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

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

  1. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Title: The Road to Rediscovery
    Author: SoA
    Timeframe: Between the KOTOR games
    Characters: The casts of both games plus some OCs
    Genre: A bit of everything
    Summary: The destruction of the Star Forge leaves both peace and chaos in its wake. As Evure Pell struggles with the realities of her past--and future as Revan, Telos begins restoration, and many other heroes of the war try to find their place in a changed galaxy.

    The years between KOTOR I and KOTOR II seem mysterious, but lots happened in them to the characters I grew to love. While I can't rightfully consider this an epic, this story will span those five dark years, catching up with all of the characters of the first cast and setting up the lives of the characters of the second cast. In this way, it will not be on continuous novel, but a collection of short stories and vignettes all around the theme of 'What happened next?'

    This story is a direct sequel to Under the Shadow of the Builders, but you don't have to have read it to understand and enjoy this one.

    PM List:


    Part 1- Knighted

    The afternoon sun shone down on the Jedi Temple. The smiling faces that surrounded them only added to the brightness. Bastila Shan, Juhani, Jolee Bindo, and Evrue Pell had returned, and nearly every young Jedi who could sneak out of their routines met them on the landing platform. Even a few older ones joined in the cheerful spectacle, jeering their welcome and congratulations. Although news of their actions in the war and aboard the Star Forge had not yet gotten out on the news feeds, gossip spread quickly among the Jedi.

    A young boy with a padawan braid tucked behind his ear jockeyed up to Ev's side. “You're Darth Revan?” he asked in half-wonderment, half-disbelief.

    Ev chuckled and spread her arms wide, “Do I look like a Dark Lord to you?”

    The padawan did not have a chance to respond.

    Shoo, shoo,” an elderly Arkanian woman pushed her way through the crowd, “Get back to your duties. They have a meeting with the Jedi High Council presently, and I cannot allow you to detain them.” She had only one hand.

    Only a few of the younger Jedi looked disappointed. Most of the rest shot excited glances at the quartet before breaking away.

    Now, that's better,” the Arkanian said, smoothing the sleeve of her robe over the stump where her right hand had been not long ago. “Welcome back to the Jedi Temple. I am sorry about all that.”

    Master Anika!” Juhani exclaimed in recognition. Anika Epiere had been part of the Jedi strike team that had assisted them aboard the Star Forge. In that battle, she had lost not only hand but her padawan. The pain of the ordeal still showed, etched in the lines of her face.

    It was no trouble at all,” Ev said for all of them.

    I'm glad,” Anika replied with a repressed smile, still smoothing at her sleeve. “Now, it is my understanding that it is been quite a while since any of you have been at the Jedi Temple.”

    'Quite a while'? Heh!” Jolee laughed dryly, “Try fifty years.”

    As the temple is vast, I have been sent to guide you to the council chambers,” Anika continued, ignoring him.

    Thank you Master Anika,” Bastila said calmly, “Please lead the way.”

    Even as Anika led them off the landing platform, the young Jedi still watched them curiously from wherever they could without incurring the Arkanian's scolding again. Ev smiled slyly and winked at a knot of young initiates. They erupted into giggles and whispers, still staring. The quartet of Jedi did provide an interesting sight.

    Among the four returned heroes, only Juhani wore typical Jedi robes, and even hers were a brilliant rust red color, trimmed with blue. Bastila had returned to the pale yellow bodysuit armored with leather that she had favored all her days as a padawan. Thanks to her skills with battle meditation, she had always thought herself special and dressed to match it. The petite, dark-skinned Evrue Pell draped herself in a long white robe with a leather armored bodice. The whole outfit, save for the coloring, was distinctly reminiscent of Darth Revan. Though she admitted it to no one, she probably like it that way. Jolee, of the four of them, was the only one dressed in the favored beiges and browns of the Jedi, and he was the only non-Jedi among them. The loose tunic and pants he had worn since Kashyyyk were hardly styled after Jedi robes, but their colors certainly were. Old habits died hard.

    More fascinating than odd appearance of the unlikely quartet were the tales and speculations that were being told around the Jedi Temple. It was common knowledge even now that the Sith were disorganized and on the run. Whispers carried the story that Darth Malak was dead as well, but Darth Revan was not, as they had been led to believe. In fact, it was Revan who killed him, assisted by the famous Bastila Shan, a little-known Cathar Jedi, and an old hermit who could use the Force as well as any Jedi. How could any of that be possible—save for the heroism of Bastila Shan?

    As Master Anika took them into one of the great pillared halls of the temple, Ev let out a low gasp, “Stunning. Imposing. I should expect nothing less from the Jedi.” Stretching out, it seemed, as far as they eye could see, were grand polished pillars of at least three colors of stone. They strode in a straight aisle between them, unseen eyes from within the maze of pillars on them all the while. Ev hardly needed to reach out to sense their intense curiosity.

    Jolee, you said it has been fifty years since you were last here,” Juhani observed. Even she too seemed in awe of the grandeur of the Jedi Temple. Those students trained on Coruscant took it for granted, but Dantooine-trained younglings grew up to regard the temple with their jaws hanging open.

    Something like that,” Jolee chuckled, “You know, if I didn't know better, I'd say they designed this place to imitate the holy woshyr of Kashyyyk. Pales in comparison to the real thing, though.”

    Oh hush,” Bastila snapped half-jokingly, “Are you so anxious to be back under your log that you can't appreciated the Jedi Temple when you have been invited back to it?”

    Me invited back?” Jolee scoffed playfully, “I'm just your crotchety, old tag-along.”

    Come on, Jolee,” Ev elbowed him, “We owe you more than just to call you that. At the very least, you're my favorite crotchety, old tag-along I've ever had.”

    That so?” Jolee laughed.

    What was the Jedi Temple like fifty years ago,” Juhani asked, “I know they have been building and improving it for years now.”

    My memory has gone all fuzzy, but at least all these woshyr-pillars look the same,” Jolee shrugged, “When I stormed out of this place, proud and angry, fifty years ago, I hated these pillars. They were ugly and repressive, like the whole rest of this damned place.”

    Master Anika, still walking ahead of them, drew in a sharp breath.

    But seeing it in a better light, they're not so bad,” Jolee admitted, “Though I still like the real woshyr trees better. No doubt Nomi has done some redecorating—like all of those indoor gardens she was talking about. She was always a good house-mom to this place.”

    You would speak of the Grand Master of the Jedi Order as a 'house-mom'?” Anika snapped in a low whisper.

    Why not?” Jolee asked indifferently.

    Anika held her peace. Evidently, she was finally learning that it was fruitless to argue with Jolee.

    It must have been nearly three years since I was last here myself,” Juhani admitted quietly as Anika turned and led them towards a grand doorway along the wall. “It was when Quatra and I came to study the archives in preparation for our mission against the Sith on the outer rim.”

    They came into a narrower hall, dotted with lush potted plants. There was a lift at the far end with several other Jedi waiting patiently in front of its closed doors. Sunlight streamed in from vaulted windows near the ceiling. A trio of younglings scurried past them, late for something. One looked over his shoulder at them and gaped wide-eyed for a moment before hurrying on.

    I think the last time I must have been here was when the council granted me the Endar Spire and gave me my mission to seek the secret of the Sith's power,” Bastila said distantly. She hesitated for a moment, then added, “It was when they told me that Revan—Ev, you were 'finished' and ready. It took them almost a year.”

    A ready puppet for the Jedi's cause,” Ev murmured.

    I was only present at the beginning,” Bastila said quickly, “when they needed my connection with you in order to stabilize your life force. You don't hold it against me, do you Ev?”

    You? No,” Ev shook her head. As her gazed drifted over the Jedi in the hall around them, all of whom quickly pretended not to be staring, she felt wary—almost trapped. “No, I couldn't hold a grudge against you, Bastila. You tried to save me, to keep me alive. What you did was out of compassion. Where the council took it from there is out of your hands, and for their own purposes. If I have any grudges to hold, it's against those puppeteers who dropped me into your hands and told you what to do.”

    Bastila let out a sigh of relief, but there was still an unseen weight on her shoulders; a weight that had haunted her ever since Ev had found her on the Star Forge and convinced her to return to the Light. They arrived at the lift doors, and the other Jedi waiting around them stepped aside.

    Since we're all reminiscing,” Ev mused, changing the subject, “I bet the last time I was here was probably when I took off for the Mandalorian Wars, never to return, though, of course, I wouldn't remember any of that.”

    No, you returned once more after that,” said an old Jedi who had been leaning casually beside the lift doors since they had entered the hall. He was gray-haired and going bald, but there was a fit, liveliness about him even still. “To tell the Jedi Council that the war would be over soon, though few believed you. You didn't tell the masters even then of your secret weapon.”

    Ev leveled her dark gaze at him. “It seems that we have met before,” she said evenly, “But I don't remember you, Master Jedi.”

    You wouldn't,” he replied with equal gravity. “Can't say I agree with the circumstances that led to your amnesia, but what's done is done.” Shrugging himself into a smile to ease the rising tension, “But where are my manners? I should be welcoming you all back as heroes! The valiant Evrue Pell, I hear that's what they're calling you now, youthful prodigy Bastila Shan, and—oh, what was it—Juhani, right?” he tapped his forehead as if it would help him remember, “And Jolee Bindo, the prodigal padawan returned at last. I should have know you were still out there making trouble somewhere.” The old Jedi grinned.

    Blast my hold, if it isn't Visto Cafran!” Jolee laughed. He lunged forward and shook Visto's hand enthusiastically, “What're you doing here?”

    What I've always been,” Visto replied firmly, green eyes smiling, “Stirring things up, keeping all these people humble, and doing the bidding of the council now and then. But now that you're back, I'm going to have to hand over 'kookiest old Jedi' title to you again.”

    Hey now,” Jolee said warningly raising a hand, “Who ever said I was rejoining the Jedi Order?”

    Then what are you doing her, old friend?” Visto asked, with an amused twinkle in his eyes.

    The lift made a subdued ding and the doors slid open. “Come,” Anika urged her charges.

    Now you just wait one minute,” Jolee wagged a finger at her, “I'm not going anywhere in a hurry. I've got a friend to catch up with.”

    So?” Visto persisted.

    He says he has come along to humor the High Council at their request to have him here and to let them fawn on him with their praises, and then be done with them and their flawed moralities for good,” Juhani said, yellow eyes dancing, as if she knew better.

    Is that so?” Master Anika asked huffily.

    I didn't say anything like that,” Jolee snapped irritably.

    Sure you did,” Ev insisted playfully.

    We are holding up the lift,” Bastila reminded them.

    I won't delay you any longer,” Visto said with a courteous, though stiff bow, “And I know I'll be seeing you around the temple later on, Jolee, no matter what you're saying now.”

    Don't you go making any high-handed predictions about me, Cafran!” Jolee warned as he was ushered onto the lift by the others.

    Visto only laughed as the lift doors slid shut again.

    As the lift raced up the temple spire, making several stops along the way, Jolee's irritation faded slowly into bemusement. “Imagine that: Visto Cafran still alive and kicking!” he muttered to himself, “After the war with Exar Kun, I thought he'd never be himself again. Well, prove me wrong.”

    Master Anika's foot tapped impatiently as the lift slowed to a stop at nearly every level. One Jedi would step off as another would shuffle on. At one floor, a clump of knee-high younglings poured on, chattering animatedly.

    Oh yeah? I bet I could lift that bogee tree, pot and all,” one of the little boys boasted

    I bet'cha I could lift Master Waykennit,” a second bragged.

    No,” a third little girl called his bluff, wide-eyed.

    I bet you could,” Ev joined their conversation, “And even Master Vrook too, if he'd let you.”

    All six younglings beheld her with stunned wide-eyes.

    Not Master Vrook, never,” a young Nautolan moaned fearfully.

    Ev laughed, “In the Force, anything is possible.”

    Realization suddenly struck one of the little boys, “Hey! You're those four Jedi who took down Darth Malak! Was it hard?”

    Rumors of a confidential nature certainly do travel quickly,” Bastila observed under her breath.

    Ev squatted down as far as she could in the confines of the crowed lift. “I'll tell you this,” she answered, “Nothing a Jedi does is ever easy. Dueling Malak may have only taken five or ten minutes, but getting to that point took a lifetime.”

    I hope I grow up to be a hero like you or Bastila, or—or those two,” a little Echani girl gushed.

    I hope you become your own kind of hero, if you have to be a hero at all,” Ev said darkly, straightening up, “I wouldn't wish my fate on anyone.”

    But will you teach me?” the girl asked eagerly.

    You're a bit young to be a padawan, aren't you?” Ev observed. “And besides, I'm still a padawan myself.”

    Really?” the little Nautolan gasped.

    The lift slowed to a stop again and the doors slid open. The younglings poured out around a wiry built Jedi with a head of messy black hair to rival Ev's. He smiled warmly at all of them.

    Master Waykennit! Master Waykennit!” one of the little boys said urgently, “Abel said he bet he could lift you!”

    I bet he could,” the spindly Jedi laughed and pat the boy on the head, “and you too, but that will have to wait for another day. I am called to sit with the Jedi High Council this afternoon.”

    The children moaned their despair.

    Don't worry, I will leave you in the capable hands of Master Epiere,” he said said warmly, “Who will take over your lessons for the day.”

    Anika Epiere looked flustered for a moment at the sudden assignment, but quickly smoothed herself over. “Yes, of course,” she said, “I would be glad to be of help. Come children.” She squeezed off the lift as Master Waykennit stepped on.

    I will see them to the council chambers myself,” he assured Anika.

    Of course,” she repeated with a respectful bow.

    As the doors slid shut, Juhani added quickly, “Thank you, Master Anika.”

    The Arkanian woman hardly had time to wave before they were whizzing upward again, this time with no more interruptions.

    Master Waykennit surveyed the four other Jedi in the lift with him, eyes lingering on Ev. Finally, he extended a hand to her, “I am Embrik Waykennit. I have been wanting to meet you for some months now. What do you prefer to be called these days?”

    Ev eyed him suspiciously then answered succinctly, “Ev.”

    He drew back and chuckled. “And you are wondering under what circumstances we last met?” Embrik guessed.

    It is a question that has been on my mind a lot lately,” Ev replied, but betrayed none of her inner feelings.

    We never met as foes, I can promise that,” Embrik's easy smile seemed to ease the tension in the lift, “I don't think I would have survived it if we had. I have always had the highest respect for you, and would have made you my padawan had Master Kae not gotten to you first. And I am sure you will go far even now.”

    Thank you, Master Waykennit,” she made a polite bow, “I am glad to know that I didn't burn all of my bridges as Revan.”

    Please, just call me Embrik, Ev,” he protested and rested a hand on her shoulder. He was barely taller than she was. “I should say that—” he cut himself short as the lift stopped and the doors slid silently open once again. Sweeping his arm out in a wide gesture, he said, “The Jedi High Council chambers are just this way.”

    There was only a short, tiled hallway between the lift landing and a set of massive wooden doors—wood that must have been unimaginably expensive on Coruscant, even after the Great Hyperspace war when the temple was built. Master Embrik raised his hands into the air and the doors swung gently towards them, leaving enough space in between for them to pass. As soon as the party was inside, Embrik made a curt bow and announced, “Masters of the High Council, may I present the newest heroes of the Republic: Jedi Knight Juhani, Padawan Bastila Shan, Padawan Evrue Pell, and the former padawan, Jolee Bindo.”

    Ev heard the doors slide closed again behind them, though she did not notice which of the Jedi Masters present had done it.

    It is of heroes, in this age, that we must be most careful,” Ev heard Master Vrook murmur.

    Welcome back to the Jedi Temple,” a slender woman with vibrant red hair streaked with gray smiled warmly at them. She sat directly across from the door where they all stood. Bastila and Juhani stepped into the center of the circle of the chairs and bowed respectfully. Ev glanced over at Jolee, who shrugged, and they joined their two friends at the center of the room.

    Ev gazed back at Master Embrik, who still stood in front of the only empty chair in the room. Embrik met her gaze then shot a quick glance at the elegant woman at the head of the room again before he began, “Ev, as you would not remember, and Jolee as you have been away for a long while, please allow me to introduce the Jedi High Council.” Still standing, he first gestured to the woman who had welcomed them, “This is Master Nomi Sunrider, Grandmaster of the Jedi Order.”

    Nomi Sunrider,” Jolee guffawed, putting a hand to his forehead, “So you've gotten yourself to the head of the Jedi Order?” Turning to Ev, he added, “I always knew the pretty lass would go far.”

    Nomi's eyes danced and a smile played at the corner of her lips, “It is always good to see an old friend again, Jolee.”

    Embrik next gestured to the small greenish Jedi seated to the right of Nomi. “This, as you know, is Master Vandar Tokare, who joined Master Nomi in leading the Jedi assault on the Star Force,” he explained and Vandar nodded in acknowledgment. Next to Vandar, pointed out a strong-jawed blond-haired man, wearing only simple brown and beige robes. Even at his age, he was strikingly handsome. “This is Master Kavar Ardale and Tyjesh Kay.” The tiny furry Jedi next to Kavar, nearly as small as Vandar, had a long angular face, dark eyes, and long, pointed ears. A Bimm, Ev reminded herself. The Bimm woman wore goldenrod yellow clothes that were shaped more like a dress than Jedi robes. She tilted her head slightly in recognition.

    Next to the Bimm sat a sturdy-looking man with shaggy brown hair and a mustache to rival any Ev had ever seen. If not for the plain Jedi robes he wore, Ev would have marked him for a rowdy, gun-slinging frontiersman. “This is Master Zez-Kai Ell,” Embrik announced. At the mention of his name Zez-Kai clasped his hands together and nodded twice. Between Master Ell and Embrik's own seat sat a tall and slender pink skinned woman who was almost completely covered in shaggy white fur. Her short-cropped hair on her head seemed almost like a white mane. A Devaronian female; so unlike the males of her species that Ev had almost been unable to place her. “And this is Master Ruell D'tarn,” Embrik said. Ruell smiled, relieving two rows of sharp, cat-like teeth.

    Gesturing back to the balding red-robed man to Nomi's left, Embrik continued, “This is Master Vrook Lamar, whom I am sure you are all acquainted with.” Ev almost caught distaste in the younger Jedi Master's voice. To Vrook's left was a younger looking woman dressed entirely in white and had stunning white hair to match. “This is Master Atris, Jedi Historian,” he said. Atris remained pensively still with her hands together, not acknowledging the mention of her name.

    Next to Atris sat a quiet sort of balding black man. Pleasant wrinkles lined his face. “This is another of our Jedi Historians, Master Tchaan Dorak, who has been serving at the enclave on Dantooine,” Embrik explained. This was clearly for Jolee's benefit. Sitting Next to Dorak was a sandy-brown Gotal whose fur was already going silver. “This is Master Kronn Hakkes, our emissary to the Supreme Chancellor and the Senate,” he introduced the Gotal, then shifted to the final Master who sat across the door from him. With flaming red hair tied back in a low ponytail, their was a thrilling liveliness about her that Ev had not seen in any others who had been raised by the Jedi. “And finally, this is Master Vima Sunrider,” Embrik said.

    Vima grinned broadly at them. “Welcome back to the Jedi Temple, all of you,” she said brightly.

    The four standing in the middle, even Jolee, bowed at her.

    Chuckling and grinning back, Jolee marveled, “Last time I saw you, you were a little squirt who couldn't even hold a lightsaber yet, always getting into trouble.”

    And, if I recall, Jolee,” Vima flashed a smile back at him, “You were plenty enough trouble yourself.”

    Jolee laughed, “Strike and parry.”

    Must you reply to everything said, Jolee Bindo?” the Gotal sitting next to her asked disapprovingly.

    My apologies, Master Hakkes,” Jolee replied, heavy with sarcasm, and dipped his head in a bow.

    Thank you Master Waykennit,” Nomi drew all the attention back to herself again. Embrik nodded and finally took his seat. She then addressed the four people standing before her, “Juhani, Bastila, Evrue—I hear you wish to be called Ev, and Jolee, we have asked you to come before us in order that we might formally thank you.”

    We did nothing more than what was asked of us, and follow our duties as Jedi,” Bastila protested humbly.

    Oh?” Zez-Kai Ell asked, “Didn't you?”

    This was, of course, the task assigned to you, Bastila,” Nomi acknowledged, “But it would not have been possible at all, had you not boldly moved to save Revan a year ago. You knew what rested on your shoulders—the fate of the war, and yet you did not falter. That is commendable, especially in a masterless padawan. You have done well, Bastila, very well. Master Shol would be proud.”

    Bastila blushed and looked down at the geometrically tiled floor beneath her feet.

    And you, Ev,” Nomi continued, “You who were thrust into this plot, you who carried so many of our hopes and our doubts, you were the axis about which this whole mission turned. When confronted with the Dark Side, the truth of your past, and even the loss of Bastila, you pressed on and brought about the destruction of Dark Malak and his Sith Empire.”

    Perhaps by your actions, the past may be forgiven,” Atris added.

    Ev regarded her coldly, her face unreadable. “Thank you for those sentiments,” she said coolly.

    Juhani and Jolee,” Nomi said, “You two voluntarily joined onto Bastila and Ev's mission without fully knowing with it entailed.”

    I don't even think they knew,” Jolee murmured.

    The Gotal cleared his throat loudly.

    Nomi ignored the exchange and continued unbothered, “It seems that without you, they may not have succeeded. I commend you both for your courage and commitment to restoring the peace, especially in light of each of your own falls. Juhani, you have risen back from the Dark Side a stronger woman and stronger Jedi. Jolee, you once said that the Jedi Order had left you and that you would never return. Despite your intentions, I am glad that the Jedi have found you again, for the sake of our galaxy and our freedom. Thank you both.”

    When we sent you all on your mission,” Zez-Kai Ell began, “We could not foresee what would come of it. The Dark Side has clouded our vision since this war began. But we had hope for the Jedi and for the Republic, and you were that hope. It was the will of the Force, Bastila, that you should confront Revan as you did, and it was the will of the Force that Revan should undo what she wrought.”

    Awfully wasteful plan for the Force, if you ask me,” Ev murmured under her breath.

    Juhani shot her a nervous glance.

    Padawan Evrue Pell,” Atris observed, “You seem ungrateful for the second chance we gave you.”

    Ev straightened up and cleared her throat. “Pardon me, Masters,” she replied stiffly, “that I am not grateful for the tampering you did with my head, with my very being. Please forgive my resentment. As you are quick to point out yourselves, I was not too long ago a slave to the Dark Side. Give me some time, and maybe I will come to appreciate this 'gift' you have given me as what you convey it to be.”

    A stunned silence hung over the council chamber. It seemed that none of the Jedi Masters had expected to find such feelings in Ev.

    Jolee chuckled.

    Master Kavar was the first to speak again, “But we did not bring you here just to shower you four with praise. Juhani, your master Quatra did well to knight you when she did. As for the rest of you, your masters are dead and unable to recommend you to us. However, your actions have given your recommendations themselves.”

    Bastila,” Vandar began, “Your trials began a year ago when you and your master lead the attack on the Sith fleet. Your controlled use of battle meditation to bring about such a confrontation, your level-headed leadership in the face of grief and adversity, and your preservation of Revan; through these actions you passed your Trial of Skill.”

    Ev saw Bastila's hand twitch towards her mouth to cover a gasp, but she held herself steadily and composed.

    You faced your Trial of the Flesh that day as well, and in the weeks after,” Vrook added, “As you came to terms with the death of your master.”

    Perhaps, at that time, you thought you were ready to be knighted,” Vandar continued, “But you still had two more trials to face.”

    Your duel with Darth Malak aboard the Leviathan, intending to sacrifice yourself for the mission and your companions took bravery beyond yourself,” Vrook took up the thread again, “This was your Trail of Courage.”

    And your Trial of the Spirit, young Bastila Shan,” Nomi Sunrider explained, “was your fight with the Dark Side. I sense you see your fall to the Dark Side as your greatest failure, but you know better than most its lures and temptations. However, you rose above it and you understand your folly. You are a stronger Jedi by it, Bastila, and we will now proudly accept you as a Jedi Knight, young as you are.”

    I—I thank you,” Bastila stammered, bowing towards Nomi, Vrook, and Vandar all at once.

    And you, Jolee Bindo,” Nomi started again with a playful glint in her eyes.

    Wait, wait, wait,” Jolee protested and stepped towards Nomi with his hands waving, “I thought I made myself pretty damn clear fifty years ago when I left this blasted place.”

    That your crimes could not be forgiven so lightly?” Nomi asked, lifting an eyebrow.

    Damn right they couldn't,” Jolee retorted.

    And so they will not be,” Nomi replied and settled back into her chair, “So, please do me a favor, Jolee, and listen to what we have to say.”

    Since it's you doing the asking,” Jolee said and crossed his arms stubbornly over his chest, “I think I'll have to.”

    Good,” Nomi smiled. “Clearly your subverting our rules, marrying, and training the woman the Council forbid you to has weighed heavily on your mind these last fifty years. As has your wife's betrayal. Coming to terms with it, this was your Trial of the Flesh.”

    Now wait a minute—” Jolee protested.

    Surviving in the Shadowlands, where few can, and befriending the Wookiees, this was your Trial of Skill,” Vima Sunrider put in brightly after her mother.

    You passed your Trial of Courage aboard the Star Forge, where odds were against you,” Vrook added.

    I didn't sign up to take any trials again,” Jolee argued halfheartedly, but was ignored.

    Ev found herself snickering at him.

    And in resisting both your wife and Bastila as they called you to the Dark Side, as well as determining against all hope that you would return Ev to the Light rather than fight her,” Nomi finished, “You have passed your Trial of the Spirit.”

    You're going to overlook what I did all over again,” Jolee pointed out bitterly, “And prove to me that the Jedi Order hasn't changed one bit since I left all those years ago.”

    No, Jolee,” Nomi replied with sudden gravity, “We are not ignoring the trespasses of your past, as we should not. But you have served out your sentence, meditating upon them in the wilderness for half a century, and we are ready to welcome you back, older and wiser than you were before.”

    Older, that's for sure,” Jolee grumbled.

    You were perhaps truer to the code than the elders of the Order at that time,” Nomi said, “They were too eager to fill the ranks of the Jedi Knights, to replace those who had fallen in the war. For their carelessness in your case, I hope you will accept my—and our apologies.”

    Jolee was dumbstruck for only a moment before he regained himself, “You really want a crabby old man like me to rejoin the Jedi Order? You're sure you're just not trying to fill up the places of all of those fallen heroes from this war again?”

    Well, that too,” a smile crossed Nomi's lips, “But we really do want you back, if you will have us.”

    Jolee chuckled, “Things have changed around here. And I hope it's your doing, Nomi.”

    Then will you accept your knighthood this time or not?” Nomi asked.

    Willingly,” Jolee replied.

    And that brings us to Revan, the prodigal Knight,” Vrook said dryly.

    Ev shifted uncomfortably at the mention of that name.

    Though you achieved full knighthood in your past, we thought it necessary for you to face your trials again to prove that you had indeed returned to us,” Vrook continued.

    And have I passed your tests?” Ev asked.

    You have the power and brilliance that you once did,” Zez-Kai Ell said, “But that is not enough. It could qualify you as a Sith as easily as as it could as a Jedi.”

    Your duel and victory over Malak was your Trial of Skill, one we had no doubt that you would pass,” Vrook said.

    Your Trail of Courage was when you infiltrated the Sith and took on the Star Forge alone, determined to bring down the Dark Lord yourself,” Dorak put in.

    Your Trial of the Flesh was when you resisted torture at the hands of Saul Karath,” Atris added.

    But most important of all was your Trial of the Spirit,” Embrik said slowly. Ev realized that it was the first time he had spoken since the initial introductions. “Your training was quick and your powers were immense from the start, yet you did not fall to the temptation of the Dark Side. Even when you knew the truth of your past and your identity, you did not attempt to reclaim the mantle of the Dark Lord, nor did you take the bait with Bastila urged you to join her. After your defeat of Malak, you had the Star Forge in your hands. You could have ruled the Sith again then, but you let it be destroyed and even showed mercy towards its crew. Time and time again, you showed mercy. The flood of Sith trainees that now wish to join the Jedi, we can only assume to be your doing, as with the young Selkath.”

    The Selkath were Juhani's doing, actually,” Ev corrected respectfully.

    As it may be,” Embrik nodded, “But nevertheless, you have passed your trials. You will be knighted once again.”

    I'm glad you all,” Ev paused, searching for the right word, “approve of me.”

    There is but one difficult matter left,” Vrook began, “None of you have living masters left to perform your knighthood ceremony. Master Shol died in the assault on the Taninim, Master Zhar Lestin died in the attack on the Dantooine enclave, and your master, whoever that was—”

    Master Iviyish,” Jolee put in quickly.

    Became one with the Force long ago,” Vandar finished.

    I would be honored if, you, Master Vandar would knight me,” Bastila said, bowing to him, “As you have been supervising the rest of my training, if from afar.”

    Then let it be so,” Vandar replied.

    Nomi, would you do me the honor?” Jolee asked with a crooked smile.

    Of course, old friend,” she replied warmly.

    I must have had a master before the Mandalorian Wars,” Ev observed, “Where is she—or he?”

    Master Kae left the Jedi Order shortly after you did, and we have not seen her since,” Atris replied, her voice heavy with distaste.

    Then,” Ev began, then turned to face the masters seated by the doorway, “Master Waykennit, you said that you would have liked to take me as a padawan when I was younger. Even though you did not, will you knight me now?”

    I would be honored to,” Embrik replied with a warm smile.

    Then it is all settled,” Nomi said, “You three will be knighted tomorrow at noon. In the mean time, I believe the Jedi Knight Belaya is waiting outside to attend to your needs.”

    Thank you, Masters,” Bastila said, overwhelmed with both gratitude and shame.

    You will one day learn to forgive yourself, Bastila,” Master Ruell promised, sensing her inner conflict, “But the sooner you do, the better it will be for everyone.”

    The great wooden doors swung open again, and, as promised, Belaya was waiting patiently outside. Led by Juhani, Ev, Jolee, and Bastila strode out to meet her and the great doors shut behind them.

    I sense much darkness in all of them, though perhaps least of all in that old hermit,” Vrook said as soon as the chamber was sealed again, “I don't like it.”

    If you will excuse me, Vrook, but what do you like?” Kavar asked dryly.

    Vrook shot him a sour look.

    To deny knighthood to a Jedi that knows she is ready is more dangerous than we can afford, Vrook,” Kavar argued, “You know that.”

    But it is also dangerous to let them know so explicitly how powerful they are,” Vrook replied, “When they have tasted the Dark Side already.”

    Then we must keep them here under close supervision,” Atris suggested firmly.

    And put some of our most capable Jedi to waste?” Vima argued, “I don't need to remind you all how few our numbers are. Less than a hundred Jedi remain in the Order now, and we have not achieved a full victory over the Sith yet. We destroyed their biggest weapon and their most powerful leader, yes, but another can rise in his place. We must wipe the galaxy clean of the Sith once again, and we will need the help of the four heroes who destroyed the Star Forge.”

    And they know they are heroes,” the Bimm Jedi master observed calmly, “They will not be content to remain on Coruscant while others are away driving off the Sith.”

    Master Tyjesh is right,” Vima put up a hand for calm, “We cannot keep them here at the temple.”

    Then send them all to the Glythe Sector to disrupt the Sith there as soon as they are knighted,” Atris suggested.

    No, we cannot do that,” Kronn argued, “The politicians and the people will want a good look at their heroes, Jedi included. We must be prepared to release them for a victory tour.”

    And waste valuable time in our fight against the Sith?” Atris asked sharply.

    We live in a galaxy that has lost faith in the Jedi,” Kronn said, shaking his head, “Let the citizens have their heroes. Then we will put them to work.”

    But they cannot be sent together,” Vrook argued, “The other three look to Revan as their leader, and she holds an unnatural sway over them. Their loyalty and admiration of her is unmoving. I do not like it.”

    Her bond with Bastila is an asset, not a danger,” Zez-Kai Ell said, “At the very least, Bastila should remain with her.”

    And Juhani and Jolee should be sent elsewhere,” Kronn agreed.

    On this point, I disagree with you,” Nomi put in, “They are valuable as a team, and every team needs its leader. Because of the trials they have already faced together, the four of them are better prepared to face what still remains of the Sith than almost any of our other Jedi. To split them up immediately would be a waste.”

    There is still darkness deep within Ev's core,” Tyjesh said, “Perhaps she knows it is there, and perhaps she is willfully ignoring it. But it is there all the same. She could turn on us again at any moment, and she is clever enough that we would never see it coming.”

    Which is why we cannot trust her,” Atris said derisively.

    I believe it was you who insisted we were giving her a second chance, Atris,” Vima observed.

    If we treat her like an enemy, she will begin to believe it herself,” Nomi warned, “And this time, her fall would be our doing.”


    The Temple Court was filled as it had seldom been before. Somehow, nearly overnight, perhaps through the whisperings of padawans, nearly all of Coruscant came to know of the knighting of the heroes of the Battle of the Star Forge. Even as Jolee, Juhani, Ev, and Bastila stood before the Jedi council the afternoon before, the Holonet finally exploded with reports of the Republic's victory and those pivotal heroes that made it possible. Overnight, the entire crew of the Ebon Hawk became celebrities.

    Usually, non-Jedi were not present at knighting ceremonies, but the council made an exception so that the other heroes of the Star Forge could come to witness their friends ascension. However, that exception opened the flood gates to a myriad of politicians, grateful navy and army officers, and other curious Coruscanti citizens. Master Kronn Hakkes had done his best to bar journalists from entering, yet even as the ceremony began, a few cameras flashed in the crowd around the hall.

    On a raised dais in the center stood Ev, Jolee, and Bastila. The twelve Jedi Masters of the High Council encircled them at the edge of the dais. Their order, however, was slightly altered. Instead of Vrook, Embrik Waykennit stood immediately to Nomi's right.

    Just behind them stood Juhani, Carth, Canderous, Mission, Zaalbar, and Kionee Rinnh, all given a place of honor to see their friends.

    Excited murmurs filled the Temple Court, as people strained to see the Jedi on the dais as well as their friends standing just off the edge of it.

    Suddenly, twelve brilliant lightsabers hummed to life. A hush fell over the hall. Each of the Jedi Masters first pointed their lightsabers to the sky and slowly lowered them towards the ground. Nomi, Embrik, and Vandar stepped forwards towards the three Padawans before them, who all dropped down on one knee.

    We are all Jedi. The Force speaks through us,” Nomi recited, her voice unnaturally amplified, “Through our actions, the Force proclaims itself and what is real. Today we are here to acknowledge what the Force has proclaimed.” She shifted her gaze across the three of them and continued, “Evrue Pell, Jolee Bindo, Bastila Shan—”

    At that moment, Nomi, Embrik, and Vandar sliced their lightsabers over each of their charge's right shoulder. Ev's tiny padawan braid dropped to the ground beside her. It had hardly been growing for five months. Bastila's, which usually was tucked up into a pigtail, also flitted onto the tailed floor. Jolee had long since had enough hair to braid, so Nomi's saber blade merely hovered over his right shoulder. In unison, the three masters transferred their lightsaber blades from the right to the left shoulders.

    Nomi finished, “By the right of the Council, by the will of the Force, I dub thee, Jedi Knights of the Republic.” Cheers and applause erupted. Though out of place in such a ceremony, Nomi waited for them to die down before she continued with grace, “Take up your lightsabers, Evrue Pell, Jolee Bindo, and Bastila Shan, Jedi Knights. And may the Force be with you.”

    Purple, green, and yellow erupted from Ev, Jolee, and Bastila's hands as the stood. Their lightsaber salute was met by all twelve members of the council, as well as Juhani who watched proudly from outside the circle.

    Again the crowds cheered uproariously.

    Over the din, Jolee tilted his head towards his two companions and commented, “How do you like being famous?”
  2. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Soooooooooo good! Even if this one did run away from you, I do hope they all do. Great stuff, glad to see Ev back and being all Ev-like. And I do dearly appreciate the appearance of Visto, feel free to use the old bugger anytime. Obviously, I demand to be on the PM list
  3. Corpseslayer

    Corpseslayer Jedi Master star 1

    Nov 6, 2009
  4. Commander-DWH

    Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus star 4

    Nov 3, 2003
    Hooray, more Ev! You know I do so love to see your stories running around.

    Add me to your PM list, I'm in for this excellent ride. :D
  5. Corpseslayer

    Corpseslayer Jedi Master star 1

    Nov 6, 2009
    Oo, add me to the list as well! :)
  6. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    LFV, well, I'm glad you like it. Beginning things is always a challenge, even if this isn't really a challenge. And here's hoping this next chapter is worth the wait.

    Ki-Adi-Mundi_33, alrighty, you're officially on the PM list! Thanks for reading so far!

    DWH, there will be lost of Ev doing her Ev thing in here, I promise. That is, until she has to go and run off to the Unknown Regions. But that can't be helped. It's canon. :)

    Sorry for the long wait on this one. I should be back on a faster pace now that I'm back from my massive 2-month vacation. The vast majority of this chapter was penciled in a notebook while sitting on the beach in Malaysia. Call that inspiring.

    Funny story: and this one was originally going to be a vignette too. When stories run off with you...


    Part 2- The Face of Heroes

    While the victory parade down the streets of Coruscant had seemed extravagant, the after party made it look as shabby as a Jawa's hem. The Republic Senate Building's largest and grandest banquet hall had been set aside for the evening. From the polished floors to the gently vaulted ceiling three stories above, the room was tailed in rich marbles of blacks, golds, and blues. Where the glittering chandeliers above left gaps in the lighting, delicate, flower-like lamps wrought of bright brass and smoked glass dotted the walls.

    Large arching doorways, hung with brocade curtains, opened at regular intervals, while matching arched windows opened to the Coruscant skyline on the opposite wall. The room curved slightly with the contour of the senate building. It was probably at least half a kilometer long.

    The banquet hall was bustling with everyone who was someone in the Galactic Republic. Hundreds of richly dressed politicians, business leaders, scholars, and other elite filled the room, like a flock of elegant—at times ridiculous—tropical birds. More than a few military officers in sharp lines of muted greens and reds mingled with the crowd, as well as a handful of even more dully dressed Jedi, almost standing out in their simple browns and creams.

    Seeing Vrook Lamar in his customary crimson, leaning against a doorway and watching the crowd mingle along the expansive buffet table with his arms crossed in either boredom or disprovable, an amused smirk crossed Ev's face. At least she wasn't the only one trapped her that thought it was all a little too much.

    What is it?” Carth asked at her elbow. Someone had even convinced him to forgo his favorite Telosian orange jacket and dress like the Republic Naval officer he was.

    What?” Ev asked, startled out of her daze.

    You think something's funny,” Carth observed playfully, “I saw that look on your face.”

    Oh,” Ev chuckled and threw another look in Vrook's direction, offering no other explanation. “How long do you think this is going to last?”

    Bored already?” Carth teased, flashing a smile.

    I don't call three and a half hours 'already',” she retorted, though equally playfully.

    The chancellor's assistant did say that this would wrap up around nine 'o clock,” Carth offered.

    Ev glanced at the chrono over the nearest door; more of an artistic piece of antiquated craftsmanship than anything. It had rotating hands on a circular dial, marked off with ticks for each hour. She had to study it for a moment before she remembered how to read the time. “That gives us another twenty minutes,” Ev observed, “If the chancellor makes good on his promise.”

    Carth grasped her hand and squeezed it. She smiled back at him. For a few brief minute, they had managed to evade the admiration and tedious conversations of the crowd around them. Every last person in attendance seemed determined to exchange handshakes and a few words with the heroes. Despite her annoyance, Ev held up to it fairly well. Mission enthusiastically drank in all the attention, while Jolee and Kionee did their best to disappear. The others fared somewhere in between. Ev and Carth had lost the rest of their crew to the crowd long ago.

    Ah, here you are,” a graying, though upright looking man approached through the crowd with a small plate of orderves in one hand. He had steely gray eyes and a short scar at the edge of his left eye. Although Carth had never met the man before, he recognized him immediately.

    Your honor,” Carth made a curt bow.

    The man laughed and reached out his hand to firmly hake it with Carth, then Ev. “None of that Lieutenant Onasi,” he said warmly, “You're just as important as I am now.”

    I'm honored,” Carth still said, in awed politeness, then turned to Ev. “Ev, this is Jerol Onasi, Acting High Governor of Telos.”

    'Acting' because I've outstayed my term, and it's still rather impossible to poll the scattered Telosians for the next election—or even campaign, for that matter,” he said jovially, but there was pain behind his fierce gray eyes.

    It's a pleasure to meet you, High Governor Onasi,” Ev replied, then glanced curiously between Carth and Jerol.

    Carth caught her meaning immediately. “No relation,” Carth clarified, “Onasi was a very common name on Telos.”

    The High Governor of Telos chuckled again. “Carth Onasi,” he started again, “It is good for us, and for me, to see a fellow Telosian rise out of the ashes and fight so valiantly against the Sith who took everything away from us. It gives survivors like myself hope.”

    I couldn't rest until the Sith were wiped from the galaxy for good, after what they did,” Carth admitted. Ev was surprised by the lack of bitterness in his voice. Only sadness filled its place.

    Then I suppose you will not have rest yet,” Jerol observed, “I hear there are still Sith strongholds out there, but now that Malak and his factory are gone...” he trailed off, then refocused on Ev, “You really are Revan then? It's not some piece of Republic war morale propaganda?”

    Ev nodded, then shrugged. It was a question she had gotten at least three hundred times that evening. “In a matter of speaking,” she replied. There was little else she could say.

    I see,” Jerol nodded.

    Do you think, “ Carth suddenly asked with eager nervousness, “that Telos can be rebuilt?”

    The tall politician put a hand on Carth's shoulder. “I want to believe it can, “ he replied quietly, “Most Telosians lost everything in that bombardment. We have neither the resources or the money to rebuild, as such a people. We are war refugees. Other planets have been too absorbed in their own defenses and war-time struggles to offer aid, and the Republic Senate has tied up nearly everything in this war. Now that Darth Malak is gone and Darth Revan is on our side,” he made a significant look at Ev, “There is hope that the Republic can divert some of its resources to aid war-torn worlds like ours.”

    You don't sound optimistic, “ Ev observed.

    My wife also died in the attack,” he said, and seeing Carth's surprised expression, he added, “I read your bio, Carth. Since I lost her, I vowed that, for her sake, I would do everything I could to rebuild the world she loved. So I remain here on Coruscant, petitioning the senate for aid until that day comes.”

    High Governor Onasi,” a bookish woman wove through the crowd towards them. Both Jerol and Carth looked up reflexively. “There is someone who wants to meet with you,” the woman continued as she reached them, “Regarding the pending Manaan Agreement.”

    Excuse me,” Jerol said, bowing to them, “I wish you both the best.” He slipped away after his aide.

    Ev scanned the crowd and looked up at the antique chrono again. “Then minutes,” she murmured. Carth didn't hear her. “At least the people are starting to thin out.” Over the tops of the crowd she noticed Kionee and some other remarkably similar looking humans at the end of the banquet hall. “Hey,” Ev said, gesturing with a sideways nod of her head, “I see a bunch of unnaturally tall, blond Nubians. Let's go meet them.”

    Kionee's family,” Carth smiled, then followed after Ev, who was already snaking through the throngs of people.

    Approaching the far wall, Kionee spotted them before either Carth or Ev could offer a greeting. She called, “Ev! Carth! Come and meet my family!” She waved animatedly for them to come closer.

    Carth and Ev suddenly found themselves the shortest people present, and Kionee was by no means the tallest member of her family. A man with bright eyes, a receding hairline, and a well-kept beard immediately stepped forward and shook Ev's hand. “Gad Rinnh, Kionee's dad,” he said with the same ease and formality as he might introduce himself as the CEO of Rinnh Imports. He shook Carth's hand firmly, then cracked a smile. “Thanks for taking care of my little girl for me,” he said, throwing an arm around Kionee's shoulders in a half-hug. She blushed.

    Her level-headedness as a pilot saved our lives in the Battle of the Star Forge. We wouldn't have gotten aboard the station without her,” Carth replied seriously, “She did her part in keeping us alive too.”

    Kionee was released from her dad's hold to be slapped congratulatorily on the back by the shorter of her two brothers. “You didn't tell us about that, Kionee,” he chided eagerly.

    Well, it wasn't really—” Kionee started, staring at the floor and shuffling her feet.

    Ev stepped in, “Would you introduce us to the rest of your family?”

    Right,” Kionee brightened up, “You already met my dad. This here is my other brother Cash and his fiance Laurel.” She gestured to her shorter brother and to the brunette woman hanging behind him. Laurel wore and elegant gown of muted gold colored silk. She was dressed far better than any of her future in-laws. Until Kionee pointed her out, Ev had assumed that she was only a casual observer and not a part of their group at all.

    Nice to meet you both,” Cash said warmly. Laurel only smiled.

    And this is my older sister Roshind,” Kionee continued. Like Kionee, her sister wore pants and a simple button-up shirt. Roshind was far leaner and more streamlined than her ungainly younger—though taller—sister. Ev could tell by the fire in her eyes and her stance, even in a banquet hall, that she was a fighter.

    Roshind smiled slyly and shook both Ev and Carth's hands. “Thanks for looking after Kionee,” she said, “She can be a heap of trouble sometimes.”

    Hey!” Kionee protested.

    Roshind's smile broadened, “You know what I'm talking about Kinnee.”

    Kionee only pouted for a moment before directing them towards the last of her siblings. He was a huge Wookiee of a man; burly, with tousled blond hair and a barely contained goatee.

    This is my big brother Everel,” she introduced him, “He runs the headquarters back on Nubia. And this is his wife Kreya.” The woman at his side was smaller than nay of the Rinnhs, but just as blond. Everel nodded in greeting, “Good to meet you.”

    You must be proud of your daughter,” Carth started, now that they all had been introduced.

    Gad clapped Kionee on the shoulder and she staggered forward. “She has always been up to noble mischief,” he said warmly, “As much as I hate it, I'm not too surprised to find her wrapped up in all this. A Cross of Glory, though.”

    I don't understand why you keep just working for Dad, while you want to do so much more,” Roshind chided her sister.

    Roshind, you know I'm happy with...” Kionee protested, looking down at her feet again.

    The Republic Navy could always use you, if you wanted to enlist,” Carth offered warmly.

    No, I couldn't,” Kionee protested, “But thanks.”

    Shooting at people isn't your style, is it?” Ev observed.

    Kionee smiled back at her.

    I'll let you know if I find something more up your alley, then,” Carth said.

    Oh, you don't have to,” Kionee deflected.

    Come on, Kionee,” Everel urged, “Don't turn down an offer like that from a well-connected gentleman like Mister Onasi here.”

    Ev saw Zaalbar coming well before Mission burst through the crowd, but she knew the young Twi'lek couldn't be far behind.

    I like this thing,” Mission joined their circle, fingering the metal pinned to the breast of her striped silk vest. Her entire outfit had been purchased courtesy of the Chancellor's office. “I never seen any big-wigs respect me and Big Z like this before. And now they've got nothing but good to say about us and Taris.”

    It's amazing what can be forgotten in the face of a tragedy,” Gad observed, “The galaxy will forever remember a beautiful Taris.”

    And forget all that bigotry,” Roshind added.

    Everyone wanted to meet Zaalbar,” Mission continued, unaware that she had just co-opted a conversation, “No one had ever seen a Wookiee before.”

    Or heard of Kashyyyk,” Zaalbar rumbled.

    Even the head of Czerka pretended he'd never heard of a Wookiee before,” Mission laughed.

    Ah, he does like to graciously ignore many issues,” Gad paused, as if weighing whether or not to continue, “Like sentient-rights.”

    A mellow chime sounded three times through the hall. With each chime, the hum of conversation grew quieter until there was little noise above a low murmur.

    The Supreme Chancellor thanks you all for attending this evening,” a female voice was projected through the hall, “Unfortunately, it is time for this celebration to come to a close. May you have safe travels to your lodgings and a good night.”

    At that signal, the dignitaries all, reluctantly, began to filter through the grand, arched doorways. Many tired to catch one last look at or exchange a few final words with the heroes of the day. Eve, and all the others, bore it as politely as they could.

    Among the last guests lingering were the Rinnhs. As the hall emptied, Canderous, Juhani, and Jolee reappeared at their circle.

    Well,” Gad prompted.

    Kionee turned to the others and started tentatively, “I'm going to go with my family tonight. Dad's got a spare bed for me at his flat downtown.”

    Ev smiled, “Have fun with your family then. Especially since you are all usually scattered across the galaxy.”

    We'll see you tomorrow morning before we leave for the tour, then,” Mission said in farewell.

    Actually,” Kionee stared at her feet once again, “I was thinking, I've really been away from stuff for a long time already. Parading around Coruscant was enough for me. I was going to go back to my life and duck out of the parades if they'll let me.” From the looks on the Rinnhs' faces, she had already discussed this with them, and they agreed.

    I'm sure they will understand,” Juhani said.

    We should probably get going,” Kionee's oldest brother, Everel, suggested, “Before they graciously kick us out.” His wife suppressed a grin.

    I guess I won't be seeing you guys again for a while,” Kionee began, “Thanks for everything and for keeping me around. It was fun.”

    I'm sure this won't be the last we see of you,” Ev said, “You have a way of getting around the galaxy.”

    Kionee let out a small laugh.

    And I'll keep my eyes open for any jobs you might like,” Carth promised again and shook her hand.

    You don't have to,” she protested all the same.

    Take care of yourself, kid,” Canderous said. There was respect behind his voice.

    Kionee, promise me you won't drop off the edge of the galaxy,” Mission rushed forwards towards her, “Give me a buzz sometimes?”

    This time, Kionee's smile was genuine. “Of course,” she promised, “And you can hail me on the Viridian any time.”

    Assuming you're not in hyperspace,” Cash chided.

    Thank you for your flying and your company, Kionee Rinnh,” Zaalbar rumbled. Although she didn't understand him, she still smiled back before Ev got a chance to translate.

    You'll do good, kid,” Jolee assured her.

    May the Force be with you, Kionee, in all that you do,” Juhani said.

    May the Force be with you,” Bastila echoed.

    Everyone exchanged last goodbyes and all the Rinnhs hurried from the hall with ushers at their heels.

    Except for the droids clearing up the buffet tables and the mess left over from the party, only their little group remained.

    They sure do know how to crash a party in a hurry,” Jolee observed humorously.

    I'm surprised they cut things off so early,” Canderous observed.

    I'm glad,” Bastila asserted, massaging her temples, “I've had enough of politely explaining to politicians that Jedi do not involve themselves with politics, and that I cannot support whatever campaign it is that they need a grinning mascot for.”

    But you'd make such a nice poster girl with that lovely smile of yours,” Jolee teased.

    Bastila scowled. “Anyway,” she continued, “This is all very good for morale and such, but it is so very frivolous. The war isn't over yet, and it's about time we return to our lives as ordinary Jedi.”

    I doubt we will ever be treated as ordinary anymore,” Juhani said quietly.

    I'm ready to get out of the Republic's spotlight,” Canderous grumbled, “It's bad publicity for a Mandalorian.”

    But it is publicity,” Ev pointed out, “Which may come in handy later, you'll find.”

    So you say. Kionee made a slip pretty easily,” Canderous grumbled, “The victory tour committee won't be too happy about that.”

    You wish you had her excuse too, hm?” Jolee baited, but Canderous held his peace.

    I think she felt uncomfortable with all the attention,” Juhani observed, “As if she didn't deserve it.”

    Don't be ridiculous!” Carth exclaimed, “Without her, we wouldn't have made it to the Star Forge.”

    Perhaps true,” Juhani started.

    Of course it's true,” Carth interjected.

    But,” the Cathar Jedi continued, “She still cannot see herself as a hero. I sense she felt only that she did only what she needed to do at the moment, repaying a debt.”

    Thought she claimed no life-debt, I understand her feelings well,” Zaalbar rumbled, and Ev translated for the benefit of the others, “This crew saved her life, twice.”

    We sprung her from the detention cells on the Leviathan, then sheltered her from the Sith when we fled from Korriban,” Ev nodded thoughtfully, “She must still think she owes us one, even now.”

    That's crazy,” Mission complained, “She's just—” Mission dropped off as she saw an all-too-familiar sandy-white Bothan woman approaching: assistant to the Supreme Chancellor, Essra Imlium.

    Well, heroes of the Republic,” she began brightly, “I hope you enjoyed your evening.”

    A polite, yet halfhearted chorus of “Yes we did,” “Great!” and “It was wonderful,” drowned out Jolee's mumbled complaint of, “Too noisy.”

    Good, I'm glad to hear it,” Essra replied succinctly. Already, as if out of thin air, she held a wide datapad and tapped at it thoughtfully. “Now, let's get down to business. We have numerous bids for your next stop on the victory tour. Corellia being the loudest voice, though, Alderaan filed their petition first. So, as to avoid some political tangles, Chancellor Cressa thought it prudent that we let the heroes themselves chose the next site. No one can refuse you that right. Perhaps we could next visit one of your home planets. Lieutenant Onasi, I'm sorry that it slipped my mind, but you said you were from...?”

    Telos,” Carth answered, just a little tensely, “You won't want to bring your parade there.”

    Ah, no, we wouldn't. My apologies, “ Essra replied, flustered. “Then Mister Canderous Ordo, where—ah—“

    Canderous chuckled. He seemed to enjoy just how much he intimidated all the Coruscanti politicians. None seemed to know what to do with him.

    Never mind,” Essra murmured, her fur rippling agitatedly. “Now, I do remember that you, Kionee Rinnh, are from Nubia,” she started again and glanced around the group, realizing for the first time that Kionee was missing, “Where did Miss Rinnh go?”

    She decided to bow out of the rest of the tour and return to her day job,” Ev explained.

    Well,” Essra did very poorly at hiding her irritation for someone as immersed in politics as she was, “I guess I will have to take Nubia off the list then. They hadn't even requested to be part of the tour anyway. Mission Vao, I have not been able to find any data on your home planet. Perhaps you would like to visit the planet of your people, Ryloth?”

    Never been to Ryloth in my life,” Mission replied flippantly.

    Then where were you born?” Essra asked.

    No idea,” Mission shrugged, “But that doesn't matter. Taris was my home. It's where I grew up.”

    I see,” Essra pursed her wide lips, “Mister Zaalbar, I hope you understand, but we cannot bring a full tour to your planet. It is not a member of the Republic and does not have sufficient facilities for docking or housing.”

    The Wookiees would not want another invasion of outsiders anyway,” Zaalbar rumbled.

    Pardon?” Essra's ears perked up.

    Oh, Big Z just says that the Wookiees wouldn't want a bunch of people to come anyway,” Mission informed her.

    I'm glad you are not offended then, Zaalbar,” she replied, “That leaves the Jedi. I understand you all left your homes at young age, but perhaps the citizens of your home worlds would appreciate a hero’s return after all these years. Where do you consider to be your home, Jolee Bindo?”

    Kashyyyk,” Jolee answered curtly, eyes dancing in amusement.

    The Wookiee world?” she asked, expecting the old man to be joking with her.

    That's the one,” Jolee replied with a half-smile, “And you already established we can't bring our little party there.”

    Right. So, Bastila Shan,” she asked, “where are you originally from?”

    Talravin,” she answered tersely, “But I have no wish to return there.”

    I see,” Essra taped the edge of her datapad impatiently, “Then, Revan Roan'evrue Pell—”

    Ev winced, “Just Ev, please.”

    Where are you from, Ev?” Essra asked again, stressing the nickname.

    That's a very good question,” Ev replied enigmatically, eyebrows raised. It did not need to be common knowledge that her redemption was not a voluntary one, and the price she paid for it.

    Essra waited for a clearer answer, but when the silence drew out too long, she gathered herself again and focused her attention on Juhani, not hopeful, “Is there a planet in your history that we might visit?”

    I was born on Cathar, which was decimated by the Mandalorians,” Juhani answered evenly, “And I was raised on Taris.”

    Ah, another for Taris,” Essra mumbled, “Then none of you are from planets that could host the tour?” None answered her. “Fine, it's Corellia then. I'll tell them that's what you all decided. At least the Alderaanians won't complain as loudly,” she muttered, “Come, the shuttle to your accommodations is waiting.”


    Mission was practically asleep on her feet by the time they reached their guest rooms in the senate apartments. Even VIP shuttles were at the mercy of traffic and even VIPs themselves were subject to the formal greetings and small-talk with nearly everyone they met in the hangar bay, the lifts, and the halls.

    They were finally able to extract themselves from their admirers and Essra when Mission demanded openly of a Sullustan senatorial party, through a wide yawn, “Do we have to talk to the whole galaxy before they'll let us go to bed?”

    Bastila and Ev made amends for the tired teenager and excused the whole party. Zaalbar scooped up Mission and carried her the last stretch down the corridor, depositing her in her own room. She only uttered one weary protest. Exchanging only a few short goodnights, everyone slipped into their own room.

    Ev, however, lingered outside of Carth's open doorway.

    Goodnight beautiful,” Carth murmured softly and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

    Is that some Telosian Red I see you have there?” Ev asked slyly, craning her neck to see over his shoulder into the room.

    What? I'd think you would be tired of people fawning over you by now and wanting the privacy of your own bed,” Carth teased.

    Oh, I don't know about that,” her eyes brightened and she closed the space between them, “It depends on the source. And besides, HK is going to be awful company, after we didn't let him come to the party. But, it couldn't be helped. You know his party manners.”

    Carth stifled a laugh and stepped away from the doorway. “Well, come on in then,” he said, “It wouldn't be right for me to drink all of it myself. Though, do Jedi drink?”

    Ev raised an eyebrow and shot him a mischievous grin as he latched the door. “What are you asking me for?”

    Fine! Who am I to question the 'Prodigal Knight'?” Carth teased. He searched for two glasses and a corkscrew.

    Oh please!” Ev shot back.

    Carth chuckled and poured out the wine, smiling to himself. He handed one to Ev, then glanced around the room. Each of them had been given a luxurious suite of rooms. The narrow reception room was lined with couches and low tables while two doors on the left wall led to an unnecessarily extravagant refresher and an equally lavish bedroom. The walls of each were decorated with tasteful but benign art; probably Alderaanian. At the far end of the reception room, a door opened out onto a sheltered, private balcony. Without saying a word, Carth ushered Ev towards it.

    Outside, the Coruscant nightlife was as busy and neon as ever, but the senate apartments were set apart from the worst of it. Even still, a few fireworks flared and sparked not far away.

    Ev sipped at her wine. “This is good,” she mused.

    I don't know where they found a good Telosian vintage like this,” Carth agreed.

    Thoughtful of them,” Ev said, and they both fell back into silence. Ev leaned her head against his shoulder and Carth slid his arm around her waist, hand resting comfortably on her hip.

    What do you make of all this?” Ev broke the silence at last.

    Of the blissful extravagance of Coruscant?” Carth asked, “Or the blissful confidence of it's populace in our victory?”

    It took Ev a moment to respond, “The second more than the first, but I'd happily listen to your opinion on anything.”

    Aren't you accommodating tonight?” Carth observed with a smile.

    Of course I am,” she grinned back.

    Well,” Carth started, “I'm glad they made the Battle of the Star Forge public knowledge, and I'm glad they're all celebrating. Up until now, it looked like the Sith were winning. The Republic needed a major victory like this one, but it's not the end of the war, and I'm not sure how many people deep in the core worlds realize that.”

    The Jedi do,” Ev said.

    And so does the Republic military,” Carth agreed, “But I worry about the civilians' attitude of finality to the victory at the Star Forge.”

    On one hand, it can't hurt for the general populace to relax, thinking that the war is pretty much over,” Ev agreed, ”They can focus on rebuilding rather than trenching in, in fear of attack.” She caught herself, “Though, they shouldn't let their guard down to the Sith that are still out there.”

    That, and if the civilians start thinking that the war is finished,” Carth argued gravely, “We may have trouble keeping the funding we need to actually finish this war.”

    That's what I was thinking,” Ev admitted, leaning more heavily against Carth's shoulder, “Though, at least the Jedi don't have to be accountable for our funding, battle for battle, the way you military buffs do.”

    A silence fell between them again. Speeders and transports whizzed past. There was music somewhere in the distance.

    Ev put down her empty wine glass on the wide railing beside her. “They're talking about sending us back to the front already,” Ev admitted, staring out into the darkness, “As soon as the victory tour is over.” She sighed.

    To where?” Carth asked.

    The Glythe System, if they haven't changed their minds,” Ev replied. Her voice had lost all luster. “What about you, Admiral?”

    My superiors haven't been specific yet,” Carth admitted, “They won't promote me officially or give orders until we're done with this tour, but I suspect I'll be replacing Admiral Thonsen, who died in action against the Sith in the Luire System.”

    Ev sighed again. Carth held her more tightly against his side.

    The Jedi won't like this, will they?” Carth sighed too.

    My discussing the war with a naval officer over a glass of wine?” Ev asked, feigning cluelessness.

    I meant—” Carth started.

    I know of several Jedi masters who have been known to out-drink a certain Corellian commander. I will hardly be in trouble for one glass of wine,” she continued.

    Ev, not—”

    Or if you mean divulging my next mission to someone outside the order,” she blazed on.


    They'll get over it,” she flirted.

    Ev,” Carth spun her around to face him, “Why do you have to be so frustrating?”

    She drew closer and put a finger to his lips. Smiling mischievously, she replied, “Someone has to get you going now and then.”

    The warmth of the breath and her bright eyes was intoxicating. Pressing a hand to the small of her back, Carth drew her against him and kissed her. She reached up and ran her hands through his hair. Finally, they broke apart. Both turned back to the Coruscant skyline and stared blankly out, breathing heavily.

    Carth grasped at one of Ev's hands between both of his. “Ev, I love you,” he confessed.

    Turning to meet his gaze, Ev replied, “I know. And I love you.”

    Ev,” Carth began, then cleared his throat and dropped down onto one knee. ”Will you marry me?” he entreated.

    Ev's face flushed with a smile, but she quickly grew serious. “You know what you're getting into?” she asked.

    I know who you are and what that means,” he replied, pleadingly.

    But do you?” Ev asked darkly.

    You're Revan, the hero of the Republic, one of the most powerful Jedi,” Carth replied, “They will send you all over the galaxy until all the Sith are gone, and probably even then some.”

    There's more than just that,” Ev looked gravely down at him and put her other hand on top of his. “As Revan, they will send me to the darkest, most dangerous parts of the galaxy, places from which I might never come back,” she explained.

    You defeated Malak, you can handle—” Carth argued.

    Carth, every Jedi will meet her end someday, and I'll have my chance at that more often than the average Jedi,” Ev interrupted firmly, “And then there's that our marriage would have to be kept secret. The Jedi Council doesn't trust me anyway. They'll be watching me even more closely because of that. We'll have to be extra careful.”

    Don't trust you? You just proved your loyalty and dedication on the Star Forge,” Carth protested indignantly.

    There is a darkness in me, Carth, that I cannot entirely repress, that I cannot hide. The Council knows that and they fear it,” Ev continued, “I will never be completely free of Darth Revan.”

    Carth started at his hands on hers. Without looking up, he said quietly, “Ev, I will never understand the Force like you do, or the Jedi, but I do know this; I love you, and I'm willing to go through anything for you to be my wife.”

    There's more, Carth,” Ev said, almost reluctantly.

    Looking up at her, he asked, “What?”

    I don't know,” she shrugged her shoulders heavily, “No one knows what is still locked up inside of me. It could me more dangerous for you than to me. I don't want to endanger you unknowingly.”

    Carth swallowed the lump in his throat. “Whatever comes, I'll love you. And, if need be, I'll always be there to save you from yourself. I'll never go back on that promise,” he vowed. Squeezing her hand, he repeated, “Ev, will you marry me?”

    For a fleeting moment, there were tears at the corners of her eyes. “Yes,” she answered at last. Her sly grin returned to her face, and she admonished, “Now stand up and let me kiss you.”

    Carth had no trouble obeying. When they pulled apart again, Ev grinned at him and said, “You're going to have to tell Dustil about this. He has his right to refuse his consent.”

    Dustil?” Carth's face was a mix of pain, shame, and fatherly love, “You've seen him? How is he?”

    He's at the Jedi Temple now, along with eight or ten other Sith trainees from Korriban, all training to unlearn Sith teachings and become proper Jedi,” she replied, “I haven't had much of a chance to talk to him, but he seems to be having a good time and adjusting well.”

    Carth relaxed. “I wonder when I'll get a chance to see him again,” he wondered, “There's so much I'd like to say, so much I want to work out.”

    I'll see if I can't find a way,” Ev promised.

    Thanks,” he squeezed her hand in his.

    And we have to find a quiet little non-Republic system to marry us where neither the Jedi nor the press will get word of it,” Ev continued.

    How about Kashyyyk?” Carth suggested.

    Ev thought on it for a moment then nodded, “Kashyyyk will do. Thought we'll have to do it quick. Now that Zaalbar is a hero, the galaxy's eyes are on his planet. I wouldn't be surprised if it started making moves to join the Republic very soon.”

    You think so?” Carth asked, “It would give them protection from slavers like Czerka.”

    Ev nodded, “Especially if Zaalbar heads up the effort himself.”

    Zaalbar wouldn't...” Carth started, then stared at Ev questioningly.

    Don't give me that look,” she said, “Yes, I do plan to give him a push in that direction. Like you said, it would be good for the Wookiees. Zaalbar is intelligent, firm, and cares for the welfare of his people. On top of that, he has seen more of the workings of the galaxy than probably any other Wookiee. The circumstances are right to give it a try, if the Wookiees can be united.”

    Carth nodded.

    Changing subjects abruptly, Ev started again, “I think Bastila should be my maid of honor. Juhani can be a bride's maid, and, well, Mission is too old to be a flower girl. She'll have to be a bride's maid too. We'll have to ask Zaalbar about wedding procedures on Kashyyyk.”

    How is it that you know so much about weddings?” Carth asked.

    You know I can't answer questions like that. Where did I learn anything?” Ev shot back playfully. “Now what do you say to Canderous as your best man?”

    Carth snorted and Ev laughed.

    I have some good friends from Telos in the navy that would stand up for me,” Carth suggested.

    Be careful who you invite beyond our crew,” Ev cautioned, “The world can't get out, even as rumors. So, as a backup, how about HK-47?”

    Carth lifted her up off the floor, laughing, and kissed her again. He put Ev back down, still shaking with mirth. “You're going to be the death of me,” he grinned.

    I hope not,” she smile back, caught off-guard by a yawn.

    I love you, Ev,” he whispered, as if anything louder would shatter the moment.

    She simply smiled back at him, and that was enough.

    Ev yawned again and Carth caught himself yawning too.

    Are you or aren't you going to invite me to stay the night?” Ev asked shortly.

    Carth's smile broadened into a grin. Offering his arm to her, he replied, “As long as you promise not to get yourself into trouble for this.”

    I will slip away before the first light and leave you pining for me,” Ev replied mischievously.

    I can handle that,” Carth grinned.
  7. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Hahaha your ending comment on serious relationship stuff being hard to write, I completely agree!

    With that said, it was definitely worth the wait... except now I want more. Even though I voted on the opposite story being developed... crap.
  8. Commander-DWH

    Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus star 4

    Nov 3, 2003
    You know I love it when you write Carth and Ev. [face_love] I'm glad you got past your serious relationshippy block, as that section was pretty fantastic.

    Also, it was good to see Kionee's family all together! That's a rare treat. :)

    Looking forward to the next installment! :D
  9. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    LaForzaViva, isn't romance a pain though? Second only to space battles for me. That's one thing I avoid like crazy. No worries about voting the other way. I plan this to be the main story arc I work on, while Taninim and Leviathan will happen when I'm inspired for it.

    DWH, I'm glad I finally got that out of my system too. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), there's going to have to be a bit more before Ev takes off for the unknown regions. I will brace myself. Getting all the Rinnhs together is a rare treat for them too. Good thing Kionee accidentally wound up on a ship that saved the Republic.


    Part 3- The Wookiee

    The victory tour traveled to the Koros System. After spending one waking day visiting all seven inhabited planets in the system, there was a grand celebration on the glorious capital planet itself: Empress Teta. Thanks to the celeverly-timed arrivals and departures, the events of the day had taken far longer than one standard span from sunset to sunrise. And even after the sun set on Cinnagar, the day was not yet over for the heroes of the Republic. Empress Evenam would not be satisfied without a formal state dinner in honor of her guests.

    Night lights glittered through the vaulted windows of the Tetan Imperial Palace as the heroes of the Republic did their best to stay awake on their feet while mingling with members of the royal family, senatorial delegation, and other exalted Tetans.

    When her Royal Highness the Empress Evenam had had her full of chatting and announced that she would be turning in for the night, the visiting heroes were only too glad to be escorted down a quiet, private corridor to the shuttle that would take them to their accommodations for the night. The ever-present representative of the Chancellor's office, Essra Imlium, and her Tour and Celebrations Committee would have had them sleeping on their ship, en route to Kaikielius. That is, if it would not been a major breech in formality to deny Empress Evenam's hospitality, so they stayed on Empress Teta.

    A woman in the sharply tailored green jacket of a Tetan Special Forces pilot with thick brown hair spilling out from beneath her cap welcomed them with a smile as they entered the hangar. “I wanted to welcome you to Koros, but I'm sure you have heard that plenty enough already,” she said with an air of familiarly, “I had to pull all sorts of connections and whisper into several ears to be given the privilege of being your pilot-escort this evening.”

    Carth, at the front of the line, started at her through bleary eyes. “I'm sorry, but I don't remember your—” he started.

    Oh, you're the woman Kionee introduced us to on Coruscant, marrying her brother,” Ev brushed brightly by him. Carth was convinced that Ev's alertness at any hour of the day, no matter how long the day, was some kind of Jedi trick. “Laurel, wasn't it?”

    Well, I'm impressed,” Laurel beamed back, “With all the names fired at you in the last two weeks, that you could remember mine.”

    Trust me,” Ev laughed, “I try to forget most of them. I make an exception for family of friends.”

    Well, you all look exhausted,” Laurel stepped aside, giving them a clear path to a small shuttle's boarding ramp, “Please come aboard, and I can get you to your lodgings.”

    The Starlight Gem had the most opulently decorated interior of any ship Carth had ever seen. From the green velvet upholstery, matching shag carpet, and silk damask drapes over the passenger viewports to the gemstone-like buttons on the personal climate control panel at each seat, it spoke of royalty. Chairs and long sofas, accompanied with polished wooden tables, provided enough room for nearly fifteen passengers. Carth whistled appreciatively.

    Laurel caught his meaning. “And does it ever have a smooth ride too,” she beamed and settled into the pilot's chair. Only a green, silk curtain separated the passenger cabin from the cockpit. Laurel left it open.

    Ev slid onto a couch next to Carth while Mission claimed a whole sofa for herself, sprawling out with her head laid on her arms. Bastila, Zaalbar, and Juhani quickly found their seats, but Jolee had to pace the full length of the shuttle before choosing a seat that pleased him.

    With a wide grin on his face, he settled back into the velvet cushions. “Now this is how it's done,” Jolee nodded satisfactorily, “The rest of the Republic aught to take hospitality lessons from the Tetans.”

    Jolee!” Juhani hissed as the shuttle door closed, hoping none of the Tetans had overheard his comment.

    Laurel laughed from the cockpit, “Actually, Her Highness would love to know she has your approval, as being better than the rest of the galaxy at what she does. Though, it is a fact she takes for granted already.”

    In that case,” Ev said smiling, “Pass along our appreciation.”

    Will do,” Laurel nodded as she readied the ship's ignition. “To the summer palace then.”

    The hardly heard or felt the shuttle lift off. Soon enough, it was soaring over Cinnagar towards the coast.

    She wasn't kidding about the smooth ride,” Carth marveled.

    I suppose you're itching to be back behind the controls of a zippy little fighter yourself,” Ev observed.

    A break is nice, now and then,” Carth shrugged, “I'm too tired today anyway to think about piloting anything.”

    Say,” Ev started, “Just how did you get permission to fly us on this ship, Laurel.”

    I'm not a fruit and veggie-pilot like all of my future in-laws,” Laurel answered, deftly piloting the ship, “if that's what you're suggesting. Usually, I am Senator Liz Yerrn's personal escort-pilot. I fly her two and from Coruscant, and wherever else she needs to go, and act as a sort of low-profile bodyguard.”

    I did hear someone mention that Senator Yerrn is the King's sister,” Bastila noted.

    Exactly right,” Laurel nodded, “So I asked very nicely that, if I wasn't needed this evening, could I fly you all to your lodgings, as my future sister-in-law was one among your company.”

    It is nice to see a familiar face,” Juhani said, “Thank you for volunteering. The strangers are all beginning to blend together.”

    Last time I saw you all, there was an eighth in your company,” Laurel observed.

    Right,” Ev remembered, “Canderous smuggled himself out of Corellia, our first stop on the tour, as quietly as he could. We're not really sure where he went off to.”

    This all must have been strange for a Mandalorian,”Laurel nodded, “How many systems have you visited in the last two weeks?”

    Twelve,” Jolee answered dryly.

    This time it was Laurel's turn to whistle appreciatively. “No wonder you all look so tired. Well, aside from the pace, how are you enjoying the tour?” she asked.

    The food's been good,” Mission mumbled into her arms.

    We have seen how the wealthy and elite of the galaxy live,” Juhani said, but there was no awe in her voice, “And have lived a bit of it ourselves.”

    Bastila was in agreement, “I will forever appreciate the life of a Jedi, so free of all these politics.”

    So you'd rather be chasing down Sith Lords than being fed like a queen?” Ev teased.

    I didn't say that,” Bastila snapped tiredly.

    Ev grinned at her, “I know.”

    Bastila gave her a smile smile back.

    I could leave behind all the palaces of the galaxy just to be among the holy wroshyr again,” Zaalbar rumbled.

    You and me both,” Jolee nodded.

    From what's been said said about your planet, Kashyyyk,” Laurel started, “I'd love to see the Wookiee trees myself too. For all the places I've been with the senator, I've never seen any kind of awesome flora like that.”

    You understand Shyriiwook?” Ev asked suddenly.

    Laurel smiled and tapped at her right ear. “Ear-bud translator,” she replied, “It's a tool of the trade for senators, so I figured I should have one too. I'm amazed more people don't have them. They're really quite affordable, and not too uncomfortable, once you get used to having one in.”

    If everyone could get one, no one would bother to have the decency to learn to speak or even understand the language of where they were living,” Jolee rattled, “It makes an outsider seem like he doesn't give a whiff about his host people.”

    I suppose you're referring to Czerka Corporation on Kashyyyk?” Ev observed.

    Hrumph!” was Jolee's only answer.

    Well, I honestly would love a chance to visit Kashyyyk myself,” Laurel said, “If either of you want a lift back there, I could easily arrange for a few days off to take you myself.”

    Kashyyyk...” Zaalbar rumbled wistfully.

    That'd be nice,” Mission mumbled her assent, curled up on the couch, “Big Z'd like that.”

    Ev's rooms in the Tetan Summer Palace opened onto a broad balcony with a spectacular view of the ocean. Reflections of Empress Teta's three nearly-full moons glittered on the gently dancing waves below. Ev leaned lightly on the railing taking it all in, yet remembering nothing.

    She sighed and shook her head. “This isn't where I should be right now,” she murmured and turned away from the sea. The night air was warm and humid around her. Despite the exhaustions of the day, Ev could not bring herself to sleep. Hundreds of people remind her that she was Revan, both destroyer and savior, every day of the tour. She wished, knowing it was futile, that she could be just Ev, nothing more.

    A presence in the Force caught her attention at the edge of her mind. Someone—Zaalbar, stood at her door. Before he could work up the courage to disturb her, Ev Pulled the suite's door open with a flick of her hand.

    Zaalbar hid his surprise relatively well. “May I enter, Ev Pell?” he rumbled, “I wish to speak with you.”

    Yes, please come in,” Ev replied and strolled through the open balcony doors and into the room towards him.

    Ducking, Zaalbar stepped inside and the door closed behind him as Ev gave it a gentle Push through the Force.

    Ev sank into one of the overstuffed armchairs near the door. “Do you want to sit down?” she invited, gesturing to the loveseat across the caff table from her.

    Zaalbar sat stiffly down on the floral linen cushions.

    Something's bothering you,” Ev observed of the tense Wookiee sitting across from her.

    I was speaking with Laurel Grergen,” Zaalbar started in a low rumble, “And she said that she is free to return me to Kashyyyk, if I can go.”

    Ev nodded, “I know you want to go back.”

    Zaalbar reached back over his shoulder and drew the Blade of Bacca then rested it in both is hands across his lap. He stared reverently down at it for a moment before replying, “This blade reminds me of my people and of my father. My father did me a great honor in giving me this blade. It has served you well. But in giving it to me, I know he expected me to bring it back one day, and rule as the chieftain of our tribe.” He paused, but Ev did not interrupt. She sensed he had more to say. Still looking down at the vibroblade, he finally admitted, “But I am torn between two vows: a vow to my people that I owe through birth, and a vow to you. I owe you my life.”

    Ev leaned back and nodded. “I expected as much,” she said. “Do you remember what I said to you on Coruscant, the day we were given our awards?” She did not wait for him to reply, but supplied it herself, “I told you that you would be best serving out your debt to me by rebuilding the lives of your people on Kashyyyk.”

    You say this only to give me what I want,” Zaalbar accused, finally meeting her eyes, “You do not understand the gravity of the debt I owe you.”

    No, I do,” Ev replied seriously, “And I'm asking you to do what I want. Lucky here, that our wants are the same. Zaalbar, when I was with your people and I saw how Czerka treated them, it made me as mad as a Wookiee.” She cracked a sly smile as Zaalbar wuffed an appreciative laugh. “I care about what happens to Kashyyyk, and right now, your planet is at a critical point.”

    What do you mean?” Zaalbar asked.

    Kashyyyk has so much potential for change, positive change, right now,” Ev explained. “The Republic's eye is on your planet right now. In fact, it's on you too. Czerka wouldn't dare move back in for that reason, and for the beating they got at the hands of your people.”

    Zaalbar growled warmly.

    Zaalbar, you, as a hero of the Republic, could lead your planet into the Republic,” Ev pointed out.

    But I am just another Wookiee, once exiled as a madclaw,” Zaalbar protested.

    And the future chieftain of Rwookrrorro,” Ev pointed out, “You have charisma and leadership, Zaalbar. That you showed in our travels and when you took back your village from the slavers. Your people respect you now, look up to you. On top of that, thanks to your Cross of Glory, so does the rest of the galaxy. You are poised to make a difference, if you chose to.”

    What do you want me to do?” Zaalbar asked.

    Oh, there you go again,” Ev threw her hands up, “I want you to think for yourself. Think: would this be good for your people? To enter as a full member of the Galactic Republic?”

    Zaalbar scratched the fur on his head thoughtfully. “The Republic does not allow slavery. There is trade and protection,” he thought out loud. “All of these could benefit my people.”

    Then there are some things you need to do before the Republic can accept you,” Ev nodded approvingly. “First, you must have some sort of centralized government that can represent and control, to an extent, the whole planet. Second, since so much in the Republic revolves around trade, you should identify products of value that you can offer into trade. This could be raw materials, foods, or technology. I know you Wookiees have a knack with gadgets. And, thirdly, your government must comply with the Galactic Constitution and all of its precepts.”

    That is a lot to ask,” Zaalbar said warily, but Ev sensed hesitant approval.

    I'm not ordering you to do this,” Ev replied, “I'm asking you to consider it, to talk it over with other Wookiees you trust. Ultimately, it's about what is best for your people, and only your people can decide that.”

    You want me to talk to my people about this,” Zaalbar repeated, as if unsure, “And if it is what they want, do it.”

    Ev nodded. “And that would serve out the debt you owe me,” she said, “I'm sorry if this has put you in a funny position.”

    There is nothing to be sorry for,” Zaalbar said, standing up. He sheathed the Blade of Bacca on his back again. “Thank you, Ev Pell.”

    Ev stood as well. “It has been great traveling with you, Zaalbar,” she said, “I wish you all the best.”

    Laurel Grergen said she can take me tonight, so I will be going now,” Zaalbar said.

    Mission would hate for you to go without telling her,” Ev pointed out seriously.

    Zaalbar fumbled at his belt. “She said she approved of me going back while we were on our way over here,” he mumbled.

    I doubt she was aware that was what she was mumbling,” Ev pointed out, “She was half-asleep.”

    I do not want her think I want her coming with me. She enjoys this tour so much, she should see it through to the end,” Zaalbar added.

    And you hate saying goodbyes,” Ev assessed, “I know how you feel. I do too.”

    Zaalbar wavered, still standing across from her silently.

    Fine then, go,” Ev said with a smile, “Rejoin your people and serve them. I'll make it up to Mission for you.”

    Thank you again, Ev Pell,” Zaalbar said, “I will forever be in your debt.”

    Ev cracked a smile and saw him to the door. “Take care of yourself,” she said as she opened the door for him, this time with her hand on the handle, “And may the Force be with you.”

    I know it will be with you,” Zaalbar replied, then turned down the hall, taking the first steps back towards his home.

    Ev turned back to her room and too her bed. With that bit of hope for the future calming her inside, she was at last able to sleep.


    Jolee, Juhani, Carth, Ev, Bastila, and Mission, along with their droids, sat in a conference room aboard the Brilliant that had been converted to a temporary lounge for the duration of the victory tour. The room was decked out with comfortable but utilitarian couches and chairs as well as a number of collapse-able plasteel tables. A buzz at the comm system near the door was all that was needed to speed a luckless—or perhaps lucky—ensign in to wait on their needs. It was, however, a privilege that none of them liked to make use of if they could help it. That is, except maybe Jolee and Mission.

    I can't believe we're already heading back to Coruscant,” Mission breathed, sprawled out across a large armchair.

    I would hardly call three weeks 'already', Mission,” Bastila commented, from her own chair. “I am looking forward to returning to the Jedi temple after all of this big-to-do they have been making around us.”

    I could use some peace and quiet myself,” Jolee agreed, sitting next to her.

    But I still can't believe all the places we've seen,” Mission blurted, then counted on her fingers, “Coruscant, Corellia, Drall, Talus, Tralus, Selonia, Duro, Abregaod-rae, Humdarine, Balmorra, Alderaan, Caamas, Arkania, Chandrilla, Ralltiir, Trantor, all the planets in the Empress Teta System, Pantolomin, Sullust, Bothawui, Mon Calamari, Toprawa, Bandomeer, and Aargau. I didn't even know some of those places existed before! And we were treated like kings.”

    Treated like heroes, I'd say,” Carth chuckled. Although he shared a couch with Ev, both did their best to show no untoward affection to one another. There was no telling who could be watching on the security camera feeds.

    Mission threw her hands up and slumped back contentedly into her chair, “This was so much fun. I don't want to end.”

    Fortunately or unfortunately, it needs to,” Juhani said, “We have our duties to get back to.”

    Duties? Like what?” Mission asked.

    Us four are at the mercy of the Jedi Council again,” Ev explained, cracking a smile, “to send where they want us. Last I heard, we're headed back for the front, to help clean up some of the remaining Sith strongholds.”

    All together?” Mission asked, leaning forward curiously.

    Juhani nodded, “I hope so.”

    At least that is what the Council seemed to be suggesting before we left,” Bastila added.

    Query: Will I be permitted to join you in terminating the Sith, master?” HK-47 asked.

    T3-M4 tweeted something indignantly.

    Admonition: Of course not,” HK-47 replied impatiently, “You would be useless to her, as you are not outfitted with advanced combat protocols.”

    Ev stifled a laugh, “Of course I'll have you HK. But I will need to get the Jedi Council's permission first. It shouldn't be too hard.”

    Statement: You have my thanks, master,” HK replied, “I have been deprived of the joys of combat and assassination for too long.”

    Blood-thirsty hunk of metal,” Jolee grumbled under his breath.

    T3-M4 chirped expectantly, swiveling its head towards Ev.

    Right,” Ev stared down at the little droid, “I thought you should stay with the Ebon Hawk, T3, which is in Carth's hands now. If that's alright with you.”

    T3 tweeted satisfactorily and retreated into a corner again.

    Well, like these guys, I'm headed back for the front myself, after I'm promoted to captain,” Carth explained to Mission, “If I survive the campaign in the Luire System and do a respectable job, they'll put me on track to a promotion to admiral.”

    And you'll be getting busier with each promotion,” Ev teased, giving him a light push on the shoulder.

    Oh,” Mission uttered, sinking back into her chair.

    What are your plans, Mission,” Juhani asked.

    I, um,” Mission started, “I guess I hadn't thought about it much. I figured I could just stay with you guys,keep traveling, and stuff. I guess that's not going to happen if you're all going back to war though.”

    You'll have to find your own way, Mission,” Bastila said, “I'm afraid we cannot take you back to the Jedi Temple with us. You would not have a place there.”

    After a moment of deep thought, Carth suggested, “You've got a knack for computers. I could put in a good word for you if you wanted a job in the Navy Tech Corps.”

    There you go again, trying to get jobs for everyone,” Ev laughed.

    Thanks,” Mission replied thoughtfully, “But I don't think the army is my thing.”

    Navy,” Carth corrected her reflexively, then added, “Well, know that that's an option for you if you change your mind later on.”

    Mission sighed dramatically, “I wish Big Z hadn't left all suddenly like that. He would've had some good advice.” After a pause, she added indignantly, “He didn't even say goodbye!”

    You know he didn't want you to feel pressured to leave the tour with him,” Ev reminded her. “Look at how much you've enjoyed the last week.”

    Yeah, but now he's gone anyway,” Mission mumbled, “After all this time with him, I don't know what to do without Zaalbar.”

    Then why don't you go visit him?” Jolee suggested gruffly, “That seems like the obvious solution—or the best way to put off making a decision anyway.”

    Mission straightened up and her eyes brightened. “That's a great idea!” she exclaimed. “Do you think he'd mind?”

    Mind?” Ev laughed, “I think he'd love it. He's your best friend, after all.”

    So, once we get back to Coruscant,” Mission turned on Ev, “Can you take me back to Kashyyyk?”

    Ev smiled, “I'm sure I can weasel out of my Jedi duties for a couple more days.” She turned to Carth, “Carth, can I borrow the Hawk?”

    It's as much mine as it is yours,” Carth replied, taken aback by her question.

    Carth,” she reminded him seriously.

    Yes, you can borrow it,” Carth replied, relaxing.

    Thanks,” she said, then leaned over and whispered into his ear, “And while I'm on Kashyyyk, I'll see what kind of arrangements can be made for our wedding.”

    You do that,” he said softly and smiled back at her.

    Now Mission, do you have any business to take care of on Coruscant, or shall we depart immediately after arrival?” Ev posed to her.

    I don't have nothing to do there,” Mission said with a shrug. “Let's head right out.”

    Bastila,” Ev started, “Can you make apologies for me to the Council for this?”

    They won't like it,” Bastila cautioned.

    Of course they won't,” Ev replied shortly, “What do they like that I do?”

    Bastila cracked a smile, “I will tell them that you are seeing off Mission, another recipient of the Cross of Glory.”

    Thanks,” Ev smiled back at her. “I appreciate it. You're much better at chatting with all those Jedi Masters than I am.”

    I'm going to see Zaalbar!” Mission exclaimed, clenching her fists excitedly.


    Mission and Ev stepped off the Ebon Hawk onto the landing platform in the old Czerka compound. The sun was setting over the humid forest; the great wroshyr trees casting long shadows across the platforms. Two Wookiees stood ready to greet them, bowcasters leveled and trained on the two outsiders.

    Who are you?” a silver-brown Wookiee growled tersely. He was the taller, and probably older, of the two.

    Speak up,” the second Wookiee, who had a much darker brown coat, yowled impatiently.

    Woah! What's with all the hostility? We're only here to see Big Z,” Mission protested flippantly, taking a few steps closer. The silvering Wookiee cocked his weapon threateningly.

    Mission,” Ev said cautionarily and put a hand on her shoulder. She addressed the two Wookiee guards, “My name is Ev Pell, and this is Mission Vao. We are here to see Zaalbar of Rwookrrorro. We flew with him and fought with him during the wars.”

    Ah, Ev Pell,” the taller Wookiee lowered his bowcaster. The other followed suit more hesitantly. “Mission Vao. We have heard of your deeds both here against the slavers and in space, against the Sith. You will always be welcome here.”

    Forgive us for our cold greeting,” the younger Wookiee rushed to say, “We did not know it was you. Chieftain Freyyr has said that no outsiders be allowed to walk freely among the trees until they have proven their good intent. We want no more slavers here.”

    And we respect you for that,” Ev nodded. “Now, would you be so kind as to allow us to travel to Rwookrrorro to visit our friend?”

    Lorrlo,” the older Wookiee turned to his companion, “Take them to the village.”

    Of course,” the young Wookiee, Lorrlo, agreed.

    I mean no insult by this,” the older Wookiee explained, “We all know that you are great warriors and can easily defeat the kinrath that stalk our boardwalks, but it would look very bad if we did not escort heroes such as you.”

    And, unescorted, we might appear to be spies for the slavers,” Ev observed.

    You are as wise as you are mighty, Ev Pell,” the silver-brown Wookiee commended.

    Ev merely nodded, brushing aside the compliment.

    So how's Zaalbar?” Mission asked eagerly.

    I will take you to him now,” Lorrlo replied, “And you will see for yourself. You will see that he has gathered many other great chieftains in Rwookrrorro. I have not seen such a gathering before in my life.”

    A sly smile spread across Ev's face. “Then we shall look forward to meeting them as well,” she said.

    Lorrlo led them safely across the maze of boardwalks that connected the small spaceport to the center of Rwookrrorro village, with only a few kinrath to hinder them. At the village's gate, Lorrlo proudly announced them to the guards, and their names traveled in rumbles and whispers all across the settlement. As Lorrlo continued to lead them towards the great head house at the center of the village, Wookiees regarded them with looks a mix of respect and curiosity. Nearly dark, torches flickered in their metal holders all along the boardwalks that made up the tree-top town.

    Finally they reached the door of the head house. “These are friends and fellow warriors of Zaalbar, come to see him,” Lorrlo announced to the single guard by the door.

    They are feasting now,” the guard said in warning.

    Ev sensed a wave of nervousness wash over their escort, but Lorrlo moved beyond it and pushed through the door. Ev and Mission followed after.

    Nearly twenty Wookiees were sitting around a long wooden table which held a great banquet, even by Wookiee standards. Every Wookiee possessed the posture and confidence about him that suggested leadership, and every Wookiee's eyes were on them.

    I am sorry for the disturbance,” Lorrlo grumbled as confidently as he could, “These are Ev Pell and Mission Vao, here to—”

    Suddenly, Zaalbar was standing out of his seat at the far end of the table. “Mission! Ev Pell! Welcome,” he roared warmly, “Make room. Get some more chairs.”

    Almost immediately two more Wookiees appeared out of the shadows hauling wicker chairs, wooden bowls, cups, and other utensils for the meal. The Wookiees shifted down, making room for Ev and Mission near Zaalbar.

    Zaalbar!” Mission exclaimed and rushed down the table towards him. She wrapped him in a waist-high hug. The big Wookiee returned her gesture.

    Ev followed more calmly after her and took a seat between Zaalbar and his father.
    Releasing Zaalbar, Mission scolded, “I'll never forgive you for leaving without saying goodbye.”

    Mission, please,” Zaalbar pleaded, “You know I don't like saying goodbyes.”

    Okay fine,” Mission acquiesced with a smile and plopped down into her wicker seat. Her nose was just level with the high table. Ev fared only slightly better, having difficulty reaching the foot set before her.

    Zaalbar rumbled a laugh, then called, “Bring some large cushions for these small people.”

    A rumble of appreciative laughter flowed around the table.

    Welcome back, Ev Pell,” Freyyr said quietly.

    Thank you, Chieftain Freyyr,” Ev replied with a smile, “I'm glad to be back.”

    Finally, when both Ev were seated high enough to be seen by all the other Wookiees gathered there, Zaalbar introduced them, “These are Mission Vao and Ev Pell. You have heard me tell of them in my journeys and have heard my father tell of their part in ridding our world of the Czerka slavers. They will forever have our gratitude.”

    The other Wookiees rumbled and cheered.

    Turning to Ev, Zaalbar explained, “These are some of the greatest chiefs in our region. They have come to discuss the future of our world.”

    I had hoped so,” Ev said lowly. “You never cease to impress me Zaalbar.”

    I was only doing what you asked,” Zaalbar rumbled quietly back at her.

    Because you thought it right,” she replied, “And see how they respect you?”

    Zaalbar turned away, embarrassed.

    Just then, Freyyr waved over one of the Wookiees who had been serving the meal. She carried two garlands of dried flowers, nut shells, and carved bone ornaments and handed them to Freyyr. Standing to his full, impressive height. He draped one over Ev's head and the second over Mission's. The young Twi'lek deftly flicked her lekku out of the way so it would rest around her neck. “Ev Pell, Mission Vao,” he roared proudly, “You have the honor and bravery of a Wookiee. As warriors returning victorious from the war, we welcome you as ones of our tribe.”

    Again the other Wookiees roared and warbled their cheers.

    Wow, thanks,” Mission beamed.

    Thank you for this, Freyyr,” Ev said as he sat down again, fingering one of the carved fragments of bone that hung around her neck. “In return, I have something for you,” she said, pulling two large datapads out of the satchel that now hung over the back of her seat. Handing one to Freyyr, she said, “This is a copy of the Galactic Constitution, its amendments, and the other relevant laws rights of the Galactic Republic that govern its member worlds. And this,” she said, handing the second to Zaalbar, “is a database of the twenty most recent worlds to join the Republic and the steps they had to take to do so. Use them and reference them as you like.”

    You honor us, Ev Pell,” Freyyr said.

    No, you honor me. I am only returning the favor,” Ev replied, then stood. Though it gave her little more height, it was the effect she was concerned about, “Ever since I met Zaalbar and then again when I first landed on this planet FOUR months ago, I have been impressed by the valor, honor, and pride of the Wookiees. You are a great people of great strength; both in a strength of body and in a strength of spirit. It pained me to see such a people's dignity destroyed, torn down by slavery. But, now you have taken back what is yours, your planet and your unquestionable dignity. You are a great people, resilient and wise, but I fear that others will try to walk the path of Czerka and try to enslave your strength once again.

    Thanks to Zaalbar, the Galaxy knows you exist now, and they are curious. Czerka cannot easily repeat their past actions now, and this is a blessing. From them, you are protected by your fame. But in time, your fame will fade, and others will try again, thinking that no one will notice.

    You are at a pivot point, leaders of Kashyyyk,” Ev continued, clenching her fists in the air boldly, “Now, while the Republic's eyes are on you, you could chose to change the trajectory of your people, or you could continue as you always were. This is yours, and only your choice. But I do urge you to consider the future. The Republic is built on a system of mutual respect and cooperation for all sentients and all worlds. Slavery is outlawed. Trade and communication is encouraged. I urge you, good Wookiees, consider what good—and of course what harm, could come of joining the Republic. You are a great people and you do not deserve to fade into obscurity once more.” Ev sat down again with a satisfied smile on her face and the head house erupted into a jumble of roars that neither Mission nor Ev could parse or understand.

    Then Zaalbar stood up and roared above all the commotion, waving the datapad in the air, “Ev Pell speaks true. We will not allow the curse of slavery to enter our forests again! We will become more than scattered tribes, each vying for honor amid the shadows. We will become a great people, one people, united as the Wookiees of Kashyyyk!”

    Again the Wookiees roared excitedly. Ev noticed a crowd of Wookiees of the village peering in through the open door.

    Excitement, pride, and anticipation were almost tangible in the air.

    Let us feast to the future of Kashyyyk,” Zaalbar said triumphantly and returned to his seat.

    All the Wookiees began to fervently devour the food in front of them. The hall continued to rumble with conversation.

    You're good,” Mission whispered to Ev across Zaalbar.

    Ev chuckled, “Thanks. I'm told I have a lifetime of practice.”

    So Zaalbar,” Mission started, picking at her food, “I was wondering, I don't really know what I want to do next, so, can I stay here with you? I can help with this, uh, whatever you're doing.”

    Mission, you are my closest friend. You befriended me when no others would, exiled as a madclaw,” Zaalbar replied, there was a warm smile in his eyes, “As my father said, you will be as one of the tribe. You will always be welcome here.”

    Mission grinned and hugged his huge, hairy arm. “Thanks Big Z,” she exclaimed, “You're the best.”

    And you too, Ev Pell, are welcome to stay as long as you like,” Freyyr added.

    I thank you for your hospitality, Freyyr,” Ev replied, “But the Jedi have work for me that can't wait any longer. There are still Sith in the galaxy, and so, I can't rest yet.”

    Will you at least allow us your presence for the night?” Freyyr asked.

    Ev nodded, “But I must leave with the dawn. Duty to the Jedi and the Republic calls.”

    We are glad that you have come,” Freyyr said, flapping a massive hand in Zaalbar's direction.

    I will look forward to returning again,” Ev said.

    Then, until that day comes, as you Jedi say,” Freyyr began solemnly, “May the Force be with you.”
  10. Anderson84

    Anderson84 Jedi Youngling

    Jul 15, 2007
    Nice. I like how you use all of the familiar characters together and your dialogue stays true to their personalities. I'm curious to see where you're going to lead us.
  11. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Bah, you deceiver, you can write Big Z! Of course, he'll always sound a bit stilted, but that's probably because it's hard to for him to not be so formal, addressing the woman that he owes a life debt to. Great update!
  12. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Anderson84, well, I'll lead you right up to KOTOR II, but how I'll get there is the question, isn't it? ^_^

    LaForzaViva, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Maybe he doesn't sound so stilted in Shiirywook, but seeing as I don't speak his language, I'll never know.

    Here's some fun with our Jedi friends!


    Part 4- Return to the Front

    Ev, Jolee, Bastila, and Juhani sat strapped into the small passenger compartment of a Razor-class drop-ship. The sleek craft was hardly any larger than a standard Republic snub-fighter; twice the size, at most. If any of the four Jedi had been taller than average, they would have been sitting knee-to-knee on the two narrow benches across from each other.

    The engine hummed as jungle treetops whipped by beneath them. Ev noted with approval, glancing through the small port-hole beside her, that their pilot was level-handedly skilled with terrain-hugging flying. Not far ahead of them, she could dimly sense the pilots of the two strafing squadrons that jetted on ahead of them.

    Bastila nudged Ev's shoulder with her own when the two officers in charge of the mission slipped into the passenger hold from the cockpit. Ev hardly needed the physical call to attention from Bastila, having received her mental nudge a moment earlier.

    The lithe Miralan woman in navy green slid to the right side of the doorway and the Cerean brigadier general ducked in and squeezed into a space to the right of the door. He wore the customary crimson of the army.

    We are nearing the Sith fortress and the drop zone,” the Miralan announced, Captain Anrilam, steel-faced. Her green skin was decorated with a line of small, geometric tattoos over the bridge of her nose and her hair was pulled back into a long ponytail with tight severity. “Do you have any questions on procedures?”

    I haven't got any,” Jolee said while Juhani answered with a polite, “No.” Both Ev and Bastila silently shook their heads.

    Good,” Captain Anrilam nodded briskly.

    General Mrir-Sum-Tal cleared his throat.“Before you disembark, I wish to review the parameters of your mission,” he started and ran his free hand absently through his thick, dark mustache while holding to the grasp hold on the ship's hull with the other. “The Sith's forces here on Ruuria are concentrated on the outskirts of the Ruurian capital city in a sizable fortress, cobbled together around a collection of munitions and other like factories. They have erected their own flimsy barracks, but their command center is housed in an existing flight control and communications tower. To our best understanding, there are anti-air gun turrets around and scattered throughout the perimeter. Their walls and physical defenses will be easily breached, being of a conglomerate and temporary nature as they are. However, the base is guarded by a substantial force of Sith ground soldiers—we estimate our own troops should be more than enough for them—and a force of Dark Jedi of undetermined size.”

    There's no more than two squads worth of them,” Ev observed pensively through lightly lidded eyes. “They're making no effort at masking their presence.”

    I certainly hope you four are,” Captain Anrilam murmured darkly.

    Ev opened her eyes and caught the Cerean general's wide-eyed look of surprise.

    Sir,” Ev added, in an effort towards politeness.

    Well, that is good to know,” Mrir-Sum-Tal commented curtly, recovering from his surprise. “In any case, those Dark Jedi are your second priority. Your first is to cut the power to their gun turrets and communications generators in order to ensure the safe grounding of our troop ships. You have twelve standard minutes to do this before the first wave arrives. They are already en route behind us. Is that enough time for you?” he asked, almost incredulously.

    As we discussed before,” Ev replied, “Twelve minutes should be enough to knock out at least a significant part of the air defenses. Any more time than that would be a danger to us, dropped in the middle of, potentially, a full brigade of Sith troops.”

    The general let out a short sigh. It was obvious Jedi made him nervous—one redeemed Sith Lord, in particular. The navy captain, on the other hand, gave no hints of anything besides steely dedication to their mission.

    Suddenly, Ev caught waves of fear, confusion, and rage emanating from somewhere ahead of their present location. The strafing runs on the Sith base had begun.

    Good,” the Cerean man nodded curly, “You must maintain comm silence until the first wave of our troops has landed.”

    Yes sir,” Bastila replied quietly, sensing his need for affirmation.

    You will be coming in in the wake of the Halberd and Firaxen squadrons. They will not return for a second pass until you are all safely on the ground,” Captain Anrilam explained. As with the general's narrative, none of this was new news to the Jedi drop team. “You will be performing a mid-altitude drop. Your repulsor-packs are outfitted with emergency chutes, should the repulsors fail. The parachute can be activated by the red tab on the left side.”

    Juhani checked for the red tab on her own back, running her fingers over it.

    We will be reaching the drop zone in one minute,” a voice rang in from the cockpit.

    Understood,” Anrilam called back.

    Above the roar of the engines, Ev could make out the thunder and whine of battle drawing nearer.

    Prepare for the jump,” the Miralan woman boomed, her voice cutting through all the noise. General Mrir-Sum-Tal was the first to react, slipping back through the doorway into the cockpit. The ship turned its nose up and began to climb in altitude.

    On your feet, Jedi,” Anrilam ordered and all four obliged. Standing nose-to-nose, they held onto the bars on the ceiling above them. Meanwhile, the benches they had been sitting on sunk into the floor to the sound of churning gears. Ev shrugged out of her repulsor-pack and set it aside where the general had been standing moments before.

    Open the side hatches,” the Miralan woman barked.

    The walls beside them hissed open and began to slide away. Wind roared at the openings, threatening to tear them out of the hold prematurely. They turned to face the open hatchways, careful not to elbow one another in the nose or lose their footing; Bastila and Ev on the left and Juhani and Jolee on the right. Verdant jungle raced by below them, little flocks of birds fleeing in their path.

    Where is your repulsor-pack, Pell?” Anrilam demanded suddenly.

    Bastila craned her neck to see. Ev could feel concern and fear flowing to her over their bond.

    It will just get in the way,” Ev replied firmly. With a whole fortress gunning for her and her companions, she needed every bit of mobility as she could claim to keep them alive through their drop and the first moments of their landing.

    Jolee and Juhani glanced over their shoulders too. “Crazy kid,” Jolee mumbled, but his words were lost to the wind.

    Suddenly, the jungle gave way to a vast clearing of pavement and military structures.

    Ten seconds to drop zone,” the voice from the cockpit came again.

    Ev adjusted her grip on the handlebar above her head and edged forward towards the open doorway, counting down in her head.

    Now!” the voice commanded.

    Ev and Juhani launched themselves out of the ship, followed only seconds later by Bastila and Jolee.

    Ev opened herself up to the Force, letting it rush through her like an uncontrollable rapids tearing towards the waterfall. She embraced it but did not grasp at it. It was all around her and she was a part of it, as were her three friends. The Force was in the pollen in the air that rushed past her. The Force was in the plants and worms in the ground that she plummeted towards. It was in the men and women who aimed their blasters at her below.

    Angling herself into a dive, her short-cropped hair whipped in her face and her clothes rippled around her. Two lightsaber hilts rattled and bumped against her hips. Pulling them into her hands, Ev ignited them as a deadly shield of violet and crimson between her and the approaching laser-fire. Losing all sense of identity, Ev dove deeper into the Force as she dove through the air. Her body moved to dodge and intercept the shots that would have injured her companions. She sensed Bastila then Juhani enter the web with her, the Force drawing on them more than they on the Force.

    Ev's feelings told her the ground was near, and she Pushed out violently with the Force, all at once righting herself, slowing her descent, and bowling over all the Sith beneath her in a ten meter radius like a sea of silvery toy soldiers. There were yells of dismay, but she hardly noticed them. Giving another Push, Ev landed lightly on the ground.

    Yelling, a masked Dark Jedi was already onto her, charging over the fallen soldiers. Ev met him head-on as Juhani burned in behind her. The Sith came in high with a powerful two-handed strike. Ev met him with her right saber, wincing under the weight of his blow, while swinging low with her left. He crumpled with a groan and fell away as her red lightsaber cut into his side.

    The armored Sith soldiers struggled to their feet and to collect their weapons again. A few resourceful ones stayed in a crouch and began firing. Two more Dark Jedi advanced on them.

    Juhani struggled out of her repulsor-pack and reached for her lightsaber. Ev swung in to cover her from a clever sniper. The shots refracted off her weapons into the crowd of Sith around them.

    Bastila plummeted into their midst, imitating Ev's landing with her own twist. As she Pushed towards the ground, knocking some of the more unsteady Sith off their feat again, she flung her pack directly into the chest of one of the Dark Jedi. He groaned and stumbled back as well. By the time she touched the ground, her double-bladed saber was in her hands and glowing yellow. Jolee reached the ground just as the other Dark Jedi, a woman, reached them. Without a word, Juhani and Bastila spun in between Jolee and the woman while he freed himself from the pack. Ev continued to defend them from blaster fire.

    Without looking, she knew the dark woman was defeated. Finding himself one Dark Jedi against four Jedi Knights, the man Bastila had struck with her pack hung back at the inner edge of the circle that surrounded them.

    Ev reached out with her senses through the squads of soldiers surrounding them, searching.

    Who are you?” he demanded threateningly, but there was fear behind his voice.

    Ev stepped forward with a grin and flourished her lightsabers threateningly. “I am Revan,” she answered confidently. Whispers erupted amidst the soldiers and Ev found what she was looking for: the grenadiers. “And you can either surrender yourselves and this planet to the Republic, or suffer the consequences.”

    Never,” the Dark Jedi spat.

    Ev Pulled the pins from all the grenades within her reach. The sound of hundreds of tiny pins hitting the pavement went unnoticed as Firaxen Squadron came around for a second pass on the fortress.

    Jedi scum!” the lone Dark Jedi continued his curse. “Attack them!”

    The soldiers surged forward, but they had only taken a few steps when every grenade in the courtyard exploded. It erupted in burst of flames and screams. Chaos and fear overtook the Sith. Bastila and Ev raised a shield in the Force to protect the four of them.

    When the resulting blaze subsided, more soldiers and Sith rushed into the broad courtyard, and those that had managed to escape the blast without serious injuries charged with renewed vengeance. The battle was in motion.

    There was a conspicuous power generator on the other side of the courtyard. No words needed to be spoken between the Jedi. Jolee and Juhani darted for the generator while Bastila and Ev distracted and destroyed their attackers. Ev reached out for grenade pins again in the wave of reinforcements as she beat back a squad of soldiers foolish enough to think they could take on two Jedi with only common vibroblades in their hands. Another explosion rocked the compound, accompanied by more screams.

    Ev smiled grimly. They may not be able to get all the generators and axillary generators down by the time the troop ships arrived, but the chaos that the four Jedi would wreck on the fortress would be enough to ensure the incoming Republic soldiers a foothold in the battle.

    Ev didn't like it, but this is where she was meant to be, back at the war front.
  13. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Alas and alack! The curse of the invisible readers strikes me down again! :eek:

    No matter. Here we have part five. I've got to keep trucking along if I want to finish this within the year.


    Part 5- Father and Son

    Carth Onasi passed under the great arching entrance way of the Jedi Temple for the second time in his life, running his fingers absently under his collar. What usually felt comfortable and snugly tailored now constricted uncomfortably around his neck. He swallowed hard, trying to shake the feeling of being choked.

    It had been nearly four mouths since his first visit to the temple when he came to see Ev's—Bastila and Jolee's too—knighting ceremony. Then he had been ushered around with the other guests who had come to see them, leaving no room for wondering where he was or wasn't supposed to be. Even after all this time working and becoming friends with Ev, Bastila, Jolee, and Juhani, the Jedi at large still made Carth uneasy.

    Carth paused inside the grand entrance and gazed around, his attention unfocused. Jedi in earthy robes swept one direction or another, each caught up in his own business. For the moment at least, no one paid Carth any mind.

    He could hardly believe that four month had passed already since the destruction of the Star Forge and the breaking up of their little group. Distantly, he missed them all, even Canderous, but especially Ev. Four months; the same length of time from when Carth first met Ev until they—well, there were so many Jedi around and there was no telling if any of them were eavesdropping on his mind. There were some things that it was best not to think about. In any case, in those four months since, Carth had hardly seen any of her. Their work had kept them both tied to the front of a war that wasn't quite over yet.

    Soon, though, it would be very soon.

    Excuse me, sir, are you looking for someone?” The appearance of a Jedi at his side brought Carth out of his reverie. He was a youthful, pale-skinned, black-haired Nagai.

    Carth's eyes widened and his mouth felt suddenly dry. Veshisht Um? No, but he died on the Star Forge. Carth swallowed hard again and composed himself. “Yes,” he replied, with only a hint of wavering in his voice, “I would like to see the Jedi Apprentice Dustil Onasi about his part in the Battle of Korriban four months ago.” Ev promised him that this would get him the respect he deserved

    And your name, sir?” the Nagai Jedi Knight asked politely.

    Captain Carth Onasi,” he replied crisply, “I commanded that battle, which he was so invaluable in.”

    I see, Captain Onasi,” the Nagai nodded, eying Carth with curious suspicion.

    Onasi is a very common Telosian name,” Carth stammered quickly. 'Don't make it obvious that you're a father coming to visit his son,' Ev had said, 'The Jedi don't like that very much.'

    Well, Captain Onasi,” the Jedi started thoughtfully, “If you would be so kind as to wait on one of those benches over there, I will see if Apprentice Onasi can be found.”

    Thank you,” Carth replied with a polite nod. The Nagai young man swept off deeper into the temple and Carth found the benches he had been pointing to, settling himself down to watch the other Jedi drift past.

    Ev had assured him that this particular part of the afternoon was the best time to drop in for an unexpected visit. The early afternoon was spent in sparring practice for the apprentices, after which was a substantial break to change and wash up before the late afternoon meditation and lessons.

    Checking his chrono intermittently, Carth's mind wandered through the rest of his schedule for his short stay on Coruscant. Tomorrow, already, he was leaving for the front again on another tour of duty. Tonight, there was a meeting with Grand Admiral Weshenn and Admiral Dodonna. Forn Dodonna was his direct superior and always dealt out his assignments, but the presence of the head of the Republic Navy was unexpected. Carth could only guess that tonight’s meeting would lead to not only to a new assignment but to his full promotion to Admiral, as he had been offered after the Battle of the Star Forge. It seemed that he had proven himself in his last tour after all.

    Carth looked up to see the Nagai man striding back towards him. He glanced down at his chronometer; ten minutes had passed. Standing, he took a few steps to meet the Jedi.

    You came at a good time, Captain Onasi,” he commented as he reached Carth, “Apprentice Onasi is just between two training sessions now. He is waiting for you in the Southern Arboretum.”

    Thank you, Jedi Knight...” Carth replied, looking for a name.

    Krant,” the Nagai supplied it for him, “It's my pleasure. I don't have any pressing appointments myself this afternoon. If you would come with me, I will take you to the Southern Arboretum to meet him.”

    Please lead the way, Krant,” Carth replied.

    Krant led him through wide galleries, vast halls, and twisting corridors. Most Jedi ignored Carth and his guide, but a few younger ones, padawans and apprentices, eyed his sharp, green uniform with curiosity.

    Finally, they arrived at a pair of glass doors, fogged slightly with condensation from the inside. As Krant stepped towards them with Carth in toe, the doors slid noiselessly open. Warm, humid air carrying gentle fragrances washed over Carth as he stepped inside. He had the immediate impression of being surrounded by life as it filled his nostrils. Sure enough, the great Southern Arboretum was filled with all kinds of trees, flowers, and other plants imported from tropical worlds all over the galaxy. Little streams wove their way from pond to pond between the palms and flowerbeds and a collection of cobblestone paths twisted gently through the man-made garden.

    Dustil, already pacing near the entrance looked up suddenly as they entered. “Fa—Captain Onasi,” he stammered. He wore the full uniform of a Jedi now, including the beginnings of a thin braid at the nape of his neck. Except for his brown boots and belt, Dustil's entire outfit was of different shades of cream. It was a stark contrast to the Sith uniform he had worn on Korriban.

    This is Captain Onasi,” Krant gave the unnecessary introduction, “I believe you have met before, in the battle of Korriban.”

    Yes,” Dustil answered stiffly, “We did.”

    Well, I will leave you to your conversation,” Krant said, and with a polite bow, excused himself.

    Thank you, Knight Krant,” Carth said as he left. Then he turned on his son. “Dustil,” he started in greeting, “How are you doing?”

    Fine,” Dustil responded tersely, looking anywhere but at his father's face, “You?”

    I'm alright, I guess,” Carth replied, trying to be casual. “The Republic Navy has been keeping me pretty busy lately.”

    As usual,” Dustil replied. Then added, embarrassed, “Uh, let's find a better place to talk. There's some benches this way.”

    Sure,” Carth echoed.

    Dustil chose one of the narrow paths and started slowly down it. It snaked along side a stream channel towards a pond with a small lapping fountain in the center of it.

    This is beautiful,” Carth marveled. “Do the Jedi have many gardens like this?”

    Dustil breathed in the sweet, humid air and sighed deeply. “There must be six or eight different gardens,” Dustil replied, “But I like this one best. It reminds me of...”

    Telos,” Carth finished for him. He could feel it too.

    I wouldn't be surprised if there were some Telosian plants in here somewhere,” Dustil added. “Master Sunrider—Nomi Sunrider that is—she thought up these gardens. I guess it's good for Jedi to spend some time in 'nature,' getting their hands dirty, and it's the best we can do on Coruscant. Everything living, even plants like this, are connected through the Force, so a lot of folks like to come in her to meditate or just to think.”

    Do you?” Carth asked.

    Yeah,” Dustil answered with a shrug.

    In the small clearing with the fountain pond, Carth followed his son to one of the benches on the edge of the water. He noticed schools of small fish darting around under its surface.

    So, Krant said that you wanted to talk about the Battle of Korriban,” Dustil started, looking Carth in the eyes for the first time, “I would have thought that was way past.”

    Well,” Carth admitted slowly, “Ev said that was the best excuse I could give the Jedi for a chance to see you.”

    Did she?” Dustil smirked, “And the Jedi bought it. I guess you couldn't have told them you were here to visit your son. They would have tossed you out of here faster than a gundark can chuck a rock.”

    Carth chuckled, loosening up a bit. “So how are your classes? How are the Jedi treating you?” he asked.

    Better than I expected,” Dustil shrugged, “They're not too suspicious of us and treat us fairly. Though, I'd be suspicious of them if they didn't keep an extra eye out for us. Bad habits take a lot of kicking before they stop showing up when you're tired. Lashowe pulled a lightsaber on someone who butted in the mess line the other morning.”

    How did the other apprentices take that?” Carth asked. He hated to think that his son's friends were causing trouble at the Jedi Temple.

    We calmed her down, the lout who budged took off running for the end of the line, and a bunch of the Jedi-raised kids panicked and called in Master Waykennit. He's pretty understanding when one of us slips. He has a good sense of humor about it. Even still, Lashowe got assigned extra guided meditation hours for the day,” Dustil said, pursing his lips thoughtfully. “I can't say that the other apprentices actually wanted to be our friends, but I can't really blame them. We used to be their enemies, and we're all older than the other apprentices anyway. But we've got each other, and the masters believe in us, for what it's worth.”

    The Jedi do love their redemption stories,” Carth commented.

    Dustil laughed lightly, “And just having us around reminds everyone else that forgiveness is a virtue and coming back from the Dark Side is possible.”

    No one is giving you any trouble in your classes then?” Carth asked.

    No,” Dustil scoffed, “Not when it's just us. There's thirteen of us apprentices from Korriban—Lashowe, Kel, and me, and the rest of them you wouldn't know—and then those six Selkath. We're all having to relearn the same stuff, but not as much of the basic fighting techniques. So the Jedi Masters figured it was best to keep us together. That, and I think they were afraid of conflict. They're patient with us, and we're all learning pretty fast. Lashowe and a couple of the others from Korriban are having a tough time adjusting to this new way of life though. She always says she's determined to do it though, but maybe that's the wrong way of going about it. So uh,” Dustil turned the conversation on his father, suddenly realizing he had been talking too much, “How's the battle been going?”

    You've probably heard,” Carth started lamely, “But we're winning. We're chasing down the Sith everywhere we can find them. After the Star Forge, Korriban, and Ruuria, the Sith have been on the run. We're just taking back Republic systems and breaking them down so that they cannot form up into a threat again.”

    You better get them all,” Dustil warned darkly, “The more you pound them, the more the Sith will want revenge.”

    I hope my superiors understand that,” Carth sighed, “I'm just a captain, following orders.”

    Last time I saw you, you were going by 'Lieutenant Onasi,'” Dustil observed.

    Korriban was a test,” Carth replied, “They promoted me after that. And then they promised an Admiral appointment if I continued to do well through this last tour.” Carth paused, debating whether to go on, “I have a meeting with the head of the Republic Navy this evening. I think that might mean another promotion for me.”

    Well congratulations,” Dustil praised, but there was pent-up resentment in his voice, “Now you can spend even more time with your navy friends.”

    Dustil, I'm sorry,” it all suddenly came pouring out. “I'm sorry for not being for you all these years. I'm sorry for putting my work ahead of you and your mother. I'm sorry I wasn't there that day. Back then, I thought I was doing the right thing, giving all I had to the Republic's war efforts, but now I'm not so sure. I lost so much. We lost so much. If I hadn't been there, then the Sith wouldn't have taken you and—”

    Dad,” Dustil gently interrupted him, “You don't have to say it. I've forgiven you. Can you forgive me for joining the Sith?”

    Of course I can!” Carth whispered hoarsely, tears coming to his eyes. He wanted so badly to reach out and hug his son, but he didn't dare. There were still too many Jedi around, even in this remote part of the temple.

    So,” Carth uncomfortably changed the subject, “Have you seen Ev around much?”

    No,” Dustil shook his head, “She stopped in to check on our class with that Cathar—what's her name?”

    Juhani,” Carth supplied for him.

    Yeah, anyway, she stopped in with Juhani to check on our class a month or so ago, but had to go right back to the front,” Dustil answered.

    That's more than I've seen,” Carth murmured.

    She's a real inspiration to all of us,” Dustil continued with mounting excitement, “I mean, she was Revan. The masters won't admit it, but she's got to be the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy right now. And she doesn't let that go to her head either. Plus, she came back from the Dark Side deeper than any of the rest of us.”

    The Jedi won't have told you that her redemption wasn't her choice,” Carth replied sharply, “The captured her and rewrote her mind so that she would fight on their side.”

    Huh,” Dustil sat back thoughtfully on the bench, “She did mention something like that back on Korriban, before the battle.” He paused, then continued on with enthusiasm, “So maybe it is true that her original redemption wasn't her choice, but when faced with her past, she didn't let her sway her from what she knew was the right path. We've all got ugly stuff in our past, maybe not as bad as her, but we have to deal with it too.”

    Carth nodded, a warm smile spreading across his face as Dustil praised Ev.

    But I've heard that ever since the Battle of Ruuria, the military decided that they can't be without her and those other three,” Dustil added, “Every report I've seen talks about how the four of them almost cleared out the entire Sith settlement themselves. Not that I'm surprised, anyway.”

    Carth nodded again, “It's true. And ever since then, Ev, Jolee, Bastila, and Juhani have been shipped all over the galaxy, as the sword of the Republic. I haven't seen any of them since, well—” Carth broke off and looked all around them. No Jedi were near. The bubbling fountain behind them was the only sound besides their voices. “Dustil, Ev and I were married,” Carth admitted quietly, “after the victory tour.”

    Really?” Dustil laughed, dark eyes dancing. He slapped his leg and said, “I like her even more now. She went and got married? To you? Against the laws of the Jedi Council? Nice. Where did you guys get it done that the Jedi didn't notice?”

    Carth's apprehension fled at his son's approval. “On Kashyyyk,” he answered, beaming, “Zaalbar set up the whole ceremony for us in his village.”

    Well, good for you,” Dustil replied brightly. It seemed that Dustil's admiration for Ev had expanded to include Ev through their marriage. “If I have to have a step-mother, I couldn't think of anyone better.”

    It's not likely that we will ever able to be a normal family,” Carth admitted with a sigh. “I'm a soldier and you're both Jedi.”

    And we're all working to save the Republic, at the call of our masters,” Dustil's enthusiasm was dampened slightly. He took a deep breath and released it.

    Dustil, I'm sorry about your girlfriend on Korriban,” Carth said seriously, “I really hope you can find another woman worthy of you.”

    Dad, don't worry about me,” he replied, “I miss Selene, but the Sith took more than just her from me. In the mean time, the Jedi Temple kind of lacks anything like a dating service.”

    Carth chuckled. “So where do we go from here?” he asked, “I doubt I'll be able to come and visit you like this very often.”

    Probably not,” Dustil agreed neutrally, “The other Jedi will start to suspect something, and it won't take much digging for them to find out why you're actually here.”

    And then there is my work,” Carth admitted.

    Right,” Dustil nodded, “But I'm sure we'll find a way around it somehow.”

    We'll see what happens if I really am promoted to Admiral,” Carth replied, “And when you become a padawan yourself. I understand that means following around your master wherever he goes.”

    Dustil sighed and leaned back again. “Dad, I'm sixteen years old,” he explained, almost desperately, “Thirteen is the usual cut-off for apprentices to become padawans before they're shipped off to some service corps, never to become full Jedi Knights. Our group is special because we all came in so old, but I've started to wonder if we have a chance at getting masters at all. There aren't a lot of Jedi around that don't already have a padawan of their own, after so many were killed in the war. There are more of us apprentices than there are people to train us. I keep hoping that we'll have a chance anyway, because of what we represent.”

    Carth put a calming hand on his son's shoulder. “You are talent and intelligent, Dustil,” he said encouragingly, “I'm sure someone will see that in you and decided to train you soon enough. You haven't even been here half a year yet.”

    I hope you're right,” Dustil replied. Catching a glimpse of the chrono on Carth's wrist, he stood up suddenly. “I have to get cleaned up before guided meditation starts.”

    Carth stood and met him eye-to-eye. Dustil was as tall as he was now, and it was something of a shock. He really is becoming a man. “Then I don't want to make you late,” Carth replied, “It was good to see you, Dustil.”

    Thanks for coming to visit, Dad,” Dustil replied, cracking a small smile.

    Carth held out his hand and Dustil shook it firmly. Without thinking, Carth pulled Dustil into a hug, patting him on the back with his free hand.

    Dustil broke away, flustered. “Well, I've got to run,” he said quickly, “Say hi to Ev for me if you see her, and good luck in your meeting tonight.”

    Do great in your training,” Carth urged, “I'll see you later.”

    Okay, bye,” Dustil replied hurriedly and turned down the path towards the door. In an instant he was gone, blocked from view by lush plants and trees.

    Carth sighed and sank back down onto the bench. His son had forgiven him. He had even accepted his new wife. It was as if everything was starting all over again.

    He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. He was able to imagine that he was back on Telos before the Sith came and tore his life to pieces, if only for a moment.
  14. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Well, I'm back from my self-imposed exile and got to read two great updates!

    I've got no guesses on the Proverb challenge, but just to be fun I'm going to go with Jolee because I soooooo desperately want a Jolee chapter. Then again, I'm the guy who wants an entire comic book line with him as the lead so...

    The awkwardness of teenagers was well captured there - Dustil wanting approval and recognition and attention, but nono, if he gets too much he'll get flustered and blush and think Dad is uncool! Very good job with that dynamic; I hope we see Dustil one more time.

    And I think you may have also given me a slight plot bunny in there...
  15. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    LaForzaViva, I'm glad to see you back! And I'm glad you enjoyed that banter. You have me curious about this plot bunny. Unfortunately, Jolee's chapter won't be coming up for another several chapters, but it is coming, I promise. To make up for the lack of Jolee here, I hope you enjoy a particular character cameo in this part.

    This part was written in response to the]Proverb[/url] Challenge. My prompt was:

    "Better idle than ill doing."
    -a Welsh proverb


    Part 6- Better Idle than Ill Doing

    Gray daylight filtered in through ajar window shutters, casting flickering stripes across the floor, sparse furniture, and chamber's single occupant. The shades were fixed in their oblique angle, as the Jedi supposed that such low lighting would be conducive to peaceful meditation. From the speeders speeding along outside the Jedi Temple's walls to the other side of the planet, Coruscant hummed with life and activity—with the Force.

    Ev uncrossed her legs and shifted on her seat. Sighing, she tried to focus herself inward or outward, on anything but her thoughts. Inside herself she found only restlessness and dissatisfaction. The echoes of darkness, guilt, and anger within her gave her no peace. Focusing outward did not bring her the calm she sought either. Try as she might to shut it out, the trillions of lives on Coruscant buzzed at her consciousness. The closer a person was, the louder their life-force screamed into her subconsciousness. To cut out that distraction, one might as well cut oneself off from the Force entirely.

    There were young Jedi that envied her and the other truly powerful Jedi. At times like these, she envied them.

    Ev sighed, shifting again. What I need is focus. Or absolute nothingness. I seek oblivion from all of this.

    Perhaps when the Jedi destroyed her mind, they also destroyed her focus. From all she could gather about the Revanchist—her own past—her mind had been uncommonly sharp, unclouded by distractions.

    And perhaps they destroyed her focus to keep her from seeking deeper within her own mind. The Jedi council claimed to have erased her memories, and yet she could not believe that. They merely buried them. Visions of the Star Maps she had once visited proved that. They had wanted her to remember that, but no more. To remember more would be to make their tool in the war against Malak too dangerous. And now that Malak was dead and the Sith remnants all but destroyed, they had no used for their puppet any more.

    A week after returning from the war front, Ev was already growing edgy. In all that time, the Jedi Council had called on her not even once. When she caught sight of Vandar Tokare's small form in the corridor, she intercepted.

    What is it, Ev Pell?” he asked with only mild impatience.

    Vandar,” Ev started, “When will I need to report for my next duty with the fleet?”

    Ah,” Vandar was caught slightly off-guard. “Your part in this war is finished. You did your duty in breaking the Sith and you are no longer needed at the front.”

    Then the Council has other plans for me?” Ev asked, attempting to read through the Jedi Master's words.

    Not for the moment, no,” he replied tersely. “In the mean time, I suggest that you spend time in meditation and centering yourself. I still sense much anger in you.”

    And that was something the Jedi Council did little to help with, other than pointing it out as a constant in her life which she must fix. Little help meditation did either.

    Ev had spent six months chasing down and eradicating Sith along side the Republic Military. In all that time, she had returned to Coruscant only twice, to be sent out by the Council the very next day again. She hardly rested, jumping from planet to planet, lent from fleet to fleet. After Ruuria, the Republic Military command decided that they could not do without Juhani, Jolee, Bastila, and herself. Despite their lack of leisure time, the four of them had grown closer together throughout their travels, bound more strongly together in the Force.

    Then suddenly they were split up. Jolee was sent with one fleet and Juhani with another. Bastila was lent to the military command’s campaign planning committee for her insight into the Sith's organization and motives. Ev, on the other hand, was left to idleness in the Jedi Temple with no hope of direction or assignment from the Council.

    It was only in battle that Ev had truly been able to lose herself and clear her mind. Amid the carnage she wrought, she found peace. Only in those moments was she able to forget what had been done to her—and what she herself had done. Looking back, the thought of that made her uncomfortable, but so it was. Despite herself, she itched to return to the war. She longed for that calm again.

    Maybe that was what scared the Jedi Masters.

    When meditation and sparring failed her and, wandering bored her, Ev would browse through the archives or make herself useful in the training of master-less apprentices. In the archives, Ev found herself drawn to the history of the Sith and of the wars that had defined her lifetime. She grasped at every scrap of her own history that the Jedi dared to keep on file.

    May I ask what you are doing?” the historian Atris asked in such a tone as to suggest that she already knew the answer and did not approve.

    I am reading the logged accounts of Jedi involved in the Mandalorian wars,” Ev replied flippantly, as if she did not catch the meaning in Atris's voice.

    That is not something you should be reading,” Atris snapped and reached for Ev's holodisk reader. She Pulled at it with the Force, but Ev countered her evenly and the pad remained in her hand.

    I was not aware that this was restricted material,” Ev said icily, “It was in the common resource library.”

    It is not,” Atris retorted impatiently, “But you should not be reading it. All that you will find in there will cause you harm. You will not find what you are looking for.”

    Because that is actually restricted?” Ev asked.

    Atris ignored her question huffily, “I have been monitoring your reading list, Roan'evrue Pell. And I do not approve. I suggest you take your interests and casual readings elsewhere.”

    Thank you for the feedback and advice, Master Atris,” Ev replied coolly, pressing the holodisk reader firmly to the table should Atris decided to give it a Yank again. “But, I have need of neither.”

    You don't know what's good for you!” Atris muttered and stormed off in a huff, white skirt flapping agitatedly about her heels.

    Despite Atris's warnings, Ev continued her research, but it revealed little. Ev was beginning to become acquainted with her own reputation and character, but there were no records of her seemingly famed speeches, only vague references. It was almost as if, after her fall, the Jedi had determined to rid the Order of the Revanchist's influence, even in written word. If she did not find anything useful soon, Ev vowed to begin combing the other archives and libraries of Coruscant. Someone must have found records of her past worth preserving. She was Revan, after all. There were few names in the galaxy as widely known as hers or names which carried so much weight and meaning.

    Finally, after three weeks of wandering about the Jedi Temple, the Council called Ev before them. However, it was not for the reasons she had hoped.

    Ev, we are concerned,” Nomi Sunrider began.

    Thank you for your concern, Master Sunrider,” Ev replied with a bow, “This confinement and inactivity has had me unsettled.”

    That is not what has us concerned, Ev,” Vrook cut directly to the point, “Your behavior does. Why do you continue to wield a red lightsaber?”

    It is a reminder of Korriban, of where I have come from, and of others who have fallen,” Ev replied evenly. She unhooked the saber from her right hip and transferred it to her right hand.

    Red is the color of the Sith,” Master Kavar put in, “We needn't remind you of that. It has no place among the Jedi.”

    And it reminds others of who you were,” Vrook added testily, “Darth Revan.”

    That reminder often gave me the upper hand in our war against the Sith,” Ev replied.

    To use your identity as Revan in such a way walks a fine line,” Nomi pointed out, “It flirts with the Dark Side.”

    You have had plenty of idle time since returning from the war,” Atris said, “What I do not understand is why you have not changed the crystal since then.”

    As I said, it's a reminder,” Ev repeated.

    Then let the hilt remind you alone,” Tyjesh Kay, the Bimm Jedi Master, suggested firmly, “No one else needs reminding.”

    She did not change the crystal as they had asked. Ev was not one to be sentimental about objects, but she could not bring herself to change anything about the lightsaber that she had picked up in the Tomb of Naga Sadow. When she held it in her hand, she knew, deep down, that it had some connection to her past. She suspected her buried memories required a trigger to surface. She could not throw away the red lightsaber on the chance that it could be part of one of those triggers.

    Using that saber and claiming to be Revan,” Zez-Kai Ell warned, “It is dangerous. There are countless examples through history of Jedi who have pretended to be Sith, only to fall.”

    Ulic Kel-droma,” Atris provided, “For example.”

    But for you, I fear it is even more dangerous,” Zez-Kai continued, “Because you truly once were the Sith Lord you pretend to be.”

    Ev never once claimed to be Darth Revan. She never claimed to want to lead the Sith again. She wanted neither. Like it or not, Revan was one of her names, and it was a powerful name. At its mention, soldiers hesitated, Sith faltered, and confidence failed. It was a power Ev had on her lips and, in war, she would not discard any powers she had over the enemy. Perhaps that was un-Jedi-like, but it was calculated and practical. Ev knew the fine line she walked better than any Jedi Master could ever hope to.

    But, there were some things that one should not bother trying to explain to the most highly exulted Jedi in the Order. For one, that you understood something better than they did.

    We are also wary of your involvement with the youth from Korriban and Selkath,” Kronn Hakkes added. “In order for them to see the light and walk constantly in it, they must be free of all damaging influences.”

    And I am one of these damaging influences?” Ev asked, indignation rising inside of her. She took a deep breath to quell it.

    They look up to you, Ev, more than you know,” Embrik Waykennit pointed out gently.

    For all your struggles with the Dark Side,” Kavar explained, “You are not the best role-model for them.”

    I have heard it said that for someone who is recovering from a fall, seeing another who has fallen and returned strongly is inspiring,” Ev replied evenly, “A guidepost.” She thought of Juhani.

    Maybe so,” Zez-Kai murmured thoughtfully.

    I cannot feel certain that you have returned strongly from your fall, Roan'evrue,” Atris observed harshly.

    Ev cringed with Atris's continuing insistence at using that ridiculous name that was not really hers.

    Had Ev really recovered, or was she still living the life of a Sith in Jedi robes? The question haunted her. The more she mulled on it, the less certain she became. From her heart, she believed in love, compassion, and freeing the oppressed of their oppressors. At the same time, she believed in crushing the Sith until there was nothing left of them. Her actions set her apart from the other Jedi, but was she still one of them? Was it the Code that made the Jedi or was it the Jedi that made the Code?

    There is much anger in you,” Ruell D'tarn observed, “Though you keep it buried deep.”

    So I am told,” Ev replied dryly, “Frequently.”

    Besides anger, you let your other emotions run about the surface of your consciousness,” Vrook added, “A Jedi should not let his passions and feelings of the moment take control of him.”

    You pardon, Master Vrook,” Ev began as politely as she could, “But I believe I know the difference between feeling emotions and letting them rule me. A living being cannot be completely dead to emotion.” Ev let it out. She could not stand to be treated like a child any more.

    You must be very careful, Ev,” Master Dorak warned, “Such thoughts and justifications can lead to the Dark Side. You must make an effort to bring your emotions more under control.”

    You should meditate and center yourself on the Jedi Code,” Embrik suggested.

    And I have also sensed something in you which disturbs me greatly,” Atris added, “Are you in a romantic relationship with someone?”

    That is none of your business,” Ev retorted briskly, her dark eyes hardening. They would not take Carth away from her, or take her away from Carth.

    That is precisely what—” Atris began.

    Atris,” Nomi interrupted, “Let her have her peace.”

    Ev took several calming breaths, then met the eyes of each Jedi Master within her field of vision. “What would you have me do, then, Masters?” she asked.

    Master Waykennit is right in his suggestion,” Nomi replied, “You should focus yourself on meditation. Let the Force guide you into the Jedi you should be.”

    And so here Ev sat, in one of the many meditation chambers, trying to discover just who she was and who she should be. Should she even be a Jedi? Was this the place for her? The purpose for her remaking was finished. She was no longer needed in the fight against the Sith. What now? There must me some other purpose for her being.

    Dimly, she became aware of another presence in the meditation room. She let her eyelids lift and saw an elderly Jedi occupying one of the other two seats. Though he sat in a relaxed meditation posture, his eyes were open and fixed on her.

    Master Cafran,” Ev began, a sly smile spreading across her face, “I should thank you. Here I was worrying that I was unable to focus myself well enough to shut out distractions, but here you have joined me without my notice. You have proved me wrong, and that makes me feel better.”

    I had hoped so,” he replied, smiling back. In the past three weeks at the Jedi Temple, Visto Cafran had been one of the very few Jedi that had not shied away from casual greetings and conversation with Ev.

    What brings you here?” Ev asked.

    You are disturbed,” Visto replied. His voice was jovial but his expression serious. “I couldn't help but notice it when I was walking by.” He waved at the door behind him.

    Ev snorted, “That's one way of putting it.” She then realized, “Great. Soon the entire Temple will sense it too. That will do wonders for my reputation here.”

    I doubt it,” Visto shook his head, “There are plenty of disturbed younglings and padawans cloistered up in these meditation chambers. It is nearly impossible to know one from the next behind closed doors. Few know you well enough to distinguish your presence from the rest.”

    And you do?” Ev asked. Visto may have earned a place in her acquaintance by his friendliness and his past friendship with Jolee, but she was wary of his intrusion on her privacy.

    If only barely, it seems,” Visto nodded. They stared at each other in silence for a few moments longer before Visto sighed and began again, “I may be just another cooky old Jedi, but I am a Jedi Master. I have trained more than a few padawans myself and helped guide them through their rough spots. Granted, none of them had to deal with the earth-shaking reality that they were once a Sith Lord and can't remember any of it,” he chuckled then sobered, ”I sense you could use some help, Ev, and I want to offer it.”

    Ev remained pensively silent, taking in his proposition.

    The other Jedi all respect you, but many also fear you,” Visto assessed, “The Council Members do not trust you.”

    Don't I know it,” Ev admitted frustratedly.

    I think I may have seen that more clearly than any others,” Visto admitted, “And it disturbs me.”

    Why?” Ev asked, “They have every reason to. I was once a Sith, and they really have no idea what's going on inside of me. They don't know if Revan could surface again. Force, I don't even know that! They can sense plain as day that I'm not following the code and keeping my emotions in check. As far as they know, I could be a time bomb waiting to go off.” Ev paused to draw in a deep breath, then added, “And I can count on one hand how many other Jedi come close to being as strong in the Force a I am, but I lack the advantage of their years of control and discipline.”

    And in that, they do you a disservice by neglecting to guide you,” Visto said, shaking his head regretfully.

    You don't fear me,” Ev observed suddenly, “Nor do you distrust me.”

    I see no point in it,” Visto replied openly, “You speak with honesty and compassion. Perhaps you harbor more emotions that most see proper in a Jedi, but I cannot condemn that. Your emotions are a natural reaction to the situation you are in.”

    Then you see nothing wrong with the anger the council members are so frequently nagging me about?” Ev asked pointedly.

    Anger, hm? Now anger can be very dangerous if nothing is done about it, especially given your past,” Visto began slowly, “But both you and the council are treating your anger in the wrong way, however.”

    How so?” Ev asked, raising an eyebrow skeptically.

    It is pointless to look at yourself and say 'Self, stop being angry. Be a better person,'” Visto pointed out. “You need to find the root of your anger and deal with it there, at the source.”

    What makes you think I haven't tried that?” Ev asked.

    Because you are still angry,” Visto replied, with a knowing twinkle in his eyes.

    Ev sat back in her chair. She admitted, “Fair point.”

    Why are you angry?” he asked, then quickly amended, “You don't have to tell me, but it may help to speak the reasons out loud.”

    No, it's alright,” Ev sighed, “I am angry because of how the council has been slighting me, treating me like a child. They monitor my every move and are quick to dole out disapproval at everything I do. This idleness since the war is driving me crazy, and they don't want me doing anything besides meditation.”

    Hm,” Visto nodded, but urged, “I sense that your anger is deeper than that. Those are surface issues of the moment.”

    Ev drew in a deep breath and sighed. “I am angry at them for what they did to me,” she admitted, searching herself, “I am angry that they destroyed what I was and reformed me as a tool to meet their needs, and that they planned to keep that whole thing a secret from me. I have to believe that I, as Revan, had reasons for what I was doing, good ones. Even if my past lies with the Dark Side, I had reason. Without trying to figure out those reasons, they did their very best to erase my memories. And now, they want to keep pretending none of this ever happened. They don't want me to find out more about my past. They expect me to live with blissful contentment that they did what was right for me and for the galaxy.”

    Now we're getting somewhere,” Visto nodded. “Go deeper. I don't think the Jedi Council is the only target of your anger.”

    Ev grasped desperately at thoughts that threatened to fade away. “I am angry at all of those who perpetrated, assisted, or allowed atrocities like Taris and Cathar to take place: the Mandalorians, Malak, the Sith, Czerka, the whole system,” Ev said, frustration mounting, “Damn it all! That's not it yet either, is it?” She struck a balled fist against her leg.

    Now you're starting to sound more like Revan,” Visto admitted, “A confused Revan, but Revan all the same. That furious compassion is a part of your past.”

    You knew me before?” Ev asked, suddenly taken aback and yet eager for more.

    How old do I look to you?” Visto asked pointedly, “Of course I knew of you and ran across you a handful of times.”

    What was—?” Ev began.

    I didn't come here to satisfy your curiosities,” Visto cut her off sharply, “Not now anyway. You must face your anger, and I still don't think you have hit the heart of it.”

    Who else is there to be angry at? The whole kriffing galaxy?” Ev asked frustratedly.

    You say you are angry at those who caused and allowed suffering,” Visto pointed out, “But have you forgotten, it was Revan—you that began this war which has claimed lives by the trillions and devastated trillions more? Have you pushed that out of your mind?”

    Ev leaned back, speechless, as if struck by a powerful blow to the head. “I think you may be right, Master Cafran,” Ev breathed as she recovered, “I—I am angry at myself for all that I have done.”

    Self-anger can be the most poisonous kind,” Visto said, “It permeates everything you do, everything you think. It can tear you apart and shake your very foundations if left unchecked.”

    You sound as if you are speaking from experience,” Ev observed.

    Visto did not respond directly, “Now that you can examine your anger for what it is, you must dispel it.”

    How am I supposed to do that?” Ev asked, “I do feel better for having said all this aloud, but it doesn't feel any easier to just wish it away.”

    Have you considered forgiveness?” Visto asked, cocking his head to one side.

    Forgiveness?” Ev repeated incredulously, “How can I forgive them for all they've—how can I forgive myself?”

    That is for you to discover,” Visto replied, “But you must, or you will never find the peace that you are seeking.”

    Ev sighed and looked down at her lap. “Forgiveness,” she echoed listlessly.

    It will take time and humility,” Visto encouraged, “But if you work at it, you will be able to do it. I'm sure of it.”

    Half a smile crossed Ev's lips for a moment and she met his eyes again. “Thank you, Master Cafran,” she said, “For choosing this afternoon to barge in on my privacy.”

    Visto laughed, “Any time, any time. What else does an old Jedi like myself have to do with his time besides meddling in other people's private affairs?” He started again, “You know, I think I have an idea for how you can better spend your time.”

    What?” Ev asked.

    How about taking a padawan learner?” Visto suggested.

    A padawan?” Ev repeated.

    You have a lot of skills and knowledge that should be passed on to the next generation of Jedi,” Visto pointed out, “And your unique perspective may prove inspiring.”

    But the council would never agree to let me take on a padawan,” Ev protested, “They have already called me a damaging influence on the apprentices that I have tried to help.”

    'Damaging influence?'” Visto said disgustedly, “I can't imagine that the whole council was of that opinion.”

    Atris, Master Hakkes, and many of the others seemed to think so,” Ev replied.

    Atris can go eat her socks,” Visto replied, almost automatically. “I think, perhaps, you overlooked those who were silent. You have a powerful ally in Master Waykennit, you know, an alliance which will soon lose its power as his year-long term on the council comes to a close.”

    Master Waykennit has been more sympathetic, I will give you that,” Ev agreed. “He did once admit to wanting to take me as a padawan when I was younger.”

    There is more to it than that,” Visto replied, “He has probably not said it himself, but it was he and his master that discovered you, a child of refugees on the outer rim. He carried you, infant in a sling, all the way to Dantooine himself, changing your diapers and bottle feeding you for the entire journey.”

    He remembers when I was nothing more than an innocent child,” Ev assessed thoughtfully.

    Embrik may be only a short-term member of the Jedi Council, but he is well-spoken and persuasive,” Visto continued, “I believe that he can sway the Council's vote regarding your taking of a padawan. Approaching him and ask for his support.”

    Ev nodded.

    Do you have someone in mind already?” he asked.

    Only a moment's thought, and a face flashed in the front of Ev's mind. “Actually, yes I do,” she replied, smiling.

    Well, now that that is underway as well,” Visto began again, “There is something else I would like to rectify, if you would allow me.”

    What is that?” Ev asked.

    The Council's continuing neglect of the completion of your re-training,” Visto replied. “As you said, your control and focus are lacking.”

    I would be honored if you'd take the time to help me out with that,” Ev bowed her head respectfully.

    In that case, may I lead you through some guided meditation?” Visto asked permission to begin.

    Please do,” Ev replied.


    Students filed out of the lecture hall, all ex-Sith or Selkath. Ev lingered outside the doorway, giving each an encouraging smile as they passed. Those that saw her returned her smile and Dustil greeted her with, “Hey Ev.” The last to leave the classroom was their instructor, Master Embrik Waykennit.

    Master Embrik,” Ev caught his attention.

    Ah, Ev,” he replied with a smile, stopping in the doorway, “How are you this afternoon?”

    Fine,” she responded, “And you?”

    I am doing alright myself,” Embrik answered. With a light laugh he added, “All of those apprentices really are learning well. Their enthusiasm to really get it right is infectious. They are really pulling each other along.”

    I have been quite impressed with their progress myself,” Ev admitted.

    Embrik began walking casually down the corridor towards his next destination and Ev fell into stride along side him. “I really do appreciate all the help you have been giving them in the sparring ring and out of it,” Embrik began, “As do they, no matter what other members of the Council say.”

    Thank you, Embrik,” Ev replied, “Sometimes I wonder.”

    It really is a pity that there are too few Jedi left after this war to give them each a master,” Embrik said wistfully, “And that Atris refuses to budge on repealing our single-padawan policy.”

    That is actually what I wanted to speak to you about,” Ev started. “I would like to take a padawan.”

    One of this group?” Embrik asked.

    Yes,” Ev nodded, “Dustil Onasi.”

    Dustil, huh?” Embrik nodded with approval, “He would really benefit from your individual tutelage.”

    I am concerned that the Council will deny my request,” Ev admitted, “Given what they said earlier this week.”

    No,” Embrik reassured her, “There may be some apposed to the idea, but I believe the majority would support your decision. This would be a constructive and positive use of your time. And, I believe Dustil is ready for this.”

    Thank you, Embrik,” Ev bowed her head respectfully as they walked.

    I believe we will have some time in our meeting tomorrow to discuss it, if you can come and bring the boy along with you,” Embrik suggested.

    I can do that,” she said, “I'll inform Dustil.”

    Embrik stopped and turned to face Ev. “Ev, I am sorry about all this,” he apologized, “You're such a special case on so many levels. No one really knows what to do with you.”

    So I've noticed,” Ev replied dryly.

    If there's any other help I can offer you, please, don't be afraid to ask,” Embrik offered.

    Ev almost denied that she needed anything, but then remembered Visto's suggestion from the previous afternoon. “I know you are quite busy with all of your duties,” Ev began carefully, “But I have been struggling with the disciplines of focus and clearing my mind. I would appreciate any guidance you could give me.”

    I would be happy to guide you, Ev,” Embrik replied, “You may be far beyond needing a master in many ways, but I am glad to see that you are not too proud to admit your weaknesses.”

    Thank you, Master Embrik,” Ev bowed again.


    Okay, I'm here,” Dustil practically dashed off the lift onto the landing outside of the High Council Chambers where Ev waited for him. He fidgeted, adjusting the collar of his formal robes. “But what is this all about? I hope you didn't rat me out about anything.”

    I would be the last to do that,” Ev replied with an enigmatic smile.

    So?” Dustil persisted.

    Before Ev could give him another illusive reply, the doors to the Council Chamber swung open. “Let's go,” she urged.

    Ev strode inside and bowed to the Jedi Masters. Dustil stiffly followed her lead. In all of his time training to be a Jedi, he had never been called before the council until today.

    Ev Pell,” Nomi Sunrider began, “Master Waykennit has told us of your intention to take Dustil Onasi as your padawan learner.”

    You—I what?” Dustil stammered, gaping at Ev.

    I see you did not inform him yourself,” Nomi cracked a smile. “We have come to the conclusion that this is a good decision for both of you. Dustil, you will be released from your classes to study solely under Ev now.”

    Thank you, Masters,” Ev said and bowed again.

    Thank you,” Dustil repeated hastily, bowing as well.

    You may go,” Nomi said, “May the Force be with your partnership.”

    As Ev turned and left the chamber, Dustil at her heels, she could not help but feel the waves of sour disapproval rolling off of Atris. She smiled at her own small victory.

    The doors closed behind them again and they were left alone in the hall. Dustil rounded on her, “You could have told me.”

    But then I wouldn't have had the satisfaction of that wonderful look of surprise on your face,” Ev teased.

    Ev!” Dustil retorted impatiently.

    Fine,” she chuckled, “In all honesty, I wasn't sure if they would let me take a padawan, much less one of you Korriban trainees.”

    I'm glad they did,” Dustil replied, suddenly awed, “This means that I actually will be able to become a Jedi Knight after all.”

    If I let you make it that far,” Ev teased.

    Thanks so much for doing this,” Dustil said eagerly.

    I didn't do this just for you,” Ev jovially pointed out, “I've been bored, and I think you will keep me plenty busy.”

    Dustil laughed. “So where do we start?” he asked.

    I was thinking,” Ev proposed, “That you try to give me a beating down in the sparring ring. I want to see how much you've improved lately.”

    Then you'll teach me double-wielding?” Dustil asked.

    You're not getting a second saber until you learn to keep track of both of mine,” Ev replied with firm playfulness, “Do that, and then we'll talk.”

    You're on!” Dustil exclaimed.
  16. MiralukaJedi

    MiralukaJedi Jedi Knight star 4

    May 15, 2008
    Very nice and wonderful use of the proverb. I'll update it to the main list ASAP.
  17. Shillani

    Shillani Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jan 9, 2011
    Nice chapter and series! The descriptiveness of the first paragraph of this chapter really paints a picture in the reader's mind, providing a nice introduction to the chapter and letting it flow seamlessly into Ev and her thoughts. The italicized bits of dialog with the Jedi Council members also help to show their distrust of Ev and flesh out the reasons for her frustration (the Council members' distrust being one of those reasons).

    I like Ev. Even though she is Revan, and therefore a canon character, she seems somewhat of an OC in that she has so much unique character of her own. It's great that she took Dustil as her padawan--now he, Carth, and Ev are really a family. I hope that Ev does eventually manage to forgive herself for being Revan, though.

    Please add me to the PM list!
  18. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    ' ?Atris can go eat her socks,? Visto replied, almost automatically.'

    Best. Line. Ever. I actually snorted really loudly in my room when I read that!

    What a wonderful update! I really enjoyed the split-time where we could follow Ev's mind wandering during her meditation, because lord knows we all fail at clearing our mind while we meditate. And please continue to use Visto whenever you want, I feel like you write him better than I do!

    As always, eagerly awaiting the next update! Also it would happen to me but I forgot that plot bunny I had. Midterms I tell ya.
  19. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    MiralukaJedi, I feel really silly for taking this long to get to my proverb, but I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Shillani, welcome to the thread! I really do love writing Ev, she really has taken on a life of her own, OC or no, and frequently surprises me. It's really too bad that Ev, Carth, and Dustil can't be more of a functional family though. They all deserve it.

    LaForzaViva, I hoped you would enjoy that. I do love Visto and I'll have to come up with ways to work him in again.


    Part 7- The Shame of the Dark Side

    Bastila felt Ev coming long before she saw her round the bend in the corridor ahead.

    You're late,” Bastila scolded lightly, “I was just coming to look for you.”

    Sorry,” Ev apologized with a shrug and a smile, “I got caught up in the sparring ring with Dustil and didn't notice how much time had flown by.”

    That seems to be a common excuse of yours these days,” Bastila replied. “Well, where shall we have our chat?” With all of the secrets Ev sheltered from the Jedi, they had to be careful where they had even their most casual conversations. Even if she wanted to, Ev could not keep any real secrets from Bastila. Thankfully, she did not want to. Bastila remained her constant ally and confidante, and, oddly enough, coach. Despite the large gap in their ages, Ev and Bastila still often fell back on the roles of apprentice and teacher forced upon them during their journeys in search of the Star Forge.

    I need to head back to my room and change before my outing this evening,” Ev replied, “We could chat while we walk back that way.” After a pause, she added, “There is no one in our path. At least, not at the moment.”

    Bastila still marveled at the breadth of Ev's power, which seemed to grow by the day. “Alright,” she agreed, “I trust Dustil isn't giving you too hard of a time.”

    No, no, not at all,” Ev laughed as they began walking towards the wing of the temple where both of them had their living quarters, “ At least, not more than I deserve. He's a good kid, all things considered, and a studious learner. I really am enjoying teaching him. Having a padawan fills me up in a way I hadn't expected. You really should consider taking a padawan, Bastila. You're not a half-bad teacher yourself.”

    I am far too busy with the campaign planning committee,” Bastila made an excuse. That wasn't the real reason, and by the look in Ev's eyes as she spoke, her friend knew it too.

    This war won't go on full-throttle forever,” Ev replied, “It is already starting to slow down. I'm sure you see that. When your duties with the military lighten up, you really should take a padawan. I'm sure it will be good for you.”

    I'll consider it,” Bastila replied uncomfortably.

    You know,” Ev added, “If you found someone with a knack or even an interest in military planning, you could even start training someone now. Sitting with you at the meetings would be a certain type of training, even if you couldn't spend as much time sparring and the like.”

    So what is this outing you have tonight?” Bastila changed the subject.

    Ostensibly, I am taking Dustil into the lower levels of Coruscant for a lesson on suffering, justice, contentment, and social stratification,” Ev explained, then leaned closer to Bastila and continued in a low murmur, “While actually, Dustil is going on his own and returning with his notes tomorrow. I have a meeting of my own tonight. Carth is back on Coruscant for a two-day leave.”

    Bastila smirked. So that's why Ev is in a better mood than she has been all month. “But do you think that's a good idea,” she asked quietly, “Sending Dustil on his own? The lower levels of the city can be quite dangerous.”

    If the Sith taught him nothing else, they taught him to trust no one and nothing,” Ev replied confidently, “He knows it's dangerous and he will be on his guard. He always is. Trust is something we need to work on, but mistrust will protect him for the evening, anyway. Besides, he is only to observe and take notes, not to get involved in anything. And I'm sending HK along to shadow him in case something does happen.”

    I would think that blood-thirsty droid would do more harm than good in an exercise like this,” Bastila observed with a snort.

    Ev chuckled, “True, but I've told him to stay out of sight and stalk Dustil discretely. Dustil doesn't know that he'll be shadowed. I am hoping that his senses are sharp enough that he will figure it out though.”

    Do you trust Dustil to stay out of trouble?” Bastila asked skeptically. She didn't know Dustil or the other students from Korriban as well as Ev did, but she still felt a Sith was a Sith; all angry brutes, ready to stick their lightsaber in anything that caught their attention.

    Mostly,” Ev replied with a shrug as they arrived at the door to her room. She keyed it open and they both stepped inside. Like all of the other Jedi's chambers, Ev's room had bare cream colored walls and contained only a twin bed, a small closet and drawers, and a tiny bed-side table. The door clicked shut behind them. Ev added, obviously sensing Bastila's feelings towards the Korriban students, “Dustil and the others may have been training to be Sith, but they voluntarily sought to change sides. They want to become Jedi. They want to change their ways, whatever it takes. While there have been some incidents of old, bad habits flaring up, they all have been making immense progress, Dustil almost the most of all.”

    Bastila sat down on the edge of Ev's bed as Ev moved to her closet and stripped out of her sweaty practice robes. There was no point of physical modesty between Ev and Bastila, when they intimately shared every feeling that rose into their minds. Even so, Bastila averted her eyes to stare at the plain, durasteel door. “Fine,” Bastila admitted, “You do know them all better than I do.”

    Pulling on a pair of brushed denim pants, Ev cast a look over her shoulder at Bastila. “You still hate the Sith, don't you?” she observed.

    Jedi do not hate,” Bastila replied sharply.

    No, but you do,” Ev persisted. “I don't have to tell you that I can feel it in you. You even want to hate the students we have here whose pasts lie with the Sith.”

    Ev, that's not true, I—” Bastila protested.

    You know it's pointless to argue with me,” Ev retorted firmly. She pulled on a cream-colored tunic and clasped a thin belt around her waist. The whole outfit looked like ordinary Coruscanti fashion, though still in Jedi creams. Even the belt was a fashion accessory rather than the thick utility belts Jedi usually wore.

    Bastila sighed as Ev sat down next to her on the bed. “I can't move beyond what the Sith did in this war, and what they did to me,” Bastila admitted. She dreaded saying any more, but Ev remained silent, waiting for her to continue. “But, in the end, after all the goading and torture Malak put me through, it was me who decided to become a Sith. I took up that role willingly. I wanted the power and recognition. I embraced the Dark Side to get it. Even though it was for such a short time, they called me Darth Bastila. I was a Dark Lord of the Sith. In that battle, so many good men and women fighting for the Republic died because of me.”

    Sympathy flooded over their bond from Ev. “Try having an entire war worth of deaths on your conscience,” Ev replied. She paused then continued, “A Jedi Master I respect recently told me that I need to learn to forgive; not just forgive the Mandalorians and the Sith, but I also need to forgive myself.”

    Ev, I don't think I can do that,” Bastila shook her head, “My fall to the Dark Side haunts my every thought.”

    And it will continue to unless you can forgive yourself,” Ev replied firmly, “Or so I'm told, anyway. Shoot,” Ev suddenly spurted, seeing the time on her chrono. She leaped up from the bed, “I'll be late if I don't hurry.” She clipped a money pouch to her belt, purposely neglecting her lightsabers, then swung a plum-colored riding cape over her shoulders. “I'm sorry,” she apologized, “I've got to run, if I'm to make our date on time via public transports.”

    I understand,” Bastila replied, wishing she really did understand that thrill of excitement and love that surged all over Ev. She followed Ev back out into the hall.

    Ev closed the door and dashed off with a wave, saying, “I'll see you later, Bastila.”

    Have fun,” Bastila called halfheartedly.

    Hearing Ev's footsteps fade away down the corridor into nothing, Bastila felt her presence as firmly as if Ev was still standing next to her. It never changed. Distance meant nothing. She wondered just how Ev coped with having a second person in her head at all times. It hard seemed to bother her at all. Maybe that was because Ev had been sensing Bastila's presence for every moment in her current memory.

    For Bastila, however, she could remember all the time before that moment, nearly two years ago, aboard the Taninim when she reached out to the dying mind of Darth Revan, in a reckless effort to preserve it, and irreversibly linked herself to the Sith Lord. She knew now that that naive, split-second decision had chanced the course of her life forever.

    She couldn't have known then what the Jedi Council would do with Revan or the part she would play in the life of a woman who had once been a Sith Lord but remembered nothing of it.

    As the Force willed it. She sighed, staring down the corridor where Ev had gone.

    Bastila, unlike Ev, clearly remembered her few short weeks as a Dark Lord of the Sith; the power, the respect, the exhilaration, the absolute disregard for other sentients with which she acted. It was behind her and forgiven, as far as the Jedi were concerned, but she knew it would haunt her forever.

    Deep down, Bastila knew that if not for Revan—if not for Ev—she would not have fallen as she had. This was not the obvious sense that if Revan had not fallen and brought the Sith back to attack the Republic, there wouldn't have been any Sith for Bastila to become Dark Lord of. It was more personal.

    Despite all of the lectures and warnings of the Dark Side that she had given Ev, all along, the mysterious, buried darkness within her fascinated Bastila. She felt it continuously through their bond, but could not grasp at it as she could Ev's other feelings. She could not find the source. No matter how compassionately Ev walked in the light, that darkness never disappeared, never wavered.

    It was still there, even now.

    It drew Bastila in, despite herself. Her curiosity for what fueled Ev was the tipping point that Malak used to turn her, in the end.

    Not that she could blame Ev for her own fall. She didn't.

    Being bonded to someone such as Ev wasn't all bad either. Ev was inspiring, energetic, and wiser than even she knew. Bastila admired Ev in so many ways. Ev was among the most loyal and supportive friends Bastila had ever had. Through their bond, Ev understood her in a way that no other could. All the same—

    She felt a powerful need to meditate to clear her mind. The mediation chambers were too far away. Her private bedroom would have to do.

    Bastila absently made her way back to her room, her mind still wrestling with thoughts of Ev and of the Dark Side.

    Once in her room, she stripped down to only her undertunic and leggings and settled into a comfortable, meditative pose on her bed.

    Slowly, slowly, her stresses and worries faded away, leaving her with calming oblivion in the Force.

    Suddenly, a rush of violent emotions threw Bastila out of her meditations. Passion, urgency, and ecstasy flooded from Ev over their bond. Bastila, alone in her room, felt hot and uncomfortable, her face flushed.

    Shaking herself and trying to ignore it, Bastila rose from her bed and began to get dressed again. She knew from experience that it was pointless to attempt to meditate when Ev was—well, doing what she was doing now. She also knew that focused, rhythmic sparring exercises were just enough to distract herself from the bond.

    With that thought in mind, Bastila clasped her lightsaber to her belt and headed for the sparring rooms, doing her best not to blush as she walked past the other Jedi. Ev's emotions still smouldered at the front of her mind.

    Not that Bastila could fault Ev for her relationship with Carth, for all the Jedi teachings said. Love supported and fueled Ev, and she in turned poured it out on those she cared for, Bastila included. Bastila couldn't see anything wrong with that. A small part of her—actually, a bigger part than she was willing to admit to herself—wistfully hoped that she would find love like that in time.

    Bastila found one of the larger practice gyms. It was mostly empty except for a cluster of older students sparring with live sabers under the supervision of a master. In the opposite corner, Bastila took the long hilt of her lightsaber in her hands. The metal was cool on her palms. She sunk into the initial stance of Shii-Cho and ignited her saber. She concentrated on the hum of her yellow blade.

    Once that was the center of her focus, she began. She stepped and swung through the movements of Shii-Cho over and over, letting her body's well-trained reflexes think for her and draw her deeper into the Force.

    After some time, she moved into Makashi then Niman, and then into the tightly controlled forms of Soresu and Shien. Breathing deeply and beginning to sweat, Bastila focused her attention so intensely that nothing but the sweep of her lightsaber crossed her mind.

    Just as she switched into Ataru, a form she still struggled to perfect, the down-sweep of her blade met resistance. Her yellow lightsaber crackled as it clashed against another silver blade. Jolting back to reality, Bastila took in the owner of the other silver saber, standing across from her in the beginning stance of Ataru, small red eyes fixed on her. Bastila's opponent was a white Twi'lek woman; not cream colored like many other Twi'leks that Bastila had seen before, but completely albino. She wore dark crimson robes and had similarly colored geometric tattoos at the ends of her lekku and across her forehead, almost in the shape of a tiara. Her lips were parted in a sly, toothy smile.

    Their eyes met, and the Twi'lek woman lunged. They began what seemed like a dance of Ataru. Neither aimed to defeat the other, but only to meet strike for strike in perfect form.

    Bastila had not fought someone else with a double-bladed saber in a long while. She twisted and spun, enjoying both the freedoms and constraints of her weapon of choice.

    The Twi'lek woman was good. She sparred with aggressive energy and intense focus, but there were holes in her technique. Bastila had only to take advantage of one of those weaknesses, and she got the point, adjusting her stance for the next pass around. Even still, there were points in Ataru where she outshone Bastila, moving with athletic grace and ease.

    Bastila marveled that she could not remember seeing this particular Twi'lek before. Granted, she had spent very little time in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, so there were many Jedi that she did not know. Still, Bastila was sure that she would remember someone as distinctive looking as her current sparring partner.

    Finally, panting hard, Bastila stepped back and called, “Enough.”

    Smiling lightly, the Twi'lek bowed and extinguished both blades of her saber. Bastila shut hers off as well.

    Good bout,” Bastila commented.

    Yes, thank you for that,” she replied with another small bow.

    Bastila could not think of anything else to say, and before she came up with anything, the Twi'lek woman started again, “Please forgive me if I'm wrong, but are you the Jedi Knight called Bastila Shan?”

    Yes,” Bastila stammered, “That's my name. And you are?”

    Snow,” she replied, then amended, “Seno'vwannin.”

    Well, I'm pleased to meet you, Jedi Knight Snow,” Bastila replied stiffly. She could not sense Snow's intentions.

    Apprentice, actually,” Snow corrected.

    Apprentice?” Bastila repeated, then scrutinized the woman before her. Although she as a poor judge of non-humans' ages, she felt certain that Snow was at least as old as she was. “How old are you, Snow?” she asked.

    Twenty-three,” she replied.

    You are older than me and not yet a padawan,” Bastila observed, reminding herself that she had only been knighted eight months ago.

    There seems to be a shortage of Jedi able to take on padawans these days,” Snow replied with guarded neutrality, “and an even greater shortage of Jedi willing to take on a padawan who used to be a Sith.”

    Then you must be one of the Korriban apprentices,” Bastila realized.

    Snow bowed her head in a slow nod.

    Can I ask why you joined me in sparring today?” Bastila asked.

    Snow met her eyes, “I was watching you practice after our lesson finished and suddenly, the Force seemed to say to me, 'This woman understands you, and you understand her.' It wasn't so much my decision as much as the Force prompted me, and there I was in front of you.”

    Understand me?” Bastila asked somewhat skeptically, but the Force nudged her, urging her to believe it was true.

    A pack of noisy younglings poured into the gym after their teacher, each clambering for one of the blunt practice sticks.

    Do you have anywhere you need to be, Snow?” Bastila asked.

    No,” she replied with a shake of her head, “Not until meditation at four.”

    Then, walk with me,” Bastila suggested, “We can talk for a while.”

    Snow said nothing in reply, but followed Bastila to the door.

    They strolled slowly in the direction of the center of the temple, side by side.

    So, without having met me before,” Bastila started, “you are supposed to understand me, and I am supposed to understand you.”

    Trusting in the Force, yes,” Snow replied then pause, “I may have an advantage to begin with, though. I read your biography, Bastila.”

    My biography?” Bastila gaped, “I was not aware that I had one.”

    The short biography that the HoloNet News network released after the destruction of the Star Forge, along with the bios of all of the other participants of your mission,” Snow reminded her.

    Ah, that one,” Bastila nodded. Although it had been short, Bastila remembered marveling at just how many details they had dug up on her.

    I think,” Snow started slowly, “From what I read, we have some important things in common: both love and bitterness towards our parents, a feeling of being held back despite our accomplishments, and a nagging, no, consuming guilt for our falls to the Dark Side and all the things we did then, at least.”

    Bastila stared at her. That sort of analysis had not bee in her biography. “I think that's a good start,” Bastila admitted, a little shaken.

    To be fair, I should tell you something about me,” Snow replied, “As I don't have a biography of me floating around.”

    If you don't mind,” Bastila urged.

    I hope this doesn't get too long,” Snow started, “It has been a while since I tried to put any of this into words.

    When I was about six years old, my family fell on hard times. My father, who I loved very much, worked hard to feed us all, but when my mother saw the chance to sell me for a high price, she took it. My own mother put me up for auction, and all the slavers bid furiously to have an albino little girl in their stock.

    I was bought and trained to dance. I was a natural at it and earned my first master lots of money when I was sold to an up-scale bar on Taris. I was passed around to a few different places until I was thirteen, when I was bought by a rich Tarisian to be a pleasure slave for his spoiled-rotten, do-nothing rancor of a son.”

    Color drained from Bastila's face as she listened. Snow left much unsaid, but the horrors of her early life could hardly be ignored.

    I'll spare you the details,” Snow continued, “But I will say that he was as speciesist as any other rich, Tarisian human. He treated me like an animal.

    He socialized with the Sith even before they came to Taris, and they quickly discovered that he was Force-sensitive. They invited him to Korriban to train to use those powers. When he went, instead of selling me off with the rest of his slaves, he decided to bring me along.” Snow swallowed hard, then continued, “How I wanted him to sell me away with the others.

    On Korriban, not only did I have to put up with his abuse, but the abuse of his friends. One of them made a mistake, though. He noticed that I was also Force-sensitive and said so out loud, withing my hearing.

    From that night on, I did all I could to learn to use the Force, and finally, one night when I could take it no longer, I killed my master. When he was found dead in the morning, his friends came at me for revenge. I killed them too. I demanded that I be allowed to train as a Sith, and the academy accepted me, impressed by my ambition and brutality.

    But I was shunned by the others because of what I had been. Even Master Yuthura loathed me for it. I trained for years with every part of me. If others lashed out at me, I lashed back, usually leaving them maimed or dead. I became better than many who had started before me, but no Sith ever took me as an apprentice. I began to feel resentful and doubt the Sith. Their teachings and way of life seemed to be missing something. They were not the ultimate answer to what I craved. When I overheard Dustil and his friends planning their revolt, I joined in. For once, the fact that everyone ignored me came out to my benefit.

    Here, the Jedi avoid me to, but at least they try to be polite about it,” she added with a shrug, “They can't understand that even though evil raised me and even controlled me for a while, I can't bear the memories of that time any more. I want to leave it all behind me, but my dark past haunts my every move.”

    Sensing Snow's narrative was finished, Bastila dared to speak again, “Is this common knowledge among your peers?”

    The other students from Korriban know that I was a slave at one time before I killed my master,” Snow replied, “to the rest of the Jedi, I am just one of them, tainted with a dark past.”

    Then why tell me?” Bastila asked, “We only just met.”

    Snow shrugged, “Because it seems like the Force wanted me to.”

    Bastila recalled how badly she needed someone to confide in only earlier that afternoon. Darkness was a heavy burden not easily escaped. “Do you feel better, having told me about all that?” Bastila asked.

    Slowly, Snow nodded. “The who story isn't something that I have been able to tell anyone before. It feels like a start to getting free of my past.”

    What else do you feel is left?” Bastila asked. She did not notice that she had, once again, fallen into the role of a teacher.

    I guess I'm still frustrated,” Snow admitted with some difficulty, “I was the oldest, most skilled apprentice without a master on Korriban. And now it's the same thing all over again. Of course, I'm happy for Dustil, really. We all are. It's just...”

    You feel you deserve to become a padawan more than he does,” Bastila finished for her.

    Snow didn't deny it.

    I would be your master, if you would let me,” the words flowed from Bastila's lips, surprising even her, “I am younger than you, but I have completed the training of a Jedi Knight.”

    I would be honored, Bastila Shan,” Snow replied.

    So, it's decided. Bastila was awed by the abruptness of it all. “I will have to apply to the council to have it formalized,” she explained, suddenly nervous at the prospect of all the responsibilities that would come with the commitment she had just made.

    Right,” Snow nodded.

    What is your full name again?” Bastila asked.

    Seno'vwannin,” she answered.

    How did you come by 'Snow' then?” Bastila asked.

    One of the Selkath couldn't pronounce my name and called me 'Snow' by mistake,” she explained, “After that, it stuck.”

    Well, I can't promise anything exciting for your training right away,” Bastila admitted. “I am serving on the campaign planning committee as an adviser from the Jedi, due to my insight into the Sith.”

    Still I think that would be interesting,” Snow said firmly, “And I may be able to help, if it's perspective in the Sith they want. I was a Sith longer than you.”

    First, the Council needs to approve,” Bastila reminded her.

    Right,” she nodded again. Seeing a chrono on the wall, she started, “Well, I'm due in the meditation hall soon. I should go. Thank you, Bastila.”

    Thank you too,” Bastila replied. They exchanged quick bows and Snow glided off towards her next class.

    Despite the sudden new responsibility of taking on her first padawan, Bastila felt at peace. Rather than a burden, Bastila knew that snow would become the friend and confidante that she had been yearning for.
  20. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Awesome update as usual. I'm glad Snow whacked you over the head; our best ideas come as surprises even to ourselves!

    /goes off to write a haiku
  21. Shillani

    Shillani Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jan 9, 2011
    Nice chapter! Good for Bastila and Snow, finding each other like that! I think they'll be a good pair, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Snow in future chapters.

    I think one of the things that fanfiction is best at is filling in those more neglected times that canon sources (the KotOR games, for this era) barely touch. In the game, you never really get to know how Bastila feels about falling to the Dark Side and being redeemed, because it ends so soon after Revan meets her on the Star Forge. That's why fanfiction like this is so nice, because you can write stories that may not have epic space battles, quests, or lightsaber duels, but cover important events nonetheless.

    On a totally different note, it's interesting how much Ev's attitude towards Bastila has changed since they first met in the early chapters of Under the Shadow of the Builders. I guess Ev is a first-hand example of how much characters can change!
  22. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    LaForzaViva, Snow is a lot of fun, I look forward to writing more of her.

    Shillani, I totally agree with you there. There's some five years between these games where the galaxy and the characters have a lot of time to change and figure out what's going on now. This story will only even scratch the surface there, as there's a lot of ground to cover. I've been pleasantly surprised with Ev myself. She really has grown so much. A lot of that happened without me working at it, which is good news for character development!

    Sorry for the long gap in updates. I took August to do Camp NaNoWriMo with this story, and I'm currently up through chapter 25 now, but many revisions are needed, as with all crazy NaNo stories. I'll be posting this as I get revisions done and will keep plowing through towards the end.


    Part 8- A Fair Trade

    The Viridian touched down on the wide wooden landing platform amid the wroshyr canopy. Kionee cut the repulsor lifts and then the remainder of the flight support systems. The rumbles, hissings, and clicks of the ship diminished to a gentle hum.

    Well flown, as always, Mistress Kionee,” Emtee complimented from the co-pilot's seat.

    Kionee's attention was lost in the great woshyr boughs outside her ship. Ancient trees that defied imagination, the wroshyr were among the great natural wonders of the universe. Kionee was sure of it. Nearly anywhere else in the galaxy, a wooden landing platform like this one would be completely unheard-of; unstable and monstrously expensive. Here, wood was one of Kashyyyk's greatest resources, especially in the hands of talented Wookiee craftsmen.

    Kionee was drawn back to reality by the sight of two tall Wookiees striding along the platform towards the Viridian.

    That would be our welcoming committee,” Kionee murmured, unstrapping from her seat.

    Given their armaments,” Emtee pointed out, “I would say those look more like spaceport guards to me.”

    That's what I meant,” Kionee shot back, but followed that with a laugh. “Let's go. I volunteered to re-open trade with Kashyyyk for a reason.” She pulled her over-stuffed satchel out of the latched compartment by her seat then strode out of the cockpit, down the corridor, through the cargo hold, and down the loading ramp. One of the Wookiees already had a bowcaster trained at her. “Who are you and what is your business here?” the other barked. “We don't allowed intruders.”

    Emtee tottered down the ramp behind Kionee. “Oh man,” he murmured.

    I am Kionee Rinnh, a representative of Rinnh Imports,” Kionee replied evenly, despite how much she itched to side-step out of the scope of the wookiee's weapon. “I'm here to discuss the future of Rinnh Imports' trade relationship with Kashyyyk.”

    The Wookiee lowered his weapon. “Ah,” he said, “Msssun told us to expect you. Come this way.” In one smooth movement, he sling the bowcaster back over his shoulder and into its harness, the turned and started down the walkway.

    Follow him,” the other Wookiee wuffed gruffly, “I will watch your ship.”

    Uh, thanks,” Kionee replied, then scurried after her guide, struggling to keep hip with his long strides. The abruptness of it all startled her.

    MT-412 rapidly fell behind and did not catch up until they ran through a nest of kinraths. Kionee was only able to get off a few poorly aimed shots with her blaster before her Wookiee guide expertly cut them all down and started on his way again as if nothing had happened.

    They traveled the rest of the way to Rwookrrorro in silence, but that suited Kionee just fine. She was engrossed in the sights and sounds of the forest around her. She could almost taste the life the enveloped her. Kashyyyk was more alive than nearly any other planet that she had ever visited. Ithor came close, but there was something wild and uncontainable about Kashyyyk that Ithor's careful beauty lacked. It was as if the towering trees and the cries of the birds and beasts of the forest were desperately reaching out to the stars and to the rest of the galaxy.

    A small clan of taks dropped down onto the walkway ahead of them, cackling and hooting. Kionee's guide wuffed a warning at them, and with a curious glance at the towering Wookiee, they scurried across the platform, hands and feet slapping against the wood. With another backward glance at the Wookiee, girl, and droid, they swung over the side of the platform and into the shadows of the forest.

    Kionee grinned. It was life like this—pervasive, thriving, and determined life—that almost gave her the shivers. So much of the galaxy had lost its touch with its wild roots after eons of evolution and development. To be bathed in life like this was refreshing.

    These days, Kionee spent at least half of her life in hyperspace aboard the Viridian with her mechanical companion, MT-412. Stops like these were the places she most looked forward to. She grinned even more broadly. “I love my job,” she murmured.

    After a few more twists of the Great Walkway, they arrived at Rwookrrorro. Kionee's guide gruffly announced her purpose to the pair of guards at the gate—or at least that's what she thought he said. Her knowledge of Shyriiwook was elementary at best. Even before the gate was fully open, Mission throttled out between the great wooden doors.

    Kionee!” she exclaimed and wrapped her in a waist-high hug.

    Mission!” Kionee chimed, stooping to hug her back. “It's so good to see you again! How are you doing here with the Wookiees?”

    Oh, I love it,” Mission said, stepping back. “I'm learning a lot of new stuff, hanging out with Big Z and his family, and making myself useful here. It's great to see Zaalbar with his people, where he belongs. They really respect him. And they tread me real good too. Oh, hey Emtee,” she gave a quick wave to the droid.

    Hello Mission Vao,” MT-412 replied respectfully, “I am glad that you are well.”

    Well, don't just stand there where the kinrath could get you,” Mission urged abruptly, “Come on inside. I know you said your visit was gonna have to be short, so Zaalbar's got everybody ready at his place for you. Come on.”

    The guards let them all pass through the gate and their guide departed back down the walkway towards the small spaceport. Mission led them through the treetop village. It had changed, subtly, since Kionee's last visit before Czerka Corporation barred Rinnh Imports from trading with the Wookiees. The ever-present Czerka guards were gone along with any trace that they had ever been there. Though she was now the only human in the village, the Wookiees did not scowl at her as she passed. They eyed her with wariness in their eyes, but not the fear, mistrust, or even hatred she had grown accustomed to.

    That whole trunk full of houses is new,” Mission narrated as they walked, waving towards the eastern edge of the village. “They put them up after Big Z got back and started trying to unify all the Wookiee tribes. It's for all the out-tribe Wookiees who want to live here or visit here to work with Zaalbar and his dad on this new government. It's amazing how fast Wookiees can build, and up in the trees! They even built me my own house, Twi'lek sized, behind Zaalbar's.”

    It sounds like you really are getting on well here,” Kionee observed.

    Yeah, the Wookiees really are great people,” Mission agreed, “And I get to help them out. I know more about how things work in the rest of the galaxy than anybody else here. I'm an honorary member of the Kashyyyk Governance Council. The only non-Wookiee,” she said proudly.

    That must be quite an honor,” Emtee observed.

    You bet it is,” Mission beamed, “I never thought I'd be so important on any planet. Oh, here we are.” She steered them to front door of an impressive Wookiee bower. The front door and lintels were carved in dramatic patterns of trees and leaves. “This is Zaalbar's place,” Mission exclaimed. Grasping the door handle, she twisted it and leaned hard against the door. Mission pushed it slowly open with her full weight.

    Inside where six Wookiees sitting around a low—low by Wookiee standards—table. Zaalbar was at the center of them all.

    Here's Kionee, representing Rinnh Imports,” Mission announced.

    Hi,” Kionee said with a small wave to the Wookiees seated before her.

    Welcome back Kionee Rinnh,” a Wookiee spoke, Emtee translating for her. It was not Zaalbar that welcomed her, however, but a burly Wookiee with clumps of black fur peppering his chocolaty brown coat.

    Krrarn,” Kionee realized, “It's good to see you again.”

    And I am glad to see that the Czerka interlopers did not permanently damage our trade relations with Rinnh Imports,” the big Wookiee replied. Krrarn had always been Kionee's trade contact on this part of Kashyyyk until Czerka barred her entry. With the escalation in slave exports, Kionee had feared that brawny Krrarn would be among those shipped off-planet. She was relieved to find otherwise, though she would not bring it up to him.

    I am glad to see you again too, Kionee,” Zaalbar said, rising from his wicker seat. “Welcome back to Kashyyyk.”

    Thanks,” she said, closing the distance between herself and the Wookiees with three long strides. She took Zaalbar's big paw in a firm handshake. “I'm always glad to come back here.”

    Then we hope to see you a thousand times more,” the Wookiee to Zaalbar's left said formally.

    Kionee, this is the council of trade and finance,” Mission explained, “I guess you already know Krrarn. This is Shormoka from Wanwraal Village,” she pointed to the Wookiee who had just spoken. Skipping over Zaalbar, she introduced the three Wookiees to his right, “And this is Taalwen, Erfokk, and Ancchyerr.”

    Please, sit down,” Zaalbar urged.

    Kionee found a wicker stool behind her and settled down into it. Mission took a seat beside her and Emtee hovered over her shoulder, ever ready to translate. Finding all eyes on here, Kionee began, “So I'm here to re-negotiate trade relations with Kashyyyk on behalf of Rinnh Imports. I understand that you have recently been engineering a new form of global governance.”

    It is a work in progress,” Shormoka clarified.

    Well, anyway, your governance is at least different than what it was before our trade was interrupted by Czerka,” Kionee continued. One or two of the Wookiees growled at the mention of that name. “So Rinnh Imports wants to re-negotiate with you on a completely blank slate. We support your reformation and we want to see you thrive.”

    That is very generous of a galactic-wide corporation like Rinnh Imports,” Erfokk observed with some distrust.

    Hey, I don't blame you for being suspicious,” Kionee replied with a shrug, “But you can trust me when I say this: the head of Rinnh is my dad and he really does want to see you guys succeed. He really hates Czerka for what they did to you guys, and after meeting Zaalbar, he's determined to make supporting Kashyyyk one of his personal goals. That's part of the reason he sent me here. He know that I'll make sure you guys get a fair deal.”

    And I trust Kionee,” Zaalbar voiced, “She is an honest human.”

    Kionee pulled a small datapad out of one of her vest pockets and held it out towards Krrarn out of habit. He took it in his huge hands, making it seem little more than a toy. “This is what I've got to offer you today in my hold, as well as a database of our regularly supplied produce lines elsewhere in the galaxy, so you can make requests for the future,” she explained. “What do you have for me today?”

    The samples,” the Wookiee Ancchyerr reminded Mission sharply.

    Right,” Mission bolted up from her chair. She returned momentarily from the next room, which Kionee guessed to be the kitchen, judging by the pleasant smells drifting out from the open doorway, carrying a lidded wicker basket in her arms. “Here,” she said, placing it on the table in front of Kionee.

    Kionee removed the lid and set it aside. The top-most piece was a massive seed cone, woody and oblong. She gave it a sharp shake and several pale, fleshy nuts clattered out onto the table. Picking one up she examined it closely.

    That seems to resemble a Corellian pine nut,” Emtee observed.

    Kionee nodded. “That's what I was thinking,” she agreed, “Only much bigger.” She turned her attention back to the Wookiees, who were all watching her with interest. “May I?” she asked, holding up the nut.

    Of course,” Zaalbar replied. “These samples are for you.”

    She popped the nut into her mouth and crunched into it. It had the same mellow flavor as the smaller Corellian nuts but lacked some of the sweetness. She nodded thoughtfully as she munched. Swallowing, she asked, “So how much are you offering it to me for?”

    How much do you think is fair?” Zaalbar asked.

    Oh, come on,” Kionee rolled her eyes, “If you ask me, I might demand a totally unfair price.”

    But you would not, Kionee,” Zaalbar observed, “You are an honest and generous trader.”

    But others won't be so fair,” Kionee pointed out sternly, “I don't want to spoil you, or you'll go soft and let yourselves be cheated all the time.”

    Zaalbar turned to the other Wookiees around him and began to chat in low wuffs and growls.

    Don't translate, Emtee,” Kionee hissed at her droid even before he could start, “Give them their privacy.”

    As you wish, Mistress Kionee,” Emtee replied quietly.

    The Wookiee's discussion died down almost too quickly. “How about fifty credits per kilo?” Zaalbar offered.

    You're just saying that because fifty is a nice round number,” Kionee observed shrewdly. “If I were anyone other than me, I would take that offer and I would still be ripping out off. If you're going to protect your agricultural sector, you've got to do your research. You've got to know what similar products out there are, what the demand is, and what they're going for. That can all change week by week.”

    We always traded at fixed prices before,” Krrarn observed.

    That was because that's what you set up with your first trade deal, and Rinnh stuck by it because it was easy, and frankly, we were making money off of it,” Kionee admitted. “You could do a lot better this time if you wanted to, but you're going to need someone like an Agricultural Minister, or even a whole committee to keep an eye on stuff like this. Or you could let trade like this be privatized.”

    So, what do you suggest then?” Taalwen, the only female Wookiee present, implored her. From the look in her eyes, Kionee could see that she had gained the woman's trust.

    Let me have that,” she held out her hand for the datapad she had given to Krrarn, who returned it to her. She bit her lip as she scrolled through the database, running numbers through her head. “If it were me,” she said slowly, “I would push for seventy-six credits per kilo, and no less than seventy, for sure.”

    The Wookiees rumbled their surprise and exchanged encouraged looks.

    People like me will always try to barter for the best deal,” she explained with a laugh, “It's part of our job. And most of them aren't as much of a pushover as I am.” Turning the pad so that Mission and all of the Wookiees could see it, she continued, “See this? The closest thing I know of off the market to this nut of yours is the Corellian pine nut, as I said earlier. When you're trying to market something new to exporters, you should see if it compares to something that already exists. That would be helpful to you in that there isn't much of a Wookiee market off of Kashyyyk, so you don't have the home-sick population to sell to. You will mostly have to count on existing flavors to work your way into the galactic market. Novelty foods, no matter how much you love them here, will be a hard sell, unless you can get some press or some famous chef to do a special on them off-world. What is a delicacy here, you might not be able to sell for very much if no one knows what it is abroad. Stuff like that,” she concluded and passed the datapad back to Krrarn.

    Keeping that in mind,” Kionee continued, “I'm going to go through all your samples now, but I won't make you any offers until you've had more time to do your research and think it over. I'm here through tomorrow morning.”

    Thank you for your fairness with us, Kionee Rinnh,” Shormoka said earnestly.

    Like I said, I want to see you guys thrive,” she shrugged.

    We appreciate it,” Taalwen murmured her gratitude, “You treat us like intelligent sentients.”

    Kionee smiled then dug into the wicker basket again. One by one she examined each specimen, touching, smelling, and tasting. Asking the name of each, she took holo captures and jotted down notes as she went for Rinnh's database. There were fruit, vegetables, more nuts, edible flowers from the canopy, dried spices, and even bulbous roots dug up from the Shadowlands. She asked the Wookiees to describe how each was eaten and what it was usually prepared with. Less than half of what was presented to her in that basket was familiar from her earlier trades. The Wookiees clearly wanted to open up the way for more exports. Much of it, oddly enough, closely resembled plants she was familiar with elsewhere in the galaxy, only larger. There was so much variety in what this tiny region of the planet produced in edible foodstuff, it was almost as if Kashyyyk had been specially engineered as a giant garden.

    When she was finished, she replaced the lid on the basket and straightened up on her stool. “Now, I'll give you more time to figure out what you'll offer me for all of those,” Kionee started, “But let's talk imports now. What are you looking for from me?”

    We always enjoyed the selection of fruits Rinnh brought us before,” Krrarn started, “Mooja, renji, and flemmit, in particular.” Her old contact continued on a long list of trade goods they were looking for and even the quantities of each. This, at least, the Wookiees had thought out. She punched in more notes on her datapad.

    You're lucky,” Kionee nodded when he finished, “In that I actually have a number of those things in my cargo hold, based on our previous deals. Now what do your current agricultural tariffs look like?”

    Tariffs?” Erfokk asked.

    Tariffs are how you protect your own products against cheap imports from other places,” Mission piped in proudly. To Kionee, she added, “I've been doing my research.”

    Kionee nodded, “She's right. Take your kroak nuts for example.” She held up the large conifer cone again and continued, “They are very similar to the Corellian pine nuts. Enough so that if someone wanted to, they could probably come in here and sell the little Corellian ones for cheaper, and then all your people who harvest kroak cones won't be able to compete with the foreign prices fairly. Tariffs help keep your domestic market competitive with your imported market, on equal or better footing.”

    Oh, I see,” Erfokk nodded thoughtfully.

    I take it you're going to need some more time to think on that too,” Kionee observed.

    Zaalbar exchanged a few looks with the rest of the council. “Can we make our deals tomorrow morning after we have time to talk tonight?” he asked.

    Of course,” Kionee nodded, “I kind of expected that. That's why I've got a more flexible schedule for tomorrow.”

    You call staying less than one full day flexible?” Mission accused.

    It's better than my usual schedule on any planet where I only have one point of contact,” Kionee replied neutrally. “I'm just glad I get to stay as long as I do this time. I love Kashyyyk.”

    Good,” Mission said firmly, “Then you'll be back often.”

    Well, if we're finished her for now,” Ancchyerr started, “Let's break for dinner. I think it is ready by now. Thank you Kionee Rinnh.”

    Just doing my job,” she replied warmly. Inviting odors wafted from the kitchen, but Kionee was far from hungry, her stomach full of fruits and vegetables already from her samples. Of course she would have to stuff herself even fuller at the Wookiee dinner too. She really did love her job.

    The Wookiees all began to stand up and move towards the kitchen for dinner. Kionee stood with them and was suddenly struck by just how tall the Wookiees were in close quarters. “Boy, do I ever feel short,” she whispered to Mission.

    You feel short?” Mission laughed. “How do you think I feel?”

    Tiny? Minuscule?” Kionee teased, “Though I think you have gotten taller since I saw you last.”

    Doesn't feel like it with all of these guys around,” Mission laughed again.

    I bet,” Kionee grinned.

    How about after dinner we watch a holovid?” Mission suggested eagerly, as if she had been waiting the entire meeting just to broach the question. “I've got a holo projector set up at my place, but nobody around here appreciates good core flicks.”

    That sounds great! Emtee isn't much of a movie watching buddy either,” Kionee replied, “You know, I've got—”

    I don't have much of a selection though,” Mission interrupted.

    I beat you to it,” Kionee said proudly, pulling out a colorfully packaged holodisk from another one of her pockets. “I picked up Yvern Starsinger's newest film last time I was in the core. You seen it yet?”

    'Blue Coruscant'?” Mission practically jumped off the floor to take it from Kionee's hands. “I've been wanting to see this one since it came out!”

    It sounds like we've got a plan then,” Kionee beamed.

    You should come back here more often,” Mission said half-seriously, “Tell your dad that you want all the Kashyyyk runs.”

    I'll see what I can do,” Kionee replied with a smile, all the while knowing that she could never promise tying her self down to one planet.
  23. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    ...I forgot to update the sig bar and send PMs last time, so I would call that update a secret. Heh. So here's another short one in the mean time!

    Part 9- Cathar Memories

    Juhani disembarked from her transport on a humid Cathar night. It was the first Cathar night her skin had tasted in twenty years. All around the make-shift spaceport were sounds, smells, and feelings that should have been familiar to her. Insects whirred in the whispering grasses. Nocturnal predators stirred and rattled out their evening song in the distance. A western wind carried warm sea air laden with moisture over the plains. Diamond-like stars twinkled in the sky between patches of wispy clouds that drifted across the heavens and veiled the waxing moon. Towering, bulbous home trees of Enos Village cast dim shadows in the moonlight.

    Amid all this, only the rumbling of a transport ship shutting down and its rhythmically blinking wing lights were familiar to Juhani. She felt like an alien on her own world.

    I am,” she breathed, “home.”

    Good luck to you, Jedi,” the mother of a young Cathar family she had been traveling with hailed her from across the grassy landing strip, “I hope you find what you're looking for.”

    So do I. Juhani called back, “I wish you luck as well in your new life, friends.”

    With only their hopes, their two children, and three suitcases of belongings, they would restart their lives on Cathar. The six other families on Juhani's transport were the same, all returning to their ancestral home with the hope that one day again Cathar would be a world worth mentioning with anything other than mourning.

    Juhani was not here to make a life for herself. She was not here to stay.

    Ev, you seem different somehow,” Juhani observed, meeting her friend for the first time in nearly four months.

    Ev smiled and leaned back in her seat. “It's refreshing to hear you say that, Juhani,” she replied. “I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get anywhere in conquering this.”

    I am not sure I understand,” Juhani admitted.

    Some of the Masters seem to take pleasure from telling me how far I fall from being a true Jedi,” Ev explained, “How dangerously I flirt with the Dark Side.”

    Juhani stiffened. “Anyone who can say such things about you, does not know the greatness in you,” she spat, fur on the back of her neck rising in agitation, “How can they know what it is like to be in your position? You are already among the great Jedi for the darkness you have resisted!”

    Ev held up a hand to silence her. Juhani felt ashamed even before Ev began to speak. “Watch it Juhani,” she warned, “'Anger leads to the Dark Side'.”

    'There is no passion...' I am sorry, Ev,” Juhani apologized, “I just cannot see why the Jedi distrust you so much. If they knew you as I know you...”

    No,” Ev countered calmly, “They really are right to be worried about anger. Anger does lead to the Dark Side, Juhani. That much is clear through ages of the Jedi's history. And some days, I'm as angry as a Sith.”

    You?” Juhani drew back in surprise, “No.”

    I am,” Ev asserted, nodding, “Maybe I bury it deeper than most. I have lots of practice. I've got plenty to be angry about, and it's dragging me down. It's ruining my focus, distorting my purpose, and tying me up in things that I aught to leave behind me for good.”

    When I see you here,” Juhani started, “I do not sense anger. I sense a calm in you I have not ever felt before.”

    I've realized what it is I have to live for,” Ev continued, “The friendship and love I have—but more than that, even, I tried out forgiveness.”

    Juhani stared at her, waiting for an explanation.

    Forgiveness is the antidote to anger, not meditation and denial like so many Jedi claim,” Ev explained, “If you can forgive, forget, and move on, your anger won't haunt you any more.”

    So you have forgiven those you were angry at?” Juhani gathered.

    Not completely,” Ev admitted, “I've still got a long ways to go, but what you've said makes me think I must be making some progress. Juhani,” Ev paused and put a hand on her shoulder, “You've got a history with anger as deep as mine, you deserve to free yourself from it. You have to find the real root of it all and start forgiving right there.”

    Even under Ev's soothing touch, thoughts of the Mandalorians made Juhani's blood boil. She clenched her fists so hard that her claws pinched the flesh of her palms. “How could I ever forgive the Mandalorians for what they did to my people? To my family?” she demanded.

    You don't have to rage at me about Mandalorians,” Ev laughed, but her tone was serious, “I have my own forgiveness battle with them too.”

    But how could you forgive what they have done?” Juhani asked more calmly, rage still biting at the edge of her consciousness.

    That's for you to figure out, Juhani,” Ev replied, “It's your battle. But you've got to go to the heart of your anger and confront it at its source before you can forgive anyway.”

    I,” Juhani took a deep breath and relaxed her fists, “I will try.”

    So here she was, hunting the source of her anger so that she could conquer it. Twenty years after the Mandalorians decimated her planet, Cathar still bore the scars of the slaughter that ripped her people apart and cast the survivors to the far reaches of the galaxy. The near-genocide of the Cathar could not be undone even in a few centuries. Empty skeletons of cities still wept for their dead. Abandoned home trees were home to only memories and wails of the past.

    Juhani returned to Cathar to forgive the Mandalorians for all this.

    She started into an easy trot towards the eastern horizon and the ocean. Juhani's memories of Almudena Village were few. She had been less than two years old when the Mandalorians forced her family to flee their home. All the same, it was to Almudena that Juhani knew she must go.

    Jogging across the grassy plane, Juhani met no one. Only glow-bugs danced across her path, mimicking the bright stars overhead.

    Juhani fell into a meditative mindset to the rhythm of her breathing and footfalls on the soft earth. She had once run barefoot through these very fields, playing with other Cathar children, her own kind. The Mandalorians ripped that from her. Her parents lived in exile, and she never again had the companionship of other young Cathar. The attack that sentenced countless of her fellows to death sentenced Juhani to the life of an outsider.

    Here on Cathar, she felt just as much an outsider. She had neither Cathar family to share her life with nor Cathar friends to relate to. She hardly knew how to relate to other Cathar any more.

    Feeling fatigue coming to her limbs, Juhani opened herself to the Force and let it flow through her muscles. The warmth of the Force coursing through her, she pushed herself even faster. For just a moment, she felt almost free as she practically flew over the plains. The smell of the sea air growing ever stronger and the wind whipping through her braids, Juhani let out a yowl of exhilaration.

    She dashed up the crest of a hill and the ocean unfolded before her, dark and undulating under the setting moon. On its sandy shores, not far distant, was a dark cluster of home trees: her Almudena Village.

    At the sight of it, empty and abandoned, Juhani's voice caught in her throat. She felt the Force go out of her as longing, despair, anger, nostalgia, and loneliness welled up inside her all at once. She stumbled down the hill, tears wetting her yellow eyes. At the base, she fell to her knees and wailed for all that had been lost that day the Mandalorians came.

    So many Cathar died. So many. She and her parents survived, but was the life they lived a life worth living? On Taris, they were starved, abused, and ignored. Weakened and depressed, living lives of destruction, both her parents met an early end.

    She may not remember it, but Juhani knew that in Almudena they had been respected. They had promising lives ahead of them. Juhani herself could be mated and raising a family right in that very village by now if it had not been for the Mandalorians.

    But had it not been for the Mandalorians, she would never have met Revan—or Ev. Suddenly, she could not bear the thought of trading that friendship away for anything. It was the will of the Force that she should meet Revan, even if it meant her near brush with slavery. She would never have discovered her potential as a Jedi without that chance encounter that saved her future. It was the will of the Force that Ev, not remembering her past as Revan, should save here again, from the consuming Dark Side. The Mandalorian attacks on Cathar may not have been the will of the Force, but the Force worked in mysterious ways. Through a path of pain and tragedy, Juhani found her life and her calling. She found Ev. And she would follow Ev to the ends of the universe.

    Juhani rose shakily to her feet and let the sea breeze envelop her, drying away her tears. Slowly, she plodded towards the coast and the shell of her childhood village.

    She thought back to the last two years of her life.

    In a fit of anger, she nearly killed her master Quatra. Descending to the Dark Side in a shallow fit of self-pity, Juhani stalked the outback of Dantooine, believing that she could never be saved. It did not take long for Ev to find her. Ev had compassion for her, even as Juhani tried to kill her. Fortunately and inevitably, Juhani failed. Ev gently and patiently talked her back to the Light Side and the Jedi. In the end, Quatra not only forgave her unconditionally, she had Juhani knighted as a full Jedi.

    Then Juhani was given the privilege of traveling with Ev and the others on their quest for the Star Forge. Along the way, Ev pulled her back from the slippery slope of the Dark Side more than once. When, in the very temple of the Builders and under the shadow of the Star Forge, Ev turned on them for the Sith, Juhani's world almost shattered. She wanted to believe that it was all a clever ruse, but could not. In the end, her gut feeling proved to be true. Ev fooled the Sith, defeated Darth Malak, and brought about the destruction of the Star Forge.

    Juhani would never doubt her again.

    The others—Carth, Bastila, Mission, Zaalbar, Canderous, Jolee, and even that misfit pilot Kionee—taught her what friendship could truly be like. For all its ups and downs, the crew aboard the Ebon Hawk was like her second family. She learned the value of trust from Carth. Zaalbar gave new meaning to the word honor. From Bastila she learned the danger of becoming too self-absorbed. Mission taught her not to doubt herself even in impossible situations. Jolee brought a lightheartedness and a different perspective to grave situations. Kionee's naivety and joy brought light to the darkest hours. Even Canderous the Mandalorian was not so bad.

    At first Juhani hated him just for what he was. Canderous soon proved that his loyalty went deeper than a mercenary's bounty. Juhani could not see eye to eye with him on values and morals, but he fought for freedom and justice in the end. Although the old Mandalorian may not admit it, he could not support death and slaughter just for glory's sake any more. Juhani had watched that change in him as they traveled. Canderous was a Mandalorian, and Juhani could forgive him.

    That was a start.

    Juhani ambled through what was left of her childhood village. The home trees stood just as they had before the attack. Now they were overgrown, wild, and abandoned, but the trees stood straight and tall as ever. The Mandalorians never came to Almudena. Its people had fled long before the war front arrived. Almudena stood as an eerie testament to their terror on that day.

    Passing through the village, Juhani stepped onto to the sandy shores on the other side. The eastern horizon began warming with tinges of pink. The waves licked gently at the sand as if nothing but peace had ever graced the ocean's shores. The ocean had a long memory. Surely it remembered those days.

    Somewhere else along the shores of this very same shore, the Mandalorians had rounded up the remaining Cathar survivors. All were terrified and none were warriors, but Mandalorian spite would not let them live. Pushed farther and farther into the waters, they either drowned or were shot down in an attempt to escape.

    More than ten years after that slaughter, Revan and Malak walked these shores. The ocean cried out to them and told its story. Through the Force, they saw a vision of that day and the horrors committed there on that beach. That was the day Revan took on her mask and vowed not to rest until the Mandalorians were defeated. Revan mourned and raged for Cathar. Juhani could see that Ev mourned and raged for it even now.

    There was no going back on it. Cathar's fate was to lose terribly to the Mandalorians during that war. Now there was only to go forward. Slowly, with every re-immigrant family, Cathar was coming to life again. It did not need two Jedi brooding over its fate any more.

    Juhani sighed and sat down on a tidal-smoothed rock. She stared out at the ocean and the horizon. Deeper hues of crimson and orange crept into the sky and danced on the waves.

    Ev was right. She needed to move on. What was past was past. Her stomach still churned at the thought of what the Mandalorians did to her people here. She could forgive one Mandalorian, though, so she would have to learn to forgive more.

    Juhani had friends to live for. She had the ideals of the Jedi Order to live up to. There was still a galaxy out there in turmoil, waiting to be healed. The Jedi were not only warriors, but healers and teachers as well. Her part in the Jedi Civil War was almost over. General Talorias promised her only one more tour with his company. The war was winding down and the Sith were all but defeated. The Mandalorians were long gone too. It was a battle she did not need to fight any more.

    What was her purpose? Both Bastila and Ev had taken padawans. After all they had all experienced together in their quest for the Star Forge, they had much to pass on. Juhani thought about it, watching the sun rise over the ocean. The Selkath Shasa still did not have a master yet. Of all the Selkath students, Shasa did show the most promise, but also had the most questions. In an instant, Juhani decided. When she left for her next tour of duty, she would take Shasa along with her as her padawan. It was time to stop behaving like a lost padawan, leaning on Ev at every quandary. Juhani needed to step out and become the Jedi Knight she had always dreamed of.

    And yet, Juhani knew she would always follow Ev in whatever cause she undertook.

    Cathar's sun blazed over the horizon, glittering on the waves and on the sand. Not far north along the shore, morning lights began to illuminate a cluster of new home trees. Cathar families awoke to the dawn for another day of working towards the future. Juhani knew that one day again, Cathar would live up to its dreams again.

    Deep down, Juhani knew that so would she.
  24. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Oh you, sneakily including economics lessons in your post. Reminds me of a book my professor once wrote, a mystery solved through economic sleuth-hunting! No, really, he did write it. It was actually fun to read.

    I like that Kionee is a fair trade representative. Seeing a comparison between her and a non-fair representative would be fun, but then we have KotOR as a demonstration of that! /off for part 9

    Seems you have an italics mix-up, just letting you know!

    I'd think it would be impossible to forgive the Mandalorians for what they did to Cathar (and other planets/species), and with Juhani I'm not sure she has the mental and emotional fortitude to do so. But all things are possible and all things should be tried; I'll be interested to see if she can actually accomplish that or not.

    Great updates! Sorry for being away for so long; definitely looking forward to my man Jolee next.
  25. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    It is good to have a reader again! Thanks to NaNoWriMo, this lovely little story is done, but much in need of revisions, so I am still working my way through that.

    Every once in a while, I have to remind myself and my readers that Kionee actually is a pretty smart cookie, for all of her goofiness. Econimics and trade are her life. And, you are right about Juhani. I don't think she'll ever be able to forgive or forget, but what counts for a Jedi is that she's at least aware of that.

    So here's Jolee. I hope he doesn't disappoint.


    Part 10- Missing the Kinrath

    Jolee wandered.

    Ever since he returned from the Illisurevimurasi Sector three days ago, he had been doing a lot of wandering. He wandered the great halls, admiring the artistry. Though, the immense pillars that so many admired only reminded him of how works by sentient hands can never compare to the wonders of nature. He missed the great wroshyr trees.

    He wandered through the practice levels, though he rarely picked up a saber to practice himself. He watched the younglings practice, and even some of the not-so-young Jedi as well. He caught himself critiquing the holes in their form. “Since when did you become a saber instructor, Jolee?” he muttered to himself and moved on. “You've seen Ev and Juhani try to whip those Sith kids into shape. You don't have the patience for that, you old geezer.”

    He wandered down the long halls lined with meditation chambers, sensing whatever was on the air. He did not go into those either. Quiet meditation had never been Jolee's style. He was drawn to those halls because they felt so alive, packed tight with Jedi trying to figure out themselves, the Force, and the universe.

    He wandered through the numerous temple gardens, admiring Nomi's handiwork. She really had done a fantastic job of livening up the stone and steel temple. All the same, the cute little gardens were nothing compared to the vast wildness of Kashyyyk.

    He wandered through the mess halls, enjoying the smells and the chatter. Rowdy younglings did sound a little bit like restless tachs. Crazy little monkeys, all of them. In the mess halls, he did stop and snack a while. He appreciated the good food he did not have to cook himself and the variety of ingredients beyond what could be scavenged in the Shadowlands without unknowingly baiting a terentatek into your backyard.

    He wandered through the library, occasionally popping a holodisk into his reader. Jolee remembered being in awe of the vastness of the Jedi library as a child, but now it seemed no more special than any other place in the huge Jedi Temple. So much of what was housed in the library was history—history he had lived through himself or read about as a youngling. Current reports on the war with the Sith did interest him, though. Now that the war was winding down, there were few of those to be had. What few there were, Jolee had to fight for them with younglings who were all a little too excited about war.

    He wandered through the medical ward, sometimes offering a hand. There was usually not much need for a hobbyist healer like himself among all the dedicated Jedi Healers of the temple.

    Jolee left the temple and wandered the neighborhood around it. He had already found some not-so-shady dives where a Jedi could get some not-so-shady food and drinks and be left to himself.

    As he wandered the residential halls, he almost caught two apprentices in the middle of a prank. The pair of boys scurried along the corridor, giggling and huddled together over a can of vibroblade grease, “We'll put this on the bottom of Jogy's boots before saber practice. Then we'll really see some fancy footwork!” Jolee could have caught them. He did not want to. He only wished he could be there to see the result on their unfortunate victim. Half of him wanted to call up Visto Cafran and suggest that they put grease on the bottom of Atris' boots, but Visto was on the other side of the planet mediating discussions or some-such. Official Jedi business. Besides, they were getting to old for mischief like that.

    Even so, the idea of Atris slipping down a long set of stairs and landing on her bottom, perfect white robes in a knot, did make Jolee snicker gleefully. Maybe he would have to tell Visto about that one anyway. Who said they needed to act on it?

    He wandered through the center section of the temple with half a mind to go down to the saber practice level to see if he could catch the spectacular results of those boys' prank. Suddenly, he felt a familiar intense knot of anger descending rapidly through the temple. No, he corrected himself, an angry person coming down that lift, probably from the council chambers. He could bet he knew just who it was.

    A mellow ding sounded and the lift doors slid open. Ev stomped off looking as angry as he had ever seen her.

    Jolee lengthened his stride to catch up with her. “You look like you've been talking with the Jedi Council again,” he observed, teasing.

    Ev turned to him and stopped. “Oh, Jolee. I just—argh!” she fumed and threw her hands into the air.

    That bad, huh?” Jolee asked.

    Jolee, you know that there are hardly a hundred of us left after this war,” she started vehemently, “The Sith may as well have won for what they did to the Jedi Order. Anyway, I was looking at the numbers, the current Jedi census, and there are easily twice as many apprentices as Jedi. Half those Jedi already have padawans, so we're talking a couple hundred kids who don't have a chance at ever getting a master, even if the older padawans get knighted right now and take a padawan of their own immediately. What are we going to do? Ship off all these perfectly capable kids, the future of the broken Jedi Order, to agricorps?”

    Give more than one padawan to each master, like we did in the good old days,” Jolee suggested.

    That's what I said!” Ev exclaimed, exasperated. “I keep thinking about all those Korriban and Manaan kids that we brought in. They're all great kids, working hard with the honest dream of becoming a Jedi to atone for what they almost became. But, as it stands now, they don't stand a chance of ever getting picked as a Padawan.”

    I bet Atris is still giving her 'It was through flawed teaching styles like this that so many students fell to the Dark Side during the Great Sith War' katarn dung now, isn't she?” Jolee was all too familiar with frustrations along that line from another old friend of his.

    Atris and half the council!” Ev spat. “How can they continue like they've been doing and expect the Jedi Order to recover?”

    It sounds like a lot of trusting-in-the-Force-instead-of-actually-doing-something hooey,” Jolee asserted.

    Ev looked over her shoulder at the lift doors. “Great, they're coming down,” she groaned, “I'm going to go take a shower. See you later, Jolee.” She was gone even before Jolee could say his own goodbyes.

    Young people these days,” Jolee grumbled out of habit, “Always rushing from one place together.”

    Ev was right. Moments later, the doors of the second lift slid open with another pleasant ding.

    Vrook Lamar, the old Gotal Kronn Hakkes, Atris, both Nomi and Vima Sunrider, and a Bimm woman in sunny yellow robes that he didn't recognize strode importantly off the lift.

    Still standing directly in their path, Jolee could not help himself. “If I didn't know better, I'd swear you lot get some pleasure out of giving Ev a hard time,” he said with a wicked twinkle in his eyes.

    Well, Bindo, I am glad you know better,” Atris cut back coolly. She moved to walk around him, but Jolee side-stepped into her path.

    You all lecture her on keeping her anger under control,” he continued, feeling the momentum building, “And then you get her hopping mad every time you chat with her. Have a little sensitivity to a woman's needs!”

    What she needs is a little more sensitivity to her own needs and not to those issues which she has no business getting into,” Master Hakkes pronounced gruffly and brushed by Jolee.

    Maybe she's right about a few things. Admit it,” Jolee baited.

    That may be true, but those are not the issues we are concerned about, Knight Bindo,” Atris snapped and finally got around him. As she swept away down the hall, Jolee seriously considered grease on her boots for the second time that afternoon.

    At least listen to her once in a while,” Jolee demanded, “She's sharp as lightsaber, that one. She was Revan, for Ossus' sake!”

    And that is exactly why we must carefully weigh everything she says,” Vrook said, still standing in the doorway of the lift. “You know as well as we do what she was.”

    And what she could become if you gave her space,” Jolee shot back.

    Exactly,” Vrook replied and turned to go.

    We must trust in the Force to guide us through this difficult situation,” the Bimm said calmly, following after Vrook.

    I've seen Wookiees make better arguments than that!” Jolee declared, “And I don't mean the threatening and roaring kind.”

    You are her supporter, Jolee Bindo,” Vrook turned and added, “and that makes you blind to her dangers. Ev cannot be trusted.”

    You're as bad as Carth!” Jolee exclaimed, glaring at their backs as they retreated. “Worse, even!”

    As soon as the Jedi Masters were out of ear-shot, Vima and Nomi burst out in stifled laughter.

    Jolee turned on them. “What?” he asked sharply, but he was already grinning.

    I would say, 'you as bad as Jolee Bindo,' but I realize that I am finally presented with the genuine article,” Nomi laughed, eyes dancing.

    I see how it is,” Jolee laughed.

    Good for you,” Vima commended, “Some of the Jedi on the council need their feathers ruffled now and then.”

    It really has been too long, Jolee,” Nomi said warmly, walking to his side. “We missed you here. Wise-cracks aside, your moral compass has never once wavered.”

    Don't get fancy on me, Nomi,” Jolee warned, “That's just some way of telling me that I'm right about Ev, isn't it?”

    She nodded lips pursed.

    It's good to hear that at least someone on the council is thinking sense,” Jolee muttered.

    Not everyone agrees on everything these days,” Vima said quietly. Thankfully there were few near by to overhear her. “These are difficult times.”

    Jolee, I have been so busy since you returned,” Nomi admitted, “We should catch up some time.”

    How about this afternoon? I'll buy you a drink,” Jolee offered mischievously.

    Jolee!” Nomi exclaimed, slapping him playfully on the shoulder.

    Vima giggled.

    No, I'm serious,” Jolee replied defensively, “I know of this half-way-decent dive called Goodvalor's Little Bivoli a couple blocks from the temple.”

    That restaurant owned by the Snivvian war hero?” Vima asked.

    You know what?” Nomi started, a smile playing across her finely wrinkled face, “I will make time. Vima, can you handle that lecture on outer-rim diplomacy for me this afternoon?”

    Sure,” she nodded, “I have nearly as much experience in that as you do, Mother.”

    Well then,” Nomi grinned, “You and I have a date, Jolee.”

    I still can't get over seeing you as the Grandmaster, Nomi,” Jolee said. The two elderly Jedi sat together at a small table in the back corner of Goodvalor's Little Bivoli. Jedi always received first-class service here. There were already drinks and some finger chips set out on the table for them.

    Jolee, I was elevated to that position not long after you left the Order,” Nomi pointed out.

    Huh,” Jolee nodded and took a gulp of his drink, “That would make you one of the youngest Grandmasters in history. I always knew you had great stuff in you.”

    One of the youngest, yes,” she nodded. “And now I am Grandmaster for life. Sometimes I don't think I am cut out for it, though.”

    Aw, come on,” Jolee joshed, “With the Force on your side and your good looks, it can't be so hard keeping reigns on all us Jedi.”

    Nomi leaned back in her chair and took a long swallow of her Corellian Bombshell Sunrise. “These are hard times, Jolee,” she said slowly, “The Jedi Order is broken into pieces. Aside from those that left us for the Sith, there are factions among the Jedi; conservative and more liberal. Public opinion of us is so low, that we may as well be Sith ourselves. Are numbers are down lower than they have been in countless centuries and we are in danger of dying out if something does not change soon. I have ideas, but putting them in motion is more difficult than it should be.”

    You're the kriffing Grandmaster of the Jedi Order,” Jolee pointed out, “How is it that you can't get your stuff done?”

    The factions,” Nomi started. She took a bite of one of the fried potatoes and chewed thoughtfully. “I can guide the council to a decision, but I cannot overrule a negative vote myself. Too many of the long term members of the council are afraid of change.”

    As the whole galaxy is changing right beneath their noses!” Jolee said.

    We will do what we must, in one way or another, to adapt,” Nomi promised, “The Council meets almost every day now.”

    Don't let all this responsibility eat you alive, Nomi,” Jolee urged sincerely.

    Nomi cracked a smile. “I promise,” she replied, “I won't. I have been through far worse. What have you been up to anyway, Jolee?”

    Shouldn't the Grandmaster know where she sends her Jedi?” Jolee teased.

    Nomi laughed, “You know I can't keep track of all the Jedi, even with so few of us left. Though I am ashamed to say that I cannot even keep close track of an old friend like yourself.”

    Well, since I got back from the campaign in the llisurevimurasi Sector, I've been doing a whole lot of nothing,” Jolee complained. “Now that we've got Mirilal back, there's not much left for me to do.”

    I thought you would like a bit of relaxing after being at the front for so long,” Nomi said innocently, her eyes dancing, “Especially at your age.”

    Sure, call the geezer a geezer,” Jolee shot back in good humor, “You, old lady, are only five years younger than I, if my deteriorating noggin is remembering everything right.”

    Nomi laughed again, “I think you're right.”

    Any jobs coming up that you need a cranky old Jedi like me for?” Jolee asked.

    You could take a padawan,” Nomi suggested.

    That's not what I meant,” Jolee replied dryly.

    I know,” Nomi shrugged, “But it is a job that needs to be done. We have too many children to train, as I'm sure Ev told you.”

    Why don't you take one?” Jolee asked pointedly.

    I intended to, and soon,” Nomi said firmly. “After Ev's display today, I want to set an example for the Council and other Jedi in the order who do not currently have a padawan to train. She is right. It really is vital that we train up all of our students to ready them for the rough future we have ahead of us as an Order.”

    Stop looking at me like that,” Jolee said and irritably stuffed several more finger chips into his mouth.

    Jolee, I'm serious,” Nomi pressed, “You really should take a padawan.”

    You don't want that any more than I do,” Jolee retorted, “I'd ruin them with my crazy talking and un-Jedi-like ideas. That is something I'm too old for. I don't want to keel over and die before I finish training them. I finish what I start, dammit, so I won't start something I can't finish.”

    Nomi sat back in her chair and sighed. “You just don't want kids around disturbing your routine,” she observed.

    And that too,” he nodded firmly, unyielding.

    Fine,” Nomi submitted, “I know you can't be made to do anything you don't want to.”

    Not a Mon Cal's chance on Tatooine,” Jolee shot back, stubbornly but fondly.

    That is, unless a certain former Sith Lord entreats you,” Nomi hummed with a twinkle in her eyes.

    Don't go there, Nomi,” Jolee shot back, “That's damned manipulation! That's what it is.”

    I know she could get you to do it,” Nomi let the threat hang. She ventured, “Then what do you want to do now?”

    I want to get out of here and do something useful,” Jolee replied, “There's too many people, too many Jedi, too much noise.”

    The few military tours that are still in progress yet have already been assigned to Jedi Guardians with a little more youth and combat strategy experience than you,” Nomi started.

    There you go, calling me a wrinkly old geezer again,” Jolee teased.

    You and me both, Jolee,” Nomi laughed. “Old Consulars like us have no business being at the front any more.”

    Unless they need your Battle Meditation again,” Jolee pointed out.

    Bastila is more than capable of filling that role for me for now,” Nomi asserted.

    Just don't tell her that,” Jolee warned, half-jokingly, “That spitfire has enough ego issues as it is.”

    That brings to mind,” Nomi paused thoughtfully, “Jolee, did you ever have any training as a Watchman?”

    No,” Jolee replied curtly.

    Do you think you could handle being one?” Nomi asked, “The war has put us in a bind for Jedi Watchmen. So many have died or been pulled elsewhere for more active duties.”

    Where are you talking?” Jolee asked, sitting up straighter.

    I don't think we have anyone in the are of the Mytaranor sector,” Nomi replied thoughtfully.

    Mytaranor,” Jolee echoed. Then it hit him, “You sly felinx! That's Kashyyyk's sector!”

    Along with Trandosha, Chamble, and Ota, among others,” Nomi nodded.

    Not a pretty bunch,” Jolee commented.

    Because we are stretched so thin, you could be called on to assist in the neighboring sectors as well,” Nomi added. “That is, if you accept.”

    Accept? Of course I do!” Jolee slammed his fist on the table jubilantly. The dishes rattled.

    I will have to bring it to the Council, of course,” Nomi warned him, “But I doubt there will be many objections to any reason sending you away from the temple.”

    Jolee laughed heartily. “I owe you another one, Nomi,” he said.

    You took me out for my first drink since this never-ending war started,” she replied, “Call it even.”