REVENGE OF THE SITH
Part X – Return of the Jedi
The room was cold at night, though to its occupant, it seemed cold during the day as well. It wasn’t the room itself, but more of the atmosphere that the residents created within it. And it was dark, alluding to the fact that they were several hundred feet below the surface of the ice ridden planet above. Maybe this is what added to the unpleasant feelings that the young woman currently experienced for the last couple of months.
For most women, this unpleasantness was due to the upcoming birth of their child – with the movement of their baby inside their womb. And while this young woman attributed some of that unpleasantness with her protruding belly, that was the least of her worries. Brianna Yoly should’ve been enjoying these last few months of her pregnancy; most importantly she should have been enjoying them with her husband and father to the child. Instead, she spent most of her waking hours inside a Force cage and while she had been offered a room and a bed for her ‘co-operation’, she didn’t like the looks she received from the spirit of Exar Kun and she realized the Force cage, while confining and uncomfortable, would probably be her only protection at this point.
It didn’t seem as though it had been that long, but Brianna calculated based on her growing stomach, that she had been captive for at least two to three months and in that time, not only had she not heard from her husband, she had also not heard from her protector, Atton Rand. She had last seen him right before their Sith masters had stolen her away and made their permanent base of operations within this underground temple.
There, she was kept in their main chambers, somewhere on an upper floor and was watched and taunted by them daily. At first, they had tried to feed her, but she always refused, never trusting where this so-called ‘food’ came from or what had been done to it. She finally had to relent to the bread and water she got, as she wasn’t just refusing herself food, but that of her child.
And that’s what had Brianna pondering what would become of her. She knew her confinement couldn’t be good for her child and she certainly didn’t want those Sith doctors looking at her – the last time they tried, she nearly killed one – but even she knew her baby’s health could be endanger if they weren’t seen. Unfortunately, the only recourse was for Brianna to tell if her child was alright.
And while she was deeply concerned and afraid, the young Echani did find solace in speaking with her unborn child. She could feel it kick and respond to her when she talked, felt the Force in it grow nearly everyday. Her little warrior, as she named it, would be very strong in the Force, she knew. She wasn’t sure if it was a boy or girl, but she had picked out names just to be sure. In her lonely isolation, she at least had her child, even if it was unborn.
“Shh,” she soothed, feeling the baby move within her. “Be at peace, little one. I know you are impatient to see the world, but you must wait a little while longer. I know you can sense my trepidation about this place – about your father and your uncle – I fear for them, little one. I do not know where they are and I know they would not willingly leave me here. I fear…I fear I may not see them again.”
The baby pushed against her hand. “I will not let anything happen to you,” she whispered. “And I will not let you grow up without knowing about the man your father was. Do not let people tell you he was evil, because he was not. Misguided, perhaps…conflicted, yes…but your father was a good man. And your Uncle Atton was a brave man; not a fool like some would think, but brave and thoughtful. Always remember that.”
When the mornings came, Brianna did her best to stand her ground, to watch for any misstep that her masters may leave. It was one of these days she was privy to hear what they had planned for Atton and her heart had sunk because there was nothing she could do to stop this. She could only hope that Atton’s own resourcefulness would clue him in to what was happening.
“Why do you look so shocked, Lady Salus?” Kun asked, once Veroba Dee and Hanharr had left for their mission. “I thought you and Lord Casus didn’t get along.”
“I would never kill him as you will,” she seethed.
“You forget one of the most important Jedi lessons,” Freedon Nadd replied. “Never underestimate the power of the dark side. Why do you think the all mighty Jedi Order is no more? The councils on Coruscant and Dantooine almost begged to be destroyed! They push their own students to the dark side, then are left with few when Darth Revan and Malak came to reclaim what is rightfully ours.”
“The galaxy, of course,” boasted Kun. “Why do you think the True Sith started the Mandalorian War?” Both specters laughed upon seeing the horrified look that the Echani gave them. “It was a shrewd move on their part and certainly one that probably wouldn’t have worked if not for the arrogance of the Order. They helped to bring about the destruction of the Republic and the galaxy.”
Brianna was not only appalled, but disgusted at the lack of any kind of feeling. “You will not get away with this,” she stated, to which the ghosts again laughed.
“And who will stop us, child?” asked Nadd. “The Jedi Order is no more.”
“Oh, yes,” mocked Kun. “The former Sith lord himself. I’m sure the Republic Senate is behind him all the way, especially after he nearly destroyed the Republic himself.” The ghost suddenly stepped closer to the cage, forcing Brianna to step back in fear. “The Senate is under our control,” he sneered. “They do as we say. And if Revan managed to get people together, they are no match for us and they will be destroyed.”
“And your husband is loyal to us as well,” Nadd said. “Even if he has been in Revan’s clutches, we will make him see reason. Full of hate and anger is that one and it takes little for one like that to be turned again. He may seek to challenge us, but then we will turn his rage back where it belongs…”
“…Back on to Revan,” Kun finished. “And then young Brianna, when you have delivered us the first in our new generation, you will bare us more offspring in which to carry on the Sith legacy.”
“Then Mrs. Yoly,” Nadd smirked. “You will die.”
“And we will take the child from you,” Kun elaborated.
“No!” Brianna exclaimed, backing further from where her tormenters lay. “I would rather die than to see my child a part of the Sith.”
“Lord Trayun did not purge you of that ridiculous Jedi ideology when you joined with him,” Nadd replied, narrowing his eyes at her.
“Allow me to show her the ways of the Sith, Master,” Kun leered. “Trayun stood in my way before, but he is not here to stop me.”
Brianna, though frightened, stood her ground, determined not to let this twisted mist touch any part of her. “No,” Nadd commanded. “We must ensure the survival of her child, even if she herself refuses our help.” Kun backed off, although reluctantly. “We will have plenty of time to watch our seed grow within her body.”
“It will never happen,” the former handmaiden replied, defiant.
“We shall see,” Nadd murmured. “We tolerate your disrespect to allow your child to grow. But know this, once your stomach is bare, you will pay for your defiance and cheek.” The two shimmered out of sight, seemingly letting this round end with Nadd’s words.
Brianna couldn’t stop the shiver that went up her spine. She had meant what she said – she would never let the Sith have her child, who may be the last reminder of Ellis and of their love together, but the danger for them both grew with each passing day that Ellis wasn’t there. And if he was, was she strong enough to combat the dark thoughts that permeated his heart?
She herself had worried just how far they had both fallen, but she knew that Ellis had showed signs of his dark intentions and while he may show her affection and love, could it be enough to sway him away from these…monsters?
The Echani hugged herself tightly. This was not what she had foreseen, nothing like this at all. While she projected the outward appearance of apprentice, her heart knew no malice – something that even Ellis and Atton had both commented on. She didn’t even think Atton, as tough and confident as he was, felt the outward hate that their Sith masters did. After all, he tried to protect her and look out for her and she knew that he walked into a trap – one that would result in his death. And Ellis – she had heard rumors here that he had been captured by Revan. Perhaps they would come together to rescue her, to save Atton…
Or perhaps it was as Nadd as said – that Ellis was so close to the edge, nothing, not even her love and their child, could ever bring him back.
There was something about looking out at the stars that swept through the galaxy that made Revan long for those smuggling days that weren’t truly real. Throughout knowing about his past life and that of his implanted one always made him wonder if he could truly be a smuggler, journeying out among the planets of the galaxy, seeing the species that made the galaxy what it was…he knew that some part of him, that of the explorer, is probably what the Jedi Council picked up on when they gave him the identity of Jayden Korr, but he wondered if he actually had been a smuggler in some previous time.
Star-gazing usually calmed him, made him ponder life and the decisions he would make in his. He had instructed Bao-Dur to check out all the remaining fleet ships that the Republic had to offer and sent Mical on a quest as well. He had both had the answers he wanted and not the ones he dreaded.
And he did indeed dread what was coming.
Last night, he had tossed and turned, as images of war plagued his dreams and thoughts. He had awoken Bastila several times, to the point where he ended up leaving her asleep and began just roaming the corridors of the Sojourn. He spent those morning hours walking alone and stopping at various windows to see the lights and night sky of Coruscant. They had all decided that the Senate and its building was not to be trusted anymore and that this last briefing would be held on the Sojourn, as Carth had made sure this particular conference room was clean from prying eyes or ears.
He now stood in one of the ready rooms, as it had one large window that happened to face away from the fast paced city and looked into the vast sky that encompassed the Republic planets and her people. Revan did what he could to erase the unease he had – he knew what the fleet had was small at best and that the True Sith had been preparing for millennia; odds were not in their favor, definitely not. He wondered if he felt this way before he lead those battles with the Mandalorians. Did he wonder what the outcome would be? Did he believe the Republic stood a chance? Shaking his head, he rested his forehead against the cool glass of the window.
“How do I do this?” he questioned. “How am I supposed to lead when I don’t remember doing so?”
“Heh,” a voice chuckled. “Never let doubt ever stand in your way, sonny.”
Turning his head, Revan saw something he didn’t think he’d ever see. “Jolee.”
The elder man was one with the Force now, his ghostly outline walking towards the younger man. “Don’t act surprised,” he huffed. “I know I’m not the first ghostly spirit you’ve ever talked to.”
“No,” the man countered. “You’re just the first one with an attitude.”
“Oh funny,” the elder bristled sarcastically. “Very funny. I see your sense of humor is still out of whack.”
Revan opened his mouth to reply, but the weight of seeing this man again – especially after witnessing his death – brought his state of happiness low once again. “I can’t do this, Jolee,” he whispered. “I can’t lead men and women to their deaths. Not again.”
“Is that what you think?” Jolee asked. “That you lead people to their doom? Obviously that speech Onasi gave didn’t sink in too well. Revan, these people are prepared to die for their home, their family, their Republic. You aren’t leading them to death; you’re leading them to a better life without these blasted Sith everywhere!”
“Isn’t that what I thought at the start of the Mandalorian War?” Revan asked, huffing. “Wasn’t I so idealistic then? As I’m being now?”
The ghostly figure sighed, before crossing his arms over his chest. “How long are you going to continue blaming yourself for your past mistakes?” he asked, quietly.
“Until I undo the damage I’ve done.”
“Bah!” was the retort. “You’ve stated several times that the True Sith maneuvered things quite well before you joined them and they used you to get what they wanted and then they turned and used this Ellis kid for the same thing.”
“But I should’ve known!” Revan exploded. “I was the best and brightest of the Order! I was a master by all accounts. I had the gift of sight! I should have seen this!”
“Like Vandar saw it?!” Jolee spit back. “Like Kreia saw it? You of all people, Revan, should know the gift of sight is dubious at best. You can’t always see into the future or the past. And what if you did foresee this? Would it have made you go after the Mandalorians the way you did? Or would you have been cautious, like the council? That’s the thing with the future, Rev. Always in motion, it is. Who’s to say what could have been? How do you know that what you saw, what you experienced didn’t lead you to the dark side? It was war, sonny! War makes people do a lot of things that they wished they hadn’t.”
The specter was silent then, lost in thoughts of a past of his own, a war of his own.
“The point is,” he concluded. “The decisions you make today can and have had a lasting impact on tomorrow. But you can’t live your live in the shadows of your past. You want to make sure what happened then doesn’t happen now? Learn from the past and apply it to today. You were always a brilliant tactician, Rev. You could see the bigger picture, while the rest of us could only see the pieces that it was made up of. You know that these Sith will destroy any and everything that stands for the Republic and you know that people won’t lie down and take it.
“So my question to you is, how will you lead these people today?”
Revan stood there, contemplating what his friend had said. Was he still living in the past, punishing himself for his former life; one that he couldn’t even remember?
His name being called snapped him from his musings, forcing his head towards the doorway. There stood Bastila, looking at him in some confusion and when he looked around, he noticed that Jolee was now gone. “Revan?” she called again. “Everyone’s assembled. We’re just waiting on you.”
He nodded slightly, watching as she entered the room. She was getting on in months, her belly protruding slightly, but she still managed to fit into her robes without effort. This was his future, staring back at him and growing inside his wife’s stomach. Suddenly, the things he had been told started to make sense and he made a vow he wouldn’t lead these people to their deaths, but that he would bring as many people back.
Love, are you alright?
Again he nodded, this time smiling as his steps brought him closer to her. “I’m fine,” he whispered. “How are you?”
“So far, so good,” she chuckled.
Bringing his hand to rest on her abdomen, he asked, “And our little princess? How is she?”
“Worried about her father.”
Smirking, Revan kissed his wife softly, saying, “He is okay. He has a plan, one that will hopefully bring everyone he loves back safely.” Pulling from her, he stated, “There’s a part of my plan you will not like.”
Bastila narrowed her eyes. “Why do I get the feeling I’m going to be sitting in a room somewhere while you battle the Sith?”
“That’s it, isn’t it?” she exclaimed. “Revan!”
“I’m not locking you away,” he soothed. “However, I’m sure you’ll notice you’re the only one here with the gift of Battle Meditation. And darling, we are going to need all the help we can get.”
“What if I can’t get through?” she asked. “You said that the True Sith were masters at alchemy and the Force. What if they discover me? Or worse! Turn me against you!”
“Because you are also strong in the Force,” he said, rubbing her arms. “And I don’t care if I have to cast my own dark sided shield around you, they will not touch you.” Stroking her cheek, he whispered, “You mustn’t let the past cloud you. I know you are remembering the Star Forge battle and I know you still feel the weight of guilt for your actions.”
Her eyes down casted, the pain still visible on her face.
“We have much to overcome, Bas,” he whispered. “Those things in our past that people won’t let us forget, that we can’t forget. But we can’t let them rule us, Bastila. The whole point is to overcome them and learn from them. Do you remember what I said to you, all those years ago on the Forge?”
“That you believed in me,” she whispered. “Believed in the love we shared.”
“And I again have that belief,” he said, kissing her gently. “I have faith in your abilities, Bastila, just as I have faith that we can overcome the odds the Sith throw at us. I will not lose anyone, as best as I can help it.”
Bastila looked at her husband, the amount of pride for him stronger than it ever had been. “Have I told you lately how much I love you?” she whispered.
“Not lately, my love,” he smiled, pulling her closer. “You’re my future, Bas. You and our daughter. And I will do everything in my power to make sure that she indeed has a future, with us, with the Republic, with the galaxy.”
Lowering his lips to hers, he put all his hopes, dreams, and fears into that one kiss, that he desparately hoped would not be the last he would bestow on her.
The clearing of a throat caused the two to pull away from each other slowly, seeing the smirking form of Dustil Onasi as he stood in the doorway. “They sent me to get you,” he said. “And I’ve now lost twenty-five credits because Mandalore bet me you two were up to something.”
Bastila rolled her eyes, not completely surprised that Canderous would make a bet like that. “25 gets you 50 if you tell him you saw nothing,” Revan stated.
The former Jedi handed over a fifty credit bar to the younger man, patting him on the shoulder. “Good boy,” he said. “You’re shaping up to be a great Jedi.”
“Yes,” Bastila murmured. “A con man after his own heart.”
“It’s not a con, Master,” Dustil chuckled, slinging his arm around the woman. “It’s called being smarter than my elders.”
“You spent way too much time with Jolee,” Revan said over his shoulder, as the three headed towards the conference room. He didn’t see the way his companions seemed to slump at the mention of their fallen comrade.
“Not nearly enough,” the younger Jedi whispered, his head downcast.
“Don’t fret, young Jedi,” Bastila whispered, giving him a small squeeze. “Your master would be proud.”
Bastila looked at the young man, realizing that aside from Jolee, he did consider her to his master, though he had never truly been assigned to her. But if Bastila had to choose a padawan, she would no doubt choose Dustil Onasi.
“More than proud, Dustil,” she said, hugging him. “Honored you would consider me as such. And honored to have you as a student, even if I didn’t teach you a lot.”
“Well then,” he said. “When this is over, you have a lot to make up for.”
Upon entering the conference room, Revan saw that all those he needed were present. He was glad to note that it seemed more people were crammed inside than the last meeting he held. He noted both Carth, with Lynsel to his right, and Dodonna had their trusted men with them, along with the senior officers from the prior meeting and their trusted aides.
Canderous – dressed in his Mandalore armor – sat next to Visas and both were surrounded by Mandalore’s men. Revan was surprised to see one of those men sitting close to Queen Talia, who sat with several of her own aides and officers. He smiled and nodded to the holo image of Zaalbar, who broadcasted from the jungles of Kashyyyk. The other members of the Ebon Hawk were all assembled as to see what their plan of action would be.
Another surprise was when Revan approached the Chancellor, who stood speaking with a holo image of a member of the Ithorians species. “Ah Revan,” he said, calling the knight over. Pointing to the image, he continued with, “This is Moza. He’s the aide to Chodo Habat.”
“Oh right,” Revan said, nodding to the alien. “The Ithorian who wanted to restore the plant life on Telos.”
The Ithorian nodded his large head. “Your friend Sundjask contacted us just recently,” he began in his slow speech. “He said you had tasked him with finding an alternative way of helping Telos, especially after the damage that has been done to it.”
“Good ole Sunny,” Revan whispered. “The space dog didn’t let me down.” To Moza, he said, “That’s correct. I heard what your plans had been if not for…unfortunate circumstances.”
“Yes,” Moza replied. “I must admit until speaking with you, I was leery, as I see the Jedi exile is in your company. He is the one who helped Czerka push our efforts off the planet.”
Revan gave a sidelong look to the younger man, who stood off in a corner by himself. “The reemergence of my former friend has no barring on wanting to help,” he stated. “Lord Trayun is here for military purposes only. I seek the aid of you and your people because of Adm. Carth Onasi, a native of Telos.”
Moza again nodded. “Yes,” he replied. “I see this and that you also have the support of Queen Talia of Onderon. I feel that perhaps we can reshape Telos into the planet that it was. Chodo would like to speak with you, Revan, if you allow it.”
“Nothing would give me more pleasure, Moza,” Revan replied. “However, I don’t know how much you are aware, but…the galaxy is in some peril at the moment.”
The Ithorian nodded quickly. “We are knowledgeable of the problems you face,” he said. “And Chodo said he could wait until your victory. He has the faith that you will come out of this darkness.”
“Thank him for me,” the former Jedi smiled. “I’m glad to have his support. Actually, if he allows it, I’d like some of my friends to meet with him. I especially have someone who is very knowledgeable about…well just about everything really.”
He turned at looked at Mical, who sat watching the conversation.
“I think he’d be a real help in your endeavors.” Revan turned back towards the alien. “I hope when this is over, I’ll get a chance to meet with him. And certainly, I’ll do everything in my power to help.”
“Thank you so much, Master Revan,” Moza gushed. “It will be my honor to tell Chodo that your associates will meet with him shortly.” The communication ended, leaving a smiling Revan to face his audience. Looking at Carth and Bastila, he said, “Told you I knew a guy.”
“Revan?” Mical asked, standing as their leader passed in front of him. “Is…is there a reason why I’m going to meet with this Chodo Habat?”
“Yes,” Revan said. “Just like there’s a reason why Mission is going with you.”
“What!?” the Twi’lek exclaimed. “What for?”
“One, if Sunny’s managed to get this ball rolling, then people know about him and I’d like to ensure his safety,” Revan countered. “Especially if he hasn’t gotten the refugees off Nar Shaddaa. Second,” here he sighed, turning to look at Mical. “On the off chance that we aren’t successful, I think it rather important that people know what we tried doing and what we stood for. Because if the Sith have their way, there will be no Republic left. And in that, Mission, is your other task. Should something horrific happen, I want to make sure our unofficial historian here lives to tell the tale. And no one’s better at getting out of scrapes like you.”
The room stayed quiet with that admission, which seemed to bring home the reality of the moment. Those officers in the room had worried constantly about how many ships they didn’t have or how many men they didn’t have, when in fact, the Republic would lose far more than just metal and men. As Revan stated, there would be no Republic to speak of and all traditions that every man, woman, child, and family ever had would cease to exist.
Mical nodded, solemnly. “Of course,” he whispered. “I will do as you ask and further more, I expect to meet you and the Admiral once these beings are fully taken care of.” Revan patted him on the shoulder. “May the Force with you, Master Revan.”
“And with you,” Revan whispered. He watched as Mical shook hands with Carth, before the wind was nearly knocked out of him. Looking down, he found a small blue body attached to his. “Mish,” he whispered. “I trust you to do this. I know you’ll be fine.”
“I know that, you big nerf!” she bristled. “It’s you I’m worried about!”
Revan chuckled, giving the young woman a kiss on her head. “I’ll be fine,” he said. “You got the Hawk, so I expect it to come back to me in one piece.”
“And I expect you to come back in one piece!”
That caused chuckles all around. “I’ll do my best,” the knight whispered. “Promise. Now get going.” Dropping one last brotherly kiss on her head, the room watched as the Twi’lek and the blond both left, heading to hanger where the Ebon Hawk currently sat. Only a choice few noticed Dustil Onasi follow them out.
The call caused both to turn, but only Mission stepped forward to the young Jedi that stood there. “You have a big task ahead of you,” Dustil whispered. “And I know you’ll do everything in your power to make sure it’s completed.”
The young girl smiled, feeling tears come to her eyes. She was nervous and scared and excited and she wasn’t sure if it was the fact that Revan had given her this tremendous assignment or if it was the close proximity to one young student of the Jedi. There was so much that she wanted to say to him, but she couldn’t seem to get her thoughts together or to even get the words out of her mouth. So instead, she stood there, looking like a Selkath out of water.
For Dustil, the realization of what they were about to enter had hit him hard as this meeting approached. After his talk with both his parents, he had come to the truth – that he had fallen deeply in love with the blue skinned Twi’lek. And with this truth also came the knowledge that he could lose someone he loved all over again. Perhaps he was just more grown up, but at some point he knew it would come to this and he was prepared for it.
Taking her face in his hands, he kissed Mission, hoping against hope that this wouldn’t be the last time. As he pulled away, he told her how he felt.
“I love you.”
Saying the words wasn’t hard for him, not at this point, and certainly after losing his mother, Selene, and even his father in a round about way, Dustil was well aware that everything could change in a heart beat. He wasn’t sure what she was thinking or feeling at the moment, but he could tell his words had some effect from the shocked look on her face. Wanting to leave it at that, he released her and headed back into the meeting, leaving the Twi’lek stunned in the corridor.
In the conference room, Revan stood before the group assembled. “I had Bao-Dur look at the whole of our Republic Fleet,” he began. “It would be complete suicide if we just left the Republic without any sort of protection. From what Bao told me, it’s not much, but it’ll have to do. We still have some Interdictor and Hammerhead class ships, about three hundred. While not a huge advantage, we gotta work with what we have.”
He turned to a large holo map that was situated behind him. Currently it showed a galactic map of the star systems as a whole. He quickly zoomed into the zone of the Core Worlds.
“One hundred fifty cruisers will be stationed around this point,” he continued, making an arc on the map. “Between the planets of Reecee and Arkania, as well as from Arkania to Corellia. We still have a number of star fighters, so we’ll divide those as those with the cruisers. Queen Taila has also added her own forces, which total about six hundred. Again, we’ll split those to give aid to those ships already in orbit. I want to have two attack points – the first I’ve shown, in arc between Reecee and Corellia. The second line I want behind this line, right around the Deep Core. Just…just in case.
“Everyone else will follow the Sojourn to our destination,” Revan continued. “The planet Ziost is hidden within the dark side. It’s not on a map and won’t be easy to find until it comes up and bites you.”
“Then how exactly will you be able to find it?” a young commander asked.
“Force sensitives are able to find places of these kinds,” Ellis commented, causing those in the room to turn and face him. “Especially those who have felt the dark side so strongly.” He gave fleeting glances to Bastila, Dustil, and Visas. “Besides,” he smirked. “Revan can plot any space coordinates in a matter of seconds.”
“Your praise is unwarranted,” Revan bit back, sending a side long glance to the dark lord.
“And you are too modest.”
“In any case,” the Jedi knight replied. “Just know that the planet will be found. I’m hoping to set our ships around the planet, in order to cut off any type of sneak attack the Sith may come up with. Again, do not treat these Sith like ones you’ve previously dealt with. There’s a reason I’m splitting our forces to go both defensively and offensively – the True Sith, as I said, are masters at alchemy and use of the Force. Don’t be surprised if there seems to be a million troops in the air or on the ground. They aren’t real.”
This was still a surprise to most in the room.
“Can…can the Force really do that?” one admiral asked. “Is it really that strong?”
“The Force is many things, my good man,” Revan stated. “While it can aid in the prosperity of the galaxy, it can also be used to create great evil. It’s all in the wielder. With that said, I think it’s important that our Force gifted friends aid on those ships. Visas Marr and Bao Dur have agreed to aid those ships that will be stationed around the Core Worlds. And with that, Adm. Dodonna has given instructions to Bao to work with our technical engineers. You’ll find that he, along with his staff, have enabled some of those ships that were just sitting around.”
The Iridonian gave a smile chuckle. “It was nothing to it,” he said.
“Dustil Onasi will be with Adm. Dodonna on the Mercer,” Revan continued. “Lt. Belyn will lead a mixed squad of Republic, Onderonian, and Mandalorian troops along with Mandalore on the surface once we land. There, they will meet up with the troops Big Z is sending our way. I’ll give you more instructions once we near the planet.”
He received nods to his orders, before he stood back and sighed.
“I can safely tell you all this,” he began. “This will not be like any battle you have encountered before. I’m sure you’re all aware we are quite literally the underdog here. Some of you may not return at the end. But it’s a small price to pay if it means the Republic is still standing by the end of the night. They’ve done their best to try and take over; to lure those of us with the promises of power and glory.
“And sometimes, they have succeeded,” he continued. “But they will not succeed today. Because as long as there is life in me, I will not let them take the Republic. And I know you all feel the same. We must not let them defeat us, even if they force us one step back, we will need to move five steps forward before the end is done.” Looking at Carth, he asked, “How long will it take for everyone to be ready to go?”
“A few hours at most,” the admiral stated. “But you say the word, we’ll be ready in fewer than three.”
“So be it,” Revan commanded. “You all have your assignments. Get your people where they need to be. No matter how long it may take, when we’re ready, we’re heading out.” He watched as everyone headed out to their assigned positions, noticing that Ellis stayed, as though waiting for his word. Receiving a pat on the shoulder, he saw the Supreme Chancellor at his side. “You didn’t say much,” he said.
“You’re the military man here,” Belyn responded. “And I couldn’t have given a better speech if I had written it.”
“You’re former military though,” Revan said.
Belyn nodded. “That was a long time and many scars ago,” he said. “I fought against Kun and Qel-Droma. This, however, seems to be completely out of my league. And believe me, Revan, Kun was bad. At least you left some structures intact before Malak came along and knocked them all down. No, this is a new war of a different color. One I don’t want any part of…but we have no choice. You’re right. The Republic can not fall.”
“I won’t let it.”
“I know you won’t,” the Chancellor replied. “Incidentally, I noticed you didn’t mention what ship you, Trayun, and Bastila Shan would be on. Is there a reason for that?”
Revan smiled. “There is,” he said. “We’ll be with Adm. Onasi on the Sojourn. The three of us have really been through everything together, it felt odd not to be together for this. Besides, Bastila is needed on that ship more than myself.”
“Why is that?”
“Let’s say that she’ll be giving us a much needed boost if it comes to it,” he replied, mysteriously. “As for Ellis there, I don’t trust him. It pains me to say it, but I don’t. Our alliance is tenuous at best and I feel…” he sighed, turning from the sight of the younger man. “I feel his mind is not what it used to be…that he is a danger, not only to us, but to himself. Look at the damage he has caused so far. I let him out of my sight once and we can not afford for it to happen again.”
“You say he’s a danger to himself,” the Chancellor said, sending a worried look to the dark lord. “How exactly?”
“Just know I’ve discovered something that makes me believe that,” Revan whispered. “His masters hold his wife and child, have lied to him…his exile did not sit well with him and in these ten years since the Mandalorian Wars, all he has thought about has been my death at his hands. I had once thought no one knew about betrayal and being betrayed more than Carth Onasi…these years that I have been away have taught me much, Chancellor, on the behaviors of those who are indeed betrayed.
“I fear if something were to happen to his wife, to his child, to the one thing that still has him tethered to the light, he will break. And he could unleash a devastation more horrible and painful than that of Darth Nihilus.”
“You mean?” Belyn breathed, his eyes growing bigger at the implications. He had heard what the last Sith lord had done to the planet of Katarr. Was Revan seriously suggesting that this Jedi exile turned Sith Lord had the same type of power?
“Suspicions, Chancellor,” Revan said, waving off the entire conversation. “That is an extreme notion. For now, I just want to make sure I don’t see another one of my former friends die, especially if it comes from my hand.”
Immobilizing the Republic fleet, the Onderonian Fleet, the Wookies, and the Mandalorians took only over four hours to implement. As soon as the briefing was over, Queen Talia contacted her troops, ordering half to rendezvous with the remaining Republic Fleet leaving from Coruscant.
The other half would meet them half way towards their destination, near the planet Serenno. In order for Onderon to also be protected, least something happened while the troops were gone, Canderous sent several of his men to openly guard the palace and patrol the streets of Iziz. Zaalbar also sent several hundred of his Wookie troops to Coruscant and Onderon to help the Mandalorians, with another hundred headed towards Revan.
Mandalore assumed command of his troops almost as soon as they could leave, ushering them into a side room for a briefing. He didn’t have all his men there, but he had those he could trust and had left those he trusted back on Dxun in his absence and on Onderon. He had sent Kelbourn back to Dxun to rally the troops once the Sith were cleared from the surface, and then put Braylor in charge of the troops standing on Onderon. Looking at his men now, he knew they were all itching to go to battle.
After all, they had a long overdue score with these Sith, starting from when Mandalore the Ultimate was charged with a great battle before him. Standing before his men, he gave a side glance to Xarga, who stood talking with Visas near the door. He had known the younger man for nearly four years now, finding him working as a bounty hunter on Nar Shaddaa.
Xarga had been head strong, but determined and fierce. That’s why Canderous put him in charge of training the younger Mandalorians within the battle circle. And it seemed as with life, Xarga also went after what he wanted with determination and focus. And it seemed clear to his other men that Xarga clearly wanted Queen Talia.
The battle master had saved the Queen from a Sith assassin as they tried escaping the palace and he seemed to stay with her ever since. It may have seemed as though the younger man was just doing his duty, but Visas had told him the two didn’t seem to be just protector and royalty. She thought Talia seemed to reciprocating the advances as well.
Perhaps it reminded him – and apparently Visas – how they had come to be. Maybe he was getting sentimental.
And speaking of the Miraluka, Canderous had been thinking a lot about her lately; for quite a while really. As he addressed his men of Mandalorian honor and bravery, his eyes seemed to stray towards her. She had been a part of his life for nearly a year now and he thought it was time she knew how important she was. He concluded his speech, riling his men up for battle. They left for their assignments, leaving he and Visas in the room alone.
“Rousing speech, Mandalore,” she quipped.
“You enjoyed it, I’m sure,” he countered, walking up to her. It was rare for a Mandalorian to be out of armor, especially near the heart of battle, but for the woman who stood before him, he would. Removing his helmet, he leaned over to engage her in a kiss before pulling her closer to him. “Cyar’ika,” he whispered, rubbing his cheek against her head.
The Miraluka smiled. Canderous wasn’t known for outward affection, nor was she to an extent, but when he did show his emotions, they always seemed to send her on the edge. “Ni kar’tayli gar darasuum,” she whispered.
“Xarga,” she answered, smirking. “That is, when he’s not watching Talia’s of course.” She looked at him and stroked a bearded cheek. “And you, cyare? Who will be watching you?”
He chuckled. “I have half the Republic, Onderon, Wookies, and my own!” he stated. “I’ll be fine. It’s you I worry about.” He stroked her cheek in a gesture similar to her earlier one. “We have a lot of things to discuss when I return, Visas. Specifically the riduurok.”
That got her attention, he knew, and though she wore her previous head drape, he knew she had raised an eyebrow at him. “Are you proposing?” she asked.
“No,” he said, bending to capture her lips. “Not yet anyways. I want you to be ner riduur.”
“Are you sure, Canderous?”
“You know our customs, our traditions,” he said. “You speak our language…I know you would follow and teach cuun ade what it means to be not only Mandalorian, but to be Jedi as well. You’re more than capable of defending cuun aliit.”
She again stroked his cheek, feeling very elated at what seemed to be the same feeling and thoughts between them. “Be sure, Canderous,” she said. “Shuk’la riduurok isn’t looked upon fondly, though it’s rare.”
He chuckled, turning his head to place a kiss in her palm. “You haven’t gotten rid of me yet, cyare,” he replied.
“I don’t plan to,” she murmured, rising to kiss him once more.
“Ni kar’tayli gar darasuum,” he sighed, returning her kiss. “Ner kar’ta, ner riduur.”
“Not yet,” she smiled against his lips. “But I want that too, Canderous. For now, my love, we must ensure that we will even see the marriage ceremony.”
“We will,” Canderous stated. “And we’ll make those shabla dar’jetii regret they ever turned on us.”
“Indeed.” Moving from his arms, Visas turned towards the doorway in order to leave, while Canderous reassumed his role as Mandalore, leader of Clan Ordo. “Mandalore,” the young woman replied, turning to look at him over her shoulder. “Ib’tuur jatne tuur ash’ad kyr’amur.”
“Elek,” he said. “I’ll contact you once we’re in Republic space again.”
Visas nodded, sending him a small smile. “Goodbye, Mandalore.”
“Ret’urcye mhi, Visas Marr.”
As the night enveloped them, several ships left Coruscant and Republic space, heading towards the destination of Serenno, where they would meet up with the rest of the Onderon and Wookie forces. Aboard the Sojourn, the flagship of Admiral Carth Onasi, Lynsel Belyn lay on her back, staring up at the ceiling.
She was still amazed at how she had gotten to this point, the point where she was apart of a crew that were planning on destroying an ancient race of tyrannical monsters. And that was only for starters. The lieutenant couldn’t help but chuckle at the very thought of her former self, if she could see what had transpired in the months that followed her stationing on Ord Mandel.
‘What’s funny?’ came a mumbled reply, as the thrown arm around her waist tightened and pulled her closer to the warmth of the man beside her. That was something else Lynsel didn’t think she’d ever see — sharing the bed of a very respected admiral, who just happened to be head over heals in love with her and whom she loved just as much.
That first morning when she had awoken not only in his bed, but in his arms had made her confused and a little afraid. While she did indeed love Carth, it had been so long since she had felt it within her, not to mention hearing it from someone else. And when he insisted that she stay with him from then on, to hell with what people thought or said, she didn’t know what to think.
‘I’m thinking about the fact that I can’t believe I’m here,’ she said, caressing his bearded cheek as he kissed hers.
‘Your things thrown on my floor would suggest otherwise,’ came the witty retort.
She swatted his backside before giving his bare thigh a squeeze. ‘That’s because you insisted on me being naked when I went to bed,’ she laughed. ‘I can’t help it if you can’t resist my womanly charms.’
Carth chuckled, nipping at her shoulder with his teeth. ‘Shows what you know,’ he ribbed. ‘I only insisted on you being topless; how was I to know that you’d be wearing incredibly sexy underwear.’
‘I was trying to entice you.’
‘No need,’ he whispered, hovering over her. ‘I’m yours, forever if you want.’
Lynsel looked up into his face – full of love, honesty, and trust — before she brought his lips down to meet hers in a slow kiss. ‘I’m gonna be so worried about you,’ she whispered, hugging him close to her.
‘Me too,’ he said, kissing her ear lobe. ‘I don’t know why Revan wants you on the ground.’
‘You know why,’ she sighed. ‘I can feel the Force to some degree, enough to at least know when to duck and run and when to stand and fight.’
‘So that Force training of his helped?’
Lynsel giggled slightly. Revan had told her, the Zabrak Bao-Dur, and Mical that they would need to be taught in a ‘crash course’ of Force training. They wouldn’t have long to learn everything a padawan learned, but their leader hoped it would be enough to keep the trio alive, especially Bao and Mical. So within the training facility of the Sojourn, Revan tried to teach the trio how to tap into the Force, even offering to show them how to build their own lightsabers.
‘I’ll stick to my blasters, thanks.’ She had replied. She had asked Revan if he was truly trying to get her to join a revamped Order, but he shook his head, completely surprising her.
‘I won’t be like the former Order, LB,’ he said. ‘I don’t believe on demanding people to become things they don’t want to be. You, Lynsel, are meant to be a Republic soldier, who just happens to be able to weld the Force. You do realize that any children you have with Carth will also be strong in the Force.’ He had smirked at her then, as she rolled her eyes and went back to her studies.
It had been an eye opening lesson, for sure. While Bao and Mical seemed to be naturals when it came to training in the Force, Lynsel didn’t seem to be too far behind them. ‘You’ve felt it before,’ Revan explained. ‘Just like Mical. The Force can never truly leave you. Only if it’s taken and that is only in the most extreme of cases.’
‘You’re speaking of Ulic Qel-Droma,’ Mical piped up. ‘His Force powers were taken from him because of his act in murdering his brother.’
‘I wasn’t aware that the Force could be taken,’ the young lieutenent mumbled.
‘Like I said,’ Revan replied. ‘It’s extreme. Just like the wiping of one’s memories.’
She had never been one to study the Jedi — after all, her position had been they were the case of all of the heartbreak and destruction to the Republic and the galaxy — but she couldn’t help but being enthralled with not only Revan, but the way he seemed to teach the lessons of his masters and those before them. While some issues were clearly black and white — Freedon Nadd and Exar Kun choosing the dark side for power — she started seeing some of the complications that Jedi faced when dealing with the dark side.
Ulic, for instance, had thought he was doing a good thing by trying to infiltrate the Krath, only to end up being seduced by the dark side. Even Revan in his own way, being seduced by way of discovering Malachor V…
‘I have to admit I did learn something,’ she replied, running a hand through her lover’s hair.
‘As long as it’s something that will bring you back to me.’
‘Hey,’ she said, poking him in the shoulder until he turned to look at her. ‘I don’t plan on getting killed. I have something to come back to; someone to come back to. I’m not gonna waste that.’
‘I just love you so damn much,’ Carth sighed. ‘I don’t want to lose you now.’
‘And you won’t.’
The two were silent, holding each other in an embrace. They didn’t want to think about what lay ahead for them. For as much as words of comfort and safety can go, they could not decide the actions of what could take place in a few hours. As the two lovers drifted off to sleep, someone else aboard was waking up. Revan had tossed and turned for nearly an hour before deciding that he needed to leave bed, least he wake his pregnant wife.
He was keyed up, restless, and he needed to find a center or go mad. He’d been full of energy since the briefing ended and even a tousle with Bastila only calmed him for a few hours. Now, he found himself once again roaming the corridors of the Sojourn and once again finding himself in the room with a view as before. They had just come out of hyperspace in orbit around Serenno when Revan finally decided he would not be getting any more sleep.
He knew they approached what many considered the major part of the once great Sith Empire, with so many dark planets in the same area. He knew it would be hard for those trained in the Force to be on a dark planet such as Ziost, but they had no other choice. As there was no Jedi Order to speak of, there were no droves of trained Jedi to handle this type of assignment.
All in part to him and Ellis.
Perhaps that was what kept him up. Revan didn’t lie to the Supreme Chancellor; he was extremely worried about Ellis’ mental state. He had asked Mical what he knew of the Force being ripped from someone and the only actual documented case was that of Ulic Qel-Droma and though it was slightly similar, it was also completely different. Revan didn’t think one could lose the Force, at least not until he had seen Ellis again.
While there was no doubt the younger man was a powerful adept with the Force, Revan didn’t feel what he should whenever he was near him. With Bastila or Visas or Dustil, he could feel the Force flowing through them, both light and dark – on the accounts of all three being on the dark side at one point – but with Ellis, he felt…he felt…
But that didn’t make sense! If he couldn’t feel the Force in Ellis, how exactly did one explain the dark lord’s Force powers?! Granted, Revan hadn’t seen Ellis use his Force powers as much. Did that mean he didn’t possess the Force? He didn’t know and maybe that’s what was bothering him. He didn’t know a lot of things and all those things would come to pass once they got in orbit of Ziost. He had no idea how much of an army they had or how strong they were.
Even Ellis wasn’t sure of the masters’ numbers, but the ones he knew gave Revan a chill. Marka Ragnos, Exar Kun, Freedon Nadd were just the big three and that was bad enough. He knew from history that both Kun and Nadd were tyrants and if they Republic were to fall in their hands again, especially with their combined power…
Revan shook his head. He needed to be in control! Everyone talked about what a great tactician he was, but yet he was without a plan or even something that would remotely help. All he had was the end product – rescue Ellis’ wife, defeat the Sith, and save the galaxy – hopefully all in that order.
Shaking his head again, he closed his eyes, hoping a plan would miraculously appear in his head. While he didn’t get a plan, he did get an apparition and certainly not the one he wanted. The ghostly form was a hulking figure, a somewhat blue in it’s color, and a scowl on his face.
Suddenly, Revan was taken back nearly ten years in the past, to a time when he had first seen this specter, when it had first whispered words to him on taking the galaxy for himself, that the Jedi Council and the Order itself were weak. And that whispered word of ‘Malachor’. “If you seek to lure me over to the Sith once again, Ragnos, you are wasting your time.”
The apparition chuckled, if it could be called such. “Straight to the heart of the matter,” Marka Ragnos replied. “I am curious, Lord Revan, on exactly how you expect to beat my former associates.”
“Former associates?” the knight questioned. “I was under the impression that you, Kun, and Nadd were poised to retake the galaxy as yours. Are you saying you’ve had a change of mind?”
“This galaxy will be mine!” Ragnos growled. “But perhaps not this time around. I’ve had a vision, Lord Revan, and it does not end well. While I tried to caution Kun and Nadd, they sent their weak apprentices to destroy me. They were easily persuaded to let their masters know the deed was done.”
“Why come to me?”
“This is not for the sake of protecting your precious Republic,” the former Sith lord stated, as he approached the younger man. “This is a matter of revenge.” The specter gave a wave of his hands and a large, blue amulet floated in front of Revan. “Do you know what this is?”
“An ancient Sith amulet,” the knight responded. “If I’m not mistaken, this was used to destroy not only Naga Sadow by Freedon Nadd, but by Exar Kun to destroy his Sith master as well.”
Ragnos nodded. “I had foreseen that you had great knowledge, young lord,” he praised. “And I see I am correct. While this may not destroy Exar Kun, it will banish him to his resting place of Yavin 4. This will however ensure that Freedon Nadd can never again be raised.” The amulet floated closer to Revan, nearly begging him to take it.
“And just why are you telling me this?” he asked, looking suspiciously at the ghost. “After all the trouble you’ve gone through to make sure the Republic was crippled; ensuring that others did your dirty work for you; making sure that others like Mandalore the Ultimate, Ellis Yoly, Malak, and I all took care of clearing the way for you. You infected the Senate with your magic and words of power, leaving it in shambles. After all of that, why would you want to destroy what you have worked for?”
“As I said, Lord Revan…”
“Just Revan, thanks.”
“As I said,” the apparition amended. “I had a vision. I saw my parting at the hands of Kun and Nadd and knew of their treachery before it could even begin. But after that, I saw Darth Trayun unleashing what felt like a wave of pure hate. The force and power of it eclipsed even my own. After that, darkness. I do not know what happens, nor do I know whom he uses this power against, but I felt it dangerous and I was of the mind that as long as Trayun stayed away – in your hands – this vision would not pass. I also saw his woman – you are aware of course that we have her,” Revan nodded, briskly. “I felt, as I do now, that she was and still is a liability to him. You know of the Sith’ari.” It wasn’t a question, but Revan again nodded.
“We’ve had many visions of the Sith’ari,” Ragnos continued. “Many whom we thought might be the one to rule over the galaxy with complete and utter power. We thought it to be Kun or even Nadd…but I had a vision, Lord Revan. A vision of you.”
“And that’s why you came to me?” the knight asked. “During the Mandalorian War?”
The ghostly figure nodded. “I saw you turn from the Jedi and become one of us,” he said. “And I saw the power you held. Perhaps I did not count on how persistant the Order would be with your redemption. But I saw a glorious reign, one where you would lead the Sith into another great empire. But your woman stopped you, stopped your rise. She was not as strong as Malak thought when it came to turning you back to what you should’ve been.”
“Not that I don’t enjoy taking a stroll down unwanted memory lane,” Revan huffed. “But are you going to get on with this?”
Ragnos chuckled. “That arrogance,” he sneered. “And the power that comes with it. You will take this amulet and destroy those who attempted to destroy me.”
“And why should I help you?” Revan asked. “This only undones what you’re strived for, as I said.”
“And as I said, young Revan,” Ragnos growled. “This is purely revenge. Do not think that my reign here in this galaxy is over. Remember Revan – a true Sith never dies. Just as I foresaw your rise and that of Lord Trayun, I have seen another, one more distructive than you can imagine. I believe this is the true Sith’ari.”
“And like before, Ragnos, we will stop him.”
Ragnos again cackled. “The light has made you stupid,” he said. “I know not what will happen when you and Trayun meet with Kun and Nadd, but I know you will try your best to make Trayun see the light as you have. The love of his woman and your love will be his downfall.”
“I have no love for one such as Trayun!” Revan exclaimed.
Again, the specter laughed. “Search your feelings, Revan,” he chuckled. “I can see into your heart and deep down you want to save your friend.” The ghost’s eyes seemed to bore within Revan’s, neither one backing down. It was only when Ragnos stepped back and turned that the stare was broken.
“You were great once, Revan,” he whispered. “And the meddling Jedi and your woman stopped your greatness. If the Sith hope to endure, the woman of Trayun must die, even if she does carry a child.”
“Again,” Revan replied. “If you think your moans of power will entice me, you are wrong, spirit. I will do as you ask, not because you asked it, but because I wish to destory both Exar Kun and Freedon Nadd. I will spare Trayun and his wife and if it looks as though he may be redeemed, than it shall be. If not, I will destroy him just as I did Malak.”
“You speak of things you don’t know.”
“I know that if you don’t leave, I shall turn this amulet on you.”
No words were spoken as Marka Ragnos faded from the room, but Revan’s breathing seemed to be quickier, heavier. The Force seemed to give him a slight break, but it still wouldn’t be enough.
Revan knew of the Sith’ari, the Sith version of the Jedi’s ‘Choosen One’, and he was well aware that he had come very close to achieving the ancient prosphesy. And he was quite aware that if Ellis lost his footing, if Kun or Nadd or both enticed him, or if something were to happen to his wife, Ellis would fulfill that prosphesy and the galaxy would be lost.