"Birth of the Shadow"
Rating: T (violence)
Characters: Female-Revan and Channa Mae (slashy only if you turn your head and squint)
Disclaimer: Revan is property of LucasArts and Bioware. Channa Mae belongs to Silveredge9 and his marvelous mod Brotherhood of Shadow. I am posting this with his permission.
Channa Mae remembered the day she had dedicated herself to this cause. A Revanchist had come to Dantooine, seeking those who would join the crusade. Small and dark, the human woman was young and attractive for those inclined to think so, possessing a quiet and strong voice.
Solomon had made an Echani of her, so no matter how persuasive the human woman's words were, it would not be enough. Before Channa made the decision to join the Revanchist cause, she had asked to duel the woman.
Channa's fate was sealed then. The Revanchist struck precisely - no wasted movements, no hesitation, and finished their duel by stunning her and executing a perfect sun djem that took the lightsaber from her hand. With only a sad apology to Telana, she had left in the night.
The choice had terrible consequences. Battlefield and bloodshed blurred from one planet to the next without distinction as the Force-deaf Mandalorians somehow managed to make it shriek in agony with the intensity of battle. Never was Revan far from her thoughts, like there was some part of Channa that had been left with Revan and vice versa. It was only the foolish dreams of an outcast, the smallest of imaginary comforts amid the atrocities, but it was enough to keep Channa sane.
Yet, things had changed after Taris...after Solomon. It was the Prophesy itself that picked her and what remained of her soldiers from Taris. She had been taken up to the ship's practice room. With shields greatly reducing the effectiveness of blasters, soldiers had barely adequate "crash courses" in melee combat. They were barely competent next to the Jedi, who had lightsabers shoved into their hands from the time they were younglings. They were not even close to Echani children who identified themselves in stances and attack forms. The Republic soldiers did what they could with their clumsy attempts at training. Channa used to pity them, but she was slowly growing to be disgusted by it.
The door had sealed, and she was left alone with a single black-robed figure – Revan. Channa had heard that the war had changed Revan, how her robes went from ivory-white to a deep sable. Solomon even told her that Revan did not fight as a Jedi, but the truth of it had not hit Channa Mae until she saw the imposing figure in heavy robes and wearing the bes'kar mask salvaged from the Mandalorian woman who futilely stood between Cassus Fett and the defeated Cathar, only to perish with the species when Fett boiled the seas. It was one of those symbolic gestures of which Revan was fond. Every Mandalorian would see the mask and realize their inability to spare a defeated foe damned them.
Revan asked a single question, choosing to speak in Channa's native Huttese. "Why did you join me?"
"Because you are dedicated with all of your being," Channa had answered. "I see it in your tactics, and in your actions. You have given everything to save this galaxy, and I wish to follow your example by giving all of myself to you in order so you may do it."
Revan had been quiet for a long time, then shrugged off the heavy outer cloak, and armor. It still left Revan hidden under a thin veil that covered from crown to neck, stitched to the armorweave bodysuit worn beneath. "You were trained as an Echani, am I correct?"
"Then, I will test you through combat - unarmed. Your words will not say as much as your stance."
She had not expected this! With a bow, she put aside her lightsaber and removed her own outer robe, leaving them both in thin bodysuits that covered but did not encumber. "Are you not going to take off your mask?" she asked.
"No," Revan said. "Within the Force, I can see as well with it on as it off, and you have not yet earned the right to see my face."
With a bow, the battle began. They circled, assessing one another, weighing the other's intention. Seeing what she thought was an opening, Channa struck out with a swift kick to Revan's hip. Revan twisted out of the way, and countered with a savage backhand – testing her, seeing if she would indeed take their battle seriously – I need one who can become my equal, not a supplicant.
Channa replied with a block and punch that Revan barely managed to deflect – I understand.
They circled again, and this time it was Revan who struck, grasping Channa's arms and savagely throwing her to the floor – prove your worth. Channa rolled with the blow, then made a sweeping attack for Revan's legs, knocking the other woman off balance. Revan approved and backed off a half step, allowing Channa time to roll away again and come to her feet – respect.
Revan tried to come up behind Channa, only to meet with the Twi'lek's elbow in her gut, and Revan recovered by punching Channa in the ribs – we are not so different.
They flowed between stances, dodging, striking, grappling. Humans were usually a little less dexterous than Twi'leks, but the other woman's small size mitigated that. Channa, however, had longer legs, which she used to her advantage, racing to the far edge of the arena, ricocheting off the wall and launching into a spinning kick that caught Revan in the back. Revan rolled with it and used the fact that Channa had expended so much energy on the kick, seizing that split second off-balance to counterattack with a blow that dislocated Channa's knee. The injury made her slower, and unable to launch a solid kick with it. Revan stood at a ready stance – what is your will to fight?
Channa fought through the pain and landed a punch on Revan's solar plexus. Now gasping, the human was struggling as Channa was, rolling out of reach to recover somewhat. Channa tried to land another strike, only to have Revan grasp Channa's right wrist and twist it enough to cause a hairline break in the bone – will you fight on, even if the battle is lost to you?
Channa's movements were sluggish, her left knee and right wrist injured while Revan did not seem hurt at all, merely winded. Channa set her jaw and did as she must, spinning free, and attacking with a flurry of blows that sent them both crashing to the floor, They rolled, trading blows until they were bruised and weary. With all she had left, Channa landed one last blow with her uninjured arm – ripping the veil off Revan' face – who are you under that?
With that, the combat was over. Channa found herself looking up into the face of the woman who she had dueled on Dantooine. "You? You are Revan? But..."
Revan's smile was serene, but sad, an austere beauty in her face. Channa Mae was struck by the heaviness in the other woman's eyes. Remembering their spoken words before combat, Channa looked away.
"You have earned the right to see my face, Channa Mae, and more than that." Revan said, catching Channa's face. "Stay still, and I will heal you."
"With...with the Force?" Channa asked. Kolto may have been a dear commodity, but Force Healing was even more so. It was very intensive, it was increasingly difficult after all the horrors they saw and dealt. and among Force users the technique could be a little...intimate. Even their fellows among the Jedi were growing increasingly treacherous and hard to trust.
Revan seemed to shrug the implications off. Channa wanted to object, but Revan did not give her opportunity, sliding down Channa's body and taking the injured knee. It protested at Revan's touch, but then the pain seemed to be pulled out of it while Revan grew ashen.
Channa shuddered and relaxed. They were no longer in combat. Revan, she could trust. With another breath, Channa started to give herself over to that trust, reaching out with herself to join her life to Revan's in order to heal the injury. The world reduced to the grays of inanimate objects that could be ignored, and the connection between them.
This spoke more than combat! Both were tainted and only getting worse with the War. There was so much loneliness in Revan. No matter how much blood Channa had waded in and how much pain she had seen, Revan had seen ten times more. They were expected to be saviors for the Republic, only to condemn worlds and soldiers. They had spent a lifetime at the feet of their Masters, only for the Masters to betray the Republic and cast them out. A lifetime of serving the people and sharing their pain, but unable to share their joys. There is no emotion, there is no passion, and attachment was a word treated like an obscenity. It was all right if the common people, the ones who cannot touch the Force, formed bonds and found comfort in families, comrades, and the occasional "camp follower." It was all right for them to weep for their lost and cheer when their enemies fell, but such things were denied Jedi as the jealous Force demanded that it be all the connection they were allowed.
There was a gaping void within Revan, one that could not be filled by the Force, with skill, with deeds noble and cruel. It mirrored the emptiness within her own spirit. Channa wanted to bridge that gap. Some of it was for selfish reasons, and part of her wanted to be disgusted at finding Revan was just another woman, but it was quickly overridden.
Revan pulled the pain of Channa's injuries into herself, transmuting it. It would be simple enough to accept the healing and not reach out. It would be risky to expose herself, but Channa had seen Revan's heart in the Force and in combat. It needed to be said.
You gave me purpose, Revan. Through it all, I have felt you with me. If there is a place at your side, I would be honored to take it. Channa spoke with her surrender and with mind-speech.
Something stirred within the void – understanding...conflict...need...questioning...hope - and Channa reached out to it, broadcasting loyalty. Revan's breath caught. The Force healing was over, but the connection was still there. Channa sat up, and clasped Revan's arm. Revan leaned in and her forehead touched Channa's.
The moment passed, and the connection ceased. Revan snapped back on the persona of leader, the cold face needed to win a war. Channa could accept it as she accepted all other things, but to know of what was inside Revan and to have tasted that connection she imagined through all the horrors, however briefly, made the isolation all the more dreadful.
Revan picked up her mask, and Channa picked up her robes. They dressed in silence, once again becoming the Revanchist leader and one of her dozens of Jedi Generals.
"I have seen where your loyalties lie, Channa Mae," Revan said. "You are dismissed."
Channa Mae nodded and left. What she did not see was Revan staring at the door for a long time after, nor did she hear the other woman whisper. "We survive this, and you will have that place at my side. May the Force be with us."