The Star Forge has limited defenses. The Rakatan probably figured that defenses were not a priority since the purpose of the Forge is to create weaponry that could be used to defend it. The giant factory is filled with battle droids, surrounded by completed ships, and chock full of munitions. But many of those weapons are still in the manufacturing stage or not organized for immediate deployment. Revan plans to take full advantage of that situation.
His strategy is to keep the Republic fleet in reserve. He wants to avoid getting drawn into a prolonged, bloody battle with the giant Sith fleet before the Forge itself is destroyed. His worst-case scenario is for the Sith fleet to be weakened or even substantially destroyed but for the Forge to survive. Because so long as the Forge lives, Alek and his Empire have the ability to rapidly rebuild and recover.
To prevent that outcome, Revan has designed a two-prong attack. First, he and a small team will sneak onto the Forge in a disguised parts transport. Luckily, Revan knows the layout. The command function is mostly concentrated on the upper levels. That’s where the sentients are. The rest of the Forge is patrolled and run by various droids. The droids are far easier to evade and to trick than regular Sith troopers. Revan’s team will rescue the Jedi captives, including Bastila Shan if she’s still alive, and he will confront Alek. Only once the strike team has freed the prisoners will his fleet engage the enemy. If all goes according to plan, the captives will be rescued, Alek will see the error of his ways, and the Star Forge will be destroyed. But if in the end he only accomplishes the destruction of the Star Forge, Revan will count it a victory.
During the mission, Revan expects to be overrun by Jedi babysitters. These days, he is beset by supervision. Every direction he looks currently, he sees a Jedi Guardian standing with a hand on their hip near their sword. No one trusts him. And they want to be certain he knows it. It’s annoying but understandable in the circumstances. But it puts a whole different gloss on the complexity of the mission. Because Revan is quite certain that by the time the assault on the Star Forge is over, he will find himself crossing swords with more than just Alek. He wouldn’t at all be surprised if the Jedi plan to take him out as soon as the outcome with Alek and the Forge is assured. That would tie things up nicely for the Order and the Senate. They can declare the Revanchist cause dead and put the Mandalorian War and the Jedi Civil War behind them. Plus, Revan strongly suspects that him being ‘killed in action’ was a quid pro quo deal behind the scenes with the Chancellor in exchange for giving him command of the fleet.
Thankfully, most everyone onboard his flagship still fears him. Their collective angst cries out to him in the Force. Honestly, the Dark part of him thrills to it. His battlefield and Force exploits have managed to both impress and terrify everyone except grumpy Master Kavar who follows him like a shadow. That guy is a Council member and the leader of the Jedi team assigned to the mission. If anyone is going to light a sword against him, it’s going to be the experienced duelist Kavar. Revan anticipates that will happen right about the time Kavar figures out that his plan is to convince Alek to lay down arms rather than execute him. Revan knows that if he’s not careful, the upcoming duel with Alek could be a three man free-for-all. The only thing that Revan has going for him is that Master Kavar believes the risk of Vitiate. And so, Revan takes every chance he gets to remind the Jedi Master that this mission is only the prelude to the real fight.
Once the fleet launches from Coruscant, it’s a two-day journey to the Outer Rim. From there, Revan plots a series of risky hyperspace jumps deep into the Unknown Regions. The white knuckled chief navigator on his flagship looks dubious but he executes the bizarre route anyway. Finally, a week after leaving Coruscant, the Republic fleet drops into the Lehon System in uncharted wild space. Then, Revan gives the order and the mission begins.
The parts transport sneaks onboard the Forge undetected as planned. Revan, Master Kavar, and five more Jedi Knights disembark disguised as Sith officers along with a small escort of Republic troopers also wearing Sith uniforms. The group begins to methodically make their way up to the command deck of the Star Forge using a circuitous back way that will hopefully keep their presence quiet for as long as possible. Thankfully, the few security droids they pass are easily taken out. The regular droids keep going about their appointed tasks without noticing the interlopers.
“Hostile! On the right!” The Jedi on his left gives everyone the head’s up as they round a blind corner. This time, they haven’t surprised a Sith trooper or another battle droid. Instead, they come upon an exotically garbed, white-haired woman. She’s facing away, staring aimlessly out a large window. She grips a weapon, but her posture isn’t threatening anyone. If she detects their presence, she doesn’t show it.
“Stand down!” Revan orders everyone as the troopers rush forward to automatically raise their weapons to fire.
“Is that a shockstaff?” Master Kavar wonders aloud, peering from a distance at the woman. “You don’t see that often. Well, come on,” he urges. “Stun her and let’s keep moving.”
“No! Stand down!” Revan orders again as he motions for the others to remain back. There’s something very familiar about this woman. Could it be? He extinguishes his lit sword and investigates further. “Jaerel?” he calls softly. “Jaerel, is that you?”
And that’s when the woman finally acknowledges them. She turns around, head hanging down, and Revan sucks in a breath.
“Oh, no.” He says his thoughts out loud reflexively. Because this woman isn’t Alek’s longtime unrequited crush, it’s Bastila Shan. He thinks.
Instantly, Revan knows that something is very, very wrong. Basty is almost unrecognizable with the white hair and the revealing red and black clothes. But it’s more than that. Her Force imprint is altogether different in ways he can’t immediately explain. But it’s wrong. Very wrong. No wonder he hadn’t recognized her presence when he came onboard.
He looks again and yes, this is the earnest Jedi Padawan he spent a few intense days with. She looks nothing like the modest young woman he remembers. Bastila’s long hair is bleached bright white now and hanging in thick curls that reach her torso. The obviously fake hair matches the unnatural looking dark blue-purple lipstick. It is a garish painted look on the quietly pretty girl Revan remembers. And it is very intentionally reminiscent of a woman from Alek’s past. Silently, Revan takes in the tattoos on Bastila’s cheekbones and arms that spell out the name ‘Jaerel the Protector’ in an ancient alien language. His initial thought is that this getup indicates Bastila has been treated better than he feared.
He should have known better.
“You came back.” Bastila’s eyes quickly dart over to the men behind him who carry blue swords. “With Jedi.” She nods slowly and flashes a brief, wistful smile. “I knew you wouldn’t let me down.”
“Basty,” Revan speaks softly as he approaches further. “I’m so glad you’re alive. I thought you were dead.” He is very relieved to find her alive and not hooked up to the Forge.
But Bastila doesn’t share his enthusiasm at their meeting. She’s not even looking at him. She’s looking down at the shockstaff she’s holding. Like the wild hair, the suggestive eye candy garb, and the tattoos, the distinctive weapon belongs to another woman. “I knew you were coming,” Bastila says dully. “I felt it in the Force. He probably already knows you’re here.”
“He’s been hoping you would come.”
“I know. Basty—“ Revan takes another couple of steps forward.
Skittish, obviously self-conscious Bastila steps back. “I don’t want you to see me like this. I don’t want anyone to know.” He can see her face flush bright red beneath the heavy makeup. She’s still not meeting his eyes. That’s how embarrassed she is about her appearance. She’s wearing something akin to an armored bra and skirt set with an elaborate cape and thigh high boots that look like they should belong to a stripper. All in all, it’s an eyeful. He can see why she’s bashful.
Revan takes the cue to order Kavar and the others to proceed without him. “Go to the detention level,” he instructs. “I’ll handle this and catch up.” They don’t need an audience for this reunion.
The other Knights leave but Kavar stands his ground. The Jedi Master clearly fears leaving him alone. Revan shoots his chief babysitter a dirty look as the man walks up to assess the situation.
“Who’s this? Why are we wasting time?” Master Kavar demands, his eyes inspecting Bastila. “Drop that staff, Lady, or we will treat you as hostile,” Kavar warns.
“Back off,” Revan intervenes. “I’ll handle this. Basty, look at me. I’m here to help you. I’m here to take you home.”
She doesn’t answer. She just fingers the shockstaff toggle switch. Like she’s deliberating.
Revan tries again. “You are saved. I’m here to rescue you. You are saved.” He reaches out a hand and beckons. “Come. I’ll get you to the ship. We could use your help today.”
Bastila still won’t look at him, and that’s very unnerving. “It’s too late,” she says in a choked voice. “No one can save me now.”
“It’s not too late,” Revan soothes as he shoos Kavar back again. The Jedi Master’s presence isn’t helping things.
“It is!” Bastila wails as she lifts a hand to her face to wipe at her eyes. She is distraught and trying to hide her tears. “I can never go home again. He’s right. He’s ruined me.”
“Revan,” Kavar is impatient. “Is she hostile or not? Because we need to keep moving.”
Kavar is right, but Revan ignores him. Bastila is too important to be left behind. “Please look at me.” He tries again. “I want to help you.”
Finally, Bastila raises her chin and lifts her eyes to his. They are feral yellow.
Revan sucks in a breath.
So does Kavar behind him. “Sith!” Instantly, the Jedi Master brandishes his sword. He’s ready to rebuke the devil like a good Jedi should.
“It’s too late,” miserable Bastila repeats. “It’s too late for me,” she laments as she ignites her staff.
“Oh, Basty,” Revan sighs. “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” Revan has never meant anything more in his life. For seeing Bastila Shan with yellow eyes horrifies him. He too once had yellow eyes, but he chose them. Bastila, he knows, would never choose this.
“Go on,” she gestures weakly to his weapon. “Light yours. Let’s get this over with.”
Revan shakes his head. “I will not fight you.”
But Kavar is up for the task. “I’ll do it,” the Jedi Council member growls. “Sith!”
“You must. Please. P-Please,” Bastila begs as she brandishes the shockstaff and drops down into the classic Jedi ready position. It’s the beginning fighting move every first year Padawan learns. Because even on the Dark Side, Bastila Shan is a quintessential Jedi. She might be beset by Darkness, but the teachings of the Light linger. Even with yellow eyes, this young woman is a Knight.
Kavar sees it, too. “Geez . . . she was once one of ours,” he says in horror. “One of your Revanchist followers, I take it?” he says with derision. “One of the Dark Jedi you and Malak converted and corrupted?”
Staring at Bastila closely now, Revan can see the dark shadings under her makeup that must be bruises. Her upper lip looks split or maybe bit. It’s definitely swollen. But the most alarming thing of all are those haunting yellow eyes. It’s clear that Bastila Shan has suffered and is suffering. His heart goes out to her.
Darkness is not a singular type. It augments a person’s abilities based on their innate talents. Revan learned this from his time in Vitiate’s Empire. There are snarling, aggressive warrior Sith who use violence to dominate. Others who wield the Shadow Force employ cunning and deceit to achieve their aims. But the Dark Side can also produce mad geniuses of art and science, as well as mystical seers and sorcerers. Still, in some cases Darkness doesn’t empower a person, it depletes them. For some poor fools, Vitiate taught, Darkness is a scourge. It drives them to depression and self-destruction. Even to insanity. These are souls who are best left in the Light. They lack the fortitude for Darkness. Vitiate viewed them as shameful defects, naturally.
Bastila Shan is clearly one of those defects, Revan realizes. For she looks terribly tentative and downcast. She’s less threatening than she is resigned. It hurts to see her like this. The valiant young woman who took charge of things is gone. In her place is a diminished version of Bastila Shan wearing a disguise.
“What did he do to you?” Revan asks quietly.
“Enough. Let’s deal with her and move on!” Kavar urges.
“Stand down!” Revan whirls on the Jedi Master as he feels his own eyes flash yellow. “Stand down or go on without me!” he hisses his orders. He refuses to abandon Bastila once again. He did that once before and look what happened. Six weeks ago, this young woman was a steadfast Padawan.
“Evan, light your sword!” Bastila wails as a tear leaks down her cheek. “Please fight me. I need you to fight me so you can kill me.”
“Oh Gods,” Revan breathes. “What did he do to you?”
“Master Kavar, will you fight me?” Bastila now appeals to the flummoxed Jedi Master behind him.
“Who are you?” Kavar responds, looking at her blankly. “Do I know you?”
When Bastila hesitates, looking embarrassed to answer, Revan covers for her. “It doesn’t matter. She’s a friend, not a foe. Lower your sword!” he commands. “She’s no Revanchist. She’s Jedi!”
“She has yellow eyes and an active weapon,” Kavar counters. “And she’s looking for a fight. What Temple are you from?” he demands of Bastila.
“Coruscant! She’s Bastila Shan, the Padawan you and the rest of the Council assigned to me!” Revan snaps. “She’s Jedi!”
Kavar looks her over a long moment. Then he extinguishes his sword. “Yeah, I sort of see it now . . . I remember you. You didn’t want the assignment.”
“No, don’t! Fight me! Please!” Bastila reacts to Kavar’s deactivated sword. “Better dead than Dark,” she wails out the Jedi teaching like it’s a mantra. “Please do it . . . fight me. Then, I will be one with the Force . . . look for me in the Force,” she chokes out.
“We will not fight you,” Revan repeats firmly, shooting another quelling look at Kavar. Revan refuses to light his sword against this woman. He steps forward now and holds out his hand again. “Come back. Come back with us and I will help you.”
“It’s too late. I can’t go home,” she stammers. More tears are dripping down her cheeks now. “They will never let me come home now. The Council will throw me out.”
Probably. They might even want to strip her of the Force like they did poor Meetra. But Revan doesn’t give a damn about the Jedi Council. He just wants to rescue the girl who twice saved his life. He owes her that, and he refuses to leave her here to die. “Forget about the Order. Just come back with me now. We will work it out. You don’t have to go home if you don’t want to.” He beckons to her again.
“I hate him,” Bastila hisses. “I hate him for what he’s done to me and to others. I’ll never stop hating him.” Revan nods along and she grows frustrated that he isn’t reacting more. “Don’t you see? I’ll never live fully in the Light again! Because I will never be able to let go of this hate. I will hate him until I die! That’s why I need someone to kill me. He won’t do it. I keep asking but he won’t do it . . . he says I will get used to it in time . . . like he did . . . ”
“Oh Gods,” Kavar frowning speaks for them both. Revan is equally aghast at what he’s hearing. The words wouldn’t be that surprising coming from anyone else but Bastila Shan. Revan can’t fathom what pain she must be in now to voice those words aloud. Because he remembers the committed Padawan who quoted him Jedi chapter and verse and completely believed it. The girl who trusted fervently in the Light and its institutions. She prized truth and justice, which is what made it so hard for her to lie to him. And she was full of compassion, which had moved her to save his life. But all of that trust, faith, and forgiveness appears to be gone now.
“I will help you,” Revan promises. “I can see you don’t want this. You could never be truly Dark.”
“Oh, but I am! I hate him even though I feel sorry for him.” Bastila repositions her staff now and begs, “Fight me! Please! Make it quick and painless. Put me out of my misery.”
Frustrated, she takes a wild swing at him that he easily evades. And then, she starts apologizing immediately. “I shouldn’t have done that. You’re unarmed. That’s not a fair fight. That’s not the Jedi way.”
Her words are just more proof that she’s a lousy Sith.
“Drop your weapon and come away with me. Let’s get you to the ship.”
“I can’t! I can’t go home!” The very thought appears to terrify Bastila.
Revan tries to soothe her fears. “The Light forgives. Given the circumstances, everyone will understand.”
“No, they won’t!” she digs in. “I think I’m pregnant.” Her lips are trembling visibly as she says these words out loud. “I’m not really sure. I don’t know much about these things . . . ”
“Fuck,” Revan exhales under his breath.
Bastila is babbling now. “I didn’t want to . . . I promise I didn’t want to. But after a while, I stopped fighting him . . . and he . . . he . . . ” Her voice trails off. She is mortified.
“Fuck,” he repeats as he feels his anger bloom.
Bastila looks so vulnerable now as she asks, “Do you believe me?”
Of course, he believes her. Revan remembers how shocked and offended Bastila had been by his kiss. He can only imagine how horrified she must have been by Alek’s abuse. He knows that she didn’t want this. And he’s prepared to kill any sanctimonious skeptical Jedi who says otherwise. Anyone who tries to equate Bastila’s experience with his own Jedi Master’s pregnancy from an adulterous love affair will feel his sword. Bastila did not volunteer to break her vows to the Order.
That she feels the need to deflect blame makes Revan cringe for her. But it’s understandable. The Jedi tend to be extremely judgmental about sex. And the Order has an annoying tendency to blame the victim.
“I can’t live with this shame,” Bastila openly sobs. “I’m a Jedi . . . was a Jedi . . .”
“FUCK!” Revan roars, giving in to rage. He feels his eyes flash yellow and stay that way. “I’m going to kill him for this! By the Force, I will!” he threatens.
“Kill me first,” she begs. “So I don’t have to live like this any longer. I will never let go of this hate . . . I c-can’t . . .”
“Come.” Revan drops all attempts at reasoning. He snatches her staff, breaks it over his knee with the help of the Force, and casts its pieces aside. “Come here.” He opens his arms to envelop her as he takes a deep breath and forces himself to let go of his own surging anger at the situation. It takes supreme effort, but Revan stops his reflexive impulse to channel rage into power. Instead, he seeks peace. Bastila desperately needs peace and so he will give it to her like she had once given him her healing Light. Revan’s own Darkness falls away at his command as he reverts to his oldest teachings of Jedi calm. This time when he summons the Force, he summons the Light. “Basty,” he soothes as he clasps her close and burrows his mind into hers, “Feel the Light. Stay in the Light. Reach for hope.”
She is bawling childlike in his arms now. Utterly a mess.
“I will help you let go of your hate. I know how hard it is. I know because I have done it myself.”
Her response is unintelligible into his chest, but her nodding head says it all.
Revan looks over to see Master Kavar looking on with a repulsed look on his face. Is the Jedi Master horrified by this Padawan’s overflowing emotion that is the antithesis of Jedi calm? Is he upset by Bastila’s honest admission of her Darkness within? Or is it simply that he is made uncomfortable by the possibility that a Jedi nun might be pregnant from a Sith lord?
Revan’s expression hardens. Kavar’s attitude is what people hate about organized religion. All the welcoming talk of understanding too often reverts to condemnation. Because for all that the Jedi preach compassion, they don’t practice it nearly enough. And when they do, forgiveness is usually reserved for laymen and not their own members. The Council is far too concerned about controlling its Knights. It’s like they go looking to make examples. Revan thinks of Meetra’s fate and he determines that he will not let Basty flee Alek only to be victimized again by the knee jerk Jedi Council. But first, he has to get her to safety and he needs to confront Alek and destroy the Star Forge.
“Go with Master Kavar. He will take you to our ship. You’re in no shape to fight right now.”
“There are others—upstairs in cells—oh, it’s horrible, Evan--“
“We know. We’ll get them. But let’s get you safe first. Go with Kavar.”
“Are you sure this is wise?” the Jedi Master asks him pointedly. He’s looking warily at sobbing Bastila on Revan’s shoulder. Like she has a contagious disease he might catch.
“Yes. I’m sure. I’m entrusting her to you. Get her to the ship safely.”
“But she is Sith.”
“No! She could never be truly Sith.” Revan stares Kavar down. “She is Jedi and we need to help her like we need to help the others Alek has abused.”
“Are you sure?” Kavar digs in. “She’s got yellow eyes.”
“There is good in her. Lots of good. She just needs help to realize that. Take her,” he hands Bastila off. Looking the Jedi Master Council Member in the eye, Revan warns, “If you hurt her or abandon her here, I will kill you. She is as much a victim here as the Dantooine captives.” Revan feels very protective of this young woman who has twice protected him from death. She did not forsake him and he will not forsake her.
Revan’s comlink buzzes now to interrupt them. It’s the other team members reporting they have five Jedi rescued. The rest are unable to walk or too injured to be helped. Blaster fire sounds in the background of the communication. The Sith clearly know they are here. Sure enough, the comlink dissolves into static and goes dead. “They’re jamming us,” Revan concludes the obvious. “Get her out of here! They’ll be waiting to ambush you in the docking bay because they know we’re here.”
Kavar keeps resisting. His real reason surfaces now. “The others can take her. I’m coming with you. Let’s go! Malak might flee.”
“Escape is not his plan. I must face him alone,” Revan says grimly. “No, go! That’s an order!”
“Fuck the Council!” Revan roars out blasphemy. “Be a hero and save Basty and the others. Alek is my fight. He’s my responsibility.” He himself created the monster who did this to Bastila Shan.
When Kavar hesitates yet again, Alek makes a bold decision. “Give the order for the fleet to attack. Tell them to take out this place even if I’m still on it.”
That strategy seems to appease Kavar. No doubt, he’s worried that he will team up with Alek rather than defeat him. But the counterbalance of the attacking Republic fleet seems to appease him.
“Alright.” Kavar nods curtly to Bastila. “Come on.” He shoots Revan a look. “Kill him or don’t come back,” are his parting words.