What I Didn't Do
Author's Note: This one skips ahead quite a lot again, and picks up the night after the Revan reveal.
The Ebon Hawk
I didn't stop her.
When Bastila threw herself between me and the man I still couldn't think of as my former Sith apprentice, all I could muster up was a reflexive "no." Carth managed to get a whole sentence of protest in before the door slammed shut and sealed us off from her, but by that point, it didn't make much difference.
I don't remember what I bellowed as I pounded uselessly on the door, but I do remember not putting up much of a fight as Carth dragged me away.
"We can't help her," he'd told me, his familiar brown eyes insistent—and sad. "Not here. We have to get to the Star Forge, or nothing else we've done will matter."
I didn't argue with that. I couldn't.
If Bastila's sacrifice was in vain, I would never forgive myself.
I didn't blame Carth for not forgiving me either. I wondered if he regretted having saved an escape pod for me the day the Endar Spire went down. It was a cruel irony, to inadvertently save the life of the person who had destroyed yours.
I also couldn't help but wonder why Bastila had abandoned me that day, knowing full well who I was and how important the information buried in my mind was to the survival of the Republic. Maybe part of her had regretted saving me the first time. If I ever saw her again, I didn't plan to ask.
There were a lot of things about my past I didn't want to know.
3 a.m. Republic Standard Time found me lying awake on my bunk, tucked safely away in the port dormitory of my battered little ship. I had hoped that after the emotional drain of today's events, I would be exhausted enough to fall asleep right away. Instead I just stared out the window next to me at the empty blackness of space.
I almost envied the vacuum. Out there was silence, stillness, the absence of emotion that the Jedi called peace. In here was a mess. The familiar hum of the Ebon Hawk'sengines wasn't nearly enough to drown out the soundtrack of the day's horrors as they replayed over and over in my mind. I could still hear Carth's screams when Saul Karath tortured him in an effort to make me talk. I could hear Malak's grating laugh, filtered through the voicebox in his metal jaw, when he realized I really didn't know who I was. I could hear Bastila's voice yelling for Carth and me to get out of there, the twin blades of her yellow lightsaber humming. I could hear the hatred in Carth's voice when he spat my name—my real name.
Revan. It echoed through my mind in countless different voices, some familiar, some not. I didn't know if the voices were merely conjurations of my imagination or fragments of memories of people I had known. All I knew was that I wanted them to stop.
I rolled onto my other side, as if turning my back on the window would allow me to shut them out. The bunk creaked with my shift in weight. I hoped Mission and Juhani were truly asleep in the bunks on either side of mine, as they seemed to be, and not waiting to see if I was going to slit their throats under cover of darkness.
But that was unfair. Mission had been the first to support me when I broke the news of my real identity to everyone, and I already knew how enamored Juhani was with my former self. They were the last people I had to worry about.
Actually, that title probably went to HK or Canderous. I didn't know how I'd accumulated so many Revan-worshippers in such a small crew, but it was rather convenient, all things considered. If only the person whose opinion I cared about most wasn't the one who had told me in no uncertain terms how much he would love to put a blaster to Revan's head. I knew better than to think Carth would ever trust me again. And after all the progress we'd made…
I didn't allow myself to indulge in self-pity for more than a moment. I counted to ten, and then I let it go, as a Jedi should. Bastila would have been proud. Would be proud, I corrected myself.
She was still alive—at least for the time being. I could sense that much, which was why I was still marginally sane. And if Malak hadn't killed her by now, he must have had other plans for her. I tried not to imagine what those could be, but with every passing hour and every parsec we put between us and her, it was becoming increasingly difficult not to let my mind wander down that dark path.
I didn't want to think about it.
I didn't want to think about much of anything. But I didn't know how to stop either.
I wondered whether HK would drug me into unconsciousness if I ordered him to. Sleep clearly wasn't coming, and without the option of leaving the ship, it would be difficult to pass the time without waking the others. There was always the option of meditating, but it had never sounded less appealing than it did right now.
I decided to do it anyway. It was what Bastila would have recommended.
I swung my legs around and slowly lowered my feet to the cold metal floor. My footfalls barely made a sound as I picked my way down the silent corridor toward the cargo hold.
I didn't notice Canderous sitting on the piece of junk that passed for a food synthesizer until it was too late.
"Good morning," he said gruffly. He didn't even glance up from the blaster he was polishing. "I thought you might still be up."
"Why are you up?" I rubbed at my eyes. Whatever he was using on his blaster was potent enough to make them sting.
"Just making sure you don't do anything stupid." His steel-grey eyes never left his work.
He finally glanced up at me, and judging by his furrowed eyebrows, it was to try to discern whether I was joking or just a moron.
"Are you telling me killing the Dark Lord never crossed your mind?"
I had already opened my mouth to point out what a stupid question that was, considering it was the point of our entire mission, when I realized he wasn't talking about Darth Malak.
He was talking about me.
Something inside me plunged all the way down to my toes, which felt considerably chillier than they had a moment ago.
"And what good would that do?" I had to force myself to meet his eyes. "We still have a mission. The fact that I used to be Malak's best friend doesn't change the fact that he has to be stopped."
I folded my arms across my chest, hoping it made me look more confident, more insulted that he would even ask such a question. But while the honest answer was no, I hadn't entertained any notions of suicide, I was beginning to wonder whether someone in our crew was expecting me to. Or hoping I would.
No, Carth couldn't hate me that much. I felt like a drama queen for even letting the thought cross my mind. But then I realized how arrogant it was to think there was anything I could do that would ever outweigh killing his wife and leaving his homeworld in ruins. Dustil had grown up without his father and joined the Sith—my Sith—because of what I'd done to Telos. It didn't even matter that Malak was the one who actually led the attack, rather than me. I'd be deluding myself if I clung to a hope that he and Saul Karath hadn't done so on my orders, and I was pretty sure Carth would agree with me on that point.
It had broken my heart to hear him accuse me of ruining his life, but I couldn't find it in me to protest. I couldn't judge him for his trust issues or his obsession with revenge anymore, knowing it was my fault he'd turned out this way. It was only fair that I should have to face the consequences of my actions.
Or it would have been, if I were still the same person who had done any of it.
"I don't suppose there's any way I can convince you not to give a damn what Carth thinks of you," Canderous said.
"Not likely. You might as well try to—"
I stopped short, backtracking in my mind to figure out when I had mentioned Carth out loud. I was pretty certain I hadn't.
"What, you think the whole ship doesn't know that's what's bothering you?" Canderous gave another disparaging shake of his head and went back to polishing his blaster.
I Force-lifted the gun out of his hands and caught it lightly in mid-air. He neither protested nor made a move to take it back. He simply watched me in annoyance as I sat down on the floor and started tinkering. The blaster was in impeccable condition, of course. I wouldn't have expected any less from a Mandalorian warrior. It was just my natural reaction to anything mechanical—and it made it easier to have this conversation. Anything that divided some part of my mind from the topic I didn't want to face was welcome.
"So what's it like?" I asked. "Finding out that the great Revan has been reduced to a silly girl who can't even stomach one Republic soldier's dislike." Anyone watching would have thought I was asking the question of the weapon in my hands. "It's just that I know you looked up to the person I used to—"
Canderous snatched the gun away from me, and without thinking, I looked up.
The Mandalorian's face could have been carved from stone. For a few tense seconds, I thought he was going to use the blaster to bash my head in.
"I respected Revan, yes," he said. "She was the greatest warrior your Republic had to offer, and she crushed even the best of the Mandalorians in our final battle over Malachor."
Though my skull remained intact, something about that slow, deliberate cadence to his speech reeked of danger. I decided right then never to piss him off again.
"But the person I looked up to was the nobody of a soldier who was resourceful enough to outwit one of the toughest gangs on Taris, and reckless enough to charge into a base full of Sith and race on a deathtrap of a machine in order to get things done. I couldn't figure out why anyone would be crazy enough to try to pull a stunt like that, but five minutes of seeing her in action told me all I needed to know."
He leaned toward me, and his grey-eyed stare went, if anything, even harder.
"She wasn't crazy. This was someone who had what it takes. Someone who could have the Republic in the palm of her hand if she wanted to, and would do a hell of a lot better leading it. Someone I would be proud to fight for—and die for— because there could be no greater honor."
I was speechless, floundering for any kind of response to that kind of… compliment. The word hardly seemed sufficient to describe the intensity with which he had spoken.
At my reaction, Canderous's face twisted into something I would have labeled a smug grin if I didn't know better. He leaned back again, sitting back down on the synthesizer and examining his blaster as if to check that I hadn't screwed anything up. It was an action so totally out of sync with the words he'd just said that I couldn't help but suspect he was doing precisely what I had done—avoiding having to look at me.
"Hey," I said. To my surprise, he actually looked up. "Thanks."
His lip curled.
"Don't sweat it, Jedi. I'm not trying to flatter anyone. I just say what I know."
"Well, you didn't have to say anything at all, so I'm thanking you anyway."
His only response was a grunt.
I don't know what made me do it, if it was the offhand way he was trying to play it off as if the whole conversation hadn't happened, or the unexpected sincerity of his pledge of loyalty coming when I so badly needed someone to validate this fictitious persona that was the only self I knew. Or maybe I simply wanted to get even for that smug grin of his when he caught me so completely off-guard. Maybe it was all of the above.
I stooped and planted a kiss on his battle-scarred temple before walking away.
I didn't look back. I didn't need to. Through the Force, I could feel the wave of shock that hit him like a brick wall, clear as a sunny day on Tatooine.
And for the first time since I'd found out I was a Dark Lord of the Sith, I grinned.
Looking back, I guess there were a lot of ways things could have gone that night. After all, I had just found out my entire life was a lie. I could have quite justifiably fallen to pieces, or refused to continue doing the bidding of an Order that had stolen my identity. I could have run away. I could have fallen. I could have offed myself.
But I didn't.
Instead I crept back into the dormitory I shared with Mission and Juhani and sat down on the floor, legs crossed, listening to the soft sound of their breathing as I reached out with my mind for Bastila.
Elsewhere on the ship, a Mandalorian was cursing indignantly to himself, and a Republic pilot was lying awake, still unable to come to terms with the blow he'd been dealt.
But Carth would either come around or he wouldn't.
Either way, I was going to make sure I was the kind of person he'd be an idiot to hold a grudge against forever.
I was going to find Bastila and bring her home, no matter what it took. I was going to make sure a teenage Twi'lek's faith in me was rewarded. I was going to put an end to Malak's bloody conquest and leave the Jedi Masters wondering why they had never given Sith Lords a second chance before.
And damn it, I was going to earn that speech of Canderous's before I either saved the Republic or went out in a blaze of glory trying.