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Before - Legends "We're Going Down Swinging" | Mini-Games Challenge | pre-KotOR; Meetra & Alek/Revan, Vignette

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mira_Jade , Mar 22, 2020.

  1. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Title: "we're going down swinging"
    Author: Mira_Jade

    Genre: Angst, Friendship
    Rating: PG
    Time Frame: Pre-KotOR, mid-The Mandalorian Wars
    Characters: Meetra Surik (The Jedi Exile), Alek Squinquargesimus | Darth Malak/fem!Revan

    Summary: "The war had already taken too much from too many; she refused to allow it to take this from her – from them; not any longer." Meetra, Alek, Revan, and an interlude on the planet Alphine.

    Notes: This was written for Teenage Briannakin's Late 2000s Emo/Punk Rock Song Roulette in the fabulous Mini-Games Challenge thread! My selection of #1, Fall Out Boy's "Sugar, We're Goin' Down," very nearly had me resorting to the tried and true advice of when in doubt, just write Vader before my muse decided to go with an even earlier angsty Chosen One in GFFA history, and this KotOR vig was born. Because, if we want to talk about late 2000s classics anyway, KotOR was where it was all at. Heck, I probably had this song on while playing KotOR back in the day, let's be honest. :p

    You could also call this a companion piece to my KotOR II short story, "My Name's a War-Song." They share the same head-canons, and the latter story sets up my admittedly somewhat exaggerated fanon relationship between Meetra and Alek and Revan before everything went downhill - or, erm, even more downhill, rather. Because there's not already enough angst in this story before my muse had to get involved and make things personal. But, I just couldn't resist. [face_mischief] ;)

    With that said, I thank you all for reading, and hope that you enjoy! [face_love] [:D]

    Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words. :)

    “we’re going down swinging”
    by Mira_Jade

    A fourth of the Jedi who initially answered Revan’s call were dead, not even half a year into their joining the war. By the time a seventh month came and went, Revan donned a mask and was then rarely seen without it.

    For all the worlds, Meetra Surik couldn’t put her finger on why she found the sight of Revan's shrouded face so disturbing. The growing tactician in her could well understand the value of psychological warfare, with Revan taking on a symbol of the enemy and so irrevocably making it her own. To their ranks of Republic soldiers she'd long become something more than a sentient woman of mere flesh and bone: she was their general of generals, their commander and savior and guiding beacon through this long night of storms. Even to her Jedi followers she was no longer Apprentice or Knight or Master, but rather the Force itself in its Chosen form. Revan was the avenger of the downtrodden, listening to the forsaken and answering their cries of despair when no one else would. She lifted her saber in defense of the weak, and for her crusade she'd vowed not to rest until all of those cowering before the scythe of Mandalore the Ultimate were safe from harm.

    . . . or, that is what has been – and yet still was – whispered, from deep within the Inner Core to here on the border worlds of the Outer Rim. Meetra, however – even with battlefield grit still caked underneath her fingernails and the burnt ozone taste of beskar slag and discharged blasterfire coating her mouth – could still remember the eager, smiling girl Revan had once been. She still held dear her true face, her true self, and chose to remember that over the mask she now favored instead.

    (Though, in all honesty, her memories from Dantooine have turned foggy, distorted with the distance of time and age. Had Revan ever truly been at ease with stillness and peace? a part of her couldn't help but wonder – and would doubt all the more so as the war raged on. She could no longer tell; she could no longer trust everything she had once thought to know as absolute; not anymore.)

    If Revan had successfully hidden her true face behind a mask, then, ever faithful by her side, Alek was still struggling to find an equally shielding persona of his own. Their own troops called him Malak now, ironically named after a demon from the Mandalorians’ own ancient lore; their enemies called him much the same, whispering and spitting the vowels whenever he plowed through a battlefield with a growing taste for the carnage he left behind in his wake. If Revan was untouchable in her crusade, a figurehead and a vessel and a cause, then Alek had become her mouthpiece and all too often fisted right hand. He stood as her ambassador, a priest mediating between the mortal and the divine, as an all too reachable and human commander who took their soldiers' everyday concerns and cares onto his shoulders and refused to bend when their accumulated weight told him to break.

    (Though Meetra could see how the violence of Revan’s war was fracturing through him, widening the fissures he’d always known, ever since first arriving at the Enclave as an orphaned refugee child. His home-planet had been destroyed by the scourge of the Mandalorians long before the Republic had ever cared about the plight of the worlds in the Outer Rim, Meetra uncomfortably recalled – just as Alek himself had certainly never forgotten, far beyond their own borders.)

    Meetra, for her own part, took to the rank of General with the same solemn gravitas she'd once held as a Knight of the Order, and tried her best to serve as an anchor and a shield for both of her friends. The war had done little to change that about their dynamic, thankfully; at least not yet.

    That day, they'd claimed a victory for the Republic – if it could be called as such, reclaiming the planet of Alphine for their borders. “Mandalore had all that he wanted from this world; he chose to fall back, he was not routed on account of our strength,” Revan was dispassionate to declare, her voice a cold counterpoint for how their ranks had cheered when the last Mandalorian cruiser jumped to hyperspace. Standing at her right hand but just behind her, Alek had only sighed to counsel, “Let them celebrate, Ev. It’s good for their morale.”

    Revan hadn’t argued with his wisdom, such as it was. Even so, as the camp fires from between the rows of Republic tents burned brighter than the funeral pyres, for that night at least, she had buried herself studying a tactical table in her own tent and refused to be moved. For once, Alek did not join her, choosing instead to stand with those who were in mourning for the losses they had sustained over the course of the battle, even in victory. Meetra had initially followed suit, standing in solidarity with the bereaved until Bao-Dur had drawn her away to where an impromptu celebration was growing amongst their ranks instead.

    “Let the shadows be for tonight, my friend,” there was sympathy in the Zabrak Jedi’s eyes, but he was firm to insist. “This war will give us reason enough to join them before overly long.”

    He was right, she knew. It was easier, then, to allow him to tug her into a dance and spin and smile and forget, for just a short time, her title of general and the war raging between the stars and Alek's bloodshot eyes and Revan’s mask -

    - of course, though, she was drawn back to them all too soon. Like a star sinking towards a quasar in the center of its galaxy, she always was.

    It was already well past Alphine's midnight by then. The tall flames of the funeral pyres, lit at twilight, had burned down to embers, and the mourners had either retreated to their own tents to grieve in private or had been led away to find what solace they could with their comrades amongst the revelry. Even here, strains of music and the echoes of laughter could be heard. Alek, however, had yet to move from his self-assigned post. He stood just outside of Revan’s tent with his arms crossed, as severe as a stone-carved sentinel, doing nothing but staring into the remnants of the flames. Meetra wondered, then, if he'd ever tried to go in, or if Revan had dismissed him for the night. He did not frown, not visibly, but his jaw was tense and his brow was furrowed. The ebbing flames created twisting shadows over the familiar lines of his face, catching in his eyes and turning their usually warm brown color into something molten, into something burning. She stared for a moment, disturbed though she couldn’t rightly tell herself why. The still fresh tattoos over his now bare scalp – a parting gift from the horrors he'd endured at Flashpoint station that he’d reclaimed for himself in the only way he could – seemed very dark in the night. Meetra pressed her own mouth into a firm line, feeling as if she still fought, no matter that the day's battle was long since over.

    “The Corellians have an ale that’s strong enough to rival even Master Lamar’s delightful moonshine,” she declared in greeting, not bothering to hide the sway in her stride as she walked up to him. With a grin, she brandished the flask that she'd gladly accepted from the good Republic lieutenant who was sharing his spoils with his comrades. “Give it a try?" she tried to coax. "You, my friend, look like you could use a drink.”

    Alek’s eyes flicked over her before turning back to the pyres. “No, thank you,” he declined. “I’ve not the taste for spirits tonight.”

    “That doesn't sound like you at all,” Meetra still tried to tease, hoping to find . . . something in the hard lines of his expression to recognize as familiar. Her fingers flexed over the flask in her hand, suddenly restless. “Remember that cantina on Nar Shaddaa – you know the one I’m talking about? Revan never could hold her liquor, and there was that Bith who didn't know when to quit. Then the Dug got involved, and you - ”

    “ - yes,” Alek’s voice was a lash to interrupt, cutting her short. Taken aback, Meetra scuttled the rest of her words. “Yet,” he gentled, just slightly, to say – perhaps regretting the way she couldn’t quite hide the way she flinched, “that was then, Meetra.”

    “And things are so different now, aren’t they?”

    A heartbeat passed. She listened as the few flames left burning from the pyres crackled. The smoke in the clearing caught in her eyes; that was, she stubbornly told herself, the only reason they threatened to water.

    Silence fell between them following her words, awkward in a way that it'd never been before, not even when they were children. Meetra could still recall the day he was introduced to their youngling clan, with the crèche-master fumbling over the long syllables of his surname and Alek unable to look up and correct the elder Jedi for how painfully small and shy he'd been. “We’ll just call him Squint!” had been Revan’s declaration, standing up from her place in the circle of children and cutting short the well meaning snickering that had broken out between their crèche-mates. She had decided then and there that Alek would be their friend, and now, here they all were, still loyally trailing behind where Revan bid them to follow all these years later.

    Meetra wondered, then – the thought shamefully whispering across her mind before she could hide it away – if Alek resented Revan . . . if he held her responsible for the burden on his shoulders and the deaths he both suffered to inflict and endured in turn and the bond between them that he couldn’t deny, couldn’t forsake. But no . . . no, Meetra assured herself. He loved Revan; he worshiped the ground she walked on, even, as if she was a tide to his moon or a sun shaping his orbit, while, Revan . . .

    But Meetra only sighed, unable to follow that thought through to its conclusion, not even in the privacy of her own mind. Instead, she closed the small distance remaining between them and came to stand by his side. She leaned against him, resting her head against his shoulder and trusting him to hold her up and support her, just the same as he always did, and hopefully ever would. This war was weighing heavily on all of them, she told herself. They would be able to find their equilibrium again – their balance, when their victory was won. They only had to endure until then.

    The silence ebbed for a comforting sort of stillness, then, at the very least. There was nothing but the dying crackle of the flames and the sounds of the night and the distant strains of rejoicing spilling over from the celebration. One of the soldiers had some sort of stringed instrument with him, Meetra heard, and he played with a deft, spirited hand that couldn’t help but inspire the revelers to dance, especially as more and more libations were imbibed. She must have thought her last thought too loud, for Alek huffed out a breath in reply. But there was something almost fond about the sound as he shifted his arm so that he tucked her in against him in a motion that was easy for its familiarity. She remembered, then: laying out in the grass on Dantooine, the three of them dozing together underneath their favourite blba tree, drying off from swimming in the river in the hot summer sun. She remembered her and Revan sneaking into Alek’s bed when the storms rolled and raged across the plains, able to feel his terror in the Force even as he refused to voice a single one of his fears aloud. It had taken a good two years before he was able to admit that it was storming the night the Mandalorians came and raided his home. Then, he couldn’t tell what was thunder and what was the awful sound of their artillery as he hid as his father had ordered him to hide, not until it was all over and he had found . . .

    But she gently cut that thought off, not wanting Alek to glean the memory from her mind. As children, things had been so simple. A part of Meetra missed that simplicity now; she yearned for it, even. Desperation turned high and clawing in her throat, filling her heart until the straining organ felt much too large for the confines of her chest. There wasn’t enough room for her blood to beat and her lungs to breathe at once, not then; she felt as if she was suffocating.

    The war had taken too much from too many, Meetra squared her own jaw to reflect as she grappled for her inner-peace, and she would not allow it to take this from her – from them. Not any longer.

    “C’mon, Alek," she turned in his arms to cajole, "dance with me?”

    Alek, she thought, looked at her like she'd grown a second head. “What?” he parroted dumbly, and for that, at least, she knew how to better respond.

    She rolled her eyes, and tugged on his arm. “You heard me, Squint,” she willed the war and all of its worries to leave them be. “Dance with me.”

    “No, Meetra,” he was not quite annoyed with her, yet teetering on the edge. But that, she acknowledged, her eyes glinting, was not wholly unusual, even before the war. “I mean it: knock it off.”

    “Why?” she ignored him to challenge. There was ever a link binding them together, her and Alek and Revan, and she flooded it with what light and joy she could. Since when had their bond grown so closed off and distant? she wondered with a pang. I can’t do this without you, she could remember Revan pleading with them to follow, burning with a certainty that was nearly blinding in its intensity to the Force. Please, you know that this is the right thing to do – it's the only thing we can do, or else we cannot rightly call ourselves servants of the Republic. You will stand with me, the both of you, won’t you?

    Were they still standing, though? Sometimes, Meetra felt like they were just barely holding on.

    “We’re in the middle of a war,” Alek's voice was clipped to deny her. “Now is not the time for such foolishness.”

    Stubbornly, he turned his gaze back to the funeral pyres, steadily burning down to embers.

    “To the contrary, I think we could use a bit of foolishness now more than ever,” Meetra breezily retorted. “Come on, I haven’t seen you smile in weeks, Alek.” I miss you, she felt but couldn't quite say. I miss us.

    “I’ll smile when the war is over,” Alek scoffed. He gave her a pointed look. “Drop it, Meetra, please. I’m not in the mood.”

    Yet, in that way, she refused to let Mandalore – or the dark – win; not then. They were not defeated, not yet, and she refused to bow before suffering and despair until then; she refused to let the shadow take Alek, and her with him.

    So, when the fiddling musician started his next reel, Meetra spun away from Alek and started to dance by herself. She could feel Alek watching her, no longer scowling but certainly not smiling. She ignored his bemusement and instead closed her eyes so that she couldn't see him nor the pyres nor Revan's command tent, swaying to the rhythm of the fiddle and opening her senses to bask in the collective consciousness of their troops, immersing herself in their hope and their determination and their pride, ebbing and flowing as they always were with each victory and defeat. There was a reason that they were fighting, after all – ignoring all the Council’s orders and warnings to the contrary – and she would not allow herself to forget that reason. This was what they were fighting for.

    . . . otherwise, what were they even doing here? What, truly?

    “You look,” Alek commented – and finally, finally, an edge of amusement teased at his voice, no matter how grudging, “absolutely ridiculous.”

    I know you are but what am I? if she was still a child back on Dantooine, she would have turned and stuck her tongue out at him. As it was, she cracked one eye open and winked. “That, Squint,” she replied breezily, “has never stopped you before.”

    When she passed by him and reached for his hand, she half expected him to evade her. He could have easily pushed her aside. And yet he allowed her to wrap both of her much smaller hands over one of his own, and tug him into her artless dance.

    Together, they twirled and spun in no conscious pattern as the reel continued. The stars in the night sky and the dying flames from the pyres turned to bands of light and dark across her vision as they stumbled and swayed. The ale was warm in her belly, and Alek's hands were strong and sure as he helped her find her balance. Unable to keep from smiling, she sang out with an easy, breathless joy in the Force. She laughed simply because she could – because they were here together and they were still fighting and no matter what else their cause was righteous and right – trying to catch and hold onto something intangible from who she used to be, from who they once were. As precious to her and now as rare as any shooting star, Alek grinned in return. She even thought to hear the warm, dear sound of his laughter, once, all the while something that had too long been shadowed and festering about his place against her spirit swelled with an old, familiar light. This was Alek, her friend as she would always remember him, and she cradled their bond close next to her perception of her intangible self and refused to let him – them – go.

    Eventually, the song came to an end, and yet a cheer rose for another, and they were ready to dance again before -

    “What are you two doing?”

    Revan’s voice crackled with static from the vocoder of her mask, falling between them with all the force of a swinging blade. Just like that, she felt as Alek’s light stuttered, and then extinguished. His smile faltered as he dropped her hands, leaving her to stumble for a step before she recovered her balance on her own. Meetra frowned, staring at where their friend stood just outside of her tent, her arms crossed and her eyes so clearly boring into them even from where they couldn’t see.

    Alek, Meetra thought as she watched him sink to one knee out of habit so much as reverence, would have never bowed to Revan before . . . just as Revan never would have expected him to lower himself before her. Once, Meetra thought as if through a haze, she would have joined them; Revan had always loved to dance.

    Their bond turned closed off and stifled, like a star trying to burn without hydrogen, losing the war for fusion against its own immense gravity. Revan’s usually succoring presence itched against her mind, then, turning cold the same as with stormclouds blocking out the light of the sun. Distantly, she thought to hear the sound of thunder, no matter that the battle had long since ended.

    “We do not have time for such foolishness,” Revan scathed, a sneer more than evident in her voice. She stared at Alek before pointedly – purposefully – turning to look Meetra up and down. "You are my generals; we cannot falter and lose our focus, not now, not with Mandalore ever one step ahead of us and out of our reach."

    Slowly, dumbly even, Meetra joined her friend in kneeling – understanding then without words why Revan's gaze remained fixed on her. She let her head fall forward if only so that she did not have to see the mask that existed instead of Revan’s face.

    "I need you," Revan continued, not allowing them leave to speak, "to be at your best. For me, and for the Republic. Now, more so than ever."

    “Of course, my lady,” Alek muttered. Only being as close to him as she was allowed Meetra to see how he curled his hands into fists. Once, she would have let herself touch his shoulder, trying to ease the awful sort of tension that had settled there. Then, however, she wouldn’t have had to make the first move to comfort him . . . Revan would have already reached out, and taken his hand.

    . . . once.

    “If you're both finished now, there’s work to be done,” with an imperious gesture, Revan released them both before turning on her heel, not waiting for their acquiescence. “Come.”

    Dutifully, the dying flames still warm on her back and the sounds from the revelry then very far away, Meetra stood, and followed a step behind Alek back into the command tent.

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
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  2. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    I barely know these characters, but now I have angst about them too. The emo is working! :p

    But really, poor Meetra. She's really becoming the third wheel to something that she no longer understands, while Revan and Alek just stride into the garbage fire without really looking back. Except that this one time, Meetra does get Alek to remember something of the friendship the three of them used to have. (So close and yet so far!) But of course, there's no place for that sort of emotional tie in Revan's army. :(
    Findswoman and Mira_Jade like this.
  3. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Really glad I got to know this fic! I’m really only halfway familiar with this era—less than halfway, really—but I remember being really intrigued and compelled by close-yet-tense friendship dynamic you established among Meetra, Alek, and Revan in My Name’s a War Song. And you delve even deeper into that dynamic here, and especially into the ways that once-close bond has been strained almost beyond recognition by the war—Meetra, in particular, is ending up on the losing end because of the increasing closeness in the the relationship between Alek and Revan. (A three-way friendship can be tough, to say the least!) So it’s no wonder that we see her make this bold move of asking Alek to dance—even flirting with him a little! (All with music as catalyst—love that touch! <3 )

    And though he starts off refusing (which she doesn’t let faze her at all, true to character), she does win him over, and off they go in a wonderful twirling dance together that seems to bring both of them back the simpler happier times.... when who should come along but THE Revan Herself and snuffs out their joy with a few terse words and gestures! Oh my heart, that was quite a moment, to see Alek and Meetra so roughly snapped back to the reality of the war and their strained bond. =(( But so effectively and poignantly written! (And wow, the fact that he’s at the point of kneeling before Revan even for something like this... that says a lot, right there.)

    Wonderful bittersweet portrait of an erstwhile friendship here—thanks so much again for sharing! I don’t suppose this will continue? Either way, if you’re ever so inclined, I’m here for further stories of these three! :)
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