Authors Notes: I sorry for the late update but sadly I've had to deal with a lot of issues mostly health wise, but I am still committed to finishing this story, so please enjoy this new chapter.
Malak stood in his quarters staring at the burning world of Illum as his forces rampaged across it but even though his stare was fixed on the planet below his mind was elsewhere, it was fixed on where Revan and his small crew of followers including Bastila Shan was now. So far there had been no word from any of his spies or Sith Shadow teams on where they were, the last sighting of them had been on Tatoonie. According to reports one of the teams sent to keep watch on the Star Map on that world had vanished more than likely killed by Revan and his team not that it was a great loss, but it was gaoling to say the least. Also Revan and his team had worked out so kind of peace treaty between the city of Anchorhead and the local Sand People tribe which honestly baffled him. Why if Revan was still himself and he was now very convinced he was after the wave of hatred and anger he had felt in the force days ago would he bother to waste time doing such things as making peace treaties unless the attempts by the council had at the least altered some of Revan's personality traits. Perhaps whilst they had failed to wipe his mind and make him once more a loyal servant they had dulled his fighting edge, which if it was true would be an advantage. The lack of any real intel on Revan's whereabouts irked him, and although he would never admit it to anyone made him uneasy because Revan was a master at attacking from the shadows and the long he remained unseen the bigger the attack he could plan.
The doors to his quarters opened as Admiral Karath arrived finally to give him an update on the battle which he had asked for half an hour ago, the man looked merely nervous at giving his report late which must mean the planet had finally submitted.
"My lord I am pleased to report General Craydon and his troops have finally subjugated the planet of Illum, it now belongs to your Empire" Karath reported.
"Excellent news Admiral but the General took over eight and a half hours to do what I ordered done in seven, when he returns to the ship send him to me as I wish to know why it took an hour and half more than I gave him" Malak ordered harshly.
"Yes my Lord" Karath replied glad it was Craydon in trouble and not him as if was now a good chance that the good General would soon be dead as people who either proved un useable or failed in their tasks in anyway were quickly disposed of.
"I want more shadow teams and spies dispatched to track down Revan and his little team of allies, the first to find them will be promoted and rewarded well" Malak commanded. "I want Bastila Shan in my possession with the next week Admiral, am I understood?" he asked with a menacing tone.
"Yes my Lord however we have no idea where Revan and his team went after leaving Tatoonie" Karath pointed out.
"Considering the path he is treading it should be obvious he is either headed to Korriban or Manaan" Malak shot back with what should have been an obvious observation.
"Then I will dispatch more teams to those planets with orders to keep an eye open for them to arrive and to capture Shan at all costs" Karath responded tugging a little at his collar hoping this insistence that Shan be captured would not lead to his own death when it failed because it was quite clear Revan was intent on keeping the girl safe.
"Good now begin preparations to return to the Star Forge we need to resupply and plan for our next strike, but ensure to leave a decent sized presence to keep Illum in our hands Admiral it is a stepping swords towards the core worlds" Malak ordered with a reminder of the planet's importance to the war.
"Yes my Lord" Karath responded with a quick bow before he retreated from the room hoping that whatever came next did not end with his death as he wished to savour the fruits of his work after all he had done in service first to the Republic and now to the Sith.
Malak chuckled easily reading the emotions Karath was experiencing after their talk; the Admiral had always been easy to read. He had been a loyal solider of the Republic during the Mandalorian War but his ego and secret lust for a rich future had seen him join the Sith especially as the two men who helped win the war led them, it was the offer of great reward that had convinced the man to turn on Revan as well as a great amount of fear along with it. Right now though the only thing Karath was interested in was surviving to enjoy any rewards he had gotten or would get in the future, he was concerned that he might end up dead if his order to capture Shan within a week was not carried out. But thankfully for him Karath was his best Admiral and overseer of his fleet, thus was relatively safe although he would never know this fact. Fear was a great motivator as far as he was concerned, although Revan had always preferred loyalty much to his disgust. Once more viewing the burning planet that was now his he wondered what Revan thought of his new strategy where the war was concerned, chuckling he knew his former friend would disapprove but what Revan thought was no longer a concern.
Revan shouted a warning even as he pulled his lightsabers from his belt having sensed something was wrong not only from a slight warning in the force, but also noticing the once bustling street they were on was drying up which was very unusual for Nar Shaddaa. The others reacted at once even as a bunch of mercenaries and bounty hunters suddenly surrounded them, glaring at them he noted they were all vastly over confident and clearly did not know who they were. He waited only seconds before charging with Zayne, Jolee and Zaalbar quickly following suit, they smashed into the surprised mercenaries and hunters who were either forced back or killed outright as he slashed his lightsabers in both directions. HK, T3, Canderous and Mira quickly began blasting the group on the other side of them even as they began to react to the sudden attack by their supposed surprised prey. The mercenaries and bounty hunters quickly rallied and began to fight back overcoming their surprise at the swiftness of the attack, they had easily believed their show of force would intimidate the Jedi and their friends to surrender but clearly they had been very wrong.
Revan rolled under the sword of an oncoming mercenary and quickly came back and swiped his lightsabers through his exposed chest, the man had time to scream before he died but Revan paid his last moments little head as he shut off one of his weapons and put it back on his belt, and then unleashed a force push that sent three bounty hunters trying to shoot him and Zaalbar several feet away. Using the force he jumped forward and impaled one of the hunters before he could even attempt to get back to his feet, Zaalbar quickly put another down taking of his head with his own blade. Jolee used the force to jump over another hunter who tried to take out his legs before sweeping his own lightsaber down across his back; he was then forced to defend himself from a dozen blaster bolts from another hunter before a well-placed deflection sent his own blaster bolt back into his head. Canderous and Mira stood side by side as they shot mercenary and bounty hunter alike in cold calculated fashion homed by years of war, HK eagerly cut down the oncoming enemies with his own blaster even as T3 used its own weaponry to watch his fellow droids flanks. Zayne spun wildly to avoid been stabbed in the back he thrust his hand out and sent his attacker stumbling backwards allowing him to cut his head off with a quick swipe of his lightsaber before turning and noting the quickly thinning ranks of enemies and moved to ensure this fight ended quickly. Revan grew annoyed as he deflected multiple blaster bolts and raised his hands and unleashed a blast of force lightning frying the five left over mercenaries in quick succession, even as Zayne and Jolee cut down nearly all of the bounty hunters whilst Zaalbar managed to subdue another choking him into unconsciousness. Canderous shrugged off the bolt that struck his shoulder and quickly put three bolts through the hunter who had managed to shoot him, Mira used her blaster pistols to cut down two of the last mercenaries on their side of the fight whilst HK decided to wade into the last bounty hunters and using his superior strength to snap their necks with lethal precision. Finally the last hunter tried to turn and flee only for T3 to shoot him in the back before he got out of range, silence descended over the area as they regrouped and put their weapons away although they kept their guard up.
Revan quickly headed to the one mercenary who Zaalbar had managed to choke out and set about waking him up, he wanted to know who had arranged this little ambush. Malak, the Hutts or was there another enemy stalking them. The man finally groaned and blinked sluggishly as he came too only for his eyes to open wide as he took note of his situation, Revan smirked coldly at him.
"Good you are awake, now who paid you to stage this ambush and do not try and deceive me or I will hurt you" Revan commanded in as menacing a tone as he could manage. "Or perhaps I willow allow my friend HK to hurt you and he really enjoys doing things like that" he added with a smile that chilled the mercenary.
"Excited statement: please allow me to get the information you require Master?" HK requested his eyes glowing dark yellow as he stared at the mercenary who quelled in fear at the sight of the insane sounding droid.
"It was Lobo the Hutt, he is paying huge amounts of credits for a party of Jedi to sell to Malak and his Empire for even more credits that he paid for them" the mercenary admitted wanting to live or if he had to die he wanted it to be over quickly and not at the hands of a crazed droid who really looked like it would make his end last years.
"Inventive for a Hutt" Jolee spat with distaste. "He hires a bunch of expendable mercenaries and bounty hunters to capture us, but then sells us for double the price he paid for us to be captured in the first place hence making a hefty profit" he mused.
"Typical kind of thing for a Hutt to do really" Mira stated with a shake of her head.
"So what do we do with him?" Zayne inquired not exactly feeling merciful right now due to the fact he had been a part of a plan to attack them for the Hutts and one of them had already tried to make a slave out of Jarael.
"We could send him back as a warning to leave us alone" Canderous suggested not caring either way if the mercenary lived or died. "Or we could cut his head off and deliver it as the warning" he added.
"Statement: I agree with the Mandalorian meatbag's second option" HK prompted to no one's surprise.
"Letting him live would be a mistake" Mira stated as the others looked at one another. "On Nar Shaddaa you are only live as long as you can show strength, this one will come back with double the number to try and ensure he still looks strong" she advised.
Revan nodded in agreement and with a quick clench of his fist broke the man's neck killing him quickly, looking around he noted the street was still empty and thus decided best to reach the relay station all the more quickly and thus told Mira to lead on whilst also telling HK to watch their rear. The group moved on but stayed on alert and with their hands on their weapons, HK and T3 brought up the rear constantly scanning for threats.
Vima stared out of the cell contemplating multiple escape options but sadly none of them would work, she knew just how well the temple was guarded. No for any escape to work there would have to be a major distraction going on, but she doubted Atris, Vrook of the rest of the Council would be distracted right now. They would focus on tracking down Revan and his crew and trying to recapture or worse kill him, she doubted they would succeed. The very fact that Revan had survived the combined might of the Council's attempts to wipe his mind should show them he had the hand of the Force on him, he was almost far more powerful than any normal Jedi who they could send. And on the off chance they would send Vrook or Kavar to aid the team they send then more than likely they would end up dead, seeing them would only drive Revan's thirst for revenge for what they had tried to do to him.
"What do you think Atris will do?" Jade inquired into the silence that filled the void in the last hour.
"She'll either do one of two things Jade, first she could send a strike team to hunt down Revan and his crew on Nar Shaddaa which of course would be a bad idea as that would undo whatever leeway I have made when I reached out to him to save Ana and her team" Vima answered with a sigh. "Revan is angry and rightly so for what we tried to do to him, no matter that we tried to tell ourselves it was for the betterment of the galaxy at large" she continued turning to face the younger Jedi. "Any attack by our forces will be returned in kind and he may resume his war on the Republic once Malak is dead, the second option Atris has is to use the threat of killing us to try and bring Revan to heel" she added.
"She can't actually expect Revan would comply with that kind of threat, I mean if he is as angry with the Jedi as you say he is why would she think threatening us will do her any good?" Jade asked, sounding very confused.
"Revan agreed to help me save Ana and he still considers Ana a friend at the least as he admitted during our talk the night before, that admission might make Atris think she use that friendship as leverage" Vima explained. "Plus Atris is not thinking clearly overcome with paranoia and hatred, Vrook is consumed with fear and the others I do not know what possessed them to support Atris's coup but clearly they too have fallen into thinking unclearly" she told her.
"That is not a good thing for the Council to be so broken" Jade said horrified at the rather blunt view Vima had of her fellow Council members.
"No it is not Jade, the Council has never been so broken in all of the Jedi's history and never has It suffered a coup either" Zhar agreed with a troubled look in his eyes.
"Atris will lead the Jedi to damnation if we do not find a way out of here and stop her" Lonna stated.
"Any escape attempt would be futile right now Lonna without a major distraction within the temple itself" Vima argued. "But it is possible one might come and soon, when I was arrested I felt a rumble in the force one I've only felt once before and that was when Revan first marched for war and I believe it signalled something omniums is coming" she admitted. "This may turn out to be a grave error on Atris's part, for now we can only watch and wait" she added.
"Revan will never take a threat to his person or to one he has promised to protect lightly" Zhar pointed out. "If Atris sends out a strike team and Bastila is hurt or worse is captured by the Sith during the commotion he will come here to ensure Atris and the Council suffer for their stupidity" he pointed out darkly. "We all may end up playing for her mistake" he stated.
"All the more reason to get out of here before anything truly bad happens" Lonna argued.
"And how do you suppose we do that Lonna?" Vima asked facing her friend and fellow Council member.
"There must be a few Jedi who will not follow Atris's coup, surely they will try and aid us" Lonna suggested but didn't sound as sure of this fact as she wished too.
"Perhaps but I would not expect them to stick their necks out for us, for now Atris and her followers have the upper hand" Vima conceded.
Silence again fell as the four prisoners sat and considered their options, but sadly for now all of them realised they were trapped but they all knew with the way events were going anything could happen and they had to be ready to act should that moment come.
Revan was thankful they reached the relay without any more problems and he was certain what had happened to the mercenaries and bounty hunters had already spread, hopefully the Hutt behind the attempted capture was too afraid to try again. If not a second attempt would ensure he paid said Hutt a visit and ended its miserable life, the relay station he noted was in complete lock down as Vima had told him. He wondered truly just who he would find inside, loyal members who had for whatever reason failed to fall back to the allotted meeting point or traitors who no longer wanted to work for Malak and was now in it for themselves.
"T3 you're up get this door open the rest of you keep your eyes open" he ordered as the small utility droid rolled forwards and patched into the control system through the use of its data probe extension and the others took up positions around the doors so as to keep all available walkways in view.
"So what's the plan when the T3 gets the door open Revan?" Canderous inquired as he looked around.
"More than likely the minute T3 undoes the lock down whoever is inside will rush to the entrance corridor to meet us, we do not attack unless they do as I am hoping they are still loyal troops and more men and women willing to help us is welcome" Revan answered calmly. "If not if they open fire we kill them all and find Ana and her team and get off this fucking planet, before we leave however we'll have T3 download the entire data archive of updates and reports they've monitored from both the Malak's forces and the Republic and then have HK arm the self-destruct system so there is nothing left" he added.
"What are the chances they are loyal kid?" Jolee asked frowning as he thought he saw a shadow of someone watching them on one of the nearby towers.
"Fifty/fifty at best but worth a shot instead of going in blasters blazing" Revan replied easily.
T3 quickly began whittling down the security protocols imbedded within the lockdown code, its superior hacking programming easily able to make light work of Sith's complex code system and after already seeing some of their code work back on Taris this aided in his work. Minutes later the lockdown program shut down and T3 quickly set the doors to open, letting out a series of whistles to let his Master know he had succeeded in his task.
"He did it and quickly too" Mira said in surprise having expected a longer wait but clearly the droid was far better at hacking systems than she had thought possible.
"We stay near the entrance until we know for sure if they are loyal or hostile" Revan told them pulling one of his lightsabers from his belt but did not activate it just yet. "Stay ready just in case but do not show any real aggressive moves until they do" he cautioned.
Within the base Major Kelly Shepard looked up in surprise as the alarm started blaring throughout the base alerting them to the fact someone had gotten past their lockdown, frowning she ordered her troops including her best friend Miranda Garrus to the entrance corridor to meet their intruders who it was more than likely was Malak's troops wondering why they had gone dark. If so they would kill them all as there was no way they would ever serve Malak, they were loyal only to one person and that was Revan and even if he was dead they would keep to their oaths. Granted the latest intelligence reports they had managed to gather from both Malak's spies and the Republic indicated there was a slim chance Revan was alive, she didn't know if she completely believed it but at least there was a glimmer of hope. Everyone turned up except Rand and she frowned wondering where he was, his work of late had begun to grow sloppy and his attitude worried her but she had not been willing to lay into him as he had been as affected by the losses they had suffered especially Revan's as the rest of them had. The minute they reached the entrance corridor they could all see a group of people standing waiting for them, they were all armed but she quickly noted the Jedi or Sith in their party had not activated their lightsabers and none of the others turned their weapons on them.
"Stand down I order you" a voice shouted down to them and Kelly almost snorted at the utter gaul on the guy to think he had the authority to order them to do anything.
"We answer to only one man and his name is Revan so go back to Malak and tell him this relay no longer answers to him" Kelly ordered back after sharing an amused smile with Miranda.
A deep laugh echoed down the corridor much to her confusion especially as some of the others in this band of invaders joined in his laughter as well. "I suspect Malak would rather kill me than listen to me deliver your message, you see I am Revan and yes I am very much alive" the man finally responded as he began to walk down the corridor towards them with another of the shadows following which quickly formed into one that was very familiar to Kelly. It was HK-47, Revan's personal assassin droid and bodyguard and loyal to only Revan but how in the world had the droid found Revan considering the reports indicated if he was alive he had been captured.
"General is that really you?" Miranda asked standing up along from where she had been taking cover along with the others and Kelly quickly joined them.
"It is, I survived Malak's attempt on my life thanks to the Bastila Shan healing me and then getting me of my ship before he exploded and I then became a prisoner of the Jedi who attempted to destroy my mind but the force protected me and I then played their loyal servant until we reached Taris when everything changed" Revan explained. "I'll give you the full story later, we have come for the Jedi you captured including a friend of mine who just happens to be the daughter of Vima Sunrider" he informed them.
Kelly blinked in surprise having not even expected one of their prisoners to be the daughter of such a famous bloodline, but then question became why and how did Revan know of their capture of the Jedi party.
"How could you know we had captured anyone?" she inquired rather recklessly and to the shock of her fellow soldiers.
"Vima contacted me having felt my rage I the force when a Hutt attacked my crew on Tatoonie, by the I had already linked back up with those of my people who remained loyal to me commanded by Meetra Surik who strangely enough was find on the planet they were orbiting and Rikka who had held them all together until Meetra was located" Revan answered. "Whilst I hate what the council tried to do to me Vima was not fully willing but had no choice but to help, Atris it seems has gone insane and the only way Vima can stop her gaining control of the Jedi order is if she is still a member of the council" he explained. "Ana I still consider a friend and I bear no real grudge against Vima for putting the safety of the Jedi order before my own, there are hundreds of Jedi including younglings who will suffer if Atris ever gains control of the order" he went on. "Now where are they?" he asked.
"This way General" Miranda said as Kelly noted the rest of the General's party had moved down the corridor so she could look them over and her eyes suddenly widened as she took note one of them was a Mandalorian.
"General with respect what the hell is a Mandalorian doing in your party?" she couldn't help but demand to know.
Revan sighed annoyed at the delay but he knew his people deserved an explanation. "Canderous is one of the reasons we made it off Taris before Malak bombed it in an attempt to kill me and my team, since then he has aided me in many things and just before I reached the fleet I made a deal with him I would gift him Mandalore's mask in return for him calling the clans to aide us in our mission" he informed them all. "Our war against the Mandalorians was won, we beat them and now we have a new enemy and one far more personal to us all" he added. "More importantly our fallen brothers and sisters who died in Malak's purge demand we gain vengeance for their deaths so I will ask you the same question Meetra asked the fleet, what is more important to you your anger at the Mandalorians or gaining the vengeance our fallen demand of us so they can rest in peace?" he asked.
Kelly, Miranda and the rest of people considered the question deeply because it was not an easy question to answer. The Mandalorians had caused great harm to the Republic, and some of them had suffered horribly when they were briefly captured by them. That sort of hate did not ever fade, but what Malak and his followers had done went even deeper for them all. They had lost friends and in some cases family to the betrayal of those they had once trusted above all others, clearly the rest of the fleet had chosen vengeance over their hatred for the Mandalorians. She glanced at Miranda, who she knew had suffered as a prisoner during the battle for Taris near the beginning of their efforts against them but she saw no hesitation as she and others made their choice, taking a deep breath she decided in the end Malak and his betrayal mattered more than her hatred for a people they had already beaten.
"Vengeance" she stated as did the others to which Revan nodded clearly not surprised by their choice.
Revan was about to respond when he felt a dark shift in the force and he suddenly realised clearly someone was still with Ana and her team, they were in danger. "Show me where the Jedi are now, Ana is in danger" he commanded.
"Shit Rand" Kelly spat as she spun and led them into the complex and towards the prison cells.
They entered to find Atton Rand standing over a clearly wounded Ana Sunrider who was trying to weakly pry his fingers from her neck; Revan growled enraged one of his people would dare torture a prisoner in such a fashion. His hand shot out and he used the force to slam Rand into the wall with enough force to stun him, Ana turned weakly to see who had saved her only to open her eyes wide in shock at seeing Revan. The look of rage on his rage as he stalked towards Rand surprised her even more, but she knew she could not allow him to kill the man who even though he had nearly killed her had only been acting on his own sense of loss and rage. Weakly she pushed herself into a sitting position aided by a young member of Revan's party who was clearly a Jedi and seemed very familiar.
"No Revan please don't kill him" she begged. "He is lost, lost in a sea of pain, anger and loss but he is not fallen" she insisted as another older Jedi moved over and began to treat her injuries.
"He almost killed you Ana" Revan managed to say through the haze of rage he was still feeling.
"Yes but not because he actually wanted too, nor did he want to kill Brandon and Larinn but he did because he is lost but I can save him I can bring him back but only if you do not kill him" Ana replied heatedly. "He can be redeemed, he is just trying to cope with his loss and his anger but it is pulling him into a deep dark hole but I can stop it I can save him" she repeated causing Revan to finally look at her and she noted the look of rage finally fade.
"You are a lucky man Atton Rand far luckier than you deserve for what you've done and what you almost did" he spat as he dropped him to the floor leaving him gasping for air for a few minutes before he slowly pushed himself to his feet in shock at what he was seeing.
"General you're alive but I thought, well we all heard you were dead and it was like darkness swallowed me" Atton said wondering if his mind had finally snapped. "Pain, loss, rage became my world and everything seemed like a nightmare" admitted with a frown. "Felt like I was dreaming" he added.
"You didn't dream killing two people and almost a third Rand, their blood is on your hands and had you actually killed Ana I would end you here but you didn't and she is insisting I spare you so she can help you and thus I am making you her bodyguard for this moment onwards" Revan shot back stepping closer to the man who snapped to attention. "Your sole concern is her safety, and if you slip so much as an inch and harm her or even attempt to you will die" he warned to which Atton nodded quickly knowing he was been extremely lucky at getting to live after what he had done. "Do you understand me Rand?" Revan asked glaring at him.
"Yes sir I understand" Atton answered snapping a salute. "I'm sorry I lost it General, I will make it up to you and to her" he promised moving to where Ana lay been tended to.
Revan just nodded and then moved back to where Kelly and the others still stood watching, clearly shocked at what they had allowed to happen under their noses.
"I'm sorry General this is my fault I should have kept a closer eye on Rand when I noticed his attitude was off but I just thought it was due to his sense of loss at your reported death, I had no idea he had killed any of the prisoners I swear" Kelly insisted as he stopped in front of her. "I failed to keep a closer eye on things due to my own emotional upheaval" she admitted.
"We all failed due to what we were feeing General, it is not just Kelly's fault it is all of ours" Miranda insisted stepping up to her side. "We all failed to see what was happening to Rand and our prisoners, but we will make up for it we swear" she added.
"Release the other Jedi and make sure they all ready to travel soon, having T3 escorted to your data core so he can download it and then prepare to arm the self-destruct as I intend to level this place once we leave" Revan ordered deciding not to lash out at the Major and her crew who were clearly loyal to her and willing to shoulder the burden of failure of duty.
The group split up and got to work leaving Revan to move off to a corner to think over how he was going to explain this to Vima, she would be angered to hear one of his men had torture and almost killed her daughter and the loss of two of her team wouldn't help matters either. Glaring at Rand who stood waiting awkwardly as Ana was patched up by Jolee whilst Zayne supported her, he supposed he should just be glad they had made it in time to save Ana. T3 had insisted it would take at least ten minutes to download the full archive, so he sat down in the corner and tried to meditate hoping it would help centre him.