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Recalled to Life

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This is sort of a shoddy little fic.  It could be a better story, but it would need to be a much longer story and I just wasn’t enthused by the prospect of another 50 chapter fic.   The EU Legends tale of Revan is very long and complicated, which reflects its battle-oriented videogame origins.  The challenge with telling this tale is to edit it down to its essence, but not edit too much.  You need the plot to be concise enough to keep the drama intense.  That’s why I cut out a lot of the official version of this tale.  I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew. 


Recalled to Life only follows the Revan-Bastila relationship.  My idea was that Revan loses his religion while Bastila regains hers.  Poor Alek/Malak is the villain but also the victim, as shown mostly in flashbacks.  The climax of the tale has Revan coming to grips with the consequences of his choices.  Then he walks off into the sunset on a suicide mission to kill Vitiate (it’s very Luke Skywalker) and Bastila does her best to return to the life she never chose to leave.   I may have edited too much, I’m not sure. 


The major plot points of my story are the same as the EU Legends version.  In canon, Revan does attack the Star Forge and confront a Dark Bastila Shan.  She begs him to kill her, he refuses, and she is redeemed.  Then, Revan confronts Malak.  In the official version, Malak runs at first, sending droids after Revan.  But Revan catches up to him on the Star Forge observation deck for a final duel.  Revan overpowers him—it’s a mission to kill, not a mission to redeem in the EU.  I changed that bit because it seemed very uncharacteristic of the Revan character.  In my mind, Revan would first try to help his brother.


The EU Legends Revan is either all Dark or all Light.  I prefer a more enigmatic version of Revan as grey.  I think that his grey tendencies are what make Revan a compelling character.  Otherwise, he’s just more of the same Jedi-flipped-Sith-flipped-Jedi that we saw in Anakin Skywalker’s character arc.  In my AU universe, the Force sends prophets in the form of the Skywalkers to balance the Force.  Revan fits into that narrative nicely.  He is the first version of Anakin to arrive on the scene.  In some ways, Revan completely succeeds.  In other important ways, he is an utter failure.  For me, that is the pathos of the Revan character.  He is misunderstood and unappreciated for his heroism.  Like Plagueis in my other stories, Revan is a true iconoclast of the Force.  Except Revan doesn’t know it. 


If there is an Anakin in this story, it is Alek/Malak.  Here is a good man seduced completely into the Dark Side.  The end duel between Revan and Malak is another version of Anakin and Obi-wan on Mustafar.  Not coincidentally, some of the Episode 3 lines are there too.  I know that George Lucas had to fit the storyline, but the Obi-Wan character at the end of Episode 3 bothers me.  I don’t like how he essentially leaves suffering Anakin for dead.  I don’t see a loving brother-mentor figure doing that.  Now, obviously, Anakin had to survive to be Darth Vader.  But Obi-Wan just didn’t seem sufficiently affected by Anakin’s death for me.  I needed to see more Obi-Wan sadness and guilt.  So, when I got a chance to write a version of that scene with Revan, I wanted the conflict to seem very personal.


Revan versus Malak is also another version of the Death Star 2 throne room scene.  Which is to say that it’s also another version of Snoke’s throne room scene with Rey and Kylo.  I have plenty of issues with The Last Jedi (frankly, I have issues with every Star Wars movie), but that scene makes the movie for me by upending what we know of Star Wars.  Because what do you do when things go off script and the bad guy refuses forgiveness?  Obi-Wan answers that in Episode 3:  he essentially thinks he has killed Anakin.  And that’s a traditional Jedi answer to an unrepentant Sith:  kill them.  In the words of Mace Windu re: Darth Sidious--“He’s too dangerous to be kept alive.”


Alek refuses forgiveness and redemption from Revan just like Kylo refuses Rey in The Last Jedi.  Revan chooses the Jedi solution here.  But what does Rey choose?   I think she would choose the Jedi solution also.  She grabs for the lightsaber.  If she had succeeded in getting the sword, Kylo would be dead and the sequel trilogy over.  But Rey can’t get the sword, so she runs.  And now, the really interesting part begins in Episode 9.  How does Rey deal with Kylo now?   Will she try again to redeem him?   Will she try again to kill him?   Or, will she pull a Luke Skywalker and just walk away, throwing her hands up?   The Reylo endgame is yet to be determined.


Personal relationships set against the backdrop of galactic conflict are a hallmark of Star Wars.  It’s the hook that sharpens the stakes of the plot.  Maybe having everyone related makes for a smaller universe in some people’s views, but it also gives the story so much more emotional punch.  Killing the enemy in war is one thing.  Killing the enemy who is your brother is something different.   Empire Strikes Back will always be my favorite Star Wars movie because its big twist is the linchpin of all the other conflicts.  It’s not enough to see plain old good versus evil.  George Lucas gave us evil in the guise of an estranged father and good in the guise of a deceived son.  Vader is what Luke could become and therein lies the morality tale of canon Star Wars: that we all have the potential to be Darth Vader.  You must choose is basically the point of the original trilogy (It can be hard to choose is basically the point of the prequel trilogy.) 


But Revan presents us with a character who outright rejects that choice.  Revan is an enigma in the Force.  Truly both Light and Dark.  He can’t fit in with the Jedi hierarchy but he doesn’t want to be a Sith.  Basically, there is no place for Revan at the end of the story.  And that’s the point!  Only Revan and everyone else can’t see it.  Revan finds the secret to balancing the Force that he didn’t even know to look for.  The awful denouement is that all his insights are lost and the Jedi-Sith conflicts ends up more entrenched than ever.


I’ve been a bit obsessed with writing about balancing the Force.  It sounds like such a nice idea, doesn’t it?  So, one of the questions I asked was:  why hasn’t someone done it already by now?  I think there are two answers.  The first is that the two competing religions of the Force were so diametrically opposed that none of its members ever looked to the other side for learning.  The second is that balancing the Force is just plain hard.  Not everyone can do it and so it’s not an easy solution to learn and to teach.  I wanted the character of Alek/Malak to illustrate this.  Darkness is dangerous and hard to control.  And even good people who try to use it for good aims can end up corrupted anyway.  Alek/Malak is the example. 


I thought long and hard about the Revan character before I wrote this fic.  He is truly a great character, very multi-faceted and far from cliché.  In some ways, I have barely scratched the surface here.  Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I think the emotional pull of the Revan tale belongs with Revan and Malak, not with Revan and Bastila Shan.  The tragedy of Revan is in all those he brings down with him.   Bastila appears late on the scene for all that drama.  In the EU Legends, Bastila Shan and Revan spend a lot of time together as he retrains as a Jedi.   They fall in love in the process.  But I omitted all that because I don’t envision Revan ever ending up a Jedi in the end (he’s sort of a fallen away Jedi in the EU Legends).  I also omitted the romance.  I just didn’t fit for me and I didn’t want to force it. 


To me, Bastila’s character works best if she is firmly in the Light and committed to the Jedi Order.  In the EU Legends, Malak turns Bastila to the Dark Side after a week of torture.  That seemed a bit quick for me, so I changed her experience some.  With #metoo firmly on my mind, the torture morphed a bit too.  It also helps to explain how Bastila ends up with a baby (also EU canon) if she and Revan are not a couple.  There’s no denying that Bastila and Revan have a connection through the bond and under different circumstances that might bloom into romance.  But not in this fic, although Malak clearly thinks Revan and Bastila are an item and that assumption motivates some of his actions.  In the end, I liked Revan and Bastila as a platonic relationship that could have been more had circumstances been different but . . . they’re not.   Sorry to disappoint any readers, but the torrid forbidden Dark-Light romance of Revan and Bastila never actually happens in this story.  And, yes, in the EU Legends, Bastila does rejoin the Jedi Order.


Readers of my stories know that I often take inspiration from opera.  My Bastila is a Puccini heroine.  She’s almost childlike in her acceptance and devotion.  Like all Puccini heroines, she’s a tragic victim of her setting or a victim of the man in her life.  Contrast this with my Rey character, who is always a Wagner heroine.  Like Brunhilde, Isolde, Sieglinde, and Senta, Rey makes choices and bears consequences--sometimes horrible ones.  But she has some degree of control and her decisions make an impact.  Wagner heroines are rebellious and sassy lot.  These women mean business.


My other Sith wives and lovers are more in the nature of Verdi heroines. Verdi's women sacrifice themselves for love, usually a love that is forbidden or otherwise bound to fail.  They are sort of textbook doomed heroines.  Poor Eleena Daru of DARKER is a prime example, although basically all the Sith wifeys end badly in some fashion or other, save Lady Sidious.  These characters all are a version of Verdi’s Violetta, Elisabetta, Desdemona, and Gilda, etc. 


I only write from the perspective of Darkness.  I’m a bit of a Jedi skeptic and the Jedi Order—in particular the Jedi Council—never comes off well in my tales.  In the EU Legends, Meetra Surik was indeed stripped of the Force.  It was a rare, draconian punishment reserved for the worst transgressions.  A similar fate befalls Snoke’s Jedi wife Shan Damask in Fifth Wife.


All of the Jedi hate has some basis in real life.  I’m a practicing Catholic and I have a lot of angst over the Church’s handling of the sex abuse cases.  I’m frustrated and disappointed that people in power made the wrong choices again and again.  I’m also frustrated that the need to protect the institution of the Church has trumped the need to protect innocents and to bring justice.  All my private anti-clericalism sort of came out in this story.  Resistance to change that doubles down on the mistakes of the past is just so darn frustrating.  In this story, in a completely different context, the Jedi Order is a stand in for the Church.  There is a line in the Eucharistic prayer about looking not on our sins but on the faith of the Church.  And that’s a good prayer.  But when do you decide that an organization which has strayed from its faith no longer represents it?  What about an organization whose tenets set people up for failure?   And what if the organization is just plain wrong on important things?  How do you reform a hierarchical institution that expects blind adherence?  Revan confronts some of those issues in this story.  He draws one conclusion.  Bastila draws another.


Change is really hard.  And it’s hard to be the disruptor/change maker.  It’s also hard to separate the personality/bad decisions/questionable motives/overall baggage of the change maker from the change itself.  (Witness:  Trump)  Because of who he is and what he has done, Revan will never get his due in the Republic.  He is too controversial and for good reason.   But sometimes there is value in the good things that bad people do.  Even if they are done for the wrong reasons.  I had America’s controversial change agent in chief in mind a lot when I wrote this.  You don’t have to embrace the totality of a leader to embrace their good points.  But at some point, someone can just go too far.  Where do you draw the line?  I don’t know.


Bastila is a good girl through and through, a truly committed Jedi nun.  She doesn’t rebel against the Jedi Order, she seeks to rejoin it.  It’s far from the conservative, safe choice in the circumstances.  I like that Bastila takes charge of her life and makes her own decisions.   I wanted her character to have drama and meaning apart from her relationship with Revan.  I firmly believe that women’s stories matter.  They don’t have to be love stories or grand tales of adventure to be gripping.  But women’s stories are different from the male perspective.  That’s where I think Hollywood often gets it wrong.  Men and women are not interchangeable in real life and neither are they interchangeable in fiction.  A bad girl female villain is simply not the same as her male counterpart—she’s probably not doing it for the same reasons and she likely has different goals.  A female heroine is also different from her male counterpart.  She might fight in different ways and take different tactics.  They put a woman in a stormtrooper suit and declare it progress.  Whatever.  Finn—a man in a stormtrooper suit—is a thousand times more interesting than Captain Phasma.


Ever since I wrote Son of Darkness, I have been focused on the Force as a religion.  Those ideas show up in this fic as well. 


For the few who read DARKER, you know its pivotal moment for Darth Malgus is the Treaty of Coruscant.  Proud Sith Malgus can’t stomach his Emperor throwing it all away on Alderaan.  Well, that’s Revan’s behind-the-scenes influence showing.  None of that is alluded to in DARKER.  Vitiate is pretending it’s all his idea, of course. 


I think my little detour into the Old Republic is over.  There is lot of great stuff in that era and many smartly written characters.  But I feel like I have hit the high points now with Revan and Malgus.   


Thanks for reading.