"Know that there was once a Darth Traya."


Silence.


"That she cast aside that role…"


Whispers begin to infect the silence; shadows creep across the jungle clearing. Day slips into twilight and continues on towards night. Inky, poisoned clouds draw tight across the treetops.

She shivers. She is cold, though the day has been warm. She draws her cloak tighter about her shoulders.

She hears the voices, but she cannot hear their words. Maybe, in the murk, she can divine their meaning, or at least their intent. There is no malice that she detect, only a stark, simple truth.

It is the truth of her. She shuts her eyes tight.


"…was exiled, and found a new purpose."


Unbidden, memories flock to her.

Standing with her master, her first master, on the deck of the ship she'd called home. Watching him desperately try to reach his friends; watching him betray her to loneliness, to anger, as he flees her to find them.

Standing with her master, her second master, in the jungles, watching as a shadow descends across their sanctuary. Her master tells her to flee and she knows, in her heart, in her bones and in the spaces in between her bones, that they will not see each other again.

She knows that her master will betray her, abandon her, and leave her with nothing in these primordial jungles. This hell of her own making.

She remembers the snap-hiss and hum of singing lightsabres. The clash and spark and screech of energy swords. The roar of a rancor, of her rancor, her ally and friend in the darkest depths of the jungle. She remembers the fatal glow of his blade held to her throat.

She remembers his forgiveness; his betrayal.

He should have killed her.

She remembers something that never happened. A woman in dark robes, her sightless eyes black as the deepest night. Her hair is white, her face deeply lined, and she speaks words so true they cut like a vibroblade.


"But there must always be a Darth Traya…"


She sees her allies fall in battle to protect her, to protect the realm of hope and darkness she had carved out on the face of their world. She hears them whisper their words of support, their prayers for salvation and redemption.

They are all dead, now.

She was their messiah, and she has been forgotten. She led them into the darkness, and she betrayed them. She led them to their destruction, to their defeat, to their extermination.

They betrayed her in turn. Turnabout is fair play, after all. They stopped speaking of her in the hushed tones of awe and respect, and began to revile her. They whispered of her poison, of her evil, of how she had bent them to her will and how her will had been their destruction.

Like her first master, like her second, like the boy that defeated her and broke her and sent her scurrying away like a rodent; they betrayed her, the core of her, the knowledge she'd imparted upon them.

Worse still, she'd betrayed herself. She betrays herself, still.


"…one that holds the knowledge of betrayal."


And this is how it feels to be betrayed, endlessly and always, ad infinitum; the hottest of the jungle nights cannot hold a candle to the fiery rage that burns inside her. The darkest of the jungle's depths cannot imagine the darkness that consumes her thoughts.

This is how it feels to be her. She is marooned, islanded in a stream of stars and happenings, and can see only backwards and only inwards. She is haunted by the memories of her crimes and she knows, with all of her being, that she is a criminal. She has betrayed her masters, betrayed the boy that spared her from her retribution.

She is an aberration, and she knows it. She has tasted madness. Tasted the dark side.

She kneels in a jungle clearing, the verdant smells of rot and renewal cascading through her awareness. Bioluminescent plants do little to limit the encroaching gloom, within or without. Her hands are buried in the soil, up to the wrist, so she might feel the world's beating heart.

Even that has been denied her.

She betrayed that world, and it betrayed her.

Nowhere is safe, nowhere is whole. Her eyes are sealed shut, and the memories stop. She sees only darkness. The whispers stop. The jungle grows quiet. Even the creatures in the underbrush are silenced.


"Who has been betrayed and will betray in turn."


Maris Brood opens her eyes onto the silence, and she hears the truth at last. Somewhere, somewhere far away and lost in shadows, the black-eyed woman smiles.

Quietly, her lips form its words. Her voice is a little more than a hoarse croak, but still it can be heard. "I am Darth Traya."


A/N: the words in italics are from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords. Please let me know what you think, because I'm thinking about turning this into a much larger story.