Chapter 32: Redemption
I wake with a groan. Ugh, how long was I asleep? I feel like I must have slept for a week. Maybe I did. I'm not even sure how I managed to stay conscious and upright long enough to say anything to Master Vandar and get to the crew quarters.
I go out of the crew quarters to get some breakfast. I run into Jolee Bindo. One person I'm certainly glad to see today. One death averted.
"Finally awake, huh?" Jolee says.
"Finally?" I say. "Okay, how long was I out this time?"
Jolee checks the clock and replies, "Twenty hours."
"Oh, is that all?" I say, chuckling. "Did I miss anything noteworthy?"
"Nah," Jolee says. "We're on the surface of Lehon at the moment. There's a big party going on, with the Republic folks, the Rakata, and even the Mandalorians. It's madness. Nobody can even understand the Rakata except a couple of the Jedi, but they seemed happy and are sharing food."
There's a party going on with food outside? What am I doing getting rations for breakfast, then? I should go out and join them and grab some better food while I can.
"Wait, the Republic folks and the Mandalorians are partying together?" I say.
"Yeah," Jolee says. "Some might be a little uneasy, but they're honoring the alliance, however temporary it might end up being." He looks at me thoughtfully for several moments, and then adds, "Your eyes are green again."
"Really," I say.
Jolee chuckles softly. "I don't know just what happened with you, but I'm glad you decided not to turn around and bite me after all."
"Yeah," I agree. "It was... a close thing, really." I look away. "I came that close to killing my friends."
"But you didn't," Jolee says. "It takes a lot of strength to pull back from as far as you'd gone."
"And yet you still came with me, knowing that I was that far gone, and you were still willing to put your foot down and try to stop me," I say quietly. "You're a braver man than anyone gives you credit for, I think."
Jolee laughs lightly. "Nah, I'm just an eccentric old man, getting a little senile with age, who does some crazy things now and then."
I smile at him. "So, if there's a party going on out there, what are you doing in here?"
"Oh, somebody had to watch the ship," Jolee says. "And make sure the droids didn't molest you in your sleep. Never can be too careful."
"Not much danger of that, I don't think," I reply with a crooked grin. "I'm going out to find some of this food you mentioned. You care to join me, or stay in here and continue to do... whatever it was you were doing?"
"Oh, I think I can stand to follow you around a bit longer," Jolee says lightly.
We head out of the ship and join the party. It appears to be mid-afternoon at the moment in this part of the planet. People are glad to see me. They recognize me and hail me as a hero. I wave to them absently and head straight for the food. I run into Carth, who is surprisingly not holed away in the cockpit at the moment.
"Good to see you're awake," Carth says. "I was starting to worry if all these Mandalorians were going to continue to behave without you keeping them in line."
"Why wouldn't they?" I say. "I told them that the Republic are our allies in this battle, and I haven't told them to attack them."
Carth smirks. "Considering the Mandalorians consider you their leader, I'm hoping you don't intend to turn around and attack the Republic."
I shrug. "Conquering the galaxy just seems so... I don't know... overrated."
"So what was the deal with you and Malak?" Carth says. "You sent him back in time? Did I hear that right?"
I smirk, glancing around briefly at the crowd around us as I munch on a piece of fresh tropical fruit, but it doesn't appear that anyone really seems to be listening. That's not an ability that I'd like to be widely known. People might get the wrong idea, or think that it means something different than it actually does.
I nod to Carth, and reply quietly, "I sent him back in time. Or at least his mind, his spirit, his memories. At some point in the past, he will know what happened in this timeline, and can make a choice to avoid this fate."
"How does that even work?" Carth says. "Things don't seem any different to me..."
I shake my head. "Time doesn't work like that. It's not just a straight line, a street going only one way. Think more like a tree. An infinitely large tree, with infinite branches. I sent him back to the limb, and now he's on another branch from where we are."
"Where did you send him?" Carth says. "Or should I say, when?"
"I don't know where or when he went, or what he might do," I say. "Maybe, in that new timeline, Telos might never be bombed. Or Malachor V might never have happened. I just gave him the chance. It's entirely up to him what he does with it."
"I suppose it's not such a bad thing, when you put it that way," Carth admits. "I still don't think he deserved a second chance, though."
"Probably not," I say. "But I gave it to him anyway, because he was my friend, once. He was a good man, once. He was never a very good Jedi, but he was a good man. And I will mourn for the man he once was, even as I hope he's taken the second chance I gave him and moved both him and the me that is there to a better future."
I finish up with breakfast and part ways with Carth for the moment. I've spotted Master Vandar off to one side, staying out of the middle of the crowd. I did want to speak with him, so I go over to approach him and take a seat in the grass nearby.
"Revan," Vandar says. "I'm glad to see you're well."
I raise an eyebrow at him. "Is it wise to use that name in public, Master Vandar?"
"So I would have thought," Vandar says. "But it seems all of the Mandalorians already knew who you were. And the Republic soldiers found out quickly because of that, and it seems in no time, everyone was hailing Revan as a hero again."
"I'm not Revan anymore, though," I say. "It was a name I took out of a desire for revenge. I became the Revanchist. Then Darth Revan, the Lord of Revenge. But I'm none of those things, any longer. Revenge doesn't drive me any longer."
"Be that as it may, that is the name that most of them know you by," Vandar says. "But from this day forth, many will speak of the redemption of Revan, the Prodigal Knight!"
I look at Master Vandar strangely. "Do you even know what that word means?"
"What?" Vandar says in puzzlement.
"I'm wastefully extravagant?" I say, snickering softly. "Come on, I'm not that bad."
"It's just a metaphor," Vandar says. "You know, the prodigal son and all?"
"I know that," I say, continuing to snicker. "But how is it that you even have that story?"
"What?" Vandar says, even more confused.
"You don't even have a Bible!" I exclaim.
"A what?" Vandar says.
"Exactly!" I say. I'm practically rolling on the ground laughing at this point. After several long moments, gasping, I manage to catch my breath and stop laughing quite so hard. "Okay, okay," I say. "Really, call me whatever you like. I don't honestly care all that much."
"I'm just glad to see that you've redeemed yourself and have returned to us," Vandar says.
"Nope and nope," I reply.
"What?" Vandar says.
"I'm not going back to the Jedi Order," I say. "That's what I wanted to speak with you about."
"I see," Vandar says. "Well, we cannot demand that you do anything..."
"There's a lot that the Jedi do that I still don't agree with," I say. "Maybe it works for some people, the way you do things. But it doesn't work for me. I think that more can be accomplished by harnessing one's emotions for good, rather than suppressing them. Everything I've accomplished, I've done because of that. Not for adhering to Jedi teachings, or redeeming myself, or any other such thing."
"You realize these ideas will be considered heretical?" Vandar says.
I nod. "I'm not interested in approval from the Jedi. I've started up a school of my own to spread my ideas. And no, you don't need to worry about me corrupting your precious Padawans. I'm recruiting from the Sith. I'm trying to bring up the Sith, not bring down the Jedi. Perhaps, if some of your Jedi should find that your teachings don't work for them, they'll decide to come to me rather than the Sith."
"These are dangerous ideas," Vandar says. "They will lead to the Dark Side. Your ideas always have a way of spreading like wildfire, whether you intend to corrupt or not. And what do you intend your new group, whatever you're calling them, to do?"
"I'm calling them... Elkandu," I say. "It's a term used on my homeworld for Force users." I take a deep breath. "And much as the Jedi might disapprove, they won't do anything more than look sternly and disapprovingly in my general direction. It took them only a heavy push from me to go to war against the Mandalorians, and that threatened the entire galaxy!"
"You underestimate our resolve should you threaten the galaxy again," Vandar says.
"You realize that I never wished to turn on the Republic in the first place?" I say. "I was being mind controlled by the Sith Emperor. I was forced into it against my will, and it was all I could do to shake his hold over me."
"Your memories have returned?" Vandar says.
"A lot of them, at least," I say.
"Who is this Sith Emperor?" Vandar asks.
"A threat that I hope you never have to face," I say grimly. "And probably the most powerful Dark Side user alive. Out in the Unknown Regions, biding his time, playing dejarik with the fate of the galaxy. He sent me back to conquer in his name, but my mind was too strong for him to fully control. But, in short, I was still really messed up because of it."
"That... certainly puts a new perspective on your previous actions," Vandar says.
"The citizens of the Republic can sleep at night because they don't know what's out there lurking in the shadows," I say, sighing. "I have no intention of fighting the Jedi or the Republic. If I prepare for war, that is what I'm preparing against."
"You think you have a better chance of standing against that than the Jedi?" Vandar asks.
"Yes," I reply flatly, without hesitation, looking at Vandar like it was a stupid question.
"Hmh," Vandar says. "I don't think now is the appropriate time to scold you for not heeding the wisdom of the Council. You will do as you believe in, as always. We will not openly censure you so long as you do not openly recruit from among the Jedi. I will attempt to make the others see that, if you are trying to redeem the Sith and show them a better path, then this cannot be a bad thing."
"Thank you, Master Vandar," I say, bowing my head toward him.
"I don't know that you should be thanking me," Vandar says. "I still don't agree with what you're doing. But let's not let this get us down. This is a time for celebration. Even if you do not wish to return to us, you have still turned away from the path of the Sith. You've let go of your hate and desire for revenge."
I nod, smiling at him. "I'll take that in good faith."
"Also," Vandar says. "There was something I meant to speak with you about. About Malak. I must admit, I am... concerned about what you claim to have done."
"Why?" I ask. "It's not like sending someone back would change things as they are. Only as they might have been. You know, I just had to explain how time travel works to Carth, do I need to explain it to a Jedi Master too? Is it that unfamiliar of a concept to you?" I chuckle softly.
"There have been... potential instances of time travel that have been documented," Vandar says. "Rumors of hyperdrive malfunctions, unexplained Force phenomena, effects of black holes... Never anything clear or deliberate. And you say you can do this? Intentionally, reliably?"
I chuckle softly. "Master Vandar, I'll let you in on a little secret. And Jolee Bindo as well, since he's so quietly sitting right behind me eating fruit and pretending to be a senile old man that's hard of hearing."
"What's that you say?" Jolee says.
I grin at him, snag a piece of fruit and munch on it myself. "Anyway," I say. "I don't just have 'premonitions' of the future. I am... apparently, from the future. Not only that, but I have innate time travel powers. I've only intentionally used them twice, to send someone else back. But I've subconsciously used them many, many times. You see, whenever I would otherwise die, I effectively 'jump back' to a previous point, allowing me to make another choice to avoid that death."
Vandar is staring at me. "I can see why you would keep such a thing quiet."
"So, wait," Jolee says. "When you told me you'd had a premonition before we left for the Star Forge..."
"Exactly," I say.
"You never did tell me what you saw," Jolee says. "Or did, apparently."
"I know," I say quietly, looking to the ground. "Most people don't get the opportunity to take back their mistakes. I consider myself to be... very fortunate in that regard." I sigh.
"That bad, huh?" Jolee says. "So who did you kill?"
"You and Bastila," I murmur, barely audibly.
"Bastila too?" Jolee says. "I can understand me, but why Bastila?"
"She was trying to goad me into killing Mission," I say. "Mission wouldn't bow down to me, but didn't think I'd really fallen to the Dark Side. She didn't think I'd actually hurt her. And I wouldn't hurt her. That's the funny thing. Even as far gone on the Dark Side as I was, I still wouldn't hurt a kid. Bastila didn't like that. Called me weak, thought she should rule the Sith instead of me, attacked me, I got carried away, and..."
"I understand," Jolee says. "No need to go on."
"I don't know that you really do," I say. "It was a mistake. A terrible, terrible mistake. And I have the chance to make different choices. But even though this timeline is different, there's still that other one. That other one, continuing without me, where you and Bastila died needlessly. Where Canderous followed me to his own death on the Star Forge. Where another pointless war between the Republic and the Mandalorians may have begun."
"Lexen..." Jolee says.
I shake my head. "And on top of that, the knowledge that I did this. I caused this. Willfully, by my own actions. And it could happen again. I must never allow myself to lose control, or things like this could happen. I am my own worst enemy. In the end, the foe I had to defeat was not Malak or the Sith, but myself."
"And that," Master Vandar says quietly, "is your true redemption."