And so Bastila Shan launched an oppressive and merciless campaign whose opening strikes consisted of lecture, readings, meditation, and holo. They weren't even any of the entertaining kind of holo, but the dreary and stultifying grainy footage designed to make any sentient being feel bad about itself.
"You are on a dark path," Bastila told him, as they sat together in the meditation room, "and I will lead you back into the light. But first you must reject the bomon and its power over you, after all, fat lot of good it did you. Darth Revan, Lord of the Sith. Why, you're just a big bully..."
He stared blankly. The remains of his shattered teeth were hardly keeping the drool in today.
"You don't even know where you are," she said.
Revan continued to stare at some point in mid distance. His eyelids were barely opened.
"Well," Bastila said brightly, "then you can't argue and waste time, and time isn't what we have, not for any sort of dilly-dally. Moving on, I think we will find a valuable lesson in the teachings of Master Pratev, the sullustan wizard.. "
And so there he was.
Day in, day out.
She had grown accustomed to the sight of him, his long lean body, his slouching posture, his bent head, his face.
The gruesome swelling in his face and neck were subsiding and he was starting to look like a man. The bruises were still thick beneath his bloody eyes, on his throat, his naked skull. His lips looked cracked and his skin chapped and scaly. Sometimes his saliva would run black. Sometimes his nose bled. In one disgusting episode, partly through a reading of the Incantations of Discipline, he drooled out a thick rope of slobber and a rotten tooth.
"We still really don't have a good idea how the body is affected," Trask said. "By the dark side, I mean." He stepped in with all the nonchalance of a waiter wiping up a spill, as though Bastila had been careless with a cup of caffa.
"Well I would think it is obvious," Bastila replied. "It decays the body as it decays the soul." It had unnerved her to look up from her text and see that. The medic seemed impervious to any kind of disgust or horror and though she'd seen worse, something about the situation made it different, personal even.
"From a medical standpoint, ma'am," he said. Always helpful, always optimistic. "It's just not well understood. It's not often we get someone like him.. a chance to help like this."
Bastila kept her eyes on the fountain. "Are you finished?"
"Yes ma'am. Again, be sure to tell me if you experience any headaches or other pain. There's been some talk of fixing his teeth. It's been hard to get real life professionals out here.. ones we can trust to keep a secret. Hope we don't have to go droid, but.. "
Arren Kae's bastard told Bastila his name, his real name. Part of her had expected something dashing, something sensuous, something to fit the Darth Revan mystique. She hadn't counted on the overlong mish-mash of consonants that made 'Alek Squinquargesimus' sound straight to the point. The peoples of distant Quellia were a diverse and mysterious lot, united by the alien customs of the Outer Rim, and the complete inability to speak in a language that made any sense at all.
"It's no wonder you came up with some silly title to call yourself," Bastila chided him one afternoon. "What a horrid name you have, really. I don't even know where to begin. It sounds like an alien with hiccups.. or a child mashing keys on a computer."
She arched an eyebrow as though half-expecting him to respond against this personal slight. None. Never.
"Count your nasty blessings that I don't get to name you," she said. "And don't think I'd feel bad about it at all. Remember when you said you would capture me and do terrible things to me? Oh yes—I remember too. I do indeed, my squalid little friend. If you get out of this with no less a name than Pinky Puddlejump, you shall be counted lucky.. "
Determined to save him from himself, Bastila continued her daily onslaught of spiritual bombardment. She cut straight to the heart of the matter with the Chant of Admonishments, the Scrolls of Atonement, and the Seventy-Nine Lessons of Master Sarpeppa-kol.
"So you see," Bastila Shan said one morning, with the decisive shutting of her book, "Master Sarpeppa was considered in his time as in this one to be the foremost authority on the purging of destructive negatives and the achievement of unity in the Force, which we must all strive for in our solemn duty in the Order."
Darth Revan slowly, inevitably, dropped face-first into his bowl of porridge.
Trask jumped up from his holo.
"And for a moment," Bastila sighed, "I thought you were nodding in agreement.. "
Bloody smudges went from red to dark brown, and then from brown to a liver color, and then they cleared entirely. But the yellow of his eyes remained, and was, by all accounts, their natural shade.
Vash believed him to have had near-human parentage of some kind. Impossible to say at this point, and only Alek might have known. Zhar used to think that the boy might have some cathar in him. The eyes, the reflex and clever wit, the sense of balance and affinity for feline creatures. Always napping, too, Master Zhar told her with a needlelike smile.
Then Arren Kae's bastard showed Bastila his stripes. It had been just the two of them in the courtyard. A moment that seemed close and illicit, even now. Trask had gone out and Brianna—that was her name- had come in with an earthen decanter. Bastila hadn't been sure how it came about, but she'd been caught looking critically at one of Revan's arms. Not touching, of course. His skin looked like it would puncture if you did. He just looked so sickly and disgusting, really—she hadn't meant anything improper—oh, disgusting, how could you even—
"I was just concerned," Bastila huffed. "All those weird marks, nasty tattoos, and veins standing out.. "
"It's all right," the echani said softly. She sat very close to Revan on the stone bench, as though she really was his sister. Against the snow white of her skin and clothing, the sith looked so yellowed, so veiny.
Bastila raised her eyebrows in her most disapproving Helena Shan expression.
Brianna gently brought up her hand beneath his hand, and then pulled his sleeve back a bit. "The ink, he's always had," she said. "If you look closely, the stripes are made of script."
"That's close enough for me," Bastila said.
"He had them done to rebel against Arren Kae, when he was young," Brianna said. There was a slight hitch, a hesitation in her voice. Her eyes moved to the left of Bastila's head, to the doors of the courtyard, before they focused on her again. Bastila had seen his markings before; she'd seen him nude suspended in a tank. She didn't care to know, and didn't know why the handmaiden had stepped up to the border of impropriety as she did now.
It must run in the blood.
Brianna lowered her silver eyes from the critical gaze of the jedi sentinel. Her hands fell away, though she still sat so very close to him. "He wasn't always.. " she started, in her low smooth voice. A cold voice, smooth, like marble. "Arren Kae never came for me. But he would send me things.. from the places that he went to. Little gifts and mementos from worlds even the archives would not know." Her throat tightened. Something came and went. She bowed her head, put her hands together in a deferential gesture. "I'm sorry, mistress," she said, and she was gone.
Master Atris did not approve of any of this.
More and more, Bastila could hear the woman's strident voice through the walls of her chamber at night. She couldn't quite make out the words, or to whom she spoke.
The abrasive tones went straight to Bastila's heart. She could not help the guilt she felt, as though she weren't trying hard enough. There had to be more that she could do.
It would be easier if they could adjust the settings on the collar. Dial it down a bit. Or remove it entirely.
Bastila brought the bedsheets higher, closer to her mouth. What if that's what he wanted her to do? What if that was his plan? Mind-control her into setting him free? The drooly business was all just a clever ploy…
She must guard herself. Remain vigilant. He was as clever as he was wicked. This could all be a test. Could all be a dream.
Her greatest fear was that Malak had not fired on Revan's flagship—had not saved her from the inevitable. What if this was all a daydream, a hallucination, a fever dream of her brain as she lay tortured in the dark lord's grip?
In the dark of the night, in the dead hours where doubt pressed in with the shadows, she feared that the world she knew was not real.. that she had been captured by Revan and this was all his fancy, his amusement.
Bastila Shan, he'd told her through the hideous shriek of the vocabulator. I have waited for you. I have such things to show you.
"I wonder what you're thinking in there," Bastila told him the next morning, as they sat together in the courtyard's mossy nook. "I wonder if you are just seething with rage."
She studied his face. By this time a fuzz had begun to darken his skull. He even had eyebrows growing back in; she never realized how truly weird a humanoid face looked without eyebrows. Even the hairless alien races used paint or other markings to delineate the eyes.
"Well," Bastila said. "It serves you right, and to be honest, it's more than you deserve. You are being granted an opportunity of healing and salvation."
He just breathed in and out slowly, his head bowed slightly. Drooling again. Trask said they were going to fix his teeth in the next couple of days; they had managed to find qualified and discreet personnel to do this.
"Anyhow, back to our reading," Bastila said. "More on the philosophy of Master Sarpeppa's school.. "
Master Sarpeppa's philosophy was of course heavily influenced by the societal norms of his species and culture, which at the time was moving through a phase in direct reaction to the feudal wars and upheaval of that millennia. Bastila felt it necessary to devote some time to an explanation of that history, as to serve as context, and after awhile she no longer touched her holotext at all. Her mind wandered as she told him about the school on the high cliffs, the ruins so old that only tree roots held them together, and how she had once walked the beaches below as a child with her father, the treasure hunter, who told her about the mystic ancients and showed her the sad-eyed statues carved into the cliffs..
"I remember the waves crashing onto the sands, and just looking up, up up," Bastila said, "into the weathered faces of the sad-eyed statues of Sarpeppa's people. Long gone, nearly forgotten, and there were scores of nests built into the nooks and crannies of the cliffside statues.. "
Bastila's eyes moved to Revan's face. His yellow eyes stared empty and blank.
Memories of her father pulled on her heart, and she felt a deep wave of melancholy.
She set aside her holotext. The glowing letters faded as it deactivated.
An insect had landed on Revan's head. It pivoted, buzzed its wings, and pivoted again.
Disgusting. Now his head injury was attracting pests.
The insect began to stroll over the skin of his head, pausing by the ugly swell and bump of healing surgical scars. The creature began to rub its forelegs together in obscene planning.
Bastila flicked out her fingers to shoo the insect; when it persisted, she brushed it away, and her hand slid over the top of his head.
Revan shivered and his head dipped toward his collar.
She froze. Wouldn't even breathe.
Then, very slowly, she laid her hand on his head, for a reason she could not say.
His blank yellow eyes went shut.
She could feel the warmth of his skin and the stubbly feel of the hair starting to grow back in.
His breathing took on a quicker pace. It wasn't only her imagination; she saw his chapped lips part, saw the brown and blotchy gums. She could hear the whistly, straining sound of aspiration.
She was repulsed to touch him at first. She had never done so on any prior occasion.
He was clean, as clean as they could get him. She could smell the sharp scent of antiseptic that they treated his sores and wounds with. They had him dressed in a plain spun tunic whose tan color only made his skin look more sickly and veiny a shade. Through the fabric she could feel the rigid neural collar, perhaps the only barrier to his revenge.
She had to tell herself that his corruption would not spread to her. It was a decay of the soul and her soul was stronger. It was all right to do this.
Steeling herself, Bastila moved her hand slowly, over the collar, touching now the warm skin of his throat. She felt his pulse coming through her fingers.
"You would kill me if you could," she murmured, whether for him or for her she did not know. She felt him turn blindly into her touch and Bastila found herself breathing just as hard, from fear as from excitement. He moved!
She couldn't look away. She waited for his yellow eyes to flash open. She waited for his hideous face to contort into a snarl. In a morbid corner of her mind, a shrill voice- her mother's voice- told her that even with companies of commandos patrolling the complex, there wouldn't be enough men to hold him back. Wouldn't be enough time. And she would have been stupid enough to let it happen, to think that she could save him..
But he did not open his eyes. He did not lift his head.
Slowly, she let her hand slide up to his jaw and ear. She felt him press against her.
"You don't even know where you are, do you," she whispered.
The fingers of her left hand now lifted to touch his brow, and then his mangy scalp again. Trask told her that they had to put a metal plate in there to keep his skull together.
Bastila wondered if he was hurting, would she feel it if he did. Their fates were tied together now, the reason she was here in a hidden courtyard with an invalid and away from the front lines with her power. She wondered if he even knew that she was there, or if he responded only to warmth and human contact.
In a long moment of nothing but the sound of the blba root fountain and the sensation of his breathing, Bastila steadied herself. She could not allow herself to experience pity. He was not a victim. He was not a child. He had known what he was doing, that it was wrong. It was the point of Revan, wasn't it? A shadowy figure, a sudden and terrible revenge. Outrageous cruelty and terror. That evil mask taken from the Mandalorian dead. And this was the face behind it.
"You have done terrible things," she whispered to him, "but I believe in the beginning.. you thought you were saving the Republic. You defied the Council, you thought you knew better. They're giving you this chance.. you fought for the Republic once. They need you again."