REVENGE OF THE SITH
Part X – Return of the Jedi
He was used to the good life, naturally. He was the son of a prominent senator who rose through the ranks to achieve the power and prestige of Supreme Chancellor. He himself rose up the ladder of intern, assistant, arrand boy to achieve his own success as a senator. He even managed to meet and marry a high ranking Republic officer. His role in power was set…
Then it took a wrong turn.
Robert Belyn, Jr. would never in his lifetime apologise for his association with the Sith, nor would he ever change his feelings about the Jedi. His retreat to the lock downed planet of Nar Shaddaa was just that – a retreat. He had told Kodis Basil that the assassin they hired seemed rather weak and timid and he didn’t think the man had the capability to kill his father as ordered. And when he learned that he had been right – and Robert Belyn, Jr. was hardly ever wrong about anything – he was smart enough to know that this lowly peasant would indeed turn on them. Before the assassin began to sing his song of woe, Belyn had already booked himself on a ship to Nar Shadaa, knowing that he had a room reserved by the head of Czerka herself in case of emergencies.
At the very moment, he sat within this room, awaiting some word from one of Basil’s lackeys, if one even existed. Robert hadn’t gotten to where he was by being stupid. So far, there were small reports leaking out on the holo news about there being an attempt on the Chancellor’s life. What wasn’t being said was who was behind it and what was going on with the Senate itself. Robert was well aware of how many members backed him and that of his plans with the Sith, but he was worried that Revan and his motely crew were also aware. The senator wasn’t going to kid himself and think perhaps his father wouldn’t turn to the former Sith lord for help; he was actually prepared for it. While he had been extremely worried about not hearing from Darth Trayun, Robert knew that the current dark lord had the Exchange in his pocket.
And Czerka controled a major portion of that.
Robert had met Jana Lorso while on the planet of Telos for a meeting with the droid Goto. It had been Trayun, who was then an exile from the Jedi Order, that helped rid the planet of those meddlesome Ithorians and their ridiculous notions of profit and renewal. Lorso, who had small ties with the Exchange on Nar Shaddaa, knew of the group who held it in their hands. It was that little piece of information that Robert utilized when the time came to flee. He certainly couldn’t afford to continue living on Coruscant and going to places where Revan had allies was no good as well. And Telos, while small and probably safe, was the planet of that tracherous dog Carth Onasi and the younger Belyn refused to step foot on the planet that was home to the man who stole his wife.
That was perhaps the worst part of being in a small room, nestled in the dock portion of Nar Shaddaa – and that was thinking about how that damned Onasi stole his wife. Granted, Robert wasn’t as attentative as he probably should have been, but that certainly didn’t give Lynsel the right to outright refuse to even speak with him. Robert was a great guy! What the hell did Onasi have that he didn’t? Was it because he was an officer? So he made that comment once that her duty was to him and not the Republic, but that was parcially true.
She was his wife and she needed to cater to him as she should. Running off to protect the Republic…he could even admit he could probably live with her ‘Force abilities’. The thought had been there, of course, to offer her to the Sith, to possibily reprogram her to not be so…outspoken. That was his job, that’s why he was a senator and she a meager Republic grunt.
Shaking his head, Robert let out a sigh of frustration. He wasn’t used to living in these kinds of conditions and while he wasn’t in the disgusting refugee sector, living on the docks wasn’t a dream vacation either. Lorso had come through for him again, arranging for one of her suppliers to come by and deliver him food and most importantly, news of the outside. Being as he was a probable suspect in the attempted murder of his father, Robert couldn’t really go out and mingle – not that he would on a planet of this statue – so for the last few weeks he had been hidden within this room. It was daunting of course, not to mention horribly boring.
He had few amenities to speak of and when he let his mind wonder, it would of course go back to his cheating wife and the lecherous admiral who lusted after her.
But he did have something to look forward to. A few days ago, he had gotten word that his Sith employers were in the process of freeing him. It was easy on this planet, as it was Sith runned anyways. They had stated that, while it may take some time for him to be able to return to Coruscant, he would at least be able to walk around within the city and not be stuck in his little cell. He figured, once the Sith got rid of Revan, it was a simple matter of telling him he could be free, at least for the moment. Though he didn’t know all the details, he did know that the Sith definately had the upper hand.
There was no Republic Fleet to speak of and even Revan couldn’t outwit a fleet of Sith troops, air cruisers, and masters. He may have defeated his apprentice Malak, but that was an easy task. Everyone knew Revan was all brains and Malak all brawn. It was a simple plan of using brains that unseated Malak. Robert knew this Lord Trayun was not like Malak. He was a Revan in the making and if anyone could defeat Revan, it was the Jedi exile turned Sith lord.
The only doubt the senator had was that he hadn’t heard from Trayun in some time and as he told Basil in the gardens of Coruscant, that made him uneasy. Kodis may have dismissed it, but Robert hadn’t. While he hoped things were still on track, he couldn’t help but be worried with the lack of communications. Yes, the other Sith masters had contacted him, but he didn’t like second hand information. And now he was in a place where he couldn’t get that straight knowledge and he didn’t like it. It unnerved him, made him nervous.
But – and this was paramount – he needed to have a happier outlook. If he went around thinking negatively, nothing would get done. Perhaps the rumors were true and Trayun had been captured by Revan; that meant he was dead in all likelihood, but he did have two apprentices and then there were the Sith masters. Trayun was just the tool, he wasn’t the mastermind and Robert counted them as being the people who would turn these unfortunate events around in his favor.
Besides, no one could prove it was Robert behind the assassination. It was one word against another and Robert had the upper hand. When things calmed down, he would make his return to Coruscant under the guise that he was being held on Nar Shaddaa. His father would easily forgive him and he would be back where he would be able to finish what had been started. By then, the Sith would be in control and Robert Junior, not Senior, would be Supreme Chancellor.
And Lynsel Belyn would be back at his side. Like the good old days.
Nothing could go wrong.
Everything in Atton screamed something was wrong.
After his last meeting with his Sith masters and making a short communications relay to Ellis, Atton tried to keep a low profile. Although he didn’t see anything or even hear anything, something in his gut told him the masters knew of his betrayal. A string of events happened that left him uneasy.
First, he hadn’t seen Brianna. The room she had been kept was now suddenly empty and when he asked her guards where she was, he was shocked to discover that they were new and didn’t know anything about her. Second, upon notifying his masters on the pretense that Lady Salus had somehow escaped, they had reassured him that she had only been moved so they could watch her with a better eye. They wouldn’t tell him where she was, only that she was no longer his concern.
That of course sent warning alarms off in the former pilot’s head. Then he had been given another mission. Word from their Senate servants said Revan was making his way towards the Outer Rim and the masters wanted Atton to stop him and his crew. The young lord was to take several men who were willing to rescue Darth Trayun.
The masters felt the longer Trayun was in Revan’s grasp, the more damage could potentially be done to him and their ideals. They thought his time with the Republic was long enough and if they wanted to make that impact, they would need Trayun at their side. That certainly sounded reasonable to Atton and while he managed to tame some of his nervousness and anxiety, it didn’t completely go away. He had lived too long with his own gut instincts saving him in most instances that even turning to the dark side didn’t rid him of it. So that’s why he couldn’t understand what it was that had him so shook up.
Maybe it was knowing that he couldn’t see Brianna and ascern for himself that she was okay. They weren’t close by any means, but Atton didn’t want to see her maimed in anyway, even killed. And certainly not when she was expecting. Maybe that’s what made him edgy – if Brianna was gone, so was that little bun in her oven. While Sith robes may hide a figure, Brianna was getting up there to where her robes were getting to be pretty tight and could easily reveal she was several months along.
He was surprised at how concerned he had become over his fellow Sith lord. They had never gotten on well together, not even from the beginning, however the scoundrel had taken it upon himself to look after this woman who just seemed to nerve him at every opportunity. Maybe it was because she was expecting that made him want to ensure her safety or maybe it was the fact that he felt the masters knew of his betrayal.
And with Brianna already in custody, they knew of hers as well.
This was why he – they – needed Ellis here with them. Atton owed it to Ellis to watch out for his wife; and maybe – just maybe – he understood the reason the Echani did what she did.
She was pregnant after all, she was bound to be full of hormones and the like. That could be the only reason she thanked him.
“Atton,” she had said, after eating the food and drink he had gotten her. “For what it’s worth, thank you. I know we have never been friends, but…this means a lot, that you would do this for me; for us.”
He wasn’t the kind to get sentimental, but he couldn’t help but feel…well…a little good to be doing what he was. It was the complete opposite of what he was striving for and that was beginning to irk him. He was down this path for a reason and this certainly wasn’t the time to be thinking that maybe he was on the wrong one.
He enjoyed hurting people and things. He liked the power that came with being a Sith Lord. So why in the name of the Force was he feeling conflicted all of a sudden? This was insane and the more he thought of that, the more uneasy he become with this new mission of his.
The day he and several crew departed on the Necrosis, Atton had never been so antsy in his life. Even his days in that Peragus holding cell never had he felt so full of nerves and uncertainty. He tried to put it off as an impeding fight with Revan or that maybe Ellis wouldn’t be in the same pristine shape he was in before, but even that couldn’t stop the former pilot from pacing in his quarters. Something was wrong and he just couldn’t put his finger on it. His mission seemed simple – fly into an area of space that lay between any incoming forces and that of Ziost.
If they saw any Republic ships, they were to be the flagship before the larger fleet would be unleashed, crushing the Republic and Revan. While that in itself seemed easy enough, the former pilot’s instincts as a smuggler told him something was up and he just couldn’t put his finger on what that was. There was strings attached, he knew it, and it didn’t make him feel better when the masters said that a former Jedi turned Sith apprentice would come aboard as well.
Atton didn’t know anything about this Veroba Dee; in fact he wasn’t even aware that Ellis had other apprentices besides him and Brianna; maybe this was one of the other masters’ apprentices, some new recruit that was going to watch how a dark lord took no prisoners.
Perhaps that’s what rose the hair on the back of his neck.
He never liked going into something he couldn’t handle nor did he enjoy going in somewhere blind and that’s where he felt this was going. No one even knew if Revan was coming for them or even how many ships the Republic still had. The masters had tried to reassure him – “They can’t possibly hope to combat our troops or the power of the dark side.” Master Kun had stated – but that seemed more boasting than actual fact. He tried to downplay it, give in to what his masters’ thought and felt, but his gut told him to be on guard.
They had been in space for nearly two nights and three standard days and the crew was becoming irritable. The Sith Lord did what he normally did when faced with boredom and that was play Paazak, though only a few of his officers knew how to play or were even interested in playing. It still allowed him to block his thoughts, least one of his crew would try to overpower him. The silence in the ship was starting to become unbearable and most of the crew was beginning to think this was a waste of time and that perhaps they were missing the real battle on the surface below.
Just when Atton was about to turn and head back, the sensors detected a star fighter coming in their vicinity. “Looks like a standard issue Republic ship, sir,” the pilot replied. “Should I give a warning shot?”
Atton shook his head. “Let’s see who this is first,” he muttered. “Hail them.” When the ensign made contact, Atton’s voice was clear. “This is Lord Casus of the Necrosis. State your business or be utterly destroyed.”
“Ah yes,” replied a feminine voice. “The great Lord Casus. I’ve been dying to meet you actually.”
“I’m sure,” he said, sarcastically. “And just who is it that is so desperate to meet me?”
“Why, I’m Master Dee,” said the voice. “Veroba Dee. I believe you are expecting me.”
“Right,” the scoundrel muttered. “Well, come aboard. Maybe you can give us word on what’s happening below us.”
Veroba smiled as her pilot began its decent towards the Necrosis. She turned to her other companion. “Remember beast,” she replied, sternly. “You are to wait until I have Casus in my control before you begin your butchering.”
“Do not think that you will be spared my wrath, human witch!” the wookie growled.
“Perhaps you did not hear me…”
Controlling a beast, especially one as volatile as Hanharr could be dangerous, but Veroba didn’t overuse her powers like some. She was covert in the usage of the power Beast Trick and she was quick about showing her companion what she could do with it. It was so quick and stealthy to the point that the wookie didn’t realize he was holding a blaster towards himself until she commanded he drop it. “As I was saying,” the Falleen huffed. “I hold your life in my hands. I suggest you don’t do anything to upset me. Now, once I have Casus in position, you may kill the rest of the crew, starting with maintenance once we arrive. Work your way up through the ship until everyone you come across is dead. Then join me on the bridge, where we shall not only finish the job, but wait for the arrival of those traitorous Jedi. Do you understand me?”
Hanharr glowered at the woman, but managed to growl an understanding statement to her question.
“Good,” she smirked. “Now let’s begin.”
The mood in the galaxy was that of tense anxiety. It had quickly gotten out that there had been an attempt on the Supreme Chancellor’s life and of course, the holo reporters seemed to be everywhere within the Senate and with one rumor, there were hundreds more. Some said that the Chancellor had been killed and many wondered if Revan, the redeemed knight, actually had a role in the attempted murder. Along with that, were the rumors that one of the Sith masters or even the elusive Darth Trayun himself was in custody for the attempt. Robert Belyn had graciously given a small press conference to assure the people that he was indeed all right and to put rest some of the other rumors he was hearing.
“First of all,” he began. “You will notice that I did in fact survive the attempt made on my life. I can only tell you that the perpetrator is in custody. I can also tell you that this individual has told us many things about the state of our government, your government, and they are not pretty. Some of you may have heard this, but if not I will come out and say it. The Republic Senate was infiltrated by those calling themselves the Sith.”
Bob waited until the murmurs died down, holding his hand up for silence.
“As shocked as you are, I was equally so,” he continued. “It was this reason that the planets the Sith hold were so easily given up that concerned me. I assure you, that those of the Senate who were responsible have been caught and will be tried as traitors to our Republic. Those that have fled will be found.
“Furthermore, I am here to state that Jedi Knight Revan had nothing to do with these incidents.” Again, there were murmurs from the press and some of the public that had come out and again, Bob held his hand up for quiet. “I have met with Revan and it was Revan who warned us of this new threat that has now infested our planets and good homes. It has also come to my attention that it may be time for action from the Republic in order to defeat this threat.”
All at once, reporters had their hands up, wanting more information. Bob pointed to one, a young yellow Twi’lek.
“Chancellor, are you saying the Republic will have to engage in war with the Sith?”
“I’m saying that at the moment, we can no longer avoid what is clearly happening.”
Another reporter raised his hand and was recognized. “You said Revan warned you of the threat. When did he do this and do you trust him after what he has done?”
“Where was he for the six years he was gone?” piped another man. “Is he in fact the Jedi Exile that destroyed Peragus?”
Bob silenced the mob. “First of all,” he began. “Revan came to the Senate early one morning a couple of months back to turn himself in. He explained where he was at the time he seemed to disappear and that the man calling himself Darth Trayun is in fact the former Jedi exile. It was at that time, he revealed the Sith would be making a siege on the Republic.”
Again, pandemonium ensued. “Please!” he pleaded. “At this time, I don’t want to get into speculation on anything. Just know that I have a team looking in to this and we are assessing things at the moment.
“I also want to address the rumor that we have one of the Sith in custody. We do and we are learning about this breed of Sith to better combat them if the case is warranted. Thank you for your time.”
It didn’t necessarily squelch all the rumors – it actually started a few more – but at least Bob knew he had eased the minds of some of the citizens on Coruscant. While the thought of war did nothing to alleviate any pressures, he wanted to make sure people were aware of the situation and their plans on preventing anything the likes they had seen in their previous encounters with the Sith.
Bob hadn’t wanted to get into sordid details, especially about Revan and Darth Trayun, because even he wasn’t sure how this would all play out in the end. While he hoped the Republic could prevail, he didn’t have the hopes of some and shared the defeat of many.
As Supreme Chancellor and being a former grunt himself, he was well aware of the amount of ships and personal the fleet had to spare and it was next to nothing. It was actually less than nothing and that was worrisome to everyone involved. It would be an extreme miracle if they were to come out of this with their lives.
As the leader of the Republic worried over their fate, his captive Darth Trayun worried over the fates of his friends and apprentices. It had been several weeks, almost bordering a month, since he had last talked to Atton and the lack in communication was deeply disturbing. And with lack of contact with Atton, it meant lack of contact with Brianna. If he had his sense of time correctly, he estimated her to be eight months now and that immediately put him in a high sense of alert.
He had been moved to a larger room, one that acted as a spare within the Senate building. While this was not supposed to be a make shift jail, the Chancellor thought it better to keep Ellis where they could see him and monitor him. So two of Coruscant’s finest stood guard in front of his door, while he wore an inhibitor least he try to use his powers to subdue his guards. Oddly enough, Revan had been set against the idea.
“I trained Ellis myself,” he stated. “Do you truly think I just taught him how to use a lightsaber? Don’t forget, Kreia was also his master and she knew far more than I ever could know.”
The motion stood however, they had even brought in a force cage whenever his guards needed to be away. It was a prison and it constantly reminded Ellis of how he and Kreia had found Atton in that mining facility on Peragus. All it did was bring an ache to him.
Shaking his head, Ellis sat on his floor and tried to meditate in order to calm his nerves. He had always done this as a child, seemingly spending more time to reflect on the world when he found it got too hectic. Even as a Jedi, he enjoyed sitting in the gardens and just watching the world around him or taking in the sun. When the Mandalorians had begun their raiding and when he had decided his fate with Revan and Malak, he never really got a chance to just sit and watch.
And when Malachor happened…those ten years he spent drifting in space gave him plenty of time to reflect – unfortunately, most of his reflections were anger towards Revan and utter contempt for the Jedi Order.
Taking deep breaths, Ellis closed his eyes and focused his mind, clearing his thoughts. Kreia had taught him this, how to read other’s minds with just thought alone. In his own research of the Sith, he knew that this was a technique to use for those unruly pawns who wouldn’t listen. It was the Sith way to make them listen. Ellis had only scratched the surface with Kreia, but on his own he was able to reach more people and listen for much longer.
Within minutes, he could hear the thoughts of those in the Senate – how they were in shock that so many senators had fallen prey to the Sith; how another war would finally doom the Republic; some were even still convinced that he and Revan were plotting against them.
Ellis used his mind and stretched out further, his purpose being those of Revan’s crew. Most he didn’t even know, which made sensing them that much harder, but he did find Onasi – whose thoughts strayed to the officer he was involved with, then Bastila – who thought of her child, its father, and even had thoughts to Ellis and Brianna; his search lead him to Revan, who seemed to be talking to Bao-Dur. Ellis knew this because the Iridonian tech called him on it.
“Still spying on other’s thoughts, General?” he joked. “I hope when this is over I can have my friend back. Times were not easy for any of us, but yet we seem to be constantly running into each other. Must be the Force, huh?”
Ellis managed to pull back, his mind refusing to entertain the alien’s sense of humor. His thoughts were only on one thing and that was to see exactly how far he could go. Deep down, he knew he had never gotten as far as a few meters; he didn’t think Kreia had ever gone further than that, much less some other planet, but if he was to ever find out how Brianna and Atton were, he needed to at least try. It had to be possible! If the spirits of long dead Jedi and Sith could speak to the living, then he would be able to do this.
In theory, of course.
Starting again, Ellis ignored all the thoughts from those in the Senate, expanding past those in proximity, past the citizens on the streets, until he heard…nothing. He dared not let hope enter him, for all he knew, he was just floating in space. And he knew if he got trapped in meditation, he might not ever come out. He tried to focus on just the two people he needed. He first tried Atton, but for five minutes he could hear nothing, even when he tried calling with just his mind. He shouldn’t have found the lack of response to be a sign of trouble – after all, Atton could easily block someone from reading his thoughts – but Ellis expected Paazak counts and numbers, not…nothing at all.
Shifting his thoughts, he tried Brianna, putting as much thought into finding her as possible. He again received nothing. As he began to withdraw his mind, he thought he heard something faint. Trying again, almost against hope, he could hear it again, but it came to him like a whisper.
Ellis, where are you?
Brianna! His cry of relief nearly shook him. Force, Bria, I’ve been so worried.
I will. I’m coming, my darling, I’ll be there soon. I promise!
Hold on, Brianna, he stressed. I’m coming. I promise.
Any connection he had seemed to fade away, leaving Ellis emotionally drained, but relieved. However, his relief once again turned to panic. Atton was watching her, the scoundrel told him as much, and if he wasn’t watching Brianna, then where was he? Where was she?! Standing quickly, he began to pound on the door to his ‘room’, demanding the guards let him speak to Revan. He didn’t know how long he pounded on the door, but his agitation gave way to frustration and he began to pace around the room, thinking of anything that could get him out of there and on his way to finding his wife and friend.
His demands must have been heard, for twenty minutes later, both Revan, Bastila, and Carth walked into his room. “Revan!”
“Ellis, what is…”
Revan couldn’t get his sentence finished before the young lord began to rattle off how he needed to leave, desperately needed to leave. Revan had never seen the younger man so frazzled before. Gone was the arrogant Darth Trayun they had captured, only to be replaced by someone who clearly seemed to be losing his mind. Revan had never doubted Ellis’ intelligence; there were times the younger man exceeded the years of even the most seasoned Jedi, but to look at him now, Revan wondered if Ellis’ latest attempt may had some slight side effect.
“Ellis, calm down,” he commanded, putting a hand on the man’s shoulder to steady him. “You know I can’t let you go.”
“You have to!” the dark lord screamed.
“Listen to me,” Revan said, shaking him slightly. “Your panic will not save them. Nor will your haste. That has been our problem before, rushing out after them, just to be caught in their web. If your masters suspect you, then you can bet they are using both your wife and your apprentice as the leverage they need to once again get you in their grips.” He let go of Ellis’ shoulder. “But if you say they are in danger, it may be time to step up our operations.”
“You mean?” Carth asked.
Revan nodded. “Call everyone together,” he said. “We need to strike now. We can’t wait. While the element of surprise would be best, we can’t delay this fight anymore than we have to. We have to stop the Sith from launching a much larger attack.” Turning once again to Ellis, he said, “I need you to be strong, Ellis. Your apprentice needs you to be strong, as do your wife and child. Don’t forget what I said to you. If you turn on me…”
“And how I am to know you won’t turn on me?” Ellis spat. “You keep me locked up, you keep me from finding my wife, my friends…how can I be sure you won’t turn on me like you did Malak?”
The only sound that was made was the audible gasp from Bastila. “Because Malak deserved what I did to him,” Revan growled. “He disobeyed my direct orders and the planet of Telos has suffered ever since. And for the record, young Trayun, it was Malak who turned on me. And I refuse to have another one of my former friends turn on me in such a way. Do as I say and you will see the return of those you care for.” He left it at that, leaving Bastila and Carth to catch up in his wake. He told Bastila he had to see Mical and to not worry, as he would meet them shortly.
While he knew enough about the Force, Revan had the odd sensation that something was increasingly wrong. He had been slowly getting that impression, but for some reason his times alone with Ellis always seemed to spark it. It wasn’t hard to find Mical, who seemed to make himself at home within the small library housed within the Senate. The blond seemed to be looking at a particular time in Senate history, that of the trial of Ulic Qel Droma and the blood shed that occurred when Exar Kun came to rescue him.
“You’ve certainly seemed to have made yourself at home here.”
Mical looked up, his cheeks flushing from embarrassment. “I seem to enjoy acquiring any kind of Jedi knowledge,” he replied. “Even in the halls of the Senate. I apologize though; I should be doing more dueling with Bao-Dur.”
“Actually,” Revan began. “I need your scholarly knowledge. There’s…something that’s been troubling me about Ellis.”
“I’m wondering if…when you saw him again on Dantooine, you sensed something different about him.”
Mical nodded, slowly. “Well,” he said. “As I said to you before, I saw that he was different, haunted. I almost didn’t recognize him.”
Revan bit his lip, trying to think of a way to get to the bottom of the solution that seemed to evade him. “Revan?” Mical asked. “Was there something you noticed?”
“I’m not sure,” he said. “Almost as if…” He trailed off, shaking his head. “Mical…” he began. “What do you know of the Force…or rather, the ability to be cut off from it?”