AN: Call me lowbrow, but in my heart of hearts, I'd rather my epic multi-game space operas ended in awesome parties and lovers reuniting than in heroic self-sacrifice. The title comes from the proverb "for want of a nail," in which a missing nail in a horse's shoe prevents a message from reaching a king, and as a result, the battle and kingdom are lost. The idea is that one small change can win or lose a war. In this case, there are actually two changes. One, that Revan is a woman, is incidental, but the other—well, you'll see.
Two quick notes about other suggested reading. First, the events in this story are based on Drew Karpyshyn's novel Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan (the canonical sequel to the KOTOR games). If you haven't read the book or want a refresher, the Wookieepedia page on Revan ( wiki/Revan) has an excellent (and spoiler-filled, obviously) synopsis. I don't own these characters, and I do encourage you to pick up the original novel, which is a great read that develops the characters in a different direction than I do here.
On that note, our Revan here is the same interpretation as in my KOTOR 1 story cycle Downtime ( s/5708445/1/Downtime), so there are a handful of in-jokes here for those of you who've read that. I never did get around to writing that story about Bastila and the slumber party, but I hope you'll enjoy this nonetheless.
"Nathema," Mandalore had said. He'd told her the story of how he and Revan had found Mandalore the Ultimate's mask and an old datacron in a Sith burial chamber on Rekkiad, and what Revan had remembered there: that another Sith, an enemy of the one buried in the chamber, had enlisted Mandalore to help him find the tomb and then convinced him to start the war against the Republic. Revan had been desperate to understand why, and the only clue she had was that the Sith who had been buried on Rekkiad had once been a ruler on a planet called Nathema. The coordinates were on the datacron.
The catch was that Revan had made the journey to Nathema once before, with Malak. The first thing they did when they came back was attack the Republic. But even that hadn't stopped Revan from going. And this time—T3-M4 had the holorecording to prove it—she'd been kidnapped.
Both Mandalore and T3 had said something else, too. Before she left, Revan had had nightmares of another planet, one covered in terrible storms.
It wasn't much to go on, but it was enough to set a course.
In most ways, the Ebon Hawk was the same ship she'd always been since she was appropriated by wayward Jedi. The interior hadn't changed at all; the bunks were the same as ever, though the sheets were made up better than usual. The synthesizer still produced rations that could optimistically be called mediocre. If you sniffed in the wrong place, you could still pick up more than a hint of Wookiee.
But there was one key difference, and it was glaring enough to bother even an exile who'd had plenty of opportunity in life to get used to it: the Ebon Hawk was silent.
A lot of the time the noise on the ship had been arguments, but at least it had been something. It felt strange now that Meetra Surik had dropped the last of her companions off, said all her goodbyes and left known space on an almost-empty ship in pursuit of a woman she hadn't seen in years. She tried to spend the interminable quiet hours preparing herself mentally for whatever she might face out there, but still, the silence—
"You damn cheating trash compactor, you were scanning the deck!"
Well, maybe it wasn't completely silent.
Meetra eased herself up from the floor where she'd been meditating, stretching her cramped legs, and wandered toward the cockpit. The Hawk was on autopilot and Atton was slung sideways in the pilot's chair, scowling down at a losing Pazaak hand. T3-M4 beeped innocently.
"Hey, Exile, does the ship need any maintenance? Because I'm thinking we could easily spare this hunk of metal for parts," Atton said.
Meetra tried to keep a straight face. "There is no emotion; there is peace."
"Soon it's gonna be pieces, if the droid keeps this up," he said.
She'd thought long and hard about whether it was a good idea to bring him. Admiral Onasi had mentioned several times that Revan had been determined that she couldn't take anyone she loved with her out here. When she'd repeated that to Atton, when Kreia was dead and Meetra was restocking the ship for the long journey ahead, he'd just said, "Good thing we don't have to worry about that, then," and tossed his cloak casually back over his bunk as if to restake his claim to be there. Or as if he were daring her to challenge him.
She'd rolled her eyes at it like the throwaway line it was and hadn't pushed it. Privately, she wasn't so sure she didn't have to worry about it—but if Atton didn't, that was enough. The backhanded flirting didn't change, but they never talked about it and Meetra dutifully kept herself from analyzing it. She extricated herself and went to meditate or perform some mindless maintenance task anytime it started to twinge at her conscience, which was more often lately. Love or not, it wasn't something the Council would have condoned.
Meditating soon after that conversation, she had been struck with a sudden conviction that there was some reason Atton needed to come with her, but when she opened her eyes she couldn't be sure that wasn't just wishful thinking.
Atton was still a newly-minted Jedi, a Padawan with a teacher who would have had no business training anyone if there had still been anyone around to tell her no. With a start like that, it was all too easy for Meetra to imagine him getting killed, or corrupted by the Dark Side, or any of a hundred other terrible outcomes. But in the end, she folded her cloak next to his and told him the course he should set.
"Your training could use some work," she said now, though she was still half-grinning.
Suddenly Atton wasn't. "What else is new?"
Even with hyperspace jumps, the trip to Nathema was a long haul. When the Hawk could run on autopilot, they spent a lot of their time training. The main hold was just large enough to practice throwing lightsabers in, if you stood in just the right place and weren't too concerned about scarring the walls up a little. Judging by the holes in one of the side holds, which looked like they'd been made by a blaster, they couldn't have been the first to practice combat in here.
"It has to be faster." Meetra demonstrated again. On the far side of the hold, T3-M4 was projecting a holographic image of a Dark Jedi, their makeshift target; her lightsaber "decapitated" it neatly and came back around to her outstretched hand. "Patience is a virtue, but if you take that long to line up your throw, you might lose your opening."
"That's as fast as I can go and still have time to aim right," Atton said.
"Don't worry so much about aiming at the outset. Just throw it in the right direction, and use the Force to guide the trajectory. Then guide it back around to your hand."
Atton retrieved his lightsaber from where it had fallen after his last attempt and threw it again, much faster. It sailed past the target, missing it by a good meter, then traced the return arc too broadly. The end of the blade scarred the far wall, killing the weapon's momentum. It clattered to the floor and the beam went dead. Meetra suppressed a wince.
Atton looked at it dolefully. "And you're sure I can't just use a blaster?"
Are you even trying?Meetra wanted to ask. She bit her tongue in time. Of course this seemed easy to her; she'd been trained for it since she was a toddler. Atton had plenty of combat experience, but beginning his studies as a Jedi meant unlearning a lot of what he thought he knew. Echani training this was not. She needed to be patient with him.
She reminded him calmly, "You already know that won't work against a lightsaber—you've said it yourself. Think about how easy it is for a Jedi to block blaster fire."
"It isn't easy."
"It'll get there."
"Maybe." Moving quickly, not looking at her, he picked up his lightsaber again and headed for the cockpit. "Better go check on the autopilot."
"Atton—" Meetra began. But he was already halfway down the corridor, and she couldn't think of what she had meant to say anyway.
She went back to her quarters and tried to meditate, but it wasn't happening.
When she thought of her own teachers—her master, Kavar, Vima Sunrider—she remembered their calm strength. If they had ever felt insecurity or doubt about her ability, or their ability to teach her, she had never seen it. She wished now she could go back and ask if they had truly been so confident, or if they had just been better at reining in their emotions than she was.
He wasn't ready for whatever was going to come their way. None of her students were. But at least the others had the entire Archive to help them learn, not to mention Bastila Shan, Deesra, Atris—not that the only Master of the three was likely to be prepared to teach anytime soon, but a novice still had a better chance of learning there than here, stuck with one exiled Jedi Knight with a schoolgirl crush. If her Padawan struggled, it was because of her failings, not his. Teacher, teach thyself.
She wondered what Revan would say about all that. She kept herself from wondering if they'd live long enough to ask her.