - recognized the figure as Mandalore, his corpse falling to the ground, his helmet falling free. Her eyes tracked it.
Then she felt a hand on her face, but no one was touching her, there were no Mandalorians near her -
She woke to her hand almost at Carth's throat, gasping. He had begun to react, pulling back in a defensive posture, but fell out of it as soon as he saw her eyes open.
"Having a bad dream?" Carth asked, still a little cautious.
She held her hand out to him, and he took it without hesitation, uneasiness aside. "Yes. I'm sorry."
"What were you dreaming?"
Revan frowned. "Killing Mandalore, I think."
Carth blinked. "Oh." He sat down next to her in bed, her hand still in his, and she used it to leverage herself over to him, laying her head on his thigh. "So you're remembering more, then?"
"I looked at some records from then," Revan said. "I guess that sparked the memory." Canderous had also told her the tale, before he knew who she really was. He'd spoken with respect of her, of her ability to cut down Mandalore in single combat. But it was the other part of the memory that intrigued her. The screams, how they had echoed. This wasn't the first time she'd remembered that - noticed that.
"Find anything?" Carth asked, sounding resigned. She looked at him, saw that he was choosing not to argue over this persistence she had in looking through her past.
"I don't know, yet." She shook her head. "It doesn't matter."
"It doesn't?" Carth asked warily.
"Not right now. Not with you here," she said.
He softened at that, as she had expected. "Good." They sat there silently, as she ran her fingers up and down his leg, from his calf to his knee.
"Any luck with Czerka?" She and Carth had been a long meeting with them and the Telosian authorities yesterday.
"They'll still have an office, but they won't be able to push out the Ithorians. Your manipulation of them was masterful, I have to admit," Carth said wryly. "You made them so nervous they agreed to things they wouldn't have otherwise, and they signed the contract this morning. I've also told Lieutenant Grenn to keep an eye on them, see if he can't push them out or make them ineffective with any opportunities that may arise."
Revan nodded. "And the Ithorians - they'll know what to do. They have a connection to the Force."
"Yes. I imagine it's part of the reason why they're so in touch with life - plant, animal, even sentient. They want to heal the world." So many had been destroyed. By her, by Malak. By the Mandalorians. So many deaths.
"It's good to see - the rebuilding, I never thought it would happen. Or that I'd live to see it," Carth said, running his fingers through her hair.
She smiled, got up. "Me, too." Touched his face. "Have I mentioned lately how much I'm thankful for that? Sticking by me, even after ... everything."
"You deserve it. You redeemed yourself. And you're not that person anymore, not really. You have her name, but you're not her." He said it with complete confidence; she didn't share it, but she appreciated it. "And you've done all you could do dismantle the Sith - and that's after breaking their back, by defeating Malak, convincing Bastila to come back to us. You think anyone else could have done that?"
"I don't know," she said. "I'm glad you didn't have to find out." Without the location of the Star Forge, she couldn't imagine how the Republic would have defeated the Sith, even in all their wanton self-destruction - the infighting that was part of the nature of the Sith, that tore them down from within. Malak defeated Darth Revan, but Malak was by no means as equally skilled a leader or strategist - and that fact showed the weakness of the system.
"When I pulled you from the wreckage of t hat escape pod, I never thought we would end up here, that's for sure," Carth commented.
She laughed, gave him a quick kiss.
She would have to respond to Juhani's message soon.
In the meantime, she had decided to go with the Ithorians to check out the last area to be shielded from the corrosive atmosphere - and beyond. It might show her something - remind her, bring to mind this elusive link she felt from her past to the echoes of the dead. The Ithorians had just begun to set up plant life in the shielded areas, plants which would be allowed to grow unheeded for a few months before animals were introduced. Trees, fast-growing ones specifically chosen for that reason, already shaded most of the area, with low-lying grass covering the ground. The Ithorians had settled into a little camp already, taking readings and making notes.
She wandered out further, to the edge of the cleared area, up to the shield. She could dimly see a gray fog lingering through it, though in reality the fog was all debris and dust from destroyed buildings. She couldn't see far in, but she could feel it all the same - kilometers upon kilometers of deadness, like the Force itself was numb to the area. The spark of life that the Ithorians had created was still tiny compared to the long reaches of dead, destroyed cities.
She pulled her hands out of the sleeves of her robes, laid her hand gently on the energy shield. It sparkled at her touch.
But the feeling beyond it ... so familiar. Not in the sense of Taris, even, but in some other way, note quite in her mental reach.
[Do you sense something, Master Jedi?] asked an Ithorian, coming up behind her, momentarily surprising her.
She smiled, politely, a little forced; the deadness made her feel uneasy. "How lifeless it is. I'm sure you sense it as well."
[Chado senses it far more than I, Master Jedi. Such absence of life pains us. It is part of the reason we are so dedicated to this, why our clan has chosen to move here,] said the Ithorian.
She nodded. "You do good work. I know Captain Onasi is grateful."
[You know him, Master Jedi? He has been most supportive of our efforts, particularly against Czerka, who we fear will make our efforts in vain.]
"Yes. We ... have worked together." The Ithorian did not know who she was, and there was no reason for him to know, either. Many here did not. It was wiser - Revan was not liked in the Republic, even after her turn to the Light. "Do you mind if I go past the shield, into the untreated areas?"
[There is an opening a kilometer to the west. But you must not go unless you have a breath mask and shield to protect you. Even your Jedi training will find it a hard place, I fear,] said the Ithorian.
"I do. Thank you," Revan said.
The Ithorian tilted its great head in acknowledgement and left.
She started walking, staring beyond into the murkiness beyond the shield. The air shifted and turned in the grayness, and she could almost see figures inside of them - not really there, more seen with the Force than with her actual eyes. Maybe just another way for her memories to surface, unable to be reached by her conscious mind, arising in her unconscious and flickering at the edge of her understanding.
The airlock the Ithorian had mentioned was a small passageway. They existed to be opened later, when life was more firmly established in the shielded area, to grow into a new one, past the shield - and then the shield would be extended, again and again. It was painstaking work.
There was no security - the Ithorians no doubt didn't feel it necessary, when they were mostly the only ones wandering the desolate surface.
She took out her breath mask and put it on, then turning to the personal shield on her forearm, and turned it on. Then she went through the airlock, and inside the true Telos.
The dust still made it hard to see, but the ruins were more visible to her now. She was walking along a narrow street, she figured out. Only a dozen meters in, she saw the first body - all skeleton. Not picked clean by wild animals, but acidic rain wearing all the flesh away. She kept walking, looking up, seeing the broken down buildings, the highest toppled down over each other, leaving bare struts and weight bearing pillars standing free. There was no life here - none. Not even the smallest of insects had survived the bombardment.
She opened herself to the Force, slowly. Feeling first the deadness around her, then expanding the sphere of awareness further and further. She needed to see it all - see it from without, feel the difference. The echo. It was small, faint. She could sense it, but she was certain it had ebbed over time.
Kept walking, and then closed her eyes, letting the silence sweep over her, as powerful as a sound.
Telos hung in space, in her mind. And she heard the echo of the event that had destroyed it, small and slight and yet still rebounding.
She had heard this absence of sound - full of numbness - before.
Serreco, Dxun, Malachor.
Malachor. Her friend, the only one to return to the Jedi Council on Coruscant, that had been her place. She had led the drive, the final push that had broken the Mandalorians.
Yet it was not that, not that alone, that remained.
The echo of death haunted that place. It weighed on those that stayed there, a heavy burden that pushed and pushed until it broke ... something. Someone. Places like this could be used. To have not only the aura of a Sith's darkness, but the very environment weave itself around a Jedi, it was a powerful, profound breaking.
And more than that. There was something else. She couldn't see it, not yet. Her senses strained, painfully.
She opened her eyes with a gasp, and fell to her knees. Dim visions of death and torture floated, some in her grasp and others just beyond. She hadn't just killed Jedi. She knew it in an intellectual way, that just as the Jedi had broken her and turned her to their cause - to the Light, and to save the Republic - that she had done the opposite, broken Jedi to turn them to Sith. To break them so completely they could not return, as Bastila had, but believed their cause and the truth in the Dark Side to their dying moment. She had hurt them, twisted them, made them feel the pain and used that pain to twist them even further, beyond recognition - body rotting as the Dark Side filled it, hair going gray and eyes a sallow yellow. Thousands. Because of her.
She turned back, to the shielded area, to life. She fled to the life she had helped create. By the Force, that was all she had - the knowledge that at least she had tried in the end to save those she had spent so much time destroying. She passed the airlock. That she had saved the Republic and the Jedi with them. That was it ... all she had to soothe her guilt, and it was not enough.
She tore off her breath mask in time to vomit, helplessly.
Her desire to understand her past suddenly struck her as foolish, now. Necessary, but also so foolish, for she had not thought how the understanding would hurt her. How it would haunt her, past what grace Carth's forgiveness granted.
She breathed, slowing, taking deep breaths and holding them, then letting them out. The Force settled around her, calming.
"Eat the wrong thing for breakfast?"
Of course. Of course it was Jolee who would see her like this.
She wiped her mouth, stood up. Restrained the shaking her body wanted to feel, reacting to the new knowledge not yet reconciled. He was looking at her in that considering, slightly condescending way of his, as if he'd seen it all. Twice. Still, there was concern there, as well.
"Something like that," Revan said.
"I doubt that, youngster."
Revan snorted. "I didn't know you were in this area, Jolee."
"Hm, been wandering around. Good work the Ithorians are doing. Places like this deserve to be healed, to be put back together again."
"Yes," Revan nodded. "But you've done that and more. And yet, here you remain."
"No need to return to Kashyyyk just yet," Jolee said thoughtfully. "Especially since the Wookiees have revolted and taken control of things. I expect I won't be needed there, bothering the Czerka."
"Or yelling at them to get off your lawn."
He stared at Revan for a moment. "I still see something in your future, Revan. I suppose that's why I haven't left yet. The Force still hangs around you like a shroud."
Revan met his gaze. She had not spoken of her plans to Bastila or Juhani for a reason and Jolee was enough of a Jedi to count, too. "Is that so. My question is still unanswered. Why remain? You helped me when the time came, Jolee - at the temple, when we faced Bastila. That was the moment. Not now, not anymore."
"Hmph," was his answer.
"So you'll remain here on Telos, then? Helping the Ithorians?" Revan pressed.
"They could use a touch of the Force. And I'm not joining Bastila and Juhani, with the Jedi. Ah, that stuff is for young men, not old ones like me. I'm more of a use here."
"Logical," Revan agreed. When it came down to it, Jolee was more of a Jedi than he no doubt cared to admit. "So you'll be staying?"
He studied her for a moment. "I have a feeling you won't be taking anyone where you'll be going."
"You're so certain I'm leaving?"
"I am, even if you aren't, yet."
Revan laughed, just a little. "Your future - and those of the others ... goes elsewhere, I think."
"I think you're right about that, Revan." He paused. "May the Force be with you on your journey."
"Thank you, and may the Force be with you as well, Jolee."
Jolee clapped his hand on her shoulder, smiled, and then turned and walked away. It was easier for him, as a man who had drifted for a long time amongst many others in the galaxy. He did not have the youth and energy of Juhani or Bastila, the same drive and feeling of strong connection. Revan, in the end, was not sure how she had kept him so close to her for so long ... save that it was ability she had always had. As he walked away, she closed her eyes, and felt forward and could see nothing of his future. What that meant, she was not sure. It was something she had faced before, when looking forward to Bastila and Juhani - an uncertainty in the future. In the future of Jedi.
Was that, too, something she had wrought?
She watched Jolee go to the Ithorians, and wondered.