Disclaimer: KOTOR belongs to BioWare, Star Wars belongs to LucasArts. This fanfic makes no claims to ownership of either franchise.
Welcome to Divergent Destiny, my first fanfic for some time. It's based around the events of the first Knights of the Old Republic, but it's not a simple retelling of the game's events – there are going to be changes! Anyway, read, enjoy and let me know what you think, okay?Chapter One
It was like awakening after the worst drinking binge in human history. At least, that's what it felt like for Carth Onasi. His body felt bruised, battered and heavy, but his head was worse – as if a herd of banthas were using the inside of his cranium to practise choreographed line-dancing. He tried to open his eyes, and winced. The light in … wherever it was he was … might not have been bright, but at that moment it might as well have been a supernova explosion, the pain it caused. He hurriedly closed his eyes again.
"Take your time. You took a hard hit to the head, you don't want to move too quickly. Zelka's already checked you over, and you'll survive, but take it easy, Republic."
The voice was low, soft, and definitely feminine. Pausing for a few seconds, he opened his eyes again, carefully this time. As his eyes started focussing properly again, he looked up at the woman standing by the side of his bed. Long, white-blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, fringe parted either side of her face, high cheekbones, pale skin, worn black shirt with a tan military vest over it. And the bluest, most piercing eyes he'd ever seen. Two azure orbs assessed his prone form.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, Carth Onasi."
He shot up on the bed, then wished he hadn't as pain exploded in his skull and he slumped back down again. "You know me?" he ground out through gritted teeth. He had no idea who this woman was – if I'd ever seen a woman with eyes like that before, I'd be damn sure to remember her! - but somehow she knew him, Who the hell was she, an agent of the Sith?
She caught the look in his eyes and smiled. He noticed it was a beautiful smile, the way her lips lifted and her eyes sparkled with amusement. "Relax, Onasi, I'm loyal to the Republic. If I was working for the Sith, by now you'd be in a torture cell and I'd be rich – Republic war heroes fetch quite a price, you know." She paused, her hand taking his wrist to check his pulse before she nodded with satisfaction, then eyed him. "Do you want some pain-killers for your headache?"
"Yeah, that'd be good." He watched her as she straightened up and walked over to a nearby workbench. Now that he could see her, she looked thin, or young, or both. Long, frail-looking limbs, boyish hips, flat stomach, small, high breasts – he figured she couldn't have been more than eighteen or nineteen. Then he remembered her eyes – clear, bright and beautiful, yes, but with great pain lurking beneath. Eyes too old for her young face. Who are you? And just how old are you, anyway? He waited as she injected him with something, and grinned as the pain in his head finally cleared to a low enough level for him to swing his legs round and sit up on the bed. "So, mind telling me who you are? And where we are?"
She leant back against the workbench, which he could now see was littered with odds and ends, including what seemed like the parts for a blaster rifle, or maybe a sonic rifle – he couldn't quite make out which. "I'm Leia Karan. I used to be a soldier with the Republic. Now I just travel the spacelanes, doing what I can for the Republic, or simply helping out where I can. As for where we are – we're in a disused apartment in Upper Taris. The block's pretty rundown, but that means no-one cares we're here, or asks questions. I pulled you from the crashed escape pod not far from here,and brought you here, along with whatever I could salvage from the pod. The Sith are searching the locale, but I think we're safe here – the residents are illegal aliens, they won't talk."
"The Sith are here?" That wasn't good - if this young woman could recognise him, so might they. And the fate of a Republic war hero and serving officer who fell into their hands would not be pleasant.
He racked his brains to try to recognise the name Leia Karan, given that she knew of him, but nothing came to mind. So either that wasn't her real name, or she simply hadn't been of high enough rank or decorated enough for him to have heard of her. Or else she was lying. Perhaps she's with the Sith after all, using me to find Bastila, ingratiating herself with me before betraying me, the way Revan and Malak, and the Jedi that followed them, betrayed the Republic! No, if she was Sith, they'd be torturing me even now to find out what I know. Still, just because she says she saved me, doesn't mean I have to trust her. She could be after some kind of reward for finding Bastila. I can't trust her. Not fully.
The slender blonde nodded, her ponytail bouncing with the movement. "They occupied the planet in the aftermath of the space battle. They've locked down the spaceport – nobody leaves Taris – and they're sweeping the lower levels, sending patrols down to the Undercity where a couple of escape pods are supposed to have crashed. You need authorisation to move between levels of the city." She shrugged. "I've been in worse situations – try being alone on Nar Shaddaa without a ship, and falling foul of both the Exchange and the Hutt Cartel … "
He winced at that. "Yeah, that'd be pretty bad, I guess." Nar Shaddaa, the Smuggler's Moon? So she's a smuggler, or some kind of criminal, then? Damn, I was right – I CAN'T trust her. I'd better keep my eyes on her. "So, what now?"
Leia looked him over. "Well, we need to find some way of getting you off Taris. Given the lockdown, that's not going to be easy. But don't worry, I'll think of something – what?"
Carth shook his head. "I can't leave – not just yet."
"You want to be captured by the Sith?"
"No! It's just – there's someone else we need to rescue before we escape."
Blue eyes regarded him for a few moments. "Someone important enough for you to risk getting yourself killed for?" At his nod, she asked "okay, I'll bite – who?"
"Someone … important to the Republic." I can't tell her! If she IS some kind of bounty hunter, I have to keep Bastila's identity secret!
Electric blue eyes narrowed, and for a moment he wondered if she was about to reveal herself as a Sith after all and attack him. Then the slim blonde relaxed. "It's obvious you don't trust me. Keep your secrets, then – I won't ask again. I take it he's one of the survivors of the escape pods that landed in the Undercity? If he's still alive, that is."
The brown-haired man nodded – she needed to know that much, at least, if she was to be of any use in the search for the missing Jedi. He didn't like not telling her the true identity of their target, but it was safer that way. "She's alive – she always was lucky. Getting away with things others would've died doing … "
"So she's a Jedi, then?"
The pilot choked at that, staring at her frantically. "Wh-what?" How the hell … ?
"'There is no luck, there is only the Force.'" Leia regarded him for a few moments longer, then walked over to a mattress on the floor, and started pulling objects from under it. "Don't soil yourself, flyboy – I won't say a word to the Sith." She put on some kind of light body armour, an ammo harness, a visor, and a couple of sonic pistols, which to the pilot's experienced eyes looked to have been extensively customised. "I'll go and ask around, try to find us a way down to the Undercity to rescue your friend. Have a look through my supplies, find something you can use. Just don't take all the valuable kit." She walked to the door. "I'll get Zelka to look in on you soon, just to make sure you're free of a concussion."
"Zelka?" he interrupted her. He didn't like her leaving - maybe she was going to get her Sith masters to pay him a visit. I'd better be ready to make a run if any hostiles show up ...
"Zelka Forn - he runs a local free medi-clinic. He checked you over when I got you here. He's a good man - he hates the Sith for the way they treat the city's inhabitants, especially the poorer ones and the aliens. I'll pick up a few comlinks while I'm out - we need to keep in touch." She got to the door and paused. "I'd try not to do anything too strenuous if I were you - you've been unconscious for a couple of days, you haven't eaten for that long, and Zelka had to give you an intravenous drip whilst you couldn't drink anything. You're still weak, remember - don't kill yourself through overexertion." She tapped a few commands on the door control panel. "This door'll lock once I've gone. Open it for Zelka when he shows up, no-one else." The door slid open.
He called after her "watch yourself out there, beautiful."
She turned, looking down at her boyish figure, then stared at him incredulously. "'Beautiful'? That head injury must have done more damage than I thought!"
She slipped out through the half-open door, followed by his laughter.
Alone, he levered himself up off the bed and looked around the dingy apartment he now found himself in. There were crates and boxes piled in the corners, stuffed under the bed, jammed into overhead cupboards, metal storage cylinders - the place was like a treasure vault waiting to be explored. He lifted one of the boxes onto the bed and started rummaging through it when he heard shots outside the door. Cursing to himself, he grabbed his two blasters which had been resting on a small table next to the bed, and darted towards the door. He had to pause, however, when he suddenly felt dizzy. He took a deep breath. Damn it, there's trouble outside, I don't have time to be weak! Move, you idiot!
Opening the door, he was confronted by Leia standing over two smoking, shattered droids and a dead Sith trooper in grey fatigues. A Duros lay on the ground, unmoving, and another was talking to her in his own language. She nodded her agreement with whatever he'd said, and knelt to rifle the pockets of the fallen Sith officer.
"What the hell happened?" He raked her with his gaze, trying to ascertain if she'd been wounded. She seemed okay, but maybe her wounds were hidden. She turned to look up at him, still crouched over the dead body. "Why the hell are you starting a fire-fight right outside our - I mean, your - apartment? Do you want to bring the Sith down on us, or what?"
She straightened up in one fluid motion and gave him an angry glare. Carth suddenly realised that maybe, just maybe, he might have gone too far. As in so far over the line it had disappeared out of sight.
Then the delicate-seeming blonde paused, as if putting a lid on her anger, though he could see the fire that lit her blue eyes as she took a deep breath. "No, I was not trying to alert the Sith, merely stay alive when they started shooting. Don't worry, he - " she gestured to the Duros, "will make sure the trail leads elsewhere if they start searching. Excuse me, I have to go." Back stiff, she turned and quickly walked away from him.
He opened his mouth to say something, anything, to apologise for his words, but nothing came. He paused, watching her vanish round the bend in the corridor, then sighed, running his hand through his hair dejectedly. He'd really put his foot in it this time, chewing out someone who must have still been pumped full of adrenaline from the fire-fight. Someone who had, according to her own account, pulled him to safety, got him the care he needed, and then given him the freedom to take what he needed from her equipment.
He noticed the Duros eying him thoughtfully. "Go ahead, say it - I screwed up, big time."
"Your words are careless, but you have no evil heart. Let her calm, then apologise. She will forgive, I think - she has a kind heart, she has shown us all here."
Carth's curiosity got the better of him. "How so? Has she been here long?"
"The human female, she has been here eight days, standard. Dia there," he waved a hand towards one of the apartments further along the corridor, "had a bounty on her head. She spoke to Holdan, so he lifts the bounty. One who owes Davik money, she gives him enough to settle."
The pilot groaned. Great, now he felt even worse - she'd not only helped him, but others who were in trouble. He took one last look down the corridor - no sign of her - and went back to the apartment they shared, wondering how the hell he was going to make it up to her - if she even agreed he could stay there after all this.
She strode across the plaza, the cool, calm gait of someone in full control of their surroundings. Locals, seeing her weapons and confident demeanour, moved aside for her. Sith patrols watched her intently, wondering perhaps if she was going to turn those weapons on them. She ignored them, not meeting their gazes as she passed, heading towards her goal. The Sith seemed to believe that the elevator in front of the military base was the only way down to the Lower City. Leia knew better.
A few small side alleys, a cut through a rundown section of the Upper City, and she was at her destination. Hidden behind the wall was a metal ladder whose rungs led straight down to the Lower City, emerging not far from Javyar's Cantina. Only a handful of people knew it was there, but there were other such access points dotted all over Upper Taris - if one knew where to look. A quick check of the area to make sure she was not being watched, and she began the descent.
Carth bent his head over the workbench, eyes intent on his project. Leia's stash had been a veritable treasure trove of useful parts, enough to upgrade both his blasters, give him a much better protective suit of armour - which now even possessed a bioregenerative inner layer - grenades, stimulants - everything the true adventurer might need, in fact.
The holovid blared in the background, though the pilot was paying it little attention. It had caught his eye earlier, when it had mentioned the death of someone called Bendak Starkiller, Apparently a feared, wanted deathmatch specialist, he had been killed by a duellist known only as the Mysterious Stranger. Carth had stared at the armoured figure of the Stranger - whoever he was, he looked dangerous, someone that the pilot really didn't want to meet. The Stranger's tactics had been simple and brutal. Bendak had opened with a thrown plasma grenade - the Stranger had retaliated with a bundle of six thermal detonators. The duelling arena had been buckled, half-melted, the armoured plexiglass bent and crazed - and Bendak had been smeared up the wall. A fitting end for such a killer, Carth thought.
He finished his work with a satisfied smile, and sipped from his cooling mug of caffa. Now he had all he needed to complete the job of rescuing Bastila. He frowned, wondering where Leia was, assuming she wasn't simply refusing to contact him. Not that he'd blame her if she was.
He was ashamed of how he'd acted towards her. Even if he didn't trust her, any more than he did anyone else, that was no reason for laying into her the way he had.
I have to correct this if we're to work together, or else I have to get out of here, find another base, and start the search for Bastila alone. One or the other. So choose, Onasi. Stay here, swallow your pride and apologise, or get the hell out.
Leia slid the final few feet down the ladder, paused as she checked her surroundings instinctively, and then, hands resting on the grips of her pistols, the slim blonde walked out of the shadowed ruins onto the main thoroughfare through the Lower City.
Straight into a fire-fight.
End of Chapter One
Well, there you have Chapter One. I hope you like it. I admit, I borrowed a few elements from Kotor II, such as the armour fittings and weapons upgrades, but I think they fit in a fanfic like this. So please, click on that Review button and let me know what you think!