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Before - Legends "My Name's a War Song" | Fic-Gift for Vek Talis | KotOR II, Jedi Exile & Canderous Ordo, COMPLETE

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mira_Jade , Dec 22, 2018.

  1. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Title: “My Name’s a War Song”
    Author: Mira_Jade

    Genre: Drama, Humor
    Rating: PG
    Time Frame: KotOR II missing scene, ~3951 BBY
    Characters: Meetra Surik (Female Jedi Exile), Canderous Ordo, HK-47, assorted background ensemble, lots of mention of Fem!Revan & Alek | Darth Malak

    Summary: If Revan was a star, holding everything around her in orbit, then Meetra was a black hole, pulling even the light in before devouring it completely. Coming to grips with both herself and her actions during the war has proven to be . . . trying, at best. Of all her companions, Canderous Ordo just may understand her plight the least. Or, so she would have first thought.


    Notes: Alrighty, here we are! In the interest of full disclosure, writing this story felt more like working through the Dare Challenge, rather than a fic-gift. :p [face_hypnotized] I played the original KotOR game back . . . oh boy, almost fourteen years ago, now, and I never got around to playing KotOR II. So, while I know of this era in theory, I had to do a lot of research to stitch this story together. Hopefully my attempts aren’t too sloppy, and the characters read true enough to their actual canon selves! You deserve nothing less, Vek Talis! But, my muse certainly found inspiration enough to work with, at least. In the end, I had to cut the story in two because of the word count (which I did not want to do because of the flow of a single scene, but, needs must [face_sigh] :oops:), so, expect the concluding part as soon as I flesh it out and do some editing. :D

    Now, that said, I also have to thank you for your request. I’d forgotten just how wonderful this corner of the Star Wars universe was, and I just downloaded the first KotOR game to play again. Maybe once I soldier on through part two I’ll come back here and re-work this story as a sort of experiment. I’m curious to see how well I match up! But, until then, I hope you enjoy! [:D]


    Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words. The title is a line nicked from Gary Numan’s “My Name is Ruin”, which was my go-to song while writing.





    The request:

    A story in Before-Legends

    Three things you would like in your fic-gift -
    1. A fight without lightsabers
    2. some Twi'lek dancing girls and
    3. the Jedi Temple as a setting.

    The main characters you want in your fic-gift
    - Meetra Surik (the Exile from KotOR II), Canderous Ordo & HK-47

    A character you don’t want in your fic-gift
    - Carth Onassi






    “my name’s a war song"
    by Mira_Jade


    I.

    The Jedi enclave on Dantooine was nothing like Meetra Surik remembered.

    Already, the grasslands were moving in to recover what had once been their own in the hardy, determined way of nature. Forests burned, it seemed, only to grow back twice as dense from the ashes. Young green shoots had sprouted up from the broken mortar of the cobblestones, while patient vines crawled between the spaces of the man-made structures to drape the walls as if they had always been. Tiny, white petaled ryhia flowers bloomed in the shade of the colonnade, and herds of iriaz grazed on kibla clover in the overgrown sparring fields. In the main courtyard the Great Tree was now nothing more than a blackened stump; it was the only thing that hadn't dug its roots in for life anew; it couldn’t, not after the devastation that had been wrecked upon its branches. An echo of the ancient scion’s death pressed against her in the Force, lapping at her senses like waves of water thundering against the cradle of a rocky seashore. There had been so much pain and death here, she could feel the same as if the desecration was still fresh. The pall of the dark had seeped in to taint this once sacred place, so much so that, for a long time upon arriving, it hurt to breathe.

    From the start, Atton had been on edge as they walked through the ruins. “Home sweet home, huh?” he'd muttered, holding back a sneer. “Cozy place you got.” By her side, Bao-Dur had said nothing, but she could feel his own disquiet as they passed the ghosts of the dead the same as brushing though cob-webs in a murky land. Their memories seemed to catch on her robes and sink down into her skin, no matter how she tried to evade their grasp. Kreia too was uncharacteristically quiet, keeping mostly to her own counsel. There was a moment, once, where Meetra thought to sense an unusual sort of satisfaction emanating from the older woman when they passed the former council chamber, now overgrown with weeds, but that impression had come and gone so quickly, too quickly for her to give much credence to her insights. This place was now a mass burial ground, she reasoned; of course it was difficult for her to tell up from down as the final moments of so many Jedi continued to nip at her senses. Their deaths seemed to fill her lungs and shadow the dark spaces behind her heart, even as she felt her stride turn as with a newly infused source of energy. It was . . . disquieting, in a sense, that knowledge. (Terrifying, in so many others.)

    “Yes,” was all she said to Atton. “Once, it was.”

    In a way that was perhaps more cutting than the specters of the fallen, she remembered running through these same corridors, trailing giggles in her wake as a child. In this enclave, she’d grown into a woman wise in the ways of the Force, following behind her masters through her knighthood and onwards, until she eventually considered training students of her own. She’d found the courage to stand up for her beliefs here, and answered Revan's call when she summoned her fellow Jedi to join in her crusade. Now, it was almost strange to remember how confident she'd been of her decision at the time. In her youth and ignorance she had not looked back to leave Dantooine behind. How could she possibly look back, she’d thought then, when Revan was the light, guiding her forward? Where else was there for her to turn when Alek was right there beside her, sharing that same sense of devotion she could feel growing with every step they took closer to the righteous promise of war? They were planetary objects in motion, all of them, with no choice but to orbit their sun; even the thought of doing anything else was contrary to the fixed laws of gravity. Stupidly, she’d thought her path assured in every way.

    How little she had truly known, then.

    Meetra never anticipated returning to Dantooine. Now, by some wry twist of fate, she was home – home, and searching for the very Masters who had forsaken her, at that. Only, she could admit, there was no home left to be found for her, here or anywhere; not anymore. Her exile was complete in every way.

    The people of Dantooine too remembered the Jedi; of course they did. Over and over again, Meetra absorbed the blows from their words without deflecting. The settlers were a proud, stubborn sort, with nowhere else to go. They had much to grieve, and their anger had time to fester and turn ugly. The mercenaries were an even worse sort, profiting from the losses of others. The balance was off, Meetra knew; there were cracks in the surface of Dantooine that hadn’t existed before. A Jedi would stay and help right the wrongs they had unwittingly caused, as their sworn obligation and duty. Meetra was no longer a Jedi (no matter that so many conveniently forgot that fact), but she could nonetheless feel those fractured lines and wanted to do what little she could to help. Her heart, after all, had always led her before. Why should that stop now, even when she felt more guilt than compassion after all she had seen – after all she had done? It was something she couldn’t quite answer for herself.

    Her desire to do some sort of good for Dantooine didn’t mean that she wasn’t exasperated with Atton’s petty jealousies and Mical’s simpering awe and the Khoonda’s thinly veiled insults, however. To the contrary, her patience was running dangerously thin, and, more than once, she wistfully fantasized about returning to the Unknown Regions and simply forgetting that any of this had ever happened. Anything that would help ease the tension binding her temples and bracketing her spine had to be a better option. She’d finally had enough of everything – and everyone – and left her party behind to clear her mind. She needed to find her center, preferably before she responded crossly to one of her companions or did something rash. She was tired of cleaning up after her mistakes, after all; she refused to add to her already impressive list of sins, not if she could help it.

    Meetra didn’t have a clear destination in mind when she started walking. Instead, she only knew that she wanted to get away – far, far away, even. It wasn’t terribly surprising, then, when she found herself on the old, well-worn trail that led down to the river. Once, this had been a familiar path for her feet, leading to a spot that promised nothing but rest and succor for her spirit. Or, at least it had. A part of her hoped that it could do so again.

    Which was why, when she came to that one particular blba tree, growing in the crook of the elbow where the river turned, where the water was deep and cool further out, yet calm and sun-warmed by the smooth round stones that made up the shore, she couldn’t help the dismayed expression that marred her face when she realized that her spot was taken.

    Honestly, of all of the people and all the places -

    She couldn’t wholly keep her brow from furrowing. Her mouth tucked down at the corners, even as her upper lip drew away from her teeth. That look, promising displeasure and repercussions for whoever had moved her beyond the cold mask she’d adopted for the war as easily as Revan donned hers, was a part of herself she thought she had left above Malachor. She would never be the General again.

    “You’ve been spending too much time with the smuggler,” Kreia had disapproved once before, her insights failing her for the first. Because, in truth, the look belonged to them. (To her, more accurately.)

    Still, no amount of renouncing who she once was could keep her from crossing her arms over her chest and frowning at the sight of the Mandalore sitting with his back against the tree (their tree), looking down at a datapad in his hands. He was out of his armor, yet, somehow, in a strange way that surely defied physics, the sight didn’t make him appear any less imposing. Instead, even casually sitting on the ground in a sleeveless black shirt and a sturdy pair of dun trousers, he seemed to fill the space around him with his presence. The same as with so many other Mandalorians, he was a burst of negatively charged energy that seemed to disrupt the flow of the Force, diverting the ambient current like a boulder in a stream. For that one mark in his favor, at least, Meetra was grateful. Being back on Dantooine already gave her enough of a headache as it was.

    By his side, curiously, was HK-47. There, the happily vicious droid looked relatively content to sit in the grass and peer over Canderous’ shoulder to gaze at whatever he was watching. His optical receptors flickered as he focused, flashing as if to give the impression of widening as Canderous slapped his knee and gave a robust laugh in response to something said on the screen. Meetra stopped at the end of the trail, and stared.

    But, the droid’s head tilted next, ever aware of his surroundings as he was, and he caught her gaze. “Enthusiastic greeting: Welcome, Master,” if the droid could express happiness for anything that didn’t involve ending sentient life in the most brutal ways possible, he seemed to do so for her. Honestly, Meetra wasn’t wholly sure what to make of that. “It is good to see you. Please, will you join us?”

    She was proud of HK-47, really she was – she’d only heard the slightest hesitation in his voice, once near the beginning. It was a work in progress, getting the assassin droid not to offer his more . . . trademark services every time she entered a room, but they were getting there.

    HK-47, she thought, would have done nothing but amuse Revan, even on her darkest days. But that thought carried a pang of its own, especially here, where her memories had known such light and life. Stubbornly, she ignored her pain as it bloomed.

    Canderous however, glanced up at her only once before looking down again. “Surik,” he greeted her with an easy nonchalance. No matter that he didn’t watch her as she finished her approach, she had the sense that he was aware of her every move.

    “Ordo,” she returned in kind. Just barely, the corner of his mouth quirked.

    “You look,” he said a moment later, still not paying her the courtesy of looking up, “disappointed to see me.”

    Her jaw tightened for his observation. “This is a good spot,” she commented without answering. "Obviously, I'm not the only one who thinks so."

    “It’s your spot, you mean?” he understood anyway. He didn’t leash his grin; the same as always when he smiled, he showed his teeth.

    In answer, Meetra simply pressed her own mouth into a thin line, thinking -

    - of, after a long day spend debating the causes and repercussions Rajivari’s fall during the time of the Je’daii order on Tython, Revan dramatically collapsing in the grass and proclaiming that she never thought she’d see the sun again for as long as Master Cindar droned on and on. The branches of the blba tree threw dappled patterns over her darkly tanned skin as Alek sympathetically rubbed her shoulder, catching her grin over their prone companion. She’d finally laid down in the grass next to Revan, and elbowed her side with a smile. “Don’t you want to be a Knight? Listening to the Masters is a necessary part of reaching that goal – no matter how much you may disagree.” Maybe, Revan had replied, she would just run away and become a pirate. If she did, she fully expected them to come with her. “Of course,” Meetra had rolled her eyes without sincerity to pledge. But: “Always,” Alek had seconded her, and she’d felt, even then, that he’d meant his vow true.

    - of going through the Makashi stances, one by one until the form became as easy to her as breathing. Meetra had bounced between so many styles before settling on a conglomeration of many, with no one alone suiting her absolutely, but Alek always had a clear and early preference. The structures of Form II were poised and thoughtful, a practical fencing method that relied on elegance and strategy with no wasted energy. Alek had shadowed her through the katas, ever a patient tutor, while Revan sat on the rocks by the river and threw seed pods at them. Teasing her friends all the while, she’d called the style boring and ineffective for anything other than battling another Sith. (Or Jedi.) When, her grin had flashed to challenge, would they ever need that again? (When indeed?)

    - or, of just Alek sitting beneath the tree with her, worry in his voice as they discussed the way Revan had gone head to head with Knight Atris in the lecture hall – debating with the historian about the fall of Ulic Qel-Dorma and arguing that any means should be considered necessary to protect the galaxy as defenders of the Republic. Their connection to the Force shouldn’t allow anything less than everything they had to give, Revan passionately defended her beliefs. With their powers also came the burden to use them as was necessary to serve the greater good, especially when war threatened. “I’m worried for Revan, you know I am,” Alek, who’d just finally had a growth spurt to surpass them both in height, hunched his newly broadened shoulders and didn’t meet her eyes. “You should’ve heard the way she questioned the lesson; it was unprecedented for a Padawan. My Master . . . the things he has to say about her . . . they are troubling, and I’m shamed when I don’t wholly agree. I don’t know what to think; I find it so hard to think at all around her. Instead, I just feel - ”

    - but Meetra clenched her jaw, and said none of those things. Instead, she inclined her head. “Once, it was,” she gave. “But not any more.”

    Canderous’ eyes followed her as she walked to where the boulders on the river’s edge made just as good a seat as the one underneath the shade of the tree. She found her place atop the stones like sinking into a memory, and breathed in deep of the fresh, sweet smelling air to better calm her mind. It was currently one of the last days of spring in this hemisphere, and the grasses were seeding in preparation for summer. The pollen floating on the breeze tickled her nose as she inhaled; she exhaled through her mouth. (Alek had such terrible allergies, and he was miserable while the grasslands spawned, she remembered.) Above them, the yellow sun was tilting towards the horizon; it would start its descent soon. Perhaps, she would stay and watch it set in full. (Revan had always loved the transient time between day and night, when the sky was rich with violent bands of flaming color.)

    “You’ve found an interesting companion,” she finally observed aloud, after they’d gone without speaking for some time.

    Canderous shrugged. “'47 and I understand each other, what can I say?”

    “Statement of fact: The Mandalore is one of the few meatbags who appreciate the true art of my design. I too have learned many techniques to bolster my own repertoire during our acquaintance. Our partnership is never dull.”

    "Compliments, my friend, will get you everywhere," Canderous was all too delighted to tell the droid, even as Meetra snorted outright.

    “Of course,” she muttered. Really, that explained it all.

    “I would have passed on by and left '47 with Rand, but he would’ve been slag before the day was through,” Canderous continued. “Or, the boy would have tried, at least,” for that, he gave a smirk. “It was cruel of you to pair them together, but you already know that.”

    She shrugged in dismissal. Atton being less than fond of droids was a fact she was well aware of, even if she still didn’t have the faintest idea why. Yet, more hands would make the work go faster, and there was so much to be done if they wanted to aid the settlers during their brief time spent planetside. She couldn’t afford to humor such petty dynamics in her party.

    Still. “I did not intend my decision to be viewed as a punishment - ”

    “ - never meant to say that I don’t like your style, Surik. You’re subtle.”

    “ - but there’s work to be done,” she continued, raising her voice just slightly to speak over him. “Personal preferences need to be put aside to see our commitment through.”

    “This was you, then, putting your personal preferences aside?”

    . . . okay, so maybe it was slightly vengeful of her, pairing Atton and HK-47 together to help repair the turrets. But only slightly so. Yet she couldn’t possibly pair Atton with Mical, either, and so, there she was with no clear, easy choice. She hid a sour expression for the thought, inwardly debating which was worse: Atton’s clearly burning jealousy, or Mical’s wide eyed, adoring -

    - but no. No. She wasn’t going to think about that. About them. No matter that she was no longer a Jedi, she found her peace through centering herself in the Force, and exhaled out with everything else. Instead of dignifying his words with an outright answer, she deflected by saying, “You know, our work would go quicker with more help.”

    Canderous snorted, unaffected by her censure. “I’ve already followed crusades enough for my lifetime,” he waved a hand in dismissal. “I’m here for one purpose, and one purpose only; helping those who cannot help themselves never has been, and never will be my concern.”

    No matter how centered she was endeavoring to be, she bristled. “The Mandalorians - ”

    “ - have been responsible for so much death and destruction in the galaxy?” he finished for her. With hardly any inflection, he made his opinion on that known loud and clear. “Yeah, we have. Yet I’ve made peace with my past, Surik. I’m not the one here who’s trying to balance the scales. That’s your load to carry.”

    The blow, glancing though it was, stung. No matter; she grit her teeth and held her head up high, refusing to let one of them shame her for her actions. Revan had seen something in Canderous Ordo after returning to the light, she reminded herself, and she’d somehow convinced him to rebuild the clans with the good of the Republic in mind. Meetra soothed her temper with that knowledge, and made a still pool of the churning ocean within her spirit – again.

    It helped, slightly – or maybe it didn’t – that Canderous didn’t even look overly concerned to see how his words had landed. Instead, his attention returned to the datapad in his hands – as did HK-47’s – and she fought the urge to scowl, for a moment inordinately annoyed that she was so easily dismissed.

    “Just what are you watching that’s so engrossing, anyway?”

    Without missing a beat, he answered, “Ryloth’s Seela’chee semi-finals. We’re down to the last few matches in the group routines. I’m rooting for the Daesha troupe to go all the way.”

    Meetra’s brow furrowed. What did that even mean? Was that a reference to bolo-ball, she wondered, or -

    - feeling like there was something she was missing, she stood and walked over to kneel in the grass next to Ordo. Subtly, he shifted so that she could see -

    - eugh. Men.

    Summoning her grace, she just barely kept from rolling her eyes and voicing her disgust out loud. They were watching a Twi’lek dancing competition. Really, she shouldn’t have expected anything more noble than that, especially from the likes of him.

    Instead of bothering to address Canderous, who had no higher morals she could speak to, she looked straight at HK-47 to say, “You know, I expected better from you.”

    HK-47’s optical sensors flickered as if he was trying to understand her umbrage. But it was Canderous who beat the droid to saying, “Oh, lighten up, Surik - ”

    “ - no, I will not lighten up,” perhaps her center shifted then, but she willfully let it go. She had Atton and Mical to thank for the already terse set of her temper, and maybe she was even looking for a target who had no qualms about fighting back. There was no injury to risk with Canderous; she could not hurt him, and he could not hurt her in return. “This is . . .” objectifying, insulting, perverse -

    " . . . demeaning," she sniffed to finish delicately. "For all women."

    “Observation: it is a superior competition showcasing only elite athleticism,” HK-47 commented. “I have already observed many styles and forms that could easily translate over to combat, and have made a note of several different - ”

    “ - hold on, wait just a minute so I can understand you,” Meetra raised up her hand to cut him off. She was too incredulous to believe what she was hearing, really she was. “Your excuse for watching a few dozen scantily dressed girls writhe about to music is that it’s . . . a sport.”

    “Uh . . . yeah,” Canderous looked at her as if she was the one who’d sprouted a second head and was speaking gibberish. “Why else would I be watching it? Honestly, your mind’s in the gutter.”

    A look was her only response to that.

    “No, really – watch,” he tilted the datapad towards her. “These women have complete mastery over their bodies. Their core strength is without match, as is their poise, precision, and grace. You’re a Jedi, Surik – or at least you were. Those are all values that you should be able to appreciate.”

    Well, now that he mentioned it . . .

    . . . but still. She couldn’t let this go. “Alright then. Let’s say, for a moment, that I accept your reasoning. How can you argue that these routines are clearly designed to capture a male audience and hold their attention? It’s just . . . ?” she waved a hand, welcoming him to speak.

    “Let’s just say,” Canderous gave a wolfish grin, “that I appreciate beauty in motion, in every form.”

    Meetra felt the slightest bit more vindicated in her scowl, then. “So, you’re saying that you’ve implemented these routines yourself?” she followed her logic through to its obvious conclusion. “I don’t believe it.”

    Canderous was less ashamed than she would have expected; namely, he didn’t even hesitate before saying, “A great many of my people add dancing to their training regimens, yeah. I have also, you'll not shame me to admit. There are few better forms of exercise and expression – it keeps the body limber and improves balance and coordination, all the while benefitting the psyche too. Being a good shot is nothing if you can’t get to a point to make that shot, after all. A Mandalorian uses every weapon at their disposal. This, is just another weapon.”

    Oh, this she had to see.

    “You do realize that I'll require proof of your claims,” she tried to keep from smirking, but failed miserably. “I can’t solely take your word for it.”

    “Nice try, Surik, but if you want a chance to ogle me like a piece of meat then you’re just going to have to wait for the match to end. And,” he finished, “I’m going to need a few more shots of this, at that.”

    Insufferable man. She wanted to bristle, questioning Revan’s taste – again – in every way. But, she didn’t have time to comment on his words when he drew out a plated flask that matched his armor, and took a long, slow drink. She thought that she could smell the vapors from where she was sitting, so much so that -

    She crinkled her nose. “What,” she didn’t even bother to hide her disdain, “is that?”

    Tihaar – nectar of the gods. My clan was once famous for distilling it,” Canderous tipped the glass up as if in a salute. “And it’s the only way I’m going to get through your quest without clipping your flyboy in the face at least once. So, it's in your best interest that I imbibe a generous quantity fairly regularly.”

    Where did she even begin in reply?

    “Nectar of the gods? We have very different thoughts on the divine, then,” she couldn’t help but comment. “And,” more belatedly she added, “Atton is not my flyboy.” She scowled, even as she felt something warm flutter in her chest. She decided to call the feeling a hot stab of annoyance and didn't bother examining it any further.

    “Oh, really? Ka’ra help me, but we’re all too old for this. I feel like I’ve heard this song and dance before, and it was a lousy tune the first time,” Canderous rolled his eyes heavenward as if he was the long-suffering one. “Okay,” he condescended, “whatever you want to believe, I'll not stop you.”

    Some arguments were too insulting to even dignify with waging. This, was one of them. She narrowed her eyes, and held out a hand in expectation instead. “Pass me the flask, Ordo. I want to try.”

    “Manners, Surik – at least say please.” Canderous raised a brow in an age-old expression of: I think you’re too nuna to follow through. Her scowl deepened; she never did respond well to dares. “Besides, this is not a drink for pretty Jedi princesses. It’ll take the paint right off of your delightfully murderous droid here - ”

    “ - how fortunate,” she all but growled, again, “that I am not a Jedi.” They didn’t want me back, remember? I was too tainted by the war . . . by Revan . . . by my own choices. “I haven’t been for years, now, which you well know.” She matched him grin for grin, flashing her teeth.

    A moment passed. When Canderous stared at her, searching, she couldn’t half guess what he expected to find. “Alright then,” he shook his head in mock sympathy. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

    She took the flask when offered, and tilted it back for a long, deliberate chug. She swallowed, and -

    - fire! That was fire. It felt like there was liquid Force lightning scalding down her throat to settle in her belly with all the heat of a small sun. Well then, the Mandalorians weren’t bluffing when they said this was a drink of the gods; only spirits could withstand that. Kun’s bowels, but that burned.

    To her credit, she didn't gag - outwardly, at least. Her eyes didn’t even water overly much after that first shock passed. Instead, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and defiantly said, “Sweet Force, but that could fuel HK-47’s power cells for a week. But it’s no worse than Master Iccii’s moonshine that Revan used to sneak and bring out here for us . . .”

    But she swallowed her words as stubbornly as she had the tihaar, and forced the syllables down even as their meaning tore through her. She steeled her expression, and took another long draw of the drink. It was no better the second time, but at least the burn was distracting.

    Canderous, as a small mercy, did not mention her slip. For that, at least, she could thank him. It was hard, here in their spot by the river, remembering -

    - that last summer before Revan and Alek left for further training at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. They’d been growing beyond that awkward, coltish stage of their teenage years, not quite children but certainly not yet adults. An odd energy that hadn’t been there before had appeared when stripping down to swim in the river after sparring. Alek had taken to staring when Revan wasn’t watching, and Meetra watched them both without being observed in return. It turned even more amusing when they turned sixteen, one after the other in quick succession, and were finally able to make their own choices in wardrobe. They'd both laughed at Alek for his very . . . form fitting and loud red-orange choice, but Revan’s teasing grin hadn’t quite matched the look in her eyes. By the time they returned from the capitol, nearly three years later, something had changed about her friends. Meetra had welcomed them back just as warmly as she'd seen them off, but in some ways it became Revan and Alek after that, and Meetra followed behind.

    - they were grown and knighted soon after, and each took on separate duties of their own. There was no more swimming away the long summer days or sleeping in the grass tangled together or laughing to catch the glowing kibi-bugs at night. There was, once, a time when Revan rescued an abandoned kath hound pup - the runt of its litter - and nursed him to health and adulthood in secret. She never named the pup - only called him Hound until it stuck, but there were moments reminiscent of their youth when the three of them snuck the animal around the enclave and squirreled away extra meat from meals and watched him grow from a tiny, dependent thing into a fierce creature of the wild. Just as Revan predicted, the kath hound found his own way back to nature, and simply never returned to them one day. Meetra hoped that he found a pack of his own to join; Revan said she knew he did; Alek scoffed and called them both bleeding hearts, but he stayed outside the longest with strips of bantha steak waiting for Hound to come back. He never did.

    - they drifted and came apart over the years, like celestial bodies crossing orbits, time and time again. Alek furthered his studies as a Jedi Guardian; Revan delved into understanding Force bonds and other mysteries of the Order; she, for herself, slowly cultivated her own unique talents out of caution. She grew powerful through the art of restraint, until, eventually, the Council suggested that she was ready to take on a student of her own. All the while, word reached them of the scourge of Althir, of the massacre on Cathar, of the unspeakable darkness building at Flashpoint station. For years the Mandalorians plundered and taunted and
    challenged, until, finally, Revan had enough of the Order's passive resistance and -

    - “You’ll stand with me, right? Please, you must know that I can do none of this alone. We’re stronger together; we always have been. Don't let this be the thing that tears us apart - not when you know it's the right thing to do.”

    - everything.

    Meetra remembered everything; there was no one else alive who did. Not any more.

    Her mouth pinched as she handed the flask back to Canderous. The tihaar wasn’t the only thing that burned, then.

    “No, I think you need this more than I do, and that’s saying something,” Canderous shook his head, looking only the slightest bit regretful as he refused her offer. “C’mon, burc’ya, drink up. You are going to take a moment and relax. The galaxy will still be just as messed up and unpleasant to deal with in an hour or so. But, until then, you need to take some time for yourself.”

    What was her life, she wondered then, if a Mandalorian - if the Mandalore - was looking at her as if she was something to pity? Like she was something that needed to be torn down and built up again as something better, as something less . . . broken and flawed. No, it wasn't pity, she knew better - never that. Anything even remotely resembling that emotion simply wasn't in his nature, and yet . . .

    Letting an old, forgotten expression creep over her face, she pushed her pale bangs aside to better look him in the eye. "It sounds like we have time to kill then, and you will need to keep up," she tipped the flask back to him. "Between your healing mods and my connection to the Force, this isn't going to hit nearly as hard as I want it to."

    Slowly, Canderous took the flask from her. "I like the way you think, Surik," he approved aloud, but still, his eyes were wary.

    "To the fallen," she gave, gesturing to the tihaar, and that sealed something in his expression. Or, at the very least, he was simply used to throwing caution to the wind. He accepted her challenge.

    "And, to those of us who are still alive and cleaning up their messes," Canderous agreed, and then tipped the flask back.

    That, Meetra nodded her head smartly, was most definitely a sentiment she could drink to.





    Alrighty! After almost 6k words I had to cut it off there, loath as I was to do so. This story really does read better in one go, but going over 10k in one post is way too much, even by my standards. I told you that my muse really took to the idea and ran. 8-} :oops: Which is impressive, because the first time I looked at the specifics of the request, my response was a very articulate 'huh?' So, that's progress! [face_mischief]

    And, to comment on a few odds and ends . . .

    My Ultimate KotOR Trio: So, am I stretching canon with the whole Revan, Meetra, Malak friendship thing? Maybe. Maybe not. I honest to goodness have a chart going in my notebook to figure out timelines and ages, and, most likely, Meetra is probably a few years younger than Revan and Malak. But the wook has no definite age for her so I'm going with my head!canon; Star Wars loves its trios, after all. I blame all the wonderful art and fan fiction already online for these three, beyond that. I'm easily susceptible, and it just makes the story that much better, in my opinion. :p (And, really, tell me I'm wrong with past-fem!Revan/Malak. [face_whistling])

    Tihaar: A strong Mandalorian drink made from fruit.

    Ka'ra: Stars; the spirits of ancient fallen leaders. The closest thing Mandalorians have to a belief in a higher realm of being, besides the collective consciousness all the dead join.

    Burc'ya: Friend. Often used ironically.

    Seela'chee: Ryl words for dancer and war meshed together. :p The troupe name translates to queen. Don't worry, we're coming back to that. ;) [face_mischief]


    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Vek Talis Let the record show, you could NOT HAVE gotten a BETTER giftor than Mira_Jade! [:D] [face_dancing]

    The beauty of the surroundings returning to a verdant state but the settlers still naturally feeling angry and disorganized ...

    Meetra remembering the past, friends and choices, with regret, pain, and sorrow ...
    You can totally feel Meetra wanting to make a difference and help but still not have a sense of worthiness or belonging. You get the sense she feels emotionally adrift.

    Canderous being forthright with her is welcome, you want someone who doesn't molly-coddle but still he manages to be sympathetic. [face_thinking]

    **

    I loved the progression of 3 friends becoming 2, Revan and Alek, with Meetra following -- but somehow Revan always takes the lead and even though Revan turned back to the light, no small feat, that! There is still much ruin and devastation to answer for and feel guilty over.

    @};-

    =D=
     
    Mira_Jade , Kahara, divapilot and 2 others like this.
  3. Vek Talis

    Vek Talis Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2018
    [:D] Wow – right away, from paragraph one. Very beautifully detailed. @};-



    The pall of the dark had seeped in to taint this once sacred place, so much so that, for a long time upon arriving, it hurt to breathe.

    And an excellent, beautiful line to end this beginning. =D=


    Their memories seemed to catch on her robes and sink down into her skin, no matter how she tried to evade their grasp.

    Just gorgeous. And well done so far with Atton and Bao-Dur's characters. And Kreia, that two timing so and so. :p


    She’d found the courage to stand up for her beliefs here, and answered Revan when she summoned her fellow Jedi to join her crusade.

    Wonderful. =D=


    Stupidly, she’d thought her path assured in every way.

    Awesome retrospection from Meetra about her decisions.


    She was tired of cleaning up after her mistakes, after all

    Heh, who isn't?


    For that one mark in his favor, at least, Meetra was grateful.

    Perfect descriptions of Canderous, too.


    She was proud of HK-47, really she was

    Proud of his ability to blast meatbags? [face_batting]


    “It’s your spot, you mean?” he understood anyway.

    Though not particularly bright, Canderous does have an interesting cleverness to him.


    as they discussed the way Revan had gone head to head with Knight Atris in the lecture hall

    Heh, that sounds like Revan all right.


    I find it so hard to think at all around her. Instead, I just feel -

    Yup, sounds like pre-Malak, too. Your voices are excellent for each and every character, @Mira_Jade It doesn't feel like you've been so long removed from KotOR.


    “I would have passed on by and left '47 with Rand, but he would’ve been slag before the day was through,”

    I would be all right with Atton getting fried. :D He's kind of like Carth to me – like a useless nerf herder. :p


    helping those who cannot help themselves never has been, and never will be my concern.

    Heh, good ol' Canderous.


    for a moment inordinately annoyed that she was so easily dismissed.

    A distinctly human trait, for many. ;)


    They were watching a Twi’lek dancing competition. Really, she shouldn’t have expected anything more noble than that, especially from the likes of him.

    This made me lol, truly. Us men are such a disgrace, ain't we? [face_mischief]


    “Uh . . . yeah,” Canderous looked at her as if she was the one who’d sprouted a second head and was speaking gibberish. “Why else would I be watching it? Honestly, your mind’s in the gutter.”

    [face_rofl] :_| [face_rofl]


    Those are all values that you should be able to appreciate.

    Don't some people just hate it when we start making sense? :p


    So, you’re saying that you’ve implemented these routines yourself?

    Not everyone can make the same moves, Surik. Everyone's an individual and has different qualities they can call upon. Some 'qualities' are simply more interesting than others. :D


    She crinkled her nose.

    Heh, I didn't know the Exile was such a... prude. o_O


    “And,” more belatedly she added, “Atton is not my flyboy.”

    Yeah, I've heard that one before. :rolleyes:


    Besides, this is not a drink for pretty Jedi princesses.

    Oh, Canderous, we should hang out more often, lol.


    not when you know it's the right thing to do.”

    Proof enough that even the 'right' thing can also sometimes be the 'wrong' thing.


    So, am I stretching canon with the whole Revan, Meetra, Malak friendship thing?

    No, I don't think so. I'm not sure many other Jedi would have made General in Revan's Republic navy.


    Meetra is probably a few years younger than Revan and Malak.

    My thoughts echo that as well.



    And, really, tell me I'm wrong with past-fem!Revan/Malak.

    Heh. Alek was a male, so I can totally see it. :D


    Wow @Mira_Jade this is absolutely the best holiday gift I've gotten in, well, let's just say a lot of years. And it's not even over yet! =D= Thank you so much. :)
     
  4. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Whew, I'm here! Has it really been two months now?? Well that was quite a bit longer than I wanted to go between updates, shamefully so. [face_blush] You have my most sincere apologies, @Vek Talis! I, perhaps unwisely, started far too many WIPs at once, and then I had a slew of DRL craziness including and not limited too computer issues slow down my updating as quickly as I would have first liked. But I am here with the conclusion now; hopefully, it'll prove to be worth the wait. I have to say that this second part is not first what I envisioned, but, after many efforts, it's the one that felt the most natural. I'm excited to share. :) [:D]

    But first! Some replies! :)


    [face_blush] Aw, you're too kind, my friend. It's more like I was just too stubborn to say 'no' to a world I had no clue about and researched the poor thing to death to make up for my lacking. But you honor me! [face_laugh] 8-} :oops:

    Exactly! I may be off, but the term 'exile' really hit me hard when I was first researching her character. Even long before Revan was thrown onto his/her path to redemption, Meetra had returned to the Council to take responsibility for her actions and accepted her punishment. She really strikes me as someone who wants to settle the scales - both out of an innate compassion and a strong sense of duty. But, everything she once knew and used to be has since changed. I can only imagine how adrift I would feel in her circumstances! :(

    I JUST LOVE THIS GRUFF AMORAL SPACE!VIKING TO PIECES, and I'll say it louder for the folks in the back! He's managed to stick with me, even from my first time playing KOTOR years ago, so it was fun to try to tackle his character here. :p [face_love]

    The Revan and Alek and Meetra dynamic is something that I am definitely probably building up more than canon intended it to be, but I could not resist! It just adds sooo many interesting dynamics that I couldn't help but delve into and explore. And now, here we are. :p

    As always, my friend, I thank you so very much for reading! Your encouragement and support always means the world to me. [:D]


    Thank-you! I can only imagine how adrift Meetra must have felt after the war - and it's like I said in my reply to Nyota: both her title and actual physical/emotional exile are facets of her character that fascinated me at first glance. That was really a key influence as to how I look at and write her character, right or wrong as I may be. I'm just relieved beyond words that you enjoyed her introspection as someone who's more familiar with both her character and this wider Old Republic world! :D [face_dancing] [face_relieved]

    Poor Meetra does seem to be the sort to beat herself for being human - warts and all! :oops: [face_sigh]

    Like I also said to Nyota, I just love this Space!Viking something fierce - that much I remember! So it was fun putting a few words to text for him. [face_mischief]

    Well, she wouldn't put it that way. :p Mostly. [face_mischief]

    Oh, Canderous definitely has his own sort of wisdom - at the very least, he knows his own mind and he's determined in his course, for better or worse. Which is definitely something that Meetra can benefit from here!

    Some things will always ring true about Revan, no matter who's holding the pen! [face_mischief]

    Again, I'm so very grateful to hear that!! I worried about my Alek characterizations even more so than Meetra, in some ways. But yeah - the poor guy's already drowning, and he doesn't even know it yet. [face_plain]

    Oh Carth, the dear - I appreciate him, really I do, even if I understand why a lot of the fandom likes to tease his character. I was just never really a shipper when I played my way through the game (his wife and son seem like too much of a barrier for a romance, if not a friendship, IMHO, or maybe that's just me - I'd need to finish the game again to reaffirm my stance), but Atton is just someone I can give or take, based on wook-reads alone. Again, maybe that'll change when I get to KOTOR II. But . . . yeah. Pretty much. :p

    Yep. He's an . . . interesting character to delve into, to say the least. :p

    Oh, just sometimes. ;) [face_love]

    I can't blame Meetra for twitching, but really, she walked right into that one!!

    When writing this I was thinking of pro athletes who use ballet or other forms of dance to improve their agility and coordination, and trying to imply something similar. Even so, some things just remain distinctly impossible. For obvious reasons. [face_laugh]

    You gotta love Jedi sensibilities, what can I say? And, honestly, poor Meetra is just ready to fight. She'd happily argue with him about the sky being blue or not right here. :p

    And, as Canderous said, it was a lousy tune the first time around. I agree! ;)

    That good guy, Canderous! [face_laugh] He's first on the anti-Bastilla express. :p

    It's tricky when right and wrong are so awfully overlapping here - I think, in my very humble opinion of Meetra's character, that's where a lot of her inward struggling comes from. :(

    Oh, that's good to know! Because I have run so, so far with that idea here that I can't see behind me anymore. So . . . there's that. [face_laugh]

    Perfect! Also good to know. :D Of course, I then ignored that bit of logic for teh plot and feelz! ;) [face_love]

    [face_laugh] True! Really, I can't say that I blame him or anyone, really - Revan is Revan. 'nuff said. [face_love]

    Again - I can't tell you how I breathed such a sigh of relief when I read your review! I really was so worried that I was prattling on about OOC, nearly OC-worthy characters when you had a more accurate vision of them in your mind than I do! I am absolutely thrilled that you've enjoyed this so much, so far, and hope that you continue to enjoy the conclusion as well. [face_love]


    Alrighty, more will be up in just a few! [:D]


    ~MJ @};-
     
  5. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Notes: I also have to give a big shout out to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, who gave this a look over for me when my eyes were crossing. Thank-you for beta reading, my friend, I appreciate it! [:D]





    II.

    True to prediction, the tihaar did little more than pleasantly dull her senses and soothe the ache in her temples that had plagued her since reaching Dantooine. She’d always had a strong tolerance for alcohol – Revan and Alek could have more than attested to that, once – and since then she’d grown far too used to giving her battle wounds over to the Force. She did so now unconsciously, even when she would have welcomed letting go of the world, just for a little while. Next to her, Canderous was only slightly more affected by the drink. He laughed easier, was the most tell-tale sign he gave towards the beginnings of inebriation. His eyes were brighter, and his movements looser – but Meetra would never be fool enough to assume that he’d lost any of his lethal edge. She’d learned a long time ago that only those with a death wish – be they even a Jedi – disregarded a Mandalorian as a potential threat; she’d seen all to many comrades do so in her time, each to their own peril.

    But she was not thinking about the war then. (Wasn’t she ever, though?) Instead, she decided that she simply hadn’t had enough of the drink to properly feel its effects and impatiently gestured to Canderous when he took too long with his turn with the flask. Hogging Hutt.

    “Sheesh, Surik – hold your Bes’uliik. Let a man drink for a moment in peace, would you?” he muttered, but he was good-natured about sharing when he didn’t have to, even so. He was a conundrum, Canderous Ordo – but that thought too, Meetra pushed away and didn’t consider any further.

    At the very least, she was more comfortable as she knocked her shoulder against his own and stared down at the last rounds of the dance competition. This close to the end, the routines were getting even more daring and athletic; Meetra felt her eyes widen more than once for some of the moves shown on the datapad’s screen. That one, especially, couldn’t have been possible – right? her brow furrowed to wonder. Not for beings who had, you know, actual bones and vertebrae in their spines and answered to the laws of gravity. She squinted to better see, wondering if the tihaar was hitting her harder than she first suspected.

    “This is much better to watch while drinking,” she hummed, voicing her last thought aloud and tipping the flask to the datapad in a sloppy sort of salute.

    Canderous narrowed his eyes, but there was little true annoyance behind his gaze. “If you’re going to continue insulting the girls,” he threatened, an exaggerated pleasantness seeping into his tone, “then we’re going to have a problem. Give me the flask back.”

    “Fine,” Meetra scowled, slumping back against the bark of the tree. Pointedly, she held the flask away from him. “I’ll be nice.”

    “Good; that’s all I’m asking.” Even so, he stared at her for a long moment, clearly far from trusting.

    “And you can put that look away, too,” Meetra rolled her eyes. “You don’t scare me, Ordo – I’ve defeated your kind once before, remember? I can certainly prevail against you again, especially here and now without your clan to back you up.”

    But as soon as the words fell from her mouth she snapped her teeth together with an audible click of sound. Heat rose to her cheeks, even as her eyes fell down to stare at her lap in shame. No matter that she would never regret her decision to pick up her sword – Revan had been right about that much, at least: they had no other choice – she still carried the extreme measures she’d taken in the name of her service to the Republic as a burden yoked across her shoulders. Yet she had to fight, Meetra’s protests circled her regrets in an endless ebb and flow, with one never completely gaining mastery over the other. She could scarce refuse the call to arms, not when -

    - not when she remembered walking away from the Jedi Tower on Taris, feeling Revan’s disbelief as an answering pulse of frustration, itching just underneath her own skin. (There had been anger too – such a roiling, frustrated anger, no matter how Meetra never would have dubbed it as such then.) “What, exactly, do the Masters fail to understand?” Revan had seethed aloud, her cloak flapping and her dark hair streaming in the brisk wind howling between the summits of the city spires. “The reemergence of the Sith is a distant threat, but the Mandalorians are slaughtering Republic citizens like nerfs before the butcher here and now. They are living in their premonitions of the future, rather than answering the trials of the moment! If they fail to move themselves to action, then they are just as guilty in their complacency as the Mandalore himself is in his brutality.” Meetra had walked close enough to Revan so that their arms brushed, while Alek bracketed her opposite side – the both of them like the forces of fusion and gravity, each granting and holding a star to its shape. “They’ll regret this,” Revan had prophesied darkly, and, not even days later the rogue Masters of the Covenant on Taris had slaughtered their Padawans for fear of another Dark Lord rising. (Though that would be a mystery long in solving.) The Force had pulsed in mourning for long days thereafter.

    - not when she remembered how Revan herself had reeled from the onslaught in the Force, so immersed in its power as she was as its favored vessel. If she’d tried harder, if she’d spoken to the Masters of Taris in any other way, could she maybe have saved, could she have even prevented? – but that, she never voiced aloud, no matter that her companions knew the shape of every word she swallowed. After departing from Taris, she left them and the rest of her followers behind on Suurja to scout ahead onto Onderon alone, and they’d let her go. Let her go, only to be ambushed by -

    - she still remembered getting Alek back from Flashpoint station and the . . . unspeakable brutalities the Mandalorian scientists had been guilty of inflicting on their Force-sensitive captives there. There was a moment, scarce longer than the passing of a heartbeat, when Meetra had thought that Revan would have struck down the subdued Demagol herself, no matter that the Republic guards were clapping him in cuffs to rightfully stand trial on Coruscant. She’d been almost terrifying to behold in her fury – but, then, Meetra had only shared her umbrage and impotent outrage. If Revan wouldn’t have checked herself, would Meetra have stopped her? It was a question she still couldn’t answer. Not even when -

    - “Not that I’m not glad to see you too,” no matter how Alek had winced when Revan leaned over the medbunk to cling to him, he hadn’t tried to dislodge her in the slightest, “but I think I need a douse in a kolto tank first, ‘ev.” Meetra had felt less like the distant, third point of their elongated triangle than she had the sentry of a pack of kath hounds, keeping guard for the healer’s return. She would give her friends this moment. “I know it’s a sight,” Alek’s tone was rueful – purposely so, Meetra thought – when Revan passed her hands over the now bare shape of his skull. It was one of the few places on his body she could touch that didn’t seem to cause him overly much pain, “but I don’t think it’s going to grow back.” To which Revan had incredulously replied, “You think I care about your hair right now?” Tightly, she pressed her brow to his own; for a long moment she couldn’t speak; all she did was share his breath, deeply in, and then deeply out. “I don’t care – I don’t. I came so close to losing you, don’t you understand? If I did, Alek . . . it scares me, what I would have wanted to do . . . what I think I would have done. I just barely let the Senate take Demagol alive as it was.”

    It was a memory Meetra still reflected on, even years later. No matter how long she’d spent in merciless self-examination during her exile, Meetra still had no idea what Revan would had been capable of that early in their crusade. As for herself, she knew that she’d burned with such a righteous fervor after Flashpoint station. And with the Bombing of Serroco and the Massacre of Cathar then reverberating through the Force and peeling back every fresh wound to bleed anew, she -

    - but Meetra shook her head against those memories, knowing that they’d do her little good if she wanted to order her thoughts in the here and now. For how long had she considered herself simply fulfilling her duty with every Mandalorian life she’d taken during the war? The question was succinct, but she could provide no easy answer. It was a disturbingly easy thing to get used to: killing in the name of honor, in the name of the Republic and the citizens therein she was sworn to serve. She’d taken to the art of death with a chilling ease, she now had both distance and clarity enough to acknowledge to herself; a part of her had even thrived on her actions throughout the course the war. Yet, what was the alternative? Then, she’d called every pass of her lightsaber through flesh and armor justice, and believed herself sanctified in her role as an executioner on the battlefield. It took her a long time to see her actions as anything else . . . not until after Malachor, and the unspeakable line she’d crossed with her actions there.

    Meetra took a long swig of the flask following that friendly thought, and welcomed the way the liquid scorched down her throat to settle in her stomach like an ember. She clung to the sensation, and let it burn.

    As she grappled with her memories, Canderous stared at her openly. He didn’t bother disguising the frank set of his gaze, nor did he try to politely turn away as another man may have when she caught him looking. Instead, he only tilted his head and stated: “You’re ashamed.”

    What?

    “No,” it was automatic of her to refute the suggestion of weakness in any form – especially when coming from the mouth of a Mandalorian. She tipped back another swallow of tihaar. “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.”

    “Really?” Canderous raised a greying brow in casual challenge. “We both know why the Jedi took so long to enter the war – truth be told, you couldn’t even have called it that before Revan was given her command. We were like plows sifting through a field, so easy was it for us to move through the outlier worlds – even your chancellor could scarce be bothered to move the Republic Navy to action for so long, not for those distant planets so far from the Core. Stalks of grain never stand a chance before the threshing blade, and that’s exactly what we were.”

    Did he ever think before opening his mouth to speak? She clenched her teeth as his words pelted her like stones, reaching into the Force to help her better find and keep her center.

    “I’m not ashamed,” she held her ground to refute, feeling as if she spoke the truth and lied all at once. “I did what was required of me, as my duty demanded. I still stand by that.” She had to.

    “Ah,” Canderous exhaled on a short breath – infuriatingly so. “That explains it, then.”

    “Explains what?” Meetra bit out in challenge, her nostrils flaring. Maybe her center wasn’t as established as she’d thought, even after all this time. That knowledge was . . . disquieting, to say the least.

    “You’re not ashamed, aren’t you?” Canderous surmised. “You’re not ashamed, but you think you should be. All of your fine, high and mighty Jedi teaching says you should be . . . but, you’re not.”

    The words struck far too close to her heart; they were no glancing blow to be so easily shrugged away and ignored. Meetra clenched her teeth to stubbornly look down at the datapad in search of a distraction. She inhaled deeply through her nose, and let her breath out slow, refusing to look up and engage him as he so clearly wanted. The wind rustled through the tall grasses of the plains; she could feel the breeze as it moved to tease the wispy ends of her short hair. The air was sweet with the fragrant smell of pollen and the freshly running water coursing just next to them. The river babbled a nonsense song as it swayed in its cradle, the same as it had for untold years before, and the same as it would for years yet to come.

    Deeply, Meetra exhaled.

    “My people believe that there’s no dishonor to be found in the loss of life within the bounds of war,” Canderous had a heavy way of shrugging his shoulders, as if he was used to exaggerating his gestures while wearing the weight of his armor. “To the contrary, a well fought battle is as much an honor to the victor as it is to the defeated.”

    “Really?” she snorted in disbelief, “is that what you had to tell yourself after Malachor?” After what I unleashed there, she swallowed to keep from saying, meting out death upon both your comrades and my own? How can you sit so easily next to me right now? How can you tease me and share your drink and smile? How can anyone –

    Before Malachor – though believe what you will, it makes no difference to me,” Canderous gave that same, frustratingly wolfish grin. “My people long had a saying: if we are to die, better be it by Revan’s blade than the scythe of time.”

    “That,” Meetra couldn’t keep from flashing a grimace in disgust, “is a terrible saying.”

    “Hey – I don’t go around knocking just how ridiculous your precious Code is,” Canderous retorted, “so maybe you could do the same, Surik. Cultural sensitivity, you know?”

    Meetra bit her lip to keep from pointing out how he had, in just that same sentence, mocked her beliefs for what they were. Canderous’ eyes had taken on that distant shine that said that he was happily lost in his memories, and she doubted that he’d hear her anyway. For a moment, she envied him the ease with which he reflected on his service to his people, no matter how twisted that service was; she wished she could feel the same.

    “It’s only, we Mandalorians keep no concept of the divine – but our ancient Taung ancestors kept a pantheon, did you know? They worshiped a masked woman for war, wouldn’t you call that a bit of irony? And Revan, ka’ra, but she was a force to reckon with – a thing of beauty in motion if ever there was one! The honor of having her as an adversary was enough to make you understand just why our elders felt compelled to worship and wage war in the first place. Many good warriors fell trying to put her down; but haran, what a way to go!”

    For that, Meetra blanched. She couldn’t even take another swig of the flask to distract herself – there was no distraction from this, not as she remembered -

    - how her hands failed to shake during that first skirmish planetside. She told herself that life was sacred to the Force, and, thus, she had no choice but to preserve life at the expense of those who placed no such value on the lives of others. It was easy, then, to find her strength alongside Revan, who was such a beacon, leading their ranks forward in the din. Alek, she’d worried even then, had taken to combat with a single-minded intensity; he and Revan always did feed off and energize each other, for better or worse, and they did so to fanatic degrees during the war. (He’d nursed a hatred for the Mandalorians since childhood, though, long before they took to the frontlines – but how could he not, Meetra had tried to assure herself then? She was asking him not to be a sentient being with any other expectation, no matter what the Masters may have thought on the matter.) “To think that you were once training to be a Guardian,” she once delicately tried to see how he was coping, only to have him flash her a too sharp grin and counter, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”

    - Revan started wearing that Force-forsaken mask as a symbol to lead her troops on the battlefield, but she kept it off when in camp or in council with her comrades. At least, she started that way; slowly, even that changed, and, finally, only Meetra and Alek were graced with sight of her actual face in the little moments they were able to steal together between campaigns. A third of the Jedi who had answered her rallying cry had fallen before the passing of a year, and those numbers only rose with each passing battle. She knew that Revan counted each and every loss as failing on her part, and let them scourge her heart until her flesh was hardened from the sheer necessity of survival. Eventually, Meetra knew that it was as much vengeance and justice that drove her on as it was a desire to protect and defend. Sometimes, the exact placement of that line was one she couldn’t see – even for herself, and that worried her.

    - once, before the plains of Xoxin burned, she had tried sparing a Mandalorian soldier who wasn’t much older than the Padawan she would have taken on Dantooine had she stayed long enough to become a Master herself. He’d lost his helmet somewhere during the fray, and she could see his eyes: he was scared – she knew he was scared. Suddenly sick with the violence of that day, she’d stayed her hand. She spared the youth, only to see Alek’s saber flash out, finishing the job she’d first begun. “He would have repaid your kindness with death for our comrades tenfold,” he’d growled, and Meetra thought to see a disquieting burning in his eyes before he blinked and the golden glow was gone – so quick that she thought she may have imagined it into being. That night, he didn’t join them in Revan’s command tent. When she went outside to find him, he was sitting by the burning funeral pyre they’d hastily erected for their fallen, his eyes red and swollen. When she asked, he claimed it was from the smoke. Soot was thick on the rank air, true; she’d never forget the scent of burning flesh and bone, the grotesque popping of blistering fat and the singe that caught at her nose as both cloth and hair fed the towering flames. He didn’t return with her that night, nor for many evenings thereafter. Revan found her mask during the war; Alek buried himself in his name; while, Meetra -

    What did she find to protect herself as they had? What did she gain, for everything that she had sacrificed in return? Even now, years later, she still couldn’t quite parcel out an answer for herself. Instead, she only knew what she had lost – oh, she knew. Sometimes the scales felt so grossly imbalanced, and now the galaxy was at risk all over again, no matter the lengths they'd taken to hold it together so long ago. For the sheer injustice of it all, she just couldn’t –

    The Force be good, but she was not going to fall apart; not here and now, and especially not in front of the likes of Canderous Ordo. Her eyes stung, but she hadn’t allowed herself to cry in years – not since feeling the Force leave her at Malachor, during that long flight back to Coruscant to face the judgment of the Council alone – and she certainly wouldn’t begin now. She refused.

    Instead, she bit her lip until she tasted blood and furiously lifted her eyes to stare at the river.

    “Alright, I’ve had enough of this, Surik. C’mon – on your feet.”

    She was at first lost in her memories to the point that she could have easily knocked Canderous back to the ground with just a flick of her fingers. A dark, nasty part of her being would’ve even enjoyed doing so. But he was standing in front of her with his hand held to help her up, waiting. There was no judgment in his eyes, she frowned to see – no pity, either, which she would have hated even more. Instead, there was just an odd sort of understanding – no matter how skewered it may have been, and it was that which drew her up short, pausing.

    Still, she didn’t immediately move to accept his hand. “What for?” she asked warily.

    “I’ve drank enough,” Canderous gave an impatient gesture, “so I’m gonna dance. You are too. C’mon – if I knew that you’d start moping after a few shots of tihaar I never would have shared. The old gods be good, but you’re a depressing drunk; it’s annoying me.”

    What? She wasn’t – and, really, was he? She stared at him, her mouth falling open in bemusement as she tried to corral her thoughts into some semblance of order. She couldn’t have been more surprised if he said that he and Atton were going to run off and start an all boy band together in the Inner Core with HK-47 tagging along as back-up. “Here?” she questioned dumbly, trying to voice her confusion aloud. “Now?”

    “Uh, yeah, unless you have a better idea?” Canderous looked at her as if she was the one who’d suddenly sprouted a second head. “Most every civilized society in the galaxy dances, Surik – as do quite a few of the uncivilized ones, really – don’t the Jedi? . . . no?” he filled in for her when she only continued to gape. He gave a mean snort, “And you high and mighty types like to call my kind brutish, sheesh.”

    Did they? her memories swelled again, roiling like some turbulent sea before a storm. Had they? No – yes . . . once? . . . a long time ago, perhaps. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t quite remember now.

    “You’re alive,” Canderous said, his voice not gentling – not ever that, but softening around the edges, at the very least. “You survived the war; you came out on the other side. Now, it’s high time that you start acting like you didn’t leave the rest of yourself behind on one of those cursed funeral pyres. You’re here now, don’t dishonor the fallen by failing to remember that.”

    Like Alek did, she thought with a flinch; like Revan did, too, before somehow finding her way back, in spite of every odd stacked together to chain her to the darkness. Just like -

    That was it – kriff it all, but she could use a dance. So, she was going to dance. Boldly, she took Canderous’ hand, and let him pull her to her feet.

    “Well I’ll be,” he grinned to tease. “Let it never be said that the Jedi are able to turn down a challenge.”

    “I’m no longer a Jedi,” she countered yet again. Her voice was thin, but Canderous only shrugged.

    “So you've said, Surik,” he gave – and she narrowed her eyes, uncertain whether or not she was being mocked – again. What, precisely, she wondered for the umpteenth time as Canderous moved to turn the volume up on the datapad, had Revan seen in this man? And why was she continuing to honor Revan’s vision now, when she herself had ceased following her old friend so many years ago?

    But that was yet another thought she cut off before examining it too closely; she was fast nearing her limit of enduring self-inflicted wounds.

    “For the record,” she waved her hand down at the dwindling competition on screen. They were on to the final match now. “I am not doing anything like that. So, sorry if that's a disappointment.”

    “Didn’t think you could even if you wanted to,” Canderous shrugged. Again, she couldn’t tell if she was being teased or not; she felt it safe to assume that she was. “That’s beyond the both of our skill sets – we have a few too many vertebrae, I suspect, and gravity is a pesky mistress – for me, at least. Maybe not so much for you.”

    That was much too close to her own reflections from earlier. She scowled for the idea of any similarities between their thinking, glaring even as she allowed him to lead her by the hand. Canderous, of course, only took her glowering as a challenge, and ignored her umbrage completely to tug her into a spin.

    It was awkward, at first – she couldn’t quite bring herself to relax and Canderous enjoyed her discomfort far too much for her to find much enjoyment as they found some semblance of a rhythm between them. The music was too fast for anything slow, which she wouldn’t have had allowed anyway, and she tried to focus instead on the way the world spun around her as the tihaar settled as a comfortable warmth in her belly. She tried to move her feet and keep one step ahead of her memories as best she could, but that was an impossible task here on Dantooine. Keeping a hold on her mind was harder here than it'd yet been anywhere else throughout her exile, no matter the passing of time. It was just . . . why did everything have to be so difficult? Meetra wondered, trying her best not to visibly scowl at the thought. She wanted to let her past go.

    “It was . . . different, at first, from everything we'd known to work alongside the Republic troops,” finally, Meetra found herself saying aloud. “They loved to dance and celebrate every little thing – and so Revan let them; she thought it was good for morale.”

    Canderous seemed little surprised by her words. “Most sentients like to celebrate life; I can respect that,” he shrugged to say. “The bonds between family and comrades – to our personal aliit and then to the broader clan and the Mand’alor above all else – are considered sacred to my people. It’s one of the reasons we find the Jedi so hard to understand. Living without ties, without attachments, without the ability to pass on your name and traditions besides the apprentices you train and then let go . . . it’s unnatural. I still can’t say I understand it.”

    “Is it really more unnatural than living for the glory of war?” she raised a blonde brow to counter. There was no rancor in her tone, only an honest curiosity. Across her field of vision the grasslands spun into the river and the sky and the bulbous branches of the blba tree. She only caught a glimpse of Canderous’ grin, sharp and pointed - as if he was used to having his expressions hidden behind a mask, and so saw little reason to hide them, even when his face was naked in view - flicker before flying away from view again.

    “What’s more natural than war?” he did not agree with her – they were too fundamentally different in their most basic principles to see eye to eye, especially in this regard. “Most every sentient race in the galaxy can boast of a history of violence in some form or another. Even nature itself is a battle of the strongest – endeavoring to prove yourself as the best, to survive as the fittest – isn’t that one of the defining traits of creation?”

    This was a subject that was better left for the Masters to debate, honestly; as for herself, she preferred courses of direct action rather than lingering in the theoretical realm of philosophy. Only . . . that was half of what Canderous was trying to say, wasn’t it? And, if she were to argue that the ability to share and grow bonds as the defining trait of sentient life, wouldn’t he only counter that the Jedi lived the exact opposite of that belief?

    She thought, then, of -

    - sparring matches turning into hopeless rounds of giggles as they all collapsed on the grass in a tangle of limbs together, feeling breathless and easy and young -

    - of the joy of feeling her Master’s approval and the certainty she felt that she was going to do the right thing in service to the Force, in service to the Republic, ever and always, without a doubt -

    - of those long nights when Alek’s nightmares would come back, remembering the Mandalorian raid on his childhood home before he’d been accepted by the Republic as a refugee seeking asylum. Other nights, she’d sit up with Revan, who rarely slept for her own visions of the future, and ignore her own burning eyes to comfort both of her friends. They’d always been so strong for each other, only to -

    - of feeling a hand of a Republic soldier help her up after the end of a particularly bad skirmish. “We wouldn’t be here without you; thank you, for everything you and the Jedi do,” the Aqualish had warmly intoned. The following skirmish, he’d been listed amongst their casualties, and Meetra had clenched her fists to remember the feel of his hand supporting her own. She hid a little bit more of herself away following, and made sure to stand on her own two feet without anyone at her back on the battlefield. She just couldn’t -

    - maybe, she acknowledged dully, she had never been much of an ideal Jedi to begin with? Perhaps, none of them had . . . was that why each of them had fallen so, so easily?

    “This isn’t working,” finally, Canderous huffed out with a long suffering sigh. “Do you need to punch me?”

    What? “Yes,” Meetra replied automatically – really, that sounded marvelous – before rushing to amend, her eyes turning wide, “No! . . . no. But, thank-you.”

    Well, what else was she supposed to say to that?

    “Are you sure?” Canderous didn’t sound at all convinced. Yet, in his defense, she knew that she didn’t sound at all convincing to begin with. “Because sometimes, a well meaning brawl between friends - ”

    - friends? she wanted to laugh then, truly she did. Especially when there was no humor in his voice for the appellation; his words were spoken completely without irony. Somehow, this Mandalorian had included her in his – oh, what did he call it? - his aliit, with Revan the welded bond stretched between them. (It was Revan, always Revan). As a result, he was as sincere as he could be in his concern. The Force, she couldn’t help but feel, must have been tickled by this – the finicky old entity that it was. It truly worked in mysterious ways, didn't it?

    “ - no,” she interrupted. “Really, I’m fine. It’s only . . .”

    . . . sometimes, she knew, but yet could not say out loud, I am a terrible Jedi . . . even when I don’t have to try and be one, not anymore.

    But those words were a bed of hot coals that she couldn’t quite remove from her tongue. Instead, she held the syllables in even as they scoured and burned her mouth. Her fingers dug into Canderous’ shoulders, but he made no sign of complaint. Her every limb felt much too stiff and ungainly, but he didn’t mention her clear unease aloud again, not even as the music ebbed for a slower suite and they grudgingly slowed to sway along with it. Canderous only flickered a glance in question at her once, which she answered only by ignoring him. She’d allow this, for now.

    Until, finally: “Did you ever hear about the First Battle of Althir? I shared the full story with Revan once, back before she her memories were returned – but I'm not sure how common-knowledge it was to the Jedi as a whole.”

    Meetra tilted her head, wondering where he was going with this. “I heard tell of the battle, yes,” she confirmed, even so. “I was on Dantooine at the time, furthering my studies as a Knight.” It would still be some years before the carnage in the Outer Rim would rise to a point where Revan would feel forced to take her stand. Then, they hadn’t looked closely – or seriously – enough at the beginning of the Mandalorians' war path. They hadn’t considered them to be enough of a threat for their notice; they'd been beneath their notice. Oh, how wrong they were soon proven to be.

    When she thought back, however, she distantly remembered the story of a young Mandalorian commander who'd broken from his own line to take advantage of a weak spot in the formation of the much larger Althiri fleet. His rash actions had led to a quick, decisive victory for the whole of his people, yes – but at the cost of the forces he had underneath his own command that day. The risks and the results of that battle had been one debated by the Masters to better peer into the mindset of the Mandalorian people as a while, Meetra remembered – and then even privately considered between she and Revan and Alek for years long thereafter.

    Ah, she thought she understood, then.

    “That breakaway commander was you, wasn’t it?” she raised a brow to dryly comment. “Of course it was.”

    But, no matter is droll her words were, Canderous had no quick retort ready to fire back. Instead, his expression turned grave in a way that first surprised her; his eyes were hard in a way she thought she understood; steel flashed deep within his gaze. “With war comes the necessity of making tough decisions. No matter the larger picture, and the lives of my comrades that I saved on the wider scale of the battle, there were still those who called me a reckless leader and a glory hound, unworthy of the men who died following my command. It . . . it took some time, and a whole lot more self-scrutiny than I’d like to admit to for me to come to the conclusion that I simply did what I had to do. If I fought that entire battle twice over, I’d make the same decisions again, no matter the cost. Now: would you?”

    Could she . . . would she? if she had the ability to live that awful day above Malachor all over again?

    - “General,” Revan had stopped using their names long before the end. Meetra couldn’t even remember exactly when that habit had started – somewhere along the line she became General, and Alek became Malak. They lost themselves within those names. “I have one last mission for you, and then this war will be through.” Meetra couldn’t see her eyes, not through the darkness of the mask, but she’d felt her old friend's resignation in the Force where their minds were still united by the bond they'd once shared. Somehow, even then, Revan had known that this would be the act that would sunder them completely. She knew . . . and yet, she had not shied away from making the decision that would, in its own way, set them all irrevocably down their respective courses to come.

    And, all the while knowing that she was signing away her soul to ensure their victory and peace for those they fought the serve . . . Meetra had agreed. She’d done her part . . . and then she was gone.

    Would she do it again, if she had the chance to turn back time and enact her actions with full knowledge of the repercussions that would follow? It was a question that she couldn’t immediately answer, not to herself and most certainly not aloud to her companion.

    Canderous, in his own form of mercy, did not push her. Instead, they just continued to sway, absently moving together for the sake of movement more so than anything else. “You know – it's always amused me how people lauded Revan for clawing her way back to the light, for her redemption. Everyone – from that aggravating Jedi brat to the Republic golden boy, seemed to fail to understand that the actions that led to her fall were the same actions that saved their entire society from collapsing in defeat at our hands. She was a thing of beauty – so glorious to behold – for everything she fought for and overcame as she decided to define as herself. Every part of her made up who she was, not just the ideals she returned to upholding at the end – the parts of her that they wanted to focus on, as were better fitting of their hero. Her putting down Malak like the rabid dog he’d become was a mercy, as much as it was a necessity; she would allow him no other executioner. I wanted to punch Onasi every time she was lauded for her actions – no one seemed to understand just what that took from her, in exchange.”

    Meetra took in a deep breath; she could feel it shake as she released from her lungs. Oh, Revan, she couldn't help but think with a pang, her dear, long lost friend.

    “I lost my name near the end,” she finally said in return. The words came out of her mouth, but they still didn’t feel like they belonged to her. Even so, she couldn't keep from speaking, not any longer. “I was just Revan’s general . . . and I acted in kind as my commission demanded.” Was it a terrible thing at the end, that she had still tried to call herself general and Jedi both? She'd tried so hard to remain true to each calling, but they were, perhaps, two titles that should have never gone together. If the fates were kind, they never would again.

    And yet, frustrated, Meetra still returned to the root of the issue: what other choice did she have? What other path could she have taken, other than the one she'd walked? How could she have stood by without doing everything possible in her power to serve as she was sworn to do? It didn’t matter that she’d put her own soul on the altar of the Republic’s survival; it was simply her duty, done now and over; she should accept it as such, and move on.

    “It was war,” Canderous pointed out, as if speaking directly to her thoughts. Just then, a part of her would have given anything to make his same, simple belief her own. “You killed in battle, in the name of that war. It’s kinda what’s supposed to happen, when you step up and agree to become a soldier, you know? There’s no other way around it.”

    “But I wasn’t just a soldier, can’t you understand? It was more than that, I -”

    - I slaughtered; I destroyed. I decided who would live and who would die on such a large scale when I ordered the use of the Mass Shadow Generator. I knew what would happen, but I still played the role of Revan’s executioner anyway. All of those deaths . . . they are my victims, as much as I saved such a vast multitude with my actions. I have blood on my hands, just as I would have been blood-guilty with my inaction; there was no path that would have suited me. At least, this way, a great many were saved at the loss of a comparative few . . . right? She grit her teeth, but still could not assign words to an idea that was much too big for her to encompass with speech. She didn’t even know where to begin. She -

    - throughout the course of the war, she’d seen so much death and destruction that she'd thought to have grown numb to it. But, watching the chaos breaking out over Malachor’s space – the Republic ships bursting in flares of yellow and red, scattering as wreckage along with the good men and woman she’d so long fought for and alongside with . . . she could feel them dying in the Force, blazing so incredibly bright against her senses before flickering out into the complete nothingness of death. She had turned to Bao-Dur, her resolution made, and finally, after what seemed like the passing of an eternity in a look, she’d nodded -

    But Canderous would not let her get away so easily as that. “Meetra,” he said her name – her given name, for the first. Resolutely, he stopped their slow spinning together to settle his hands on her shoulders and look directly into her eyes. His stare was as hard as his voice was gruff to continue: “You’re still not answering me. Would you do it again?”

    - only to feel death as she’d never felt it before, reaping its pitiless harvest in a wave of cold nothingness and unbiased inevitably. The Force had screamed out in loss and agony, and she'd recoiled as friends and enemies, as allies and strangers alike, were all drawn in by the crushing gravity of the imploding planet and then smashed to pieces. Tens of thousands of beings were gone in an instant, cut from their lives and returned to the Force in a blinking, when they had just existed as pinpoints of light and life to her senses just a moment before. She’d fallen to her knees as her vision blacked out, overwhelmed by the onslaught and sickened to her very core for the onslaught – a torment that perhaps she deserved. It was only fitting that she too partake in a their fate, she'd thought before an almost animalistic sense of self preservation finally rose within her. Since it was the Force itself that was drowning her in the frenetic maelstrom of the lives she had taken, then -

    Meetra thought . . . she thought that she knew the answer to that. No, she knew the answer to his question . . . yet, she wasn’t sure if that knowing was one that damned or liberated her.

    - the Force itself would be the price she paid in penance. To protect herself from the backlash of her actions, she sundered herself from the comfort of its presence, cutting ties with the life sustaining ichor that had defined her very self since the earliest days of her childhood. It would be many, many years before she would heal enough to feel the Force return to bloom anew within her spirit. In a way, she still wasn’t sure if she deserved its return. Perhaps, however, that decision was more than for the likes of her to decide. Perhaps -

    “I don’t know, would you?” she countered, returning his stare blow for blow. She would not be the first one to blink and look away. Not for this.

    - afterwards . . . how alone in her mind she had been. She'd never known that it was possible to feel so empty before. In a way, she’d made herself an exile long before the Council passed her official sentence after she returned to face their judgement. She embodied every aspect of her name, in so many ways.

    “Oh, in a heartbeat,” he flashed that same too-wide, toothy grin to answer. “Even with the same outcome and everything, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

    His almost humorous candor managed to break through to her in a way that his firm sincerity had not. She tossed her hair in an imperious gesture, and snorted, “Perhaps, then, there is some truth in saying that the Mandalorians are gluttons for punishment.”

    “You know, Revan said something similar to me back before she left,” Canderous gave a wistful sort of sigh, looking beyond her for a moment – and Meeta thought, again, of planetary objects and their sun. Revan always did have a way of drawing unlikely sorts into her orbit; once ensnared, it was impossible to break free. “Yet, here I am.”

    “Here we all are, aren't we?” ruefully, Meetra agreed. “For better or worse.”

    “Oh I don’t know – I think that I’d call us one more so than the other. I think that you do too, if you're being honest with yourself.”

    Would she? The Mandalorian assumed too much; or, perhaps Canderous Ordo was simply more canny than she would have first given him credit for. The wind whispered through the branches of the blba tree above them, as if physically punctuating her last thought. Taken by the familiarity of the breeze, Meetra looked over Canderous’ shoulder to the long, seemingly endless ripples of the grasslands. If she looked closely, she thought to glimpse three children running towards the river and the spot they called their own away from the Enclave. They laughed so easily, the each of them young and carefree and together. Perhaps, just beyond them, it was a young woman she glimpsed, walking away from everything she'd ever known without allowing herself to look back. She was almost luminous in her certainly and conviction, following a light in the distance only she could see. Meetra wanted to reach out to that woman and call her back, but she still didn’t know, even then, if she would tell her to stay or merely warn her to be more careful with her heart as she embarked on her course. Don’t lose yourself, she wanted to whisper to the woman she once had been. Remember yourself, and never feel the need to hide your face, she would try to reach out to Revan next with everything in her. Then, for Alek . . . don’t forget your name, please, my friend, she would remind him, over and over until it stuck. Your demons - and those who love you through them - will fail to change, regardless of what you call yourself.

    But, amongst all of the casualties the war took . . . perhaps, there were simply those who just never returned. Sometimes people gave up everything they had in the name of a crusade, and had no way of finding their way back to times of peace again. In a way, Meetra envied Revan her redemption; and Alek his rest.

    “It’s always hard, anyway,” Canderous admitted, his voice drifting in as if on the heels of her final thoughts, “coming home again, I'll give you that. It’s never the same as how we left it, not for us old soldiers.”

    “Yes,” Meetra found courage enough to agree with him on that, at the very least. "For us old soldiers,” she echoed.

    But she took the memories she still had as a comfort then: she was still fighting in their name, for memory of her friends and teachers and the idealistic young woman she'd once been. Her course was far from over; she'd not yet found her end. Until her time came, she would continue to walk her path to the best of her ability. She was, she thought to find her conviction deep within herself, through sharing her steps with shadows.

    So, she turned her attentions back toward her companion and gestured to HK-47 to turn the music up when she heard the melody increase in tempo. She would find a way to look forward to what waited ahead, she resolved within herself, rather than back at everything she’d left behind. For the rest of that evening, at least, she'd count herself successful.



    FIN

    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
    Vek Talis and Findswoman like this.
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Very realistic second guessing there. What would I, should I have done differently? Canderous is a great and probably unexpected confidant, but his candor is just what she needs to hear. There is a lot of regret and burden to bear in the past, especially with hindsight, but you can feel Meetra's resolve to move forward and not stay stuck in the what-ifs. @};-

    I love introspection very much and I enjoyed this moment of sharing between two who can commiserate. =D=
     
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I really enjoyed this! Wow, you really did a great job with everyone’s characterization here. In true Mira fashion, you’ve done a whizbang with this “unlikely friends” conversation and repartee (even HK-47 plays his charmingly cynical part—always love seeing him!). I really like the way you’ve situated it in the context of Revan’s crusade against the Mandalorians (if I’m understanding aright; my own handle on the lore of this era is a bit shaky too) and juxtaposed it with Meetra’s memories of happy times with Alek and Revan back when they were all friends together In those idyllic Dantooine meadows, under that same blba tree... what might have been, indeed! =(( I love how those memories morph gradually over the course of the story, chronicling the friends’ gradual drifting apart and the scars and hardships that the war brings all of them.

    But even now that the landscape isn’t so idyllic anymore (absolutely amazing description of that change, by the way), and even though years have past and the war has left its mark on everyone, that same blba tree is perhaps seeing the beginnings of a new friendship, one starting in a totally different and unexpected way... with tihaar and a Twi’lek dance competition! Very cool way to integrate Vek’s prompt there, and just saying, Canderous is totally right about dance and physical discipline—military men studying dance has been a thing on Earth, too, since the Middle Ages and Renaissance. :p And what a perfect touch to have Canderous and Meetra dance together—definitely not those extra-vertebrae maneuvers being executed by all those wiggly gals on the holo, but something a lot closer and more meaningful. In his own way, I think, that this is this amoral Space!Viking’s way (what a perfect description of him!) of offering Meetra a hand of comfort and friendship to counter her feelings feelings of shame and guilt. I have to agree with Canderous that she definitely feels shame about something, whether it’s the war itself or her own unashamed reaction to all the events. And of course the question of what role the tihaar is playing in revealing those feelings is left tantalizingly open. :D

    (I have to say, I like this Space!Viking a good bit too... indeed, I remember being a bit disappointed when I found out that KOTOR wouldn’t let Fem!Revan romance him! :p )

    Thanks so much for this poignant and sensitive study of these two game characters and for this “beginning of a beautiful friendship”—a motif at which you are always such an ace! =D=
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
  8. Vek Talis

    Vek Talis Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2018
    but Meetra would never be fool enough to assume that he’d lost any of his lethal edge.

    That is very wise of her. ;)


    “This is much better to watch while drinking,” she hummed,

    [face_laugh]


    I can certainly prevail against you again, especially here and now without your clan to back you up.”

    That's some powerful drink. :D


    If they fail to move themselves to action, then they are just as guilty in their complacency as the Mandalore himself is in his brutality.”

    True, true oh Revanator.


    If Revan wouldn’t have checked herself, would Meetra have stopped her?

    Doubtful.


    I came so close to losing you, don’t you understand?

    Interesting. Funny how far you fall when the Dark Side takes hold. Malak didn't care a bit about losing Darth Revan when he fired on her flagship, yet before they were so close.


    Did he ever think before opening his mouth to speak?

    Sometimes the truth hurts. That doesn't make it any less than truth. o_O


    He would have repaid your kindness with death for our comrades tenfold,”

    He's not wrong. Canderous said himself that a Mandalorian had to fear to learn how to beat it. That would have been the kid's crash course in fear, and then he would have grown to be a strong, cold-hearted Mandalorian warrior.


    What did she find to protect herself as they had?

    Her assuredness that she was right to do what she did, every step of the way.



    and now the galaxy was at risk all over again

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Once you lose that, or it gets subverted by an evil force, especially one pretending to be 'good', then all is lost.


    The old gods be good, but you’re a depressing drunk; it’s annoying me.

    [face_rofl]


    Again, she couldn’t tell if she was being teased or not;

    I would say not. Canderous is a factual kind of guy, as in, just pointing them out. Candor - it's part of his name, after all. :D


    “What’s more natural than war?”

    True again, Canderous. The struggle for survival is a war. People have forgotten that, I think, for the most part because life became too easy for a while.


    in service to the Republic, ever and always, without a doubt -

    Ah, the certainty of youth. Sad, that the ultimate passage of time chips away at that certitude and often leaves its victim a crumbling mass of indecision in the middle years, grasping this way, then that, to find themselves.


    The following skirmish, he’d been listed amongst their casualties, and Meetra had clenched her fists to remember the feel of his hand supporting her own.

    Excellently written. =D=


    there was no path that would have suited me.

    Sometimes – often, in real life, there is no good choice, just choice. And by making one or the other we set ourselves on the path to regret and second-guessing.


    To protect herself from the backlash of her actions, she sundered herself from the comfort of its presence,

    Best explanation I've heard for the convoluted way KotoR II obscures the story.


    This is tremendous,
    @Mira_Jade monumentous, incredible and fantastic! =D= Thank you so much. =D= =D= =D=