The galaxy has a cruel sense of humor. It seems to me, that the more vital an individual is to one's plans, the more likely it is that one cannot stand to be in their presence for any extended period of time. Take for example my esteemed former apprentice Malak. The man was a bore, with a sense of humor that made a hutt seem lively and a wit that was about as sharp as gamorian's. Being in his company was a torment.
And as I listened to Bastila rant, I was longing for the man's company. I have in the past heard women be referred to as "shrews" or "bitchy" or other unmentionable appellations. Previously I had believed that the gentlemen who had decided to label their female companions as such had simply been bores incapable of charm or manners, and if they had simply made themselves more likeable they would have found those women as much more approachable. Now, I was beginning to commiserate with them.
"Now, Breni, we'll have to find a way off the planet. Honestly, I find it rather shocking that you haven't even considered the possibility that we would require some method of egress before now," Bastila was saying.
I rolled my eyes. "It had indeed crossed our minds, jedi, but we were a tad preoccupied with trying to save your life."
She sniffed, ignoring my comment. "And the help you've chosen! Honestly, did you manage to find anyone competent? I know you're close to making knight so you should know better than to think either of us could fly a ship ourselves. We'll have to find someone."
"Carth Onasi also survived, in case you were curious. He seems to be a perfectly capable pilot," I replied. "Now that we've found you we can set about acquiring a proper ship."
"Frank, do you have a ship?" Bastila demanded, stopping in her tracks and turning to glare at me."
"It's Ferc, not Frank. And if I did, what would it matter? The sith are shooting anything that-" I began, but Bastila cut me off.
"If not, then kindly let those of us who know what we're doing talk, or I'll be forced to locate another reprobate to carry my luggage. Now, Breni, a ship?"
The poor girl looked at me, biting her lip. "Um, Bastila, Ferc has been the one leading us, and he did manage to rescue you. I think-"
"Rescue me!" Bastila laughed, shaking her head with amusement. "Breni, did you see Ferc open my cage? Or kill my guards? That was me. Besides, surely it was you taking charge. You'll be up for knighthood soon, and everyone knows the masters are looking for leadership in those trials."
Actually, they were more looking for people who could spew forth the proper dogma with a straight face and pass their ridiculous tests of character. They did a rather poor job of it too, seeing as someone like me had made knight. I held my peace though, and contemplated just how much of the force I would need to subdue Bastila.
A bit too much probably. It was one thing to turn a woman who had willingly come to my bed and was already opening herself to me. I'd never actually tried to force my will upon a woman who hadn't, and the thought of rape left a rather bitter taste in my mouth. As I've said before, there are lines you simply should not cross, not to mention the inherent risks. A jedi was hard enough to tame when you were only subtly shifting their psyche. Trying to force myself on Bastila would likely end rather badly, either because I damaged her mind to the point where she was useless, or because the controls broke at the wrong moment. So, mind raping her into submission was off the table.
Of course, while I do have moral compunctions against rape, I have very few against killing. Death is so very permanent though, and Bastila could still be useful. Besides, something seemed off about her. Not the arrogance; the jedi do breed a very special kind of hubris, especially in gifted apprentices. No, what bothered me was that she was behaving this way despite the fact that she should have known that I was actually Darth Revan. It's one thing to mouth off to the hired help, another to the man who had twice brought the galaxy to its knees. Either Bastila was an idiot, had balls bigger than any other jedi I'd ever met, or she had no idea who I was. The last sounded impossible, and yet….
I watched her as we walked, and she seemed completely at ease. Not the false relaxation that a trained combatant falls into when they think danger is near, but that of a proud man who thinks himself completely safe. It wasn't proof, if Bastila was a good enough actress she might be able to bluff me if this was some ploy on her part. But it left a niggling suspicion at the back of my mind.
Before long I got a call from Carth, which I took while I dropped back a bit to allow Bastila to harangue Breni. I felt bad for the girl, but better her than me.
"What's the situation?" I asked over the comm.
"The Vulkars are collapsing. I don't know what you did Ferc, but evidently you got most of their senior leadership killed. The Beks are at the door, and a dozen petty bosses are fighting it out for control. Sarna, Mission, the wookiee and I have gotten out, and we're heading back to the apartment. We'll have to regroup there. Did you find Bastila?"
"Yes, she's with me now. I'd say she's alright, but she's turned out to be more trouble than she might be worth."
Carth let out a heavy sigh. "Try not to strangle her, Ferc. I know she can be a pain in the ass, but she's vital to the survival of the Republic. Besides, you seem to have a way with women. Perhaps she'll warm up to you. In fact, I think you should handle the whole thing. You've been doing a good job of leading us until now, and I don't want to get in your way."
With that, the son of a hutt hung up on me. I glared at my communicator, then pocketed it again. The burdens of leadership. I had better, at the very least, get a pair of Alderaanian silk undies out of this.
"Breni, the Vulkars are under siege. We'd best head back to the apartment," I called, motioning for her to follow after me and turning away. Bastila could follow or not.
Breni caught up to me after a moment, and right after her came Bastila. "What do you mean, the Vulkars are under siege? You didn't ally yourself with them, did you? They tortured me!"
"It seemed the most expedient way to rescue you, jedi," I answered, hoping that would shut her up. I should have known better.
"Rescue me?" Bastila sputtered. "Why do you insist on perpetuating that you were in any way responsible for that! I freed myself, and anyway, if anyone were to have helped me, I'm sure it would have been Breni."
"I only did what my Lo- what Ferc told me to do Bastila," Breni protested.
The other woman snorted in derision. "If that's what you wanted him to think Breni, fine. More than a few of the masters like to play the puppeteer. But there's no need now that I'm with you."
"But I-" Breni began, but Bastila trampled right over her. I stopped listening. This girl was a positive pain the arse, no mistake. Why was it that the people we need most are often those that are the most detestable?
It took far too long to get back to the hideout, but by then Bastila had either run out of steam or took my silence for a sign that she had cowed me, rather than the murderous contemplation it was. I opened the door to find myself face to face with the massive mandalorian from earlier, Canderous. I sprang back out of the man's reach and drew both my blasters, shoving Breni and Bastila out of the way.
"Ha! You've got good reflexes. No need for that, Revan. I bear you no enmity."
I glared at him, and was about to say something caustic about being free with names, when a palm struck my face hard enough to make me see stars. "Oaf! How dare you strike me!"
Ears ringing, I stumbled, then glared at Bastila, then my vision cleared to see a murderous looking Breni with an upraised dagger in her hand. "There's no need for that!" I growled, looking right at my over-eager apprentice. Really, even after that lecture, she still went for the lethal option like that? What are they teaching padawans these days?"
"I shall decide what is and is not necessary on this expedition. To strike a commanding officer carries the most severe of penalties, Ferc Kyja!" Oh, now she got my name right. Well, at least the name I was supposed to be going by. "Be grateful that I do not have a surplus of soldiers at the moment, or you would be hauled away in chains. And who is this brute?"
"Someone I need to talk to," I answered, turning my gaze back to the mandalorian. He was smiling. Widely. Maybe there would be less talking and more killing. No, no, that would set a horrible example. Now was not the time to set a precedent for impressionable children.
"Well, clear him out. I need to change and bathe, and I have no desire to do so with two ruffians in my chambers. Come, Breni, we needs must talk."
"Come on, son of Malachor. Let us parley," I growled.
Canderous came out, and the two jedi went in. I folded my arms across the chest. "My name is Ferc Kyja. Now you know who I am. I know your name, mandalorian, but not your clan. Tell me who your are and what your purpose is, or must our weapons talk for us?"
The brute laughed again, long and loud. I reminded myself that blood was terribly hard to get out of clothes, and I only had the one set. "You name yourself 'Ferc Kyja' and ask my name, Revan? Truly, did I not know your worth already, I would be insulted."
"I am Ferc Kyja. I don't know where you got this idea that I'm Revan. Ask anyone: he's dead."
"Perhaps the fact that you make a habit of introducing yourself to everyone as Revan, wield strange powers, have a lover who is obviously a dark jedi, and have defeated Brejik the Jedi Killer in single combat. Not to mention you obviously know the ways of the clans. There are few enough outsiders who know them, and even fewer who are great warriors. And but one who is a jedi."
Upon reflection, perhaps telling everyone that I was Revan had been a mistake. Of course, I hadn't thought that anyone would take me seriously, and I'd given them the Ferc handle right after. "I just slept with a mandalorian woman a few times, that's all. Her pillow talk was terribly boring, but she was a rancor in the sack."
"Do not lie to me, Revan. I came to treat with you, man to man. It is obvious who you are. The way you walk, the way you talk, the way you fight. I saw what you did to Brejik. You can use the force, and you wield a scarlet blade with the skill few have, and yet you fight with wisdom, not ferocity alone. You are the Bane of Mandalore, and no other."
"Oh bloody hell, fine, I'm Revan, former dark lord of the sith. But blast, man, keep it quiet, will you? It's all well and good if some hear the name and take it as a jest, but if Malak learns it, he won't stop until he's reduced this planet to cinders! I'd destroy him in a fair fight, or several of the rather unfair ones I plan to face him in, but against his fleet, I'd fry the same as you. To you and everyone else, I'm Ferc Kyja the scoundrel. Now tell me who you are and what you're doing here, or I'll add another notch to my hilt."
"I am Canderous, of Clan Ordo. I come with a way off this planet for the both of us, one that does not involve us being reduced to atoms."
I perked up at that. This warrior might know who I really was, but having him on my side made that all for the good. The mandalorians were fierce, and loyal if you had them on your side. Really, it was a pity I'd had to reduce them to splinters before they yielded. They would have made a most excellent army if I could have turned them to my side intact.
"Well then, Canderous Ordo, I greet you as a friend and brother. Tell me, how would you have us get off this miserable ball of dirt?"
"I work for the Exchange," Canderous explained. "Specifically for Davik Kang, the most powerful of the bosses. It's a crummy job, but it pays well and it was fairly cushy. Not enough bloodshed, but then, after Malachor, what would ever hold that for me again? Davik has a ship. A fast one, called the Ebon Hawk. He plans to get off the planet with it, but he lacks the codes for the orbital defenses. Without those even the fastest ship would never get past the blockade."
"And you have a way to circumnavigate this obstacle?" I prompted when Canderous paused.
"A chance only. One I cannot take myself, as I lack the finesse to carry it out. Give me a fortress to storm or a world to conquer, and I can do it, but infiltration and deception is not the way of the warrior. You though...your skills at deception and misdirection are legendary."
I smiled wanly. "Flattering, truly. What you are saying is you have a plan, but it involves extreme danger to my person, and only a slim chance of success. Why should I go along with this plan?"
"Because poor or not, it is our best chance of getting off this rock. Davik ordered an advanced astromech droid. With it, you could break into the sith base and download the codes. Then, I take you to Davik. Now that Calo's gone, it would be simple enough to overpower his guards and take the ship for ourselves."
I didn't let my face show it, but this was actually a fantastic plan. Getting into the sith base was going to be childs play for someone who had written every protocol in existence and knew the sith bureaucracy inside and out. Not to mention having a sith officer on the payroll. Picking up a shiney new astromech droid and ship in the bargain was beyond anything I'd hoped for. I'd already planned on hitting up the sith base for the codes, but I'd thought to steal some tramp freighter or hyper-capable shuttle. Getting a warlord's private ship instead was a much better idea.
"You ask much of me, and offer little in return. Why should I risk myself that you may earn all the glory?" I demanded.
"The glory shall be yours, and the command. I know who you are. I have lead men, but I am nothing compared to one such as you. I would follow you gladly. You will want revenge against those who have wronged you, and that means blood. Enough blood to satisfy even me. That will be reward enough."
"Fine. I suppose I can come up with something, if that really is our best way off the planet. Just make sure you can get us to the ship."
Canderous chuckled again. "Davik already wants me to find and hire you. You killed Calo and defeated the dwarf. You're a hot commodity, Ferc."
I grunted, then heard footsteps coming up the hall. I put my hand on my blaster, and Canderous turned to face the newcomers. I put a hand on him to calm him; it was only Carth and the rest.
"Canderous!" Mission cried, running forward to hug the big man. "What are you doing here? Did you hear? Those rotten Vulkars are all defeated, all thanks to Ferc! I knew he was a nice guy, no way he was actually willing to throw in with those losers!"
Actually, I would have been more than happy to profit from a Vulkar victory, but I wasn't terribly discomforted by their demise either.
Canderous looked down at the blue child who barely came up to his chest. "So I have heard. What are you doing here, child? Are you with the smuggler as well?"
"I would ask the same of you, mandalorian. My ward may trust you, but I know you too well to think you are here out of any sense of charity or devotion. What is your scheme?" Zaalbar growled, coming forward with a hand on his vibrosword.
"He's here with a way off this planet," I explained. "Sarna, I need to talk to you. We need to pick up a droid, some handcuffs, and mood music; and do a recording session."
"Of course, my lord," Sarna answered, keeping her blaster ready. She was very pointedly not looking at Canderous. Wise of her. He was certainly dangerous, and I wasn't entirely certain of his loyalties yet.
"Where's Bastila, Ferc?" Carth asked, obviously uninterested in my scheme.
"Inside," I said, keeping my face neutral.
"Thanks." Carth stepped forward and opened the door. There was a shriek of outrage, and I felt someone drawing hard on the force. Carth was flung backward, and the door slammed shut. He landed on his posterior with a grunt. Glaring at me, Carth dusted himself off and stood. "You could have mentioned that she was showering."
"And you could have mentioned she was a trollip, but alas, on occasion such things slip one's mind," I answered mildly.
He grunted. "Fair enough. Any part for me in your plan? One that takes me far away from here for about as long as it takes a jedi to forgive and forget?"
That brought something else to my mind, and I dug in my pouch for some data slates, which I passed to the man. "I know it's back the way you came, but would you mind taking these to those wretches we found in the Undercity? I think it's a map to their promised land. The old man there did me a favor. I'd like to return the courtesy."
"As long as it gets me out away from the princess for a while, I'm your man," Carth declared, and grabbed the data slates, limping away as he rubbed his bruised behind.
"Wow, what kind of mynok did you find, Ferc?" Mission asked, making a face. "I mean, Carth isn't that bad looking. I certainly wouldn't toss him out if he saw me in the shower."
"That would be my job. I think the man is far too prudent for such an action," Zaalbar declared.
Canderous shrugged. "The jedi were always arrogant. They are strong, and pride is the right of those who wield power..
"Or those too stuck up to know the difference between power and privilege," I muttered. "Sarna, come on. Mission, tell the mynok I've gone to secure a ship, and have Breni meet me by the sith base as soon as she can. Zaalbar, try not to kill Bastila. Or maim her all that badly."
With that, Sarna and I left the group to their various tasks, and Canderous departed for his master's mansion after giving me the order form for the droid. A plan was already beginning to form in my head. I was going to get off this rock yet.