Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Commander-DWH, Aug 15, 2005.
I love the Aiden and HK-47 bond you have starting.
i love HK!!!
Striker: There's a reason HK-47 is fairly universally beloved.
emerald: If there's one thing I get, it's DRL. Thanks for taking your time to read!
Rogue_Pilot: There are so many sub-missions, I have to keep going back to walkthroughs to make sure I'm getting the plot at least close to what it really was.
oqi: Brevity is the soul of wit, right?
princess: I forsee these two will become great friends.
Handmaiden_Azul: HK is made of awesome.
And now I give you a chapter, and I'll tell you, it was really hard to write towards the end. You'll see why.
For once, their plans went off without a hitch. Leiraya and Carth procured a vaporator from Czerka, and at a discounted price at that. The Chieftan was so pleased with the acquisition at no cost to himself that he happily relinquished his Gaffi stick- it wasn't like he didn't have any others to use. It was brought back to a normally robed Aiden, who then managed to procure a hunting permit from the now very sour-faced Czerka official, who hadn't exactly been serious, but figured she may as well keep her word, since he'd gone to all the trouble of actually getting the silly stick.
Carth and Leiraya, having done their part, were back in Anchorhead attempting to do something fun. He wasn't sure what they'd do, but Leiraya had told Carth straight-out that he wasn't allowed to go back to the ship to mope. About what, Aiden wasn't sure. Thus they took off, grinning over some inside joke about drop-kicking Jawas. This irritated him for reasons he couldn't even begin to define, so he calmed his mind by sending HK-47 with them.
And so Aiden found himself standing with Bastila and Canderous in the far reaches of the Dune Sea, facing down a large and rather ugly-looking cave. It was the only place in the region that seemed to be emanating the amount of dark energy produced from one of the Star Maps.
"[I knew we would meet again,]" an amused voice came from behind him. Aiden turned to see Komad Fortuna, the more polite of the hunters in the lodge standing behind him, smiling. "[Do you seek the Krayt Dragon as well?]"
Aiden blinked, then looked back into the cave. It would be his luck that the cave he and Bastila had felt most drawn to would house a Krayt Dragon. "Not for itself, no... but if it's blocking what we're after in that cave, then we're all for hunting it."
"[I do not know what you seek in that cave, but the Krayt is in there. I have been tracking it for months- it is my final quarry. After successfully hunting the Krayt Dragon, I will have achieved everything I ever wished as a hunter.]"
Aiden grimaced. This could definitely get ugly. "How do you plan on taking it?"
"[This is my problem- I cannot do it alone,]" Komad admitted grudgingly. "[When I saw you in the Dune Sea, I hoped that I might ask for your services. I have heard tell of your cunning and skill in battle, and it would be an honour to share this hunt with you.]"
Aiden turned to Bastila. "Have you ever killed anything this big?"
She shook her head. "Nothing this big is on Dantooine."
He turned back to Komad. "I don't suppose you have a plan for this, do you?"
Komad smiled. "[In point of fact, I do. I have a number of mines- any you might have can only help, and we must lure it forth. I fear it will not come running out just for me- it will only come if it senses that it is in danger.]"
"...And that's where we come in," Aiden finished for him. He frowned, not thrilled at the idea of goading a Krayt Dragon. "I don't know... what do you think, Bastila?"
"Well, you ought to be able to lure it out with your lightsaber," Bastila suggested slowly.
"I suppose so," Aiden agreed. It would be a simple trick to levitate it into the cave and put a scratch on the beast. So long as they stayed well out of harm's way as it came tearing out, he didn't suppose it was a bad plan at all. "Okay, then, we'll be happy to assist you."
Komad grinned brilliantly and they went about setting up the mines. It was quick work with four of them setting them up, surrounding the cave so that the dragon could not possibly escape without running into more than one of them.
"Now comes the fun part, right?" Aiden said, not quite sarcastically. He tossed his lightsaber into the cave, guiding its motion with the Force until he felt a jolt of pain and anger. The Krayt Dragon was annoyed, all right. He hastily called the saber back to his hand, closing down the sapphire blade even as the dragon came lumbering out of the cave, howling furiously. Its howls increased as the first of the mines went off, and there were several explosions before the massive beast finally fell over.
Aiden eyed it suspiciously. "Is it dead?"
Komad nodded. "[I believe so.]" He approached the dragon, almost reverently, and pulled out a long vibroblade. He used it to cut a long slit in the Krayt's gut, and he fished around inside for a few moments before pulling out two large pearls. Smiling, he came back to Aiden. "[Here, half the kill is yours. I insist that you take one of the pearls.]"
Aiden accepted the pearl and bowed slightly. "It was your expertise that made the kill possible. It was an honour hunting with you."
"[And with you,]" Komad bowed in return. "[Now I believe I may retire quite happily.]"
Komad Fortuna strode away, leaving Aiden, Canderous, and Bastila to go into the cave.
* * *
Mission was playing a simple shoot-em-up game with Sasha over communicating datapads when the trouble began.
The two of them had been there for a while, fiercely pushing buttons and whacking their styluses on the screens, hoping to outdo the other. So focused were they that they both jumped when the door to their bunks slammed shut.
"Hey!" Mission yelled, quickly forgetting her game. She stood and walked over to the door, and tried to enter in the unlock code she'd retrieved from the main computer a few weeks ago. It didn't budge. She moved over to the shipboard intercom, and slammed her hand on the talk button. "Hey! Anybody there?"
"I wouldn't ask too many questions, if I were you." The voice was unfamiliar, male, and more than a little menacing. "Don't worry, I have no plans to hurt you if you behave. But make any trouble- and I do mean any trouble- and I'll be forced to do something unpleasant."
"Like what?" Mission spat derisively. "Sorry if I'm not scared of the voice over the intercom."
"Like destroy your entire ship. If anyone tries to slice through any of the doors or walls, by lightsaber or any other means, I have rigged the ship to explode. I have security cameras watching you all, so don't think I won't know."
That was problematic. The next voice she heard was Juhani's, laced with anger. "You will not get away with doing this," she growled.
"You just go ahead and think that," the unknown voice replied easily. "Just act like a civilized sentient being, and nobody dies. I'm not here for you.
"I'm here for your commander."
* * *
Just as Aiden and Bastila had suspected, the Star Map was sitting cozily in the back of the Krayt dragon's cave. Pulling out a datapad, Aiden strode quickly towards it. "Let's get in, and out, and off this ridiculously scorching planet."
Bastila, however, did not move towards the map. Aiden looked up to see she'd made her way to one of the corpses lining the side of the cave. Very gently, she reached into its bag, half torn apart, and pulled out a holocron. As she held it in her hands, an image flickered to life atop it. It was a man with dark hair and a rakish beard, grinning and holding some sort of animal he had clearly just killed.
Aiden moved away from the Star Map. "Bas, are you all right?"
Bastila's voice remained steady, but her eyes started to brim with tears. "This is my father. Jorel Shan. Exactly how I remember him. This must have been his last hunt." She paused, letting a few of the tears leave tiny paths down her dusty cheeks. "No wonder my mother didn't want me traveling with him."
"Bas," Aiden started, but Bastila held up a hand.
"I'm fine," she insisted, finally reaching up to wipe the tears from her eyes. "At least I know what happened."
Canderous nodded solemnly. "He died in the hunt. There is no greater honour to be had in death."
Bastila looked at him as if she didn't know whether to thank him or lecture him. She settled for the former. "I appreciate the words, but we should really get on with our mission. Do you have the data from the Star Map?"
"Almost." Aiden jogged back to the Map, and checked to make sure the data transfer was complete. Seeing that it was, he carefully unhooked his datapad from the interface and slid it into the inside pocket of his robes. "Success. Now we can get back to the Hawk, and get out of here."
"Yes," Bastila nodded, then hesitated. "But first I would like to go see my mother."
"You can go see her, we'll head back to the Hawk and prep the ship." Aiden reached over and gave her shoulder a slight squeeze. "I have a feeling you don't really need us there."
"No, I think we've already done all the damage we can." Canderous grinned. "Go see your mother, Princess."
"I am not a princess," Bastila replied sourly, but her lips twisted into a smile anyway.
"Come on, guys, let's just get out of this cave." Aiden motioned for them to follow him forward, and thus the three of them made their way out of the cave and into the Dune Sea.
* * *
"I'm telling you, forget the Sith. Mega-chains will be the downfall of the galaxy as we know it." Leiraya nodded knowingly. "Didn't you have a favourite local grocer's when you were growing up?"
Carth scratched his head. "Well, there was the local market that was run by the same family for something like five generations."
"Exactly! And wouldn't you hate it if it closed down?" Carth gave her a withering glare, reminding her that given that the entire planet was rubble, the loss of the grocer's wasn't breaking him up too badly. "Okay, bad example. But my point remains. Saddest day in Silver Hills was when someone decided to build a MassiveMart just south of the city. It put a bunch of the people in the city out of business. It worked horrors on the local economy. The Sith could bypass Corellia entirely, and we'd still be stuck with a giant, uncaring, gargantuan store with ambiguous ethical practices."
"Observation: You are very loud in your objections towards mega chains. Suggestion: Perhaps we would all be happier if I were to find one and set off some explosives."
"No!" Leiraya glared at HK-47, but Carth merely chuckled. Leiraya sighed heavily. "Don't tell me you think he's funny, too."
Carth grinned and shrugged. "He's one of the most damned determined 'droids I've ever met."
"Right. Why did we get stuck with him again?"
"Because Aiden said so," Carth replied. "And that can only mean one thing- his goal in life is primarily to irritate you."
Leiraya made a face, but couldn't help smiling. "I thought that's why he sent me off with you, flyboy."
"Also true," he conceded. "After all, what's a nice war protester like you have in common with a beat up old soldier like me?"
"Observation: You are both made of many squishy parts-"
"That's quite enough, HK." Leiraya interrupted. "Carth, you know, if you really wanted to shoot something, you could start with him."
"And disappoint you by being violent? Never." Carth grinned broadly. "Come on, we'll take him back to the ship, and he can torment someone else for a while."
"Fine, as long as you promise I don't have to listen to him for at least an hour."
"We'll put him in a room with Jolee."
The thought of the combination of Jolee's sass and the smart mouthed droid was enough to bring a satisfied smile to Leiraya's face. "All right, I can live with that."
It was a short walk back to the docking bay. Walking in, Carth noted that it was less busy than it had been when they'd left- perhaps it was just a slower time of day, but that seemed unlikely. He rested his hand on his blaster, ready to pull it out on a moment's notice if anything seemed amiss.
Leiraya saw and threw him a cautioning glance. "Careful, I can sense something's out of place."
"That's why I'm preparing myself."
"For what, the mysterious man in the shadows?" An unfamiliar, but very amused sounding voice came from the direction of the Ebon Hawk.
Carth's blaster came flying out of its holster, aiming in the general direction of the ship. "Whoever you are, you're really not impressing me. So you might as well come out of your hiding place."
"And give up the tactical advantage? Come now, that would just be silly of me."
Carth frowned. "Leiraya, can you get any kind of read on this guy?" Looking over at her, her mouth was hanging open, and she looked almost confused. "Are you okay?"
Her mouth worked for a few seconds before she found her voice. "Kylan, is that you?"
There were several moments of silence. Then there was a sound of feet moving across the permacrete, and a tall man with well-kept brown hair and a square jaw emerged from the shadows. "Leiraya?"
Slack-jawed, Carth could only watch as Leiraya took off running and attacked Kylan with an enthusiastic hug, which he returned, spinning her around before setting her back on the ground. "What in all nine Corellian hells are you doing here, Leiraya? I thought for sure you'd stay back home."
"I'm looking for you, you shoikler!" She smacked him on the arm, then grinned. "I can't believe you're here! What were you doing hiding behind my ship?"
Kylan raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Your ship?"
"Okay, our ship. I'm one in a crew of many." She shrugged. "I'm still not entirely sure how they roped me into this. Probably with the promise of the use of their information database."
"And nothing to do with this character?" Kylan nodded towards Carth, who was walking towards them.
Leiraya glanced back at Carth and grinned. "He's not why I came along, no. How did we meet again, Carth?"
"I believe I was about to shoot you." Carth reholstered his blaster warily. "Aiden neglected to tell me there was another passenger, and you threatened me with a spoon."
Kylan looked amused. "Is that an officially Moran-approved weapon?"
"Only in cases of self-defense. And you still haven't answered my question."
"Can't slip anything by you, can I?"
Leiraya looked at him reprovingly. "You never could, you know."
Kylan sighed. "And it never failed to fill me with dismay."
"So out with it," Leiraya crossed her arms and looked at him expectantly. "You're lurking around the Hawk, and I'm sure you have a good reason why."
"Well," Kylan said carefully, "I'm on a mission."
"So are we," Carth replied, clearly unimpressed. "Who are you working for?"
"Ah. Now this is the part where I'm thinking we may not see eye-to-eye."
Leiraya narrowed her eyes at him. "Kylan, we've never seen eye-to-eye. That's why we're friends."
Kylan looked as though he were at a loss for words. He was clearly determined to complete his mission, but he was also having some sort of internal struggle. "I- well.... Leiraya, you weren't supposed to be here."
"But I am now," she replied. "Spit it out, Sheffield. Who are you working for, and why are you so reluctant to say who it is?"
"Now, before I get going here, keep in mind that a lot has happened since, well..." he trailed off for a second.
"Since you took off with not so much as a 'have a nice life,'" Leiraya supplied helpfully.
"Yes- no-" he shook his head and looked at her apologetically. "I suppose I deserved that."
"And more," she nodded. "Now go on."
"It's been a long war. And remember how I promised you a long time ago that I'd only kill someone if absolutely necessary?"
"You're dancing around the point, but yes."
"And remember how it was all to protect Corellia so you'd never have to know what war was like?"
Leiraya's expression, which had been falling rapidly, was now looking pained. "Why do I feel like I'm really not going to like where you're going with this?"
"Because you're really not." Kylan looked almost reluctant, but the firm set of his jaw let everyone know he was quite serious about his mission. "Leiraya, during the Mandalorian Wars I had to go into exile due to a mission that went afoul in a way it really shouldn't have. No one in the Republic could take me back- not until Revan and Malak came back from beyond the Rim."
Carth, who had always admired Leiraya's spirit even under difficult situations, saw something very familiar, yet utterly alien to her expression- heart-smashing betrayal. It was a feeling he knew all too well, and if she hadn't grabbed his wrist and guided it gently away from his blaster, he would have happily short the bastard right there, Jedi or not.
Kylan continued. "I served with them in the Mandalorian Wars. You don't know what it was like- they both inspired the fleet more than anyone I've ever met. I was an honour to serve with them then, and when Revan called me back, I couldn't say no. It was my first chance to make a real difference in years."
"Even if that difference has cost the galaxy an incredibly huge amount?" Leiraya practically spat. "Kylan, this is a new low, even for you. Don't you realise there's a point when the 'making a difference' argument stops working? I've been off Corellia long enough to have first-hand experience with the fact that the Sith really aren't the good guys. We barely got off Taris alive after they decided to bombard the entire planet. How ever do you explain that?"
"There was a dangerous enemy loose. 'When your enemy runs to ground, give them no ground to run to.' It's a fairly basic principle."
"And didn't work," Leiraya said, disgust in her voice. "Unless I'm very much mistaken and we're not talking about Bastila here."
"No, you're correct." Kylan looked at her, regret still in his eyes. "And since then, we've come to realise that another of your companions is equally as dangerous, if not more so. And he's why I'm here."
Leiraya looked at him, bewildered. "We're clearly not talking about Carth here, or you'd have done something by now."
"I'm talking about your leader. One 'Aiden Star.' Dark hair, rather dashing..."
"Looks surprisingly good in a dress," Leiraya nodded numbly. "Probably should have guessed that one."
Ignoring the remark about the dress, Kylan continued. "And I'm here to take him back to Malak."
"No," Carth snarled, reaching for his blaster, this time managing to get it out before Leiraya could stop him. However, he felt something like an invisible arm knock the blaster out of his hand. When he tried to move forward, he found that he couldn't move- at all. Kylan's arm was held out towards him, a sad, but determined expression on his face. Carth had heard of Jedi with the ability to hold people in complete stasis, but he'd never been a victim of such force before. He continued to try to squirm, but the grip was completely implacable.
He saw Leiraya, eyes wide and angry. "You are not going to hurt any of my friends."
"He pulled a blaster on me," Kylan retorted.
"He pulled a blaster on me, too," Leiraya shot back. "He improves upon further acquaintance."
"Leiraya, I don't want to hurt you. I just want to complete my mission."
"Yeah, well, if you're going to do that, you're going to have to go through me first."
Carth heard the snap-hiss of a lightsaber blade. If he looked towards the very edge of his vision, he could see Leiraya, looking as grimly determined as he'd ever seen her. In that moment- though he'd seen her fight, and though she'd been with them for so long, it finally hit him. She was a Jedi, with all the grit and combat skill that implied. And she was taking up arms against the man she'd claimed as her best friend so that her crewmates would not be harmed, because she was the only thing standing between Kylan and his goal. He'd never really thought she had it in her- obviously, he was wrong.
As Kylan lit his crimson blade in response, Carth redoubled his efforts to escape the invisible grip that held him firmly in place. It was to no avail.
All he could do was watch.
What? No! Kylan! What are you doing???????????????
Here I was, ready to comment on how like Lieraya it was to be complaining about megachains when the galaxy was in distress, and you threw that curve ball at me. And now, I'm in utter shock. Holy cow.....
At any rate. Good chapter. I can see why it was hard to write.
Great couple of chapters! Awesome twist at the end of this chapter; I didn't see it coming. The confrontation between Kylan and Leiraya was very intense. Can't wait for the next post!
No don't kill Kylan!!!!!
You should put a warning on this: Do not read around parents, likely to cause uber massive lecture on swearing.
Kylan! Why did you go dark? You moron! I really hope he pulls an Anakin, and decides that the Dark Side look just isn't him, though judging by your PM, it won't be pretty.
Damn it! You've made me really care about Lieraya with that last chapter, heaven knows I've felt the same betrayal. She's more then just a character now, she's a real person, something that I try and keep myself from. Damn it!
Thanks for the PM.
Gyah! Kylan, stop! Put Carht down this instant!
Oh, wow... this is gonna be good! Poor Leiraya!
Loved the scenes before, too. Poor Bastila, having to find her father like that. Awesome all around, DWH. Now please, post!
Yeah, that's all I got. Can't wait for more.
I just finished reading through this story and, noooo, evil cliffie!
It's cool to see Leiraya finally getting into some action. She's an unusal kind of character, but she kinda grows on ya. I like her colors-rather-than-black-and-white theory and her conversations with Carth.
I really like Aiden. I love his sense of humor, and the dress thing was awesome.
As for the game characters, HK is as funny as ever, and I adore all the Bastila/Canderous banter.
Looking forward to more!
May I be added to the PM list please?
AAAGH! I'm so sorry everyone, I was temporarily accosted by Darth Real Life, and was driven out of my writing rhythm. I'm determined to get back into it. But, at least the good news is that I have a super-impressive job interview lined up because I took three weeks of my life and devoted them to learning two new programming languages.
Anywhoo! Replies. Yes, I am capable of replying and not being a complete deadbeat.
Rogue_Pilot: Leiraya is, how shall we say... very focused on her goals. One of which is to rid the galaxy of Wal-Mart- er, Czerka.
JoE: Thanks for coming by! Sorry the gripping conclusion is so late.
Handmaiden_Azul: I reserve comment until after this chapter is posted.
emerald54: Umm... well, you might want to keep the parents out of earshot for this chapter, too, then. Consider yourself warned.
princess_of_naboo: And more is here! Sorry it took so long, but thanks for your patience!
oqi: I believe a DO NOT WANT is in order, here.
dark_jedi_lover: You may absolutely be added to my PM list. Consider yourself PMed.
Leiraya was quite certain she was trapped in a terrible nightmare. Last she checked, she'd been distracting one generally cranky pilot from the fact that his son was a Sith. Surely this whole scene was a manifestation of her darkest fears, and the heat was just getting to her. The very idea that Kylan would ever do something so stupid was incomprehensible. And when had she ever been the first one to draw a blade?
The thought of it unsettled her. For as out of character as it seemed, she also knew she had done it. And despite her wishful thinking, she knew she wasn't dreaming.
"You know, I'm impressed," Kylan commented. "I honestly never thought you'd pull a blade on anyone, much less me."
"Yeah, well, remember all those lectures I gave you about how people go off to war and it changes them?" Leiraya gestured pointedly with her lightsaber. "You know I was right, and this proves it."
"No, this proves you like Captain Courageous over there more than you like me," Kylan grinned.
"Now, don't you even start on that," Leiraya glowered. "Leave Carth out of it."
Kylan shrugged. "All I'm saying is, would you have so much as blinked aggressively at me if I hadn't done something to him?"
"Kylan, you're trying to capture someone on my crew! Who, by the way, is a very good fighter on his own."
"So why the show?" Kylan kept his blade level. "We could have just chatted until he came, and he could have done the fighting."
"Carth wouldn't have stood for that," Leiraya replied simply. "And you'd cut him to ribbons."
"So it is because of him." Kylan grinned wickedly. "Ahhh, and here we all thought that no one would ever crack the Moran shell. Figures he'd be ekster. You always did rebel against everyone."
Leiraya worked her jaw in silent frustration for a few moments. "Ekster has nothing to do with it."
"But will they say that when you bring him home? Assuming, of course," Kylan conceded, "that you survive this confrontation."
"I don't know where you get your delusions. Clearly your supplier has changed in the last few years."
"I'm not blind, and I know you better than you think," Kylan stated matter-of-factly.
"Do you?" Leiraya countered. "Not to play the victim here, but you kind of left. Quite a while ago."
"True," Kylan admitted. "But does that negate more than ten years of friendship?"
Leiraya's only answer was a slight scowl. Maybe he had hit closer to the mark than she wanted to let on. Still, she could tell he was trying to make her angry. He'd certainly done it enough times in their friendship, except there was usually a substantially less dramatic reason.
Kylan, in the meantime, stood his ground. Mirroring her, watching her warily. It was like a cruel parody of all the practice duels they'd shared as they trained. She knew a hundred directions in which the battle could go. It was an old, well-rehearsed dance; she'd just never thought it could end in this way. Looking into his eyes, she expected to see anger and hate- the hallmarks of the Sith- but found only regret and grim determination.
Kylan made the first move. Their blades met, and they slowly circled about each other, acknowledging each other as old dancing partners might.
And that was where the pleasantries ended.
Their strokes were swift, precise, and would have been deadly to anyone else. But knowing each other's fighting styles as they did, it would look like a carefully choreographed routine to an impartial observer. Kylan, clad in a black robe with forest green accents, was clearly the more powerful of the two. His very movement spoke to the sheer strength he possessed. Leiraya, feet only slightly hindered by the boots she was still wearing, moved with the grace of a professional dancer. Kylan had lost much of the grace he'd learned during his enforced dancing lessons, but he knew Leiraya's movements so well that it barely mattered.
So they continued on for several minutes- jumping, twisting, flipping, pirouetting, and generally making each other more and more frustrated.
Leiraya, focused entirely on the duel, did not notice Aiden's presence until she heard his startled shout. In a sudden blur, she found herself pushed unceremoniously out of the way, and saw Kylan rush madly towards Aiden.
Aiden, who had hardly expected to return to a lightsaber duel involving his only adamantly nonviolent crew member, quickly pulled out his blade and joined the fight.
"What are you doing to Leiraya?" Aiden snarled, pressing the attack.
"I'd be more worried about yourself, Jedi Star." Kylan responded, deftly blocking each stroke. "She's not my concern. You are."
Aiden grimaced. He hadn't asked to be popular. In fact, he rather thought it was Bastila's job to be popular. But ever since Taris, the Sith hadn't left him alone, and barely bothered with Bastila at all. It was a subject that perplexed him greatly, but he didn't have time to consider the point. His attacker was very good at what he did, and it was all he could do to stay on the offensive.
Focusing in on the fight, Aiden fell into a rhythm that at once felt new and familiar. It was like his body knew precisely how to move, answering each blow with a fitting response. This went on for several moments until something changed- there was a break in the pattern, and he sensed an opening. He suddenly changed direction, spinning around and ducking. His attacker was too good to be fooled by the sudden low sweep at his legs, but he did not anticipate Aiden's unsubtle wave of Force energy that impacted him in midair. His opponent flew backwards into the hull of the Ebon Hawk, barely hanging on to his lightsaber as he fell. He hit the ground rolling, but was soon on his feet. He lunged at Aiden, and their blades locked for what seemed like an eternity before Aiden kicked his arm to the side and drove his blade into his assailant's chest.
With a look of surprise etched on his features, the Sith fell.
Aiden shut his lightsaber down grimly.
Leiraya cried out in anguish.
Carth, released from the grip of the Sith, ran to her side.
And then Bastila walked in. HK-47 trailing behind her.
Eying the situation and seeing that clearly something significant had happened in her absence, Bastila jogged over to the ship. "What just happened here?"
"I don't know," Aiden answered honestly. "I came back, and there was a Sith fighting with Leiraya, and holding Carth in some sort of Force freeze."
Bastila looked incredulously at him at the mention of Leiraya fighting, then over at the other woman, staring bleakly at the form of the dead Sith. "Really?"
"Really," Aiden nodded. "But this guy was good. Really good. I'd rather get out of here now and discuss the details later."
Bastila was about to voice her agreement when she saw Leiraya approaching the form of the dead Sith. "What are you doing?"
Leiraya didn't answer her, she just dropped to her knees and took the Sith's hand. "Kylan..."
Aiden's jaw dropped. "You mean... she's not talking about her friend, right? Because that would make me the guy who killed her best friend."
Carth came over and patted him on the shoulder grimly and silently. Bastila shrugged helplessly. HK-47 suddenly looked interested. "Query: Did I miss all the violence?"
Suddenly, the ramp lowered and Juhani came running out. "We are most sorry we could not get out sooner," the Cathar apologized. "It took T3 a long time to slice through the villain's traps. It would seem we escaped too late."
"The ship was booby trapped?" Aiden sputtered. "Who was this guy?"
"We'll sort it out later," Bastila said firmly. "We need to get out of here, now."
"I'll say," Aiden grimaced. "Carth?"
"I'll get her inside," he replied. Aiden nodded briefly, then jogged up the landing ramp. Bastila and Juhani were close behind.
"I can't just leave him here," Leiraya looked imploringly at Carth, who was kneeling down beside her. "He's my best friend."
Carth shook his head regretfully. "We have to. Come on," he rose, offering his hand. She scowled, but accepted it. He pulled her up quickly, but not before she snatched Kylan's lightsaber.
"I have to give it back to his family. It's the least I can do." Their gazes locked for a few seconds, until Carth nodded and they ran on board, hand in hand, ramp rising beneath them. Carth led Leiraya to the lounge to strap herself in before he ran to the cockpit and frantically flipped switches until they began to rise from the ground. As soon as they had proper clearance, Carth hit the thruster controls and they shot towards space.
"Plot a course for Manaan," Bastila directed. "They've got a strict policy of neutrality there, we ought to be safer there than anywhere else."
"No arguments here," Carth replied, the coordinates entered into the navicomputer before she could even finish her explanation. After a few moments of computation, Carth pulled the hyperdrive lever.
Once the jump was complete, he slumped in his chair. "Force, I don't want to do that again."
* * *
Leiraya looked numbly at Kylan's lightsaber as she turned it over in her hands. It wasn't the same one he'd used when they trained together. Several of the design elements were the same, and it still suited him as she had known him... but at the same time, there was an odd disconnect between the saber and the man who she knew to be its owner.
As soon as they'd made the jump to hyperspace, she retreated to her bunk. Nobody had followed; they probably figured she wanted to be alone. And so she sat there, with nothing but her thoughts, until a knock sounded on the doorframe. Turning slightly, she saw Carth sticking his head in. "I, uh... would you rather I just left you alone?"
"No," Leiraya moved to make room for him on the bunk. "Please, I'd rather have some company about now."
Carth smiled, and sat in the offered space. "You're much more personable than me. I think I didn't talk to anyone for days after Morgan died."
"Yeah, well, your people skills have nothing to do with why I like you."
"Hey," Carth looked mock-injured. "I'm trying to get better, you know. It's just... hard."
Leiraya smiled sadly. "I know, and that was uncalled for." She sniffled. "I say a lot of things that are uncalled for when I'm upset."
"I know." Leiraya was silent for several moments. "You know, we were sparring partners for years. We even developed it into a performance art for a couple of occasions. Demonstrations and stuff. Kylan always pretended to hate the dancing, but I could tell he enjoyed it. There was this look he'd get in his eye, and it was like our secret joke. After he left, I had other sparring partners, some of them even openly loved to dance. But it was never the same. And then we met again, and we were fighting, just like we did when we were younger. When I looked at him, I didn't see the same person. Except once, when I looked up, and he gave me the look." Leiraya broke off, unable to continue for a few moments. "And I thought to myself, why are we doing this? But Aiden came. And I never got to see if I could stop him." Tears were now flowing freely down her face, and she looked up at Carth. "Why couldn't I stop him?"
Carth pulled her into an embrace as she started sobbing freely. He held her silently, for he knew better than most that there was nothing anyone could say, and that there was no answer to her question. All he could do was hold her.
As he had wished several times that day already, he wished that there was some person he could blame on this mess who wasn't already dead. Because if such a person existed, he would hunt him down and shoot him for thinking of putting Leiraya through that kind of pain.
After several minutes, she calmed down enough to speak coherently. "Thank you, Carth. Thank you for just being here."
"I can't think of anywhere else I'd want to be right now," he replied. "Don't give up, okay?"
"I won't." She settled into his arms. "Too stubborn."
Carth smiled. "That's the Leiraya I know."
"Darn right I am." She looked up at him questioningly. "You'll stay for a while, right?"
"As long as you need me," he promised. "I'm not going anywhere."
Her only answer was a sad, but grateful smile that simultaneously warmed and broke his heart. If he had anything to say about it, nobody was doing anything else to hurt her. And if they tried, well... he'd just have to shoot them himself.
He owed her that much for not being able to help before.
KYLAN!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!! Poor Leiraya. I really wanted her to bring him back to the light side.
I like the conversation between Leiraya and Carth at the end. Especially Carth's sudden protectiveness. I do wonder what Leiraya would say if she knew that.
Good, if sad, chapter. Write faster!!!!
That was definately an unexpected turn of events. It will be interesting to see how this affects Aiden and Leiraya's interactions.
Poor girl. Her long-lost best friend shows up only to be evil and die.
Daww, Carth is such a sweetie.
Aww, poor Leiraya. That must've been heartbreaking for her. Poor girl.
You wrote their duel very well, DWH. And I felt very sad for her after. So kudos on that too.
I don't know whether to be angry, or sad for Leiraya, she's going to have some tough times to go through.
Humm... maybe I'll comment again when I'm more coherent.
Ok, this time, I caught up.
I discovered that one as soon as I started to explore the "before the saga" section, in search for KOTOR stories. I love KOTOR stories.
And yours is simply brilliant.
All flaterry aside, I really enjoy your writing, full of humour and very dynamic. Having also played my way through many full "LSM" games, I really enjoy the way you have twisted this story, inserting Leiraya into both the story and the characters interraction. it just flows smoothly, without contradiction.
Your rendering of Carth, Bastila, Mission and Co is excellent, and you added an edge to Carth that I like very much.
Leiraya is a very complex and interesting character. I like her style, her sharp tongue and the idea of a pacifist Jedi is quite appealing, though I can see that resolve starting to crack somehow.
And finally, I like the character of Aiden. He's very funny.
Given the direction the story has taken so far, I think I'll be your faithful reader until you complete the whole fiction.
I'd like to get a pm when you update if that's possible.
Keep it up, I really enjoy it.
Rogue_Pilot: I am writing! Writing like the wind! Writing so much, in fact, that I have an update in less than a month!
dark_jedi_lover: Yeah, beneath that gruff exterior, Carth is a softie. Not like he's one of my favourite SW guys or anything...
Striker: Thanks! I hate writing action sequences, so it's always good to hear when they turn out well.
emerald54: Yeah, I'm kind of putting her through the wringer right now, and I'll probably have to do something to make it up to her later. But she's a tough cookie. Thanks for reading!
Entropist: Thanks for the kind words, and reading all the way through the fic. The last thing I want is for this to turn into Yet Another Boring Retelling of the Game, so I really appreciate the feedback. Hopefully the rest of the story will live up to your expectations.
And now, in a timely fashion this time, I give you the next installment.
Aiden was hiding in the engine room. Presumably, he was checking the calibration on the sublight engines to make sure that everything was still in order after all this time, but truthfully, he had no idea what he was looking at. He could see valves, switches, circuitry, wires, and many components that he knew were supposed to be there. He assumed they worked, because the ship moved when Carth pulled the levers.
No, he was definitely hiding. He'd killed people, sure. He was a soldier, and he had been ever since the Mandalorian Wars. Reaching beneath his Jedi tunic, he pulled out the silver whistle he always carried with him. It was his Watchman's whistle, given to him by his mother. She'd been an inspiration to everyone in the Junior Watchman training program, and his personal hero. He'd never planned on becoming a soldier.
He could still remember the day they got the call. He was on duty in the area around the Bridge. His mother had left two days previously, taking a fresh group of Junior Watchmen to their first year training on Commenor. They never made it. Before they reached their destination, they were caught in the middle of a Mandalorian assault, and the ship was destroyed. Someone managed to get on the comm to send a partial message to the home base, but it was of no use. Everyone on board died.
His younger sister, Briane, came to tell him. He'd practically known what she was going to say before she even said it. And that was when he'd decided to join the Republic military. No one, not even people he didn't like, should have to deal with such a slaughter. And that's the last news you ever expect to hear from your own little sister.
So he'd trained, and became one of the best damn soldiers in the Republic. In the early days, he tried to keep track of the body count, to keep things in perspective. The war hadn't ended before he stopped trying.
Killing was nothing new to him. Even before this mission, he'd taken more lives than he cared to tally. But this was the first time that he'd ever killed someone that perhaps he shouldn't have. To his dying day, he was quite sure he'd never forget the stunned look on Leiraya's face when she saw what he'd done.
"What are you doing, skulking back here?"
Aiden turned around quickly, and saw Bastila standing in front of him. "Oh... hi, Bas. I'm just... fixing... stuff."
"Right." Bastila sat down on a supply cylinder and looked at him skeptically. "You know, you're an unconvincing liar even without our bond."
Aiden set his hydrospanner down with an exasperated sigh. "Can I keep anything from you?"
"Probably," Bastila said reprovingly. "You're avoiding the issue, though."
"Damn right I am."
"Aiden," Bastila stood and looked him in the eye. "You killed a crew member's best friend."
"And the last thing I want is a lecture from you about it," Aiden replied tersely. "It's not like you've never killed a Sith before, Bas. Hell, you took down Revan, and he's the guy who started this mess we're in." He shook his head. She looked a little hurt, but he continued anyway. "I don't know about this mission. It's been confusing since the start, and it isn't getting any better. Carth was right- too many things aren't adding up."
"What do you mean?"
"Remember when he went on that tirade about not having a Master on this mission?" Aiden wiped his brow with the back of his hand. "What if we'd had a Master? Would a Master have killed the Sith without finding out what was going on first? Maybe if we'd actually had proper leadership on this mission..."
"We wouldn't have gotten this far," Bastila replied softly. "With a Master on board, surely we would have been targeted. Malak is no fool."
"But I apparently am!" Aiden said helplessly. "If I wasn't, if I was smarter, or just asked more questions, then I wouldn't be back here, pretending like I know what the hell all these metal parts even do!"
"Don't say that," Bastila frowned.
Aiden crossed his arms. "Oh? And why not?"
"Because... because it's not true."
"Really?" Aiden looked at her, clearly not impressed with her rebuttal.
"Really." Bastila paused, suddenly awkward. "You know, I've even come to, well... look up to you."
Aiden looked at her incredulously. "Who are you, and where did you put Bastila?"
"What, do you think I don't mean it?"
"Well, it was just that the words were given so grudgingly."
Bastila scowled, with no real anger behind her glare. "This isn't easy for me, all right? You've just come so far, so fast, and I know I was sent on this mission to help you... but I can't help but notice that you don't seem to need my help when it comes to staying on the right path." She sighed slightly. "If anything, I'm the problem child on that front."
"What?" Aiden replied incredulously. "That's insane."
"Is it?" Bastila asked. "I almost didn't go back to talk to my mother. I didn't want to listen to her at all, and I assumed she was lying when she said she was sick. What kind of person, let alone daughter does that?"
"Oh." Aiden paused. "So, how did your meeting with your mother go?"
Bastila shrugged. "Better than I thought. We sat down, and for once, I actually listened to her." A wry grin tugged at her lips. "I believe I have you to thank for that one. Had it not been for the fact that I could practically hear you telling me to give her a chance, I'm not sure I would have. Maybe it was our bond, maybe it was something else entirely. But I'm glad I did."
"Is she going to be okay?"
"No. Maybe." Bastila closed her eyes. "I don't know. She's dying, and she says nobody can help her. But I gave her the last of my credits to go to Coruscant and see a doctor there."
The silence hung between them for several long moments before Aiden replied. "That's why the idea of you being the problem child on this trip is ridiculous."
Bastila looked at him intently, as though she were trying to sort out some sort of contradiction in her head. Whatever the train of thought was, though, she apparently decided to abandon it. "You still didn't address the issue at hand."
"What, that I killed a friend of a friend?"
"You care about her." Not a query, but a statement of fact. "And not just as a crewmate."
"Well, yes. No. I mean..." Aiden scratched his head more than a little confused himself. "I think it was the trees."
Bastila rolled her eyes. "Blaming the foliage on your emotions now?"
"I'm serious!" Aiden insisted. "I mean, you should have seen the look on her face. I've never seen anyone that giddy over trees."
"Well, this may be news to you, but the Jedi don't stand for that kind of thing."
"No, attachments!" Bastila glared at him. "Jedi do not give into their passions."
"No. They don't."
"Really." Aiden looked unconvinced.
"Yes," Bastila replied, exasperated.
"You know what I think?"
"I have an inkling."
"What?" Bastila sputtered. "You're not serious."
"I am serious, and I have a bond with you to prove it."
"I... I..." she seemed unable to formulate a coherent response. "That's playing dirty."
Aiden shrugged. "Those are the cards we were dealt, Bas. I didn't ask for this bond, I just know we have it. And for all you may not like what I feel through it, you should pay attention to what's coming through on your end."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means," Aiden replied sternly, "that you jump to conclusions when you get a small piece of data you don't like, and then you don't listen to everything else that comes in. If you had-" he broke off mid thought. "Actually, you can meditate on that one. If you can't figure it out on your own, I can't be of much help."
Bastila looked at him, a combination of hurt, anger, and hope mixed in her eyes. Shaking her head, she shot him a sour look. "You still need to confront what's making you so upset."
An awkward silence hung between them for several moments. Finally, Aiden offered his hand. "It looks like we both have a lot to meditate on. Will you join me?"
Bastila took it. "I'd like that."
* * *
When Leiraya woke, the lights were dimmed, she was covered in a spare blanket, and Carth was gone. Sitting up, she looked around and saw that it must have been during the night cycle, since all the other bunks were filled with sleeping figures. Sliding silently off her bunk, she made her way to her footlocker. Sitting atop it was a glass of water, a spoon, and a note. She unfolded the note and held it up in a stream of light. It simply read, "Get some rest. If anyone bothers you, don't hesitate to use the spoon. -Carth"
With a small smile, she removed the objects from the top of the footlocker and opened it up. She fumbled inside it for a few minutes before pulling out a pale blue Jedi robe. Shivering, she shrugged it on and padded into the main hold of the Hawk. The glass of water had been thoughtful, but she needed something a little warmer and more comforting.
"Well, look who decided to come out." Jolee smiled kindly at her.
"You're up late," she observed.
"Slept too much while you young people were out gallivanting all over Tatooine. Thought I'd come out for a cup of tea. Care to join me?"
Leiraya smiled. "Thank you."
Jolee busied himself with the food synthesizer, trying to convince it to complete the simple task of boiling water. "Saved some of my good blend from Kashyyyk, seems like as good a time as any to make a pot."
"Jolee, if I've learned one thing about you, it's that you never make small talk unless there's a point to it." Leiraya sat down on one of the longer benches and pulled her robe tighter. "No offense, but I'd rather cut straight to the chase after the kind of day I've had."
"What, you can't grant an old man his idiosyncrasies?" Jolee replied gruffly, but with no real edge to his voice. "Oh well, I guess since you've had a bad day I'll waive it this once."
Leiraya granted him a small smile. "It's appreciated."
The hot water finally spouted into the mug Jolee held. "Young Aiden practically had to pry this story out of me with an arc wrench last hyperspace jump, so you'll just have to consider yourself lucky."
"Lucky?" She raised a curious eyebrow.
"Or unlucky, as the case may be." Jolee finished filling the first mug and put the second mug beneath the continuous stream of boiling water. "You know, I wasn't always a grumpy old Jedi who lived in a tree."
"Now, don't you get sarcastic with me, or I'll just go back to bed." Jolee handed her a mug and sat next to her. "No, I was an independent trader during the Sith Wars."
"'Independent trader'?" She echoed. "By that, do you mean 'smuggler'?"
"Semantics, lass, semantics. We were doing good things for people who needed it, and relieving the overly wealthy of things they didn't really need anyway. I considered it an involuntary donation to the cause."
"Right," she nodded, smiling. "Just doing your part."
"See? I knew you'd understand how I think. Those were the early days of the war, though. Before things got really bad. That gig actually came to an end before too long, after I was shot down over Ukatis."
"Not that this isn't interesting, but you're doing that thing where you dance around the point."
"I'm getting there. You want the whole story or not?" Leiraya merely sat back silently and sipped her tea, waiting for him to continue. "That's what I thought. Anyway, I was shot down over Ukatis. And that's the day everything changed." He paused, as if he was waiting for her to interrupt, but she kept her silence. "That was the day I met my wife." His expression turned pained. "Nayama was an extraordinary woman. Resourceful, smart, and a damn good pilot- see, she's the one who shot me down... and held me prisoner... that is, until I escaped and kidnapped her..."
"You seem to have had a rather complicated relationship."
"Complicated? Bah, it only sounds that way. No, those were the simple days."
Leiraya gave him a rather skeptical look. "If that's simple, I'm not sure I want to even know about the complicated days."
"Oh, that's the familiar part. But I'm getting there." Jolee took a long sip of tea. "My wife, she was very strong in the Force. It was how she shot me down, anyway. But she was untrained, and I presented her to the Council. Thought she'd make a proper Jedi."
"I bet that one went over marvelously," Leiraya commented.
"About as you'd expect, I'm sure. They turned me down cold. And then, of course, since I knew so much better than they did, I trained her in secret. She was a quick study," Jolee smiled sadly at the memory. "Maybe a little too interested in power, but I was probably too blinded by love to want to see any of her faults. This leads to the part you'll appreciate." Jolee paused to collect his thoughts. "It's hard for you young people to understand what it was like when Exar Kun was beginning to consolidate his power. He came in with a vision of a golden age for the Jedi, and many- too many, really- of our Jedi rallied to that call. Nayama was one of them. She came back one day all excited about Kun's vision for the Jedi, saying that it was the only way. Probably figured I'd go along with it too, having already defied the Council." He sighed. "I wished I never had. When I refused to go along with her, since it was pretty easy to see that Exar Kun was bad news, she became angry and pulled her lightsaber on me."
"You fought your own wife?" Leiraya inquired quietly.
"Yes, and for what? I had her beaten, at my mercy. She knew it, too. But could I kill her?" He shook his head. "No, never that. I let her go. I shouldn't have, but I did."
"What do you mean, you shouldn't have?"
"Oh, when she left, she joined Exar Kun's army, just as I knew she would. And she went on to kill a lot of Jedi. I could have stopped that, but I didn't."
Leiraya was silent for several moments. "I don't think I could have killed Kylan."
"No, you're not meant to deal out death." Jolee finished the last of the tea in his mug. "But what would Kylan have done if he'd been allowed to live?"
"Completed his mission," she answered honestly. "That's all he ever did, and he rarely failed. He would have somehow taken Aiden back to Malak, and somebody would have killed him later." Shaking her head, she set her empty mug down. "I just don't understand what went wrong. That's not the Kylan I knew."
"The Kylan you knew probably died somewhere else, back in the Mandalorian Wars."
"I know." There was a long pause. "So do you still believe in love?"
"Love? Now, that's another matter entirely."
"Kylan was practically my brother. How do I know that none of my other friends will turn on me like that?"
Jolee's answer was simple. "You don't. Now, I've seen a lot of the galaxy, and in some of its worst parts. But if there's one thing I'll put my stock in, it's not the Republic, the Jedi, or even the Force. Love is the one thing that I've ever seen do any good for this galaxy, and you'd do well to take it wherever you can find it, whether it's the love of a friend or otherwise."
"You still think that?"
"Don't make me repeat myself, dammit." Jolee stood and collected the empty mugs. "You're young, and have a better memory than I do."
Leiraya smiled. "Thanks. I'll try to remember that."
* * *
Leiraya eventually left to get more sleep. After she was out of earshot, Jolee looked at the opposite entryway and grinned. "You can come out of hiding now, Carth."
Poking his head through the entryway, he grimaced. "Am I that obvious?"
"No, you just can't slip one by me. I know every trick in the book by now."
"I'll try to remember that next time." Carth sat down beside him. "Think she'll be okay?"
Jolee looked down the passageway she'd taken to get to her bunk. "She's got a lot on her mind. But she's young, and if what we all know of her is any indication, she's too optimistic not to bounce back."
"You think so?"
"Now, since when have I been the repository of opinion on this ship?" Jolee harrumphed. "You've got a mind, and a heart. You may not have the Force, but that never stopped you from holding a negative opinion. Why don't you try applying that determined spirit of yours to something positive for once?"
"I..." Carth trailed off, surprised by Jolee's admonishment. "Subtlety is really not my skill, is it?"
"Don't quit your day job."
* * *
It was several hours before the Ebon Hawk reverted to realspace. The only problem was, the transit time to Manaan was at least two more days.
Aiden stumbled out of his bunk and made his way to the cockpit, where he found Carth slumped in his seat, looking vastly unpleased. "What's going on here?"
"We've been pulled out of hyperspace, and don't ask me how that even works. But I'm guessing it had something to do with that Force of yours, since there is no way short of spontaneous planet generation that we should have been pulled into realspace."
"Okay, we'll skip technical explanations then. Who did this?"
"See that ship?" Carth pointed out the viewport at a massive, needle-nosed ship that floated lazily in their path. "That's Darth Malak's flagship, the Leviathan. Under the command of one Admiral Saul Karath."
Aiden stared at the ship, a worried expression on his face. "This is really not our day, is it?"
"Not really at all. We're caught in their tractor beam."
"We've gotta wake everyone." Aiden quickly moved from the cockpit. "Because sure as hell, they're not taking us without a fight."
It's nice to see that Leiraya is going to bounce back, though the timing with Karath bites really bad. Hopefully there'll be some sort of calming influence for Carth, though I wonder how Leiraya will fair with Aiden's revelation.
Hey, maybe Leiraya will get to use her spoon!
hose were two excellent and well-written conversations there, DWH, and necessary too. A lot of times, traumatic events are swept under the rug and moved on, but you made sure they were dwelt on and put into proper perspective. Nice.
And... uh-oh. I don't know who that guy is, but he sounds like trouble!
Jolee's story is sad! I like Carth's note. Very entertaining.
Good chapter, and it seems like you posted in record time, or am I just imagining things....?
Loved the last couple of updates. I definitely wasn't expecting Kylan's death, but you handled the fall-out well. I'm continually amazed by the way you manage to weave all these characters together, keeping them in-character throughout. You're working with a fairly large ensemble cast, yet no one ever feels lost in the shuffle. Great work.
I'm a bit surprised we get to the Leviathan part so... soon, but I guess you know where you're going.
I liked the scene with Kylan as well, very well rendered both for the reaction of Leiraya and Aiden.
And the aftermath was very nicely done as well. Jolee is just plain annoying, but I love the old coot! Carth shows much more sensitiveness than in the game... I like that.
On the whole, a very good update. I hope you'll post the next one as quickly as this one...
The Bastila/Aiden scene was cool(although if they're captured by the Leviathon, I guess that means we won't be seeing that one particular Bastila/male player scene then?). I've only played the game as a girl, but I've watched my brother play, and his conversations with Bastila were always awesome. To quote the game, she's so cute when she's embarrassed.
Carth's note was cute. One more thing to make him more lovable.(...as if I need more reasons to fangirl )
"Well, this may be news to you, but the Jedi don't stand for that kind of thing."