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Before - Legends The Road to Rediscovery (KotOR Gap Years) 5/25: Complete!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by SoA, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Jolee's going home! A wonderful update; even an old curmudgeon has a heart and you brought that out very well.
  2. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Jolee is a pretty fascinating character, and more Kashyyyk is just what he needs.


    Part 11- Restoration Beings

    “Prepare for arrival at Coruscant.”

    “Reverting to realspace in five, four, three, two, one.”

    “Engage the rear thrusters.”

    “Engaging rear thrusters.”

    The Sojourn snapped out of hyperspace in the heart of the Republic. The great, glittering sphere of Coruscant loomed large in the bridge's viewports. Innumerable ships, skyhooks, stations, and satellites ringed the planet.

    “Your orders, sir?” the helmsman called.

    “Bring her in to planetary mid-level orbit and decrease to standard orbital speed,” Admiral Carth Onasi ordered.

    “Sir!” the helmsman acknowledged and began to carry out his orders.

    “There she is, Admiral,” Lieutenant Krov said with pride. “How does it feel to back home to Coruscant?”

    Headquarters, not home, Carth corrected internally. “It's a relief, Krov,” Carth replied, staring out at the night side of the planet ahead. “I've been on tour pretty constantly since the start of this war, and the Mandalorian Wars before that. It always feels good to see Coruscant again.”

    “I know what you mean, sir,” his ever-present lieutenant replied, “Coruscant brings leave.”

    “Once the system and hardware checks are complete, you may begin the leave cycles,” Carth ordered.

    “Yes sir,” Krov nodded curtly, “Will that be all?”

    “Admiral Onasi,” the bridge communications officer called, “You are being hailed from the surface by a Jerol Onasi.”

    “Put it through to my private terminal,” he ordered.

    “Yes sir.”

    He strode towards his terminal while telling Lieutenant Krov, “Remind the men that we are on standby for reassignment.”

    “Understood, sir,” Krov saluted and strode off.

    Carth sat down heavily behind his terminal and punched the comm receiver button. What could the Acting High Governor of Telos want with me now? A blueish holoprojection of the Govenor's head and shoulders appeared over Carth's console. “Your Honor,” Carth greeted him.

    “Good morning Admiral Onasi,” Jerol began brightly. Something about him seemed much lighter than when Carth had seen him last, almost a year ago. “Congratulations on another successful campaign.”

    “Thank you, Your Honor,” Carth replied politely, more than a little baffled by the governor’s call. “What can I do for you?”

    “I asked the navy headquarters to put me through to you because I have an invitation for you,” Jerol explained, “I would like to invite you to join me in the Telos senate box for this afternoon's session. If you are not otherwise engaged, that is.”

    Carth has planned to have dinner with Ev and Dustil, but he could not refuse an invitation from the governor of his planet. “I am honored to, Governor Onasi,” he replied with a nod.

    “I am glad, Carth,” Jerol brightened further, “Today's vote is a historic one and I will be glad to have you there observing it with me.”

    “Thank you, sir,” Carth tripped over his tongue. He still had no idea what this was all about.

    “I will meet you in the northwestern valet hangar of the Republic Senate complex at half past noon,” Jerol instructed.

    “Yes, I will see you there, Your Honor,” Carth replied, stunned.

    “Thank you again, Admiral Onasi,” Jerol said, “I look forward to seeing you soon.”

    The holoprojection flickered off.

    “Great,” Carth murmured. Now he had to find his dress uniform—and cancel his date with his wife and son. One just did not turn down a personal invitation to the senate like this, from the governor of one's own planet.

    Carth docked the Ebon Hawk in the valet hangar as instructed. He hesitantly handed it over to the valet pilot and disembarked. He never trusted valets to treat his ships as well as he did.
    Outside, he glanced around the carpeted landing for Jerol Onasi, but before could find the governor, a news reporter spotted him.

    “Here comes the war hero, Admiral Carth Onasi,” the Twi'lek woman spouted to her hovering camera droid.

    Before Carth could escape, she was in front of him, pointing a microphone at his face. “Admiral Onasi,” she began brightly, “Are you here to watch the historic voting today?”

    “I believe I am,” Carth nodded, trying not to look confused. What's so historic that they're voting on today?

    “As a Telosian survivor, you must be thrilled that the proposal for the Telos Restoration Project has made it this far,” the Twi'lek reporter continued.

    Telos Restoration Project? Force! This means they're actually going to rebuild Telos! No wonder Jerol was so happy today. “Thrilled? I'm ecstatic,” Carth beamed as it hit him, “This is the best thing I've heard since 'Malak is dead.' This will go a long way in remembering all of the Telosians who died during the war.”

    “Do you think, Admiral, that restoration projects like this on other systems such as Taris or Duro will follow if the project is approved?” the reporter asked.

    “I hope so,” Carth replied, “I'm a military man, so I don't know much about what it takes to get restoration projects like this off the ground, but every planet decimated by the Mandalorians or the Sith deserved a chance to be restored in peace.”

    “Well said,” the reporter nodded, “Thank you for your time, Admiral Onasi.” She turned to the camera droid and concluded, “This was Seranaya Emm, live from the Galactic Senate. I will have more on the pending TRP vote as the afternoon progresses.”

    “There you are, Carth,” Jerol Onasi said as he strode over to Carth, the hem of his long, orange senate coat fluttering in the breeze. “That was well said.”

    “Thank you, Your Honor,” Carth bowed to him.

    “Come, I will take you to our senate box,” he invited.

    Walking side-by-side with the governor Carth, Jerol led the way through the circular halls, stairs, and lifts to the twenty-fourth floor where the Telos pod had its access point.

    “I didn't realize that today was the vote to restore Telos,” Carth admitted.

    “Where have you been, Carth?” Jerol almost laughed. “It has been all over the news.”

    “Fighting the Sith out at Daalang,” Carth replied, “I have been in hyperspace for the last four days. The Sojourn had just arrived outside Coruscant when you hailed.”

    “Ah, my apologies,” Jerol said, bowing his head, “I should have explained it to you then. After all of our lobbying and proposals, it is finally going to the Senate.”

    “You seem optimistic that the bill will pass,” Carth observed.

    “We have a lot of sympathy,” Jerol explained, nodding, “So many other systems hope to be restored as well. They see Telos as a chance to prove that a planet can be restored and livable again. If Telos succeeds, other systems will follow. The Telos Restoration Project is an expensive investment, but it is one that many have placed their hopes of success in. We already have the promise of a full partnership with Ithor to guide the operations.”

    “No one knows growing ecosystems better than the Ithorians,” Carth whistled appreciatively.

    “You are right about that,” Jerol agreed. “Ah, here we are.” He steered Carth down a short set of stairs and onto what at first appeared to be a small, rounded balcony.
    Although Carth had seen news holos of the Galactic Senate hundreds of times, this was his first visit to the senate himself. The Telos senate box was located relatively near the bottom of a conical hall with thousands of similar pods spiraling all the way up to the top at least two hundred stories higher. It was far more massive in person than any of the holos had made it seem. Carth stared out at it in awe.

    “One of the more spectacular feats of modern engineering that has been put together in the last hundred years,” Jerol said with approval.

    “You bet it is,” Cart agreed. The pods were filling up with colorful humans and aliens, some so far above that they appeared to be nothing more than colorful insects.

    “I hear rumors that there are plans to put repulsorlifts on all of these so that they can detach and float around while senators make their points,” Jerol informed him.

    Carth tried to imagine it. “That sounds like an accident waiting to happen,” Carth observed.
    “I suspect that is why it has not bee enacted yet,” Jerol agreed, “That and the current state of the Republic's budget.”

    “The budget should be well enough off to give us our restoration project, however,” a sturdy-looking woman in her fifties said, entering the senate box behind Carth and Jerol.

    “Senator Andreya Millax, good afternoon,” Jerol beamed, “This is Admiral Carth Onasi of the fame of the Battle of the Star Forge.”

    “Admiral Onasi, good to meet you at last,” she beamed. Her smile was at least as broad as Jerol's as she took Carth's hand and shook it lightly. She was dressed in an opulent orange velvet robe with voluminous sleeves over a cream silk dress. Her short, light brown hair was twisted into improbable shapes and held in place by a number of gold clasps bejeweled with more orange gems.

    “It's a pleasure to meet you, Senator,” Carth replied. He wondered just how she managed to maintain such a extravagant wardrobe with her fortune destroyed on Telos, like any other Telosian.

    A smaller woman followed the senator in, wearing a simple but elegant dress suit in more muted tones of burnt orange. “This is my assistant, Elya Peraggi,” Andreya introduced her, “She is mute.”
    “Nice to meet you, Elya,” Carth said, but when Elya did not offer her hand to be shaken, Carth performed a slight bow. He felt suddenly self-conscious in his green navy formals standing among three Telosians all declaring their love for their planet in Telosian orange.

    “I am so glad you could join us, Admiral Onasi,” Andreya admitted, “Your role in making this possible, cannot be overlooked.”

    “I beg your pardon, Senator,” Carth started to protest, “But I didn't even know about this vote until today.”

    “But you bravely faced the Sith on the front lines of the war,” she argued fluidly, “By your efforts, the Sith are defeated and Telos has a chance to rebuild. As the most prominent Telosian in the war effort, you make a powerful figurehead for hope and success.”

    “And it is because of our gratitude to you that we want you to be present here today,” Jerol concluded for her.

    “I really am honored,” Carth repeated. “I hope this turns out as well as you expect.”

    “Ah, here comes the Supreme Chancellor,” Andreya observed.

    Carth followed her gaze over the edge of their balcony. Rising up on a huge pillar from the floor of the senate chamber below came Supreme Chancellor Cressa flanked by his two aides. As he rose higher and higher, past the Telosian box, a hush began to fall on the senate from the bottom up.

    “Take a seat, please,” Andreya urged quietly.

    Carth, Jerol, and the senator's assistant seated themselves on the plush seats along the back of the pod while Andreya herself perched on a stool at the front center, in front of a small control panel and holo display.

    The chancellor's pod came to a stop at about half the full height of the senate chamber. Almost immediately, the holo screen at the front of their pod lit up with an view of the chancellor. Carth strained to see it around Andreya's massive sleeves.

    “People of the Republic,” he began, “We begin today with our vote on the Telos Restoration Project proposal. Although we have already debated in length on this, we will hear any last thoughts on the issue before taking it to vote.” Glancing down for a moment, he announced, “The chair recognizes the senator from the planet of Iridonia.”

    The screen abruptly switched to the head and shoulders of a pale Zabrak.

    “People of the Republic,” he began, deep, smooth baritone reverberating through the hall, “I speak to remind you of the precariousness of our situation now. While we are greatly scaling back our efforts against the Sith, the war is not over, and still could go on for some time. As good as this project may make us feel, it is a distraction from the more important issues we still have at hand for our fragile republic.

    “The proposed Telos Restoration Project is a risky experiment, at best. Restorations of this scale have never been attempted before. For a project of such a magnitude, we should invest in proven techniques before we sign over our treasury to an untried and likely unsuccessful endeavor.

    “I propose instead, we should work towards galactic recovery in other ways. Invest in recovery programs for our returned soldiers. Develop resettlement plans for those whose words were decimated by this war.

    “The Republic's grasp on recovery is tenuous. We do not have the resources now to invest in such a great risk as the Telos Restoration Project,” the Zabrak senator concluded, “Thank you.”

    “Thank you Senator Krem-Olen,” Chancellor Cressa nodded, “Now the chair recognizes the Acting Senator of Telos.”

    Senator Millax was already standing proudly, ready to speak. “Thank you, Chancellor Cressa,” she began pleasantly. “You have all heard me speak many times on this proposal, but today I bring you the Acting High Governor of Telos, Jerol Onasi.”

    Jerol stood and replaced her at the front of the pod. Carth glimpsed himself on the holo screen and made an effort to appear genuinely engaged and hopeful.

    “Senators, People of the Republic,” Jerol began eloquently, “I speak to you not as a man of a devastated planet but as a man of a devastated galaxy. Worlds still lie in ruins from the Mandalorian wars. Although Telos may have been one of the first planets to feel the utter destruction of the Sith, it was far from the last. The silenced cries of my people foreshadowed the innumerable voices to cry out through this war.

    “As the first to fall to the Sith, let Telos be a symbol and an example of recovery. Senator Krem-Olen speaks of unproven ecosystem recovery techniques. Let us prove them! The Ithorians have pledged their commitment to this project, and I have never seen them fail before. This will be a long process, but what we will learn from Telos's restoration will be well worth the effort. Let Telos's healing be the forerunner of galactic-wide healing. Let Telos live again.” With a curt nod, Jerol stepped back away from the mic and sat back down next to Carth again.

    “Thank you Acting High Governor Onasi,” Chancellor Cressa nodded. “If there are no other points to be made, let the voting begin.”

    No other senators submitted to speak.

    A low murmur sprouted up, up and down the senate chamber as the voting started.

    “Well done, Your Honor,” Carth complimented.

    “Thank you,” he smiled back, “But please call me Jerol, Carth.”

    Carth chuckled, “Yes, Jerol.”

    “I hope that this will not be our last chance to discuss Telos's recovery,” Jerol said.

    “I would enjoy that,” Carth agreed modestly. As a soldier, he never imagined himself becoming friends with the High Governor of his planet. “But as you have seen, I am kept very busy by my duty with the Republic Navy.”

    “I have requested,” Jerol began slowly, “that you be assigned to the Telos Restoration Project as our military adviser and commander.”

    Carth was stunned for the second time that day. “Again, I'm honored,” he managed to murmur.

    “As I have said, you are a powerful figurehead, Carth, and you are a competent and resourceful man,” Jerol complimented him.

    “All ballots are in,” one of the chancellor's aides announced.

    “My, that was quick,” Senator Andreya commented.

    “The vote is decided seventy-eight to twenty-two percent in favor of the proposed Telos Restoration Project.”

    Carth was on his feet with a triumphant fist in the air. “Yes!” he whooped.

    Beside him, Jerol grinned and clapped more subduedly. All the same, every inch of him glowed with satisfaction.

    The Telosians were not the only ones cheering either. A significant part of the senate celebrated with them. It was a victory of hope for the Republic.

    Grinning, Jerol turned to Carth. “Finally you and I will get a chance to give our wives the memorial they deserve,” he said and patted Carth on the shoulder. “We are going to get our planet back.”

    Carth felt his comlink buzz at his hip. Pulling it out of its holster, he scanned the brief page he received from the Navy Headquarters, 'Report tomorrow at 8:00 standard for reassignment.' His grin broadened as he stowed the comlink away again. “Well Jerol, it looks like you and I might be working together for a while to come,” he said.

    “Good to hear, Carth,” Jerol beamed. “Welcome to the Telos Restoration Project.”
  3. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    It's been a while, but we're back! Sadly, some funny things happened to everything posted so far in the move. But really, I'm just glad we're back. However, this does make it hard for people to catch up that were behind. Don't fear! There are other ways to catch up on the adventures of the crew of the Ebon Hawk and friends that don't involved messed up punctuation and truncated posts.

    Option #1: I keep a backup of all of my fanfiction on You can read The Road to Rediscovery here.
    Option #2: For you e-reader folks, I have uploaded a pdf file of chapters 1-11 here for your reading convenience.

    So after that little bit of inconvenience, the story continues with a bit of a career change.


    Part 12- One Pilot to Another

    Kionee parked the Viridian in the residential hangar and, leaving her ship in the capable hands of MT-412, descended the lift to her father's flat. She tapped her feet absently to the lift's jazzy jizz music. Alone in the lift, her gaze fell on her own reflection in the mirrors that wrapped around three sides of the lift chamber.

    Tall and blond with light green eyes, Kionee hardly looked her age. She feared that she would never grow into her overly-broad shoulders. Her clothes were far from fashionable as well: a pocket-bedecked flight vest over a simple collared shirt, sleeves bunched up around her elbows, and a pair of pants decked out with even more pockets. She looked like a pilot, not a young woman. Kionee sometimes wished that there was a better balance between style and practicality in flight wear. Not that she tried improving her wardrobe very often. Looking at herself, Kionee scrunched up her face in a frown. She had a reddening pimple coming in on her chin. Serves me right for not hitting the 'fresher in transit from Anaxes. She sighed. I'll never be as pretty as Laurel or Roshind.

    Just before Kionee had made the jump to Coruscant, Roshind called her to gush and celebrate that the other Nubian in her dueling circle on Corellia had finally asked her out, after months of mooning over him. Having heard Roshind's account of every little detail in the development of that relationship in the last half-year, Kionee was delighted for her sister.

    And yet, she suddenly realized how lonely she really was.

    “You'll never find anyone, Kinnie, if you don't settle down somewhere,” Roshind had teased her, “Or at least slow up, for once.”

    Maybe true, but Kionee did not want to settle down. What would she do? It was a pilot's life for her. Her brother Cash had met his fiance at a random spaceport stop. Who was to say that she could not do the same? Still, that did nothing to stop her from feeling lonely. She was glad to have her dad to visit for a few days on Coruscant. He always had a spare bedroom ready to accommodate any of his children coming to visit.

    The lift slowed to a stop and the doors slid open with a gentle hiss. Kionee's ears popped at the change in pressure. She stepped out, leaving the calm jizz music behind her. Walking along the curving corridor, Kionee came to the door of her father's flat and keyed in the passcode.
    The door slid open and Kionee hear her father talking with another man inside.

    “It really is a sign of recovery. I'm glad to see us heading in that direction, as a republic, for once in a long while.”

    “It has been one major war after another. I would like to see this peace last.”

    Kionee skirted through the entryway and towards the guest room, doing her best not to disturb them.

    “You're not worried about your career?”

    “Not with my new position with the Telos Restoration Project. And besides, soldiers all want peace just as much as anyone else. Probably more so.”

    The guest's voice suddenly struck a chord with Kionee. She veered her course and burst into the sitting room. Carth Onasi sat stiff as a soldier on the blue divan couch across from her father, who lounged cross-legged in his favorite arm chair.

    “Kionee, you made it back,” Gad exclaimed warmly and bounded up from his seat. He crossed the room in three long strides and wrapped Kionee in a tight hug. He released her and stepped back. “Look who stopped in to say hello.”

    “Carth,” Kionee started, a bit surprised, “How are you doing?” She had no idea that Carth and her father were friends now.

    “Just fine,” Carth replied, “And yourself?”

    Gad moved back to his armchair and Kionee sat herself next to Carth on the couch, sitting almost as stiffly in his presence. “Oh, I've been fine,” Kionee answered awkwardly, “Pretty busy, as usual.” What's Carth doing here anyway?

    “Your father was telling me that you have been back to Kashyyyk recently,” Carth commented. “How does it all look now?”

    “Yeah,” Kionee replied, “Zaalbar and Mission are doing great things there. The Wookiees are really starting to organize, but they still have a long ways to go. So, what have you been up to lately.” The last time they had met had to have been the victory celebration about a year ago.
    “I have been chasing the Sith from one arm of the galaxy to the other,” Carth answered, “Thankfully, that's over for me now. I have been assigned as military adviser to the Telos Restoration Project.”

    “Oh right,” Kionee exclaimed, “I saw you on the news the other night, in the senate. You must be so happy.”

    Carth cracked a smile. “I am,” he affirmed, “I never thought I'd be going home again, or that I'd have a chance to play such a substantial part in its restoration.”

    “Wow, congratulations,” Kionee marveled. Carth really was a great man, even if he didn't seem to realize it himself.

    “Actually, I came here hoping to talk to you about that,” Carth shifted the conversation.

    “About Telos?” Kionee asked.

    “Carth here called me yesterday at the office, looking for you,” Gad explained brightly, “I told him I could do one better than the Viridian's info. I could get him to you in person. It really is your lucky week, Carth.”

    Carth laughed politely. “You're right it is,” he agreed, “Anyway, Kionee, I already talked to your father about this, but I know I promised to look out for some kind of job you might like.”

    “Oh, you didn't have to worry about me,” Kionee protested quickly.

    “The Telos Restoration Project is going to need a fleet of good, trustworthy pilots,” Carth continued, “to bring the new plants and wildlife to Telos from other planets. You're exactly the sort of responsible, adaptive pilot we would be looking for.”

    “And the Viridian is already pretty well outfitted for carrying cargo like that,” her father pointed out encouragingly.

    “Uh, wow,” Kionee stammered. She had never thought of doing anything like that. “I know the project means a lot to you...” she began slowly, not sure where to go next.

    “I'm not asking you to do this for me, Kionee,” Carth assured her, “I'm offering it to you as an opportunity to try something different, if you want.”

    “I couldn't leave Rinnh imports,” Kionee protested automatically.

    “You don't need to stay with the family business your whole life, you know,” her father pointed out.

    “But I'm so established in my routes, with my clients,” Kionee made excuses.

    “I have hundreds of other pilots at my disposal, Kionee,” Gad reminded her, “Many of them have worked with your contacts before. The only delicate contact I'm not quite ready to hand over to anyone else yet is in Rwookrrorro.”

    “Well, I guess I really can't—” she started.

    “But there's no reason you can't still manage Kashyyyk's trades and try out the job Mister Onasi here is offering,” Gad interrupted.

    “I—I—” Kionee stammered.

    “Due to the difficult nature of your cargo, you would get an increase in pay from Rinnh Imports,” Carth promised.

    “I don't know...” Kionee murmured.

    “Think of this as another chance for an adventure, Kionee,” Gad urged, “Think what a cannok in your hold would look like.”

    “Cannoks?” Kionee asked, wrinkling her nose at the idea of those ugly predators in the belly of her Viridian.

    Carth nodded. “Onderon is one of the worlds in the running for a source ecosystem,” he explained. “Some others are Ithor itself, Felucia, Rodia, or even Kashyyyk.”

    “Those really are all gorgeous worlds,” Kionee said approvingly.

    “A lot is still up in the air still,” Carth qualified, “But I wanted to invite you as soon as I had a chance. It will take at least several more months to set up operations on Telos and ready the planet for a new ecosystem.”

    By shipping for TRP, Kionee could help in breathing new life into a dead planet, all-but-destroyed by the Sith. She remembered the day Telos fell. She remembered the heartbreak of yearning to do something—anything to help those people on that planet. Had she gone numb to that feeling in her promise to stay out of the war with the Sith? There were still millions of homeless Telosians, heartsick and homesick, waiting to return home. Kionee felt a twinge in her own chest, thinking about it. “You know what?” Kionee started again with renewed vision, “I'll give it a go, as long as I can still work part-time with Rinnh Imports.”

    Both Carth and Gad smiled, satisfied with her decision.

    “I'm glad to have you aboard, Kionee,” Carth said, “I can send you a contract as soon as we have a timeline for when freighters like you will be needed. What is the best way for me to get a hold of you?”

    “You could hail me on the Viridian,” Kionee thought out loud, “But I spent an awful lot of time in hyperspace. Probably passing on a message through Dad is the best way to make sure I get it.”

    “Got it,” Carth nodded. He glanced at his chrono and winced. “I hate to run off on you already, but I have an appointment in the senate district in an hour.”

    “Then we won't hold you any more,” Kionee said apologetically.

    “You won't join us for dinner?” Gad invited good-naturedly.

    “Thanks, but I really can't,” Carth replied, standing. “It was good to see you Kionee, Gad. I will be in contact with you when I know more. I look forward to working with you.”

    “Thanks for thinking of me,” Kionee said. He has a lot of more important things to be thinking about.

    “And thank you for stopping by,” Gad added, standing to see him off, “Feel free to drop in again some time.”

    “I will, thanks,” Carth said and raised his hand in a quick wave before heading for the door. He let himself out without another word.

    Gad sat down again and smiled fondly at his daughter.

    “You think I made the right decision?” Kionee asked.

    “I expected no less from you,” he replied.

    “I just can't leave Rinnh Imports,” Kionee explained, as if he did not already understand how she felt.

    “You know,” her dad pointed out, “you don't have to stay with Rinnh all your life. Just because this is my dream doesn't mean that it has to be yours.”

    “I know, but...” Kionee started weakly. She never had a good answer when the conversation turned this way.

    “Sometimes I worry about you, kid,” Gad admitted, “You lock yourself into this job without giving yourself the room to dream for yourself. I'm glad you took that new job, if only part-time. I know there's more up in that noggin of yours than a simple pilot-for-life. You've just got to find out what it is, and you're not going to do that by doing the same thing you've always been doing.”

    Kionee looked down at her shoes uncomfortably. “I know, Dad,” she murmured. “And I do want to do this, after all.”

    “Good,” he said firmly, “Now, perk up. I've made enough nerf and corn casserole for the both of us to eat that we'll still have enough left-overs for Emtee to stare at.”

    Kionee grinned, “I love you, Dad. It's good to be back.”

    “I love you too, sweetie,” he beamed.

    Next time: more Canderous.​
  4. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    So, I'm starting up with weekly-ish posting again, rather than waiting for replies. This story is more or less done, so I want to get it out there so I can keep posting new things. :D

    Invisible readers, if you want me to slow down with the posting, let me know.


    Part 13- A Mandalorian Without Armor

    Mandalorian Neo Crusaders swarmed all around her. She had three of her best Jedi at her back; Bryony, Ferroh, and Malak. The odds were overwhelming. Any other Jedi would feel death and oneness with the Force drawing imminently closer, but she was the Revanchist. Nothing was impossible. Death could not touch her.

    The four Revanchists beat their way forward and she was at the head of it all. Seen through the narrow slits of a helmet, the army of Mandalorian warriors hardly seemed to be a threat. They would win the day against these war-hungry bucket-heads once again.

    Then why was she so afraid?

    There had to be some reason for that feeling that haunted her...

    Ev woke drenched in a cold sweat. She was dreaming again. But Ev was not fool enough to believe that these were just dreams. Unlike the visions of the star maps that Bastila had desperately fished for through their bond, these visions were rising up on their own. Whatever the Jedi masters had done to her was beginning to wear thin. Ev was remembering.

    Ev peeled her sheets off her body and sat up stiffly in bed. It was morning, but she felt exhausted, as if she truly had been fighting for her life all night long.

    The dream visions always left her feeling like this. She couldn't will them to happen and she couldn't will them not to happen. They came when they would and left her with little more than frustrating snippets of her past.

    All the same, they were occurring with increasing frequency these days, as often as twice a week. Usually, they had to do with one war another, but there were always vital pieces missing. Occasionally a vision of her childhood on Dantooine would flash by in her sleep. Even in those visions, Ev could still feel the weight of her own destiny hang heavily over her every move like a dense fog. All of the visions were frustratingly disjointed, blurred at the edges.

    It all seemed so disconnected from one dream to the next. There was one feeling, however, that tied them all together: fear. The Revanchist was afraid. Revan knew there was something terrible behind the Mandalorians, but she could not pinpoint just what.

    She did not dare speak of these visions with anyone, not even Bastila or Carth. It would only worry them. Ev was glad that Bastila was making efforts to narrow their connection. She would hate for Bastila to share these dreams with her now.

    Ev sighed and swung her legs over the edge of a bed. She may feel like an industrial construction droid had just run her over, but she still had the day to face and Dustil to train. A cold shower and a hot cup of caff would wake her up enough to be functional.

    Dragging one food after the other, Ev crossed the room, slung a lose robe over her shoulders for a bit more decency, and grabbed a towel. She slothed out into the corridor and headed for the 'freshers.

    As she trudged up to the first corner, suddenly a bronzed assassin droid leaped out into attack position with a blaster rifle pointed at her. “Exclamation: Ah ha!”

    HK,” Ev slurred blearily.

    Query: Did I startle you this time, Master?” HK-47 asked hopefully, lowering the weapon and straightening up.

    It's too early to startle me,” Ev replied flatly.

    Query: But is it too early for you to defend yourself?” HK asked and made a sudden lunge at her.

    Ev instantly drew in the Force and side-stepped easily, faster than the battle-honed droid could strike, and with a casual flip of her right hand, Force-shoved the droid back against the wall, his metal feet screeching against the stone floor.

    Observation: It appears not. I cannot defeat you, Master, even in the morning,” HK-47 concluded as he righted himself a again, somewhat disappointed.

    Good,” Ev replied irritably, “I'm your maker after all.” It was an amazing concession that the Jedi let her keep HK-47 around. The droid was an antithesis to nearly everything they stood for. Ev managed to keep him entertained by challenges like these and encouraging him to patrol the area surrounding the Jedi Temple, looking for anything suspicious.

    Statement: I saw someone you might be interested in these last few days,” HK-47 teased her with minimal facts.

    Ev did not give him the satisfaction of knowing it bothered her. “Oh?” she asked, shifting her weight from one bare foot to the other.

    Statement: That Mandalorian is hanging around again,” HK-47 admitted.

    Canderous,” Ev nodded. Somehow, her drowsy head made a connection between Canderous and her most recent dream. Logic couldn't explain the draw, but suddenly she knew she had to go see him. “HK, I have an idea. Come with me.”

    Acquiescence: Yes Master,” HK replied and followed Ev back into her room.

    While moments before, Ev's mind had been muddled and cloudy, now her braid clicked methodically through her newly-formed plans. “I'm going to see Canderous,” she stated, “Where was he hanging around?”

    Admonition: Sneaking out of the Temple again, now, Master?” HK mock-scolded.

    HK,” Ev retorted impatiently and crossed her arms, “I asked a question.”

    Statement: That you did, Master, and I will answer it,” HK recited evenly, “Response: He was last sighted two hours ago in a seedy cantina by the name of 'Jumper Plug' on level four hundred twenty-seven, two blocks east of the Jedi Temple.”

    Thank you, HK,” Ev nodded. It was the same area she had seen Canderous in the last three times they had met. “And now I have a new assignment for you. While I'm out, I need you to stay here and pretend to be me so no one notices that I'm gone.”

    Statement: Go away! I hate mornings!” HK's vocal pitch was so close to Ev's that it was uncanny. He switched back to his usual voice, “Query: How was that, Master?”

    Just fine, if you would drop the 'statement' tag,” Ev suppressed a laugh.

    Explanation: I was programmed this way, Master,” HK explained wearily. “Supposition: You could change that, Master, if you so chose.”

    Probably,” Ev replied, “But not this morning, anyway. I've got to run if I don't want anyone to notice that I've gone.”

    Request: Please do hurry back, Master. I shall be terribly bored remaining in your room all morning,” HK whined.

    Ev snorted but did not reply. She took her quick trip to the 'fresher then dressed in Coruscanti street clothes before taking her usual winding route through the little-used climate control maintenance tunnel and sneaked out of the Jedi Temple.

    Using public lifts and walkways, Ev descended several levels. No one gave her any second glances as she sifted through the crowd. She enjoyed the anonymity of the Coruscant streets. She never carried her lightsabers when she went out. She did not need them. Even if she ran into any unsavory situations, Ev knew at least a hundred other ways to get herself out of trouble without the use of her Jedi weapons. Without them or her Jedi robes, Ev was indistinguishable from any other Coruscanti citizen.

    Within ten minutes, Ev arrived at the Jumper Plug. HK was right in calling it seedy. The aromas that seeped out were not the sort to make a human feel hungry; rather the opposite. Ev hoped that those particular smells were appetizing to at least some kind of alien. Even the lights were dim at this time in the morning. Ev wondered if the Rodian collapsed over the table in the dingy back corner was dead or just asleep. Neither would surprise her in this place.

    Stepping just to the doorway but not inside, Ev scanned the cantina. Canderous was not inside. That did not surprise her either. It had already been three hours since HK had spotted him. He could not have gone far, however.

    Ev crossed to the other side of the pedestrian walkway and released the breath she had been holding. The walkway was busy at this time of the morning, but not crowded. It was enough for her to get lost in but not bumped into as she closed her eyes and reached out with the Force through all the buzzing life around her. Each person had its own spark and destination, but only one in the immediate area was familiar to her: Canderous. She found him.

    Ev opened her eyes again and turned back the way she had come. Half a block away was a tap caff called The Jolly Mando. Its sign showed a yellow-armored Neo Crusader cheerfully holding out a mug of caff on a china saucer. Ev shook her head. No one would stand for that even five years ago. It's amazing how fast the public forgets the terror of their enemies. I wonder how Canderous stands it.

    Ev did not need to look inside to know that Canderous was already there, sipping at his own caff. She walked straight in and to the counter.

    Whath can I geth you?” the Rodian in a neat apron behind the counter asked.

    Give me the regular Jolly, black, and an order of flat cakes,” Ev requested decisively.

    Thath will be sikth crediths,” she replied and punched in Ev's order.

    Ev dug into her hip pouch and produced the required credits. She handed them over and took a mug of caff from the cashier in exchange. “Your flath cakes will be broughth tho you shorthly,” she explained.

    Ev nodded and walked with her mug—the same sunny yellow color as the armor of Cassus Fett—directly towards Canderous' small table by the window. He was already staring, bemused, at her.

    May I join you?” she asked him, a twinkle in her eye.

    Have a seat, Ev. All I have to do is skulk around this area for a night and you're here having breakfast with me in the morning,” Canderous observed. “I don't know how you do it.”

    It's HK-47,” Ev explained, taking her seat and letting her mug fall heavily onto the table. “I keep him busy prowling the temple district and looking for anything suspicious.”

    I'm suspicious then, am I?” Canderous asked ruefully over his plate of biscuits and gravy.

    I don't know,” Ev shrugged, but there was still that mischievous glint in her eyes. “What is a Mandalorian doing skulking around the Jedi Temple? Selling caff?”

    Ha,” Canderous barked.

    So what have you been up to?” Ev asked after a sip of her caff. “Thinking about me again?”

    Canderous chuckled, “You don't think I would come to hang out in this area for my own reasons?”

    Ev narrowed her eyes and stared intensely at Canderous for a moment, reaching out and searching for his motives. “No,” she replied plainly, and sat back in her chair.

    I can't fool you, can I?” Canderous cracked a slight smile.

    No, you really can't,” Ev parried back, “But you already know that.”

    Here are your flat cakes ma'am,” a serving droid wheeled over and deposited the steaming plate onto the table in front of Ev.

    Thank you,” she told the droid and immediately dug into the stack of flat cakes with her fork. She looked intensely at Canderous again and asked, “So, what's on your mind.”

    Next week will be a year from the day you killed Malak,” Canderous observed.

    Yeah,” Ev agreed between bites, “That kriffing Bothan from the Chancellor's office keeps trying to get me to make some big appearance and encouraging speech at the one-year anniversary.”

    Will you?” Canderous asked.

    Not if I can get Bastila or Juhani to do it,” Ev shook her head. “Now that I've gotten out of the public's eye, I want to stay out.”

    I don't blame you,” Canderous agreed.

    So?” Ev asked, but when Canderous did not explain himself further, she added, “Have you gotten a steady job yet?”

    Krekk Lompson, the Iridonian Exchange boss of this part of Coruscant hired me to bash around some trouble-makers and collect debts,” Canderous answered indifferently.

    Like what you used to do for Davik on Taris,” Ev observed, “I thought you hated that.”

    I need to do something to pay the bills,” Canderous said with a shrug, but Ev detected restless unhappiness beneath the veneer of indifference. “And he pays me even better than Davik did.”

    Does he know you killed Davik on Taris and stole his ship?” Ev asked pointedly.

    Yeah,” he nodded, “And that's why he's paying me so much. I never thought I'd say this, but he's rewarding me for acts of dishonor, and I don't like it.”

    So now you see what a bunch of dishonorable scum-bags the Exchange is run by,” Ev said.

    It's not that I didn't before,” Canderous qualified, “But I like it a whole lot less now.”

    You really aren't meant for this life, Canderous,” Ev replied.

    What else can a Mandalorian do in this day and age?” Canderous demanded, his quiet frustration rising, “Sell caff?” He trust his hand indignantly in direction of the Jolly Mando sign. “And why did Carth get the ship anyway? I stole her for you.”

    He's my husband, that's why,” Ev replied shortly with an eyebrow raised in challenge.

    Canderous sighed and leaned back in his seat, “Sometimes I envy that man.”

    Don't go there, Canderous,” Ev warned icily.

    Hey, only sometimes,” he chuckled, but Ev could see that he was unnerved by her steely glare. Good. “What have the Jedi been keeping you busy with lately?” Canderous asked, deflecting the conversation.

    Not much,” Ev admitted with a shrug. “I took Carth's son as my padawan, so now most of my time is taken up with training him.”

    Now, I thought the Jedi were so few that they would need every last one out on some mission or another, cleaning up the mess left by your war,” Canderous supposed, “Especially Jedi like you.”

    Ev wondered just what he meant by 'your war,' but she kept that to herself. “You would think,” she replied dryly. “In essence, they don't trust me and they're not letting me out of their sight.”

    Rough,” Canderous sympathized tersely, “And stupid.” He paused, then stared directly at her, saying, “You and I aren't made for peace times.”

    No, we aren't,” Ev agreed, “But we have one.”

    Do they think you're going to remember what it was like to be Darth Revan and switch sides again?” Canderous asked.

    They fear that,” Ev nodded, “yes.”

    Do you remember any?” he asked pointedly.

    With Canderous sitting in front of her, Ev could not lie to him or to his honor. When it came down to it, she had no reason to. Canderous would not fear her or worry about her. It was almost as if he expected this as a part of who she was.

    Reflexively, she reached out with the Force to see if anyone from the Temple was trailing her or if someone was paying undue attention to her and Canderous. There was nothing.

    In a low voice, she finally answered, “I have been dreaming.”

    Dreaming about memories?” Canderous asked.

    Yes,” Ev nodded gravely, “But only bits and pieces. It is more frustrating than it is illuminating, though I am beginning to understand what it felt like to be Revan.”

    Good,” Canderous said firmly, “I'm glad that the Jedi did not destroy the best strategist of our age. It's good to know you're still in there.”

    Did we ever fight on the same battlefield, Canderous?” Ev asked. It was a question she could have asked many times before, but did not really want to know the answer until now.

    I wouldn't be alive if we had,” he answered with a chuckle.

    Fair,” Ev nodded. Ev tried to remember her dream from that night, but it oozed and slipped from her mental grasp. “Can I ask you something, Canderous?” Ev asked.

    You can ask. I will probably answer,” Canderous replied, “What do you want to know?”

    Why did the Mandalorian Clans really go to war?” Ev asked, “Every memory I can recall is shadowed by a fear of something greater and more sinister than just the clans.”

    Like they say,” Canderous explained, “It was a test of our might, a chance to prove our glory in battle.” He could see Ev was not satisfied. “But I doubt Mandalore would have mobilized all the clans like he did without urging from the Sith,” he added quietly after checking to see that no one was listening in.

    The Sith,” Ev caught her breath. The wave of cold, numbing, and yet mobilizing fear that caught her in that moment mirrored the nagging feelings she always had in her dreams. “But that doesn't make any sense. Revan's Sith did not exist yet at the time of the start of your war. And Exar Kun's Sith were wiped out. Besides, they were just a bunch of Tetan brats overly interested in the arcane and a couple of Force ghosts of ancient, long-dead Sith Lords.”

    Don't look at me,” Canderous shrugged, “All I know is that the Sith were involved. Whoever they were, they invited Mandalore to attack the Outer Rim and the Republic, and it was a challenge he took to prove our honor.”

    They why doesn't the galaxy know about this already?” Ev asked.

    Only top ranking Mandalorians knew that Mandalore the Ultimate had anything to do with the Sith,” Canderous replied, “Mandalore was the ultimate authority. He would loose respect if the clans suspected he was taking orders from someone else. I only heard Cassus Fett mention it just the once.”

    Huh,” Ev nodded. The cold fear gripped at hear heart again. “Then that means that there are other Sith still out there, separate from Revan and Malak's Sith. The Galaxy is not out of danger yet.”

    But they're quiet, aren't they?” Canderous observed.

    The quiet threats are the most dangerous ones,” Ev asserted quietly. She took a sip of her caff. It was beginning to get cold.

    Canderous watched her and started to smile. “I can see you're thinking,” he observed.

    There has to be someone closer to Mandalore who would know more about his connection to the Sith,” Ev thought out loud.

    You're looking at probably one of the highest ranking Mandalorians that survived past Malachor V,” Canderous pointed out.

    Ev sighed, but she was already filled with a new resolve. Until she disproved the existence of Mandalore's Sith, they were a threat to the Republic. In that moment, she knew that she would not truly rest again until that threat was eliminated.

    If the Sith struck now, the Republic would be obliterated. Battle weary, broken, and off-guard, the Republic was in no condition to fight off another enemy. Nor were the Jedi. There were just too few and the leadership was too bogged down by tradition and in-fighting. There was no strength left in the galaxy. Even the Mandalorians were scattered and gone from the plays of power.

    A thought struck her. “Then why don't you bring the clans back together?” Ev asked.

    Reunite the clans?” Canderous asked. “Why should I?”

    Because Revan is asking you to,” Ev replied, fixing her dark gaze on him. She knew Canderous could not refuse such a request from Revan herself. She continued, “Because I have a feeling that there is still a danger lurking out there and that it could rip the galaxy to bits. Because the Mandalorians really are a great force and may be the only hope for the galaxy when the time comes. Because Mandalorians are not meant to be mercenaries and thugs. They are meant to be warriors.”

    Canderous stared at her skeptically. “Why would they listen to me?” he asked, “I was just fighting on the side of the Republic. That is the kind of news that got around fast, even if I didn't go on your glitzy victory tour.”

    Because you were all over the publicity material,” Ev replied, “If they didn't know who you were beforehand, now they do. Even bad press, as you would call it, is publicity.”

    First Revan destroys the Mandalorian clans by taking Mandalore's helmet and denying us our leader,” Canderous muttered, “And now she asks me to reunite the clans again. Without a Mandalore, it will be almost impossible, and without Mandalore's mask, a new Mandalore cannot be chosen.”

    That, I can work on,” Ev promised. “But will you do it?”

    I'll think about it,” Canderous replied elusively, but she knew he had already decided.

    You do that,” Ev nodded. “And now I have to get back to the Temple before someone realizes that that's HK in my room and not me taking a lazy morning.”

    Canderous chuckled. “You know how to find me,” he replied.

    Ev stood, draining her mug of cold caff then slamming the cup down onto the table. Without another word, she turned and left.

    Canderous remained behind, deep in thought.


    So when the Revan preview chapters came out last spring, there was one in which Revan and Canderous go to a restaurant on Coruscant and talk about the mask and reuniting the clans. My first reaction was, 'WTF Karpyshyn? I already wrote that chapter, and I did a better job!' It helps that Ev actually has personality.

    And this is the tipping point. Don't expect Ev to be entirely sane hereafter.
  5. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Part 14- Names of the Dead

    Carth woke before dawn. A near lifetime of military schedules had long since trained him out of sleeping in. Even at this hour, speeders whizzed past his apartment, casting shifting lines on the wall through the slitted window shades as they passed by.

    But that was a whole world away. Inside his room, all was silent and calm. The only sound outside the beating of his own heart was the soft breathing of his wife beside him. He rolled over onto his side and gazed at her beautiful, serene form. In moments like these, Carth was able to forget that Ev was anything more than just that: his wife, the woman he loved.

    He had cherished these few weeks of leave and followed by meetings with the Telos Restoration Project Council on Coruscant. It allowed him and Ev more time together than either had hoped for when they first decided to marry. That would soon change. Although he had not received the order yet, Carth knew he would soon be taking the Sojourn to Telos for a very long assignment.

    Carth resisted the urge to pull Ev into his arms and ignore the rapidly approaching morning. He had to be ready to meet with the TRP council in a scant few hours and Ev had to return to the Jedi Temple before anyone noticed she was gone. He rolled out of bed and padded across the soft carpet to the 'fresher for a nice, long shower.

    When he came out again, Ev was awake and sitting before his computer terminal, wrapped hap-haphazardly in a sheet. Seeing him in only a towel, Ev neither smiled nor flirted like she usually did. Her eyes were glued to the screen. She flicked her gaze up at him and said, “You left yourself logged in last night.”

    Carth moved behind her to see what had her so transfixed. Lines of text zipped down the terminal faster than he could read them. “What's this?” he asked. What could Ev want access to that she could not get without his level of security clearance?

    I am compiling a list of all the known deaths from this war; military, Sith, and civilian,” Ev replied quietly. Her voice seemed so small.

    There must be millions,” Carth marveled.

    No Carth,” she countered and met his gaze. “There are trillions.” Never since meeting Ev aboard the Endar Spire had Carth seen such a look of despair in her eyes.


    Yeah, yeah, I'm happy as a tak on a log here,” Jolee said. A projection of his blue-ish colored bust hovered over Ev's comm terminal. “They've got me set up in a special 'human-sized' guest lodge. It's almost like they're back to thinking I'm some forest god or something.”

    Ev laughed, “I bet you miss your hole under that log down in the Shadowlands.”

    Jolee chuckled dryly. “I went back down there, you know,” he said, “and I had to shoo a nest of kinrath out of my living room. There wasn't much left worth moving up here.”

    But you had to see it,” Ev observed.

    I had to see it to be sure that leaving that nice cozy place wasn't the dumbest thing I've done this half of the century,” Jolee snorted.

    And?” Ev asked.

    And now I'm the Jedi Watchman of this sector,” Jolee deflected the question, “It's like they're saying, 'Jolee, if you're going to hang out in the woods like some crazy hermit, you might as well be useful.' They're sending me off to check on a conflict on Trandosha at the end of this week. Now that's got to be messy.”

    Have fun,” Ev laughed, “I'm sure it's not anything you can't handle. At least Trandoshans don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they get angry.”

    But they do have a nasty bite when you get 'em mad,” Jolee countered.

    Nothing you can't handle,” Ev repeated with a grin.

    The things you get me into,” Jolee shook his head. “Now, I know this isn't just a pleasure call. You said you had something to ask me about, so ask me. I'm a very busy Jedi.”

    Sure you are,” Ev snorted.

    Well?” Jolee asked, “I might just keel over and expire here waiting for you to come to the point.”

    Right,” Ev nodded, then jumped into the real reason for her call, “Jolee, I was wondering just how much you knew about me as Revan, or even before that.”

    I thought you should be able to do better math than that,” Jolee retorted, “By the time you were Revanchist-ing around the galaxy like some justice-possessed crusader, I was crashed and happily burrowed under my log.”

    And before then?” she pressed, disappointed by Jolee's unwillingness to help.

    I left the Jedi Order before you were born, kiddo,” Jolee shot back. “I knew your face and your voice because I did see it on the HoloNet before my generator ran dry down there in the Shadowlands and I gave up on depressing news. I never forget a face.”

    Right,” Ev sat back with a sigh. Another dead-end.

    Didn't give you want I want, did I?” Jolee observed.

    It's just, it seems like the Jedi have purged practically everything about me from the archives,” Ev complained. “I have to know more about my past and about the wars.”

    Oh, they never throw anything away. They've probably got it locked up in some top-secret private library of theirs,” Jolee said disdainfully, “Now they start pretending like history is dangerous. You might do better by looking at other archives. The University of Coruscant, for one. Carth could probably get you into the navy archives too. There might even be some old Jedi that were actually around when you were growing up who aren't as stuffy as that Vrook Lamar.”

    Thanks Jolee,” Ev nodded. It was not as if she had not thought of all of those ideas before herself, but it was refreshing to have someone talk straight to her.

    If that's it,” Jolee said, “Freyyr is calling.”

    Yeah, that's it,” Ev nodded, “Thanks Jolee. Take care of yourself.”

    I'll let the Force do that for me,” Jolee replied with a crooked smile and signed off.


    Ev trailed behind Carth through the Republic Navy Headquarters at a respectful distance. Only a few heads turned at the passage of a Jedi through the halls. Ev, for her part, wore the most generic Jedi robes she could find. Contrary to the complaints and observations of many, Ev did own a couple sets of boring, brown Jedi robes. Now, she wore them to look every bit the harmless, studious Jedi she hoped to come across as.

    Ev and Carth exchanged few words on their tour through the navy headquarters other than an occasional, “This way.”

    Finally, they found the archives, tucked away in a back corner. It was a tightly-packed, insufficiently-lit hall with high, vaulted ceilings. Cataloger droids hovered and zipped down the narrow aisles between towering shelves of holodisk records. Directly in front of the doorway Ev and Carth entered through sat a middle-aged man in a crisp lieutenant's uniform. A neatly pressed sleeve hung loosely off his left shoulder where his arm once had been. His right arm was fully functional, however, and he saluted them with it.

    What can I do for you, Admiral?” he asked, seeing Carth's uniform.

    This is Jedi Knight Ev Pell,” Carth explained and Ev stepped forward to the desk. “She is conducting research on the Revanchist and her group's involvement in the last two wars.”

    The Jedi Archives have tragically lost much of their material on the Revanchist,” Ev added, hoping that the lieutenant was not the hero-worshiping sort that would recognize her face from all of the publicity materials of a year ago. “So I have been forced to take my research elsewhere.”

    I see,” he nodded.

    I have granted her full clearance up to my level,” Carth added.

    I see,” the archivist said again. He leaned over and punched a combination into the key pad of a spherical cataloger droid that sat on the table beside him. With a quick beep, it sprung up off the table and unfolded a pair of spindly arms from its body. “QR-4M13 will assist you in finding what you need,” he explained, “You will find the private reading rooms in the back of the archives, Jedi Knight Pell. Will that be all, Admiral Onasi?”

    Yes, thank you,” Carth nodded. Turning to Ev, he added, “I hope you find what you're looking for.”

    Thank you, Admiral,” Ev replied curtly, keeping her face blank.

    Carth wished he knew just what it was that she so desperately wanted to find out.


    Like every morning, Ev guided Dustil through lightsaber exercises. Now, they used live sabers almost every day, and almost always used both of hers against him. Dustil—and all the apprentices from Korriban—favored makashi over all the other forms, so Ev did all she could, switching from form to form, to force him into more creative tactics.

    Switching rapidly from the leaps of ataru to the measured, steady strikes of shii-cho, Ev kept Dustil on the offensive. His blue lightsaber hissed against the purple saber in her right hand and the red saber in her left. Ev spun away from Dustil, but he leaped towards her, quickly closing the gap. Feeling it was time to up the challenge, Ev moved to bring her left saber into full play. It was time to use both sabers aggressively. She shifted her weight onto her right foot and swung in with her left saber. Instead of defending against the new threat, Dustil made a powerful strike at her right saber, while Pushing at her with his left hand. Ev lost her footing and stumbled, the violet lightsaber flying from her grasp. It extinguished itself and clattered to the floor. In an instant, Dustil had his lightsaber pointed at her chest, poised to kill.

    Well done,” Ev complimented, her eyes wide in surprise at the sudden turning of the tables. Dustil was getting better, but that trick should not have worked on her. “You really got me that time.” She extinguished her second lightsaber and waited for Dustil to switch his own off.

    With a laugh, Dustil Pulled Ev's purple saber towards him. It flew into his left hand and lit up at his touch. “So now that I've got you once when you've got both sabers going,” Dustil asked triumphantly, “are you going to teach me how to double-wield?”

    Yes,” Ev breathed. Somehow, Dustil's live saber still pointed lazily at her abdomen sent a nervous chill down her spine. “But not today. I think I've had enough for the morning.”

    Aw,” Dustil whined, “I was just getting going.” Even so, he obediently extinguished both sabers. Finally, Ev was able to relax. Turning the hilt towards his master, Dustil respectfully handed Ev's saber back to her.

    Thank you,” she said, clipping it back to her belt. She pushed herself up off of the ground and stood stiffly. “You may be raring to go, but I need a break.”

    Dustil squinted at her. He did that every time he tried to reach out with both the Force and his own internal reasoning at the same time. “Ev, what's the matter?” he asked suddenly, “You really are off today. I almost got you three times before that too. I know you're supposed to be one of the best duelists in the Order.”

    Ev took a deep breath and let it out in a slow sigh. “I'm sorry Dustil,” she admitted, “I must be tired today, and it is taking away from your training. I was out late last night doing my research at the HoloNet news archives.”

    Out late?” Dustil asked, “Oh, come on. I'm up late almost every night and you don't see me making a mess on the dueling floor.”

    That is a matter of perspective, Dustil,” Ev retorted with an eyebrow raised.

    Really, Ev,” Dustil pressed, “How late were you out?”

    I didn't get back to the Temple until almost five this morning,” Ev admitted reluctantly.

    Five? Seriously Ev,” Dustil scolded, “You need to get more sleep. Your research can't be that important, can it? You've been spending more time in archives this week than you have training me.”

    Here I am,” Ev marveled sarcastically, “my Padawan giving me a lecture on healthy sleep habits.”

    No, I'm serious,” Dustil said stubbornly, “You go get some rest or something and I'll go find someone else to spar with.”

    Dustil,” Ev began to protest, using her assertive 'master' voice with him, but he blew her off.

    See you after lunch, Ev,” he replied firmly and strode off towards the other end of the practice room where a few other students were sparring.

    Instead of a nap, Ev felt the burning desire to go back over her notes again. She was getting closer and closer to a picture of her younger self. So many trails and leads were getting nearer to their end. Urgency gnawed at her, but she could not place why. Sighing, Ev slumped her shoulders and turned for the exit.

    Dustil was right. She needed more sleep. She headed back towards her quarters, half-hoping that sleep would bring more dream-memories with it.


    Private Elbom Ranelwo, age 25, Chandrilla, died in combat, Battle of Gizer. Private Quan Linkthon, age 24, Belnar, died in combat, Battle of Gizer,” Ev read, mumbling to herself, “Private Laurlie Spencer, age 27, Coruscant, died in combat, Battle of Gizer. Private Juterub Lanth, age 27, Sullust, died in combat, Battle of—”

    Ev, there you are,” Juhani started Ev out of her reverie. She wound around the garden path and glided over to the bench where Ev was sitting.

    Ev hastily put aside the datapad she had been reading and stood to greet Juhani. “Juhani, you're back,” Ev said warmly, “How was your trip?”

    Embracing briefly, Juhani answered, “It was enlightening. I do not know what I expected and I cannot explain what I felt, but I know I am moving forward.”

    That's good hear,” Ev replied, somewhat distractedly.

    My people are rebuilding,” Juhani explained and sat down with Ev, “There is hope for Cathar. After walking on the world of my birth, I feel that I have cleansed much of my anger and hatred from me. I have found my roots again.”

    And planted deep,” Ev observed, “I sense a calm in you that you didn't have before leaving.”

    Seeing the datapad on the bench beside Ev, she asked, “What was that you were reading when I came. I hope I did not interrupt you.”

    Ah, no you didn't,” Ev affirmed quickly.

    Juhani's sharp eyes scanned the pad from where she sat. “That is a list of war casualties,” she realized, “Why are you pouring over the dead?”

    They are the dead of the late Mandalorian Wars and early Jedi Civil war,” Ev explained, “They are my dead.”

    Your dead?” Juhani asked.

    Mandalorians who died under the guns of my fleet. Good Republic soldiers who died against my Sith. Civilians whose worlds burned beneath my unyielding might. Jedi who thought they could stand against us. Sith men and women who I stole from their their homes to my cause, only to die in my service,” Ev replied, “All of them are my dead. I killed them.”

    That wasn't you,” Juhani protested, “You are a new person now.”

    Holding her hands up before her, Ev stared down at them as she had many times before. They were so small, and yet they held so much responsibility. “These hands, Juhani, these hands still killed trillions, whether I remember it or not,” she replied distantly, “History remembers. These people's families remember.”

    And by reading their names, you are trying to remember,” Juhani assessed.

    Something like that, but not quite,” Ev failed to explain.

    You hope that by reading all these names, you will be cleansed,” Juhani grasped it. She understood.

    Ev nodded. “I cannot pretend that they never existed just because they do not now,” Ev replied, “I need to do their memories service, and this is the best I can think of.”

    Juhani shook her head and placed a hand on Ev's shoulder. “Ev, be careful of guilt,” she warned gently, “That leads to the Dark Side. You cannot let the past consume you. Those trillions of long-dead voices could drown out what is here and now.”

    I will be careful,” Ev promised, “But this is something I have to do if I am ever going to move on.”

    Juhani sighed and gazed over Ev's lap at the datapad. That Ev would attempt something so daunting and yet so noble was beyond her. And yet, it frightened her. Where was the calm she last felt in Ev before her trip to Cathar? What had changed and why? Uncomfortably, she changed the subject, “I have decided to take on a Padawan as well.”

    Good,” Ev smiled, “You will be an excellent master, Juhani, and the order needs as many masters as it can get at the moment. Have you decided who?”

    Shasa,” Juhani replied, “She is skilled and has a temperament to match mine.”

    I'd worry about someone with the same temperament as you,” Ev teased, “But Shasa really does mesh with you. Have you told her yet?”

    Not yet,” Juhani shook her head, “But I plan to soon.”


    Bastila watched Ev from across the atrium. Ev knew that she was coming to meet her, and yet she showed no sign of noticing that Bastila was so near. Ev was always sharply aware of her surroundings. Now, she only stared fixatedly at the datapad in her hands. It was as if nothing else mattered.

    Ev's unresponsiveness was not the only thing that gave Bastila cause for concern. Ev was trying to shut her out. Day by day, she was feeling less and less over their bond. Before, Bastila had been backing off to give Ev more privacy, particularly in her relationship with Carth, but now it was Ev pulling back as well. Bastila still felt the uneasiness, fear, and guilt seeping over their bond and she knew that her friend was not well inside.

    Taking a deep breath, Bastila crossed the atrium to where Ev was sitting. Ev finally looked up, smiling at her and quickly tucking away the datapad. As Ev stood to greet her, Bastila could sense something eating away at her beneath that easy smile. “It's about time, Bastila,” Ev teased. “Caught up with Snow? Or was it the meetings this time?”

    I was merely taking a leisurely stroll through the Temple,” Bastila replied.

    Leisurely stroll? That's unlike you,” Ev chided, “I'm glad to hear you're finally relaxing.” The forced humor in her voice made Bastila feel uneasy.

    You know, brooding is unlike you, Ev,” Bastila pointed out, cutting straight to her fears, “If we are talking about what is unlike ourselves.”

    Brooding?” Ev asked, her expression of surprise was unconvincing, “Who said I was brooding?”

    Juhani said that you have been reading over a list of the war dead,” Bastila reported.

    Ev looked her squarely in the eyes and nodded. “I am,” she replied. “I find it cleansing.”

    Ev, you'll never make it through the whole list and stay sane,” Bastila pleaded rather than admonished, “You can't let yourself get obsessed with the past. We have the present to deal with. You are who you are now.”

    I know,” Ev replied heavily. Forcibly lightening up, she added, “Did Juhani tell you that she has taken Shasa as a padawan?”

    Yes, and they are both doing very well together,” Bastila replied, “Juhani will make a far better master than she allows herself to imagine.”

    You too,” Ev pointed out, “How is Snow getting along?”

    She is enjoying the council meetings, and is incredibly perceptive,” Bastila praised, “I am glad to have her there with me. She will make a great Jedi one day.”

    A silence fell between them.

    Ev,” Bastila said finally, “I'm worried about you. Something is bothering you, and you're shutting me out of it.”

    You don't want to have to share in everything I feel,” Ev replied with a hint of bitterness in her voice, “I thought you would enjoy a bit of mental autonomy for once.”

    I do,” Bastila protested, “But that does not stop me from worrying about you. Please, what is bothering you?”

    Nothing new,” Ev brushed off the question, “And I can take care of my own concerns, Bastila.” Just then, Ev straightened up and peered over Bastila's shoulder. “Master Cafran,” she called.

    Bastila turned and saw a familiar elderly Jedi Master walking through the atrium as Ev started towards him.

    Good afternoon, Ev,” he greeted her with a slight smile.

    If you had a minute, there were some questions I wanted to ask you,” Ev started with an eagerness that almost felt eerie when compared with the unrest Bastila felt coming from inside her.

    I do happen to have a minute on my hands,” Visto Cafran replied, “Walk with me.”

    As an afterthought, Ev added over her shoulder, “See you later, Bastila.”

    Bastila watched her go, turmoil growing in her own stomach. Something was tearing Ev apart inside. She was changing, and it scared Bastila. Worse yet, Ev was shutting her out of it all. She resolved to talk to Carth as soon as she could. Ev might push Bastila out of her life, but she could never seal herself off from Carth.

    Bastila watched her go, turmoil growing in her own stomach. Something was tearing Ev apart inside. She was changing, and it scared Bastila. Worse yet, Ev was shutting her out of it all. She resolved to talk to Carth as soon as she could. Ev might push Bastila out of her life, but she could never seal herself off from Carth.


    There was fear and pain all around. Hatred was so thick in the air, she could almost taste it. This place, secret and perfected, it fueled her army. It fueled her.

    One of her special operatives, robed and hooded in black, marched up to her, dragging a hapless Jedi by her collar. He flung the woman to the stone floor before Revan and stood proudly over his captive.

    The woman would have been beautiful if not for the bloody nose, bruised arms, and dark circles beneath her eyes. Inclining her head to stare up at Revan seemed to take all the energy she had.

    “This one will not be broken,” he reported with a snarl, “I thought you would like to have the honor of terminating her yourself.”

    “You are most considerate,” Revan praised.

    The Jedi on the floor started to speak, but only coughed weakly from the effort. Revan waited. Finally, she managed to form her words. “I pity you, Revan. You don't understand the destruction you have wrought on the Republic.”

    “And you do not understand the destruction I am preventing,” she replied. “If anyone is to be pitied, it is you.”

    The Jedi coughed again and laid her head against the floor again. She had no fight left in her.

    “But I do not feel like pitying anyone today,” Revan continued. Beneath her mask, her lips curled into a sneer. She raised her hand and slowly closed her hands into a fist.

    The woman began to wheeze and cough more violently, writhing on the floor. Soon she couldn't cough, only writhe. Then, even the writhing ceased and she was dead.

    “Well done, my Lord Revan,” the operative praised.

    “And you have failed,” Revan turned her ire on the operative, “This woman should be in my army, not lying dead on the floor.”

    He paled. “Lord Revan, have mercy,” he protested frantically, “She was a helpless cause. You know those Jedi...”

    “I am no more inclined to mercy than I am inclined to pity today,” Revan replied. She raised her hands, feeling the irresistible tingle of the Force surge through her. It leaped from her fingertips as bright lightning. The operative screamed and writhed. He tried to run, but his spasming muscles would not obey. Revan's wry smile broadened. Now this was satisfying. He collapsed to the ground, still twitching and screaming. Revan drew deeper into the Force and intensified the lightning—

    Suddenly Ev lay awake in bed, soft covers around her soaked with sweat. She was far from the dark place of her dreams. Carth leaned over her, a fearful look in his eyes.

    Ev, are you okay?” he whispered.

    I—I'm fine,” her voice was dry in her parched throat. Just like that Jedi. “It was just a dream.”

    Was it?” Carth asked pointedly.

    It's all in my head, Carth,” she reassured him.

    What's all in your head? Do you even know?” he asked, “You've not been yourself recently. Ev, I don't want to leave you like this.”

    But you have your duty to the Telos Restoration Project,” Ev finished for him, “We knew this would happen to us when we married. You have your duties and I have mine.”

    Ev, I can't leave you tomorrow knowing that you're falling apart inside,” he said pleadingly. “I want to be here for you, but I can't if you won't open up and let me in. I want to know what's wrong.”

    Freeing herself from the tangled, damp sheets around her, she rolled over onto her back and stared up at the dark ceiling. After a long silence, she said, “Carth, trust me, there are things that you don't want to know.”
  6. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Finally caught up!

    This turn Ev's taken feels real, and necessary. I've always wondered how Revan left and disappeared (I know zip about his/her ending from The Old Republic btw) for the Outer Rim.

    Well done as always; my apologies for not reading sooner!
  7. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Great to have you back LFV! I should say, this storyline is going to take a turn towards AU fairly soon. One major difference, already, is that the TOR canon is a Male Revan, and everything that comes along with that. As much as I love playing TOR, I plan to ignore much of that canon from here on out, so you know just as much as anyone else does in where I am going with this. I really drafted Ev, from the beginning, both to be a person who could have been believably Revan in the past, as well as could believably be that Revan who took off, leaving everyone she loved behind.

    Sorry to fall off my weekly posting schedule. That was probably the craziest week of the semester. Here's hoping things cool down as I plow towards finals.

    And here is the first of the chapters that introduce that the KotOR II cast is up to.


    Part 15- Sojourn at Telos

    Amid a small fleet of miscellaneous ships, the Hammerhead-class cruiser Sojourn slowly orbited Telos. For the first time in over five years, Carth was home, but it hardly felt like it. Far below, salty waves lapped against lifeless shores. Putrid air blanketed dead and ruined cities. The Sith nuclear bombardment that decimated Telos years before left only a few resilient microbes and insects alive to populate the graveyard planet. Now, to walk the surface unprotected was to invite illness and death. The Sith's destruction of Telos really had been complete. If not for the population of off-world Telosians, Telos would be lost to memory and history. The chance that the Republic now gave it in the Telos Restoration Project was an almost unimaginable heaven-send. A daunting task and expensive experiment, they had to succeed for the future of their planet and for the future of other worlds like theirs.

    They had the dream. They had the money. They had the people to do it. Now all they had to do was organize themselves and get the process started. In the Sojourn's largest conference room was a gathering of thirty odd personnel, all with their own opinions on how the Telos Restoration project should begin.

    The ultimate goal here, just so we're clear, is to make Telos habitable,” a plump Telosian woman, Emrie Lacen, asserted. She was the head of the Telosian Home Council and endlessly vocal about it.

    Yes, that is the goal,” Chodo Habat, head of the Ithorian heard that had volunteered to take charge of the ecosystem planting, rumbled. A single protocol droid rattled away, translating the proceedings into Basic. “But while the new ecosystem is taking hold, we cannot jeopardize its stability by adding settlements on the surface.”

    There is Citadel Station,” Burqo Dam, one of the Duros engineers on the project, pointed out. “What we have now is small, but it is on a modular design. It can be easily expanded to house thousands of people; not just the restoration crew but Telosians wanting to move back.”

    That would take a lot of fuel,” another of the Duros engineers pointed out.

    But we do have almost exclusive access to Peragus,” the Zabrak tech by the name of Bao-Dur pointed out quietly. Carth couldn't help but stare and the glowing array of machinery where the lower two thirds of his left arm must have been before.

    But let us get our crew set up in the station first,” the newly-appointed financial minister of Telos, Adam Enkraquenn, reminded.

    Then it could be years before Telosians are able to resettle to this system,” Emrie protested.

    Jerol Onasi held up his hand for quiet, “But so it must be. This is not a project to be taken in a rush.”

    Before we can begin, sections of the planet must be secured and shielded from the toxic atmosphere,” Chodo Habat rumbled. “We must begin slowly with small plots of land.”

    I have designs mostly finalized for ray shield towers,” the Zabrak with the glowing arm spoke again. “They need to be tested on the surface of the planet, but it should meet your needs, with some tweaking.” Both Duros next to him nodded appreciatively.

    How do you propose we power those shield generators?” the Czerka representative who had been silent until then asked. Czerka had volunteered to help in the Telos restoration efforts, but Carth loathed to trust them with the future of his planet. Unfortunately, it wasn't his decision.

    Wind power is unreliable down there,” Bao-Dur answered, “And so is solar, in the continuing nuclear winter. Tidal power could be used to get the project started. There is plenty of coastline to utilize.”

    Jerol nodded. “The initial work will all have to be done in environment suits,” he assessed, “Which we have in ready supply, courtesy of the Republic. Chodo Habat, what is the time line your heard has planned for environmental development, so that everyone here is clear?”

    First, we must have shielded environmental zones,” he began slowly, “Then we will began by planting flora and fauna, beginning at the bottom of the food chain, in each of the zones from worlds we suspect to be successful on Telos. As zones succeed, we will expand their borders and plant more until the entire surface is covered. If a particular planted ecosystem is unsuccessful, then we will purge it and re plant over it with a more successful system. Once an ecosystem has demonstrated long-term stability, re-settlers may begin moving in into low impact housing.”

    When will it be appropriate to bring back agriculture and husbandry?” a petite Corellian woman sitting not far from Carth asked. She was a new addition to the council, one of the volunteers that appeared in orbit shortly after the Sojourn arrived. Carth had heard her introduced as Leiraya Moran, an organic fruit farmer. That description did little to explain the lightsaber hilt that hung at her belt, however. That and her barefoot, free-spirited appearance make Carth curious of her reasons to leave her fruit farm on Corellia to help rebuild Telos. Carth was sure he would have plenty of time to get to know her and the other newer volunteers as their project lurched into motion.

    At small scales,” Chodo replied, “Almost immediately. It will be crucial to experiment early on which crops are successful on the new Telos.”

    And could be a step towards eventual self-sufficiency for the planet,” Leiraya Moran added.

    Have you considered industry or mining in your plans?” the Czerka representative voiced.

    That should come much later, when the environment is stable,” Chodo advised.

    But don't you think Telos would be better off in the future if it had some income for itself?” he pressed, “When the Republic is no longer willing or able to support this project, Telos must have some way of continuing. Consider droid mining in un-restored zones. It would hardly get in the way of restoration. In fact, it would help in the long run.”

    We must be careful of anything we do to our planet in terms of growth, testing it on a small scale first,” Jerol warned, “But you do make a fair point. We will have to find a way to work that into our larger plans.”

    The Czerka representative nodded and leaned back in his seat, satisfied.

    Our first priorities, it seems, are to get Citadel Station running and a few tidal power plants going on the surface with our first ray shield networks,” Jerol concluded, “We will need surveyor crews on the surface to give us an up-to-date map as well as to point out good regions to start our restoration in and dangerous regions to avoid. Telos has changed greatly in the last five years, so we must move forward with care and caution.”

    There were murmurs of assent in the room.

    Also with regard to care and caution, we must maintain strict security on this project to avoid accidents or even sabotage,” Jerol continued. “Admiral Onasi, would you brief us on the essentials of our security going forward?”

    Carth straightened up and addressed the crowded conference room. “Although the Sith are as good as defeated, they are still out there and they are still a threat to the Republic, particularly to a fragile operation like this,” he explained, “The Sojourn will maintain orbit over Telos until Citadel Station is equipped with its own security force and defense system. At that point, the Sojourn will patrol the system, never straying far away. Only when Telos has its own comparable fleet will the Republic military presence here lessen. All weapons on the surface, on this ship, and on Citadel Station must be registered and adhere to strict safety guidelines. Firing a weapon on any of those locations, except in situations of direct self defense, is a punishable offense. We all must be wary of smugglers and illegal landings on the planets surface, so I will be relying on all of you to be a network of eyes and ears watching out for the unusual.”

    Thank you Admiral. Once the new Telosian government is settled, we will begin recruiting a security force,” Jerol added. “This is an expanding project and will eventually grow to encompass the entire world. I want to thank you all for volunteering for this project. Let us see it through to the end. Here is to a new Telos!”

    Polite cheers erupted in the room. Carth was not the only person in the room with eyes damp at the joy of a dream finally beginning to come true.


    And there's Bao-Dur!

    Before anyone says "Wait a sec, isn't Leiraya Moran DWH's character from Blue Side?" I will pre-empt that with, yes, please do go read her fic. Leiraya is pretty awesome. As to what she's doing there, it's not secret that DWH and I have been friends since college and we lived together last year. In realizing that both of the OCs that we had created independently had jobs to do with fruit, we decided that they had to have met/worked together at some point. I won't spoil DWH's fic, but in the parallel universe where Revan is female (Ev), Kylan does not run off and join the war, so Leiraya does not go off to find him, and they get married, then jump on the Telos Restoration Project when that comes around. I'll see if I can get DWH in here to offer a better explanation.

    Next time, back to business, Dustil and Ev take a field-trip to Corellia.
  8. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Part 16- Remembering the Lost

    Ev breathed in deeply, letting the crisp mountain air of Corellia refresh her. It had been far too long since she had last left the congestion of Coruscant.

    Ev, I don't get why we have to keep doing this,” Dustil whined, trudging behind her. He pulled his cloak closer around his shoulders to keep out the morning chill. “It's been so long since any of these people died.”

    But when your loved one dies,” Ev countered gently, “It never seems distant. The pain hangs with you longer than you would want to admit. Think about your mother or Selene.”

    Oh,” Dustil responded and fell silent. Dustil would not admit that he still grieved, but Ev knew it was there, just as Carth would always grieve for Morgan. Death was not something you could undo.

    Ev looked down at the tourist map she had downloaded to her datapad at the Bela Vistal spaceport when they arrived and recalled the address she was headed for. “Sarvode Enclave, Pinnacle Row, number 324,” she murmured, punching in the address. The GPS quickly drew out a route for her. “Come on, this way Dustil,” she urged.

    He made a groan of protest as she picked up the pace and turned off the pleasant cafe-lined main street.

    Dustil,” Ev reminded him patiently, “You don't have to come along with me if you don't want to. You could go back to the nice, warm ship and finish your nap.”

    No,” he shook his head firmly, “If you're doing this because you think it's important, I'm coming along, because you're my master.”

    Ev chuckled. “You're learning,” she said, “Even despite yourself, you're learning.”

    Hey,” Dustil grumbled, but he was still smiling at her.

    They turned onto a broader road and continued southward. Speeders cruised by down the street. Up ahead, just as the dotted line on her map indicated, was a large arching gateway into a walled community with a large sign in gold letters saying 'Sarvode Enclave.' At a signaled cross walk, they crossed to the other side of the street and entered into the compound.

    Long rows of nearly identical, neat, two-story houses lined gridded streets. Short pathways cut through green, manicured lawns. Some of the home owners cultivated flowers in their tiny plot of land while others did not.

    Ev and Dustil followed the map directions into the enclave to Pinnacle Row and along it to the house numbered 324. Staring at the gray front door from the street, Ev said, “Here it is.” She took a deep breath then started up the front walk. Ev never knew what to expect from these visits; anger, confusion, grief, relief, or some of all of those together. No matter the outcome, she had to do this.

    Dustil at her heels, Ev arrived at the front step and pressed the chime. There were footsteps inside and an upright-looking woman opened the door. Middle age had treated her moderately well, though her dark blond hair seemed to be salon dyed to hide her natural gray. “Hello,” she said, looking them over, “Can I help you, master Jedi?”

    Are you Mrs. Inox?” Ev asked politely.

    Yes,” she nodded with uncertainty.

    This will seem very much out of the blue, but I am here to say that I am sorry for the passing of your sons,” Ev started. It was much the same as she had said when visiting families on Coruscant in her spare time.

    What? My sons?” Mrs. Inox asked. There was masked pain in her voice.

    I am sorry that, with great futures ahead of them, their lives were cut short,” Ev continued, “Abel at the battle of Foerost, and Cainos throwing in his lot with the Sith. I am sorry from the very bottom of my heart.”

    Thank you,” Mrs. Inox stammered. There were tears welling up at the corners of her eyes. “But why?”

    Because someone needs to say it,” Ev answered, “And it might as well be me.”

    Who are you?” Mrs. Inox asked, mystified.

    My name is Revan Roan'evrue Pell,” Ev replied. There were few times when she would admit to the name the Jedi Council had given her. This was one of them.

    You're the one who killed Malak,” Mrs. Inox realized.

    Ev bowed her head. “And, before I was redeemed, my war killed your sons. Mrs. Inox, I truly am sorry for your loss.”

    The tears at the corners of the woman's eyes escaped and slid down her face. She sniffed and dabbed them away with her shirt sleeve. “Thank you,” she said, “Revan.”

    I wish you all the best, Mrs. Inox,” Ev finished.

    Thank you,” she said again, and backed up, holding the edge of the door in her hand.

    Ev made a full bow and Dustil hastily followed her lead. Without another word, she turned and left. As they walked up the footpath, Ev heard the lonely mother let out a quiet sob and gently shut the door behind them.

    I wish I could say that time will ease the pain,” Ev said quietly to herself.

    Walking down the street towards the main road again, Dustil observed, “This really is doing you some good, isn't it, Ev?”

    Ev nodded, “And, more than that, I hope it's doing some good for them.”

    You're a lot calmer now, after all these visits, than you were last week,” Dustil added.

    I think I am beginning to understand what I must do,” Ev replied, but she did not elaborate.

    So where to now?” Dustil asked.

    I am pretty certain that there is at least one more mother of a war-broken household in Bela Vistal,” Ev replied, “Let's go pay her a visit too.”


    The Inox brothers come from LaForzaViva's short as a part of the collab Shattered Reality - Revan's Return, which is highly worth reading!

    Next up: Ev and Canderous do coffee again.
  9. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Oh dear, both brothers end up dying during the war. This makes me very sad.
  10. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    I really don't know if Cainos died. But really, would you go back home after you killed your brother and betrayed the Republic? Maybe he's off wandering the outer rim trying to atone for what he's done. Regardless, she lost both of her sons.


    Part 17- Calling Mandalore

    Another day, another archive. Banking off of Carth's clearance, Ev returned to the navy headquarters to dig further through their seemingly endless collection of materials on the Mandalorian Wars. Today, Ev sent her cataloger droid after materials containing information on the final battle at Malachor V. It was a terrible day for both sides, that much she knew already, and the Republic emerged victorious at last. What she did not understand was the Revanchist's reaction to it all. Instead of a victorious speech or allegorical lesson from it all, she simply called her fleet together and pressed deeper into the unknown.

    Ev selected one of the data cards in the pile brought to her by the cataloger droid labeled 'Battle of Malachor, Duty Log, Second Lieutenant Krevar Froszki.' She slid it into her reader and began to scan over the text.

    'The Revanchist sought out Mandalore and engaged in one-on-one duel with borrowed vibroblades.'

    Mandalore, at last we meet face to face,” she said, approaching him across the dusty ground.

    Revanchist, you have fought honorably and with great valor,” Mandalore replied. He stood still waiting for her, golden armor shining in the dim sunlight and red cape flapping in the wind. Like her own face, his gaze was obscured behind a dark mask. “You have earned the glory of a thousand victories.”

    And you deserve death for what you have done,” Revan replied darkly.

    Mandalore did not flinch from the threat. “I see you wear a mask of our people,” he observed.

    I wear the mask of a dissident,” Revan declared, “I wear the mask of the billions of tears cried for the billions you have killed. I wear this mask until those victims have justice.”

    And what of this justice of yours?” Mandalore asked.

    Today is the day you will die, Mandalore,” Revan said darkly.

    So it shall be,” Mandalore nodded. He shrugged out of his cape and brandished his long halberd.

    Revan cast off her own cloak, but did not draw her lightsabers. Too many good Jedi had fatally learned that Mandalore favored only cortosis armor and weaponry, and had learned too late. Contact with the volatile metal would short out any lightsaber and leave a Jedi defenseless. Two soldiers standing by did have vibroblades in their possession. That would do. She reached out with the Force and pulled at them. The weapons sprung from their startled owners' hands and flew into her grasp. “On your guard, Mandalore,” Revan said.

    May the greatest warrior have victory,” he replied formally, then launched towards her, halberd cutting through the air.

    Ev let out a long breath and rubbed her temples, blinking furiously. That would be the first time when a memory returned to her when she was still fully awake. The veil between herself and who she was before was wearing thinner and thinner. She took another deep breath and let it out, then continued to read.

    'The duel lasted nearly one standard hour, but the Revanchist emerged victorious, decapitating Mandalore. The Revanchist took Mandalore's mask and ordered that all surviving Mandalorians be stripped of their armor and their weapons be destroyed. Few Mandalorians resisted after the decisive defeat of their army over Malachor and the Revanchist over their leader.'

    Revan held both vibroblades crossed over Mandalore's neck. He knelt before her, all-but-defeated. So this is what victory tastes like. Mandalore the Ultimate was at her mercy, and how she hated him for what he had done.

    Revanchist, you are the greatest warrior of our time,” Mandalore wheezed. “It was an honor to do battle with you.”

    Revan glared down at him through her mask. There were no words to express the hatred she felt for him.

    But are you a great enough warrior to hold off the darkness that is yet to come?” Mandalore asked.

    With a scream, Revan drew her blades together and sliced his head clean off. The body toppled over and the helmeted head bounced twice before it rolled to a stop on the ground.

    Revan discarded the two vibroblades, disgusting and tainted with the blood of a murder. She stepped over his body to where the head lay and bent down to remove the helmet. Beneath the mask was the face of a proud man with a thick, black goatee. He had been just like any other man, only he was Mandalore, the destroyer of systems.

    Revan clutched the brassy mask in her fist and shook it into the air. “So long as I live, no other Mandalorian shall wear this mask and reign terror on the galaxy again,” she declared loud enough for everyone around the duel to hear, “By acting as they did, the Mandalorians have given up their right to honor and to their leader. Take their armor. Take their weapons. They will not be allowed to exist as they had.”

    Soldiers moved immediately into motion to carry out her every command. This was power.

    She wasn't satisfied.

    Ev shook her head sharply and blinked off her daze. Mandalore had warned her of the Sith, cryptic as he had been, though it seemed that she had expected that all along.


    The Revanchist's work was not finished with the death of the leader of the Mandalorians. Somehow, it seemed that the Revanchist's work was not finished even yet. No one would finish it for her, either.

    Urgency, fear, and hesitance all gnawed at Ev's heart. If there still was that danger out there, she knew only she could face it, and yet, she could not bear the thought of leaving all those she loved behind. She could even less bear the idea of the galaxy falling into another destructive war, costing trillions more lives. The Revanchist was famed for casting off her identity in favor of service to the galaxy. But, could Ev Pell do that again, in this life?

    She did not know.

    She knew even less of what threat she faced. Her memories were fragmented, scattered. She did not have an army. She had only herself. Did she even have sufficient control over the Force and herself to strike out on her own?

    Ev sighed and continued reading the log again.

    'We destroyed most of the Mandalorians' gear, but some was taken into storage to the Ruac II Military Outpost to be cataloged and studied. We never know when the Mandalorians will rise again, and this will give us an edge over them next time.'

    The mask,” Ev realized.

    She abruptly ejected the data disk and set it on top of the stack on her small table. She had read enough today.

    Ev pulled out her comlink and clicked in a familiar code. “HK,” she started, “Find Canderous. I want to meet with him again.”

    Promise: It will be done, Master,” HK-47's mechanical voice replied menacingly over the comlink.

    And, before you even ask,” Ev amended, “No, you may not use force. He can come on his own time. Just report to me when he is ready.”

    Not far from the Jolly Mandalorian tap caff was a dark cantina called Raxo's. It was the respectful sort of cantina where there were no cameras, no hidden microphones, and all due privacy given to all the patrons. This is where HK-47 told Ev to find Canderous. He was already seated in a particularly dark corner, watching warily for her arrival.

    Ev slid into the booth across from him.

    That droid of yours said you summoned me,” Canderous started gruffly. “This had better be good.”

    Ev snorted, “HK would phrase it that way, wouldn't he?”

    So what do you want?” Canderous asked. “I've got a job for Krekk tonight.”

    Have you thought more about bringing the Mandalorians back together again?” Ev asked. Canderous was not in the mood for small talk and neither was she.

    Hmph, that,” Canderous muttered, “Gathering Ordo together again, that might be possible. I still have a good name among them, but the other Mandalorians, it would be impossible. Without a new Mandalore, we will remain fragmented. Without Mandalore's mask, there will be no new Mandalore, and you saw to that at the end of the war.”

    Ev nodded appreciatively. So he has been thinking about it after all. She waited for a moment, debating on how to phrase what she would say next. “Canderous, I think I know where the mask is,” she said.

    A spark ignited in Canderous' eyes that Ev had not seen in a long while. “You remember?” he asked, “Where?”

    I am fairly certain it was placed, with a number of other Mandalorian war spoils, in the Ruac II Military Outpost,” Ev explained.

    Is it still occupied?” he asked.

    Yes, though not heavily guarded,” Ev replied.

    So they think we're gone for good, do they,” Canderous chuckled.

    The trick would be to reclaim it in such a way that does not alarm the Republic to a rising Mandalorian presence,” Ev cautioned.

    This sounds like the sort of challenge I have been looking for,” Canderous said with repressed eagerness. Ev saw it in his eyes: this kind of challenge was what made him Mandalorian. “I'll get Kex and Bralor to come with me. We'll get it done.”

    And you will be the new Mandalore,” Ev added.

    Canderous started at her and nodded stiffly. “You have given me the honor of fighting against you and fighting with you,” he said, “Now I will have the honor of fighting for you.”

    I don't know what's out there, but I do know it is dangerous. It is a silent threat to the galaxy we know,” Ev said quietly, “I need you to gather the clans and prepare for battle. I can't tell you when it will happen, but I need you to be ready. Can you do that?”

    Canderous nodded, “The Mandalorians will always take honor in fighting under your banner, Revan. In this age, there is no greater warrior than you.”

    Thank you Canderous,” Ev said with a sigh, “The Republic is going to owe you another one.”

    And so you're going then?” Canderous observed.

    I don't know,” Ev hesitated.

    Yes you are,” Canderous affirmed, “I can see it in your eyes.”

    Ev swallowed hard. She was as torn as ever.

    If I get Mandalore's mask,” Canderous asked. “Where's yours? Revan wasn't Revan without her mask.”
  11. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Ohhhh Canderous is a sly devil; can't wait to see where Revan's mask ended up!
  12. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Canderous is a smart one, however gruff he likes to come off. As to the mask...


    Part 18- Echoes of the Past

    The Ebon Hawk touched down in a grassy clearing just outside the Dantooine Jedi Enclave. There had been no space amid the rubble in the enclave's landing courtyard.

    Disembarking, Ev stepped off the Ebon Hawk's landing platform and let the afternoon air wash over her. She breathed deeply and shut her eyes. The smell of death and destruction still hung on the wind like a faint smoke. Inside her chest, Ev's heart ached. This place was a wound in the Force.

    She reached out the Force for comfort, almost to comfort it. As it flowed through her, the Force seemed like a lonely child, relieved to see someone at last who could understand, to related all the horrors it had seen in this place. The dismayed yells of Jedi and screams of terrified younglings reached her ears, echoing as if over a great distance. Flickers of night, fire, lightsabers, and death danced past her inner vision in ephemeral fragments. Fear seized her heart as it had so many Jedi that night. This place cried out to all who would listen, and its cries would echo in the Force for centuries to come.

    These echoes were not what Ev expected to find here. She did not know what to expect, although she had hopes of a more material sort. Ev wondered if all wounds like this from the wars cried out in the same way.

    Ev sighed and opened her eyes, but the memories would not leave her. They embraced her. Perhaps this was the key to remembering.

    She started over the dry grass towards the entrance to the enclave, which hung ajar and broken out of its track. Everywhere were signs of struggle. Black carbon of laser fire scored the outer walls. Rubble was cut in two, too evenly to be sliced by anything but an errant lightsaber. From the indentation in the dirt in front of the door and the fragments and feelings that the Force gave her, Ev knew that a Jedi had died there, cut down by the Sith. His body had undoubtedly been carried away by the small party of Jedi that came here shortly after the attack to investigate and give rest to the dead.

    Inside, the Jedi Enclave was worse than it had seemed from the air. Piles of rubble collapsed in from the ceiling above made portions of the hallway nearly impassible. Ev clambered over the rocks and shifted large stones out of the way with the Force, slowly working her way inward. Every step of the way, flickers of horrifying memories accosted her at the edge of her consciousness.

    Ev pushed out of the collapsed corridor and into the sunlight of an open courtyard again. In the center, amid all the destruction, still stood the stalwart, twisted cedar under whose branches Ev and Juhani had spent several long afternoons in conversation near the end of Ev's education here. A few branches were broken off, leaving splintered knobs behind, but the tree still stood, giving memory to all the life that had once flourished within the enclave walls.

    Ev sat herself on the cracked embankment that encircled the tree. She stared out at the courtyard, taking it all in. Many Jedi, young and old, had died in this very place. Is this my fault too? More deaths to add to my list? They were looking for Bastila—or was that just a ruse? Malak knew who I was, and he wanted me. Even if this was just a random piece of Sith brutality, it would have never happened if I hadn't brought the Sith back in the first place and made Malak who he was. “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry,” Ev whispered to the ghosts of the Jedi who died that day, hoping that they would be good enough to forgive.

    Ev pulled her legs up and crossed them beneath her. Breathing deeply, she let herself go deeper into the Force. The Force had much to say to her here, and she would listen.

    Juhani burst into Bastila's room without knocking.

    And?” Bastila asked expectantly.

    I have just been to talk with Dustil,” Juhani reported after quietly closing the door behind her, “He said that Ev took off suddenly two days ago, saying that she had some personal investigation to do.”

    Which is odd, because she usually takes Dustil with her when she goes off-planet,” Bastila said.

    Then the Ebon Hawk is not in Carth's storage hangar?” Juhani asked.

    Bastila nodded. “He did leave it here so that she could have access to it whenever she needed to,” she replied, “And now she's taking off with it at any chance she gets.” Bastila sighed. “I felt like a fool at the time, but now I don't regret tracking down that little astromech of hers and ordering it to come find me if anything ever happens to her.”

    T3-M4 is loyal and resourceful,” Juhani agreed. “But why must she keep doing this? Bastila, what do you sense from her? Is she alright?”

    Bastila shook her head frustratedly. “Lately, she has been more focused,” she replied, “She has learned to shut me out more and more. I still feel her there at the other end of our connection, but it isn't a constant stream of her feelings any more.”

    Juhani sank down onto the bed next to Bastila helplessly. “I want to be of help to her,” Juhani moaned, “But I do not know how.”

    Most of the ways into the sublevel of the Jedi Temple were blocked, but Ev finally managed to find a way down through a hole in the floor above. Dust blanketed everything. It was not the dust of age but the dust of stonework blown to a powder by orbital bombardment lasers. Ev's foot falls were the only boot prints to disturb the dust recently. Signs of the beginnings of a lagrek colony in the Enclave's basement were already evident, however. Though she saw their track marks on the floor and heard them hissing and scuttling behind each corner, they avoided her.

    In the dimness, Ev did not need her eyes to guide her. Memories did that for her. The scant month she spent here at the enclave, retraining under Master Zhar and Bastila, seemed like ages ago. So much had changed in these last two years. Ev had no idea then just what she would become, or what she had been before.

    There had been so much hope here; not just for her future and the part she could play in ending the war, but in the futures of all the younglings who trained here. Ev's stomach turned over again inside her with frustration and grief. They did not deserve to die. No one did.

    Like the small council chamber Ev now picked her way through, many rooms in the enclave's basement had been off limits to her and the younger trainees. There were more signs of battle here, slices at the stone chairs and scoring on the walls. The silvery hilt of a lightsaber lay discarded in one corner, sliced cleanly in half. Instinctively Ev knew that Malak had been the very Sith in this chamber two years ago to slay the owner of that saber.

    Malak: her friend, protege, and creation.

    These protected rooms, private to the Jedi Masters, held many secrets still, some secrets that Ev wished to uncover herself. As she had feared, there was evidence of salvagers picking through the ruins already, but not so much to destroy what she was looking for or ruin the memory of those that fell there. Not yet anyway.

    From the scattered memories she now had and the accounts of a few kindly older Jedi, Ev knew that Dantooine had also been the enclave that raised her. Found as a refugee baby on the far outer room, Ev was brought here as an infant, raised and trained into a great Jedi. This place formed her early years. It even echoed on who she was now. Sneaking through these back hallways, no fear of being caught, was a familiar feeling.

    Malak was raised here too, her closest friend. A part of her was baffled that he, even with all of his memories of this place in tact, would personally see to its destruction. The rest of her knew that Dark Malak of the Jedi Civil War was so far beyond sentiment and nostalgia to even remember what mercy would look like. Darth Malak became nothing more than a power-hungry, jealous killer. At the time of his death, he knew little else.

    This enclave was also the place that the Jedi masters held her captive and reformed her mind. Somewhere, in the depths of the enclave, they were able to keep her secret from the rest of the Jedi as they delicately built her into a safe version of herself that they could use to win the war: a blaster without a trigger or a lightsaber without a focusing crystal, they hoped.

    That secret place was the place Ev sought. With the Force to guide her, it would not evade her for long. Beneath all the pain of the attack on the enclave, Ev sensed another, separate darkness. It was a familiar darkness.

    It was her own.

    She pushed through cobwebs and unsteady rubble into the back entrance of the Dantooine archives. This was the way the Masters often entered, and also had access to a separate set of archives. Past the bashed-in door that creaked in protest as it slid open on its tracks, Ev found two more sets of doors, just as she had suspected. Turning to the right, she entered the private archive of the Jedi Masters. The holo records that lay strewn all over rattle shelves and the floor would bring new depth to her research, but that search was not what drove her now.

    Ev stepped carefully over the data disks that the bombardment had shaken to the floor towards another door at the back of the small archive. She could sift through these later. The door looked like any other panel in the wall, but Ev knew it when she saw it. She knew it had to be here. In such a small archive, why leave one section of wall uncovered with shelves except that that section of the wall was a doorway and not a piece of wall at all. She probed it with the Force and it grated open, sliding along gritty tracks.

    The door led to a passage down a winding set of stairs that plunged deep into the earth below the Jedi Enclave. It smelled musty and felt dark. Even as she reached the landing at the bottom and laid her hand on the door controls, Ev knew that this was the place. Here, the Jedi kept knowledge and artifacts too dangerous to be stored anywhere else and yet too precious to be destroyed.

    Suddenly, the com terminal in Bastila's room beeped with an incoming call. Bastila leaped up and saw the incoming call labeled as 'Sojourn, Republic Navy.' She accepted the call, and Carth resolved into view.

    Carth, what can I do for you?” Bastila answered as calmly as she could.

    Bastila,” Carth started immediately, “I just noticed a message from the hangar I rent on Coruscant that the Ebon Hawk took off a few days ago. Is Ev on another trip?”

    As far as we can tell, yes,” Bastila replied.

    Carth's shoulders sank. “So she didn't tell you either?” he asked.

    Juhani shifted over to where Carth could see her in the com terminal. “Here we were hoping that she had told you the purpose of her trip,” Juhani said.

    Carth sighed, “I want to trust her, but I just don't know any more. She's not herself.”

    Her research seems to be consuming her,” Juhani added.

    Carth, did she tell you she's been visiting families of people who died in these wars, on both sides?” Bastila asked.

    No, but Dustil did,” Carth replied, “She's apologizing to all of them. It's like guilt is eating her up inside.”

    She still reads that list of the dead when she thinks no one is watching,” Juhani said.

    I'm beginning to regret giving her my clearance into the navy files,” Carth admitted.

    She would have found her way to that information with or without you, Carth,” Bastila pointed out, “Don't beat yourself up over that.”

    Carth sighed again. “I wish I was still on Coruscant. I hate not being able to be there for her,” he said.

    I wish you were here as well,” Juhani admitted, “She is so much more stable when you are around.”

    You know,” Carth started, “As soon as she gets back, tell me. I'm going to use some of my personal leave to come back to see her.” He laughed sarcastically at himself, “As if she needs me.”

    Of course she needs you, Carth,” Juhani protested, “She loves you.”

    The room was small and cluttered. Deep underground, it was completely untouched by the Sith bombardment. The Sith did not know it was here and were not looking for it. All for the better they did not. The holocrons, ancient books, and Sith artifacts stored openly in this room would shock most Jedi and thrill any gleeful treasure-hunting Sith. Ev herself was floored by the volume of treasures kept hidden below the enclave.

    In one corner there was a modern Force cage. Ev had no doubt as to what that had been for. Surely, that had been her prison for the months it took to reform her. Ev approached it tentatively, step by step, bracing herself for any sudden visions of returned memories. None came. She reached out and touched the activation panel, desperately trying to remember anything from that time, but the memories eluded her.

    A plain footlocker near the cage mechanisms caught her eye. Among the ancient and arcane, it too stood out in the hidden chamber. Ev knelt down in front of it and lifted the lid. Folded neatly inside, as if stowed away for her own future use, were the dark robes, armor, and mask of Darth Revan. Ev froze and caught her breath.

    There was a single lightsaber in the footlocker as well, beside the clothes. Seeing it there, Ev's left hand went reflexively to the hilt of her red saber to reassure herself that it was still there. The saber lying before her was almost identical as the one she hung from her belt. Just how Revan's second saber came to be at the Korriban academy, a prize for successful students, was a mystery. No matter how, there it was in the Tomb of Naga Sadow, waiting for her return. The saber the Sith had tested her with on Korriban wasn't just any saber. It was her saber. Now she had its mate as well.

    The faceless mask stared up at her, eyes slits into deep abysses. It seemed almost expectant. Ev reached down. Her fingers brushed the cold metal, sending a shiver up her arms. This is what she had been looking for.

    Ev had known all along that she could not understand her past self without looking out through those narrow slits and seeing the world as the Revanchist had seen it. Revan was not just a person, and she had known that. Revan was a leader and a symbol. She was the voice of a cause. She was more than just one individual. The mask was what made it all possible.

    Thanks to the meticulous record keeping of the Republic Navy, Ev now knew the extent of her famed Masking Speech. She had read it so many times, she now had it memorized.

    Now knowing only the beginning of the horrors possible at the hands of the Mandalorians, I cannot sit by and simply beg for action. I must take action, and I cry out for my fellow Jedi to stand beside me.

    I don this mask, the mask of a Mandalorian who dared to beg for mercy for the Cathar, the mask of a Mandalorian who was shot down by her own for daring to speak for justice. I will wear it to speak for that justice that was her outcry. And until the victims of these atrocities have justice, until the galaxy is safe from the threat of the Mandalorians, I will not remove this helmet. Until the galaxy is secure, I give up my face for the face of this, my cause. So says Revan!”

    Ev repeated it to herself, barely above a whisper, holding the helmet gently between her hands. A shiver of expectation ran down her spine.

    The galaxy was not safe or secure. She felt that in her very being. Even with a name like Revan Roan'evrue Pell, the Prodigal Knight, Ev lacked the power she once had. She was just another Jedi Knight in the eyes of the galaxy. One Jedi Knight was nothing, insignificant. But a symbol like the Revanchist, masked and crusading for justice, that was powerful.

    Though uneasiness coursed through her in waves, Ev knew that she had to reclaim the mask of Revan.

    Either way, I need her,” Carth replied. His voice sounded bleak.

    I am beginning to fear,” Bastila started hesitantly, “that with all of these sudden trips Ev is taking, she just might not return one day. She is out after something, but I don't know what it is. What if she finds it?”

    Bastila, don't say that!” Juhani admonished.

    Juhani, she's right,” Carth argued meekly, “I am afraid of exactly the same thing. She seems to be putting her search for whatever it is before anything or anyone else.”

    Juhani set her jaw and declared firmly, “Once she returns, I will not let her out of my sight again.”

    Juhani, what of your training of Shasa?” Bastila asked, “Isn't that going a bit too far?”

    Shasa will have to learn Force Camouflage or be left behind,” Juhani said firmly, “We cannot lose Ev. I will follow her to the ends of the galaxy if I must.”

    Carth looked more uncomfortable than ever over the com. “I need to get back to work,” he said reluctantly, “But please keep me updated. I'll try to get back to Coruscant as soon as I can.”

    We will, Carth,” Bastila promised.

    Ev's Jedi robes lay discarded in a messy pile on the floor. Instead, she wore the heavy, black robes of Darth Revan, every clasp and buckle of it. Beneath all the leather, cotton, and wool, Ev felt more than just the weight of her clothing. What am I doing? Dressing up like the single most feared individual in the recent history of the galaxy? She stared down at the gray and red helmet in her gloved hands. Something—curiosity perhaps—compelled her to finish what she had begun. Slowly, laboriously, Ev turned the mask around in her hands and lifted it to her face.

    Blinking, Ev stared out through the glossy eye slit. In the Force cage in the corner, she saw a specter of herself.

    “So you will not thank us for saving your life, then, Roan'ev?” Master Vrook said distastefully. With him stood the other three Masters of the Dantooine Enclave: Vandar, Dorak, and Zhar.

    Even through the obscuring slit of Revan's mask, the intensity of her glare was unmistakable. “You did not send those Jedi to my ship to save my life,” she replied sharply, voice echoing deeply from within the mask, “They came to capture me or to kill me. You have succeeded in the first. Will you continue with the later?”

    “We Jedi do not kill our prisoners,” Master Dorak said.

    “What now, then?” Revan asked, tilting her head to the side. Even within the Force cage, gloved hands manacled before her for extra protection, she bore herself calmly and confidently. “Will you demand that I tell you all my secrets?”

    “And let you deceive us with your lies as you have deceived countless others?” Vandar asked, “No.”

    Revan chuckled, “I would not have told you, had you asked. You know it is pointless to hold me here. Darth Malak will have taken control of the Sith by now. I am worth nothing as ransom. He will not want me back. I am no longer even a commander of a Sith that you can coerce into ending this war. Poorly played, Jedi.”

    “There are techniques in the Force,” Master Vrook began slowly, “Through which you can rewrite a mind to follow a new cause.”

    “You speak of such techniques as if I do not know them already,” Revan shot back, voice full of sudden venom, “You would make me a puppet of a Jedi, then? You would strip the galaxy of one of its most brilliant and powerful leaders?”

    “You are delusional, Roan'ev,” Vrook spat.

    “You have no idea what it is you are doing, Jedi,” Revan's voice raised to a terrifying timber, “By removing me, you are cutting the head off the cunning hydra. Each head that will spring back will strike harder, but will be stupid and lack all the direction it had with just one. By removing me, you leave open your galaxy to destruction beyond your wildest nightmares. I was your last line of defense. You no not what waits out there in the darkness for you, Jedi. Malak, with all the subtly of a Gamorrean cleaver, will not be your hero. Release me and survive, Jedi.”

    “This galaxy has had enough of your poison, Revan,” Vrook shot back, “It is time for your 'redemption'.”

    The other three Jedi Masters fell into position around the Force cage. Revan knew this technique well. She hoped that her own will to remember would be enough to counter the combined wills of the four Jedi Masters. Unfocused and pompous as they were, Revan had to believe that she was stronger.

    Hands shaking, Ev lifted off the helmet. It was too obvious to her now. How could the Jedi Masters not have understood? They must have thought Revan's warnings the crazed pleadings of woman who had lost her mind to the dark side. Even if they had heeded her danger, they must have assumed she was only concerned with the fragmented Sith under Malak's reckless leadership.

    No. Revan spoke of another danger, a danger that only she was ready to protect the galaxy from.

    Ev gazed past the helmet in her hands to the pile of crumpled Jedi robes on the stone floor. There was no going back now.
  13. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Very powerful, engrossing. I liked the interposition of the gang worrying about her with the solitary discovery of this Revan.
  14. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Initially those were written as two separate scenes then spliced together. Ev is a loner, but her story isn't a solo. Those guys are an important part of her story, even as she tries to push them out.

    And here's another long one that kind of got away from me.


    Part 19- The Final Test

    Dustil's skin crawled as they disembarked near Dreshdae, the settlement he used to call home. A cool, dry wind ruffled though his short hair. It howled and whistled through the peaks and caverns of the mountainous tombs of the long dead Sith Lords. Hideously blank stone faces looked down on him from above.

    Above moans of the wind, all was quiet. Deathly quiet. Even the packs of shyrack and tuk'ata that undoubtedly prowled the valley were silent as the grave. Dustil shivered.

    Not that the Dreshdae and the Valley of the Dark Lords had ever been teeming with life—not in living memory anyway—but without the Sith students and archaeologists, it seemed disquietingly bleak. They were all either gone or dead.

    Dustil looked over at Ev standing beside him. She stood alert and erect, staring straight ahead, down the valley towards the path to the old Sith Academy. Dustil reached out to her through the Force, but she felt distant, her presence nearly drowned out by the Dark Side energies that ebbed and flowed around them.

    Relaxing very slightly, Ev turned to Dustil and asked, “How do you feel?”

    Dustil tried to asses himself objectively and shuddered. “I don't want to be back here,” he admitted, “I left this place behind me and I didn't want to think about it any more.”

    And that's why we're here,” Ev replied, “To think about it. Your past is part of who you are, as much as your present and future. You must face it, confront it, and live with it if you are to live at all.”

    Dustil nodded. “I just...” he started, “I have so many bad memories here.”

    Do you have good memories here as well?” Ev asked.

    Well, yeah,” Dustil responded, “This place meant a lot to me then, but now I'm not so proud to have been a student here.”

    You have come a long way, Dustil,” Ev praised. From out of the folds of her robe, she produced a third lightsaber. It was nearly identical to the hilt that hung at Ev’s right hip. Holding it out to Dustil, she said, “Here, take this.”

    “Isn’t that your—” Dustil trailed off as he saw that two sabers still hung on her belt, his hand hovered over the lightsaber she held out, still unwilling to take it.

    “This is Revan’s saber, my old saber, and I give it to you,” Ev explained as Dustil cautiously took it, “I found it on Dantooine, just as I found this one,” she said, patting the silver hilt on her right hip, “Right here on Korriban. They are both mine from another life, but I have no need for three sabers. You, on the other hand, need a second.”

    “So you think I’m ready?” Dustil stammered, stunned by the gesture even despite having nagged Ev for months to let him begin practicing with a second saber.

    “I think you’ll need it,” Ev replied, “Now, let's go.”

    Go where?” Dustil asked, hanging back as he hung the saber on his belt.

    To the heart of your past here: the academy,” Ev replied and started off down the valley.

    Wait,” Dustil nervously surged ahead to catch up with her, “Do we have to?”

    I have brought you to this place as a test,” Ev explained patiently, “Your time in the academy will expose any cracks in your resolve to follow the Light and any holes in your Jedi training. We need to be tested often to know just how we stand, and I think you are finally ready for this test.”

    I'm glad you think I'm ready, Ev,” Dustil replied at an uncomfortable mumble, “I really have worked hard to become a Jedi.”

    Yes you have,” Ev agreed as they walked. “Both of us have much farther to go as Jedi than so many of the others. You have to climb a lot further to reach the light when you are coming out of darkness. It is much easier to fall back into old, destructive habits. With our past, we have so much to prove. Being average Jedi isn't enough for others to trust us. We must be spotless.”

    It's not fair,” Dustil complained.

    Of course it isn't,” Ev replied, “Nothing about a Jedi's life is fair, except for the way we are supposed to treat people. Like it or not, we made mistakes before, and now we have to make up for it.”

    They passed by the two stone pillars marking the entrance to the valley and turned into the narrow, winding path towards the back entrance of the Sith Academy.

    What if there are Sith still inside there?” Dustil asked warily.

    There aren't,” Ev answered definitively. Dustil had long learned to trust Ev's senses. She was never wrong. Though, he often forgot just how powerful and acute her connection to the Force was. Still, he hardly felt any better about returning to the academy that almost made him a Sith. If not for Ev, he would have stayed on the wrong side of the war and probably ended up dead.

    They walked along the path without speaking. The crunching of their boots on the dusty earth and the wind whistling through the pass were the only sounds. As they passed the shyrack nesting cave, Ev stopped abruptly and stared into its shadowy depths. A shyrack's squeal echoed from deep inside.

    This will be my test,” Ev murmured, barely audible.

    Dustil felt it too. Somewhere, deep in that cave, something was calling out to Ev.

    Come on, let's get to the academy,” Ev started again and continued around the last bend to the back gate. Dustil hastily followed.

    As the bowed stone figures flanking the doorway came into view for the first time in over a year, Dustil involuntarily shrunk back. He used to imagine that they were bowing to him, an ascendant Sith student, destined to become a great Dark Jedi. Now, they seemed ghostly and terrifying.

    Ev stopped several meters from the doorway and glanced at Dustil beside her. “Here, inside is your test, Dustil,” she said, “I want you to go in there and see what you find. Meditate. Explore the ruins of the academy, but, more importantly, explore the ruins of your old self.”

    Dustil swallowed hard but met her gaze with as much confidence as he could muster.

    Meet me back at the Ebon Hawk in the valley when you are ready to leave,” Ev finished.

    Aren't you coming in with me?” Dustil asked suddenly. Going into the academy alone was not part of the original bargain.

    No,” Ev replied firmly with a gentle shake of her head, “This is your test. I have my own demons to face here.”

    Okay,” Dustil nodded, taking a deep breath to calm himself. Ev expected him to be fearless, so he had to convince himself that there was nothing to fear. “I'll see you back at the ship later, then.”

    Ev smiled lightly, but It was a distracted smile. “May the Force be with you, Dustil,” she said in parting, then turned back down the path.

    She would be going back to the shyrack cave, Dustil realized. He often forgot that powerful Jedi like Ev were still always learning and in training, just as much as any padawan or apprentice. They just did not need a teacher to guide their learning any more. That was what made a Jedi into a real Jedi Knight, he realized.

    Dustil watched her until she was out of sight around the corner and then reluctantly turned back to the doors of the academy again. He gathered all of his courage and stepped forward. One step at a time, he drew closer to the academy until, finally, he was inside.

    Inside, it was quieter even than the valley. Dim light filtered in through the open doorway and narrow windows near the ceiling above. Dustil shivered again. He fumbled for his lightsaber at his belt then held it out in front of him, igniting the blade. He felt better with the weapon out before him. It cast its icy blue glow on the floor and walls around him. Above, the ceiling was lost in shadows.

    Dustil continued through the training hall at the rear of the academy and down the long corridor to the central main chamber. He cringed at every noisy footstep he made that echoed down the hall.

    In the main chamber, he was utterly alone. Dustil felt at a loss. He made his way towards the very middle of the room where patterns in the floor drew circular patterns to the center. There, he sat down and crossed his legs just as he had seen Master Uthar do every day in this very spot. Dustil extinguished his lightsaber and laid it on the ground beside him. It clattered against the stone before it wobbled to a rest at his side.

    Breathing deeply, Dustil tried to meditate. It was nearly impossible to concentrate in this space haunted by his past.

    He thought back to when he had first joined the academy. Not long after he had been given his own lightsaber, Dustil had already killed two of his fellow students in an angry fit and in hopes to impress the Sith Masters. It had worked. He was advanced and praised, but two boys were dead. He could not even remember their names now or what they had said to make him so angry. It had not mattered at the time. He had been looking for a reason to kill someone. Killing was a part of being a Sith.

    Dustil felt the sudden urge to track down those two boys' families and apologize, just as Ev was doing. All at once, he understood what she was doing with all of her visits. Dustil had deprived those two boys of a future and of a chance for redemption like he had been given. For years, he had forgotten all about that, but now he was sorry.

    Those were far from the last people he had killed while a student at the academy.

    Another time, when some Twi'lek brute took a practice sparring match against Selene too far, Dustil jumped in to intervene and killed him right there. Selene was never very good with a lightsaber, and Dustil always felt responsible for her in one way or another.

    There you are, Dustil,” a familiar voice said sweetly.

    Dustil's heart twisted as he looked up to see a familiar pixie-like blond girl hurry across the dim hall towards him.

    Selene,” he choked on his words, hurriedly standing to greet her while clipping his lightsaber back to his belt. But Selene is dead. Did she survive after all? Hope swelled in his chest. “What are you doing here?”

    I've been looking all over for you,” Selene scolded gently. Strangely, she looked to be about the age they had first come to the academy. She started again, quickly and without waiting for him to answer as she always did, “You know, I've been thinking, Dustil. We should go to Korriban.”

    Korriban?” Dustil asked, startled, “What do you mean? Korriban is terrible.”

    But it will be better than this hell-on-earth of Sith Cadet training camp,” she argued, “You heard what that Dark Jedi said last week. We both have a connection to the Force. That means we could become Dark Jedi too. Think of the freedom and power we could have.”

    'The Force shall free me',” he murmured. Suddenly it hit Dustil: he had had this conversation already once before. This was not Selene standing in front of him in flesh and blood. This was a vision of the past. He did not want to believe it, even so.

    Well, what do you think?” Selene pressed.

    No,” Dustil shook his head, “That power comes at too great of a cost. The Dark Jedi tear each other apart for power. They'll kill you, Selene. You aren't strong enough for that.”

    If we stay around here much longer, we will get sent off to war and killed at the battle front anyway,” Selene argued.

    This was not how it went the first time. Dustil agreed, and they boarded the next transport to Korriban together.

    This whole war is stupid,” Dustil argued, “What are people dying for? Life is sacred, Selene.”

    Dustil, you're a Sith like any of the rest of us,” Selene pointed out, “Why are you talking like this all of a sudden?”

    Because I don't want to see you hurt, Selene,” Dustil pleaded, “Please, let's get out of here. We can run away. The Jedi would take us and they would even treat us like people. I can't stay on a path like this towards killing people.”

    Selene smiled. “You're right, Dustil,” she replied sweetly, “You can't.” She faded away, still smiling, as insubstantial as a wisp of smoke.

    Dustil lunged forward with a cry towards where she had been. Hugging his arms to his chest, he found himself caught in silent sobs. He missed Selene so much it was almost unbearable. Feelings that he had repressed for more than two years welled up to the surface again. His heart ached in his chest, threatening to rip in two. How desperately he wished that they really had gone to the Jedi together instead of the Sith. How different their lives would have been. If they had, maybe she would still be alive now.

    Dustil stood alone in the dimness, crying and aching for a future that could not be.

    Ev followed the pull she felt in the Force through the winding passages of the shyrack cave. The Dark Side hung like a thick fog all over everything. The shyrack must have felt it too. They avoided her as much as she avoided them.

    Deep inside, there was a wide ravine in the cave floor, but the Force still pulled to her from the other side. Resolving before her in the darkness, Ev spotted a stone bridge spanning the ravine built by ancient hands. She crossed over and let the Force continue to guide her deeper and deeper in. Shivering, she felt progressively colder the farther she went.

    A tall cave wall loomed up ahead of her. It seemed like the end of the line, but as she drew nearer, she could make out the outline of a great stone doorway. Nearer still, and she could see the writing engraved on the upper lintel: 'Tomb of the Dark Lord Ludo Kressh.'

    Since when can I read ancient Sith hieroglyphs?

    Nothing should come as a surprise to her any more.

    Ev felt with complete certainty that this was the place the Force was drawing her to. Just what it wanted of her there remained to be seen. Trusting in the Force, she stepped through the doorway and into the tomb.

    She held her glow rod higher to illuminate more of the passage, but there was little to see. Bare walls framed a long passage that climbed gently to a heavy stone door at the other end. Ev continued purposely forward, all the while wondering what the purpose of this trip was for her. What could she discover here that would give light to the bewildering path that lay ahead of her?

    Ev had no proof that the Sith, or any other enemy for that matter, were coming to attack the Republic again, but something inside of her knew it was true. She had only fragments of memories and elusive hints to that end, but she could not risk that it was false. Even if it was true, what could she do to stop it? Where were the enemies in the first place? Who were they? Even Revan could not stop something she could not find.

    Was she better off remaining with the Jedi, trying to earn their respect so that she could advise them when the time of trouble came? Was she better off staying on Coruscant, close to Carth? He brought stability to her life where there was none without him. If she left Republic space in search of an unknown threat, did she trust herself to walk the right path alone?

    One thing that was without question was this: if she left, she would go alone. Whatever danger that lurked out beyond the known regions of space, whatever danger it was that had scared Revan, Ev could not risk any of those she loved to it. She was Revan. She was powerful. Whatever danger Revan could not handle alone, any army of followers would not be able to handle either. Her own neck was the only neck she dared to risk.

    Ev reached the huge stone door. It was built like most of the other doors in the the valley. She pressed her palm firmly against the large keystone in the center of the door. It responded to the pressure and, grating noisily, slid apart. Holding her glow rod high, Ev stepped into the dusty chamber beyond.

    With a metallic roar of rage, Darth Malak leaped out of the shadows, lightsaber blazing.

    Ev cast aside her glow rod and both of her lightsabers were in her hands in an instant. She blocked Malak's blow over her head, groaning under the impact.

    So you have come at last, my old master,” Malak taunted. “But the Light Side has weakened you. You are hardly a shadow of Darth Revan. I am the most powerful now.”

    Malak is dead. I killed him myself. This is just a vision. Ev had to remind herself.

    Powerful,” Ev replied through gritted teeth. Still, his saber bore down against her two blades crossed above her head. “But at what cost Malak? The Dark Side has already destroyed you.”

    Finally Malak relented, leaping back and swinging in for another pass. Ev whirled out of the way. Now free of the doorway, she had room to move. The duel began in earnest.

    Malak charged in again, taunting her, “You think you have grown more powerful, but you still are nothing compared to what you were before. Without freeing your passions, without the Dark Side, you will never be strong enough to face what you are after.”

    You know what I'm after,” Ev said, blocking another powerful blow, “You went with me into the Unknown Regions. You know what I found there.”

    You know of ways to make the Jedi Council talk,” Malak countered, “You could make them help you undo what they did. They never really erased your mind. They just buried it. You have the power to reclaim it.”

    I will not use tools of the Dark Side to get what I want this time,” Ev asserted, delivering a flurry of blows at Malak, who blocked every one.

    Then you are doomed to weakness, Revan,” Malak snarled, “You are doomed to fail in your quest when your power is not enough. Without the power of the Dark Side, you will fail, Revan. You knew that last time.”

    Last time?” Ev panted, dancing back away from Malak's charge.

    Embrace the Dark Side. Use it,” Malak urged, “Don't be a fool any more and simply let the Light Side use you. You need its power. Without it, you can't even defeat me.”

    I have learned that the Light Side will always triumph over the Dark,” Ev declared, “What may appear to be a weakness is really a strength. My strength in the Light Side will be enough.”

    Malak stepped back and lowered his guard. “Will it?” he asked. Ev lunged, slicing through him. Her saber met no resistance, cutting through him as easily as cutting through air. He disappeared, a spirit on the musty breeze, his final words echoing off the cavern walls, “Will it?”

    Trembling, Ev extinguished her lightsabers and hung them back on her belt.

    Will it?

    Dustil paced restlessly through the academy. His nerves were on edge. He did not need to see another vision of a dead friend. That was too much to bear. He would rather encounter a live Sith still lurking the ruins.

    Glowing lightsaber still in hand, his free hand fidgeted over the hilt of Revan’s lightsaber that hung from his belt. Uneasily, Dustil turned towards the library and slipped through the ajar door. Lashowe was sitting at one of the study tables, scanning over something on her holo disk reader. She looked up as he entered. “Oh, hi Dustil,” she said in greeting, “How has your training been going lately?”

    It's just another vision, Dustil had to remind himself. Lashowe isn't really back here on Korriban with me. She's on Coruscant with the others. “Fine, I guess,” Dustil admitted awkwardly, still lingering near the doorway, “Ev is a really great teacher. I'm learning a lot from her.”

    I'm a bit jealous,” Lashowe replied, “I wish I had a master already.”

    I'm really lucky she picked me,” Dustil nodded, feeling a bit guilty. Of the group of ex-Sith trainees at the Jedi Temple, only Snow, Shasa, and himself had been chosen to become padawans, and that was only by the somewhat eccentric Jedi heroes who had destroyed the Star Forge. All three of them had lived through more than just a minor brush with the Dark Side.

    How much longer do you think you'll be her padawan?” Lashowe asked.

    Oh, at least five more years, maybe more than that,” Dustil estimated. Most people did not get knighted until their mid twenties.

    Seriously?” Lashowe asked in mild disgust, “You'd be a full dark Jedi right now if you had stayed with Master Tekkin on Korriban. You're good, Dustil, and everybody there knew it.”

    The Jedi do things differently,” Dustil pointed out, “They don't knight their students as quickly. They're a lot more careful with their training.”

    Do you really think it's better this way?” Lashowe asked pointedly, “Force is supposed to free us, not hold us back."

    "Lashowe, that's Sith teaching," Dustil warned, "The Jedi say that the Force brings harmony."

    "How can you feel harmonious when you know that the Jedi training is tying you down?" Lashowe asked, "Look at me. At this rate, I'll never be a full Jedi. I'll be student, chained to the kriffing Jedi Temple for the rest of my life."

    Dustil did not point out that the Jedi Agricorps were a more likely sentence for her. It was better that she did not know, for the moment anyway.

    "What do you think is holding you back?" Lashowe asked, "Why won't she just turn around and knight you right now? And I don't mean just because the Jedi don't do that kind of thing."

    "Well," Dustil started thoughtfully, "She says I really have learned a lot. I think I mostly have a handle on the Jedi teachings and why they're better than what the Sith fed us, but I don't have the control she does. I can't always get the Force to do what I want it to. I never even get close to scoring points on Ev in dueling practice—except for when she's zoned out. I just can't coordinate myself the way she does. Ev says that I'm trying to hard to use the Force rather than letting it flow through me and use me."

    "Why shouldn't we use the Force?" Lashowe demanded, "It's a powerful tool, but the way the Jedi teach us, we can't even grip the hilt."

    "It seems like that's not the way it's supposed to be done," Dustil defended Ev's teachings meekly, "There's a better way to do it. I just haven't figured it out yet."

    "Dustil, you know as well as all the rest of us do," Lashowe said impatiently, "Feelings and passion are the way to take the tuk'ata by the horns. The other day, when Master Kavar was leading our lightsaber class, he was telling me how my technique was too sloppy, and you know what? It ticked me off. I got mad and I used that. I was stronger, faster, and more focused, and I beat that son of a gundark. You should have seen the look on his face. He was so surprised. But then he had the nerve to chew me out for it. If a Jedi Master is allowed to get mad at me for that, why aren't I allowed to get mad too?"

    "Because he knows how to control his anger," Dustil replied quickly. He respected Master Kavar and he was not about to let Lashowe slander him. "Because he didn't use it for anything destructive. If you had gotten out of control, you could have killed him."

    "But I didn't," Lashowe countered, "I know how to control my anger. I know how to use it. And I would if they'd let me."

    "And you'll never be taken as a padawan as long as you keep acting like that," Dustil retorted frustratedly. He would never say such things to the real Lashowe, but he had wanted to so many times before. "You're dangerous, reckless, and you'll never make a decent Jedi if you don't decide to act like one. Good decisions only come from clear, calm minds. Jedi can't help people if they're letting their passions loose all the time."

    "Try it Dustil," Lashowe urged, "Just once. I dare you to act like a Sith and use all that training you got on Korriban. Use the power your passions give you and see if you can't beat Ev too. Then she’ll know you’re ready. I’ve seen how distracted she’s been lately. I bet she wants to knight you and get you out of her hair. Give her reason to."

    The idea tempted him. Ev had been neglecting him a lot lately, and he knew he could take his learning into his own hands—he already was whenever Ev disappeared for a few days at a time. All the same, Ev was one of the best duelists in the entire Jedi Order. She had to know best. He trusted her to know when he was ready. "No," Dustil said firmly, "I want to be a Jedi like Ev, and I want to do it right. I don't just want power any more. I want to lead a good life, serving the galaxy, just like my dad, just like Ev."

    "If that's what you really want," Lashowe said with a sarcastic smile, "Good luck. You'll need it."

    Like Selene before her, Lashowe simply faded away, leaving an eerily empty library behind her. Dustil shuddered and backed out of the room and back into the hallway.

    After fighting her way through a next of shyrack spawn, Ev was alone in the silent tomb again. One meandering corridor led to the next, each decorated with chipped carvings and flaking murals lauding the great Ludo Kressh. She let the tugging sensation in the Force lead her through the maze of passages. The closer she got to her goal, the more fatigue grew in her. The Dark Side energies all around her all but drained her of her energy.

    Ev passed through another of the great stone doors into a long hall with deep pits dropping off on either side of the walkway. The door slammed shut behind her. A sudden feeling of foreboding crept over Ev. That was never a good sign. Turning back to the path ahead of her, she saw a robed figure waiting on the wide landing where walkway turned around a corner.

    Ev rested her right hand on the cool hilt of one of her lightsabers and advanced cautiously. The Dark Side all around her muddied her senses, but she could not make out the presence of anyone else near by, good or evil. It had to be another vision of the tomb, another test of her character.

    As she drew nearer and the man came within the outer range of the light of her glow rod, she could make out his unmistakable brown Jedi robes, shock of dark hair, and closely trimmed beard. “Master Waykennit,” Ev realized out loud. Why would her subconscious bring him here to test her? He had been an informal master and adviser to her for the last several months, but no more than that.

    Ev, I am glad to see you,” he began with all the warmth he that usually greeted her, but there was concern in his eyes, “I was beginning to wonder if I would see you again.”

    What do you mean?” Ev asked, “I have been continually thankful for your help.”

    Ev, well, how do I put this?” Embrik started haltingly, “I sense a feeling that—I sense that you wish to leave us.”

    Master Waykennit,” Ev started, “Leaving the Jedi for the Sith again has never crossed my mind.”

    No, that is not what I fear for you, Ev,” Embrik clarified, taking a step closer, “You wish to strike out on your own and face a challenge, a quest, that you think only you are equal to.”

    Ev did not answer. She had never put it into those terms herself, but he was right. I really am the only one who can do this. If I don't, no one will.

    Ev, I beg you not to go alone,” he pleaded, “Whatever it is, it is too dangerous to risk yourself on. We cannot replace you, Ev. If you were to approach the Jedi Council, maybe they could put you at the head of an expedition. The Jedi have resources to help you.”

    No,” Ev shook her head, “The Council would shackle me with their fear and mistrust as they always do. They would brush off my fears. I don't want them to know I'm remembering. I am grateful for your support, Embrik, but you aren't on the council any more, and they don't trust me.”

    But you can't go alone!” Mission suddenly interjected. There she was, standing with Zaalbar, to Master Waykennit's left. “Ev, you can't.”

    Mission, you don't understand,” Ev argued.

    And no one will understand if you don't tell them, right?” she pointed out.

    Say the word, and I will come with you, Ev Pell,” Zaalbar rumbled, “I owe you my life and I will protect yours as you go into the unknown.”

    And where Big Z goes, I go,” Mission added.

    No, both of you, no,” Ev replied firmly, “Zaalbar, you are needed on Kashyyyk right now far more than I need you. And Mission, where I'm going is no place for you.”

    Are you calling me some incompetent kid?” Mission accused, “You should know by now that I pull my own weight.”

    I know! All the same, I can't take you with me. It's too dangerous,” Ev argued, “And besides, you want to stay with Zaalbar, don't you? I can't let him come with me. He's too important in the development of Kashyyyk right now.”

    This old man could leave Kashyyyk any time and no one would miss his meddling,” Jolee offered, appearing next to Zaalbar. “What good am I doing here anyway? Babysitting a bunch of Wookiees? Hrumph.”

    Jolee, I can't ask you to go with me either,” Ev argued.

    You and that destiny of yours,” Jolee said, “I want to be around when it happens.”

    Me and my destiny might get you and a lot of other folks killed,” Ev replied impatiently, “No.”

    You know I will follow you to the ends of the universe,” Juhani promised smoothly, “You need not even ask me.” She stood calmly on the other side of Embrik Waykennit, golden eyes boring into Ev.

    Juhani,” Ev said, feeling a pang of regret. The Cathar's intense loyalty would leave her with intense disappointment when she left. When I leave? Did I decide to go already?

    Ev, you are a person that I respect and admire greatly,” Juhani continued, “I cannot allow you to walk into dangerous territory alone.”

    Juhani, I promise I can handle myself,” Ev pleaded, “I can't risk both my life and yours.”

    And that is why I must go with you,” Juhani replied, “So that is only my life you are risking.”

    Juhani,” Ev tried to argue with her. “This is something I have to do, and I don't want to put anyone else through it. I don't know what I am up against.”

    Then why are you so convinced that you need to go?” Bastila demanded, standing next to Juhani.

    That's something I shouldn't have to explain to you, Bastila,” Ev replied, “You can sense it in me. I feel this compulsion, this fear, that I can't explain.”

    Oh, should I?” Bastila sounded resentful and concerned all at once, “I don't know how you're doing it, but you are isolating yourself from me. I can't sense you over our bond as well as I used to. I know you're hurting. Why are you doing this? Why are you isolating yourself from everyone?”

    I don't want you to worry about me,” Ev replied.

    I already am, Ev,” Bastila said and sighed. “Please, don't do this to yourself any more,” she begged, “I am here for you. We share a bond through the Force. I understand you better than anyone else. Please let me back into your life Ev. I want to help you. I don't want to leave the Jedi behind, but I will go with you. We are bound together, Ev. Use that to help you.”

    Bastila, you have your own life, you're own future,” Ev replied, “Our bonding was a lucky mistake. I need you to stay behind to look after Juhani, Dustil, and—”

    Ev, beautiful,” said a voice that sent shivers down her spine.

    And Carth,” she finished, her heart sinking. She didn't want to turn to the newest addition to her group of visitors. How could she possibly face Carth.

    I don't know why you feel the need to leave,” Carth continued regretfully, meeting her gaze with a look that almost brought tears to Ev's eyes, “But please, Ev, don't leave me behind.”

    Carth, I—” the words caught in her throat.

    Ev, after all these years I lived alone, with nothing to live for but revenge, now I have you,” he continued, “I love you Ev. You have given me something to live for, and I'm not sure I can live without you now. I need you in my life, Ev. I will give up everything for you, even my life, if I have to.”

    And that's why I can't bring you—or anyone else along!” Ev exclaimed in a half-sob with more force than she expected, “Carth, you'd just go and do something stupid and get yourself killed for my sake. I have enough deaths on my record, I couldn't go on if yours was added to the list. Sometimes I can barely keep going even now. I need to do this to atone for what I've done. I need to do everything I can to prevent the same thing from happening again. I am Revan! It is my destiny to take on the deepest, darkest things in the galaxy so that no one else has to.”

    Ev, please,” Carth pleaded.

    Please,” Bastila echoed.

    Please,” Juhani repeated.

    “Please,” Jolee urged.

    “Please,” Mission begged.

    “Please,” Zaalbar rumbled.

    “Please,” the specter of Embrik finished. All their voices reverberated off the stone walls of the tomb for an unnaturally long time, as if a hundred more friends pleaded with her not to go.

    I am going some place that I can't take anyone I love with me,” Ev said quietly, staring at the dark, stone floor at her feet.

    Don't go alone,” Carth's voice pleaded.

    Hey Ev, wait!” Dustil's voice startled Ev. She turned and saw him running up the walkway from where she had come.

    Dustil, what are you doing here?” Ev asked, “I told you to meet me back at the Ebon Hawk you were ready.”

    Ev, please don't leave me,” Dustil panted as he reached her, “I'm your padawan. You have to finish training me, or I'll never become a Jedi.”

    How did you—” Ev started, then caught herself, “You, of all people, aren't ready to follow me into the darkness. You're improving a lot, but even I can't protect you from what I'm headed into. You hardly need me any more, though. You're almost ready to take your training into your own hands.”

    You think so?” Dustil asked eagerly. “But I'll miss you.”

    Bastila will take care of you,” Ev replied. “She's a good teacher.”

    We'll all miss you,” Dustil said, then faded away like a wraith in the mist.

    Ev blinked twice to clear her vision. So Dustil was a vision too. turned around and found that the visions of her other friends were gone as well. She took a deep breath and let it out in a shaky sigh. As long as Dustil passed the test of Korriban, he would be ready. Ev would have few regrets leaving him behind. Carth on the other hand...

    I can't say goodbye to Carth.

    Dustil wandered into the deserted halls of the dormitories where he and his friends had once resided. There were times when it was hard to believe that this had even been his life. Walking here, through the abandoned academy, felt almost surreal. Living at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, training under Ev, his Sith past felt unreachable distant.

    He turned down the corridor towards his old room. He remembered the morning he prepared to leave for good. His small team of rebels, knowing of the approaching Republic force, had prayed together to the Force for mercy and good luck, then followed Ev's lead through the temple, killing all who got in their way. It was not a day Dustil ever wanted to think about again, but here it was. Killing his classmates who stayed with the Sith was not something he could be proud of. Dustil knew things like that happened in war, and he did chose the right side in the end, but he hated that the turning point in his life towards becoming a Jedi was a day of carnage.

    Dustil's old room was in a back corner, without any kind of door, just like all the other student rooms. It was amazing how little privacy he had had then. It was as if the academy invited students to assassinate their rivals in their sleep. Dustil stared at his bed and the broken and looted footlocker that had once contained all he owned. It felt unreal.

    The Force suddenly nudged Dustil with a sense of urgent foreboding. He whirled around, lightsaber in hand, just in time to catch the downward strike of a Force pike. His attacker was masked and dressed all in grays and black. He snarled at Dustil from behind his mask and lunged in for another pass. Two more attackers, dressed and armed identically to the first, materialized out of shimmering air, deactivating their stealth field generators.

    Panic surged through Dustil. He fought desperately, somehow managing to keep his lightsaber between himself and the weapons of his three enemies. Ev said there weren't any Sith still in the ruins! How could she have been wrong? Why did she have to leave me here alone? He gave a forceful Shove through the Force and quickly grasped and ignited the saber Ev had given him. Its violet blade illuminated the room. Two of the attackers toppled backwards, but one managed to remain standing. Giving another snarl, he charged at Dustil. The other two were quickly back on their feet, rushing back into the fight again.

    Breathing raggedly, Dustil tried to open himself up to the Force completely, letting the Force use him as Ev constantly advised, but he felt too shaken. He grasped for the Force, but it slipped away. It only came in spurts, moment by moment and attack by attack.

    Swinging his lightsabes wildly, Dustil felt the cool, stone wall connect with his back. Another surge of terror shot up his spine. He was backed into a corner and there was not any way out. Faltering for just an instant, one of the attackers swung in high and struck his right shoulder. His lightsaber tumbled from his right hand at the sharp impact. The throbbing raced down his arm from his shoulder, growing into numbness. His right arm was practically unusable.

    Unpracticed with his left, Dustil began to feel even more desperate. “Ev!” he cried out, his voice cracking to an unnaturally high pitch, “Help me!” He could not sense her anywhere near by.

    The attackers bore in closer. Dustil ducked out of the way of a swinging Force pike. Lurching off-balance, he ducked himself into a roll. Although he landed hard on his right shoulder, he came back up with a grunt, away from the wall where he had been cornered. His feeling of release was short-lived, however. Backing away from the attackers again, he tripped up against the foot of his old bed. He was still cornered in his room without a way out.

    Ev! Help!” he yelled again, fear rising to a breaking point within him.

    But Ev was not there. She was not anywhere.

    Suddenly it all clicked into place. “This is the future,” Dustil realized out loud. A future Ev isn't part of...

    As he spoke those words, the three assassins vanished as abruptly as they had appeared.

    Dustil's knees gave way beneath him and he sunk down onto the end of the bed behind him. He was still panting and shaking hard. “It was just a vision,” he tried to reassure himself. But it felt like a pass with death.

    Somehow he knew that those attackers were a part of his future to come and Ev would not be. It felt like a warning, and not a very distant one at that. He felt renewed resolve to learn to wield his lightsaber with both hands. What he had just done, in a panic, unpracticed, could have killed him on his own blade if it had gone on any longer. If this attack was coming again, he had to be ready or he really would die at the next encounter.

    But no Ev? Dustil knew he was still far from knighthood. He should still have several more years at least under her tutelage, but that was not what it had felt like.

    No, but she had her research. Dustil never asked her, but it was clear that whatever it was she was pursuing was more than just for academic curiosity. Soon, she would come to a point where all the archives on Coruscant would not satisfy her. Ev was leaving, and soon.

    The whole thought left him feeling empty inside, but he knew it had to be true. He stood shakily. He wondered momentarily if he had passed his test, but realized he did not care any more. He was done with this academy and all its horrors. He was ready to leave it all behind him for good.

    Dustil hung Ev’s old saber back on his belt and reclaimed his own from where it fell. Putting one foot out in front of the other, he began walking again, silvery lightsaber hilt clenched tightly in his sweaty hand for comfort.

    The Darkness swirling around Ev grew thicker and stronger as she continued through the tomb. She knew she must be drawing close to its center, the chamber holding the remains of the Sith Lord Ludo Kressh. The Dark Side washed over her in waves, making her dizzy, almost giddy with it. It threatened to intoxicate her if she let it, but she could not. Every moment she resisted it, she felt weaker and weaker.

    This is my test,” she said grimly, pressing forward with all her energy. The power of the Dark Side was so heavy she could hardly reach the Light Side of the Force at all any more. It was thrilling and terrifying at once. “Ludo Kressh must have been some Sith Lord to leave a taint like this,” she murmured. “It's like I can hardly breathe.”

    Her glow rod cast its feeble light on a great stone doorway ahead. It was the end of the corridor and the only place to go. This must be it. The door was more intricately carved than any other in the entire tomb. Cast metal brackets that must have once held torches flanked the door and an army of stone figures prostrated themselves inward all along the door posts and lintels. Ev stepped forward and pressed the center stone in the door. It slid away, grating and grinding stone against stone.

    Ev raised her glow rod high to get a better look at the room and reached out with the Force. Amid the oppressive Dark Side energies, she felt almost blind.

    The crypt was surprisingly small, given the grandeur of the rest of the tomb complex. Large earthenware pots in alcoves around the circular chamber undoubtedly had once held the food, drinks, and treasures that the deceased Sith Lord would need to enjoy his afterlife. The sarcophagus was modest in size, yet gilded and decorated with an impressive array of gem stones. Looking over it all from the back of the chamber was a great stone Sith statue with arms outstretched.

    Ev stepped inside hesitantly. Instantly, the stone door closed in behind her with a loud crack. Ev jumped at the noise, startled, and braced herself for another vision of the tomb. Turning around, she found an unfamiliar figure sitting proudly on an immense throne that had not been there before in front of the sarcophagus. He wore heavy, black robes draped with ceremonial armor that finned out wide from his shoulders. A tall, cylindrical hat, resembling a crown rested on his brow. His face was red and angular with two beard-like tentacles hanging off his jowls. He looked just like the red-faced figures in the flaking murals all over Ludo Kressh's tomb. This was a Sith, a true Sith like the galaxy had not known since the Great Hyperspace War. Ev balked at that realization but tried her best not to show it. The Sith on the throne's yellow eyes gleamed as he grimaced wickedly at her.

    So it is Revan,” he observed menacingly in a language that Ev had never heard before and yet understood, “You have returned.” He paused, looking her over with disapproval. “And yet you return alone and empty-handed. Where is what you promised me?”

    I don't know,” Ev replied cautiously.

    You failed me, Revan, didn't you?” he whispered dangerously.

    Those yellow eyes. Ev was immobilized under his gaze. She could not find any words to answer.

    Why have you failed?” he roared, raising his hand and clenching it into a fist.

    Ev felt her air way constrict. She coughed, absently pawing at her neck as if that would make it subside. “I don't...know,” she eeked out weakly, “The Jedi... they changed me. They, they... erased my memories...” Ev could say no more. She began to feel dizzy for a lack of air.

    No, you can't die here, Ev. She reminded herself. She reached out into the Force, grasping and whatever she could. The Dark Side was still hanging like a heavy curtain between her and her source of power, but she found a trickle. She pulled at it with all of her will and concentrated it towards her throat, willing it to open and resist the choking hold of the Sith. Growing even more light headed, Ev found it harder and harder to concentrate. She dropped into the edge of a trance-like state, lessening her need for oxygen. Barely conscious of the world around her, she forced outward with everything she had left. Her air way opened and she gasped for air.

    Ev opened her eyes and found herself collapsed to her knees on the floor. She did not remember falling. Her head pounded, her chest throbbed, and her knees ached, but she was alive.

    Good, good,” the Sith hissed, “You may be a useful servant to me yet, Revan.” He let out a triumphant, evil laugh. He disappeared into the darkness, his throne with him, but his laughter echoed off the walls of the crypt long after his vision was gone.

    Ev remained on the floor, panting and absently massaging her throat. Was that Ludo Kressh himself or some other Sith entirely? He said she was returning that she had promised him something, but where and what? The True Sith were still out there, is that what her vision was trying to confirm.

    She felt the oppressive darkness around her abate and a ray of daylight trickled down from a jagged hole in the ceiling of the chamber. “Is that it?” Ev coughed, “Have I passed?”

    Ev knew at her core that that was not a vision of some long dead Sith Lord. He was alive and still out there, and he was waiting for Revan to fulfill her promise, whatever it was. He was terrifying and evil; a far worse Sith—a true Sith—than Revan or Malak had ever been. Ev could not remember it now, but she knew she had met him before, if the vision spoke true, and she knew that she had to go meet him again, to whatever end. This was the task that only she could perform. She, and no one else, was Revan.

    Ev stood weakly to her feet and looked up at the hole in the ceiling above her. She would much rather take that way out than return through the tomb again. One good Force Jump aught to do it. She let the Force pour into her again, braced herself, and leaped.

    Ev approached the Ebon Hawk through Valley of the Dark Lords, eager to be off Korriban again. The world seemed like a lifeless graveyard in the dull, gray twilight. HK-47 stood at attention beneath the Ebon Hawk's hull, head swiveling in rhythmic awareness. As she drew near, he announced, “Statement: Your student has already returned and boarded the ship, Master.”

    Thank you HK,” Ev replied wearily, “You didn't see anything else while we were gone?”

    Statement: Negative,” he replied, “This world is dead as a grave, master.”

    Ev nodded. “Do one more check of the ship and get on board,” she ordered, “We're getting out of here.”

    Statement: Yes Master,” HK acknowledged.

    Ev herself hurried up the loading ramp. T3-M4 greeted her at the top with a series of excited tweets that almost sounded relieved. “Yes, I'm fine,” Ev reassured the little astromech, “The ship is ready to go?”

    T3-M4 gave an affirmative chirp and rolled off towards the engine room.

    Ev, you're back,” Dustil hurried out to greet her. His excitement faded when he saw her. “You don't look so good,” he observed.

    Neither do you,” Ev replied. “But Korriban will take its toll.”

    Dustil nodded in understanding.

    Come on,” Ev urged, “HK will be back on board in a minute. Let's get this ship in space. Then we can breathe easy again.”

    Fine,” Dustil agreed. He looked just as eager as she was to get away from the dead Sith world.

    Dustil followed at her heels to the cockpit and slid into the copilot's seat beside her. He was becoming a decent pilot. He would never be as good as either Ev or his father, but Dustil was already a reliable copilot. The ship's security feed alerted her that the loading ramp was retracting and HK-47 was aboard.

    Ev powered up the Ebon Hawk and then engaged the repulsorlifts. She sensed Dustil was both eager and reluctant to discuss what he had experienced. She let him have his peace. They would have three days in hyperspace to talk on their way back to Coruscant. There was no rush.

    She fired up the main thrusters and jetted out of the valley, climbing through the atmosphere. It did not take long until they were out in space and soaring out of the planet's gravity well. Dustil held his pensive silence all the while.

    Alright,” Ev said, finishing her calculations, “Coordinates are set for our jump to Coruscant. Engage the hyperdrive.”

    I'm on it,” Dustil replied and drew down the switch. The Ebon Hawk accelerated until the stars drew out long lines around them and they snapped into the swirling blue of hyperspace.

    Ev leaned back and sighed heavily. Turning to Dustil, she asked, “Hungry?”

    He nodded.

    What me to whip up something on the synthesizer in the back?” Ev offered.

    Better you than me,” Dustil laughed, “Usually the stuff you make at least tastes like food.”

    Alright,” Ev said and pulled herself up out of the seat. She headed for the cargo hold where the ship's bulky food synthesizer was kept and Dustil followed shortly after her. Ev bit at her lip as she punched at the touch pad. It was pathetic that one of the fastest ships in the galaxy had a food system that was not worth its weight in bantha fodder.

    Um, so,” Dustil started noncommittally.

    Do you want to talk about what happened down there?” Ev asked.

    Yeah, I guess,” he replied. Ev sensed emotional pain in him. She could guess some of what Korriban had shown him.

    You don't have to tell me about every detail of it,” Ev qualified, “I can sense that it tested you to the very edge of your will and that you passed.”

    Dustil met eyes with Ev. “I'd say the same about you,” he replied.

    Ev cracked a weak smile. “And we've got a few days to recover before we have to act presentably at the Jedi Temple again,” she said.

    Dustil stared at her, searching. She could feel him probing with the Force in uncertainty. He was worried. Finally, he mustered his courage and asked, “You're leaving, aren't you?”

    Ev looked away. Was I really that transparent when I hadn't even decided, myself?

    I thought so,” Dustil sighed, “I thought that was what that vision was trying to tell me.”

    I hadn't decided until just today, but,” she admitted, still not looking at him, “But, please don't tell your father.”

    I won't,” Dustil promised. He seemed to understand. “But what about me? Why can't you at least finish my training or take me with you?”

    Because where I'm going, I don't dare take anyone I love with me,” Ev replied, finally meeting his gaze again. “The place my search will take me—the task set before me is one only I can do.”

    Then I'll never be a Jedi,” Dustil sighed.

    Dustil, you're ready to go on learning without me,” Ev pointed out, “That was your Trial of the Spirit, and you passed. You already faced your Trial of the Flesh, and dealing with my disappearance will be that test for you all over again. In the days ahead, I'm sure you will refine your skills so that you will pass that trial in time, but the hardest part is already over for you. Bastila lost her master before she was ready to be knighted and she still proved herself all the same. Go to Bastila for help when you need it. She will take care of you. She is already a very good teacher.”

    Thanks for putting so much faith in me, Ev,” Dustil said, “We'll all miss you, though.”

    I'll miss you too, more than I can say,” Ev admitted, “But the life of a Jedi is one of denying yourself for the greater good.”

    I hope,” Dustil stammered, “I hope, that after all this, you can find what you're looking for.”

    And I hope that by the time I return, you will be the great Jedi Knight I see in you,” Ev said encouragingly and patted him on the shoulder.
  15. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Let them all get away from you (in the future, since I know this story is done).

    But will Ev miss HK-47?!?! He didn't appear in the visions :(
  16. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Oh, don't worry. HK-47 isn't sentimental, but he is a stalker.


    Part 20- The Road to Rediscovery

    Ev's eyes stared out through the tinted slit of a mask that they had countless times before, yet her mind remembered almost none of it. Weighed down by armor, leather, and heavy robes, Ev felt powerful. She felt like more than just herself. She felt, like she had so many times before, that innumerable lost memories were just below the surface, waiting to break out. And still they did not.

    Roan'ev, Revan, the Revanchist, Evrue Pell, Ev Onasi, these were all names, and the names were hers. Each meant something different. Each was a different person under the same skin. The duplicity was staggering.

    Without those memories, Ev would forever be fragmented within herself, weak. How could she hope to face the task ahead of her with less than her full self? She had to remember. Only with her whole mind as one, unifying four identities into one, would she be complete. And when that happened, who, really, would she be?

    Willing herself to remember never succeeded. Seemingly random triggers were often the cause of her waking visions. Ev thought back to Dantooine. That had been different. The wound in the Force that was left there by a terrible loss of life cried out to her. It wanted her to remember a day she had not even been present for.

    How much more powerful would it be for a place that I had been therewhen everything died.

    Seeking out old battle grounds from the Mandalorian Wars and Jedi Civil War where she had played a part would be a start. Ev had to hope that her trickle of memories returning would become a deluge once the flood gates to her past were opened.

    The more she thought about it, the more Ev was certain that the Sith in her vision in the tomb on Korriban was a part of the threat she feared. More mysteries remained than answers. Who was he? Where was he? What did he want? What was she failing to bring him even now?

    The door to Ev's room swung open. It was never locked. Bastila started in greeting as she pushed it open, “Ev, I was wondering how your trip to—”

    Bastila hardly managed to contain her gasped shriek before she frantically slammed the door behind her. Her face was ghostly pale and her hands trembled, hovering over the long hilt of her lightsaber that hung from her belt.

    The shriek jarred Ev out of her contemplative trance. She quickly brushed back her deep hood and lifted off the mask. “Bastila, it's me,” she reassured quickly.

    Although she relaxed her hands away from her lightsaber, Bastila hardly seemed reassured.

    I thought—I thought you...” Bastila started, still shaken. Ev could almost hear her heart racing from across the small bedroom. “What—what is this? Where did you find it?”

    On Dantooine,” Ev admitted warily, pulling off her heavy leather gloves and dropping them on the bed beside her. Even through their bond, thinned as it was, Ev could not sense how Bastila would react. “I found where they kept me prisoner.”

    Bastila pursed her lips. She knew about that place, Ev realized. “But why?” Bastila asked in a hoarse whisper.

    This,” she said, spreading her arms wide, “and this mask, they are a key to my past. I need to remember, and this just might help me.”

    Ev, all you will find in your past is pain,” Bastila pleaded, color beginning to come back to her face and strength back to her voice. “You don't need to go there.”

    Ev clenched her fist and laid it against her own chest. “Bastila, I have this big hole inside of me where my past should be,” she replied emphatically, “It nags at me. It makes me feel like less than a full person. Every day it gets worse as I realize just how much I don't know about me. I can't bear it any more, pretending that it doesn't matter.”

    Concentrate on building your future from here,” Bastila pleaded, “not reconstructing your past. The life you have built for yourself now is one you should be proud of.”

    That was only for the last, what, two years?” Ev pointed out, “Bastila, I'm thirty-one years old, if the records can be believed. That's twenty-nine years I have lost.”

    Can't you do this another way?” Bastila asked urgently, “I'm afraid for you, Ev.”

    If there's another way, please tell me,” Ev replied helplessly.

    Ev's comlink twittered noisily on the bedside table. She reached over and picked it up, seeing Carth's name on the screen. “It's Carth,” she told Bastila, conflicting emotions raging inside of her. Holding it up to her ear, she answered, “Carth!”

    Hey Beautiful,” Carth replied over the comlink, “I know this is short notice, but I just got some leave and I'm back on Coruscant for the next couple of days.”

    Ev's heart soared and sank all at once. “Really, that's great,” she replied, trying not to sound forced. “You know, I've still got the Ebon Hawk up here at the Temple. I should bring it back to you. Where are you staying tonight?”

    In the Skylite Hotel, near the Temple district,” Carth replied. “If you're not busy, I was thinking we could meet for dinner at the Skylite's tower restaurant.”

    That sounds great,” Ev replied. “I'll see you there in an hour or so, then?”

    See you then, love,” Carth replied, and hung up.

    Bastila still stood with her back against the door, staring warily at Ev, who was still draped in the black robes of a Sith Lord.

    It looks like I have a date tonight,” Ev started awkwardly.

    Ev, please, take care of yourself.”

    Juhani, I know this is sudden, but—” Bastila started, having pulled her Cathar friend out of a meditation session with her Selkath padawan. Juhani left Shasa to meditate alone while Bastila and Juhani stole into another open meditation chamber just down the hall.

    It is about Ev, is it now?” Juhani cut in.

    Bastila nodded uneasily.

    I do not have the bond with her that you do,” Juhani said, “But I sense that something has changed, or is about to change.”

    She found all of Darth Revan's things in the ruins of the Dantooine Enclave,” Bastila explained. “She wasn't expecting me, and I when I dropped in to see her, Darth Revan was sitting on her bed. I—I was shocked. I didn't know what to do. Of course it was still the same Ev, but seeing that mask again...”

    It brings you back to the day you lost your master and this whole thing began with you saving Revan,” Juhani nodded gravely. “I doubt I would have reacted any better,” she admitted.

    Carth is back on Coruscant, at least,” Bastila said with a sigh, “Ev is on her way to see him and spend the night. I hope he can talk some sense into her, bring her feet a little closer to the ground.”

    Why didn't you mention that earlier?” Juhani asked, jumping to her feet in alarm, “I have to follow her and keep watch.”

    She's going to be with Carth, Juhani, she should be fine tonight,” Bastila waved her off wearily. Her encounter with Ev had left her feeling drained and empty.

    Ev has been taking too many sudden, unannounced trips to dangerous places,” Juhani said firmly, “This time, she brought back the artifacts of Darth Revan. What if she brings back something worse next time? I fear, as you do, that there may not be a next time, that she may leave without a word. She is losing her grip on who she is and someone need to be there to support her. I will do this when there is no one else.”

    Carth is her biggest supporter, Juhani,” Bastila pointed out, “You know that.”

    And as the one that she loves the most, there will be many things she cannot say to him,” Juhani pointed out.

    Bastila sighed and nodded. She knew Ev better than anyone else, and through their bond, she knew all of that to be true.

    Please, give my apologies to Shasa,” Juhani said, heading for the door, “I must shadow Ev tonight. I hope she is too distracted to notice me. Where is she meeting Carth?”

    The Skylite Tower Restaurant,” Bastila answered. “May the Force be with you, Juhani.”

    And you with,” Juhani said from the door, “And Ev as well.”

    Juhani, I hope we're wrong about all this,” Bastila replied.

    I do too,” Juhani said softly, and she was gone.

    The Mon Calamari waiter led Ev on a winding path to the window-side table where Carth waited. Carth cracked a smile as he saw her approach, hips swaying with each step. She smiled slyly back at him. She knew that she was dressed to kill. Carth had not seen her bare so much skin—in public—since they infiltrated the Sith party back on Taris. Come to think of it, the slinky bias-cut plum halter dress with a glittering gemstone neckline looked to be exactly the same dress. Her dark skin seemed radiant against the shimmering two-tone silk, and her short hair was intentionally styled to compliment the sharp angles of her face.

    Carth grinned, knowing how un-Jedi-like it all was and that she had done it just for him.

    Right this way, ma'am,” the waiter pronounced, pulling out the chair across from Carth for her.

    Thank you,” Ev nodded politely and took her seat.

    The Mon Cal took the artfully folded linen napkin from atop her plate and shook it out sharply, then laid it across her lap. Ev again nodded her thanks. “Your server will be with you momentarily,” he announced, and strode off.

    Is that the dress you got on Taris?” Carth asked immediately, “You look beautiful tonight.”

    Ev smiled. “So you remember,” she replied playfully.

    I'm not the amnesiac here,” Carth teased. Ev's pleasant expression flickered for just a moment, but she swiftly recovered. He quickly added, “I didn't know that you still had that.”

    I didn't either,” Ev laughed, “Until I found it rummaging around in the Ebon Hawk on the way back from Korriban with Dustil.”

    Bastila had said that you went to Korriban with him,” Carth said, hoping that Ev would take the bait and explain. He had begun to see how much she resisted being asked about her personal Jedi business by anyone, even him. Pressing her would only result in silence and avoiding the subject entirely.

    Ev nodded and took a sip of the wine spritzer that Carth had already ordered before her arrival. “Dustil has been improving immensely,” she explained, “And I wanted to test his limits to see just how far he has come since the Sith Academy there.” Carth waited apprehensively, unsure whether she would continue, as she took another long sip. She did elaborate, “He passed Korriban's test. I'm really proud of him. You should be too.”

    Carth relaxed into a smile. “I really am,” he admitted, “I wish I could see him more, but, Ev, thank you for all you are doing for him.”

    I'll never be his mother,” She replied, “But I will always be his master. It's good, in a way, that I will never have to fill the same shoes as Morgan. He really is a good kid.”

    I'm glad,” Carth said, “This isn't the future I imagined for him when I held him as an infant in my arms, but I am really proud of him and where he is today.”

    He really gets it,” Ev continued in her praise of Dustil, “For a kid raised through his adolescence by the Sith, he understands what it really means to be a Jedi and he embraces it. Now that he sees and understands the differences between the Sith and the Jedi and knows the choices he is making, he always makes the right choices. You and Morgan really must have done something right in his childhood. His roots go deep.”

    Carth tried to push aside the pang of regret he felt in his gut; regret at not being there for Dustil more during his youth and regret at the loss of Morgan. “I hope he'll make a great Jedi one day,” Carth replied.

    I'm sure he will become a better Jedi than me,” Ev's smile was touched with mourning. If Carth did not know her so well, he would not have noticed it.

    He tried to brush off the desperate feeling of concern that suddenly gripped his heart. This was neither the time nor the place for that.

    Their server appeared and took their orders, leaving them with a complimentary bread basket.

    Are you still working through that list of war victims?” Carth did his best to make his question seem casual. The though that Ev's war guilt was keeping her awake at night had given Carth too many sleepless nights himself.

    Ev nodded, chewing at the bread. “I'm not quite a quarter of the way through reading them all,” she replied. It had been almost five months since she downloaded those classified flies off of his computer. “Dustil has been joining me in my condolence visits, which usually go pretty well.”

    You know you don't have to do that,” Carth pointed out, “We always send one of our people to inform families of the death of a soldier on the field.”

    And yet I still feel like I must,” Ev said with a sigh, “Every mother wife or brother who gives me her forgiveness, even if she really doesn't understand who I am or why I am there, it lifts a little weight off of my shoulders. It's a long road to forgiving myself—and don't you try to tell me that it wasn't me that committed those crimes.”

    You're beginning to remember more, aren't you?” Carth asked quietly.

    Though she did not reply, the long, calculating stare she gave Carth told him that she was.

    Ah, so, how are things at the Jedi Temple these days?” Carth fished for a new topic.

    The same as it's been,” Ev replied, “Which is not so great, as far as I'm concerned. There's just so few Jedi; not enough to train all the kids we have coming up through our ranks. If anything were to hit us now, the Jedi order could be completely lost.” The dark, determined look in her eyes clenched at Carth's nerves again.

    It's a good thing this war ended when it did,” Carth replied.

    I think it went on too long as it is,” Ev shook her head, “The losses were too heavy that I am worried whether the Jedi will be able to bounce back at all. We lost hundreds—no thousands, Carth, over the last two wars.”

    I feel the same about the navy, though we were bigger to begin with,” Carth nodded in agreement, “Much longer, many more losses, and the Sith would have won. We don't have much left to fight back with either.”

    How is the Telos Restoration Project going these days?” Ev asked.

    Well enough that they could spare me for a weekend,” Carth replied with a smile. The longer he sat with Ev, the more glad he was of that. “The first two residential modules of Citadel Station were brought in from the shipyards last week and should be stabilized and livable by the end of this week. The ground crew already has the beginnings of a shield network and a tidal power plant up. The Ithorians are using some tiny containment zones to start experimenting with imported flora and fauna.”

    I'm glad it's going so well,” Ev replied, smiling, “For your sake. You needed a bit of healing in your life.”

    Ev, you have healed me in more ways than you know,” Carth reached over the table and grasped her hand, squeezing it. “I will always look back at that day we crashed onto Taris together as a good day, no matter what it was then. It was the beginning of my new life, a life with meaning again.”

    Ev pulled her hand away and twirled it through a lock of her short hair. “So it's escape pod rides you like for your first date?” Ev started mischievously, “Though it will be awfully hard to find a Sith-controlled metropolis these days to repeat that on our anniversary.”

    I was being serious, Ev,” Carth rolled his eyes.

    I know,” she laughed.

    I love you, Ev,” he said emphatically.

    I know,” Ev replied, “I love you too.”

    Juhani took the next lift down from the restaurant after Ev and Carth. She had overheard Carth charging the restaurant bill to their room as they left, so Juhani had no fear of them sneaking off without her. Throughout the dinner, Ev had shown no sign of sensing Juhani near by or seeing through her Force Camouflage. Ever since returning from Dantooine, Ev had never once seemed to notice Juhani as her shadow around the Jedi Temple, or even when she left to wander Coruscant. She did not even notice Juhani steal aboard the Ebon Hawk with her tonight.

    The lift slowed to a stop and the doors slid open. Juhani stepped out. To anyone watching on the cameras, it looked like a mistaken stop with no one aboard the lift. She did not need to recall the room number, now that she was on the correct floor. Ev's overwhelming presence in the Force was like a beacon down the hall to those who know what to look for.

    She found the room with no problems. Pressing her ear against the door, she confirmed her senses with the sound of Carth and Ev's voices inside. She relaxed and leaned against the wall beside the door. Tonight, she would keep sentinel.

    When Ev came, she flew the Ebon Hawk to the hotel hangar with her. That act alone struck a chord with Juhani's uneasiness. Ev liked to walk, and the Skylite Hotel and Suites was well within her usual range of comfortable walking distances. Even if she were returning it to Carth, he had no need of it to return to the navy headquarters to take his transport back to Telos. If Ev wanted to return it to Carth, she could have just as easily left it in his storage hangar on another day.

    Juhani had no fear of falling asleep on watch. It would be an uneasy night.

    Ev lay on her side beneath the sheets, watching Carth sleep as the minutes ticked away into hours. She could not sleep.

    She resisted the urge to reach out and trace the outlines of the muscles on his bare chest with her finger. He looked so peaceful, so happy in his sleep. She did not want to wake him to reality.

    Carth's even breathing, his presence in itself, brought calm to her harried spirit. For one evening, Ev had almost been able to forget herself, her worries, and the task ahead of her.

    Laying here with Carth, Ev could not imagine leaving him. His love and support gave her the energy and stability she needed. To leave that behind, now that she had it, was almost inconceivable.

    But the danger she knew she had to face was too much. She could never ask anyone to enter into that darkness with her, much less someone she loved, and never Carth. He was too precious to lose. Ev knew she could give herself up for the sake of the galaxy if she knew that Carth was there to live in it.

    As her mind ran in circles over and over again, Ev tossed and turned fitfully through a sleepless night. She knew what she had to do, but she could not bear to do it.

    As Ev lay staring at the ceiling and counting nerf in her head to distract her thoughts, she felt a twinge in her bladder. With a sigh, Ev slipped from beneath the sheets and rolled out of bed. She slung a robe over her bare shoulders and padded to the refresher. Carth murmured and stirred in his sleep.

    When she finished, Ev lingered in the doorway, the flush of water whispering behind her. She gazed at Carth sleeping alone on the queen-sized bed. Frozen where she stood, she felt a rush of emotions flood through her: love and pity for Carth, regret and pride, hope and longing, and the driving sense of duty that she knew would take her away from him.

    Now that she was on her feet, Ev could not get back into bed with Carth or she would stay there forever with him. Ev crossed the carpeted floor to her small duffel with a sigh. She shrugged off the cotton hotel robe and found her undergarments where she had discarded them that night. She pulled out the long, white robe from the Star Forge and slipped it on over her head, the strapped on the leather vest over it and hung her lightsabers at her hips.

    Ev was not one for superstition, but she did believe in symbolism. When she started something, she was going to start it right.

    She collected the last of her things, including the slinky dress that lay in an unceremonious heap on the floor, and stuffed them into her bag. “It's now or never,” she whispered. She pulled on her socks and boots, then walked to the door.

    With one last, painful glance at Carth, Ev turned the knob on the door and pushed it quietly open. “I love you Carth,” she whispered with a heavy heart, “Don't forget me.” Then she slipped away.

    Carth woke suddenly, his heart pounding. A feeling of foreboding overwhelmed him. He sat bolt upright in bed and looked around.

    Ev was gone. He leaped out of bed, nearly tripping on tangled sheets and rushed to the refresher. It was empty. He hurried to the balcony door and looked outside even though he already knew in his heart that it was empty. Where Ev's travel duffel had been lay a wrinkled, yellow hotel robe. Unthinking, Carth picked it up and threw it over his shoulders, tying the belt around his waist. It was a woman's robe and far too small, but he did not care.

    Snatching up the room key Carth dashed out of the room and down the hall, his bare feet slapping against the polished marble floor. He hardly knew what he was doing. He punched the lighted lift button repeatedly until it arrived, doors opening before him. Lunging inside, he jabbed the button for the hangar level then paced the lift box as it rose. The doors had hardly opened into the hangar lobby as Carth squeezed through them, running across the duracrete.

    He skidded into hangar seven to see the Ebon Hawk’s blue engines blazing through the dark hangar. It repulsed off the hangar floor and glided out of the building into the night.

    Carth heart nearly stopped. Mouth hanging open in shock and horror, he darted forward again, chasing the ship though he knew it to be pointless. “Ev! Wait! Where are you going?” he yelled after her, but the Ebon Hawk did not stop. It soared off the landing and into the night. Dashing to the edge of the hangar, Carth watched as it joined the traffic patterns of Coruscant and was lost among the other ships. He watched long after it was out of sight. “Take me with you,” he pleaded at a whisper.

    Emptiness overwhelmed every part of his being. Ev was not coming back. He staggered to the hangar door controls. Slumping against the console for support, Carth cried like he had the day he lost his first wife.
  17. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    And the world isn't over! [face_laugh]

    Sorry I'm a bit late this week. Travel and stuff screwed me up a bit.


    Part 21- Empty Places

    Dustil hesitated, fist hovering centimeters in front of the hotel door. He took a deep, calming breath, then knocked twice and waited. Dustil was about to give up and abandon his task when the door opened on Carth. He looked terrible, wearing a too-small women's robe. His face was pale against puffy, reddened eyes. He hardly seemed to see Dustil standing there outside his door. It seemed unlikely that he would notice the second saber that hung from his belt, Revan's lightsaber, his parting gift from Ev. That would be for the best. His father did not need any further reminding.

    Dad, uh, Bastila said I could find you here,” Dustil began.

    And so you found me,” Carth replied gruffly, and stepped back to let Dustil inside. Though it was nearly mid-day the curtains were still drawn, on the dim, musty room. Carth had not even bothered to turn up the climate control to a comfortable level. The bed sheets lay wadded in disarray, though it looked like he had long since given up on sleeping there. A half empty bottle of Corellian Brandy sat on the bed side table.

    I—uh,” Dustil began, but started over again, “Ev wanted me to give this to you.” Dustil held out a small, single-use holo recorder.

    Carth took it but hardly looked at it. “You knew she was going to leave, then?” Carth observed, almost accusingly.

    I guessed it,” Dustil admitted, “I saw a vision of the future that didn't include her, and somehow I knew she was going to go.” He added hastily, “But she made me promise not to tell you.”

    Why?” Carth demanded, but not of Dustil. It was as if he was asking the whole universe to answer him, “Why would Ev leave without telling me? Why would she leave like that, without saying goodbye?”

    I don't know for sure, but I would bet she said something about her reasons on that,” Dustil suggested, waving a hand at the holo recorder that Carth held. “You don't have to watch it in front of me, though.”

    No, it's alright,” Carth sighed, then waved Dustil to the chairs in front of the bed, “Come on in. You're her family too.”

    Carth sunk into the chair near his brandy with another heavy sigh. Dustil stiffly took a seat on the other, ready to jump up and leave at a moments notice if his father needed more privacy. Carth activated the holo projector and a bluish projection of Ev from the waist up hovered above the black and silver disk.

    Carth, I'm sorry,” she began, “I am leaving. I am sorry that it had to be this way, but I know that if I had to face you and tell you myself, I wouldn't be able to bring myself to go. I love you too much, and I never want to see you hurt again.

    There are places that I have to walk that you cannot go with me, places I can't bring people that I love. As Revan, I have unfinished business, and I cannot risk anyone else's lives on that. I believe that there was something else behind the Mandalorian Wars. I don't think it was really their choice to attack the Republic as they did. Now it is my duty to find it and fight it. It is something that only I, as Revan, can do.

    Carth, I know this is going to be hard for you to take, but you need to stay strong. Don't come looking for me. Stay where you are. The Republic needs you. Please, keep the Republic strong.

    Until we meet again, Carth. I love you. Please, don't forget me.”

    How could I ever?” Carth whispered huskily. Tears glistened in his eyes.

    Dustil remained where he was, feeling awkward and intrusive.

    Carth swallowed hard, then looked up at his son. “First your mother, and now Ev,” he tried to smile but could not. “And now she had to go off all alone into who knows what kind of danger.”

    Actually,” Dustil hoped to comfort him, “Juhani is gone too. Bastila said that she was shadowing you and Ev last night and that she hasn't come back either. I think she managed to follow Ev aboard the Ebon Hawk when she left.”

    Carth looked as if just a little weight was lifted from his shoulders. “I trust Juhani with her,” he admitted with a sigh, “She will stick to Ev like glue and do her best to keep her out of trouble. I just wish...”

    That she'd take you with her?” Dustil asked.

    Carth nodded wordlessly, swallowing hard again.

    If it makes you feel any better, she wouldn't take me along either,” Dustil offered, “And I'm supposed to be her student and follow her everywhere.” He paused then added, “Boy is she going to be mad when she finds out that Juhani snuck past her.”

    Carth let out a short, halfhearted laugh. “You bet she will be.”

    Bastila and Snow walked away from one of the large lecture halls in the Jedi Temple from a debriefing on the closing campaigns of the war with the Sith. All the Jedi and their padawans on Coruscant had been invited, and still the two hundred-seat auditorium was not filled. Only small pockets of Sith resistance remained, and it was just a matter of cleaning them up to finish the war. Still, there were a number of powerful Sith who seemed to have disappeared entirely. While they hoped that the Sith had killed each other off in the far reaches of the galaxy, the unspoken fear remained that they were hiding, waiting for their moment to rise again.

    Bastila and her padawan took a turn and headed away from the rest of the departing crowd, towards the Eastern Arboretum where they would begin their training for the afternoon. They walked in silence, delving deep into the passages of the Jedi Temple. Nearing the arboretum, Bastila did not notice how long the silence between her and her padawan had stretched on.

    Something is bother you today, Bastila,” Snow observed gently. It was a statement, not a question.

    Ah, sorry,” Bastila apologized, “I was distracted there. What did you think about the debriefings?”

    I don't think you were thinking about them at all,” Snow replied firmly. As always, she would not let Bastila avoid any topic once brought up.

    Bastila sighed and shook her head. “Two of my dearest friends have gone away,” she admitted quietly, “And I don't know when, or if, I will ever see them again.”

    Ev and Juhani,” Snow surmised.

    Bastila nodded. “But I don't want this going around the Jedi temple just yet,” she cautioned, “The less I worry the council, the better.”

    You have my silence,” Snow promised.

    I can always trust you, Snow,” Bastila replied heavily. The pair arrived at the arboretum and stepped inside, letting the lush life force of all the greenery wash over them. Bastila took a deep breath and let it out slowly, calming her.

    Do you feel her through your bond?” Snow asked.

    Bastila searched within herself. She nodded. “Yes, she's still there,” Bastila replied, “It's faint, as if I'm looking at her at a distance through a dense fog.”

    She is far away already then?” Snow asked.

    No,” Bastila countered, “Distance makes no difference to our bond. Ev is willfully shutting me out to the best of her abilities.”

    She does not want to tie you in with this quest of yours,” Snow suggested, “Or burden you with it.”

    I wish she would have,” Bastila replied heavily.

    This is going to weigh on you for some time, isn't it?” Snow observed.

    Bastila nodded again. “I think you're right,” she agreed. Cutting Ev out of her life was like losing a part of herself.

    Then you can't just stay around here training me and wallowing in your loss,” Snow started sharply, “We should volunteer for one of those clean-up missions on the outer rim. You will need a distraction—a cause.”

    Snow, I am not sure if you are ready for that yet,” Bastila cautioned.

    My lightsaber skills are nearly as good as yours,” Snow pointed out stubbornly, “My control over the Force is fine-tuned. If you are concerned about my stability, what better way to find out if I am ready than to test it? Dustil said that Ev tested him by returning to Korriban. Or aren't you ready to face the Dark Side again?”

    Snow,” Bastila said sharply, “Who here is the master and who is the student? Your suggestion has its merits, though. I will think on it.”

    I'm sorry,” Snow bowed her head, but Bastila still felt smoldering assertiveness rolling off of her.

    The arboretum door behind them hissed open and another Jedi hurried inside.

    Bastila, there you are,” Master Embrik Waykennit began hurriedly.

    Master Waykennit,” Bastila bowed in greeting. To Snow, she said, “I will catch up with you in a moment.” Snow, however, remained rooted to her spot beside Bastila. As long as she keeps her opinions to herself for the moment, I’ll allow her to stay.

    Embrik continued briskly towards her, looking around cautiously. “Bastila, if I may,” he began, “I have a question for you, about an issue which concerns both of us, I suspect.”

    Yes?” Bastila asked, bracing herself for the worst. Could he know already? Was he listening to us earlier?

    Do you know what has happened to Juhani?” he asked quietly, “I had hoped to ask Ev, but she was also missing this morning.”

    Bastila stared warily back at him, tight-lipped, unsure how to respond.

    Shasa came to me this morning when I was training the other Korriban and Selkath apprentices and said that she could not find her master,” Embrik continued, “It seems that she is nowhere in the Temple. Shasa said that she left very suddenly yesterday evening and has not returned since.”

    Bastila still held her silence. Embrik had been one of Ev's greatest supporters on the Jedi High Council and even had trained her on control in private. His term on the council was finished, however, so he no longer wielded the influence he previously had. Still, Bastila hardly knew him herself and was unsure how much to trust him.

    Bastila, you know something,” he observed, “I can feel it. Please tell me.”

    Glancing around, even though her senses told her that no one else was near, Bastila finally acquiesced. “Master Waykennit,” she prefaced, “You have always been one of Ev's strongest supporters among the Jedi. Therefore, I trust you to not speak of this to any others until we know more. I do not want to create any kind of unnecessary panic among the Jedi.”

    Unless it is something that I cannot risk keeping quiet,” he nodded, his expression darkening, “Fine.”

    Bastila began, choosing her words with care, “I believe that Ev was beginning to remember her past. She remembered something that frightened her and now she has set off to set it right. Although she never told me her intentions herself, that is my best guess.” She added quickly, “Ev herself is not a danger to the Jedi or to the Republic, I can promise you that still. But what she seeks may be.”

    Embrik nodded slowly. “I see,” he said, “And Juhani?”

    Juhani was afraid Ev would try to leave on her own without a word, just as she tried to do yesterday,” Bastila explained, “I believe that her skill with Force Camouflage allowed her follow Ev to wherever she went. Juhani is with her, and I know she will not leave her.”

    At least that is some comfort,” Embrik relaxed slightly, “Did she take Dustil with her?”

    Bastila shook her head, “No. He is still here. He only went to run and errand in the city this morning.”

    Embrik looked as if he wanted to ask after that errand, but stopped himself. “They will not be returning any time soon, I gather,” he said.

    No, I don't believe so,” Bastila affirmed, “Whatever Ev is after will probably take her quite some time.”

    Then what to do about their padawans?” he asked, “There are so few Jedi these days. I doubt any one will want to take on Dustil or Shasa as long as we believe their masters to still be alive.”

    I will watch over them,” Bastila volunteered.

    The Jedi council still has not repealed its one padawan policy,” Embrik cautioned, “They would not agree to let you formally train two more.”

    Then I will train them informally,” Bastila promised, “It would be a disservice to my friends not to.”

    Embrik nodded. “Then if Shasa comes to me again, I will send her to you,” he promised. “And please, don't keep this secret longer than you feel you need to. The Council will find out soon enough that they are missing and they will come straight to you. It would be easier on everyone the sooner you let them know of it.”

    If they can keep it quiet from the rest of the Jedi and from the press,” Bastila promised, “I will. I absolutely do not want the galaxy to begin to think that Revan has gone rouge again.”

    Then let them think that she has been sent off on a special mission,” Embrik suggested.

    That is precisely what she would have us think,” Bastila agreed.

    Embrik reached out and touched Bastila on the shoulder. “I am sorry for your loss, Bastila,” he said sympathetically, “Let the Force guide you and heal you.” Master Waykennit’s concern for her startled her.

    Thank you Master Waykennit,” she replied, and truly meant it.
  18. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    But we can't wallow in that forever. Here comes Kionee for a bit of lighthearted relief to all of that.... before I start killing Jedi. [face_whistling]


    Part 22- Balancing Act

    Kionee checked her chrono as she rushed through Admin Module 19 of Citadel Station. If this meeting goes quickly, I can be off again before four to get that shipment of pink nostrum from Toprawa before the business day closes tomorrow and be on my way to Bimmel in no time. The unexpected meeting with the Telos Restoration Project's newly hired Ecological Import Coordinator was enough to throw a hydrospanner into Kionee's tightly laid plans. Getting the cannoks out of her hold this morning had been enough of an adventure, and now this added to her delays.

    In the past six months since its beginning, Citadel Station had mushroomed from a tiny research station to a livable complex large enough to comfortably house all of the restoration workers, military personnel aside. Still, it looked like little more than durasteel box after durasteel box, strung together into one sprawling orbital complex.

    While Kionee was glad that they were finally getting someone to coordinate all of the shipments of flora and fauna to Telos, she scoffed at the administration a bit for not choosing her for that job. She could work out efficient shipment tables in her sleep, with all of her years at Rinnh Imports. They hardly needed to hire someone to sit around in an office on Citadel Station when she could have done it all from the cockpit of the Viridian herself on one of her long hyperspace journeys.

    Kionee finally reached the office she was looking for. A hastily pasted paper on the dull durasteel door announced, 'Laylien Horabinger: Ecological Import Coordinator.' Kionee halted, fist raised and poised to knock. “Laylien Horabinger?” she marveled out loud, “They hired Laylien for the Telos Restoration Project?”

    Suddenly, the door hissed open on a slender woman with vibrant violet colored hair in a long braid down her back. Kionee had not even knocked yet. “You see,” the woman said to the room behind her, “There is someone else here for you after all.”

    Kionee!” another woman, whose hair was a much more natural shade of brunette, exclaimed from her desk.

    Kionee had to step back for a moment to process.

    Well, we should not take up any more of your time,” the man seated next to the desk began.

    Laylien, you're the person they hired for this?” Kionee spurted, “And what are you doing here Leiraya? I thought you and Kylan would never leave Corellia. You guys know each other?” She glanced wide-eyed between the three occupants of the sparse office.

    I shouldn't be surprised that you know the Sheffields, for the way you get around the galaxy,” Laylien laughed, “Come on in, Kionee. Clearly you're among friends.”

    Kionee stepped inside and let the door close behind her. “Leiraya's family was one of my first trading partners when I started out working for dad,” Kionee explained to Laylien, then turned to the two Corellians and added, “And Laylien was my best friend growing up on Mon Calamari.”

    Mon Calamari?” Kylan observed, “Niether of you look particularly like fish.”

    Laylien let out an infectious laugh and Kionee found herself joining in.

    But I haven't seen you since...” Kionee tried to think back to the last time she had seen her childhood friend.

    Since before I started my masters on Alderaan in public and environmental health,” Laylien pointed out. “That would have been, what, five years or so?”

    Kionee nodded. That was before I got involved in the war, before I stupidly thought I could get away with smuggling kolto under the noses of the Sith. I guess it didn't all turn out so bad, though. “Wow,” Kionee marveled, “It really has been that long.”

    I think it's almost been that long since we've seen you too,” Leiraya pointed out. “Though I'm pretty sure I saw you on the holos a while back.”

    What is this about you being some hero of the Republic?” Kylan asked, teasing.

    That was just a lot of stupid mistakes with happy endings and being in the wrong places at the right times with the right people,” Kionee made excuses, then asked, sinking into an empty chair, “So what are you two doing here anyway?”

    Leiraya remained standing comfortably with her hands on her hips. “We volunteered to start up a trial orchard here as a part of the agricultural restoration of Telos,” Leiraya explained. “We were just talking with Laylien here about the short-term and long-term goals and needs for our portion of the project.”

    And I'm hoping to get your help in getting what they need,” Laylien told Kionee. “Few people are as well connected in the galactic agriculture sector as you and your family, Kionee.”

    Huh,” Kionee marveled, “I've got say, I didn't expect to find any of you guys here, doing the same sort of thing as me.”

    It's amazing what a call for volunteers for an ecological restoration project can do to gather all the most fascinating tree-huggers in the galaxy,” Kylan mused.

    You know, Kionee,” Laylien started, “I was surprised to see you on my list of freighter pilots for this project. I thought you'd never leave your dad's company.”

    I haven't,” Kionee shook her head, almost startled by the assumption. “Actually, I hate to cut this short, but, I have a pick-up on Toprawa tomorrow, local time, that I have to run off to pretty quickly.”

    Leiraya clicked her tongue disapprovingly. “Will you ever learn to relax?” she teased.

    Kionee laughed wearily. “I like being busy,” she replied, “I like being useful. I've got plenty of time in hyperspace for napping. I want to utilize every moment of real space that I've got.”

    I'm surprised you haven't settled down in one place yet,” Laylien observed, “Your dad could give you a nice desk job any place you like, I'm sure.”

    I haven't found any place that can hold me yet,” Kionee shrugged.

    Or just not anyone?” Laylien teased, winking at her.

    Kionee blushed and looked at the floor. “No,” she admitted, “not yet.”

    Last time I saw you, your brother Cash was engaged,” Laylien said, “Is he married now?”

    Kionee nodded. “And Roshind too,” she replied, “Cash and Laurel had a beautiful wedding in Cinnagar on Empress Teta. And then Cash joined the Koros Imperial Pilots so that he could fly with Laurel. Roshind just got married last winter to another Nubian she met on Corellia, and now she's managing the sector office on Kuat.”

    But no desk job for you,” Leiraya observed, “Figures. It's not my style either.”

    Suits me just fine,” Laylien admitted. “I'm just excited to find a way to be a part of this project. The Ithorians here really are fantastic to work with.”

    It really is amazing that an entire heard of them came to dedicate themselves to this project,” Kylan said, “They will be the new Telos' first alien immigrants.”

    But why are you juggling two shipping jobs anyway, Kionee?” Laylien brought the conversation back.

    Well, Carth—er, Admiral Onasi came to me and asked me if I wanted to do this,” Kionee replied, “And, just like you, I am thrilled to be part of the restoration. I have a lot of hope in it and what it could mean for other damaged planets out there. I really want to see this succeed and to do my part in it.”

    But why are you still working for your dad?” Laylien pressed. “You know he won't love you any less for turning in your resignation. Clearly, Cash did that.”

    Well...” Kionee started, but struggled to find a good answer. I guess it hadn't crossed my mind in a long time... “I've always done this, I'm good at it, and I like it, I guess.”

    That sounds pretty halfhearted to me,” Leiraya said, “Compared to your reasons for working here.”

    You could do a lot more for the Telos Restoration Project if you didn't have to ship fruit around for Rinnh Imports,” Kylan added.

    I—” Kionee fell silent and thought it over. Dad has never once pressured me to stay with the company. He's even tried to push me out to do other things now and then. Working with the Telos Restoration Project is really a cause I believe in. I'm helping people for the future. I'm helping a whole planet get back on its feet.

    Not to sway you or anything,” Laylien started, “But I was calling you in to ask you to make a few more runs for me. We're short-handed on pilots willing to put wild animals in their holds for as low a salary as we're giving.”

    Kionee sighed and looked around at her three friends. Here she was, working for a cause she believed in with friends she loved and wanted to spend more time with. She didn't want another five years to go by missing them and not even noticing it. I would get a lot more out of my real space hours if I just had more of them. “You all want me to quit Rinnh Imports, don't you?” Kionee asked, meeting their eyes.

    Well, there is some bias here,” Leiraya replied with a shrug and a smile.

    We just want you to be happiest,” Laylien said firmly, “And I think you're short-changing yourself with all the work you've loaded on.”

    You might be right,” Kionee admitted. “But I need to think about it.” She checked her chrono and nearly jumped out of her seat, “But for now, I need to get going to Toprawa if I'm going to make my shipment in time.”

    Laylien smiled. “Tell me what you decided when you get back to Citadel Station with your next load from Onderon,” she said.

    And do drop by our orchard on the surface some time,” Leiraya invited, “I think you'd enjoy it.”

    Thanks you guys,” Kionee said with a smile and stood. “I'm so glad I ran into you all here. See you soon!” It feels good to be able to say that. It was nice to be able to leave know that she really would see her friends soon again.


    Leiraya and Kylan are, as always DWH's OCs. In the universe where Revan is female, they get married and start a fruit farm on Telos like so. Laylien came about when I realized Kionee didn't have a best friend. The fact that I introduced Laylien in the same scene as Leiraya was a bad coincidence. I hope those names weren't too confusing.

    Next up, Bastila and Snow take a field trip to Onderon!
  19. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    After a short holiday hiatus, we're back!


    Part 23- Attack from the Shadows

    I think I now understand why Master Epiere came here to do her research on the Sith,” Snow observed to Bastila as they walked down the grand corridors of the Onderon Royal Palace in Iziz.

    Raising an eyebrow, Bastila asked her padawan, “And why is that?” Although she kept her voice low, barely above a whisper, Bastila's words echoed down the vaulted hallway and reverberated off the high, stone ceiling. Their guide, a soldier in a crisp brown uniform with a beige sash around his shoulders, pretended not to hear the Jedi's conversation.

    The Dark Side echoes here, within these walls,” Snow replied, as if relishing the sensation. In moments like these, she worried Bastila, but Snow quickly returned to dry analysis, “There is not a strong dark presence here now, but it is as if the Dark Side is calling out, wishing to return this place to a past where its grip was stronger. I am sure you feel it too.”

    Bastila nodded. “As you know, the Dark Side leaves its scars on places as easily as it does on people,” she replied as they walked, “Master Anika came here to meditate and research, in hopes that such an old Dark Side nexus as this would give her clues or glimpses into what is causing this dark veil we have all been sensing, growing in the last year.”

    But she has not been heard from in over two weeks,” Snow stated.

    And that is why we were sent here,” Bastila nodded.

    Attempting to connect with the Dark Side through any means is dangerous,” Snow cautioned.

    But let's not jump to any conclusions,” Bastila warned, “Assumptions can cloud our observations. Anika Epiere is a member of the Jedi Council and understood her mission here. Research of this kind is hardly dangerous.”

    Or shouldn't be,” Snow replied. “Something happened to her out here.”

    Onderon is a world not without its dangers,” Bastila responded.

    The soldier before them stepped aside and halted crisply at the doorway ahead of them, heels clicking on the stone floor. “The Royal Archives,” he announced.

    Thank you, sir,” Bastila nodded to him and then crossed under the arched, stone doorway, Snow following after her.

    Towering shelves held an impressive collection of holodisks and books, interspersed with antique-looking tables for studying. It was like the Jedi Archives on a smaller scale, though decidedly dustier. Afternoon sunlight filtered through long slit windows near the ceiling.

    You must be the Jedi from Coruscant,” a slender woman approached them from the shadows of the book cases. She wore baggy pants gathered in at the ankles and a long tunic, all in warm tones of gold and orange. “Welcome,” she said.

    We are. Thank you,” Bastila replied with a curt bow. The woman, who she had at first taken to be one of the archivists, stepped out in streaming sunlight. The rich silks of her clothing, her proud bearing, and the gilded, boxy cap on her head caught Bastila's attention. “Your Highness,” she corrected her internal assumptions, “I am Jedi Knight Bastila Shan and this is my padawan Seno'vwannin, called 'Snow.' The Jedi Council sent us to investigate the disappearance of Master Anika Epiere.”

    I am very sorry for all this, Jedi,” the woman, Queen Talia, apologized, “We thought she had finished her research and left long ago. We were unaware of her disappearance until we received the message from Coruscant announcing your visit. Had I know, my own security forces would have done more to locate her.”

    We already appreciate your concern and hospitality, Your Majesty,” Bastila replied, “Anything that can cause the disappearance of a Jedi Master is something to be considered very seriously and acted upon with care and caution. It is best that your people stayed out of the search for as long as they did. I would hate to risk them in what may be another Jedi squabble.”

    Snow shot her a cautioning look.

    You suspect the Sith may be behind her disappearance?” Talia looked aghast, “Here on Onderon?”

    I suspect nothing,” Bastila replied coolly, “But it is one of many possibilities that could have caused one so in tune with the Force as Master Anika to disappear.”

    For all we know, one of your jungle beasts could have carried her off,” Snow suggested, but her theory did not seem to reassure the queen.

    In hopes that it would help you in your search, my archivists have assembled all the material she was studying two weeks ago for you,” Talia began, smoothing over the tense, unsettled posture that had risen up momentarily. “If you will follow me this way,” she gestured back between the two tall shelves.

    Bastila bowed her head in acquiescence and the queen led the way to a broad wooden table in a bright patch of sunlight. Maps, old books, and a few dusty data cards were arranged in neat piles on the near end of the table. “It seems that, near the end of her stay,” Talia summarized, “Master Epiere spent a significant amount of her energy focusing on research of some old Nadd Era ruins just outside of Iziz.” She drew a finger over a clump of building-like scribbles on the map nearest to them.

    Snow's red eyes flicked meaningfully between Bastila and the map.

    The stone walls of Iziz seemed to keep out not only the wild of the jungle but also the incredible humidity. Bastila had hardly parked their borrowed speeder in the ruins of the old keep, and she already found herself drenched in a shower of her own sweat. Snow seemed to fare much better, even if the humidity made her uncomfortable. Twi'leks, from their arid planet, always seemed to take heat far better than their human companions. Meanwhile, Bastila tried to keep a look of disgust off her face as her damp robes clung to her skin.

    Master Epiere rightly associated this place with the Dark Side,” Snow observed. She did not need to. Bastila felt the call of the Dark Side in these ruins as clearly as her Padawan.

    They were built during the reign of Freedon Nadd, it seems,” Bastila replied, “A powerful Dark Jedi.”

    What was left of a once grand keep amounted to a pile of overgrown stones, somewhat resembling a tower. The jungle was not kind to history.

    But what I find harder to understand is why she thought a place like this would have something to do with the growing darkness in the galaxy,” Bastila observed, picking her over the mossy stones towards what appeared to be a crumbling doorway, overgrown with hanging ferns and vines.

    Snow scrambled after her. “Maybe she was hoping that a nexus like this would open her up to the greater ebb and flow of the Dark Side and give her some clues as to where it is coming from?” she suggested.

    We don't even know if she came here at all,” Bastila cautioned.

    Though the signs seem to point that way,” Snow argued.

    The first thing that Bastila noticed as she pushed through the greenery and into the dim interior of the keep was the stench. All the smells of the jungle could do nothing to mask the humid scent of rot and decay. Bastila took a few more steps across the uneven flooring and squinted deeper into the ruins. The source of the odors seemed to be a heap of something at the food of a broken reptilian statue near the center of the floor.

    What is that smell?” Snow exclaimed and immediately clamped a hand over her nose. “It smells like something died in here.”

    As Bastila's eyes adjusted to the lower light, the pile on the floor resolved itself into a more familiar shape.

    Is that a lightsaber?” Snow suddenly observed, taking two quick steps forward towards a silver cylinder that glimmered in a ray of light. She had not seen the heap by the statue.

    All that was recognizable in that heap was a pair of polished, gnawed upon Jedi boots. What was left of Anika Epiere hardly resembled the elderly Arkanian any more. Bastila's eyes widened with realization as bile rose up her throat. She quickly turned away and hunched over, fighting back the urge to vomit.

    Oh Force!” Snow saw her too. She clapped a hand over her mouth, almost retching as well. When she had recovered, she started, sounding forced, “One of the predators here must have gotten her.”

    Bastila, knowing that she must be almost as pale as Snow, swallowed back the sour taste in her mouth and tried to asses the scene without really looking at the chewed corpse in the middle of it all. There did not seem to be room enough in the crumbled keep for any particularly large predators, like a boma. Anika's lightsaber, moreover was on the ground at Snow's feet, several meters from where her body seemed to have fallen. That alone pointed to the idea that she had been using it to defend herself when she died. Something had attacked and killed her, knocking the lightsaber from her grasp. The statue behind her showed signs of lightsaber scoring. One appendage had been sheared cleanly off.

    As Bastila studied it all, the hairs on the back of her neck began to prickle and the tips of Snow's lekku started to twitch agitatedly. She became suddenly aware of the darkness rising around them. An odd shimmer in the air behind Snow caught her eye. “Snow...” she started in an urgent whisper.

    Snow was already tensed, hands on the hilt of her lightsaber. Slowly, she turned, looking over her right shoulder. She sensed it, whatever it was.

    With a hiss and a hoarse yell, something lunged. Snow let out a startled yell of pain, and the illusion was shattered. A figure materialized out of the shadows, stealth field generator failing as he attacked.

    Bastila leaped protectively forward. She did not remember consciously deciding to take her lightsaber and turn it on, but she whirled in with it, getting between Snow and her attacker. Snow herself fell back, blood rapidly darkening her burgundy sleeve near her right shoulder.

    As the Force moved Bastila from each strike to each block, the rest of her consciousness assessed her foe. He was average height, robed in gray and black with a tight hood and full mask. Eerie red goggles covered his eyes. Without the cues of flickering eyes of decided attention, Bastila had to rely more fully on the Force for each move she made. He deftly swung a long, spindly Force pike, which awarded a sharp shock to her skin each time it connected, even when she managed to deflect the pointy ends.

    Snow yelped again. For a moment, Bastila allowed a slip in her focus to look over her shoulder, earning a stinging blow from her enemy. Two more of the attackers, identically armed and dressed as the first, materialized out of the shadows and bore down on Snow. Biting her lip, Bastila returned her attention to her own fight. She hated to leave Snow alone to the two attackers, but she had little choice for the moment. Snow was a far better duelist than Bastila often gave her credit for. She stood just as good a chance against two attackers as Bastila did.

    Bastila found herself being pushed in towards the center of the room, where more rubble littered the floor, threatening her sure footing. Closer to where Anika lay dead. She tried not to think about it. Moment by moment, Bastila became more certain that these shadowy attackers were responsible for the death of the Arkanian Jedi Master and not the beasts of the forest.

    While, at first, Bastila had assumed that her attacker was a Sith, now she was not so certain. Neither he nor the other two wielded lightsabers, but they were clearly trained in at least a few of the more aggressive lightsaber forms. None of them used tricks of the Force to fight them. Yet, he managed to resist most of Bastila's subtle attacks of the Force against him. There were none of the cocky, self-assured taunts of the Sith coming from their mouths; only bestial grunts and hisses. As the fight wore on, Bastila felt herself grown weary far more quickly than she should have.

    There was a gargling exclamation of pain and a body slumped to the floor, sliding along jagged rocks. Snow let out a small, satisfied grunt, but that was all.

    Bastila fought to keep focused as weakness began to overcome her. She leaped backwards, assisted by the Force, and landed lightly on the head of the reptilian statue at the center of the crumbling room. She Pushed violently outward with both of her hands. Even Snow was thrown from her feet. Bastila winced as her padawan hit the uneven floor hard. At least the Push disentangled her from her attacker, who landed even worse. Unfortunately, the two remaining assassins scrambled more quickly back to their feet. As the battle drew on, they seemed to be gaining more and more energy.

    This needs to end quickly, Bastila thought grimly. As one closed in on Snow, who stiffly pulled herself up off the floor, Bastila leaped off the statue and brought her lightsaber down in a heavy, over-handed strike. The yellow blade sliced him clean through, shoulder to navel. With a gurgled hiss, he collapsed. Bastila shot a reassuring look at Snow. There is only one more left. If possible, Snow looked paler than usual. She smiled back weakly.

    With no more exchange, Bastila whirled back towards her attacker. She opened the floodgates inside her, grasping at all the Force she could muster. It seemed to siphon away almost as quickly. She felt dried out inside, heavy, and clumsy. Each defensive block she made seemed to make it just in time with barely enough strength.

    Suddenly, Snow screamed. It was not like her first scream, but brimming with pain and terror. Bastila Leaped back and turned towards her padawan. The end of a Force pike protruded through Snow's chest. Another assassin stood behind Snow, grasping his weapon. There was a fourth one? “Snow!” she shrieked. Snow's wide red eyes shifted from the shaft sticking out of her chest slowly up to Bastila's face, as if wordlessly pleading for Bastila to somehow release her from her pain. The rolled back in her head and her body fell limp. Her attacker let out a hiss of satisfaction, and kicked her down, freeing his weapon from her torso. All at once, Bastila felt the power of the Dark Side surge with strength around her. Her own power felt infinitely more distant.

    With a scream of rage, Bastila lunged at the man who had killed Snow. She let her rage fuel her, drawing all the darkness around her into her limbs. The power surged through her and out the palm of her hand as she Shoved the attacker against the wall. It fueled her leap across the rubble towards him and gave force to the swing of her saber as the humming yellow blade sliced through his Force pike like a twig and then clear through his mid section. He did not even have time to utter a cry before his top half separate from his bottom.

    Bastila hardly gave his death any thought as she spun back across the chamber with one great leap, a whirlwind of golden yellow. The last remaining assassin fought back fiercely, his own strength increasing, but he was no match for Bastila's rage. Soon, the wrist that held his pike was severed from his arm followed by his head severed from his neck. Bastila yelled out again as he fell.

    She stood there panting amid all the blood and carnage, gripping fiercely at the hilt of her lightsaber and waiting for another attack. It never came. Her anger faded away and Bastila gradually became aware of the world around her again. Insects drones and birds whistled and screamed outside the ruined keep. Heat and humidity pressed down on her and drenched her clothes and hair with sweat. Six dead bodies lay around her. The sour stench of death filled her nostrils.

    Bastila felt weak, like a deflated balloon. She dropped her saber, the blades going out as it fell to the stone floor with a clatter. Her gaze fell on Snow, who lay at an unnatural angle across a pile of stone blocks from a collapsed section of the wall. Her unseeing red eyes still stared at Bastila, begging for help.

    Bastila took one heavy, dragging step towards her and then another. She felt to her knees at Snow's side and threw her arm over her in a desperate embrace. Sticky blood from the wounds on Snow's chest and shoulder soaked into Bastila's clothes and mingled with her sweat. She slumped down over her padawan's body, her forehead falling against Snow's tattooed brow. Salty tears came to her eyes. She made no attempt to hold them back. Sobs racked her shuddering body as she held onto to the soulless body of the Twi'lek who had been both her student and friend, only moments before. Every last trace of her in the Force was utterly gone. There was no bringing her back now. Bastila's hoarse cries drowned all other noises of the jungle until she had no voice left to cry out.

    Heat blasted at Bastila from the blazing funeral pyre of Anika Epiere and Seno'vwannin. It only added to the oppressive heat of the jungle, but Bastila was beyond caring about her own comfort. She had collected downed limbs for the fire in a depression in the rubble outside the keep. Placing Snow's body and what was left of Anika upon the wood, she doused it all in fuel siphoned from her speeder and lit it. Now, she could barely make out the shapes of the two fallen Jedi amid the hungry, roaring flames.

    It would be completely infeasible to take the bodies back to Coruscant with here, or even back to Iziz, but she still wanted to give them a proper Jedi funeral. Bastila attended as the only mourner.

    Bastila watched the flames dance with dry eyes. She had no more tears to cry. First she lost Ev and Juhani, and now Snow was forever gone from her life as well. There was no one left for this growing darkness to take from her. Even on the day that her own master had died, she had never felt this alone.

    In the nearly two years since the day first met Snow and began her training, Snow grew from an eager student and companion to close friend. When Ev left with Juhani, Snow provided the support and stability in Bastila's life that she had so desperately needed. Though she knew deep down that no one could ever replace Ev, Snow filled that hole in her life that Ev left gaping wide open with her sudden disappearance.

    Bastila knew that Ev was still alive, even after all this time. There bond was never severed, but each day, it seemed, Ev's presence in the back of her mind grew more and more distant. Although she and Snow did not share any kind of Force bond, Snow's presence close by to her every day since Ev's departure had been reassuring. Now Snow was gone too, leaving Bastila's soul alone again.

    Snow's cool logic complimented Bastila's at-times-passionate compulsions. The two grew together in the military planning chambers on Coruscant and on their quests chasing down Sith in the far reaches of the outer rim. Snow never once let Bastila give up hope that they would see Ev again.

    To each other, they were a reminder that the shadow of the Dark Side in their pasts could be conquered and moved beyond. It did not need to taint their destinies for the rest of their lives. And yet, the moment Snow fell, Bastila embraced the Dark Side through her anger as easily as if that had always been her path. She hated herself for that lapse. It was an insult to Snow's memory.

    She stared at the raging flames, emptying her mind. Her spirit felt numb.

    Is this why the Jedi Code discourages attachments? No sentient can handle attachments being severed without anger, hurt, or violence. Is loving someone worth all that when one day you will lose them?

    With a sigh, Bastila tore her gaze away from the pyre and turned back to the keep. She scrambled over the rubble and back through the crumbling arched doorway. She desperately wanted to forget about what had happened in there, but she had her duty to the Jedi, above all else. Though now, it seemed, her duty to the Jedi was all she had left.

    The four assassins still lay right where they had fallen, undisturbed except for the small clouds of hungry, buzzing insects. Bastila had to find some kind of clue about their attackers. She approached the body that had lost the fewest parts to lightsabers and knelt down beside her. Numbly, she felt all over his body for pockets that might hold some kind of identification or clue, but there were none. There was only his weapon. It was an anonymous extending Force pike with no detailing or identifying marks on it. Still, she took it.

    Taking deep breath, Bastila swatted the flies away from his head and slowly removed the goggled mask and peeled back the hood. Beneath it was the face of an average looking human male twisted into an angry grimace. His head was shaved and his skin was the sort of pasty white color of someone who had not seen the sun in years.

    Then there were the eyes. They were a shock of yellow in his pale face. Human eyes did not come in that color naturally. It was a clear sign of extended exposure to the Dark Side. These men may not have been Dark Jedi, but the Dark Side was with them all the same. She sat back on her heels and sighed. That was all she could glean from the corpse, however. Dead men tell no tales.

    The light inside the ruined keep flickered as a large shadow passed over. She heard the whooshing of large wings outside. Springing to her feet, Bastila stumbled out of the keep and into the sunlight.

    A burly Onderonian man sat perched atop a huge gray-green drexyl beast. “What's going on here?” he asked himself out loud. He had not yet seen Bastila.

    A funeral,” Bastila replied to his question, her voice hoarse and low, “for two fallen Jedi.”

    The Best Rider flinched, startled, and stared down at Bastila. “Jedi?” he asked, then a look of realization dawned in his eyes as he saw her blood-stained robes and lightsaber hanging from her hip. “Your pardon, Master Jedi,” he said with a bow of his head from his saddle, then, clicking his tongue in a quick pattern to his beast, swung down to the ground and approached Bastila.

    I am the Jedi Knight Bastila Shan,” she introduced herself. Her raw throat grated painfully as she spoke. “Guest of the queen. I came here with my padawan to investigate the disappearance of one of our fellow Jedi who had come to Onderon for research.”

    He glanced meaningfully at the pyre. “You found her?” he observed. It was almost a statement.

    And her killers,” Bastila nodded numbly, “And lost my padawan.”

    The Beast Rider stared at her, waiting for a further explanation.

    Bastila took a laborious breath and continued, shrugging in the direction of the keep. “There were four cloaked assassins waiting in there for us,” she explained, “They may have been connected with the Sith, but there is no way of knowing now that they are dead.”

    The Beast Rider glanced at the keep, then back at Bastila. “I am glad I saw this smoke and came to investigate. You don't look well enough to pilot your speeder back to the city right now,” he observed with more gentleness than Bastila would have attributed to a brute like him, “If you will allow me, I can take you back to the palace myself, Jedi Knight.”

    She nodded slowly. “Once ashes are all that remain,” she replied. She would stay with Snow until the end.

    Alright then,” he nodded respectfully.

    Thank you,” Bastila replied and turned back to the flames. As she stared, she emptied her heart of anything that was still left. She was aware of the Beast Rider entering the ruins to take a look for himself as he grew restless from watching the funeral pyre with her. When she returned to the palace at Iziz, she would have to contact the Jedi Council and give her report. She dreaded having to relive the day again through her words, but it needed to be done.

    She would move on, just as she had when Ev left. Only, this time, she had no one to support her through it.


    I promise that wasn't where I originally planned Snow to go... it just kind of happened.
  20. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    :((((( I liked Snow.

    Very interested to see how the Ev and Juhani bit will play out. So sorry for getting so behind! Darth Real Life...
  21. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    I did too! :( I have some art of her and Bastila that I need to finish up. I'll post that here when I'm done with it... but given Darth Real Life already taking over, that might be a while. I'd like to go back and write some more shorts with these two, but for now, the story moves on. Snow was one of those characters that showed up and fit so nicely into the story, and then I realized, "Oh shoot, Jedi Purge."

    All I can say is that Ev is not going to be pleased to find that Juhani followed her anyway, but that Juhani isn't going to let Ev get rid of her. But, with that, those two leave this story for a while. You'll next see them in my attempt at KotOR III, but that is a few years off yet.

    If this next chapter seems familiar, it's because it is. This was written as a response to an OC challenge a while back, but was always intended to be a part of this larger storyline.

    Good to have you back! Darth Real Life does get the better of us now and then.


    Part 24- Not the Best of Circumstances

    Kionee Rinnh stepped out of her apartment and locked the door behind her with a contented sigh.

    Her apartment and her door.

    It had been nearly six months since the Telos Restoration Project had granted her the small apartment on Citadel Station in return for regularly hauling cannoks, flipdarters, and shrubbery. The run from Onderon to Telos took her two days of hyperspace travel and granted her two more days of holiday on either end. During those two days on Telos, she had only to briefly supervise the Ithorians who unloaded her ship, then meet with their leader to take orders for her next run. The rest of the time was hers, and it baffled her.

    The regular runs between two and only two planets, the free time, and the apartment were something entirely new to her. At twenty-seven, Kionee had never before owned her own place and never before had such a predictable job. Her freighter, the Viridian, had been her home and her narrow bunk in the cabin her bed. After growing up hopping from planet to planet with her father, then working ten years freighting produce for the family business all across the galaxy, Kionee had not even considered wanting anything more.

    But now that she had stability—and importance—she couldn't go back.

    At first, Kionee hadn't known what to do with the studio apartment. The room was little more than a durasteel box with a few wide windows that looked down on the distorted landscape below. It came with a bed, a dresser, a table, and one chair. The blank, steely walls of the Viridian had never bothered her before, but she soon found the itch to decorate. She hung pictures of some of her favorite places in the galaxy—the Nubian planes, Ahto City, Drallish Meadows, Rodian jungles, and Telos before the war, among others—along with tacky posters from some of her favorite movies and holodramas. She soon made a point of bringing fresh flowers all the way from Iziz to put in the blue glass vase on her table every time she made the trip.

    Citadel Station Resident Module 034 C-4 was hers, Kionee Rinnh's, and she celebrated it every time she arrived back 'home.'

    Her apartment lacked a kitchen, but that was fine by her. She didn't know how to cook well anyway. Citadel Station already housed a number of cantinas and two or three up-scale restaurants. Sometimes Kionee treated herself to one of the restaurants—she could easily afford it on her generous salary—but tonight she felt like something simpler.

    Kionee made her way down the residential block and smiled at the handful of neighbors she passed. She knew the names of only a few, but she did recognize most of the residents of her module by now. It was a pleasant place for everyone from young families to freighter pilots like her to live. The Ithorians hadn't even left the steel and re-bar station lifeless. Trees and trickling little fountains lined the center of all the residential corridors.

    The rail shuttle was at the station when she arrived at the far end of the module. Kionee ducked inside with a few other passengers. They were undoubtedly heading out for dinner as well. She settled into an empty seat and soon the doors slid shut.

    The shuttle car raced along its track, through the scaffolding of the massive space station-in-progress. Soon there would be enough space to house all of the Telosians who desperately wanted to come back home, even if it was only to orbit above their home planet until the restoration was complete.

    A transfer and one more shuttle ride later, Kionee arrived in Entertainment Module 042. Disembarking, the crowd there was far more lively and diverse than in her peaceful neighborhood. The nearby docking bays made it popular with spacers who were passing through. She wove her way through the milling crowd of colorful aliens and humans to the cantina. Her height and broad shoulders made it easy to jostle her way through knotted crowds.

    The cantina itself was just as lively as the streets outside. The loud conversation in a multitude of languages made Kionee feel right at home. The snappy music from a band of three Biths and a Bothan put her in good spirits.

    Kionee settled down at the bar and hailed the Zabrak barkeep, “What's the special tonight, Irkun?”

    Corellian-style boiled tirfus root stew,” he replied without enthusiasm.

    Fine, give me a bowl of that and one of those Mrenjii juices,” Kionee ordered.

    Just juice?” the Zabrak asked skeptically.

    Just juice,” Kionee answered firmly.

    He shrugged and walked off to fill her order. Soon, she had a bowl of brownish-yellow stew in front of her and a tall glass of frothy, pink juice in her hand. The first spoonful of the soup burnt the roof of her mouth, but soon she was enjoying its rather bland flavors.

    As Kionee sipped at her dinner, she noticed an emerald-green Rodian sitting two seats down staring at her. The smallish Rodian wore baggy pants, a large jacket, and a conspicuous weapons belt. It was the typical attire of an off-world Rodian pilot.

    In the sidelong glances Kionee took, something struck her about the Rodian. She had spent enough time on Rodia and with her own co-pilot to know females from male Rodians. Despite the shaved head and the clothes, the Rodian watching her was clearly a woman. “Come to think of it...” she murmured and put down her spoon. She turned to the Rodian woman and asked, “Veea, is that you?”

    I wondered how long it would take you to figure that out,” she replied in Rodian with an amused spark in her eyes.

    Veea!” Kionee exclaimed and slid herself and her dinner down two stools to sit next to her old friend, “It's been so long! How are you?” She reached out to wrap the Rodian woman in a hug, but when Veea didn't reciprocate, she awkwardly shifted her gesture to warmly pat her on the back instead.

    I've been fine. Busy,” Veea answered, “Employed.”

    Kionee tried to ignore the pointed sarcasm in her last remark. “I think it's been about eight years since I last saw you,” she said eagerly.

    Since our partnership was terminated,” Veea added her own clarification dryly. “What are you doing around Telos? I didn't think Rinnh Imports had anything to gain by trading on this dead rock.”

    I left the company a few months ago,” Kionee answered hesitantly.

    You too then?” Veea replied.

    Veea's directness was making her uncomfortable in a way it hadn't during their time flying together when the Viridian was newly christened. She clarified, “I'm working with the TRP now. I know the Republic admiral who works with the Telos Security Force and one day he out and asked me to join in the effort. I guess they were really stretched for freighter pilots willing to haul creatures and plants—mostly the creatures—from Onderon. I guess I wanted some change, so I took him up on it.”

    I'm surprised your daddy let you go so easily,” Veea commented.

    Oh, Dad's glad to see me really finding my own place now, even if it's not with the family business,” Kionee replied, “I mean, I'm almost twenty-eight. I should be able to pick my own job by now.”

    I'm still surprised he let you,” Veea mused, “I've seen what you TRP pilots have been bringing in. Freighting in cannoks is almost as bad as your blockade running against the Mandalorians. Only this time, you've got the threat on the inside instead of in the skies.”

    It's my ship, Veea, not dad's, even if he gave it to me,” Kionee said a little defensively, “I can do with it what I want to. And I want to help Telos grow again. I can't stand looking down at that dead planet, thinking that it used to be home for billions of people, plants, and animals. I just feel like I have to do something about it.”

    You and your altruism,” Veea muttered, “It might get you killed one day.”

    You think being too nice will kill me?” Kionee snapped, but quickly smoothed over her emotions. She and Veea had never seen eye-to-eye on what was really important in life. There was no point in starting an argument with an old friend, even if their last parting had been less than friendly. “What have you been up to anyway, Veea?” Kionee asked deliberately.

    Working, shipping. I don't think you really want to know the details,” Veea answered tersely.

    You don't think I'd approve?” Kionee half-joked.

    Did you ever approve of smuggling?” Veea drummed her spindly fingers on the bar, “Gfersh! That was the whole reason you threw me off your stinking ship in the first place! Over a few honest credits earned.”

    I don't call money earned through illegal channels 'honest credits,'” Kionee snapped.

    You wouldn't,” Veea sneered.

    There's nothing honest about it,” Kionee continued uninterrupted, “Smuggling disrupts the normal channels of trade, of import-export. It takes away from legitimate commerce. Plus, it puts illegal, harmful, and dangerous things into circulation. There are good reasons for the laws against the stuff smugglers bring in.”

    I would bet you that at least a quarter of the spacers in this cantina are smugglers,” Veea said lowly, “I can vouch for at least that many. I'd watch what you say about the profession, Blondie.”

    Kionee straightened up in her stool. Inside, however, her heart began to race. Although Veea's entire half of the conversation had been in Rodian, Kionee's speech flowed in and out of Galactic Basic. She certainly had said enough in Basic to offend an eves-dropping, self-important smuggler.

    You know, Rinnh Imports would take you back any time,” Kionee offered feebly, “and give you another chance.”

    Thanks but no,” Veea replied, confident that she now had the upper-hand, “This weapons racket pays far better than you and your fruit ever did.”

    Weapons racket?” Kionee blurted in Rodian, “You can't be serious! TSF has been doing their best to keep civilian weaponry to a minimum. Unaccounted-for explosives on a space station are dangerous!”

    And getting them in is tricky,” Veea bobbed her head proudly, “So I am paid very well by my clients.”

    Veea,” Kionee hissed, “You can't be doing this.”

    Oh?” the Rodian cocked her head to the side, “And who are you to tell me that?”

    I'll... I'll...” Kionee stammered.

    You'll what? Turn me in?” Veea mused. She looked Kionee over, from the nervously clenched fists to her quivering legs. After a pause, she observed, “No, you won't. You may be good friends with TSF, but you can't turn me in. You couldn't then either.”

    Kionee bit her lip.

    See?” Veea laughed, “And now I'm free to go about my business as usual.” She stood, placing some credits on the bar for her meal. With a casual wave, she said, “It was good seeing you, Kionee. I'll catch you around.”

    It would be better if you didn't,” Kionee managed to say before Veea disappeared back into the cantina crowd and slipped away.

    Kionee turned back to her dinner and sighed heavily. Taking up the spoon again, she idly stirred it around in the stew. Chunks of root vegetables and meat floated to the surface. “I wish Veea hadn't changed so much,” she sighed to herself, “But then again, she really hasn't changed at all. It was always money with her. I thought, after all those blockades we ran together and all those people we helped, maybe she changed her mind. But, I guess not. I really should report what she's doing here, but...”

    In the end, smuggler or no, Veea had been her friend.


    Ev and the Jedi Purge were starting to stress me out there. Thank goodness for Kionee for giving a bit of a break from all that tragedy. Next time, back at the Jedi Purge.
  22. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Ah yes I remember this piece; poor Kionee. Do you mean that Ev will no longer appear until your KotOR III effort? That is distressing.
  23. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Yup, that's essentially it. KOTOR II is the Exile, and Bryony deserves a story of her own, without Ev overshadowing it. Though I can promise at least one or two "Ev has been here" bits in there. Though, I probably will write some Taninim and Leviathan in here, so you won't have a complete dearth of Ev for the next couple of years until I get there.

    And since this story hasn't had enough tragedy yet, here's the setup for our next tragedy!


    Part 25- Grasping at Shadows

    They did not speak. They only attacked, materializing out of nowhere. Somehow they even seemed to be able to suppress their presences in the Force before they attacked me, and yet they were not Force users as we would know them,” Master Thon, the great bearded Tchuukthai narrated from his spot on the Jedi Council circle. The chair that had once been Anika Epiere's was gone, leaving space for him to sit on the ground. Although the sounds that came from his mouth were a language that none of the other Jedi understood, he made his meaning known through the Force.

    That sounds consistent with Bastila's narrative of her attackers on Onderon,” Kavar nodded thoughtfully.

    What did they look like?” Vima Sunrider asked.

    Masked and uniformed,” Thon rumbled, “In all gray and black with red tinted glasses. They all looked the same, felt the same, and attacked the same.”

    Attacked the same?” Atris asked, cupping her chin in the palm of her hand as her elbow rested on the arm of her chair.

    They were trained in makashi form, for fighting Jedi,” he paused and shuddered so slightly that only the tip of his wispy beard jiggled, “And they drew the Force from me, feeding on its living energies to give them strength. In all of my days, I have never seen anything like this.”

    How they could have found you in such a remote part of the outer rim is most disturbing,” Vandar nodded slowly.

    To such a creature, my presence in the Force is a loud call,” Thon replied darkly, “I have no doubt that the Force led them to me.”

    If you were not safe on Ambria, then what of our other Jedi in the field, on the edges of contested space?” Vima asked abruptly, thinking of the thinning network of Watchmen they had posted across the galaxy. How many of them were dead already that they did not know about?

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Vima,” Atris reminded sharply.

    Atris, have you found any mention of Force Techniques like these in your research?” Dorak asked her, “I have found nothing, myself.”

    Atris shook her head gravely, “Nothing in the tomes of the Jedi.”

    Vima pursed her lips, she hated to ask it, but the Jedi risked far greater things already, “What of the Sith holocrons in our vault? Perhaps they might have some answers.”

    It is possible...” Atris drew out slowly and thoughtfully.

    I am not sure if this is a risk we want to take,” Vrook cautioned, “Those holocrons are dangerous.”

    If it brings us closer to answers,” Nomi started, taking a deep breath, “then it may be worth the risk. Atris, I grant you permission to use the Sith holocrons in our collection, but only yourself. I do not want to risk more than one Jedi to their tainting influence.”

    Atris bowed her head somberly. “They will not leave the vault,” she promised, “and no mention of them will escape my lips but in this chamber.”

    Good,” Nomi nodded, “May your research bring us closer to the answers.”

    Darkness clouds everything now,” Tyjesh murmured, “It obscures our enemies from us far worse than ever during the war. But now the Sith attack from the shadows, in secret. How can we trace what we cannot see and we cannot sense?”

    There has been no sign of Revan since she disappeared over a year ago,” Atris observed coolly, “Have any of you considered that this could be her doing?”

    I have considered it...” Vrook murmured.

    We should not have given her so much freedom, and now we pay for our generosity with her,” Atris fumed, “She was never to be trusted.”

    And yet none of this feels like Revan,” Kavar put in thoughtfully. “I do not sense her behind this.”

    And it isn't her style,” Vima added.

    No, the enemy comes from too many different angles,” Vandar agreed, “Ev would not have had time to gather such an army, even if she wanted to, in the time since she left us. I believe Master Kavar is right. The threat we are facing now is not the return of Darth Revan.”

    It might be better for us if it were, unfortunately,” Zez-Kai Ell admitted, “Revan is an enemy we understand and know how to face. These enemies, they are unlike any we have faced before. We know nothing of them only that they are killing Jedi.”

    We could attempt to draw them out, to a confrontation,” Zez-Kai Ell suggested, his blue hologram flickering in his empty chair.

    How do you suggest that, Master Ell?” Atris asked. “That may be our best chance at tracking them.”

    That is absolutely out of the question,” Vrook snapped before he could answer. “We will not bait this enemy. There is too much unknown here, too much at risk.”

    There are too few of us left,” Nomi sighed. Anika Epiere was only the first member of the council to go missing. Since then Kronn Hakkes and Ruell D'tarn had failed to return from their missions into the field. Besides them, nearly twenty other Jedi and their padawans had failed to report in on schedule. Communication was often difficult in the more remote regions of the galaxy, but Nomi feared the worst for all of them.

    Has there been any contact from the Dorin Jedi Enclave?” Kavar changed the subject.

    Not for nearly a month,” Dorak replied, “Although we have hailed them repeatedly.”

    For an entire enclave of Kel Dor to disappear, it is almost too much to believe,” Vima commented. “The Kel Dor are powerful Jedi.”

    If our enemies truly have destroyed them all, we are facing a far greater darkness than we believed before,” Vandar warned. “Someone must go to investigate what has happened to our Kel Dor fellows.”

    I will go,” Kavar volunteered almost immediately, but his grave voice lacked enthusiasm. “I will leave this very afternoon. The sooner we know what has happened to our Kel Dor brothers, the better.”

    Very well,” Nomi nodded, “You are right.”

    Dorak cleared his throat, as if debating whether or not to steer the conversation in another direction. “There was an unexplainable tragedy this week in an outer rim mining colony,” he began, “Perkkik Station only had several thousand residents and workers, mostly Felucian colonists. This week, after Felucia had not heard from them, an investigative team discovered the colony to be completely dead, with no clues as to their attackers.”

    Felucians are a Force-sensitive race,” Tyjesh observed, “Could this be the work of our attackers as well?”

    Anything is possible, for as little as we know,” Zez-Kai replied, a hint of frustration in his voice.

    Someone from the Order must go to Perkkik Station so that we can see for ourselves if there is any connection,” Kavar suggested.

    Then I will go,” Vrook volunteered. “First to Felucia and then to the mining station.”

    A tense hush fell over the Jedi High Council Chamber. They all knew that, in all of their wisdom at the head of the Jedi Order, none of them had the answers.

    I fear that our Watchmen are in danger,” Vima said slowly. “We do not know where these enemies are striking from, or what they want, but they seem to be after Jedi and other Force-sensitives. I suggest that we call them back to the temple on Coruscant, except for those in particularly vital or delicate positions.”

    The Jedi Watchmen are the peace keepers in the galaxy,” Vrook argued, “From their positions, they may see more than we can from the core. We need their insight.”

    But they will do us much more good alive and on Coruscant than dead on the outer rim,” Vima pointed out, “What they see may kill them. So far, the only Jedi to survive attacks of these assassins, as far as we know now, are Bastila Shan and Master Thon. Too many of our watchmen have gone missing already. We cannot afford to loose more. There are already less than a hundred full Jedi left in the order.”

    Vima speaks true,” Thon agreed, “We must protect the Jedi we have now, until we have discovered and eliminated the source of this threat. I agree. We should call back the non-essential Watchmen and make sure all those that remain in the field are all aware of the dangers.”

    Nomi already had a datapad in her hand and was scrolling fixatedly through a file. The rest of the council waited for her make her conclusions. “The only Jedi in the field right now that cannot be spared from their posts are Kaden Thuvell in the Chorlian System, finalizing peace settlements with the Sith-aligned factions on Sigil, on the edge of Sith space, and Master Lonna Vash and her padawan Kaah Ohtok investigating the recent rumors of another Sith warlord on the outer rim,” Nomi concluded, “The rest, we will call back as soon as they can wrap up their current duties.”

    We should call back our fellows from Agricorps as well,” Vandar suggested, “They are particularly at risk without the full training of a Jedi.”

    Realization suddenly hit Vima. She gasped and clapped a hand over her mouth. Managing the placement of apprentices who never made it to the rank of Padawan was one of her duties, a duty that she had fallen lax on with so many apprentices growing old without masters to take them. “I haven't heard from either of our agricultural teams since last month,” she gaped, utterly horrified and ashamed of herself. “I did not realize it before. I have been so busy with everything else, I did not notice the drop in communication.”

    We lost Agricorps as well, it seems,” Vandar said mournfully.

    I will contact them immediately,” Vima volunteered hurriedly, “If there is no response, then I will go see myself what has happened. They are my responsibility and my failure.”

    You could not have foreseen this, Vima,” Thon tried to calm her. She felt no less guilt inside of her, but the low rumble of his voice did somehow smooth over her anxiety. What was done was done.

    If only we had some clue as to the motivations or origins of these enemies,” Atris sighed, “They do not appear to be like the Sith we have faced before.”

    But shadows in the Force obscure everything,” Tyjesh added.

    Not even our combined meditation is enough to break through the fog,” Vandar lamented.

    Add more Jedi to our meditation circle, and perhaps we may reach the answers,” Thon suggested.

    You mean to suggest that we bring in other members of the Jedi Order to this mystery?” Vrook asked, cautioning, “We must be careful not to cause panic, or leak our concerns to our enemy. There is safety in fewer Jedi knowing what is truly at stake.”

    There is already fear in the temple, Master Vrook,” Dorak pointed out, “I feel it in the uncertainties of all of our students and peers. They all know something is happening, but they do not know what.”

    And neither do we,” Vima added, “If the cooperation of the whole Jedi Order, all sixty-six of us, can bring us the clarity it takes to face this enemy, then let us call a conclave.” Vima saw several of the other Jedi Masters flinch at her statement. In particular, Master Kavar seemed hit hard, color draining from his face. So, many of them have not done the math yet. They did not know it was quite so desperate.

    There is too much noise in the Force on Coruscant, too much life,” Atris began, “If we must call a conclave, let it be away from such distractions, such as on Exis Station.”

    That station is now overrun with smugglers and other low life,” Kavar pointed out.

    There are other space stations in the galaxy we could use,” Vrook suggested dryly, “Many others.”

    Better yet, let us find a focal point in the Force,” Zez-Kai offered, “Like Felucia, Alpheridies, Katarr, or Ossus.”

    I feel this is not a decision we can make just yet,” Nomi cautioned, “Let each of us pursue our investigations and meditate on it. We will call back the Jedi Watchmen and learn what we can. For now, we have talked long enough this afternoon. We are spread thin now, even at the temple, and we have our duties here.”

    The other Jedi Masters nodded and murmured. They rose and stretched, like stiff old men and women, aged far beyond their years by the heavy burden of not knowing the danger they were in.

    Vima remained in her seat near the door and breathed deeply, closing her eyes. She sunk into meditation as the other masters filtered out. Try as she might, Vima saw only clouded darkness and formless shadows. Even the simplest of questions seemed unanswerable through the Force now. The obscuring darkness came on so gradually in the last year, that she had hardly noticed it at first. None of the Jedi had. Now, their vision and clarity was too far gone.

    Vima sighed and opened her eyes again on the silent and empty council chamber. Her mother still sat directly across from her in the seat of the Grandmaster. Their green eyes met and Vima sensed Nomi's pain through her gaze. They did not know, and without knowledge, they were powerless.
  24. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Oh creepy as all get out. I don't like reading about all the Jedi dying :( But at least you do it poignantly, compared to some other slaughters of Jedi shown on a silver screen...
  25. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Well.... I'm not done killing Jedi yet. I hope I don't let you down with the rest of them.

    Meanwhile, in another more hopeful part of the galaxy:


    Part 26- A Friendly Favor

    Viridan, this is the Sojourn docking control. You are clear to dock in bay number two. We are lowering the ray shields now.”

    Thank you Sojourn,” Kionee replied into the comm and took her ship in slowly to the underbelly of the hammerhead cruiser in orbit over Telos. Citadel Station sprawled out beneath both ships. These days there seemed to be a new module added almost every week. The quiet sphere of Telos looked red and barren beneath the station, but Kionee knew it not to be as lifeless as it seemed from space. In growing patches here and there across the planet, life was beginning to thrive again. Kionee had the pleasure of watching it progress with each trip she took to the surface with more plants and animals.

    The rectangular window's ray shields on the hull of the ship before her flickered and ceased. Kionee eased the Viridian and into the docking bay of the Sojourn. She cut her main engines and powered up her repulsor coils, landing lightly on the deck.

    I do wonder what Admiral Onasi wants you for all of a sudden,” MT-412 asked as Kionee ran through the shut down procedures of her ship.

    Your guess is as good as mine,” Kionee admitted. “Probably some special shipping job or something like that. But he does have plenty of his own pilots and a shuttle or two. Why knows?” Finishing the last of her checks with mechanical efficiency, Kionee stood up and stretched. “Would you watch the ship Emtee?” she asked, “I don't think I'll be needing you when I visit Carth.”

    Of course Mistress Kionee,” Emtee nodded his metal head, “You need not even ask.”

    Thanks Emtee,” Kionee replied smiling, “I'll be back in a while.”

    She straightened her khaki vest and the knotted cotton scarf around her neck, then strode down into the cargo hold and out of the ship onto the Sojourn. A Sullustan in a crisp green navy uniform was already waiting at the foot of her loading ramp. Seeing him, she greeted in clumsy Sullustese, “Tasbota. Agasibayo?

    Agaraileyo,” he chortled in return, both pleased and surprised by her use of the language. He then addressed her in Basic, “Admiral Onasi is waiting for you, Kionee Rinnh.”

    Thank you,” she nodded, “Show the way.”

    Right this way,” he replied and started towards the doors in the back of the hangars at a brisk pace. Kionee had no trouble keeping up with him, having at least a quarter of a meter of height on him. He led her to a lift. As they waited for it to arrive, he asked, “How do you know my language? It is not common in a human.”

    I make a point of knowing at least basic greetings in as many languages as I can,” she replied honestly, “It seems like the polite thing to do.”

    He chortled a laugh. “I like the way you think,” he replied, “You must be an interesting human, Kionee Rinnh.”

    The lift arrived and they stepped inside with the two other soldiers who were also on their way up. Two levels later, Kionee's Sullustan guide led her off and down a long corridor towards the head of the ship. Before they reached the bridge area, however, he stopped short at a door on the left wall. A plaque beside it denoted, 'Carth Onasi, Admiral.' He pressed the comm button outside the door and announced, “Kionee Rinnh is here to see you, Admiral.”

    Thank you Lieutenant Snubb,” Carth's voice answered, “Send her in please.”

    Yes sir,” Snubb replied sharply. He pressed the door command button and it slid upward abruptly. He nodded at Kionee to proceed.

    Thank you, Lieutenant,” Kionee said and walked inside. Snubb closed the door behind her. Carth's quarters were small, bordering on cramped. A messy desk surrounded by a few chairs took up the front section while a narrow bunk, a foot locker, and a small set of shelves filled the back. She assumed that the door in the back led to a private refresher. These were the luxuries afforded to an Admiral on his ship. Privacy, it seemed, was luxury enough in and of itself.

    Carth himself sat behind the desk piled high with a mess of datapads and other articles. Another man in civilian clothes sat in one of the chairs before the desk, one leg crossed over his lap. He stood up respectfully as Kionee entered. He was nearly as tall as Kionee but much more solidly built, with thick blond hair and pleasant blue eyes.

    Kionee,” Carth began, “Thank you for coming on such short notice.”

    Any time Carth,” Kionee replied. I still owe him a hundred times over for saving my life twice.

    Carth straightened up behind his desk and extended a hand towards the other man. “Kionee, this is Mical Tarwellen,” he introduced, “Mical, this is Kionee Rinnh.”

    It is a pleasure to meet you,” Mical said and closed the space between himself and Kionee with two swift steps. His voice was mellow and almost musical. He extended his hand.

    Kionee took it and shook it firmly. “It's good to meet you too,” she replied, smiling. She felt her heart beating a little more quickly in her chest. Mical waited for Kionee to sit down before he resumed his place in his own chair again.

    Kionee, I have a favor to ask of you,” Carth began, “If it's not too much.”

    I'm sure it's not,” Kionee waved it off. “What do you need from me?”

    Can you take Mical with you when you next go back to Onderon?” Carth asked.

    That's it?” Kionee laughed, “That isn't a problem at all. Going that direction I won't even have any krasna or maalraas to bother him. It's just me, Emtee, and an empty ship. We have plenty of oxygen to spare.”

    Thanks Kionee,” Carth replied.

    Yes, thank you,” Mical added.

    You're really saving me a mess of paperwork by taking care of his transportation outside of of the navy,” Carth said.

    It looks like you have enough of that already,” Kionee laughed, eying the piles on his desk.

    When will you take your next trip to Onderon?” Mical asked her.

    I was planning on leaving tomorrow morning at around nine, Citadel time,” Kionee replied. She quickly added, “Is that too soon for you?”

    No,” Mical reassured her, “I am ready to leave whenever you are. Carth did say that you tended to run back and forth between Onderon and Telos very quickly.”

    Oh good,” Kionee nodded. “Did you want me to pick you up here in the morning then?”

    No, that's alright,” Mical shook his head. “I have arranged for a room on Citadel Station tonight. I will meet you at your ship in the morning. Where do you usually have it docked?”

    Docking Module thirty six, bay three,” Kionee answered, “The Viridian is a Nubian Javan-class freighter.”

    Excellent,” Mical nodded.

    Thank you Kionee,” Carth added, “You really are doing us a big favor. I might have to ask you to bring Mical back here when he is done on Onderon too.”

    That won't be a problem at all,” Kionee replied quickly, “I am back there often enough, he can just catch me at the front end of one of my pick-ups.”

    I would appreciate that,” Mical commented.

    Well,” Carth started again, “I won't hold you any longer, Kionee. Have a good evening.”

    Taking that as her dismissal, Kionee stood up. Mical rose with her again. “You know you can ask me to carry anyone or anything at any time,” Kionee told Carth. “And it was good to meet you, Mical. I'll see you tomorrow morning.”

    Until tomorrow then,” Mical replied with a polite smile.

    Kionee smiled shyly back and turned to go. She pressed the door release and hurried outside where Lieutenant Snubb was waiting to lead her back to her ship. Kionee's head felt fuzzy inside. She giddily looked forward to tomorrow's journey.

    Mical was already waiting for her, staring admiringly up at her ship, when Kionee arrived at her docking bay in the morning. Hands clasped thoughtfully behind his back, Mical wore a simple cream tunic and brown vest with only a small travel satchel slung across his shoulder. Kionee stood in the hangar's entrance, looking at Mical with the same thoughtfulness that he gazed at the Viridian.

    Even before she reached her room on Citadel Station last night, Kionee realized that she had totally forgotten to ask what Mical did or why he needed to go to Onderon in the first place. He looked fit and strong, but did not have the bearing of a soldier. He was too calm, almost gentle. If he needed Kionee's help to get to Onderon, he was obviously not a pilot. He was not aggressive enough to be a businessman. Maybe he was an ecologist like Laylien—but then again, why would Carth, an Admiral in the Republic Navy, need to send an ecologist to Onderon. TRP already had a small army of ecologists stationed there, studying the ecosystem in action. Kionee shrugged and shook her head. I won't learn anything more by just looking at him.

    She took a deep breath and started into the hangar again. Almost immediately, Mical turned to the sound of her boots against the pavement. “Good morning Kionee,” he hailed her with a smile and a small wave.

    Sorry to keep you waiting,” Kionee apologized.

    No, don't apologize,” he argued gently, “I arrived early.”

    All the same...” Kionee started, but found she did not have the words to finish her argument as she drew nearer to Mical.

    I want to thank you again for agreeing to take me to Onderon,” Mical started.

    No, it's nothing,” Kionee replied, “I am going that way anyway. And it is nice to have a passenger now and then. You can only watch the same holovids so many times, or chat with a droid for so long.”

    Mical chuckled. A small whine came from the underbelly of the ship as the loading ramp began to descend.

    You have a personalized proximity sensor on it?” Mical asked, impressed, as they started towards it.

    No,” Kionee answered, “That was probably just Emtee noticing that I was here.”

    Emtee?” Mical questioned.

    MT-412, the family protocol droid,” Kionee answered, felling a little ashamed that she had not explained that before. “He's my co-pilot too.”

    A protocol droid that flies,” Mical nodded, “Now that isn't something one hears of often.”

    Cash, my brother, added that to Emtee's protocols when I needed a new co-pilot and it's worked out ever since,” Kionee explained. Reaching the foot of the ramp, she gestured upward, “Well, let's head aboard.”

    They entered through the cargo hold and Mical looked around appreciatively, taking it all in. “So this is where you keep your shipments from Onderon?” he observed.

    Yup,” Kionee affirmed, “It was fitted out for produce shipments, so it only need a few modifications to be ready to haul growing plants and livestock.” Her dry crate storage had been converted into pens for the animals, and oxygen vents had been added to the coolers and freezers, along with a spray irrigation system. “Would you like a tour?”

    Please,” Mical responded warmly, “If you would.”

    Alright,” Kionee nodded, “The hold here takes up most of the ship, but up this way...” they climbed the half set of steps up to the living area of the ship. At the top of the stairs two narrow corridors branched out from the larger one, which led straight into the cockpit. “There are two bunk rooms, one on each side. On the port side here is the galley. It's really not much. And on the starboard side is the 'fresher and supplies cabinet. The starboard bunk room is all yours for our trip.”

    Thank you,” Mical said again.

    And this is the cockpit,” Kionee said, leading him forward. Wide transparisteel windows arched across the front of the ovular cockpit.

    Hello there. You must be Kionee's passenger,” Emtee said suddenly, sitting in the copilot's chair already. “I am MT-412, manager of the Viridian.

    Mical raised an eyebrow and suppressed a smile at that comment. “My name is Mical Tarwellen, a historian and scientist for the Republic,” he introduced himself, putting a hand to his chest.

    It is a pleasure to meet you Mical Tarwellen,” Emtee responded, “I hope you find the Viridian comfortable during our flight.”

    I am certain I will,” Mical replied, smiling.

    Well, we should be on our way,” Kionee started, “Everything is ready, Emtee?”

    Sealing the hold now,” Emtee reported.

    You can ride through take-off in your bunk if you'd like,” Kionee told Mical.

    If you don't mind,” Mical started, pointing to one of the passenger seats at the back of the cockpit, “I would rather stay here and enjoy the view of Telos' rebirth.”

    Sure,” Kionee quipped, her heart beating faster at the thought of Mical watching her fly. “Of course.” What's wrong with me? He's not a pilot. He's not grading me on my flying or anything. I don't have to be nervous. “Strap in then while we get the Viridian going,” she advised and swung around the pilot's seat. As Kionee prepared the ship's start-up processes and reviewed the hyperspace calculations that MT-412 had prepared, she felt overly self-conscious of her movements. She could hear Mical fiddling with the straps and buckle of his seat harness behind her.

    If everyone is ready, let's go,” Kionee announced. She engaged the repulsorlifts and fired up the sublight engines. Emtee triggered the airlock and opened the ray shields to space. The Viridian lifted off the floor of the hangar and glided out. Kionee wove her way through the floating city of Citadel Station and away from the atmosphere. Checking her flight path twice, Kionee swung the Viridian the planet and away from the sun in an Onderon-ward arc. In minutes, the ship was free of Telos' gravity well and in the appropriate jump zone.

    She eased off the sublight engines and instructed, “Engage the hyperdrive.”

    Emtee's mechanical hand drew the lever back and the Viridian launched forward, stars drawing out long white lines across the front viewports.

    Kionee let out a sigh and released the control yoke. It was an easy jump she could practically execute in her sleep, but somehow, Kionee felt relieved to have it over with.

    It's a beautiful ship,” Mical complimented, loosening his straps, “And it flies well too.”

    My dad designed it,” Kionee answered reflexively.

    Then you are the daughter of Gad Rinnh of Rinnh Imports, are you not?” Mical asked.

    Unbuckling herself from her own seat, Kionee threw her legs around the side and leaned on the back, answering, “Yeah. But he was a ship designer with the Nubian Shipyard before he decided to go sell fruit.”

    That is an interesting career switch,” Mical said, his blue eyes dancing with excitement at the new bit of information. “Then you must be the Kionee Rinnh that was listed as one of the heroes of the Star Forge.”

    Ah, that,” Kionee blushed, “Right. I was just kind of in the wrong place at the right time and I managed to live through it all.”

    What do you mean by that?” Mical asked, “The Republic was rather selective on the details it released to the media on your mission. If you don't mind, that is.”

    I, uh, well, I thought I could smuggle some kolto off Manaan under the noses of the Selkath and the Sith,” Kionee admitted, embarrassed, “It was a stupid idea, but there was an outpost on Erai that I knew was almost totally out of kolto and couldn't get any more because of the dead-lock between the Sith and the Republic on Manaan.”

    Mical nodded, uninterrupting.

    The Sith caught me and locked me up on the Leviathan,” Kionee continued, “I only got out alive because they also caught the Ebon Hawk that day, and those guys went in with a plan of escape. Ev happened to see me in my holding cell and broke me out, because that's the kind of woman she is.”

    By Ev you mean Revan?” Mical inquired.

    Yeah,” Kionee answered, “I was with them when Malak appeared and told Ev that she really was Revan and didn't remember it.”

    Then it is true that Revan's redemption was not a choice of her free will,” Mical marveled.

    Kionee nodded. “From the sound of it, I'm pretty sure the Jedi did it to her, hoping that she would turn around and save the Republic, not knowing her own past,” Kionee replied, “But I was a bit of an outsider with that group. After I got the Viridian back and we all got off the Leviathan, I followed them to Korriban. I didn't know what to make of the whole Revan thing, but I knew I couldn't just let it slip by. And then I got caught spying on them, just as the Sith realized that they were there and I wound up on their ship for the rest of their mission.

    Carth likes to make a big deal out of how I flew during that last battle. I was his co-pilot after Ev left with Bastila and I didn't freeze up under Bastila's battle meditation,” Kionee admitted, “That was the most I did for them. I really didn't deserve the Cross of Glory that they gave me.”

    Still, in that you kept the crew alive,” Mical argued, “and that alone is worthy of recognition. Heroes are worth little once they are dead.”

    But I'm no hero,” Kionee replied.

    I suspect that is only because you don't want to be,” Mical pointed out.

    Kionee flushed. It might be true. “You said you were a historian?” Kionee asked, flustered, turning the conversation away from herself.

    Yes,” Mical nodded, “and a scientist, though my peers would call me more of a historian than a scientist. Recently, I have been studying the Jedi Civil war and the Jedi's part in it. I would love to ask you more questions about your travels with Revan and Bastila later, if that is alright with you.”

    Of course,” Kionee agreed, “Though I don't have that much to tell. I only joined them at the end.”

    Anything you can say to help illuminate the true course of events during the end of the Jedi Civil war would be greatly appreciated,” Mical said.

    So that brought you to Onderon?” Kionee asked. “I thought Onderon was pretty much untouched during the Jedi Civil War. That's why we have had such luck getting the ecosystem out of there now. One reason, anyway.”

    Mical nodded. “But all history affects the events that come after it,” he explained, “Onderon has held an important place in several previous wars where the Sith were present.”

    Right,” Kionee nodded, searching her brain for the history she studied as a child, “Duxn was a major battleground during the Mandalorian wars, but that was just Mandalorians, not Sith. Though, Onderon was the site of some battles with the Krath, right?”

    Related to the Krath and Exar Kun,” Mical nodded, “It was in that war that the galaxy lost Arca Jeth and his students had their first encounter with the Dark Side. One went on to become a Sith Lord while another is now the Grandmaster of the Jedi order. But Onderon has had ties to the Sith much older than that.” He paused, then asked, “About how long does it take to get to Onderon from Telos?”

    About twenty nine standard hours,” Kionee replied. “A pretty short jump.”

    You must be accustomed to plenty of long space travel,” Mical said, turning the conversation away from himself.

    Yeah,” Kionee agreed, “I grew up doing it. The Viridian my home. Or at least it was until I got my apartment on Citadel Station. Still, it feels like home to me. Where are you from, Mical?”

    These days I have been traveling around considerably as well, though I was educated on Alderaan,” Mical did not answer the question directly.

    You're not with the navy, so how did you meet Carth?” Kionee asked.

    I came to him hoping to further my research on the quest of the Ebon Hawk and her crew,” Mical explained, “and we found that we had similar interests, as far as research is concerned. We decided to collaborate, his resources and my mobility.”

    Kionee nodded, wondering what Carth was interested in researching now that he would need Mical's help with. Carth had the Telos Restoration Project to worry about already.

    How about your family?” Kionee asked.

    I have not been in contact with them lately, regrettably,” Mical answered, clearly not wanting to say more.

    Sorry,” Kionee murmured.

    No, it is alright,” Mical reassured her. He stood up and stretched. “Now that we are safely in hyperspace, would you mind showing me how to use your food synthesizer?”

    I can whip up something really quick,” Kionee said, standing up out of her own seat quickly, “The Viridian's is a bit complicated, so don't worry about it. What kind of food do you like?”

    Whatever you come up with is fine with me,” Mical assured her.

    Great,” Kionee replied nervously and headed for the galley, “Feel free to make yourself comfortable in the meanwhile, or pick Emtee's brain about Onderon if you want.”

    Kionee shuffled into the galley feeling light-headed and nervous all at once. If she had not been so practiced at creating meals from the synthesizer, she probably would have botched it in her absent-mindedness. It had to be over a year since she took a passenger on the Viridian with her, probably longer. After all that time, her ship felt like a very private space to her while in space. Kionee hardly felt like Mical was invading that privacy, however. He was engaging, polite, and obliging. She really did enjoy having someone new to talk to and to learn from. Mical piqued her curiosity. She could tell, just by the way he talked, that he knew a lot and had a lot to say, but left much left unsaid.

    Kionee suddenly had the urge to offer her services to other passengers for the TRP back and forth between Telos and Onderon, if only because she hoped Mical would take her up on it again. She itched to know him better.

    Mical sauntered down the narrow corridor and tried to look around her at the food synthesizer as she worked. “These machines have always fascinated me,” he admitted, “How they can take elemental building blocks and turn them into synthesized food.”

    It usually doesn't taste too far from the real thing either,” Kionee said, “Even if the texture is often a bit off. I'm trying to do this Tetan satay and rice dish that my brother had at his wedding. It usually turns out pretty good synthesized.” She tapped away at the key pad, balancing out the ingredients. A few more clicks and she was finished. “It will be about another fifteen minutes,” she said.

    You have my thanks again, Kionee,” Mical said.

    Kionee felt a shiver tickle up her spine as he mentioned her name and turned back to the synthesizer to hide her blush.

    The rest of the trip passed pleasantly. After their meal, Mical retired to his bunk to do some reading, but later appeared again to ask Kionee about her adventures on the Ebon Hawk. He was particularly interested in Ev, every aspect of her that Kionee could remember. Kionee herself had not seen Ev since after the awards ceremony on Coruscant, but she heard it from rumor even before Carth admitted it himself that Ev had left on another quest of her own with Juhani. No one, not even Carth, seemed to know where she had gone or what she was seeking, but the fact was, that she had gone. Mical seemed troubled by this, more than anything. Nothing Kionee said about Ev's generous character seemed to reassure him completely.

    The next afternoon, they came out of hyperspace in Onderon's system. Although she did not have to, Kionee approached the planet over the back of its moon Duxn. The vibrant green planet rose dramatically up over Duxn's misty horizon. She hoped Mical would appreciate the view. As she flew, Kionee narrated about how many of the plants and animals used on Telos were also found on Duxn, and were actually from Duxn, carried over when the moon's ovular orbit took it close enough for the two atmospheres to touch. From the way Mical responded, he seemed to already know all of this, but he listened politely to Kionee anyway.

    They broke through Onderon's atmosphere and landed in the outer west quarter of Iziz, where Kionee's contacts were stationed. Once landed, Kionee walked Mical off of the ship as he took only his satchel with him.

    Thank you for the ride, Kionee,” he said as their feet touched down on the stony ground of Iziz. “And for your company. It has been a pleasure.”

    Any time,” Kionee replied welcomingly, “If you want a ride back to Telos once you are finished here, you are more than welcome to catch a ride on the Viridian when I am on my way back from a run, as long as you don't mind the cannoks.”

    Mical chuckled and smiled. “I would not mind them at all,” he insisted.

    Just get a hold of Rajan when you want to return,” Kionee explained, “He is the head of the Beast Riders in this area, so if you ask any of the western Beast Riders around here, they can put you in touch with him. He is my contact here, so he can let me know when you are ready to leave.”

    Thank you,” Mical nodded.

    Good luck with your research,” Kionee said. “I hope it goes well.”

    I hope so too,” Mical replied and turned to go, “I will see you again, Kionee.”

    Bye Mical,” she said with a small wave and watched him go. He strode off quickly, out of the landing bay without stopping to ask the guard at the door for directions. Kionee marveled at Mical's confidence. He admitted never having been to Iziz before, but he walked off as if he had.

    Kionee caught her breath and sighed. She really did hope that Mical's research went well and that he finished soon, so that she could give him a ride back to Telos again and hear all about it. She smiled to herself just thinking about it.