Preliminary notes and disclaimers.
SW: KOTOR has preyed on my mind for, quite literally, years. Recently I started to think more closely about the aftermath, and this is the result. It's a work in progress, of course, and updates will be irregular or interrupted as life requires. I've taken some liberties with canon - Revan will always be female to me, and other modifications forthcoming - but in general I'm trying to stay roughly within the scope of the material available on Wookiepedia.
Spoilers should be expected for a wide range of SW material. As we all know, Star Wars belongs to Lucasfilm etc. (Though yr. humble correspondant owes quite a debt to Timothy Zahn and Michael A. Stackpole for years of teenage entertainment, and did not actually see the films until a long time after book exposure.)
I'll do my best to update fortnightly as long as there's interest. (Interest should be registered in comments and criticism.)
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: The Longest Road
The Jedi Civil War is over.
Feted as heroes, Safine Dai - formerly Darth Revan - and the crew of the Ebon Hawk return to Coruscant.
In the month since the battle at the Star Forge, the crew has dispersed, leaving only Safine Dai and Bastila Shan behind.
Both of them are under the close eye of the Jedi Council.
But darker things are stirring, and they may yet be called to a duty neither of them could have imagined.
Bastila Shan claws her way out of the nightmare like a drowning woman coming up from the deep, the stink of lightning choking her throat, black rage eating at her bones. Her sweat-soaked sheets tangle her feet like fetters, and in the dark quiet of her chamber it is whole minutes before she remembers where she is.
Not in a cell on Malak's flagship. Not on the Star Forge. Nor yet on the Ebon Hawk, which has come to feel more like a safe haven than a battered freighter has any right to feel.
Her quarters in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant should be a safe haven. Should.
And the quiet presence waiting patiently in the chair across the room should be in chambers on the far side of the complex, and not here.
"I thought I locked my door," she says. Her tongue tastes like bile and screaming.
"You did." Safine Dai Revan shifts. The chair creaks under her weight. A rueful concern leavens her amusement. "But I have many skills. And sharing your nightmares isn't exactly a recipe for a good night's rest."
"If you mind them so much, you can always block me out." She's unable, quite, to keep the savage edge from her voice. Inhale. There is no passion, there is serenity. I am a Jedi. I am Bastila Shan, and I am still a Jedi. "Sorry," she says, more quietly, and thumbs the lights on low.
In the dim glow, the former Sith Lord at her bedroom table quirks a weary eyebrow and says nothing. The corners of her yellow-green eyes are tight with tiredness, and skin drawn taut over sharp cheekbones gives her features a pale, unhealthy cast. She looks much as she did aboard the Hawk, though it is a month since they made planetfall at Coruscant: a soldier's undress shirt tucked untidily into Corellian leathers, with her lightsaber clipped to the belt. No blaster in the temple, and no spare lightsaber, either: Dai has practised restraint and calm, even if it has not extended to wearing robes for anything other than formal occasions.
The Jedi Order has not chosen to reveal the fact that it is Revan, redeemed and reprogrammed, who is the Republic's latest hero. And Revan has chosen not to reveal to the Order that she knows she was not always a smuggler and Jedi prodigy by the name of Safine Dai. Bastila is not sure why she keeps Dai's secret: the others from the Ebon Hawk have said nothing out of loyalty, or in Jolee's case, a sense perhaps of deviltry. But she - her first loyalty, as long as she can remember, has always been to the Order. Should always have been to the Order.
Deep inside her, quiet and betrayed, she will always hear the voice Malak burned into her head. They used you, Shan. Used her, used their captive Revan, used the individual Safine Dai who could have been innocent, once.
The grief and affection in Dai's bond has been her only certainty since that moment on the Star Forge when she chose to live. To renounce, if she could, the Dark Side of the Force. That, and the sense that even in her worst nightmares, she isn't alone.
It might be easier if she were. Easier, at least, to believe that she doesn't deserve redemption - but Jedi Second Chance herself is convincing evidence to the contrary. She swings her feet over the side of her bed, gathers her sleeping robe around herself. Logical consistency, Shan. Try to have some. "Why are you here, Dai?"
"It was an excuse to sneak past the poor sods the Council has watching us both. They don't even know what they're watching us for, of course, so..." A shrug. But the lightness in Dai's tone is deliberate. Her glance is level, full of infinite compassion; full of dreadful knowledge. "And I thought... I thought you could use a friend."
"You're looking to trade Dark Side reminiscences now?" Bastila bites her tongue on angry sharpness. There is no emotion. There is peace. It's unjust, she knows, and a holdover from that long terrible week that any implication of weakness is sufficient to make her flinch and snap.
"No," Dai says. Her mouth does something painful and complicated. "But I have" - a hesitation - "some experience with bad dreams."
Dai pours Alderaanian whiskey from her dented, blaster-scorched hipflask. Amber liquid gurgles in the glass, swirls and settles.
"Drink," Dai says, and pushes the glass across the table's polished surface until it rests in front of Bastila's interlocked fingers. "It's good for you."
Drink. It's good for you! A much less serious Safine Dai said that, in an Anchorhead cantina, gleeful and laughing and pushing drinks that smelled like alcoholic marsh water into the hands of the entire crew. Even Mission. Bastila had sniffed, said something about the dignity of the Order, and walked out into the cool desert night, then.
Not so now. It tastes like caramel and grain and heat, and stings the back of her throat like fire. The glass makes a snick against the tabletop when she sets it down. The sleeve of her robe rides up her forearm. There is a shiny ring of scarring around her wrist: burn tissue, healed as much as it ever will. Malak left his marks, and few enough on the outside.
Dai refills her glass without speaking.
"I kill you," Bastila says. She stares at the whiskey. If she just stares at it, if she doesn't think, doesn't look up, maybe she can pretend it happens to someone else. "In my nightmares. I kill you, and Juhani, and Jolee, and Malak takes me as his apprentice and together we lay waste to the entire galaxy and we revel in it."
"That's a bad one." Dai's tone is dispassionate, almost clinical. She swigs from her hipflask, sets it down. "Could be worse, though."
"I remember dreaming something like that." A wry, pained smile. "But it wasn't a nightmare. There was no part of me that stood apart and watched in dread and woke sweating and panting and cold with the fear that it might be real."
"Master Vrook thinks it is a sign of how close I am still to the Dark Side." The words curdle on her tongue.
"Vrook. Bah." Dai snorts. "We're all close to the Dark Side, Bastila. A heartbeat. A choice. One choice after another. Vrook thinks that if you make one bad choice, or even two, you're forever tainted." She snaps her fingers, points the index one like a blaster. "Do you want to rule the galaxy? Or lay waste to it?"
"No!" And she doesn't. She really, really doesn't. She doesn't ever want to go to war again,
"But it doesn't change the fact that Malak got inside your head, huh? And you can't - quite - scrape him all the way out."
"That is," Bastila swallows, "an accurate assessment. How could you -?"
"Know?" The tight smile doesn't quite reach her yellow-green eyes. "Unfair advantage, remember? I can read your mind nearly as well as you can read mine. Or could. I wouldn't advise poking around in there these days, because it's all kinds of confused."
"More and more all the time." A rueful edge. "Mostly nightmares. Well. Things I wish were nightmares." Dai sighs, props her elbows on the table. In the dim shadows she seems unutterably weary, and very, very old, and the control she exerts over her end of their bond wavers briefly. Bastila senses something that might have been the embers of an ancient rage, the traces of miserable self-loathing uncertainty, cold grieving regret -
Trust me, Bastila, you don't want to see this tonight. And Dai closes her out with an insistence no less firm for its gentleness.
It makes the dread and terror in her nightmares seem almost welcoming by comparison. "I have some experience with bad dreams," Bastila hears again, and thinks for a moment how alone Dai must be. Master Bindo is out on Dantooine, helping with the reconstruction; Carth is back with the fleet - Bastila received an awkward holo message from him just yesterday, hoping she was well and asking her in a roundabout way to keep an eye out for Dai - and before he left, he and Dai had combined forces to convince Mission to go to school, in a boarding establishment on Coruscant's moon, with Zaalbar there to keep an eye on her (it surprised Bastila to learn that now-Commodore Carth Onasi is actually quite well-off, and more so since the Senate voted the 'Star Forge heroes' a bursary in thanks), and Juhani left with mediation team for Bothawui a week ago now. And Canderous... well. The Mandalorian disappeared shortly after the victory celebrations. Bastila suspects Dai knows where he intended to go, but it doesn't change the fact that apart from the droids, the only person on the planet whom Dai is inclined to trust with anything to do with Revan is Bastila herself.
I thought you could use a friend, in that context, becomes something far more complicated.
"I'm sorry," Bastila offers after a minute. "I didn't realise - "
"Not your fault." Dai shakes her head, and her eyes are dark. "Don't apologise to me, Bastila. All the apologies between us should run the other way."
Bastila opens her mouth. Closes it again. She swallows. Quietly, she says, "I confess, I didn't expect you to ever say that."
"Just because I used to be a murdering bastard doesn't mean I can't own up to my mistakes." Dai's grin is brief and bitter. "Just - was Safine Dai ever real, Bastila? Was she a real person, or did the Council build the new me out of scraps and dreams and lies?"
A tall handsome woman stood before the bacta tank, hands on her hips and a pained look in her eye. "All right, Zhar," she said, and her voice was resigned. "But after this, we're even, you got me? You give me a new ID and let me disappear, and don't even fracking think about letting me remember this."
Bastila shakes the memory away. She was younger then, and so certain the Council knew what it was doing. Now... "Master Zhar knew a woman," she says, quietly. "I wasn't very involved in the... process. Of reprogramming-" an ugly word, but nothing less than the truth "-you. But he said her history was very similar to yours, before you came to the Order the first time. I don't know much about her life, but she'd been a smuggler, and she - well. I gather she owed Master Zhar a debt, and she agreed to let her memories form the template for your new identity." She hesitates. "They changed your face, you know. Revan - you - wore a mask for a very long time, but the Council thought it best if you were different. It would have been awkward if you were easily recognised."
"An understatement if I ever heard one." Dai snorts, softly. "Thank you for telling me."
"There is little enough reason for me to keep it from you. Now, at least." Bastila sips Alderaanian whiskey, watching the way the liquid change colour in the light. It's stronger drink than she's used to, and a suspicion that the warm distance slipping between her and her emotions might not be the best possible thing nags at her. But it is such a pleasant relief to be able to relax. Even if I succumb to the Dark Side, Dai is strong enough to stop me from hurting anyone. She used to fear Revan. Used to fear Dai, because the other woman's strength was so much greater than her own that she knew if Dai ever turned on her she would be at the other woman's mercy. But now that same knowledge is a relief. It's almost bitterly funny. The first time she has felt safe in weeks is in the presence of a former Dark Lord of the Sith.
"'Former' being the important qualification." Dai picks up on her train of thought and gives her a wry look. "You underestimate yourself, Bastila. In a lot of the ways it counts, you're stronger than I think I ever was."
Bastila blinks at the unexpected compliment, absurdly warmed. Foolishness, of course, to be so relieved by Dai's respect, but she has felt less respect and more suspicious wariness among the masters and her peers since their return from the Star Forge than ever before in her life. That there is someone to whom she does not need to prove herself - not uncorrupted, but capable of choosing again, even if that someone is the infamous Revan, even if that, too, is dangerous.
The whiskey warms her throat. "Why did you ask?" she says, half without thinking.
The suddenly strained quality of Dai's stillness is a warning. Not an idle question, this, and a trickle of apprehension cuts through the warming whiskey. "Dai?" she says, soft inquiry, and catches the tired yellow-green gaze.
Dai blows out a breath on a one-shouldered shrug, and some of the tension leaves her frame. "I've been doing a lot of meditating." She rubs the cap of her hipflask with her thumb, looks aside. "Trying to remember - trying to integrate what I'm remembering without losing what's left of my mind and what remains of my soul. It's all scraps and fragments and flashes - I can remember the smell of acantha flowers in the contemplation garden from when I was a Padawan, and how the shadows moved across their petals, and the voice of the ancient Jedi master who used to sit in the corner and hum, but I can't remember her name. And sometimes I'm not even sure if I'm remembering something Revan knew or something Safine forgot. Although some of the memories are rather unmistakably Revan, if you know what I mean. I was a right nasty bugger there for a while, as the galaxy at large still knows better than I do." Her mouth twists. "And last night I remembered a name, Bastila. A name that terrifies me, that even frightened the me I remember being as Darth Revan, and I don't know why."
Bastila goes cold. "What name?"
"Dromund Kaas." Intent, frustrated, Dai looks at her as though she should recognise the words.
But she doesn't.
"Bugger." Dai scrapes a hand back through her tousled dark hair, weary. "I hoped you'd know what it meant. I didn't want to go poking in the Archives myself: it's bad enough being half Safine Dai, half Revan, without the Council discovering I've remembered a bunch of things and deciding that means I need another set of new memories."
"Is it a person? A planet?"
"If I knew, I'd tell you." Dai sighs. "All I have is the name and cold dread. Which is just a little worrying, don't you think? I was Darth bloody Revan. I crushed worlds. And it frightened me?"
Bastila swallows. If she didn't know the self-loathing I was Darth bloody Revan hid, she might find Dai's apparently easy acceptance of her past disturbing. But she knows Safine Dai's accommodation with her memories is nothing near as simple as she makes it sound. Which makes Dromund Kaas even more troubling. "I'll look in the Archives for you."
"I didn't like to ask." Dai taps her hipflask, staring into the distance, then shakes her head with a quick grin. "I can do it myself. But I admit, I'd be grateful if you did."
"It should give me something useful to do." Bastila exhales. "I confess, I can't escape feeling as though as I have too much time to think, and too few duties, since our return."
"You, too?" A wry glance. "Not much useful to do around here, is there? Do you remember on Tatooine, when that administrator said to Carth -?"
The reminiscence is a distraction from nightmares and other dreads, and Bastila lets herself fall into it willingly. Dai seems to sense that she doesn't want to be left alone - or perhaps Dai, too, is unwilling tonight to be alone with bad dreams and private dreads - and so one reminiscence turns into another turns into a game of dejarik and Dai laughingly retreating her game pieces as the sun comes up.