Sacrifice AN: This one-shot is based on my fic I, Warrior, a post-TUF AU which stars Tahiri and pits her against a group of renegade Yuuzhan Vong determined to harness the power of the Sith, led by a priestess named Keenah who is inexplicably Force-sensitive and her mentor, a mysterious, sickly being who hides behind bandages and a cloak. This scene is from the climax, where Tahiri and Keenah duel on Korriban. In the actual fic, Tahiri spares Keenah’s life, and the fight is told from the Jedi’s perspective. Here… well, the name of the prompt should give some idea. An AU of an AU- trippy. Anyway, I try to bring the reader up to speed, but to get a bigger sense of what's been going on, the original fic can be found here- http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5172549/1/I-Warrior-A-Story-of-Tahiri-Veila . Unfortunately, the version on this site still has most of its chpaters cut off . ***** Keenah stood on the surface of the world called Korriban, staring out over the immense crack in the ground that the Master had termed the Valley of the Dark Lords. The priestess shifted nervously from one foot to another, and she knew her expression was uncomfortable- she didn’t like this place, not in the slightest. Most life had long ago vanished from it, the only remaining creatures monstrous perversions like the tuk’ata hounds she had encountered earlier. They weren’t abominations in the same way as the infidels’ machines, but still… products of ungodly powers, nonetheless. And yet, the Master had brought her hear, sought to harness these powers, and she knew him for a true prophet. Indecision and doubt filled Keenah’s soul, and no Yuuzhan Vong, certainly not one of the priestly caste, enjoyed those emotions. A familiar presence prickled on the edge of Keenah’s awareness- infidel, yet with something of the Yuuzhan Vong about it as well. The priestess allowed herself a small smile. “Come forward, Jeedai!” she called in her native tongue, a language she knew the one who approached understood as well. “I can sense your presence. Have you come to continue our duel?” Yes, she knew this one- had met her, fought her, before, in the ruins of Yuuzhan’tar. Tahiri Veila was her name, but the Shamed One heretics had given her a different title- the Jeedai Who Was Shaped, for by the Shapers’ arts she had become in some ways a Yuuzhan Vong herself. Keenah’s grip on her weapon- a short cylinder of yorik coral with a lambent inside, shaped to duplicate the properties of a lightsaber- tightened. Yes, here was a worthy foe indeed, one who would take her mind from her troubles. The Jeedaistepped forward from behind the rocks that had concealed her. She was human, a race which strongly resembled the Yuuzhan Vong save that she was far too small and slight and her hair was a bizarre golden color, but on her forehead were the scars that marked her a member of a Shaper domain- Kwaad, Keenah thought. A blue lightsaber was ignited in her hand. "Here I am, Keenah,” she said. “I'll fight you if I have to, but I'm here to stop whatever plot you and your teacher have brewing. Whatever's going on, I'd figured it would be inside the tomb, though. Don't tell me a Yuuzhan Vong priestess let herself get left out here on guard duty?" Keenah hissed in frustration, for that was exactly what had happened. The Master had descended into the tomb that was cut into the rock behind the priestess, but had left her behind, sensing her doubts. “My Master wishes only to test my faith,” she said, lighting her own blade. “You shall not pass, Jeedai girl.” “I’m going into that tomb, one way or another,” Tahiri Veila said. “So if you’re not ready to fight, get out of my way.” She had barely finished speaking before Keenah lunged forward and two lightsabers met with a hissing crackle beneath the clouded skies of the dead world of the Sith. The girl couldn’t match Keenah’s superior size and muscle mass, of course, but she was agile and clever; the priestess knew after a short exchange of blows that they were evenly matched. “You fight well, infidel,” she said. “I can believe that there is Yuuzhan Vong in you. Why do you persist in fighting for the infidels? Are you so weak that you cannot see the righteousness of our cause? No, I don’t think so- you are not a weak person. What is it, then?” "I chose my side," Tahiri said as she parried Keenah's strike. "I am human and Yuuzhan Vong, but I'm all Jedi, and I will fight to protect my people from a war of aggression and conquest." "But how can you not see that this is the gods' will?" Keenah asked. "You were shaped by them even as I to bring the Force to the Yuuzhan Vong- it is obvious. Why do you resist the will of the gods? Why do you resist destiny?" "Destiny?" Tahiri whispered, and for an instant there was a flash of emotion in her expression that the priestess could not read. "The Jedi believe that the future is always in motion. The Force can guide, but we chose our own paths. But you don't sound like you're trying to convince me so much as convince yourself." That brought Keenah up cold, for it was true. Curse this miserable infidel female for the shaping that allowed her to see into the very souls of the Yuuzhan Vong!"The gods' cause is righteous, the Master is their chosen," the priestess whispered, clinging to the words. . "Their will is infallible." "You know what the gods are, Keenah?" Tahiri asked. "The gods were the living consciousness of the world of Yuuzhan'tar, and when the Yuuzhan Vong turned to war and conquest millennia ago, the gods turned away from them, and cut them off from the Force. I know this because I heard it from Sekot, Yuuzhan'tar's child. You're not fighting for the gods, Keenah, you're fighting to keep the Yuuzhan Vong in the state that caused the gods to reject them. Your Master, whoever he is, may have told you he's some kind of prophet, but he's not. He's using you, just like Onimi used Shimrra and his court." Keenah’s mind reeled. The words weren’t, couldn’t be, true, and yet there was something deep inside them that carried the ring of truth. Were the ways of the Yuuzhan Vong, rather than being the ways of the gods, the cause of the gods turning their backs upon their people? Had her people’s leaders been nothing but tools for a twisted, maddened creature? She didn’t want to believe that this was truth, but it had wormed itself inside her thoughts and couldn’t escape it. If it was the truth, then it meant that the Yuuzhan Vong were a damned people, and Keenah, who had voluntarily delved into the dark lore of the Sith and her Master’s side, stood as most damned of all. “No,” she said softly, “you’re lying. You have to be. You’re lying!” She could feel her breath coming in great gasps, hear her voice rising to a scream as she spoke, but she didn’t care. It all was coming from a great distance. All she was could be reduced to rage and fearful disbelief, and as the Master had taught her, those emotions brought her power. Moving with strength and speed beyond that which was possible for a Yuuzhan Vong, she lunged for the golden-haired abomination, to take her lying head from her shoulders, so that by killing her the whole damned galaxy could be made to make sense again- but the Jeedai wasn’t there. She rolled under Keenah’s strike and then kicked directly at her stomach, sending the priestess sprawling. She barely pulled herself to her feet in time to block Tahiri’s strike, and in that moment she thought she understood- the Jeedai’s denial of the darker passions may have restricted her power, but it let her retain clarity of thought, while Keenah’s reliance on those same emotions had caused her to overextend herself. Tahiri twisted her wrist and with it her blade, and Keenah’s saber was sent flying. The priestess stumbled back to find the lightsaber now held with the point inches from her face. She had lost; her rage was dying in her, and now she knew that the Jeedai was the superior warrior, the superior wielder of the Force. “Do it then,” Keenah said. “You are victorious. Kill me, so I may at least go before the gods with dignity!” Keenah was Yuuzhan Vong; she did not fear death, only dishonor, only failure. She had failed now, she knew, but her opponent could still allow her to go before Yun-Yuuzhan with dignity, so that the great god would look upon her and know- here was one who died with courage. Perhaps it would even be enough to wash her sin away, for if Tahiri had been able to defeat her, then the gods were not at her back, and she had allowed herself to be lead astray by her dark Master. Tahiri stared at Keenah in silence for what felt like an eternity, her blade wavering slightly. “I’m a Jedi,” she said softly, “and we don’t kill unarmed prisoners. But I’m a Yuuzhan Vong too, inside, and I understand what you’re asking me. To you, this isn’t murder- it’s the Blessed Release. I don’t want to kill you, but do you want to live?” Keenah considered, and shook her head. “I have no desire to live or die,” she said. “I seek atonement. Living, I might find it. In death, I know I will.” Tahiri nodded. “I understand.” Slowly, she raised her blue lightsaber over her head, what looked like tears in the corner of her eyes. How odd, Keenah thought, but then, I’ve heard that infidels think death is somehow sad… “Die well, brave one,” the Jeedai said, and then, the words of the blessing still hanging in the air, she brought her blade down. Keenah’s eyes fixed on it, watched it descend towards her like the sword of the gods. She was Yuuzhan Vong; she would look death in the face, would welcome it. For it is the Blessed Release, the greatest gift of the gods… The blade struck, and Keenah was no more.