Title: Perfect Enemies
Characters: Female Revan and Male Exile (both Gray, bordering on Dark)
Summary: Before Malachor, Revan approaches the future Exile with a final offer and test of loyalty.
Usual disclaimer: Mr. George Lucas owns the GFFA, while Madame Revan and Mr. Exile are non-canonical and owned by Bioware and Obsidian. I hope they do not sue, as I would still like to purchase Mass Effect 3 and the upcoming MMO.
There were few who ever got to see Revan's face. Being an Echani half-caste, she had taken to covering her face from the eyes down from the time she reached Padawan rank in her early teens. High-caste Echani almost seemed to be carved from ice. The lowest castes and mixed-bloods exhibited Revan's dusky skin, dark hair and eyes. Cian had heard rumors that she was a beauty, but he couldn't see why. She was built with small breasts and lean hips like a sexless androgyne. As soon as she was in her armor and thick robes, there wouldn't be a way to tell Revan's gender at all. Cian preferred his partners to at least look the part.
However, she was not in robes or armor this time. She wore a sari of elegant red silk brocade as she looked out the large viewport in her quarters. The sari was still belted, her lightsaber clipped to it and displayed prominently. It at least gave her the illusion of some curves.
Cian, however, was not impressed. "Seems rather indulgent of you. Is that silk from Onderon?"
Revan nodded to him. "Yes, it is. And the indulgence is for a good reason. Did you know that in the Republic Senate, a Senator must choose their wardrobe carefully? The color, the style, and even the type of stones in their jewelry can be used to communicate?"
"And here I thought they just did it to be pompous and useless, like glitter-fowl at mating season," Cian said.
Revan put her hands behind her back. "That, too. But say there was a vote on Onderon in the Senate, a vote as to whether or not to support, say, an aid package. If I were a Senator that supported such a thing, then I would arrive to my seat wearing this sari of Onderon silk and maybe appropriate-style jewelry to announce to my fellows where my sympathies lie. Even if it can be easy to lose track of who voted for what when it comes to the raw numbers, my clothing would be remembered."
"But you are not a Senator, so why wear it?"
"Because Malak's brigade worked very hard and took heavy losses to reclaim the palace, and this fabric was part of the spoils. For the men to see a Jedi wearing this means we appreciate the sacrifice and effort. It improves morale."
"Like wearing armor means we're not fools," Cian said. He hadn't bothered with robes since leaving Dantooine. "Robes are impractical. They announce you are Jedi and makes you an obvious target."
"It also tells the soldiers, symbolically, that you are one of them. You are not apart and above their concerns like the robe-wearing sort who have chosen to hide in their Enclaves."
Cian sniffed. "Even though we can do twice what they can. We'll take three Mandalorians for their one, and they'd all be dead without us."
"Perception is more important than reality. It's more powerful than the Force," Revan said. "But speaking of that..." She turned back to the window. "Your assignments, for example; I've sent you to Eres III. You fought at the Katharan Gate. And your last battle was Dxun, correct?"
Cian folded his arms. "Don't get coy, Revan. You signed each of those papers yourself. Each of those battles were bloodbaths, something to keep the bucket-heads distracted. They fight at full strength whether it's a skirmish or a planetary invasion. That's why they've been burning themselves out. They'd burn through the Republic soldiers. Republic citizens don't grasp the reality the barbarians do. The only good parts are that they can't tell the difference between a small fight and a big one, and that they're smaller in number. I'd just as soon take everyone idiot enough to put on the armor and have them kiss a warhead."
"If that's all you like, then it will be arranged soon enough. After losing Dxun, they're falling back. Most of their main fleet is retreating to the Malachor system. All other ways in or out are blocked off."
Cian sniffed. "Why that system? Another symbolic gesture?"
Revan's cruel smile gave him the answer.
He groaned and rolled his eyes. "Always with the symbolism, always with the hidden meanings and the tricks within tricks. Is anything with you straightforward?"
"If I need 'straightforward,' I send Malak," she said.
"What about you?"
"Every damn mission you sent me on was a suicide run, a 'symbolic gesture' to get the Mandlorians' attention off you and onto something big and shiny. Essentially, I'm your best decoy."
"Not quite," Revan pointed out. "You said it yourself, they're a smaller force. They can afford a distraction a lot less than we can. Tricking Mandalore into fighting a two-front war puts him on the defensive, and Mandalorians don't do as well if they're the ones under siege. Yes, Cian. You are my best decoy. I've put a lot of Jedi and dirt generals on feints and distractions. You've not only done very well at them, but you're dangerous enough to let the Mandalorians think that you are guarding critical resources, and resources that don't look critical at first."
Cian stroked his chin, and glanced over to the holographic strategy map that was hovering a meter to their right, pointing out the planets. "More symbolic gestures. Cutting off the Gate meant that they had to run supplies through Althir, which they had trouble holding, even with brute force. Say what you like about their government, but their people are the type I wouldn't cross."
"Althir also is not a Republic world, but they will join at war's end. We're already hammering out details."
Cian scowled. "The Gate..." He looked at it closer. "It's not just the closest way from Onderon to the Mid-Rim. With a slight change in the vectors..." He punched it up and a green line shot straight out to land on a world well past Republic space. "It leads to Korriban. And Dxun...that satellite dish was within a few kilometers of Nadd's tomb. What's going on here?"
"We're also fighting on two fronts," Revan explained. "A silent one, from there."
"So, the Council was right." Cian said. "Figures. Mandalore is brutal, but he's not bright enough to mastermind it, and they were Kun's puppets. So, you want to go to war against whatever is left of Kun's faction that refused to die. Okay, who else have you told about this?"
"You and Malak," she said. "I've gone through my generals – all of them. I need to know who will follow the Republic and stop this war...or follow me all the way to the end."
"And what 'end?'" Cian asked. "Even showing me the Sith and tantalizing me with hints of some shadowy conspiracy won't make any difference." He slammed the button, turning off the display. "Because whatever I sign on for, it's just another trap, another way for me to fall on my saber for your benefit. To Chaos with you, Revan."
She folded her arms. "And as a Jedi, I would think showing you that would spark something else."
"It would have – if I were a Jedi." Cian dared to reach out with his inhumanly fast reflexes and grab her upper arms, clutching tight enough to bruise. "Tell me, Revan. Am I wearing robes?"
She didn't so much as flinch. "Of course not."
"I stopped being Jedi when I heard your call to war. The Order chained me, and so do you. I just have a bit more freedom dodging your deathtraps than I would locked in an Enclave. And in this war, I'll find a way to break my chains."
"'Through victory, my chains are broken?'" she asked sharply. When Cian had no immediate reply, her smile was still cold, but turned seductive. "If you want glory, I can give you that. If you want a fight, I can give you one. If you wish to kill me, I can give you that, too."
Cian let go of her, disgusted. "You're good at offers, Revan. Good at finding whatever bait works, and excellent at getting people to see what they wish in you. I'm not fooled."
She turned away, looking at him from over her shoulder. "That is the point, Cian. There is no 'Revan,' there is nothing more here than what you wish to see. The Jedi wish to see their paragon, so I will give them a paragon. The soldiers wish for a hero, and so a hero I'll give them. The Mand'oade want a worthy opponent, and that opponent they will have with me." She seemed sad, almost vulnerable, but Cian knew better. "And the Force aids my masquerade. I see what others wish to see in me, all the better to give it to them."
Cian scowled. "And Force help anyone who gets exactly what they wish for."
Revan took a step to close the space between them. "Cian, you do understand what's at stake here. You've seen it yourself, you know that even if every last Mandalorian dies at Malachor that the true war won't be over. It's you or it's Malak. He's an excellent fighter, but he's not perceptive – you are."
Cian did not move, but his put up his hands to prevent her from coming closer. "You should have asked me before sending me on a suicide mission to Dxun to take a satellite dish that the Mandos didn't need. It was just another feint, misdirection you could have handed to an idiot Padawan for all the good it truly did. If you are going to ask me to die for you, shutta, then make it worth my while."
"Ah, Cian. My master would have liked you immensely. She wasn't a charming woman, but she was very shrewd."
"Enough of the sentiment. As far as I'm concerned, you are free to wage whatever crusade you wish. You've a third of the fleet and twice that in blind loyalty. Start your war to end all wars, break the universe itself to pieces and drown the lot in an ocean of blood. Make the Force itself shriek and die for all I care, but Malachor will be my last for you, Revan."
She nodded coolly. "Very well, Cian. You will have it. The Liberation will lead the charge on Malachor. No feints, no tricks. I will also do one better. Your technician has sent me the specs and test results for a most impressive weapon, called the Mass Shadow Generator. The trigger device will be deployed on your ship. I trust you can keep yourself from being turned into scrap before the Prophesy arrives to confront Maldalore's flagship?"
Cian didn't believe the 'no feints, no tricks' part. Still, the chance for one last chance to make the Mandalorians sorry was deeply appealing, as was being a critical component to the strategy instead of making suicide runs. It was likely to get him killed; this was Revan, after all.
"I'll do my task. You do yours. And then, my freedom from you."
"You'll have exactly what you wish for, Cian," Revan said. "Now, leave."
Cian turned around and left. Did he sign his death warrant? Probably. Did he care? No.