Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Commander-DWH, Aug 15, 2005.
Uppin one more time, ya'll!
Rogue_Pilot: Ack! I fail at writing fast. But this time I wrote long, so I hope that is an acceptable alternative.
Striker: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the essay. I actually just found the original with my prof's comments this evening, it's been fun going through it again. And I'm also glad you enjoyed the story.
princess_of_naboo: Oh, Aiden's going to have far too much fun with the Sith. Thanks for reading!
angry_bendu1: Thanks for the ups! I'm glad you're enjoying the story.
padawanlissa: Thank you! I'm glad that came across well.
Anywhoo, I realise it's been a while since my last update, and for that I apologise. I also can't guarantee an update any time in the next two months- I was hired to work on the waterfront recreation staff at a camp with little/no internet access. I'm definitely going to be writing during that time, but I may or may not be able to sneak online to update the story. Still, I hope you enjoy the installment I have for you today.
Aiden was not at all certain about braving Korriban.
The settlement surrounding the Sith Academy seemed harmless enough. Dreshdae was much like any other seedy spaceport on any other world, complete with cantina, supply shops, and a local Czerka office. For once, though, he was pretty certain that Czerka would be the least of his problems.
He'd barely made his way off the landing platform before his first encounter with a recruit. The young man was wearing a uniform cut in the military style, and wore a self-satisfied expression on his face. A Twi'lek girl, not much older than Mission, was huddled in the corner, trying to look like she wasn't afraid of him and failing miserably.
"Please," she squeaked. "I know I can get the answer right if you give me one more try!"
"I doubt that," the young man sneered. Seeing Aiden's approach, and taking note of the lightsaber he was wearing, he smiled broadly. "You, stranger. You have the air of competence around you. What do you think I should do to this pathetic lifeform as punishment?"
Aiden grimaced inwardly. This was not a position he cared to be in. "Excuse me?"
"This girl has been trying to answer questions, but she always picks the wrong answer." The young man stroked his chin thoughtfully. "My creative juices are running low. Any thoughts?"
Aiden looked back at Carth, then over at the frightened young girl. "You know, you could be completely revolutionary and just let her go."
The man looked surprised. "You're joking."
"Never been more serious."
"That's hardly the kind of talk that gets you anywhere around here," the man spat. "Who are you, anyway?"
Aiden paused for a moment. "Would you believe me if I told you I was Darth Revan?"
The young Sith looked at him critically for a few seconds, then started laughing. "A sense of humour. That's rare around here. All right then, since I haven't been this amused in quite a while, the girl can go. She'd just better hope I don't see her again." With that, the young recruit turned on his heel and walked away.
"Well," Aiden said, "that answered that question."
"Thank you, sir!" The young Twi'lek girl approached him, smiling gratefully. "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come along. I think, perhaps, the Sith are not likely to take me..."
"Have you thought about the Jedi?" Aiden asked.
"Not really," the girl shrugged. "They're on the losing side, so it doesn't seem smart to ally with them."
"I wouldn't count them out quite so easily," Aiden replied. "Also, you might find they don't torture their prospective students."
The girl pressed her lips together grimly. "You might be right. I don't know if I'm quite willing to go to them, but I do think it's time I left this place."
"Good luck, then." Aiden clapped her on the shoulder and smiled.
She met his gaze evenly. "You are a strange man."
"Well." She nodded, then turned towards the docking bays and walked away.
Leiraya raised an eyebrow. "She's got one thing right- you are strange. Do you think it's a good idea to tell people you're Darth Revan?"
"Do you think anyone is likely to believe me?" Aiden shrugged. "Revan died. Everyone says so. Hell, I thought Revan was dead until recently."
"Malak doesn't say so anymore," she reminded him. "Be careful. You don't know who he's told."
"Fine," Aiden assented, and started walking towards the main hub. "It was pretty funny, though."
"You should take your show on the road," Carth grinned. "Now, where do you think we ought to start looking for the Star Maps?"
"I have a hunch that wherever it is, Revan and Malak would have built their academy to protect it."
Carth narrowed his eyes. "Is that a vaguely memory-based hunch?"
"No, it's a logically-based hunch." Aiden kept his eyes forward, but was unable to keep the annoyance from his voice. "If I were a Sith, and apparently I used to be, I'd be sure to consolidate my power around an artifact of the Dark Side."
"Oh." Carth was silent for a few moments. "Sensible, I guess."
"Have I ever been anything but?"
Carth looked at him pointedly. "On Tatooine, we found you running around in a dress."
"Tactics, Carth," Aiden grinned. "We were trying to confuse the enemy."
"How did that one work out for you?"
"Well..." Aiden trailed off, almost sheepishly. "Actually, it didn't. But the point is, my reasoning is generally solid, right?"
"Right." Carth glanced around. Dreshdae was very boring, as places went. The walls were a drab grey, and most of the people walking around were either wearing Sith or Czerka uniforms. Even the smugglers seemed to tone down their general colour palate when walking around the spaceport. A sign on the wall indicated the entrance to the Sith Academy was located just south of Dreshdae, and indicated which door to use.
“In any case, I am in desperate need of caf.” Aiden stifled a yawn. “If I'm going to be infiltrating the Sith Academy, I have to be conscious enough to put on my Bad Guy Face.”
Leiraya raised an eyebrow. “You have a face for that?”
“Maybe. After I have some caf in my system, we can test the theory.”
“You go ahead, Aiden,” Carth waved him on. “We'll stake out the rest of the place.”
“Good call,” Aiden nodded, then walked towards the cantina entrance. He managed to make it most of the way there before tripping over his own two feet, but he caught himself before hitting the floor.
Carth shook his head. “We're doomed.”
“If we're lucky, they'll never suspect that the Jedi Malak has on the run is the one who can barely stand.”
Carth grinned. “Well, that's one way to look at it.”
“You know me. Always looking for the silver lining, right?”
“Almost always, anyway.” Carth's tone turned more serious. “What's this business with you leaving your lightsaber behind? I've known a number of Jedi in my time, and none of them would have dreamed of doing that.”
“I told you, Jedi are too conspicuous.” She shifted uncomfortably. “Would've blown our cover.”
“Unless I'm mistaken,” Carth countered, “Force-users can sense other Force-users if they're close by. At least, that's what I always heard. So wouldn't that give you away anyway?” She scowled at him, and he gently laid his hands on her shoulders. “Listen, you don't have to tell me anything if you don't want to. But I'm here if you need me.”
Her expression softened. “It's just... complicated.”
“Isn't it always?” Carth gave her a lopsided grin. “Sweetheart, if something on this trip wasn't complicated, I'd be worried.”
She gave him a small smile. “Well, you're right about that much, at least.”
“So what's bothering you?”
She was silent for a few moments before responding. “I'm not sure how to explain it. And I know it doesn't seem to make much sense, but can you just trust me for now that I have good reasons?”
“For now,” he nodded. “Just remember, if you want to talk...”
“I know where to find you,” she finished with a small smile, and gave him a quick hug before pulling back. “Don't worry about me.”
“You know I'm going to anyway.”
“Yeah, I know.” She grinned. “Come on, let's go scout out this Academy.”
The pair walked briskly down the drab hallway to the exit. Opening the doors, they found themselves walking out into a harsh, rocky landscape. There was a path leading up to a stone door, where a few people were standing. Carth squinted. One looked to be wearing the Sith uniform he'd seen around Dreshdae, and the others were simply dressed in civilian clothing. He nudged Leiraya and gestured towards the people. “That doesn't look good.”
She closed her eyes briefly and frowned. “They don't feel like they're doing well, either.”
“Come on,” Carth strode towards the Sith lounging comfortably in the shade. He looked young- probably not much older than his son was now- but youth and arrogance often went together. The youth noted the approach of the newcomers and smiled.
“Well, well. Who are you?”
“Just passing through,” Carth replied. “Saw these people standing here and wondered what was going on.”
“Ah,” the young man smiled. “You like my little game?”
Leiraya raised an eyebrow. “Game?”
He chuckled and lowered his voice conspiratorially. “You see, they're looking for entrance into the Sith Academy. Like so many around here, I'm sure you've noticed.”
Carth nodded. “Seems to be the only reason, outside of smuggling, of course, that people come here.”
“For obvious reasons,” he grinned. “Anyhow, I've already earned my way in. So that gives me a certain... shall we say, distinction? Yes. The others, they think that by impressing me, they can somehow get into the Academy themselves.”
Leiraya looked from the youth to the others standing in the sun, a look of disapproving disbelief on her face. “And they believe you?”
The man spread his hands congenially. “You can see why I find all this so entertaining. Though,” he paused, “I have been out here for quite some time, myself. I don't suppose that you'd be willing to take over for a while as I go get some food?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a generously sized credit chip. “You'll be paid for your time, of course.”
Leiraya opened her mouth to protest, but before she could utter a word Carth accepted the chip. “Sure thing. Just don't be too long, or we'll charge double.”
The young man stood, stretched, and grinned. “This world would not operate without such fine mercenaries as yourselves. Don't worry, I won't be long.”
As he swaggered back towards Dreshdae, Leiraya poked Carth in the side. “Are you serious? We're not aiding him.”
“You're right, we're not.” Carth pocketed the money and walked over to one of the people standing in the sun. “Why are you standing here?”
She looked up at him with glassy eyes. Her lips were chapped and her face was turning an unpleasant shade of pink from sun overexposure. “Mekel said that if we stand here for long enough, we'll prove ourselves strong enough to be worthy of the Sith.”
Leiraya reached into her shoulder bag and pulled out a canteen of water. “Here, you're completely parched-”
“No!” she shook her head violently. “I have to do this on my own strength!”
“You do realize that this Mekel is just feeding you a line, right?” she continued to hold the canteen towards the young woman. “No matter how long you stand here, he has no power to let you in to the Academy, and you currently have all the symptoms of heat exhaustion.”
“No... no.” Her voice dropped to a whisper, and she clutched her sides. “I can't... I have to stay strong. You're just a test. You're trying to trick me into leaving, and when he comes back and sees I'm still here, he'll let me in.”
Leiraya and Carth exchanged worried glances. Mekel certainly seemed to have a sadistic streak, making him perfectly qualified to be a Sith. Carth tried one more time. “He's not going to let you anywhere- he's just a student.”
With a look of desperation in her eyes, she looked like she was ready to respond, but instead she collapsed on the ground. Leiraya was on the ground immediately, checking her vital signs. “She's breathing, but she's burning up.” She quickly splashed some of the water on the girl, and started to hoist her up. “Help me move her into the shade.”
The two of them carefully moved her to the shade beneath the rocky outcrop where Mekel had been sitting. Leiraya began to carefully remove sweat-soaked layers of clothing. “Carth, go try to talk the others into leaving.”
He nodded as she continued her work, and went back to the others. She could hear him trying to reason with the two remaining Sith hopefuls, but as with the young woman she was now treating, neither seemed to be responding well. She wondered how long they'd been out in the sun, and what Mekel had planned on doing with them when they inevitably collapsed.
A minute later, Carth returned, carrying another of the hopefuls. “I couldn't talk the third out of standing there, even after this guy collapsed.”
Leiraya shook her head as she splashed water on the young man's face. “We can't do any more good for them out here. We have to get them to the medical center.”
“Can you carry her?”
“I think so.” She replaced the canteen in her shoulder bag and hooked the girl's arm over her neck. Using the Force to aid her, she carefully stood and lifted her up. “All right, let's get these kids out of the sun.”
They made their way back to Dreshdae, going as quickly as they could. Leiraya simply could not understand the kind of institution that would not only tolerate, but encourage and reward torture of that kind. The young woman she was carrying probably had a future- but in a galaxy under the heel of the Sith, she wouldn't ever make it that far. That was the galaxy Kylan had been fighting for. How her best friend had ever fallen that far, she wasn't sure, and she didn't want to find out. She could only attempt to clean up the mess his new friends were leaving behind.
Once again, she felt so very far from home.
* * *
Aiden was not sure if drinking had been the best of ideas. The bartender had been very enthusiastic about creating a highly caffeinated, highly alcoholic beverage for him, and even managed to make something that didn't taste like it came out of the wrong end of a Bantha. The effect, however, was that he was simultaneously wired and completely loopy- if he were to compare it to something, he might say he felt slightly like a Gizka on spice. The upside was that he wasn't seeing anything in duplicate yet. The downside was that he was pretty sure the floor was supposed to be more horizontal than it appeared.
“You there!” a dark-skinned young woman in a Sith uniform strode towards him with what he deemed to be amazing balance on a surface that seemed to be constantly moving.
“Me?” Aiden pointed at himself and raised an eyebrow.
The woman rolled her eyes impatiently. “Yes, you. The one with the stupid look on his face.”
“Hey now,” Aiden protested indignantly. “If you'd drank what I just drank, you'd have passed out. So if I look mildly stupid, I think I'm doing pretty well.”
“Really.” She narrowed her eyes. “Wanna bet?”
Aiden shrugged. “Only if it's something worth betting on.”
The woman looked at him thoughtfully, then pulled a medallion out of her pocket. “All right then. See this? This is my ticket into the Sith Academy. If I can't hold at least as much liquor as you, it's yours.”
Another young man standing to her right leaned in close. “Are you sure that's wise-”
“No risk, no glory,” she returned quickly, never taking her eyes from Aiden. “And what will you wager?”
Aiden paused thoughtfully. What did he have that he was willing to wager? He supposed someone might object to losing the ship if it happened that he lost, so that was right out. But what did he have that he could hand over without losing much sleep over it? After a few moments consideration, he finally settled. “I have a hunter-killer assassin 'droid. One of a kind. If you can drink me under the table, he's all yours.”
The womans lips curled into a predatory smile. “I think that's very much acceptable. Shall we?”
Aiden motioned for her to take the lead, and ambled amiably behind her as he returned to the Drunken Rancor Cantina. He waved jauntily at the bartender, who shook his head slightly in return. Okay, so maybe he had drunk quite a bit already. It was just as well; the young Sith lady was unlikely to be able to handle that much.
She strode confidently to the bar. “Whatever he had earlier,” she jerked her thumb back at Aiden, “I'll have.”
He looked at her skeptically. “You sure about that, Caela? I'm surprised he's still standing after what he asked for.”
Aiden felt a distinct drop in her confidence, but her face betrayed none of that. “Whatever it was, I'm more than willing to drink it.”
The bartender didn't look at all convinced, but he simply shrugged. “If you insist, then.” He pulled out a number of bottles and quickly began mixing them, seemingly at random. Caela's face seemed to fall as more and more liquids were added, including two of the strongest liqueurs in the house and straight ground caffa beans. He placed a lid on the glass and shook the concoction vigorously, then topped it off with a dollop of whipped cream and fruit garnish.
When he finally handed the glass to her, she sniffed it suspiciously. “Do I even want to know?”
Aiden shook his head. “You really don't.”
Shrugging, Caela wrinkled her nose and lifted the glass. “Here goes nothing, I guess.” Before good sense could stop her, she tipped the glass back and downed it in one gulp. The look on her face was a mix of disgust and horror. She placed the glass on the counter. “That was the most vile thing I've ever tasted, but I'm still standing.”
“It didn't taste that bad,” Aiden replied mock-indignantly. “Careful, it sneaks up on you.”
“Forget that,” Caela shook her head. “See how tipsy I'm not? I'd suggest that perhaps you just lost the bet.”
“Not yet I haven't,” Aiden grinned. “I had two.”
Caela blinked. “You're not serious.”
“I'm never anything but.”
“That's just.. just...” she trailed off and her eyes grew glassy. “Why is the room sideways?”
She fell forwards, and Aiden caught her before she hit the ground. “I told you it sneaks up on you.”
The bartender shook his head. “She regularly drinks with the other boys- always felt she had something to prove, I guess. Hopefully she'll settle down a bit after this.”
Aiden pulled the Sith medallion out of her pocket, and hoisted her up over his shoulder. “I don't suppose you could direct me towards the medbay?”
“Down the hallway, fourth door on your left.”
“Thanks.” Aiden flipped a credit chip at the bartender. “Keep the change.”
* * *
Leiraya and Carth were about to exit the medcenter at the time Aiden came walking in, a semiconscious young woman slung over his shoulder. Carth looked like he wanted to say something, then thought better of it.
“It wasn't my fault,” Aiden insisted as he set the young woman down on the nearest bed. “She insisted on entering into a drinking contest.”
Leiraya placed the back of her hand on the woman's forehead. “How much did she drink?”
“One excessively potent concoction,” Aiden replied, pushing the button to page a doctor. “I warned her.”
“And the point of this little exercise?” Leiraya looked disapprovingly at him. “I realise we're in enemy territory here, but she could have serious alcohol poisoning.”
“Okay, there wasn't that much in the drink,” Aiden insisted, and pulled the medallion from his robes. “Besides, I now have my ticket into the Sith Academy.”
Carth looked at it carefully. “Did you steal that after she passed out?”
Aiden looked slightly hurt. “No, Carth. It was what she wagered in the drinking contest. She was obviously okay with the prospect of losing it, so I only collected what I was owed.”
“Sorry.” Carth looked mildly chagrined, but he still kept his jaw set firmly.
“Wait a minute,” Leiraya looked up at him. “What did you wager?”
She looked from the woman back to Aiden again. “Did you really have to win?”
Carth patted her on the shoulder. “Come on, you know you'd rather have HK on the Hawk than loose in the galaxy with a Sith.”
“Well.... you have a point.”
He grinned. “I usually do.”
“Wait.” Aiden paused. “What are you two doing in here, anyway?”
The two exchanged glances. “Well,” Carth replied, “we were scouting out the academy. Ran into one of your future classmates with a taste for the sadistic.”
“He was forcing Academy hopefuls to stand in the sun for hours on end, on the promise that if they were strong enough, he'd see to it they made it in,” Leiraya continued. “We found them on the brink of exhaustion, just before they collapsed. Mekel left to get some food, and after they collapsed we brought them here.”
“He left them with you two?” Aiden asked skeptically.
“Well...” Leiraya smiled sheepishly. “He might have mistaken us for mercenaries.”
“You realize he's going to recognize you when I take you into the Academy now.”
“We're your minions, aren't we?” Carth shrugged. “I guess you'll just have to publicly vow punishment when you realize the horrible offense we committed.”
Aiden sighed. “As if this trip wasn't hard enough already, I have minions pretending to be mercenaries.”
“You know us,” Carth replied.
“Always getting into trouble,” Leiraya added.
“Well, we're going to have to tighten up our act once we're in the Academy,” Aiden crossed his arms. “No more moonlighting as mercenaries.”
“Fine,” Carth grinned. “But we get to keep what we were paid.”
“You were paid?”
“What kind of mercenaries do you think we are?”
Aiden shook his head. “Someday, I'll stop being surprised by you people.”
Leiraya smiled broadly. “No you won't.”
“Maybe not, then.” Aiden returned the smile. “Still, do you think you can make it through the Academy without taking Mekel for everything he owns?”
“We'll try to resist,” Carth promised.
Aiden bowed his head ruefully, unable to keep from smiling. His crew was crazy, he was certain of it. But then, they were on a pretty crazy mission. And he was quite likely to go crazy himself. All things considered, they were a matched set. He could only hope that they could get the Star Map and leave Korriban with enough time to save Bastila.
One thing at a time, though. For now, gaining entrance to the Academy was going to have to be good enough.
Loved that part. Of course, the "Would you believe I'm Darth Revan?" bit ranks right up there too.
Great chapter. Really looking forward to entering the Academy.
Have fun at the camp, DWH. And awesome post, here. Ah, they're in. *Kicks Sith. Hard* And yes, good for the Twi'lek to get away from there!
This post made my morning.
Just one question: how on earth did this passel of idiots (the Sith) get even close to taking over the galaxy?
Have fun at camp!
Aiden sighed. ?As if this trip wasn't hard enough already, I have minions pretending to be mercenaries.?
?You know us,? Carth replied.
?Always getting into trouble,? Leiraya added.
You write such fantastic banter. Excellent job!
Okay, see...what had happened was...nobody had a watch, so we didn't know what time it was...then i found my watch, but the dog ate it...
Please excuse ale from being so far behind.
(ten ale bucks if you can identify the reference)
Yay! Zalbaar is staying with the crew! (I like Wookiees )
?Couldn?t it be a different colour, like? I don?t know, blue or something??
?I don?t get to choose what colour your voice is.?
?Oh.? Aiden was silent for several beats. ?Then I can?t trade with Carth.?
Off to Tatooine!!!
"Oh hey, I know what that language is. I used it to hack into databases back on Taris." Mission looked more closely. "Looks like you're making a... ball and paddle game?"
Bastila and Leiraya in a truce...I'll believe it if it holds.
"I'm no Jedi- the order left me a long time ago."
She raised an eyebrow. "Don't you mean you left the order?"
"I mean what I mean, dammit."
then you flip it DWH...
Carth, your son is alive! Alas, he is a Sith...
"[Indeed I am- if I can find suitable aid. I have been sadly unable to find anyone worthy of the quest in here... unless, of course, you would like to join me?]" Komad looked up at him with a small smile and a hopeful glimmer in his eye. "[It would be an honour to hunt with a Jedi.]"
Aiden didn't even have to look at Bastila to feel her glare. He might have actually enjoyed trying to hunt down the Krayt dragon... but it really didn't have anything to do with their mission. "I'm afraid we'll have to turn you down on that one. Pressing business, and all that..."
Why do I feel that's going to be regretful?!?
HK-47's photoreceptors flashed orange. "Objection: I exist only to serve my master. I know no reluctance. Admission: I currently have no master, save this meatbag who attempts to run this store..."
My first experience with HK. Somehow I expected him to be more...menacing.
"Come on, let's go to that Cantina. Drinks are on me."
"Wait," Bastila objected. "Did you miss the part where my mother is probably in there?
What's up with Bastilla's mother?
You know, I'm water safety. I don't do this whole desert thing.
Uh oh. Hippie vs. young Republican time, although I wouldn?t really label Carth a young Republican. Too pessimistic.
I kind of like HK, reminds me of Loki; just more homicidal.
?Don't let the two-cred philosophy fool you," Jolee grinned ruefully. "I'm just another old man, trying to knock some sense into the next generation."
Favorite line so far?
Gizkas?!? Oh, my.
Very tense conversation between Bastilla and her mother?*shudders*
*phew* That was a long chapter! Very filling DWH!
Now Carth and Leiraya are off to find a vaporator? I like how this story seems to progress like a video game; all filled with mini-quests?oh.
The official smirked. "What a motley crew. Tell you what- we've been having some trouble with the Sandpeople. If you can bring me the Chieftan's gaffi stick, I'll see about getting you one of those hunting permits."
See what I mean?!?!?! Geez, I can?t wait to see what you do with TFU.
'Assassin' is such a tawdry description.
Another great chapter DWH!
Curious as to how Bastiall plans to reconcile with her mother?
Leiraya and Kylan -
Observation: Holy tension Batman!
Looking into his eyes, she expected to see anger and hate- the hallmarks of the Sith- but found only regret and grim determination.
-So maybe Kylan isn?t that far gone yet?
What a sad turn of events. At least Leiraya />/>/>/>/>/>/>
Ohhh! I get back from Europe and what do I find sitting in my PM box? UPDATE! Ah! Awesome. I love the "What sort of mercenaries would we be?" line. Though... reading through the post before this, I have to ask... Is she carrying her friends lightsaber? She said she wasn't going in there unarmed, and I realize she's probably carrying a blaster or two, but still...
I'll try and make a decent reply once I'm not so jetlagged.
Oh man, I'm finally far enough in playing KOTOR that I figured you'd allow me to read this, and it has kept me up until nearly 3am. Go DWH. Extremely high quality writing, character development, and snark.
I particularily enjoyed the image "drop-kicking jawas" brought to mind.
On the whole, amazing work playing around the original game plot, but really making it a fuller story, particularily character-wise.
Though I'll probably hear it from you when you finish more, add me to the PM list, just in there is spacing out. ^_^ Now I have even more reasons to be excited for you coming back from camp.
...yeah, that's the best intro I have for you. Sorry. It's been a while, but this story is still alive and kicking. And I'm attempting Novel in 90 in order to finish this, so semi-regular updates? Well, without months between them, anyway? Here's hoping. It's off to a good start, anyway. But the idea is to get this story on a regular roll again.
princess_of_naboo: Thanks! I hope the Academy lives up to expectations.
Striker: I actually had a great time at camp, even though it didn't let me on the internet much. In a way, that was a good thing, too. Thanks much, and I hope you continue to enjoy.
Rogue_Pilot: Well, to his credit, Revan was a lot smarter than the lot of them. And Malak just likes destruction. The rest of them are just riding on the coattails, as it were.
angry_bendu1: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed.
Ale: Holy ! You're back! With super-long reviewing powers! Good to see you reading again, and I appreciate all the feedback.
emerald54: Nope, no lightsaber. But really, you have to ask the question, is a Jedi ever truly unarmed?
SoA: Hee, you can see why I didn't let you read it. I appreciated your hopping on over of your own accord, though. Finding the active topic notification during my weekly hike to the library definitely brightened my day.
“There’s no way in all nine Corellian hells I’m coming out in this,” Leiraya’s voice sounded from behind the curtain.
“You brought this on yourself,” Aiden replied casually. “If you hadn’t insisted on playing mercenary, I wouldn’t have to try to disguise you two.”
There was a long pause. “It was still Carth’s idea, and he’s not wearing a ridiculous costume.”
“Frankly, I don’t want to see Carth in what you’re wearing.” Aiden grimaced. “Ever.”
The curtain slowly opened, revealing Leiraya in a dancer’s costume. “I look ridiculous.”
Carth, standing next to Aiden in a shapeless brown robe, shook his head. “You look absurd, but in the best way possible.”
Leiraya made a face. “I don’t like it.”
Aiden shrugged. “You’re a dancer, aren’t you?”
“Not an exotic dancer, though.” She crossed her arms to partially cover her bare stomach. The sapphire of the top was pretty, but didn’t cover nearly as much as she generally liked. In fact, the only saving grace of the outfit was the skirt, which was multi-layered and reached nearly to the floor. “You know there’s a difference, right?”
“I have complete faith in you,” Aiden reassured her. “You’re a very talented individual.”
Leiraya walked over to a mirror and scowled. She’d been told to put on makeup- which she never wore, and she could barely recognize herself. Her hair had been half swept back into a fancy hair clip, and the rest had been fashioned into reluctant ringlets that cascaded over her shoulders. “I look like cantina trash.”
“You look better than cantina trash, which is why you get to come with me,” Aiden reminded her. “Remember? I’m an offworlder with expensive tastes and a manservant.”
“And far too much to drink,” she interjected sourly.
He chose to ignore the comment and continued. “I believe that the Sith are going to wipe all the ruffians off the face of the galaxy, thereby increasing my holdings and simultaneously disposing of people who just annoy me.”
She tugged at the unfamiliar curls and made one last unhappy face before giving in. “Don’t worry, I’ll manage.” With that, she gathered her ever-present shoulder bag and foisted it at Carth. “Come on, manservant. Can’t let the dancer be seen carrying anything.”
Aiden grinned. “That’s the spirit. Come on, we’ve got an Academy to get ourselves into.” He led the trio out of the shop, checking the pouch in his belt to reassure himself that the medallion was still there. A little research had revealed that Yuthura Ban, the Twi’lek Sith responsible for admission into the Academy, was to be at the same cantina where he’d acquired his medallion. He knew almost nothing of her, except that she was the second in command at the Academy.
The cantina, as it turned out, seemed to be the one and only place in Dreshdae to conduct business for anyone not affiliated with Czerka- and even they used the place for a few of their transactions. It struck Aiden as slightly surreal- smuggled goods and other such clandestine dealings he could see being handled under the table while the ale was passed above, but something such as the Sith Academy? It was almost as though they were admitting to being part of the seedier side of the galaxy.
Odd as it seemed, though, when he entered the doorway, he saw her. She was sitting in the back corner, lazily sipping from a tumbler and eyeing the crowd with a disdainful eye. Clad in a simple sleeveless black jumpsuit, she maintained an air of easy superiority.
“You sure about this?” Carth asked, pulling a hood over his head. “I don’t like it.”
“I don’t like it much, either,” Aiden replied. “But do you have a better idea?”
“Then we stick to the plan. Right, minions?” In response, Carth sighed ambivalently, and Leiraya raised an eyebrow. Aiden simply shook his head. “Come on, let’s just get this done.”
Lifting his chin up and putting on his best arrogant expression, Aiden strode confidently over to Yuthura Ban’s table and slapped his medallion down.
The Twi’lek didn’t answer until she was done sipping her drink, and she was in no rush to do even that. “Well. It would seem you’ve gotten yourself a medallion.”
“That’s right,” Aiden answered. “And I want into the Academy.”
“Fair enough,” Yuthura smiled, an expression that was more predatory than welcoming, and stood to face him fully. “I don’t recall seeing you at any of our official events. One might wonder where else you would have earned entrance.”
Aiden shrugged. “Anyone who can’t keep their medallion probably doesn’t deserve to have it in the first place.” Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the bartender shaking his head and grinning. Okay, so perhaps most people didn’t win their medallions in drinking contests, but no one in the Academy has to know it.
“Well, that’s a more... enterprising approach than we usually see. However,” the Sith tilted her head slightly, “such qualities are what could, in fact, make you a fine Sith. Tell me, why do you wish to join us?”
“The Republic and their Jedi have mismanaged the galaxy long enough.” Aiden crossed his arms. “I’d like to see the galaxy in the hands of those who won’t shy away from what needs to be done to make the galaxy a more efficient place.”
“Jedi,” Yuthura eyed him closely. “You know, you have that feel about you. The feel of training, and of discipline.”
“I assure you, I have no loyalty to the Jedi,” Aiden spat. “If the galaxy knew what they were capable of, they wouldn’t, either.”
She was silent for several moments as she examined him. “Well, you meant that, at any rate. And you’re powerful, that much is obvious.” She stroked her cheek thoughtfully. “Yes, I do believe we could make a fine Sith out of you. If you survive.”
“Surviving is my specialty,” Aiden assured her. “Believe me, that’s the least of my worries.”
Yuthura glanced behind him. “And these... people with you?”
He glanced quickly over his shoulder. “Oh. Them? They are slaves.”
“Really.” She took a step towards them. “For what purpose?”
“Muscle,” he supplied. “Well, he is, anyway, and she’s, ah...”
“Oh, don’t worry, I know what she’s for,” Yuthura turned back to face him. “But you’d best not let her distract you.”
Aiden blinked for a moment before he could gather a response. Over Yuthura’s shoulder, he could see Leiraya’s face turning several shades of a deeper red, though she managed to keep her expression even. “You don’t have to worry, I won’t.”
Yuthura regarded him with a small, satisfied smile. “Good, then. It seems there is a place for you at our Academy, if you wish to accept it.”
Aiden bowed slightly. “It would be my pleasure.”
“Do you have a name, Initiate?”
“My name is Aiden,” he replied, injecting as much confidence into his voice and presence as he could. “Aiden Star.”
“Well then, Initiate Star, we have work to do.” She gestured towards the exit. “I suggest we get to it.”
* * *
Master Uthar Wynn did not tolerate weakness. Aiden could see it the moment he laid eyes on the man- his skin had long since faded to a grey pallor, but his eyes were a sharp yellow, rimmed in red. The true eyes of a Sith. He briefly wondered if his eyes had really looked like that. He knew that they must have, it only made sense. But he couldn’t visualize it.
Shaking his head, he brought himself back to his surroundings. The interior of the Sith Academy was dark and unwelcoming. A uniform pattern of dark brown stones covered the floors, and the walls looked much like the interior of a cave. He stood in what appeared to be the main room with three other Initiates, to whom he had already been introduced. He had seen all of them in Dreshdae before- in fact, Shardaan was the one they’d met first upon their arrival, trying to come up with a more creative form of torture. Lashowe had been spotted bullying other people for sport, and she responded to everyone as haughtily as possible. And then, of course, there was Mekel who, thankfully, had not yet noticed the similarity between Aiden’s ‘slaves’ and the mercenaries he’d hired earlier.
Master Uthar eyed them all critically. “You four have been selected to be our new students. You have done well to get to this point, but things are far from over.” He paced before them, eyeing each Initiate carefully as he passed. “Only one of you will be accepted into the Sith, for that is our way. You will be in competition with each other for prestige, and I will be the judge of what passes as such. Are you ready?”
Lashowe spoke first. “I am prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed, Master.”
“As am I,” Mekel echoed. “I look forward to adding to the might of the Sith Empire.”
“There is no failure,” Shaardan bowed.
Aiden, though his heart was not in it quite like the others, felt obligated to respond. “I am ready, Master Uthar.”
Uthar’s eyes glinted cruelly, and he gave them a tight smile. “We shall see about that. Strong words from all of you, yet only one will prevail. But that is for tomorrow- I suggest you find your quarters and rest. After tonight, I doubt you’ll be doing much of that.”
With that, he simply left them standing there. Mekel smirked. “Well, this should be an interesting little game.”
“It’s not a game, Mekel.” Lashowe crossed her arms and scowled. “And with an attitude like that, you’ll be lucky to survive day one.”
Mekel laughed briefly. “So serious. Well, I’ll leave you to your very important selves, and see about getting some of that rest. Might as well be alert as possible for tomorrow’s events.”
Shaardan grimaced as Mekel walked away. “He’s one to watch for. Make no mistake, Lashowe, he’s quite serious about this.”
Lashowe wrinkled her nose. “We’ll see about that.”
Aiden sighed. “That’s for sure.”
Lashowe regarded him cooly. “And what of you? I see you already have a lightsaber.” Her eyes narrowed. “You’re one of those fallen Jedi, aren’t you?”
“Something like that,” Aiden shrugged. “I have no patience for the Order.”
Lashowe rolled her eyes. “You probably think this is going to be an easy walk for you.” She stood to face him and poked him firmly in the chest. “Just because you have your fancy-pants lightsaber and training from the Jedi Order doesn’t make you better than us. In fact, it makes you lower. We were never taken in by their lies.” With that, she turned on her heel and walked out.
Shaardan grinned. “You certainly have a way with people, Mr. Revan.”
Aiden snorted. “Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up. And don’t call me that.”
He merely shrugged. “It was your introduction, not mine.”
“Fair enough. But the name’s Aiden.”
“Well then, Aiden,” Shaardan smirked and bowed slightly, “It’s probably best if we retire at this point, since as of tomorrow we’re mortal enemies.”
“And mortal enemies are best met well-rested?”
“Or something along those lines.” The younger man turned and walked off without further remark.
Carth moved close enough that he could be heard without projecting too far. “Such a lovely bunch of classmates you’ve found yourself.”
Aiden grimaced. “Don’t I know it.”
* * *
The Sith student quarters were sparse, but serviceable. A single bed with plain sheets was in the centre of the room, and a footlocker sat against the wall. There was no door, only a dividing wall between his room and the next.
“So much for privacy,” Aiden frowned. “Even Dantooine had better quarters than this, and they weren’t anything to write home about.”
“I think it’s the lack of a wall between you and the hallway that kills it,” Carth smiled wryly. “But I’ve seen worse.”
“If I was the one to set it up like this,” Aiden sighed, “I officially apologize.”
“So, what now?” Leiraya asked. “You’re in, and everyone expects you to be all Sithly.”
“Until I can come up with a better idea?” He shrugged. “I’ll just have to play along, and beat them at their own game.”
“Sounds dangerous,” Carth shook his head. “I know I’ll probably say this a lot, but I don’t like it.”
“Well, I can’t very well announce that I’m here to get the Star Map so I can defeat their overlord, can I?”
“The question you’ve got to ask yourself,” Carth countered, “is whether the ends are going to justify the means.”
“Do you honestly think I’m going to turn to the Dark Side over this?” Aiden crossed his arms and glared. “Hell, if there was a time to go dark, it came and went when we met Malak.”
“We’re just worried, is all.” Leiraya interjected. “Not that we don’t trust you or anything... but you’re going to have to walk a really fine line here.”
Aiden plopped on to the side of his bed and rested his face in the palms of his hands. “I know. Believe me, I know.” He paused a moment before looking back up at them. “But our mission is too important to shy away from this. If we don’t find the Star Map here, the game is over. Malak has Bastila, we’ll never find the Star Forge, whatever the hell that even is, and the Republic is done for. It may be done for anyway, but like hell I’m going to sit by and watch that happen. I’m angry at the Council for what they did, but the galaxy deserves better than what Malak’s doing to it.”
Carth regarded him for a moment, then clasped his shoulder firmly. “If that’s what your motivation is, then I’m behind you all the way.”
Aiden smiled wearily. “Good, because I’m going to need you- both of you- to keep me grounded.”
“That’s what we’re here for,” Leiraya smiled. “Speaking of staying grounded, shouldn’t you actually get some rest?”
“Rest?” Aiden snorted. “I don’t think that’s going to work.”
“I had an idea, actually,” Leiraya offered helpfully. “Were you ever taught anything about healing trances?”
He shook his head. “They mentioned them, but neglected to teach me.”
“Well, we haven’t really had any injuries bad enough to warrant one, so the issue hasn’t really come up. But there’s an alternate application I think might actually work.”
Aiden raised a skeptical eyebrow. “And?”
“It’s just as good as sleep, you see. So I know that after the Selonian Conflict, Kylan would opt to go into a trance instead of sleeping. To avoid the nightmares and such.”
“No nightmares, eh?” Aiden considered this. “Even with the bond?”
Leiraya shrugged. “I have no idea. But it’s worth a try.”
“I’ll say,” Aiden nodded. “So.... how does this work?”
“Here, I’ll put you in.” Leiraya came over and sat next to him on the bed’s edge. “Just lie down, and I’ll do the rest of the work. I’ll teach you how to do it yourself when you’re rested enough to remember it.”
“Thanks,” Aiden smiled blearily and closed his eyes. Moments later he was deep into the trance, breathing evenly.
Carth shook his head. “I hope this works out for him.”
“Me too,” Leiraya sighed, and stifled a yawn. “Wait a minute... we didn’t actually get sleeping quarters, did we?”
Carth looked around. “Well, we are slaves. Check the footlocker?”
Leiraya opened it up and rifled through it. “We have... a spare blanket and a dark Jedi robe.”
“On a stone floor,” Carth shook his head ruefully. “Maybe our generous Master can do something about that for us tomorrow.”
“I wouldn’t argue with a bedroll. But I suppose we’ll just have to make do with what we have.”
He grinned. “It could be worse, you know.”
“Of course,” he replied easily. “You could be sharing a blanket with Canderous.”
She swatted him playfully on the shoulder. “All right, flyboy, you win. Now let’s get some sleep. We all have a rough time ahead of us.”
“Ain’t that the truth...”
Yay! An update! This is getting exciting!
I like Leiraya's response to her disguise. So funny. Also, the way Aidan handled getting into the Sith Acadamy? Very smooth.
Also, Ale, I really appreciate your multi-chapter review: it was really helpful in remembering where we were when we last left of.
Anyway, GREAT update. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.
I have to get to class--accounting is killing me--but I wanted to drop a quick reply. This part of the game is one of my favorites, so I'm definitely enjoying this. Loving this slaves bit. Of course, what makes it even better is the 'they are my slaves' line came from the game itself.
Well written as always and lots of fun.
I can't help but wonder what kind of attention Leiraya will attract in that outfit wandering around the Sith academy. Or, for that matter, how she's going to sneak around with Aiden if he needs help.
Thsi should be very interesting. I wonder what the next day shall bring...
And I'm glad you had fun at camp, too.
It is weird reading about a Sith Academy on Korriban, too. LOL, I guess I'm too used to it being a tomb world. Can't wait for more!
Hey, I've got an idea...let's con our way into the Sith Academy on Korriban!
Better yet, Leiraya will be half naked!
in the face of danger!
Welcome back to the grind DWH!
Hello, everyone! Sorry this one took so long to get up- I finished it during the Great Board Outage, but forgot to post it once the boards came back. But here it is, in its entirety.
Rogue_Pilot: What can I say? Aiden is a smooth individual.
princess_of_naboo: Heh, yeah. I'm kind of amused that it's the only option you get in the game. But hey, minions are required by any evil overlord, right?
SoA: Yes, the outfit is problematic. But being instantly recognised by Mekel would have been even more problematic, so our plucky heroes will just have to be crafty! More on that later.
Striker: Heh, I'll admit even I thought Korriban was weird in KOTOR- I'd been there before in Jedi Academy, and the layout was all different. But! Korriban is a tomb world, as you'll discover- the Valley of the Dark Lords is where four major tombs are. Our heroes will be spending quite a bit of time there later. Glad you enjoyed!
Ale: You got that right! Our heroes know no fear. Fear, after all, is the path to the Dark Side!
Aiden awoke the next morning with a clearer mind than he’d had in days. Blinking the fuzziness from his eyes, he rolled over. Carth and Leiraya were still asleep, curled up beneath a dark woolen blanket. Silently, he sat up and threw his feet over the side of the bed, stretching his arms wide and tilting his head to work out the kinks he’d earned in sleep.
He thought briefly about waking them up, but decided against it. They couldn’t be seen following him everywhere, anyway. Though the ruse had gotten them into the academy, they were still conspicuous, and he wasn’t yet sure what to do about that. Taking special care not to make any more noise than necessary, he slid his boots back on and slipped down the hallway. He didn’t have to go far before running into someone- Yuthura Ban.
She raised an eyebrow. “You’re up early.”
Aiden shrugged and grinned amiably. “Just trying to gain the advantage.”
“Good,” she nodded approvingly. “You know, I think you have a lot of promise, Initiate Star.”
“Do you, now.”
“I do. Which is why I’m willing to help you to the top.”
Aiden eyed her critically. “Not to look ungrateful or anything, but you’re a Sith. One of the better ones. Which means you know as well as I do that treachery is always involved in this business.”
“There is a price, of course.” Yuthura replied evenly. “And, as you would expect, it involves a good deal of treachery.”
“Ah. Now that is the Sith attitude I’ve come to know and admire. What does this price involve?”
“It’s quite simple. Master Uthar’s time as the head of this Academy is coming to a close. He’s been doing this for so long, he’s lost sight of what it is to be a Sith. The Sith Empire deserves better.”
Aiden crossed his arms. “Better, as in you?”
She smiled. “Of course, with Master Uthar gone, I would have to step in to fill his place. And, if you help me, you will be in a most excellent position yourself.”
“I see.” Aiden stroked his chin thoughtfully. “What, then, do you suggest I take to Master Uthar to gain prestige?”
Her eyes took on a delightedly evil glint, and her smile broadened. “The first thing you must learn, becoming a Sith, is the Sith Code.” She started walking, and motioned for him to follow. “Come on now, you’ll learn better if you’re moving.”
“As you wish,” Aiden bowed slightly, then followed.
“The first tenet of the Code is this: ‘Peace is a lie, there is only passion.’” She looked over at him. “Do you understand why this is?”
Aiden frowned. “Passion can be dangerous.”
“All the better for us to master our passions,” Yuthura countered. “Tell me, Initiate, do you make your decisions based on cool logic, or on your emotions?”
Aiden’s immediate reaction was to insist he was logical in all his decisions, but in his heart he knew that wasn’t entirely true. Logic, in fact, wouldn’t have held his crew together. “I suppose the emotional response has a larger responsibility for my actions.”
“We are creatures of passion. All of us, everywhere. To think otherwise is simply to delude yourself.” She continued, “The Jedi believe they can stifle their passions, but a Sith knows better. Anger, hatred... these things can be harnessed and used in your favour.”
“What about love?” The question popped out before Aiden could stop it, and he momentarily wondered what his instructor would think.
She regarded him with interest. “Love? I know you originally asked your question believing anger and hate are dangerous, but do not fool yourself. Love is by far the most dangerous of the passions. While it can often lead to anger and hate... it also leads to mercy. And that is worse by far.”
He nodded. “I see.”
“‘Through passion, I gain strength.’ That is the next truth of the Code. This, I hope, is obvious to you.”
“Very much so,” Aiden replied easily. “Our passions are what define us. We can use them to focus our minds, and through that the Force.”
She smiled approvingly. “Very good, Initiate.”
“You’ll have to do better than that,” she smirked. “There are three other Initiates just waiting for a chance to stab you in the back.”
“Moving on- ‘Through power, I gain victory.’ Again, I should hope it’s obvious.” Seeing Aiden’s nod, she continued. “‘Through victory, my chains are broken.’ Now, there’s one of the real mysteries of the Sith Code.”
“How so?” Aiden inquired.
“The meaning of that line has been a matter of much debate among Sith philosophers for centuries,” Yuthura replied. “The chains represent restrictions- ones placed on any given being in the galaxy. The debate is whether the chains are self-imposed, or imposed by another being.” She shrugged. “There’s room for both arguments. But the idea is that, when a Sith masters his abilities, he should be able to do, for the most part, whatever he pleases.”
Aiden frowned. “Anything?”
“Within reason, of course,” she clarified. “Though we seek freedom from restrictions, we as Sith believe that reckless actions will not bring about perfect strength or perfect power. Such things are necessary for true freedom. Truth be told, no Sith yet has achieved this. It is said that one day a Sith’ari will come, one who embodies every facet of the Code.”
“Really.” Aiden looked at her curiously. “And what happens when this Sith’ari comes?”
“It is said that the Sith’ari will destroy the Sith and then make them stronger.” Yuthura shook her head. “I cannot imagine such a being, but it would be interesting to see what would happen.”
“Oh.” Aiden continued to follow her, maintaining an appropriate level of thoughtfulness for a good Sith Initiate. “Is that the entire Code then?”
“No, there’s one last line. ‘The Force shall free me.’ Do you think you can remember the entire Code?”
“Let’s see,” Aiden began to tick lines off on his fingers. “Peace is a lie, there’s only passion. Passion gives me strength, strength leads to power, power leads to victory, victory breaks my chains, and the Force shall free me?”
Yuthura smiled brightly. “Such an astute pupil. Of course, the Sith Code alone won’t be enough to endear you to Master Uthar.”
“Do you have any more suggestions?”
“I’ll give you more later, after we’ve had a chance to... do more planning.”
“Ah. Scheming.” Aiden nodded sagely. “I’ll be patient, then.”
“Good,” Yuthura nodded approvingly. “I’ll leave you to meditate on the Code for a while. Don’t disappoint me.” The words had an unmistakable edge, and Aiden, not for the first time, felt the true gravity of his mission here. He’d have to skate awfully close to the edge of darkness if he wanted to maintain a convincing performance as a Sith. He’d never get anywhere close to the Star Map, wherever it was, if he couldn’t be the model student.
It was days like this he really hated the Jedi Council.
Oh well, he thought. At least that particular emotion helps. He bowed deferentially. “Of course.”
He soon found himself alone in a long hallway, and he wanted little more than to be swallowed by a black hole. What was he doing? It was a brilliant idea of the Council’s, sending him on a mission to Korriban, knowing full well he was a recovering Sith Lord. He supposed they’d intended for Bastila to be here with him, finding a way to anchor him more fully to the light side- even if she couldn’t leave the ship, and surely she would have been recognised if she had. No, they’d been counting on his bond with their prodigy to keep him from teetering into the dark.
Aiden closed his eyes and found the place in himself where he knew he could always feel Bastila, too. The bond had been oddly quiet since he woke. He supposed Malak had let up on the torture, at least for the time being. Instead, he just felt a dull ache and a whisper of resignation. Hold on, he tried to will the words to her. We’re not leaving you there. We will come to save you.
Even after all she’d done. The lies she’d told, the secrets she’d kept. Even though he wasn’t happy about it, he could feel the regret she held within her. It hadn’t really been her idea in the first place. And okay, it was a terrible idea from the outset, and he personally would have taken it as a kindness if she’d dropped the pretense and just let him know that he was a Sith and she was his Jedi guard. But no one could go back and change what happened, so he’d just have to assume she meant for the best.
And, at the end of the day... he’d still considered her a friend. For that alone, he couldn’t leave her in the hands of Malak.
Sighing heavily, he decided it would be best to just take a very long walk.
* * *
On the Ebon Hawk, Juhani tried valiantly to center herself. It was difficult on such a world, where passions ran high. Many Jedi, she supposed could tune out such things, but there was still an echo inside. Every time she closed her eyes, she could clearly see Aiden before her on Dantooine, trying to convince her to return to the Jedi. At the time, she had not believed such a thing possible... but here she was. She had been a tiny smoldering ball of rage, but even then he’d reached out and cooled her to a reasonable level.
Could such a man be evil? She did not believe so. A man of the darkness would have fanned the flame, tried to make it grow. What, then, would she have become?
A tiny sigh escaped her. She would have been nothing, for a man of Aiden’s power would have easily killed her.
It was an interesting thing, owing one’s existence entirely to a forcibly reformed Sith Lord. She did not carry a weighty opinion on the actions of the Council in the matter- whatever her own inclinations were, she was not sure she trusted them fully. As much as she disliked having to rely on the opinion of the Council alone, she trusted their judgment much more than her own. And regardless of the motivation behind their actions, the results were impressive. No one would have ever suspected evil of Aiden, much less that he once rained destruction
She continued her efforts for several minutes before giving up. Finding peace on Korriban was likely a fool’s hope, in any case. She rose in one fluid motion, determined to find something to occupy herself.
When she entered the main hold, Canderous was sitting with several of his weapons in pieces on the table. A gizka cooed at his feet, and Juhani arched a brow. “Are you teaching the gizka how to use your weapons, now?”
Canderous grunted. “Stupid things get everywhere. I had to move this operation out here because if I spread them all out on the floor, the damned gizka would hop right through them. I’d have shot them myself a long time ago-” he momentarily grimaced, giving a quick look to make sure no one was listening in. “But Sasha’s rather attached to them.”
A small smile tugged at the corner of Juhani’s mouth. “I’m sure the gizka appreciate your compassion.”
“Yeah, yeah. If anyone asks, I didn’t want to waste good ammunition on them.”
“I will try to remember,” she sat down on one of the benches and eyed his array of weaponry. “Is that your entire collection?”
“Of what I have here... almost,” he replied. “I’ll admit I’ve been a little frustrated without all of my own weapons, but most of what I had was left on Taris. I was only left with this.” He reached over and lifted up a repeating blaster rifle. “This here is my favorite rifle. Fully customized, perfectly balanced, can hit a target from a kilometer away if you’re a good enough shot.” He placed it back on the table lovingly. “I knew we’d have to make a fast run from Davik’s estate. Even if the Sith hadn’t decided to turn the planet to rubble under our feet, I probably wouldn’t have had time to retrieve my entire collection.”
“I don’t suppose I want to know what all was in there."
He gave her a predatory grin. “A nice Jedi like you? I doubt it. But,” he leaned back and took on an almost wistful tone, “it was a fine collection. Mandalore himself would have been proud.”
“Your present collection seems to be faring well,” Juhani noted. “I am not an expert in projectile weaponry, of course. But I have seen few people who have such a wide variety, and even fewer who maintain their weapons so well.”
Canderous smiled, this time seeming truly genuine. “It’s a point of pride amongst Mandalorians. How you care for your equipment is indicative of what kind of warrior you are.”
Juhani shook her head and chuckled. “I do believe I have to thank you, Canderous.”
He gave her a perplexed look. “For what?”
“You’ve given me a reason to think of Mandalorians as something more than monsters,” she replied evenly. “I was too young to remember it, but I was raised on stories of how the evil Mandalorians came and destroyed my home world. I never thought to look beyond the armor- to be truthful, I did not want to. But you... you have helped me understand your people, if only a little.”
“The battle of Cathar,” Canderous replied distantly, as though recalling something. “I heard the tales. Your people fought honorably, and well.”
Juhani tensed for a moment, wondering at the calmness with which he spoke of her world’s destruction. She relaxed, however, remembering that Canderous had just paid her people a great compliment. She was not sure if she would ever completely adjust to the brusque Mandalorian’s manner. Still, she felt a small amount of satisfaction that he had not gotten a rise out of her yet- had he made such a comment when she first boarded the Ebon Hawk, she probably would have flown at him in a rage.
Ah, how she’d grown.
She was about to offer her thanks for his commendation of her people when Sasha ran in. Her eyes lit up when she saw the gizka at Canderous’ feet. “You found him!”
“Kid, I didn’t do anything,” he replied gruffly. “They’re everywhere.”
“Doesn’t matter,” she said, bending down to scoop up the croaking gizka. “I’m still glad you met. I named this one Canderous.” She beamed and held out one of the creature’s webbed feet.
It took all of Juhani’s Jedi discipline to keep from laughing as she watched the expression of shock and almost horror on Canderous’ face. He seemed rather at a loss for words himself.
Sasha, however, continued smiling. “He’s my favorite, so I named him after you.” With that, she leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek, and then ran out of the room, little Canderous still in her arms. During the entire exchange, Canderous failed to utter a single syllable. Once she figured Sasha was well out of earshot, Juhani could no longer hold her laughter in.
Seeing the Cathar’s amusement, Canderous glowered. Once she calmed down, he pointed a finger at her. “Not a word. Not a single word to anyone.”
“Are you wishing you’d killed them all yet?”
“You have no idea,” he growled. “Who ever heard of naming a gizka after a warrior.”
“Your secret is safe with me,” Juhani smiled, “but you will have to convince Sasha not to let anyone else know the name of her new friend.”
Canderous winced. “I’ll bet Mission already knows, doesn’t she?”
“And probably Jolee. He seems to know everything that goes on.”
“Crazy old man.” He grimaced. “My reputation is ruined.”
“I’m sure you will recover,” Juhani assured him.
Canderous continued to grumble semi-coherently as he returned to his work. Juhani hid a smile and left silently, wondering at the strange dynamic the crew had developed. She had never seen its like, and she wondered what it was that made them work together this way. Perhaps it was the long time they’d spent journeying together, or the dire circumstances of the galaxy at large. Whatever it was, she was grateful for it. And, perhaps, if the crew of the Ebon Hawk could coexist peaceably, there was hope for the rest of the galaxy, too.
She closed her eyes. Even in the midst of a chaotic galaxy, at that moment she felt peace.
Yay for Canderous and Juhani! I love those two in how cagey they are about themselves. You really did a great job getting deeper into their characters.
Man, when I played Korriban, dancing so close to the dark side made me and my super-light-sided character really nervous. Aiden dances even closer to the dark side already. It makes me anxious to see just how close he will go.
Canderous the gizka. *cackles*
*Grins* Canderous and Juhani were great, there. I lovedf Sasha and the gizka. So cute, there!
Aiden... *Shakes head* You tread a fine line, my friend.
Can't wait for more, DWH! Awesome post there.
"It was a brilliant idea of the Council?s, sending him on a mission to Korriban, knowing full well he was a recovering Sith Lord."
Ha! I loved that line for some reason.
The scene with Juhani and Canderous was really insightful!
I've never played the game, but I'm convinced Aiden is gonna' return to the darkside...
Awesome! I love that the Sith woman is teaching the former Lord of the Sith the Sith code (even though he can't remember it, it's still funny). I do feel bad for Aidan, though, having to get so close to what he should most avoid, based on his past life. Though, on the other hand, if he's strong enough to get through it - and I'm sure he will be - just think how much stronger of a *good* person he'll be, and how much moe confidence he'll have in himself after the shock of finding out that once upon a time he was pretty much evil incarnate.
Okay. Rant over.
I also love the scene between Juhani and Canderous. Canderous's false gruffness is hilarious, but I love the moments of seriousness, when they were talking about their pasts. It added a whole new depth to their characters.
Canderous winced. ?I?ll bet Mission already knows, doesn?t she??
?And probably Jolee. He seems to know everything that goes on.?
?Crazy old man.? He grimaced. ?My reputation is ruined.?
Pshht. We all knew he was just a big softie from the get go.
SoA: I hoped you'd like the Juhani bit. And yes, Aiden walks a fine line. That's what's making him so much fun right now. I never played the game this close to the dark side, but it's working for his character.
Striker: Canderous the gizka has actually existed for several chapters, he only just came out of hiding this time. Glad you enjoyed!
princess_of_naboo: Thanks! I aim to make this story humourous as much as possible.
Ale: Hey, I'm not telling how this ends (and looking it up on Wookieepedia won't help you- there are multiple endings, and I may or may not use any of them. Evil? Maybe. But I learned from the oqster, so what do you expect? ).
Rogue_Pilot: You know, a lot of this is glossed over in the games in the name of Saving The Galaxy. But I'm enjoying the fact that it's really the player who brings complexity to the character, and I'm having a lot of fun fleshing it out more than the dialogue options would let me. I'm glad you're enjoying my (usually overdue) scribblings!
angry_bendu1: He's just a fluffy squishball under all that armour, eh? Don't let him hear you say that...
Anyhow, I finally have the next chapter for you! It was finished a couple of weeks ago, and then my computer crashed and I lost the end. However, I like the way it turned out the second time a lot better. Many thanks go to SoA for helping me brainstorm ideas.
When Carth woke, Aiden was gone and Leiraya was in his arms.
If he didn’t stop to think about the rest of the galaxy, or even the world he was on, that was enough to put him in a good mood.
She was still sleeping, and snoring faintly. It was somewhat endearing, though he knew that was probably only because it hadn’t kept him up all night. Morgan had never been a snorer. Hell, she was such a light sleeper she’d probably have woken herself up. She was... so different from Leiraya, and yet there was something strikingly similar. Maybe it was just that they were both so damned stubborn.
How a beat-up old soldier like him had wound up with a barefoot pacifist, he’d never understand. But he’d decided a while ago that this was one case he didn’t need to understand.
Leiraya stirred. Making a slight face, she blinked a few times and looked up at him, smiling brightly. “Hi.”
“Hi, yourself.” Carth smiled in return. “Sleep well?”
“Sort of. Stone floors aren’t my favourite. But when it’s all you’ve got...”
“...then you make it work anyway,” he finished for her. “You ready to face another day as a minion?”
Groaning, she rolled over and sat up. “I can’t believe I agreed to that stupid outfit.”
Carth chuckled. “Well, there is that.”
She grabbed the spare robe she’d balled up to use as a pillow and squeezed it for a moment before a new plan hit her. “Wait a minute, that’s it!”
“You’ll tear Aiden’s clothes to shreds and make him wear something ridiculous?”
“No, I’m going to steal Aiden’s clothes.” She unrolled the robe and eyed it critically. It was probably a little big for her, but the wrap construction probably took care of that. “How better to blend in with the Sith than to dress like one?”
Carth looked skeptical. “You’re going to impersonate a Sith? Don’t you think they’ll ask some questions?”
“They might,” she assented. “But I’ll have a lot more mobility. And if anyone figures out who I am, I’m all a part of Aiden’s treacherous and Sithly plan, right?”
Chuckling, Carth grabbed his own brown robe and pulled it on over his head. “You’re certifiably crazy.”
“You got that one right,” she grinned. “Now face the other way so I can change.”
Carth obliged her. “So if you’re planning on more mobility today, what do you plan on doing with it?”
“We’re going to look for your son,” she replied. “Not that I don’t trust Aiden to help you out, but he’s got a busy schedule of backstab avoidance.”
“Yeah.” He was quiet for a few moments. “I haven’t seen him in years. He’s probably grown up a lot since I last saw him.”
Leiraya’s reply was gentle. “How old was he?”
“Twelve,” he sighed. “He’ll be sixteen now. I’ve missed so much...”
“Hey,” he turned around as she placed her hand on his shoulder. She offered a small smile. “Don’t beat yourself up, okay? We’ve been down this road.”
“I know,” Carth hung his head. “I just... I can’t believe he was out there and I didn’t find him. I looked everywhere.”
“And now we’re going to find him.” She grasped his hands. “Right?”
Carth took a few steady breaths. “Right. And, might I add, you look very Sith-like.”
“You think?” She stepped back and did a quick spin. The robes, pulled in tight, didn’t look nearly as big as they actually were. Her hair, pulled back into a severe bun, made her look uncharacteristically fastidious. The plum hue it held when they’d first met had long since faded to nearly its natural colour, which was probably a good thing at this point. Still, in certain lights he could see hints of the shade it had been.
“One problem,” he grinned. “You’re going to have to put some shoes on.”
Leiraya frowned. “I have my boots on the Hawk. I don’t think I should run barefoot through the Academy to get them, though.”
“I’ll go get them,” Carth replied. “I’m sure the others will appreciate an update, anyway.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Leiraya stretched her arms wide. “I guess I’ll just stay here and wait for Aiden to get back, then. Maybe take a nap on the real bed.”
“Don’t get too comfortable,” Carth pulled the hood over his head. “I’m going to be back soon, and we’re going to find my boy.” With that, he simply strode out of the room.
Leiraya shook her head. She could only hope that they could find Dustil, and find him fast. Places like this corrupted people. Even good people like Kylan. And if they’d gotten to him, she wasn’t sure how much hope she could have for Carth’s son. Still, she had to believe that something good could come of it. Carth had already gone through enough- he didn’t need to become his own son’s enemy, as well.
She flopped unceremoniously on to the mattress and closed her eyes. When the tears came, she didn’t even try to stop them. On Korriban, they were one of the few things she had to remind herself she wasn’t like the people who took her best friend from her.
* * *
Master Wynn seemed moderately impressed by Aiden’s quick memorization of the Sith Code, but as was expected, such a small feat was not enough to gain him any true prestige. Lacking any sort of better direction, he decided to explore the guarded area behind the Academy.
Even though it was still relatively early in the day, students were already wandering the halls. Some were in the training rooms, practicing their lightsaber technique. Others were intently studying datapads. None of them, however, were smiling. Everyone seemed to have one thing on their minds- victory over the others. He could feel the tenuous strands of friendship between some of the initiates, but the Academy didn’t exactly foster trust between students. He couldn’t help but compare it to his experiences at the Enclave. The very worst he’d felt there was Master Vrook’s scrutiny. Which, granted, made a lot more sense now.
It was truly bizarre, however, to know that he had far more trust from the Jedi who knew what he was than from the Sith who had no idea whatsoever.
His wanderings took him outside and into the Valley of the Dark Lords. He’d read about the Valley in his training materials, and it had even been mentioned by his Masters on Dantooine. Surprisingly, the valley was swarming with more archaeologists than students. It made sense, he supposed. The Valley was home to four major Sith tombs, and surely there would be much to find that would be of great interest.
Especially to a Sith Master.
A small smile tugged at Aiden’s lips. If he could acquire the right kind of Sith artifact, it might be a bloodless way to gain prestige.
He casually approached one of the archaeologists. “So... how long have you been here?”
The man wiped sweat from his brow and grinned. “A lot longer than you.” He extended a hand. “But I’m here for purely academic interests. The name’s Dak.”
“Aiden,” he returned the handshake. “What do you find so interesting about this location?”
He gestured at the tombs surrounding them. “These tombs are ancient. The surrounding area has revealed a number of interesting artifacts dating back to periods where our historical records are spotty at best. We haven’t found a lot, but the things we find generally tell volumes.”
“Have you gone into the tombs themselves?”
Dak laughed. “You really haven’t been here very long.”
“You have me there,” Aiden admitted. “What’s so bad about them?”
“People have a habit of going into the tombs,” Dak responded. “Students looking to impress Master Wynn, trying to outdo their peers. Problem is, those students also usually have trouble coming back out again.”
Aiden shook his head. “Somehow, I’m not at all surprised.”
“If anyone could get in there, they’d easily be at the top of the class, and I’d love to talk to them myself,” Dak continued. “But I don’t recommend it. There are better ways to impress your Master than dying.”
“I’ll bear that in mind,” Aiden replied. “Thanks for the information.”
Dak grinned. “Any time. And if you do happen to come across anything interesting...”
“I’ll be sure to let you know,” Aiden promised as he turned to walk further into the valley. Which, geographically speaking, didn’t seem to be an entirely correct term. The rocky faces on either side of him made it feel a bit like a valley, but at what looked like the back of the area, there was a dropoff and a spectacular view of Korriban’s uneven surface. He continued walking until the dropoff, and then he merely stood for several minutes, looking out across the expanse and trying to process all his thoughts and emotions.
He still couldn’t feel Bastila, and that worried him. She wasn’t dead. He would know if she died. But the place inside himself he’d always known to look for her was empty, like dead air on a subspace radio. He didn’t know what it signified, or if it even signified anything. All he knew was that the longer the bond remained silent, the more anxious he became. Korriban seemed to feed off that anxiety. Even worse, it amplified even the most quiet of his fears. He determined, however, not to let it rule him- he had a job to do, and while it felt a little bit like throwing her under a speeder, he also knew that fear did Bastila no favours.
And then there was the tomb of Freedon Nadd. He looked over at its entrance, an imposing structure with angular designs. It was strictly off-limits to students, and if rumours were to be believed, it was where the final test for any Sith Initiate took place. Aiden was certain the Star Map was in there- all of Korriban felt dark, but that tomb felt like the epicenter of it all. He was surprised at how easily it was found, given his experiences with the other Star Maps. On the other hand, this one was easily the best guarded, so he supposed it all balanced out.
With one last look at the rocky landscape, he started his way back towards the Academy. The most important thing, at this point, was to be the best damn Sith he could be. If he wasn’t at the top of his class, there was no way he was getting into that tomb. The trick was to find a way to the top without selling his soul. That, of course, was what worried him. What he needed was to find something that was just treacherous enough...
His eyes widened slightly, and he smiled. He knew exactly what was just treacherous enough. There was the slight potential that it would get him killed, but if it didn’t, it would probably give him just enough of a leg up on the other initiates. Besides, it would be a challenge- and he was always up for a new challenge.
Treachery was the way of the Sith- and he was going to show them how the real master did it.
* * *
Following Carth’s return, he and Leiraya promptly set out to locate Dustil, with a moderate amount of subtlety. It helped that Leiraya looked the part of a Sith, but it wasn’t until sitting down with a fresh faced young man by the name of Darin in the cafeteria that they made any headway.
“Onasi? Oh yeah. He was spending most of his free time with my friend Selene.” He took a bite out of the unappetizing slop that was passed off as breakfast food. “I think he was sweet on her or something, but I guess we’ll never find out now.”
Leiraya frowned. “Why not?”
The young man chuckled softly. “I guess you haven’t been here long- people around this place sometimes disappear. Nobody really knows what happens to them. Maybe they were taken away and killed. Hell, for all we know, they could have been promoted into a secret squad of soldiers. Maybe it’s a combination of the two, who knows?” He shrugged nonchalantly. “Questions probably aren’t in our best interests, you know?”
“I can see that,” Leiraya grimaced. “So do you see him much with Selene gone?”
Darin shook his head. “Kid keeps to himself these days.”
Carth leaned forward. “Any idea where we might find him?”
“Usually he’s at meals...” Darin trailed off as he scanned the room. He gave off a satisfied noise when he spotted the object of his search, and waved his arm energetically. “Onasi!”
A young man in a crisp Sith uniform approached the table, smiling at Darin. When he turned and saw Carth, however, the smile vanished. “Darin?”
Darin’s expression dimmed slightly. “So... these guys were asking after you.”
“So I see.” Dustil kept his voice emotionless and his expression still. “Darin?”
“I think I need you to leave.”
“Sure... sure thing.” Darin looked suspiciously at Carth and Leiraya, then back at his friend. “Let me know if you need anything.” He picked up his tray and scurried away.
Dustil simply sat down across from his father. “I’m not sure what the hell you think you’re doing here.”
“I could ask you the same thing,” Carth replied evenly. “Have you noticed where you are?”
“I’m not stupid, Father.” Dustil glowered at him. “Though I’m beginning to think you might be. What’s a nice Republic officer like you doing in a Sith stronghold? Don’t you have better places to be?”
“Dustil, I... I came looking for you.” He looked pleadingly at his son. “Don’t tell me you want to be with these people. They’re the same people who killed your mother!”
“Save it,” Dustil spat angrily. “Like you even care.”
Carth’s eyes darkened dangerously. “I don’t think you have any idea.”
“Really? Tell me, Father, you’re a soldier. How many mothers have you killed?” Dustil’s voice rose in pitch, and he pointed his spoon angrily at Carth.
Carth moved as if to rise, but Leiraya grabbed his wrist. “Knock it off, both of you,” she hissed, and looked directly at Dustil. “Calm down. He’s only trying to help.”
Dustil lowered the spoon, as well as his voice. “Help? When has he ever helped me? And who the hell are you, anyway?”
“I’m with him,” she gestured towards Carth.
“How can you say that?” Carth asked. “You have no idea how long I looked for you. I looked everywhere.”
“And yet, it was the Sith that pulled me out of the rubble,” Dustil crossed his arms. “Were you even there that day?”
“I... your mother. I found her in the street. She was dying.” Carth lowered his head. “Yes, I was there. I held your mother as she died, and she told me to find you.”
Dustil snorted derisively. “Certainly took you long enough.”
“How can you even stand to be here?” Carth demanded. “The Sith are evil, Dustil. You’re not stupid; how can you not see it?”
“Evil?” Dustil laughed humourlessly. “They rescued me, Father. And did a hell of a lot more for me than you ever did.”
“Did you hear about Taris?” Carth persisted. “You have to know that your friends were responsible for that. The entire surface was destroyed. How many people do you figure died when the Sith fleet turned their cannons on the planet? Sith and Taris citizens alike, Dustil. They have no regard for life.”
Dustil seemed taken aback, but refused to concede the point. “If what you say is true, that would be disturbing. But I’ve personally seen no evidence to convince me the Sith are bad.”
“And if you did?”
“I’d think about it,” Dustil shot back. “All right. I’m not going to call anyone down on you- yet. But unless you can find some hard evidence that the Sith are as bad as you say, I’m eventually going to have to do something.”
“Believe me,” Carth stood slowly. “I’ll find it. Come on, Leiraya. We’ve got work to do.”
She rose to join him, but turned back to Dustil one last time. “Well... it was nice meeting you?”
Dustil looked at her as though she were slightly crazy, but nodded his head politely. “You too.”
The pair walked out of the cafeteria, disposing of their trays at the door. Leiraya looked up at Carth, who had a determined look fixed on his face. “This may not be the time to ask, but what kind of hard proof are you looking for?”
“I don’t know,” Carth admitted. “But we’re in a stronghold of the Sith. There has to be something here.”
“Right.” Leiraya tugged at her robes. “We’re going to need Aiden for this one.”
“He’s not a bad kid, Carth. I could sense that much.”
Carth sighed. “Thanks. I needed to hear that. But that just means we need to find something, and find it as fast as we can.”
“We will,” Leiraya assured him. “Come on, how much have we been through so far? Finding a little bit of evidence should be simple.”
“Sweetheart,” he replied, shaking his head. “If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that nothing on this mission is simple.”
I love how you ran with the encounter with Dustil. You are making the Sith and friends seem a lot more human.
Oh, Dustil! Get away! I found Leiyara and Carth cute there in the beginning. And Dac, nice fellow. It's weird seeing the Sith like this. Great post, DWH.