“Well, everything checks out. You’re perfectly healthy. Those burn scars on your face are looking better and better, too. They may fade completely in time.” The physician smiles benignly as she lies to him. “I’m pronouncing you fully healed from your training accident. You are fit to return to active duty and cleared for deployment, Pfc. Chist.”
Evan nods as he buttons back up his Republic uniform. He keeps his affable poker face on as usual.
“Any more of those phantom dreams?” the woman asks a little too casually. The doctors are very concerned about his mental state, he’s noticed. He’s taken way too many psychological exams for his liking. When he doesn’t immediately respond, the doctor prompts, “Well?”
“They happen during the day now and then. It’s not just at night anymore,” Evan answers. He’s torn between revealing too much about what he remembers and revealing too little. Because something tells him that these random, confusing flashbacks are the key to discovering why everyone keeps lying to him.
The doctor frowns. “Tell me more.”
“It’s the same thing,” he shrugs ostensibly even while he covertly watches the woman closely. “The guy who calls himself my father. And sometimes, the guy who calls himself my brother. It’s mostly us talking and hanging out. Nothing much.”
“Hmph . . . ” The doctor makes face and grunts. “Soldier, you’re a failed clone prototype. You are bred from an amalgamation of genetic material from a variety of donors. You have no father. You have no brother. You were born in a laboratory.” She says this matter of fact. How smoothly and purposefully she lies to him. But he doesn’t let on. To all onlookers, he’s a loyal soldier who accepts what he is told and follows orders.
“I know, Doctor.”
“Those false memories are common in clones after head injuries. They should fade in time. It’s nothing to be concerned about. Do not let it trouble you.”
He nods again. Then, watching the doctor’s face closely once more, he volunteers, “His name is Alek,” just to see what she’ll say.
“Mala---- Alek??” she stutters. “Who?”
“My brother. The guy who calls himself my brother is named is Alek.”
“He says he loves me.”
The woman’s face looks compassionate now. Sort of motherly and sad. The other doctors mostly seem uncomfortable around him, but this woman feels sorry for him, he’s noticed. And when she lies, there is no malicious intent. She seems to think she’s helping him. Like it’s the right thing to do in the circumstances.
“Soldier,” the doctor soothes with well-intentioned but grating professional paternalism, “I know this is confusing. I know that those hallucinations feel very real. We know from research that they can be persistent and disorienting. Try not to let them upset you.”
“Okay, Doc. If you say so.”
“Good. There is someone here to see you.”
“Another doctor?” he cracks a smile. He gets examined a lot. The other guys in his unit can’t score a single bacta patch when they bleed in training. But he seems to have half the Republic medical corps poking at him regularly for ‘routine tests.’
“She’s your new boss. Wait here and I’ll tell her you’re finished. Get dressed and be on your best behavior, Soldier. She’s a Jedi Knight.”
Alone now, he finishes yanking on his boots and cools his heels in the bright, sterile looking examination room. How long does he wait? It feels like forever. Trooper grunts like himself spend a lot of time shuffling around waiting while the officers bicker and one-up each other. His own sergeant is an idiot. Evan chafes at being at the very bottom of the chain of command, but what can he do? At thirty-nine years old, he’s surely the Republic’s oldest enlisted private. It’s one more puzzling incongruity to his life since he woke up in a hospital bed with something called ‘incomplete trauma-induced amnesia.’
He glances around the empty clinic room and his eyes deliberately dart up to the fluorescent overhead lights. Will it work? Intense, bright light often triggers those elusive, fleeting memories. So he stares long and hard without blinking into the lamps. Come on, he thinks. Show me something . . . Anything . . .
Whatever these flashbacks are, he knows that they are real. And they hold the reason why the doctors lie to him and why he was transferred into a new unit after his supposed accident. Likely, they are the reason why some Jedi Knight is now here to inform him of a new assignment, rather than his dumbass sergeant.
Show me something . . . Let me see . . . Let me see . . .
He feels the tightness in his forehead and here it comes. Yes. This is working. His mind’s eye blinks and his actual physical vision becomes murky. And then, it all becomes clear again as the flashback begins.
He is walking through a formal garden. Alek is there too. The tall bearded human man of late middle age who calls them both ‘son’ walks with them. The bearded man has soft, almost kindly yellow eyes and a formal, scholarly demeanor. Today, the bearded man is in a good mood and that’s a relief. He has a temper when he is displeased.
For someone in his position, the bearded man has little in the way of affectation. But perhaps that is the point—there is no one left for this man to impress. The bearded man wears neither mask nor armor, and his clothes are luxurious but understated. If he is armed, his weapon is not apparent. In his stately black robes, he could be a rich merchant or an esteemed professor. But the bearded man is neither of those things.
Their trio stops short as a small rodent rushes across the garden path in front of their feet. The animal holds a pilfered leaf tight within its jaws. It makes the bearded man smile. The small, fleeting occurrence becomes a teachable moment for him.
“All life feeds on other life. That is the way of things, the way of the Force. The universe cannibalizes itself over and over again in its ecosystems, in its politics, even in its art. We steal from others to survive and to thrive. They become prey to nourish us, their resources bolster and sustain us, and their ideas challenge and refine our own beliefs. So it is on an individual level and for great societies as a whole. Everything comes from something else. Everything has its place in the pecking order, including us. We are, naturally, at the top.”
The bearded man now looks to him and then to Alek by his side. “Aggression is natural. Like all emotions, rage makes a man who he is,” he instructs. “Use your aggressive feelings. Only the aggressive survive to thrive. Dominance is our goal.”
“You’re saying that the Dark Side is supreme?” Alek asks.
The bearded man raises an eyebrow. “It is what brought you to me, lusting to kill me, wasn’t it? You discovered for yourselves the supremacy of Darkness. My work was done by the time you showed up.”
He himself bristles at this characterization, but Alek nods his acceptance.
They resume walking now and the bearded man remarks with approval, “You evolved past the lies they taught you. You saw the truth of Darkness for yourself. And for that, I judged you worthy and let you live.”
“But what is the role of the Light then?” he speaks up. This is the knowledge he desperately seeks. For he and Alek consciously ignored the limitations they were taught, understanding that sometimes they had to dip into Darkness to save the Light. Not because Darkness is supreme, but because the Light is worth saving. In this case, at least, the ends had justified his means. But he remains unconvinced that is the answer in all cases. And so, he presses the bearded man for answers. “Master, can there not be equilibrium between the competing sides of the Force?”
The door to the clinic room slides open and the memory fades instantly as the doctor reenters. “She’ll be along shortly,” the woman informs him. The doctor, of course, has no idea of what she is interrupting. She starts prattling on about some ointment he should put on the scars on his face and hands him a tube. Evan mostly ignores her as he tries to make sense of the memory he has just triggered. The memories are so random and, from what he can tell, they are out of order. But they all seem to feature one or both of Alek and the bearded man. Whoever they are, those two men are very important to him.
The door opens again and another human woman enters. She’s young, far younger than her Jedi title gave him to expect. His eyes find the small braid that hangs down her right shoulder and somehow he knows this signifies that she is still in training. And that seems odd given her age looks to be in her mid-twenties. She should have taken her trials by now, he judges. But he doesn’t know how he knows that either. Like a lot of things in his life, it’s a mystery.
The doctor makes the introduction. “Pfc. Evan Chist, meet your new C.O. Bastila Shan, Jedi Knight.”
“Ma’am,” he dutifully salutes.
“No need for that. She’s not regular military and she’s no Crusader. You’re on special assignment now,” the doctor explains.
Evan drops the salute as his eyes rake over the newcomer. Two things register immediately. First, he takes in the lightsaber hanging at her hip and the lethal looking blaster conspicuously strapped to her left thigh. The woman clearly came ready for a fight. Next, he notices her expression. She’s terrified but trying very, very hard not to show it. Her bravado is out in full force with her lifted chin and tough girl stance. But he can tell that she is thoroughly intimidated. She likely psyched herself up for this meeting in advance.
“Private,” the Jedi woman begins sounding stern, “you are reassigned to the Republic cruiser Endar Spire to assist with a very important mission.”
She pauses to let this information sink in. She’s not exactly bitchy, but she is far from friendly. It’s clear that this Jedi woman is not predisposed to like him. She looks annoyed just to be here.
But whatever. He asks, “Why?”
“Why?” she parrots nervously. The question throws her off her stride.
It’s sort of gratifying, so he persists. “Why me?”
“Your special ops training will be useful,” she replies.
“Is my whole unit being reassigned?” He raises his eyebrows.
“Er . . . well, no. Just you.”
“Why?” he persists. Why does he keep getting all this special treatment?
“Your records reveal that you are highly intelligent, gifted in several languages, and experienced in exploring uncharted worlds. Those are skills I need.”
“Why?” He wants the whole truth. “What’s so special about this mission?”
The Jedi woman looks like she is out of answers now. She looks positively cowed for a moment. But she rallies and responds, “Private, this is a treasure hunt.”
Huh. He wasn’t expecting that answer.
“It will be an adventure,” she announces brightly and he can tell she’s putting the best spin possible on the situation. For herself as well as for him.
“Okay, then. That’s settled,” the doctor intervenes giving him a quelling look. It’s clear the medic thinks he has not shown the proper respect to a Jedi. “There is a shuttle waiting for you both. Grab your duffle, Private,” the medic suggests as she hustles them out of the clinic room. “Good luck.” She says this last bit sincerely.
As they walk out, the Jedi woman reaches to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear. She has long chestnut colored hair worn in a thick knot at her neck. It’s a no nonsense, utilitarian hairstyle but it’s still pretty in profile. Something about that commonplace, unconscious movement catches his attention. So, he keeps stealing curious glances as they walk in silence.
The Jedi woman is very average. Average height, average build, with medium light skin, indeterminate brown-grey eyes, and medium brown hair. She has the fresh scrubbed, generic prettiness that results when youth combines with good health. It’s nice, but forgettable. All in all, she’s nothing special to look at in her Jedi tunic, culottes, and boots. But still . . . there’s something familiar about her. Something comforting that seems very at odds with her brusqueness.
“Do I know you?” he asks hopefully.
The Jedi woman looks to him warily and then averts her eyes. “I don’t know. Do you?” The words come out snippy. Sort of haughty, too. Is she making fun of him because he’s a lowly Private who wouldn’t normally interact with a Jedi? Maybe not because her expression is concerned. She’s walking very determinedly now. He has to pick up his pace not to fall behind.
Again, he searches the young woman’s profile for recognition, but he finds nothing. Whatever he senses that is familiar about this woman, he can’t place it. But he senses it all the same. It’s like he knows her, but she’s a stranger.
Does he know her?? “No, I guess not,” he concedes.
“I have one of those faces that looks like other people,” she shrugs. “I get that a lot. I think I look like a lot of people,” she laughs a little. It sounds nervous and forced.
Now, he is more intrigued than ever to find out what’s going on. The doctors have lied to him and now a Jedi as well. This familiar young woman looks and acts threatened in subtle ways, too. Insight flashes up to him and understanding dawns. She recognizes him, he’s sure of it.
He’s going to have to get to know this Jedi Bastila Shan better, Evan decides.
Apologies to Charles Dickens for borrowing his phrase for the title.
Revanchist (from French: revanche, "revenge") is the political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country, often following a war or social movement. It is a real concept in current and past world affairs.
In the Star Wars EU, the Revanchists (from Revan/Evan Chist), known as ‘Jedi Crusaders,’ were a renegade faction of the Jedi Order who took it upon themselves to intervene in the Galactic Republic’s Mandalorian Wars after the Jedi Council forbade its Knights to enter the war. They were led by a young charismatic Knight named Revan and his best friend and fellow Jedi Alek (later Malak). The Revanchists sought to aggressively push back the invading Mandalorians (whose warrior culture ideology seems to be ‘Sith without the Force’). While the Revanchists were publicly hailed as heroes for their efforts, the Jedi Council saw things differently.
By the time the war was over, the Republic was saved, the Mandalorians were defeated, and the Jedi Order was split over differing views on policy, politics, and the Force. During the Jedi Civil War that followed, the Jedi Council would bait a trap for Revan and Malak, sending a strike team including the young Jedi Padawan Bastila Shan. Malak got away, Revan was severely injured, and only Bastila Shan survived of the strike team. Bastila used the Force to stabilize Revan, accidentally creating a Force bond in the process. Revan recovered and the Jedi Council erased his memory, giving him a completely new identity as a Republic soldier. That is where my story begins.
As with my SWTOR story Darker, I am not making this up. There is a lot to the EU Legends tale of Revan, and the sources are a book I have not read and a videogame I have not played. But the basic story and much of the detail here is rooted in the official version. With a little spin from me, of course. As with the tale of Darth Malgus in Darker, I am not attempting to tell the whole tale of Revan, just a portion of his drama that interests me.
This is a very Dark, morally problematic time for the Jedi Order, much like the Clone Wars era leading up to Episode 3. A great deal of the SWTOR lore from this time period appears influenced by prequels concepts such as Count Dooku and the Separatists. But, in my opinion, the SWTOR version is a deeper, richer re-telling. Revan is not simply a Sith Lord in disguise like Dooku, who aided and abetted the enemy from within. Revan becomes a Sith Lord in the process of saving the Republic, not betraying it. All along, Revan wants to do the right thing. That’s a big, important difference from Dooku.
Also, do not mistake Revan as another version of Vader, the Jedi who fell from grace because the pressures of war and his inability to live up to the Jedi Code led him to make moral compromises. Vader’s motivations for Darkness were purely personal—his desire to save his illicit wife and his own ambitions in the Force. Revan’s motivations are selfless. He is only ever in it to save the Republic from a brutal enemy.
Pulling the strings from behind the scenes is, naturally, a big Star Wars baddie. His name is Darth Vitiate and he spends centuries poking at the Republic and the Jedi while torturing the captive Revan. Revan is Vitiate’s ultimate foil, however, and he makes his presence felt even as a captive. Revan plays a behind the scenes role in all sorts of pivotal events, including the Battle of Coruscant that features prominently in the end of Darker. That’s where I came to know more about Revan and the result is this story.
Revan the Jedi wears a mask of Mandalorian armor during the Mandalorian Wars. He wears the mask in public and his face is not generally known. Masks are sort of a thing with the Mandalorians, and Revan vows to wear his mask until the Mandalorians are brought to justice. Normally, I associate masks with Sith Lords, but in this war it’s the Jedi who hides his face.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
She had begged the High Council not to give her this assignment. She’s not ready for this. She’s a Padawan still, for she keeps putting off her trials, afraid she will fail. Besides, if there ever was a job for a Jedi Master, this is it, she argues. That whole Force bond thing was a complete accident. And it’s gone now anyway. So there’s no reason she has any connection with this matter or this man going forward.
The Council had disagreed. The Masters downplayed her objections and gave her encouragement. Her skills are well suited to this task, they reminded her. And no one’s sure what the state of the Force bond will be going forward. But preliminary reports all suggest that the Council’s mind wipe has been largely effective.
That strategy has turned out to be a double-bladed sword in hindsight. Because while the Force induced amnesia neutralized their foe, it also removed all the information he had about the source of his military might. All the Council had gleaned during the mindwipe is that there exist several star maps that lead to an ancient weapons factory which is capable of immense output. Were the factory to fall into the wrong hands—especially if this hidden Sith Empire actually exists—then the Republic and the Jedi Order will be at great risk.
Moreover, this is all happening during a crisis moment. For as it stands, the Order has been severely weakened by the turmoil in its midst. Far too many Knights have been killed in action or fallen from grace. Even her own Jedi Master defied the High Council and set out to join the Crusaders fighting the Mandalorians. He, like others, was lured by the charismatic young leader whose mind the Council has stripped. He and his brother-in-arms who now rampages the galaxy in his stead must be stopped. Else the Light will be forever snuffed out.
Find the maps and find the factory, they tasked her. If the Force bond still exists, rekindle it and use it to gain information. Win his trust. Use it to your advantage. And may the Force be with you, the Council instructed.
Bastila had politely balked. How can I win the trust of a man who I am lying to? Her earnest, straightforward self finds this notion ridiculous. She has no guile. She’s a Jedi. She is honest to a fault—that’s the point. She learned long ago that virtue is the best offense and defense to Darkness. It’s rudimentary catechism she learned before she even got her sword.
And he is dangerous, Bastila points out. He has wooed far more experienced Knights than her to his aggressively interventionist cause. What if I am lured too? This man is brutal, she argues, and ruthless. Just witness his extermination of all his enemies on Malachor V. He destroyed a planet to consolidate his power and he took many of our Republic troops out along with the enemy Mandalorians. We don’t even have words to adequately describe that sort of genocidal war crime, Bastila maintains. So how do you expect me to succeed where all others have failed?
But the Council saw through her. You are afraid, the Grandmaster accused. Humbled Bastila hung her head and answered yes. For there is much to fear about Darth Revan and the moral ambiguity he represents. Just look at the damage this man and his zealot followers have done. This is what happens when you stray from the Light. For once you start down the Dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. There can be no better example of this than the Jedi prodigy who became the traitor Darth Revan.
Why then, the Grandmaster asked her pointedly, did you bring him to us in the first place? Why did you not kill him when you had the chance? What did you think would happen if he recovered?
Truthfully, Bastila hadn’t really been thinking at the time. She had been reacting in the moment, moved by the mercy of the Light. Terrified too for her own life. And so now in hindsight, she feels a little foolish for her impulsive idealism. She answers the Council in a small, apologetic voice: “It’s not the Jedi way to kill injured prisoners of war. No one deserves execution without first having a chance to repent and reform.”
To her great relief, this response is favorably received by the circle of Council members. This moment, the Grandmaster answers, is Revan’s chance to reform. It is both a magnanimous gesture towards him and a strategic move for us. For the greatest weapon is turning the enemy to your cause and using their knowledge against them.
Miserable Bastila had just nodded. She had no rebuttal to this wisdom.
The Grandmaster had continued: We would not ask this of you if we did not think you capable. Moreover, the Force chose you when it allowed you to keep him alive. It’s why the Council determined to rehabilitate him in such an extreme way. The Force clearly wants him to live. It matched his Darkness with your Light and life prevailed against all odds. There is a lesson there. Plus, now that he is ignorant of his past, there should be little danger, the Grandmaster concluded.
Bastila was still not convinced. Aren’t we doing what we accused him of doing? He and the others ran headlong into Darkness believing it would safeguard the Light. His ends justified his means, no matter what the cost. And now, we are doing the same. Wiping his mind, telling him lies, and sending me to manipulate him? How are these the actions of a Jedi? They are the tactics of the cowardly, deceitful Sith, she stated flatly.
It comes out a bit shrill and preachy. Several Council members took great offense. We are saving our wayward son from himself. Our tactics, while harsh, are keeping him alive. We could have executed him for treason, but we did not. For such is the abundant mercy of the Light. And it was demonstrated first in this matter by none other than yourself, the Grandmaster argued.
Did we have to wipe his mind, Bastila complained. Could we not have first tried reasoning with him? But that was out of the question. And, admittedly, perhaps it is naive to think to reason with a monstrous, extremist killer. But still . . . perhaps we should have listened to him all along if this magical weapons factory exists. Maybe, Bastila posits, he was right about the threat of the hidden Sith. Her assertion goes nowhere. The Council views the supposed hidden Sith Empire as a straw man to justify Revan’s rise to power.
Sensing that she has lost the debate, Bastila next pleaded for help. Can I at least get another Jedi to assist me? The Council turns her down. And Bastila can’t help but feel as though they want to limit their losses in this likely-to-fail mission. With so many of the best and brightest Jedi dead or gone Dark, the Order is facing a crisis of membership. She’s all they will spare to hunt down a mythical munitions factory that may or may not exist.
The discussion went on for a full hour. Bastila was told repeatedly about her great future within the Order. How loyal, obedient servant leaders like herself will help to regain the public’s trust in the Jedi. In the end, the Council thanked Bastila for her vigorous debate. Then, it dismissed her and wished her well.
Bastila swallowed hard, bowed low, and walked out.
And that’s how a valiant but thoroughly intimidated Padawan now finds herself facing the most dangerous man the Jedi have ever known. He might not know that about himself. But she does. And she is the person directly responsible for him being alive and taken to the Council to be brainwashed.
That’s why Bastila marches into the infirmary loaded for gundark. She’s got her saber on and she’s wearing a loaded blaster with the safety off. She puts her best swagger forward and hopes its convincing. Bastila is far from timid by nature. In her line of work, she has stared down serial killers and violent organized crime gangsters. But this guy is in a class by himself.
Once, she had been sent with a ten-person strike team to kill or capture him. Well, she had been there mostly for the battle meditation. Thankfully, he doesn’t remember that. Supposedly, Evan Chist doesn’t remember much of anything beyond vague references to his treasonous cohort and some old man no one can place.
But then, he casually asks, “Do I know you?” and Bastila’s hair stands on end.
Yikes! What does she say to that? “I don’t know. Do you?” she responds flippantly. She really would prefer not to lie to this man if she can avoid it. But she’s not sure what to do, so her words come out frosty. That always happens when she’s nervous.
“No, I guess not,” he concedes, still looking at her curiously. Bastila has to fight the strong urge to fidget under his gaze.
And rather than leave well enough alone, she nervously babbles out, “I have one of those faces that looks like other people . . . I get that a lot . . . I think I look like a lot of people.” She laughs a little, and it sounds forced even to her ears. And now, she wants to cringe. Ugh. This can’t get any worse, can it? Luckily, the conversation falls into a lull as they head for a shuttle that will take them off Dantooine.
As they walk, Bastila conducts her own covert assessment. Obviously, he looks much improved from the dying man who lay bleeding out across her lap. The evil mastermind goatee is gone now. He is clean shaven with a short military haircut. His face still bears the fading diagonal scars down both cheeks that strangely echo his mask. But otherwise, he looks healthy and happy. Far less haggard. Younger, too. And startlingly handsome. Bastila is slightly taken aback at this last bit.
Mostly, she remembers his eyes from before. They are deep set and chocolate brown and heavily fringed with lashes. Filled with pain, those haunting eyes had stared up at her as she held his head and concentrated deeply. She is not a trained Jedi healer, but Bastila had given it her best shot. She had reached out to the cosmos and willed him to survive. For despite what this man had become, he was once a faithful servant of the Light. And where Light dwells, hope lives. That’s why in the moment mercy had seemed the only choice.
Bastila had stubbornly refused to give up, merging her mind with her enemy’s to save him. With that act, she took on the burden of his pain, both physical and mental. It was a rash impulse that had lasting effects. The mental connection had stayed with them both until the Council wiped his memories six months ago.
But for a while beforehand, he had lurked unconscious in her mind, heavily sedated with drugs while his body underwent round after round of lifesaving surgeries. Bastila had occasionally sensed pain or panic upon his few moments of waking, but mostly she had sensed determination. For this is a man who has a very high tolerance for discomfort and an indomitable will to live. Watching him bound up the shuttle ramp beside her now makes her smile inside. She knows that he has endured a lot to get to this point.
“So what’s this really all about?” he asks as he slips into the co-pilot seat beside her. Bastila busies herself warming up the craft and setting the navicomputer coordinates as she searches for a suitable answer.
“Come on,” he cajoles with a smile that is disarming because it’s unexpected. He has very white teeth and eyes that crinkle slightly at the corners. He persists, “Why is the Republic chasing treasure in the middle of a war. Explain to me how that makes sense.”
“I’m following orders, Private. I didn’t ask for this assignment,” she answers gruffly as the shuttle’s repulsolifts kick in and they break gravity. “I didn’t ask questions.”
That response earns her a frown. “You should ask questions. Everything needs a reason and a purpose.” His tone and his words are clear criticism. It’s a bit presumptuous.
And that’s the kind of skeptical thinking that belongs to this guy’s old persona, Bastila thinks. They are leaving Dantooine’s atmosphere now and ready to jump to lightspeed. Bastila sets course and punches it. The inky black starlit sky gives way to hyperspace. Her piloting work done, she sits back and exhales.
“Come on, what’s this about?” His eyes fall to her sword. “If you tell me, will you have to kill me? Is that it?”
Is he teasing her? Bastila stiffens. She doesn’t know how to respond to that. “I don’t want to kill anyone,” she confesses softly. That’s the very sentiment that got her in this mess.
“You’re a Jedi Knight, aren't you?” he scoffs, echoing the widespread misconception that all members of the Order are warriors at heart. “Isn’t killing for the Republic with a laser sword your thing?”
“No, it’s not,” she corrects him. “Actually, I’m still in training,” Bastila responds for the record. “And I’m a Jedi Sentinel, not a Guardian.”
“What does that mean?” He sounds genuinely curious.
“Jedi Sentinels have a special field of discipline in addition to the Force. We are healers, scholars, explorers, investigators, artisans, and inventors. We promote peace through knowledge while others keep the peace through diplomacy or, if necessary, war.”
“So you’re a thinker, not a fighter?” he sums up.
“Something like that,” she nods. But she quickly informs him, “But just so you know, I can use my sword.”
“So which one are you? Healer, scholar, explorer, investigator, artisan, or inventor?” He rattles her prior list off word for word. He’s clearly listening closely.
“I’m an investigator. I usually assist with local law enforcement.”
“Mostly, I conduct interrogations and help the detectives. My talents lie more with understanding people than with fighting. I’m an empath,” she explains.
It’s an unfortunate use of Jedi jargon that prompts the question, “What’s that?”
Since she brought it up, Bastila now has to answer the question. “Through the Force, I can become closely attuned to other people. It is a natural gift for mental connection through empathy. Empaths pick up people’s motivations and feelings easily. We can uncover secrets and deception. It is very useful in criminal investigations. Many Jedi empaths go on to become judges,” she says proudly. “We believe that justice is the Force’s highest calling. We pride ourselves on truth and fairness.” And therein lies the crux of her issue with this current assignment, Bastila knows.
“So you determine right from wrong? Truth from lies? All with the Force?”
“Yes,” she nods.
“So how does that suit you to treasure hunting?” he asks. It’s a fair question. This man asks lots of questions. It’s going to make avoiding lies very hard.
“I’m used to cracking a case,” she answers. “I help solve mysteries all the time. This mystery will be a bit different, that’s all.”
He accepts that answer. “So . . . what are we looking for and why?”
“There are rumors of an ancient artifact that has been rediscovered beyond the Rim. It’s a space station factory that creates munitions. The Republic fears its enemies will use it to build an armada for invasion.”
“Oookay,” he answers slowly. His skepticism shows plainly on his face. “How do we know this? What evidence do we have that this is true?”
“The Jedi High Council has learned this,” Bastila takes refuge in a vague half-truth. “Supposedly, there are ancient star maps that point to the location of the space station. From long ago when the factory was in use. We need to find those star maps first.” She slants a glance over at him. “That’s where you come in.”
“My language skills?” he guesses.
“Yes. But we also think that you may have knowledge of the maps.”
“Yes.” Bastila now starts in with her cover story. It’s kinda, sorta true. And it’s the best she can come up with. “We believe that one of the subjects who contributed much of your genetic material was an explorer type. We believe he saw at least one of the maps to the space station.”
She looks him in the eye and says, “We know about the memories that have been resurfacing for you. The doctors may believe that they are nothing, but we don't. We think those are flickers of memories from that explorer. They are false memories for you, but real memories for him. He’s dead now or we would approach him directly.” And that too is true from a certain point of view. The man who saw the star maps, Darth Revan, is dead. He is reborn as this Republic trooper.
“So this isn’t just about my skills as a soldier?”
“No. This is mostly about you as a defective clone,” Bastila says the unfortunate medical term as politely as she can. She’s determined to stick to the script.
But she can see how the term ‘clone’ makes him chafe. Bastila’s face softens. “Private, I don’t condone human cloning. The Jedi Order has long opposed the practice. But the Republic military keeps experimenting with it. I’m sorry if that has made you an unwilling participant.” Her words are a lie in relation to this man, but Bastila’s sentiments are true. She and the rest of the Order have long condemned slavery in all its iterations, including breeding sentients for specific occupations through cloning.
“I see,” is all he says.
Leading him to believe that he is a clone is the convenient solution to explain away the large gaps in his memory. When the Council wiped his mind, it didn’t truly erase anything. Instead, it blocked a large portion of his personal history beginning with his Jedi training. The Council then implanted false memories of his past. They aren’t very detailed and there are many years to cover, so making him a clone with an accelerated growth and aging rate helps to explain things. It also explains his lack of family members and other attachments. Together with the cover story of amnesia following a severe accident, the Council hopes he will be fooled.
“Here.” She produces a datapad and hands it over. “This is everything we know about the space station factory. It’s not much and it’s gleaned mostly from old legends. Read it and brief yourself, Private. We’ve got a long flight.”
He accepts the datapad and takes it for a dismissal. “Yes, ma’am.” He stands and head for the back of the shuttle.
“Call me Bastila,” she says over her shoulder to his retreating form. It feels weird to have this man a decade her senior call her ‘ma’am.’ Besides, all her coworkers back on Coruscant call her by her given name. She’s not much for ceremony and hierarchy. That’s more of a Jedi Guardian or a Jedi Consular thing.
He stops and nods his acceptance. “Call me Evan,” he offers in reply.
It’s early morning Coruscant time when they arrive at the Endar Spire. Evan is shown to a bunkroom he will share with a crew mate. Then he showers and eats before he reports for duty. Bastila Shan wants to get right down to business.
“Hey, Maze, it’s Basty.” As Evan wanders into a small conference room off the cruiser’s bridge, his new boss is leaving someone a message on her comlink. She glances up and then goes back to what she’s doing while he listens in. “Look I saw your note on the Moran case. Can we reconsider that sentencing recommendation? I feel like fifteen to twenty is too much. Moran had true remorse. I sensed it strongly in the Force. And you know his background. That kid never had a decent role model in his life. It’s no wonder he ended up in with the Hutts. If we put him away too long, he will never get a chance for a fresh start and I really think he could do it with the right encouragement. Think about ten to fifteen with regular parole evaluations and time off for educational achievements. I feel like that’s more appropriate. And hey, I’m out of the office right now on special assignment, so Avila is going to be covering my cases. But I’ll be in the background still if you need me. Feel free to buzz my com. Thanks.” She hangs up.
Her monologue intrigues him. Could this Jedi woman not be the hard-ass she pretends to be?
“Good. You’re here.” Bastila welcomes him with a curt nod. Her casual attitude from that comlink message is gone. She’s just as standoffish and gruff as before. “Take a seat. Let’s get started.”
“Basty, huh?” Evan grins as he slides into a chair. “I didn’t peg you for a Basty.”
She shoots him a look. “Then don’t. Bastila will do fine.”
“Yes, Ma’am, Basty.”
She shoots him another look.
“Where do we start?” he asks, trying to be casually friendly. This woman seems awfully uptight. But if he can get her talking, perhaps she will relax some and he will learn more about his past. Evan gestures to the screen on the wall that is projecting the materials he read during the shuttle flight. “There isn’t much here to go off of.”
“I know.” Bastila crosses the room to lean against the table and loom over him. It’s the posture of an interrogation and he’s on the hot seat. “That’s why I am hoping you can help. Tell me about those memory fragments you’ve been having.”
Yes, it’s clear that she thinks those memories are as important as he does. Do those flashbacks really have anything to do with a hidden space station factory? Evan is suspicious. But he plays along to see what else she will reveal. Like the doctors, this Jedi woman has been lying to him. He wants to find out why.
“The memories are images and feelings mostly. They are more like impressions than events,” he answers truthfully. But the flashbacks also come with a flood of unexplained, patchy knowledge, too. That’s why they usually raise more questions than they answer. “The memories mostly involve the same people,” he explains.
“The man you call Alek?”
“Tell me about him.”
“He’s my little brother, but not by much. We grew up together. We were inseparable. Our whole lives, we did everything together. He looks up to me.”
“We must have joined the army together. We fought together side by side. I don’t know what happened to him.” Somehow, he thinks it was something bad.
Bastila nods and moves on. “Okay. Tell me about your father.”
“He calls me ‘son’ but he’s not my father. He lives in a fancy house with servants and guards everywhere. He’s an important man.”
“What does he do?”
“He’s the wise professor type. That’s all I know. He gives Alek and I a lot of good advice. But he is tough. We’re afraid of him.” He also shoots lightning from his fingertips, but Evan omits that part.
“Do you remember anything about a map?” she asks hopefully. “Or about a space station?”
“Anything about warships or munitions?”
“Anything about technical data or blueprints?”
“No. Not yet, at least. But the memories are coming more frequently lately. Perhaps I’ll learn something in the near future,” he offers, watching for her reaction.
She takes the bait. “Really?” The possibility of him remembering more has the Jedi woman both intrigued and a bit alarmed, Evan senses.
“Do you have any idea what’s making you regain the memories? Do the doctors have any theories?” She looks almost afraid to ask. And now, Evan is certain that there is something in his past she doesn’t want him to know. She wants him to remember those maps but nothing else of consequence, he suspects.
“I have figured out how to trigger them,” he makes a strategic reveal. “It’s not one hundred percent reliable, but it’s worked the last few times.”
She nods along. “Can you trigger a memory now?”
“I can try. I just need a bright light or a flash of something. That usually does the trick.”
“Light is what helps you remember?” She seems taken aback. Her eyes are huge now. “Light is what does it?” Her voice has dropped to a soft whisper.
“Yes,” he confirms. “Bright light usually brings me the memories. The more it blinds me, the better.”
“Oh . . . Of course, of course,” Bastila marvels breathlessly. “Because the Light brings the truth.” She says this with reverence. Her accompanying smile is something of a revelation, too. It transforms her face. Bastila Shan relaxed and happy is anything but ordinary looking, Evan realizes. This Jedi woman’s smile is perhaps the most beguiling, yet most wholesome, thing he has ever seen. She appears girlishly hopeful and earnestly committed. The change is abrupt and disconcerting.
The moment makes him wistful. He’s not exactly sure why.
For her part, Bastila is completely unaware of the effect she has on him. She looks around for a source of light in the small conference room. “What if I blink the lights in here?” she asks excitedly. “Will that do it?”
“It might. Give it a try,” he suggests.
She does, and it works.
The bearded man looks him and Alek over critically and grunts with satisfaction. He stands now and marches down from his high throne. Handing them each back their swords that are now powered by kyber crystals bled red from hate, he bids them goodbye: “Now, you are reborn in the Force. Through me, with me, and in me, in the conflict of Darkness, all glory and honor is ours. Go, my sons, leave me. Find the Forge that will fuel our war and expand our Empire.”
“Yes, Master,” he and Alek reply in solemn unison.
“Lords of the Sith are men of valor,” the bearded man admonishes. “We do not hesitate, we show no mercy, and we do what must be done. But protect each other like the brothers you are. Return to me victorious, my prodigal sons. I shall reward you with more secrets of the Force.”
“Is it working?” Bastila whispers furtively. It interrupts him and the memory dissipates instantly. He’s back to the present with Bastila peering hopefully at him.
He shakes his head. “I had something, but I lost it.” Evan is careful to omit details and avoid an outright lie. Everyone knows you can’t lie to a Jedi. But he has no intention of sharing with Bastila Shan anything other than the space station factory information she seeks. He’s worried that if she knows he’s remembering other things, she will try to stop it somehow. Whatever this conspiracy is, it’s important enough to involve multiple people, including a Jedi. That makes him cautious.
“Well, darn,” she frowns. “I spoiled it, didn’t I?” Bastila looks sheepish. “Sorry, Evan. That was my fault.”
Her gruff boss lady persona is starting to thaw a little. That’s a relief. Evan has the impression it’s all an act, and not really her true self. Does she feel compelled to be stern because she’s young and she’s a woman and she fears he won’t take her seriously? She’s a Jedi and that is credential enough to earn anyone’s respect, he thinks. Especially for a lowly Pfc like himself.
She has that same tightly tied back hair again today, he notices. It makes her look safe, he decides. Like she rarely takes a risk she can avoid. Like she has a neat room somewhere with organized drawers that match her orderly mind. Bastila Shan strikes him as someone who works hard, plays by the rules, and always does the right thing. That’s who he pretends to be as well. But it’s not who he really is. The bits and pieces of his past he knows strongly suggest the contrary.
“Try again. Flip the lights,” he instructs. He’s anxious to keep remembering. But it doesn’t work this time. He’s disappointed but shrugs it off. They can try again later, he suggests. He knows from experience that he gets only one flashback per day at most. Sometimes, he goes for days between them. Evan has learned that he can’t rush regaining his memory.
But she persists. “Try again. Let’s keep trying until we get something.”
“Sure,” he agrees affably. “But let’s give it a few minutes first. It might be too soon.”
“Do it,” she orders impatiently. “And concentrate harder this time.”
That sharp comment prompts him to cock his head at her. “Are you always this intense?”
“I prefer ‘focused,’” Bastila informs him coolly. She reminds him, “The Republic is at stake. We don’t have time to waste.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He doesn’t bother to hide his sarcasm. And, sure enough, the next attempt to trigger a flashback fails.
“Okay, now that’s done, let’s do Plan B.” Evan starts pulling up star maps on the several datapads lying on the conference table. He starts sorting through the navigational charts. Bastila looks at him blankly, so he explains, “Let’s do a process of elimination. We will throw out all the major systems and the systems near hyperspace lanes and established trade routes. We’re looking for something that isn’t easily stumbled upon,” he reasons aloud, “so it must be remote. Probably alien, too. If we cut this data enough ways, we can begin to narrow things down.”
“But that still leaves thousands of systems in the Rim,” she points out. “And that doesn’t count all the uncharted systems in the Unknown Regions. The factory could be anywhere in wild space.”
He shrugs. “No one said this would be easy.”
“But this approach will take forever,” she complains.
“Then we had better get started. Here,” he slides a datapad over her direction.
It rubs her the wrong way, so she pulls rank. “I’m in charge here, Private,” she crosses her arms and asserts herself.
“You got a better idea?” he challenges with a raised eyebrow. When she doesn’t answer, he attempts to be more conciliatory. “Look, I just want to take a rough cut at things. Then, we can narrow down our options as we get more information. If someone is building a fleet in the middle of nowhere, then they are going to need lots of supplies and fuel. We can sort through our results to find the systems that are nearest to coaxium depots.” They will deduce their way to this space station factory, he figures. And in the process, he hopes, he can deduce his way back to his full memory.
“What we really need is for you to start remembering things,” she says stubbornly. “That’s where the useful clues will come from.”
“Maybe. But what if I don’t have all the answers? What then?”
“I don’t know,” she confesses softly.
“Then how about we try it my way?”
“Alright.” After an hour, Bastila loses interest. She’s clearly unconvinced that they will discover anything useful from conventional sources. She thinks he’s the source of all the answers. Evan files that information away. And then, in an effort to seem like an enthusiastic team player, he suggests they flip the lights on and off one more time to see if it will trigger another memory.
This time, it works.
When they burst in, their foe swivels on his throne to face them calmly. He’s unremarkable looking. It’s a bit of a letdown. He’s a man like any other man, with medium brown hair streaked with grey and a matching beard. He appears well into middle age in years. “Welcome,” their foe invites. “I have been expecting you. I look forward to completing your training. In time, you will call me Master.”
He bristles. He’s the hero of the Republic and he’s long past his Padawan days. “You’re gravely mistaken. You are going to die today.” He will end this hidden threat before this evil mastermind unveils himself and his Empire to the Republic.
That boast prompts an indulgent smile, like one might give a favorite child. “Oh no, my young Apprentice. You will find that it is you who are mistaken about a great many things.”
“Your overconfidence is your weakness,” he accuses, brandishing his sword.
The bearded man’s eyes find faithful Alek who stands at his side with his own saber buzzing. Their foe smirks openly at the valiant picture they present together. “Your faith in your friend here is yours.” And then, the bearded man smirks. “I have foreseen it.”
“What did you see?” Bastila whispers after a long moment. She’s clearly fearful that she will break his concentration and ruin it again.
“I was with my brother,” Evan answers carefully. “We were fighting with our father.” And they were both holding bright blue Jedi laser swords. It wasn’t your usual family squabble. But he omits that information.
“So, nothing about a map or a space station?”
“Oh.” She looks frustrated. “Well, maybe next time,” she grumbles.
Taking a risk, Evan now asks Bastila again, “Are you sure we don’t know each other?” just to see what she’ll say. He doesn’t want to ask outright about his past given everyone’s deceit, so he tends to probe at it indirectly. Poking around letting details drop to see how people will react. “I feel like you are familiar to me.” He smiles in an attempt to make the moment non-threatening.
It doesn’t seem to help. So far, this woman is impervious to his charm offensive. In fact, Bastila’s eyes narrow and her whole demeanor shifts. It telegraphs the evasion he knows is coming next. “No, I don’t believe we are friends,” she says stiffly. Her words have an air of judgement to them. Then, she stands and heads for the door. She can’t leave fast enough.
But he goes right for the follow up: “Are you saying that we are enemies?” he calls after her. “Is there something you’re not telling me?”
“Enemies?” She pauses on the threshold and shifts her weight nervously. Here comes another carefully worded dodge, he thinks. Sure enough, Bastila doesn’t disappoint. “You’re a Republic trooper and I’m a Jedi. We’re on the same side, right? How could we be enemies?” she wonders aloud.
This is kind of fun, Evan thinks. So, he keeps up and rephrases his original question just to see her tap dance around the truth again. “Maybe we don’t know each other, but have we met before?” he asks.
She deliberates long and hard before she answers. She tells the truth. “Yes.” Bastila looks away. “I was there briefly when you first woke up. You probably don’t remember much. You were very drugged with painkillers.”
Now, he’s getting somewhere. Evan stands and crosses the room to approach her. “Why? Why were you there?”
She looks impatient to be away. But again, she thinks a moment before she answers. That hesitation betrays just how tempted she is to lie. “I wanted to see how you were doing. You were very badly injured. You almost died.” She looks him over. “It’s good to see how completely you have recovered. The doctors weren’t sure at first that things would turn out that way. I’m glad,” she tells him sincerely.
“Why would you care how I was doing if we don’t know each other?” he cross-examines her. “Why would my life matter to you?” He’s a Private in the Republic infantry. That’s cannon fodder as far as most decision-makers are concerned.
Bastila Shan responds with Jedi chapter and verse: “All sentient life has value because it comes from the Force.” She looks earnest again now. Like earlier when she had spoken of the Light.
“Do you visit the bedside of every wounded soldier?” he presses. “Why were you interested in me?”
Again, she reluctantly answers with the truth. And it deepens the mystery considerably. “I was there when you got hurt. I helped you until you got proper medical care. So, I felt some responsibility for you afterwards.”
“What would a Jedi be doing on a routine training exercise?” he wonders aloud. “I thought you said you were a criminal investigator.”
“Uh . . .”
“Was I committing a crime? Did I witness a crime? Did you arrest me?” he asks in rapid fire succession.
“N-No . . . “ She looks a bit panicked now as she realizes her disclosures don’t quite add up. Her little nuggets of truth are shifting the mosaic of lies he’s been told considerably. Now, Bastila really looks anxious to be away.
He looks at her expectantly. Silence is a very effective negotiating tool. And, sure enough, Bastila starts talking again. She might be a good interrogator in her usual line of work, Evan thinks, but when the tables are turned, she’s easily played. Bastila Shan is clearly used to asking the questions, not answering them. But to her credit, she doesn’t take refuge in easy lies like others have. And that impresses him. This woman respects the truth.
“I am a criminal investigator,” she explains. “It was an unusual assignment for me. I just happened to be there when you were injured. I’m sure it’s all in the report. Go read the report, Private,” she takes refuge in rank to shut the discussion down. “I’m sure the report has all the details you want.”
He’s read the report. It says nothing of any consequence and it omits any mention of her. But Evan nods and lets the point go. He knows not to press too hard. But he will keep pressing again and again until he finds out the complete truth. He’s not the type who gives up easily on something he wants.
“Thank you,” he tells her sincerely. “Thank you for saving my life.” He smiles again to soften the moment.
Again, it doesn’t work. Bastila nods curtly. She looks exceedingly uncomfortable and more than a bit horrified at what she has revealed.
“You know, this star chart stuff would be a lot easier if I had a droid,” he suggests, gesturing to the table of datapads behind them.
She nods and takes the hint. “Right. I’ll go see what I can do.” Her comlink starts buzzing now and she yelps out, “Gotta take this!” without even checking it. “Er . . . carry on,” she instructs as she nearly sprints for the door.
“Basty,” he calls after her again.
“Uh . . . yeah?” she pauses on the threshold.
“Put the safety lock on that blaster.” He points to her holstered weapon. “You’re making me nervous. You’re going to shoot your foot off if you bump it.” In her current state, this jumpy young woman is just jittery enough to do that for real.
“Yeah, okay. Right.” Then, she’s out the door.
As he watches her go, Evan thinks of her earlier smile when she spoke of the Force. He much prefers that version of Bastila Shan over this bitchy, vaguely fearful woman. Still, in the little over an hour he spent with her, she was already starting to divulge information. And twice in her presence today, he received a memory flashback. It’s all very promising. Slowly but surely, he is determined to uncover the complete truth.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
It’s a good thing Bastila takes the com call that is her pretext to leave the room. It’s Master Vandar Tokare from the High Council checking in and alerting her to a new threat. Tokare has been deeply involved in the Revan matter and he’s her supervisor for this mission.
The Jedi Master is the bearer of bad news: “We’ve intercepted transmissions to suggest that Malak is looking for you.”
“Oh, no,” she gulps. Great. This assignment keeps getting worse. “Does he know that I have Revan?” she asks worriedly. “Is he trying to finish the job of killing him?”
“Possibly. Or Malak might suspect that we are searching for the space station factory and he wants to stop us. But it’s also possible that he recognized your battle meditation. That is a very rare skill. A Dark Sider might covet your knowledge, Bastila.”
That’s a sobering thought. Her eyes widen and her pulse skips a beat.
Master Tocare is firm. “Kill Revan if you have to, but do not let him fall back in with Al—Malak. One of those guys on the loose is enough.”
“K-Kill him?” she repeats to confirm. Is the Council really asking her to do this? And her of all people? She was the one who saved Revan in the first place when she might have let him die.
“Yes,” Master Tocare confirms. The much decorated, very revered diminutive Jedi Master now exhales a weary sigh. “That has never been the Council’s preferred solution for this matter, as you know. But it is a far more merciful outcome than what Malak might do to him. And it is better to be one with the Force than to be Dark,” he reminds her.
“Yes, Master.” Bastila knows this reasoning is how the Council got comfortable with their mind wipe plan. They considered it merciful because it gave Revan a second chance to live in the Light.
The alien Jedi Master now gives her a pointed look. “Remember that advice for yourself, Bastila. Better to die in the Light than to live in Darkness. Beware the Dark Side of the Force.”
The awful silence that follows has Bastila sweating. “So, if I get captured . . . ??” she begins.
“You know what to do. Be strong in the face of destiny. And trust in the Force.”
Thoroughly scared Bastila dutifully nods. “Yes, Master,” she gulps.
The com call ends. Discouraged, she sits in meditation afterwards, hoping for enlightenment. Because when in doubt, Bastila Shan looks to the Force. It is the constant guiding influence in her life. And now, more than ever, she needs its help. She has a dangerous amnesiac Sith Lord under her charge. He’s remembering bits and pieces of his past, but not the useful ones. She’s supposed to find a mythical hidden weapons factory that might not exist. It could be anywhere. And, she has a maniacal Sith Lord hunting her down for any number of good reasons. Bastila doesn’t lack for courage or confidence, but this is a lot to absorb. She feels very alone and way out of her league. But she will do her best to fulfill the Council’s instructions. To be the faithful, diligent Jedi she was raised to be.
Master Tocare’s information creates new urgency to find the weapons factory and complete the mission. Then, hopefully, she can extricate herself from this situation and go back to solving crimes and helping victims. And maybe Darth Malak will forget she exists. Bastila spent her youngling and Padawan years watching the turmoil brewing in the Jedi Order, hoping to stay on the sidelines. But this mission has placed her squarely at the crux of the dispute. It is a very, very dangerous place to be.
So she spends a few more minutes drifting in the Force, basking in the Light to encourage her flagging spirits and give her courage. Then, she heads for the conference room where the supposed Private Chist is still studying star charts.
As Bastila walks in, she catches Evan casually open his palm. A datapad lying a foot away flies into his grip. Witnessing this use of the Force causes her breath to stick in her throat. The simple gesture is nothing Bastila hasn’t seen hundreds of times before and done herself. But this is different. Private Evan Chist is not supposed to use the Force. He’s not even supposed to know he has the Force.
Was that move unconscious? She isn’t sure. But he appears unconcerned, so she ignores it.
“No droid? Then here,” he tosses her the datapad, “you can help some more.”
Again, this guy acts like he’s in charge. He has a tendency to command, and that’s way out of character for the Private he’s supposed to be. Still, spooked Bastila gets to work. She doesn’t dare say anything about that Force grab for fear of provoking another uncomfortable series of questions.
She can’t shake her sinking feeling about this assignment. She’s been around this guy only a day and already things seem to be veering way off course. Look at him—effortlessly, almost unknowingly using the Force. How much has he really remembered, she wonders. It’s probably much more than he’s letting on. He’s clearly very skeptical of what he has been told.
Is he on the Light Side now? Or is his allegiance still Dark? Wiping his memories of his crimes and his Force abilities isn’t the same thing as convincing him to renounce Darkness. Could he be neutral now? Bastila isn’t sure if that’s even possible. According to Jedi teaching, a Force user is either Light or Dark. There’s no in-between.
He looks up now and catches her staring. Bastila flushes and looks down. And now, feeling that the silence between them has become uncomfortable, she tries to make harmless conversation. “You know, my father is a treasure hunter. This is what he does for a living,” she remarks.
“Yeah? Maybe we should ask him for advice.”
“Oh, I haven’t seen him since I was very young. Jedi don’t have family,” she reminds Evan. “We are fully committed to others. Our lives are lives of public service,” she repeats what she learned as a small child.
“Oh, right.” And did she mistake it, or did Private Evan Chist just roll his eyes? If so, she resents that.
The conversation falls into another lull now. He’s busy working away, but she’s not concentrating on star charts. Instead, she’s obsessing over that Force grab for the datapad. Just how much does this guy really know about what’s going on? Bastila has strong suspicions that Evan Chist has figured out that there is something is special about him. Sure enough, when he breaks the silence, Bastila learns things are unraveling fast.
“I’m glad you mostly tell me the truth,” he remarks offhand.
“Er . . . what?” she gulps.
“I know when people lie to me.”
“You do?” she squeaks, her eyes wide and her mouth a round “oh” of alarm. “I mean oh . . . oh no . . . I mean right . . . ” Yikes! She’s making it worse. Bastila recovers fast. “Yeah, okay,” she nods gruffly. “Good to know.”
He smiles blandly her direction and Bastila could swear that he’s enjoying her discomfort.
And now, she squints at him and demands, “How? How do you know that someone is lying?”
He shrugs indifferently. “I don’t know how. I just know.”
The Force, that’s how.
Her eyes widen as the implication becomes clear. This guy can do more than just grab datapads with his mind. “Oooooh . . . Oh, no, you have the—“ She stops herself by literally clamping a hand over her mouth. And that body language is basically an admission of deceit right there.
But her mind is racing. Because if Evan Chist knows that she has lied to him, then he knows that others have lied as well. He’d have to be stupid not to conclude that there is a grand conspiracy at work here. Yes, he is definitely suspicious. And he wants her to know it. In the panicked stress of the moment, Bastila forgets her poker face and frowns. That’s something she never does in suspect interrogations, but this is entirely different. It’s a lot harder to be the one lying than the one asking the questions.
What’s worse, Evan really looks like he wants to laugh at her. She bristles some more.
“You’re a terrible liar,” he tells her with a smile. It’s not an accusation, it’s a statement of fact. And, honestly, she doesn’t disagree.
“I’m usually the one discovering the lies, not the one telling them,” she grumbles.
“So . . . are you doing to tell me what’s going on?” he asks gently.
“No!” she practically shrieks.
“Why not?” It’s a reasonable question for which she has no adequate response.
So she takes refuge in the chain of command. “I’m following orders, Private. I don’t make the decisions.”
“You told me that on the shuttle on the way here. That you don’t ask questions and you follow orders.”
She nods, “That’s right.”
“Do you always play by the rules?”
“Yes, I do.” She rushes to change the topic now. “Can we take a break from these star charts?”
“Bored already?” he challenges softy. “I can see why. You’ve been looking at the same system on that datapad for almost half an hour.”
Embarrassed to be caught with her mind on other things, Bastila plows forward. “I want to try to trigger your memory again.”
He nods. “Sure thing, boss.” And was that a hint of sarcasm?
Bastila ignores it. “I want to try to trigger your memory while our minds are merged.”
“While our minds are merged?” he repeats and sets his own datapad aside. She’s got his attention now. “You mean you want to fuck with my mind, Jedi?” he accuses pointedly. His tone is harsh. She’s clearly hit a nerve. Suddenly, Bastila sees a flash of the man who is Darth Revan. And no doubt a prelude of how he will react when he uncovers the Council’s mind wipe plan.
With a gulp, Bastila makes her pitch. “I want to see what you remember in case I have a perspective that can help. I won’t influence you in any way. I would simply be an observer. You won’t feel a thing. I promise it won’t hurt.”
“How do I know I can trust you?” he balks.
She takes offense. “I am a Jedi. We always keep our word.”
There he goes rolling his eyes again. “You are a Jedi that has lied to me a few times already,” he points out.
“Er . . .”
“How do I know I can trust you?” he repeats. Like she’s the one who’s dangerous when he’s the Dark Lord. Sure, he looks handsome sitting there in his Republic uniform with his dark eyes and square jaw, but Bastila knows that clean cut loyal soldier routine is not the real man he is. He’s a traitor and a killer. She keeps needing to remind herself of that.
She also needs to regain control of this situation. Bastila feels her respect and authority slipping away fast. Her cover story is dismantling rapidly too, she fears. So, she warns sternly, “It would be best if you cooperated, Private,” using her best no-nonsense Jedi interrogator voice.
“Is that a threat?” When he speaks those words, again Bastila sees a flash of the dangerous Darth Revan. This man was a master at telekinesis when he was still a Padawan. In his prime, his exploits with the Force were legendary. And if he has even some of that vast knowledge back, he could choke her dead with just his mind. “I asked you if that was a threat,” Evan reminds her. He speaks more slowly this time. His tone is full of menace.
“No!” she squeaks, instantly backing down. She’s on her feet now, wringing her hands. It’s an unfortunate power bleed, but everything about this man puts her on the defensive and makes her feel weak. She’s not fooling him one bit, she knows.
“You’re so afraid of me,” he observes, looking her up and down.
“I am not!”
“You walk in here armed to the teeth, full of boss lady bluster that crumbles fast. Tell me the truth, Bastila Shan, am I really a clone?”
She deliberates a moment before answering. “N-No.”
“Very good,” he approves. “Now answer me one more question: are these memory fragments you want to see real?”
“Y-yes,” she nods.
“Then come,” he invites calmly, “get in my mind and help me remember my past.”
He’s agreeing to it after all? Bastila blinks in surprise.
“How do we do this?” he asks when she hesitates.
“Uhmmm . . . Here,” she crosses the room to stand before him seated. “I’ll just touch your face,” she stammers as she tentatively lifts her hands to his temples. “Touch promotes the connection,” she explains. Then, she places her trembling palms on either side of his face. His head tilts back and he stares up at her and this is disconcertingly like when she had saved him. But pushing that memory aside, Bastila focuses in the Force and slips her consciousness into his.
This is easy for her as an empath. She’s has lots of long practice doing this with strangers. Plus, Evan puts up no resistance. It’s like he invites her in. “Is this okay?” she asks him aloud. But there’s really no need to speak since their minds are merged.
Yes. He answers telepathically.
She takes a deep breath and nods. “Okay, let’s begin.” Then she turns out the lights in the room with the Force. She lets them remain off for almost a minute before she reactivates them. And sure enough, the influx of light triggers his Force repressed memory as Bastila eavesdrops. She sees what he sees, she feels what he feels, she knows what he knows, while their minds are merged.
“There you are.” His brother looks up as he walks in the room. “Are you hiding?”
“Yep.” Alek takes another long sip of his beer. He glances over. “How’s your shoulder?”
“Still hurts. But it’s healing. It’ll be fine in another week.” He plops down next to Alek on the couch uninvited. “What’s up, Squint?” he asks, using his brother’s childhood nickname. “Meetra said you are in a funk.”
“Did she send you?”
“Yeah. She’s worried about you. What’s up?”
Alek takes another drink and looks away. “Girl trouble.”
The response makes him smile. “Did you make your move?”
“Yeah. I crashed and burned like a newbie with a jetpack.”
“She says it feels weird that I’m a Jedi. Like the Force will strike her down with lightning if she kisses me and corrupts me. Since I’m a priest of the Force and all . . . ”
That provokes his laugh. “Did you tell her that’s not how the Force works?”
“I told her I’m not really a Jedi anymore.” His brother looks to him. It’s a serious, meaningful look. “We’ve been trying to leave the Order for years. We’ve all but made it official. Maybe we should make it official.”
He sighs and settles back in his chair as he considers the point. “They would have thrown us out years ago if the media didn’t love us. The media is the only thing that’s keeping the Council from exiling all of the Crusaders. If they could, they would declare us Dark and hunt us down.”
Alek frowns. “They wouldn’t do that. Would they?”
“Sure, they would. And the Senate would let them. I don’t believe a word the Chancellor says.”
“Nah, they wouldn't. But one day, we’ll go too far,” Alek warns, “and they really will throw us out. We will be exiled like they did with Master Kae.” His brother makes a face and whispers, “Think of the shame of it.”
“Whatever,” he shrugs. “They can throw me out. I don’t care. It would practically be a badge of honor at this point.”
“There’s a lot of us now. They’d be kicking out a sizeable minority of the Order.” Alek looks very troubled at the thought. “We set out to save the Republic, remember? Not to destabilize one of its oldest, most cherished institutions. The Jedi and the Senate go together.”
He shrugs at his brother’s sentiment, but he doesn’t refute it. “That was never the goal, but it might be the effect. The Order needs to change if is to fulfill its function. The Council sits in its fancy chamber in its fancy temple and it is insulated from the reality of the situation. They would cheerfully sit by and wait for the Mandalorians to conquer the entire galaxy until they decided to intervene.” He warms to his theme now. “The Council cares far more about the Core than the Rim. If it were Coruscant burning and not Taris, you can bet that the Council would have done something.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“Look, if they won’t agree to face the Republic’s problems head on, then what does it mean for them to be the guardians of peace and justice?”
“So it’s ‘us versus them’ already?”
“It sure feels like that. Doesn’t it?” he challenges.
Alek looks miserable. “Fuck, how did we get here? We’re the good guys still. Right?” Alek looks to him for reassurance. “Right?”
“Right.” He slants a glance over at his glum brother. “This is more than girl trouble, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. I just don’t think I can live the rest of my life as a Jedi. And it’s not just the war . . . I can’t live by the Code. I’m not pure enough in the Force. I’m not committed enough to the Order. I’m not cut out for a life that exclusively serves others. I know I need attachments. I just . . .well . . . I’m tired of feeling like a failure because I can’t live up to their standards.”
Poor Alek looks so woebegone. He tries to cheer him up. “Look, it’s not you. It’s the Code that it is the failure. It’s outdated and full of unnecessary restrictions. Attachments are not something to fear. Neither is Darkness.”
The Jedi threw out his old Jedi Master years ago because of a romantic affair. That has never sat well with him. And he sees in himself and in other Jedi the need to form relationships to replace the family the Order denies them. Witness the bond he and Alek have as quasi-brothers. And see how needy Meetra is, always seeking out other Jedi to attempt to bond with. That girl is for sure going to get kicked out someday for an attachment. But she’s not the only one. It hasn’t escaped his notice that many of the young Crusaders are seeking a sense of belonging to an equal degree that they seek a sense of purpose. It’s natural for people to need people, he believes. And whether that manifests itself in romance or in friendship, he thinks it should be permissible. So if Alek finds a girl who wants to be with him, what’s so wrong with that?
The Council wouldn’t see it that way, though. “That sort of talk will definitely get you kicked out,” Alek observes.
The Jedi High Council is a longstanding sore point with him for lots of reasons. “I know that there are things about the Force that they're not telling me,” he grumbles.
Alek nods. “They’re afraid of you. They see your future and know your power will be too strong to control.”
“The whole focus of the Council is control,” he gripes. “That’s the problem. They should be focused on knowledge. But instead, they’re motivated by fear. Afraid to make a mistake. Terrified of Darkness. They would rather sit on the sidelines and watch world after world be destroyed than compromise their cherished principles.”
Beside him, loyal Alek nods his agreement.
“If we are going to fight, then I say we fight to win. We should be as cunning as the enemy. They will respect us for it.”
“The Council will condemn us if we use Mandalor tactics,” Alek objects.
“I don’t care. I would rather the Republic be alive and well a decade from now than keep my own hands spotless. There is a larger goal here than simply our standing in the Jedi Order.”
“Does that mean you’re ready to quit too?” Alek raises an eyebrow.
He thinks a moment. “If the Council wants to consider me a Jedi, then that’s fine. But I will live by my own rules and so can you.” He slants a smirk over at his brooding brother. “That means you can have all the girlfriends you want.”
Alek flushes with embarrassment. “It’s not about that—“
He claps him on the back before he stands. “Sure, it is. Go get yourself attached if you can find a woman who’ll have you,” he smirks. “Squint, you’re not much to look at. And you snore.”
“I’m crazy about her.”
“Jarael is pretty cute—“
“Not that I’ve noticed. Humans are more my thing. And I like brunettes, remember? Now, come on. Let’s get some dinner.”
The memory fades and they are both back to reality now. Suddenly, Bastila realizes she’s doing more than pressing her fingers to Evan’s temples. She’s got her arms wrapped around his shoulders as she clasps him to her waist. For his part, he’s got his arms encircling her back. It’s an awkwardly intimate embrace.
Bastila drops her hands and abruptly steps back as she yanks their minds apart.
“Owww!” he reacts, wincing.
“Sorry,” she mumbles. But she has to get her consciousness separate so she doesn’t accidentally betray the whole truth of the deception. Because after that memory, she knows Private Evan Chist is well on his way to learning the truth of his identity.
Sure enough, he goes right for it. “I was a Jedi. My brother and I were Jedi. Is that right?” he demands.
“I . . . I-I . . .” she stammers. Because how does she answer that question??
“Tell me!” He’s on his feet now, all six feet of him looming over her. “Tell me!” he hisses. In the moment, he is very threatening.
“I c-can’t. I’m s-sorry, but I can’t,” she shakes her head.
“Why? Why are you and everyone else lying to me? What are you hiding from me?” he demands. “If I am a Jedi the same as you, then why am I in the Republic infantry as a Private?”
“I can’t explain,” she answers miserably as she keeps backing up. “The Council forbids it.”
Again, he demands, “Why? Why does the Jedi Council want you to lie?”
“It’s to protect you. To protect us all.” That’s all she will say. Bastila now resolutely seals her lips. “Look, I didn’t want this assignment! I didn't want any of this,” she wails. “This isn’t me . . . This feels so wrong . . .”
“So you just blindly do what they say even though you disagree?” he goads. “You would follow their orders no matter how wrong they are?” he challenges.
“The Council is wise and it’s not for me to disagree. I don’t make the rules—"
“Would you do anything the Jedi Council tells you?”
Yes, she would. She respects their authority. “There is a lot at stake here—” she begins, looking down.
“Your weapons factory?”
“Yes. And the safety of the Republic.”
His mouth settles in a tight line. “You’re afraid. I see it. But you’re not afraid for the Republic. You’re afraid for yourself!” he observes. “You’re afraid of me.”
“Are we back to that again?” she complains, still edging away. But her hand creeps towards her sword at her waist.
“Why? If I’m a Jedi, aren’t we on the same side? Why would you be afraid of me?”
“Uh . . .” Bastila has no explanation to provide. Moreover, she is thoroughly disconcerted by the memory she witnessed. The interaction between this man and his supposed brother was nothing like she expected. While she might not agree with the radical politics they were discussing, they seemed so normal. So nice. So not like the pair of Dark Lords who are responsible for the deaths of billions and the current Jedi civil war. If she didn’t know better, she might like both of those men. Because putting their war crimes and Darkness to one side, they seemed to want to do the right thing. Just like she does.
“You’re not who I thought you would be.” Her words slip out almost involuntarily as she speaks her thoughts aloud. She’s more and more confused now about how this mission is playing out. But one thing is for sure—she’s failing miserably. They have no leads on the location of the weapons factory and in a matter of a day, Evan Chist is very close to discovering the truth of his past. And since she is largely responsible for his kidnapping and mind wipe by the Jedi Council, Bastila has no doubts that there will be a reckoning.
“Who am I??” he demands hotly.
“I c-can’t tell you,” she answers, edging further away. “Stop asking me!”
He gives her a long, withering look. Then he seats himself with his datapad again. Only, this time he’s not perusing star charts. He’s on the holonet pulling up newfeeds stories about the Jedi.
Bastila’s heart sinks. She flees the room to make contact with Master Tokare on Dantooine. She needs help right away.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
So . . . he's a Jedi. That must mean he has the magic Force. As Bastila storms off, Evan sets to work figuring out how his Jedi status explains his current predicament. He starts searching the holonet and quickly becomes engrossed reading about the Jedi Order’s role in the recent Mandalorian War. He spends the next several hours reading up on the topic.
Even with his amnesia, he knows generally about the Mandalorian War. It is the defining conflict of his time. It has also exposed deep divisions in the Republic electorate and brought to light tensions between the Senate and the Jedi Order. Plus, like with many large-scale conflicts, a final and complete resolution has been hard to achieve. Because the war brought to the forefront other festering problems that now bloom in its wake. Conflict has a tendency to promote more conflict, Evan knows.
The actual history of the war is surprisingly hard to establish. The Mandalorian War is a controversial subject for all sorts of reasons. That makes it hard to determine what is truth, what is opinion, and what is fake news. There are wildly divergent characterizations of the war depending on the writer’s point of view. Evan finds a lot of information, but he’s not sure what to believe.
Luckily, everyone agrees on the basic facts: the ruthless Mandalorians began a war of conquest in the Outer Rim. First, they conquered world after world in the outlying neutral zone of Republic-allied systems. Then, they attacked the Republic proper and started pushing towards Coruscant.
Whether—and when—to enter the war was a matter of prolonged debate in the Senate. And that context casts aspersions on the allegations of Mandalorian war crimes and genocide. Are the stories true? Or were they exaggerations designed to influence the reluctant Senate? Evan can’t tell from the conflicting reports. But the descriptions are truly shocking.
The war itself was shocking, too. For no one saw it coming and they were slow to appreciate the true threat. The prevailing public mood at the time was comfortably complacent. The Republic was chugging along as usual and there was little appetite to pursue a war many viewed as optional. Why should Republic soldiers fight and die in far flung reaches of the galaxy beyond the actual boundaries of the Republic? The taxpayers already dump plenty of credits into those frontier, mostly alien outposts. Let the Mandalorians have those systems, many Senators argued. It was only when the Mandalorians ventured into the formal boundaries of the Republic that anyone of real influence took note.
Before then, it was just a few hawkish Senators calling for war and an outspoken young Jedi Knight who kept getting disciplined for his political opinions. Traditionally, the high priests of the Force do not intervene directly in the issues of the day. They are not elected officials. The Jedi High Council only provides advice when formally consulted by the Senate. But the renegade Knight refused to remain silent. He openly defied the Jedi Council who forbade its members to participate in the war.
And that’s when the history starts to get really complicated. Because that renegade Jedi Knight who took matters into his own hands was proven right about the threat of the Mandalorians. And so, the Jedi Order retconned its prior decisions and provided begrudging support to the Knight and his rapidly growing list of Jedi Crusader followers. Not to be outdone, the Senate got in on the action, formally declaring war and deploying its military might. But the regular army was skeptical of the Jedi Crusaders’ leadership even though they ostensibly fought in tandem. There were a lot of turf battles and attempts to claim credit and assign blame. Meanwhile, the Mandalorians were rampaging across the galaxy.
Among the political powers that be, the war was a polarizing issue. Some thought the Jedi Crusaders were well-intentioned vigilantes. They accused them of subverting the democratic process by declaring their own private war fought mostly with peacekeeping forces ironically named the Jedi Mercy Corps. Others viewed the Jedi Crusaders as heroes of the Republic who recognized an existential threat and stepped up to do something about it. They sidestepped the institutional infighting to save the Republic from itself. In the end, the general public came to love the image of the rebellious but patriotic cohort of young Jedi Crusaders. Their mysterious masked leader Revan took on mythical folk hero status for many.
But the Jedi Order saw it differently. Cynical Evan isn’t surprised. The Order eventually tried to arrest the Jedi Crusaders to reassert its authority. It was an ill-timed decision in the middle of a full-scale war. So, in a bold rebuke to the Order, the Supreme Chancellor responded by granting the Jedi Crusaders command over the entire Republic fleet. With that move, the Senate gave the splinter group the legitimacy the Jedi Order would not. The Chancellor also reportedly gave the Crusaders carte blanche to win the war, telling them he would help to work things out with the Order afterwards.
But not long after the brutal war was won, the Crusaders were termed outlaws. The Jedi Order now claimed that the very Knights who saved the Republic were now its greatest enemies. They had turned Dark, a concept the general public didn’t seem to understand. The Order announced that every single Jedi Crusader was now an enemy of the Republic. No one in authority stood up to disagree. For since the threat to the Republic had passed, the Supreme Chancellor and the Senate decided not to interfere further in Jedi business. They would let the Order deal with its members as it saw fit. After all, it has long been the practice for the Jedi Order to police itself, they reasoned.
As Evan keeps reading, he starts to guess why his past is such a well-kept secret. And now, he suspects that the ‘training accident’ that led to his injuries was really a military operation to capture Crusaders. For the newsfeeds are replete with stories about post-war Jedi infighting and reprisals. It is now a very dangerous thing to be a Jedi Crusader war hero.
Only just recently, the Jedi hunted down the lead Knight of the Jedi Crusaders. They produced proof of the popular war hero’s regrettable death, showing the media pictures of the dead man without his iconic mask. At the press conference that followed, protesters shouted the Jedi Grandmaster down with boos. Seeing the Crusader Knight Revan killed by his own made him a martyr to many. Conspiracy theories abound, Evan reads, claiming that the Jedi faked the Crusader leader’s death.
Many other prominent Crusader Knights are still on the loose, he learns. One has gone so far as to create his own government in the systems that he helped to liberate. For if the Jedi General Malak is no longer welcome in his home Republic, he will create his own version. There are rumors that Malak’s rule is as brutal as the Mandalorians he displaced, but no one is sure if that is true or not. The Jedi have a vested interest in smearing Malak to discredit him.
Only one Crusader Knight returned to face the Jedi Council of her own accord. She walked into the Jedi Temple and attempted to explain her version of events as a crowd of her supporters cheered outside. The press wasn’t allowed to be present, of course, so no one actually knows what was said. The Jedi are notoriously secretive and their decisions are always made behind closed doors. But when it was over, Jedi General Meetra Surik was exiled. Supposedly, when the Grandmaster then demanded that she surrender her lightsaber, the woman lit it and stabbed it hilt deep into the fancy mosaic floor of the Jedi Council chamber.
When the press confronted the disgraced general on the temple steps, she gave a succinct, scathing condemnation: “It is time for the Jedi to end,” she announced. “Any institution that favors itself at the expense of its ideals and purpose is corrupt. To say that if the Jedi die, the Light dies, is vanity. Light is eternal. I do not need the moniker of Knight nor the yoke of the Order to practice the Light. The Force is with me and with us all.” The laymen rabble rousers who surrounded her didn’t know what to make of this statement. But the Jedi safe inside their grand temple did. And it affirmed their fears that the radical, freethinking Jedi Crusaders were anarchists of the Force who must be stopped.
Apparently, Evan surmises, that includes him. Because one thing is very clear: he himself was a Jedi Crusader. And he strongly suspects that the Jedi General Malak, the man who now rules over a large portion of the territory reclaimed from the Mandalorians, is the man he knows as his brother Alek.
What was his own role in the war? It couldn’t have been very important, Evan infers, since the Council determined he wasn’t worth executing, imprisoning, or exiling. Or maybe they figured his amnesia rendered him ripe for rehabilitation by his sternly earnest nursemaid Bastila Shan. Or could they just be keeping him around for information about this secret weapons factory? It’s unclear. Evan wishes he remembered more of his own personal involvement. But hopefully, those memories will return in time. But even so, today’s revelations are a huge step forward.
They explain the deceit, too. The Jedi probably fear that he won’t help them find the secret weapons factory if he knows his past. And perhaps they want to keep him ignorant so that he will not rebel again against the Order. That’s typical Jedi thinking, he grouses. The Order never truly understood the Crusader movement. If they did, they would know that a Crusader would not desert the Republic in its time of need. Helping to find the secret weapons factory isn’t some favor done to help the Council. It’s his duty as a Knight of the Republic.
So . . . now what? Evan decides that his priority is to rediscover who he really is. For all he knows, his name isn’t Evan Chist. But he is encouraged because after just one day around Bastila Shan, his past is finally coming to light. A few more days with her, and the whole story will come out, he suspects. That woman knows far more than she is letting on. And since their confrontation hours earlier, she hasn’t come back around.
She’s here though. It’s strangely difficult to concentrate as he reads because it still feels like he has Bastila Shan lurking in his head. It’s like he can sense her even though she’s not here. She’s down the hall on a com call with another Jedi. He doesn’t know how he knows this. He just does. But she’s very upset and afraid. Raising her voice and panicking at points. It is very distracting.
He knows she’s talking about him. Most likely reporting back to those in control of this conspiracy. Maybe she’s not the brains behind his deception, but she is the one implementing it. Evan almost feels sorry for Bastila. She really seems ill suited for this assignment. She is a terrible liar. She’s far too straightforward and earnest for the kind of guile that is being asked of her. It occurs to him now that Bastila Shan might be as much a pawn of the Jedi Order as he himself is currently.
But whatever she did to his head earlier seems to be lingering. Because she feels like a constant low-grade buzz of static in the back of his mind. When he concentrates, he forgets about it . . . for a time. But then it resurfaces again. It starts off as alarming, segues to distracting, and morphs into annoying. And by the time Evan has called it a day and he’s trying to sleep, Bastila Shan’s mental lurking has become fucking unbearable. It’s way worse than his bunk mate’s loud snoring.
Ugh. This is awful. Well, it’s got to stop. She’s the one who did this, so she needs to fix it. Evan yanks on his uniform and storms out of his room intent on confronting Bastila.
He knows where her room is because the officer who welcomed their shuttle showed Bastila to her quarters first while Evan tagged along. He finds it quickly. Then, he hesitates in front of her door. Should he be doing this? Yes, he decides, he should.
He moves to ring the bell to announce himself. But his simple hand gesture to the side unexpectedly opens the door. Huh. He wasn’t expecting that. Did he do that? Did she do that? He’s not really sure how the Force works. He hasn’t remembered that bit yet.
Well, whatever. The door is open. Evan walks in. These are officer quarters so they are private and far more spacious than his.
“Bastila?” he calls out sharply. She’s not in the small sitting and work area. So he calls out again, “Bastila?” before he storms into her dim bedroom.
Oh. He hadn’t anticipated that. His gaze falls on the cloud of dark hair that spills over her pillow. It’s very long and very lush. So that’s what her hair looks like when it’s not tied back. Seeing this private version of Bastila reminds him that he is an intruder. She will be outraged when she wakes up and finds him in her bedroom. But she needs to fix his head so he can sleep. Evan takes a few steps closer to the bed and lowers his voice. “Basty?” he calls again.
Startled awake, her Jedi reflexes for danger automatically kick in. The saber at her bedside table flies into her grip. It ignites a brilliant yellow blade with a loud snap-hiss. “You!” she accuses. “Stand back! Stand back or I’ll kill you!”
He doesn’t respond. He can’t. The unexpected bright flash of yellow in the dim room makes him blink. Instantly, it triggers a memory. It’s a raw, uncomfortable recollection that has him in a cold sweat of dread. For this clue to his past must surely be one of the worst days of his life.
“Stop it! Stop it!” he yells.
Alek stands at his side, gaping out the window. He is frantic and animated, but his brother appears transfixed by the mass destruction. “Oh Gods . . . oh Gods . . .” Alek breathes out in utter horror.
He knew it would be bad, but not this bad. “Stop it! Tell that Zabrak to stop it!” He starts hollering into his comlink to his loyal lead general and longtime friend, “Meetra! Meetra, stop it!”
Alek shakes his head. “They can’t hear you. The weapon has disrupted all our communications.” His brother speaks softly as he stares bleakly out the window. Alek can’t tear his eyes from the cataclysm unfolding above Malachor V. “You can’t stop it. It has to end on its own. The gravity pull has to right itself and find a new natural equilibrium.”
He’s right, of course. The minutes tick by like hours as the devastation keeps going and going. They watch in silence as Malachor’s super energized gravity crushes every combatant in its vicinity—Republic, Mandalor, and Jedi alike. None are spared in the indiscriminate slaughter. The warships of the two fleets are impaled deep into the planet’s surface as Malachor’s atmosphere is sucked down into the gravity vortex. The surface of the planet visibly cracks and its core ruptures from the awesome unseen gravitational pull. The effect is something like creating a small blackhole.
Just the sight of this momentous event is sickening, but the feel of it in the Force hurts on a deeply primal level. It’s as if hundreds of thousands of voices cry out in terror and are suddenly silenced. A Dark wave of death washes over him, making him wince. There are no words to describe the feeling. But the aftermath feels even worse. For once the weapon has run its course, it’s as if there is a void in the Force. Like there is a blank space that remains in its wake, with nothing left alive to connect to the larger cosmos. This is loss on a colossal and permanent scale.
He reaches over to lay a comforting hand on his quaking brother’s shoulder. “Don’t be afraid,” he whispers encouragement. “I feel it too.” He knows Alek is made of stern stuff, but this is like nothing they have ever witnessed before. And they are the cause of it.
“What have we done?” Alek turns to confront him. It takes a lot to shock his battle-hardened little brother, but this has done it. Alek looks utterly defeated even though it’s clear now that today will be a great victory. When he doesn’t answer immediately, Alek turns back to the window. He staggers forward a few steps and whispers aloud, “We are supposed to be the good guys.”
Again, he doesn’t answer. He’s not sure what to say. For this is what war has wrought. You must measure the price of war in more than casualties, he now knows. You must tally the lost innocence and damned souls of the survivors, too.
Alek whirls on him now and bellows, “We are supposed to be the good guys!” He roars out his outrage at the situation. “We wanted to free people from tyranny and violence! We set out to save the galaxy! But now we have become the very thing we sought to destroy!”
Alek has guilty tears in his eyes. Seeing this makes him feel ashamed that he does not. Because while he abhors this event and regrets that it was necessary, he stands by the decision. “We are the good guys,” he maintains. “We just saved the Republic.”
“But at what cost?” Alek cries. “This is not what we set out to do—“
“I know!” he interrupts, his own temper rising. He’s defensive and it shows. “But the Mandalorians take ruthlessness to an entirely new level!” He too is shouting now. “Violence is all the clans understand. Nothing short of complete annihilation will beat them. And you know it!” His face hardens as he digs in on the decision. “Meetra knows it too. That’s why she gave the order.”
He steps back now to master his composure. They are both on edge and their nerves are frayed. He doesn’t disagree with his brother’s assessment of the weapon, he just draws a different conclusion. But none of that matters now. What’s done is done.
But Alek still needs to vent. “Those are our troops! We’re killed our own people! Those were our allies and our friends!”
Yes, he knows. But that is the cost of war. “We killed our enemies, too. Without that weapon, the fleet would fall and the Republic would fall too. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. Our fleet was the only thing that stood between them and Coruscant.”
Alek does not debate him. He just wipes at his eyes and goes back to staring at the weapon’s catastrophic aftermath. Sensitive Alek has always been far more softhearted than most people realize.
“We can never go home now,” he chokes out. “They won’t just exile us. They’ll consider us Dark and hunt us down.” Alek again wipes a hand across his wet face. His voice is resigned and bitter. “We may have saved the Republic, but we’ll never be welcome there. Not after this. We can never go home again . . . ”
It’s the truth. They both know it. This victory is shameful and the Republic will hold them to account for it.
He steps up for the blame. “I take full responsibility. This is on me. Not you. Not Meetra. I was the one who led us down this path.” He takes a deep breath and exhales loudly. Fuck. That weapon is an abomination. It hurts to know that they have been forced to sink to the level of their enemies in order to beat them. Using the weapon was necessary, but still . . . he feels like a failure as a leader for doing so. With a heavy heart, he quietly admits, “I did not know this war would cost us so much.” He looks to his brother and confesses hoarsely, “I’m sorry. Alek, I’m sorry it had to come to this.”
His brother hisses back, “Where does this end? Are we done? Is it over now?” he demands.
Thinking of the Mandalore leader’s dying words about being manipulated by the Sith Emperor, he answers, “No. Not for me. But it can be for you and for everyone else. Alek, I will face him alone—“
“No, you won’t,” his brother interrupts. Alek’s jaw is set and his face determined. “We started this together and we will end it together. I will see this through.”
“You don’t have to do this—“
“I DO!” Alek roars. He shoots him a grim, resentful look. “I didn't kill this many people to leave the job half done.”
And that is the moment when he realizes that their moment of victory is also their moment of moral defeat. He can rationalize the weapon, but that doesn’t change the meaning of it. He has not just failed as a leader, he has failed as a Jedi.
How did it come to this? Years ago, he was an idealistic young man who chafed at the Council’s cautious strategy. He wasn’t the only one to point fingers at them for the lives lost for their refusal to intervene. But he was the loudest, most persistent critic. Frustrated and a bit rebellious, he led a crusade to save the galaxy from the threat the Republic refused to recognize. Alek, Meetra, and so many others joined the cause. They were each stubbornly convinced of their righteousness and willing to give all. And now, years later and millions of lives lost, they have won. But the cost of victory was entirely different from what they envisioned.
The media might love them, but the High Council fears them. And with good reason, he knows. The Crusaders represent much that the Jedi tradition outright rejects. But this is much more than esoteric conflicts about dogma and the role of the Light. Looking over at Alek sporting the shaved head and blue tattoos he acquired while in hiding, he sees the visible evidence of the Darkening of their souls. His baby-faced kid brother everyone called ‘Squint,’ the goofy kid who was a prankster at heart but cheerfully kind, is gone. And that’s his fault. His war did it. But at least Squint can cry over Malachor V. What does it say about him that he cannot? Because it’s not that he is repressing his emotions. It’s that he doesn’t feel any.
“I have failed you,” he tells his brother now. He is humbled now when he ought to be the proud victor. He turns back to the window and stares. “I think I have failed us all.”
He thought that he could toe the line of Darkness and step back. That once it was all done and the war was won, he could reconcile with the Council and return to walk firmly in the Light. But now, he fears he was wrong. Every believer has a past and every sinner has a future. Except him, he worries. Because if he has to go this far to defeat the Mandalorians, how far will he have to go to defeat the Sith Emperor? And what will it mean to win in the end if he has lost all the ideals that started him on this crusade in the first place?
Fuck, he thinks. How he wishes he could cry right now. It scares him how he feels no remorse for this. The worst part is that history will say he did this for himself. But that cynical view won’t capture the true sacrifice at the root of it all. He set out to be a hero but somehow he became the villain, as well. He wanted to liberate the oppressed but now he has become the conqueror himself. Can you be both, he wonders?
Can you be the bad guy and the good guy all at once?
Can you be Light and also be Dark?
Can you be Jedi and yet act like a Sith?
He doesn’t know.
The memory fades and it is a relief. But in its place a new problem lies. For standing opposite him, wearing only panties and a tank top but with her yellow Jedi Sentinel saber still firmly in hand, is Bastila Shan. She saw it all, he realizes. She experienced the entire memory along with him in his mind. Just like last time.
Does she condemn him?
Does she pity him?
He cannot tell from her expression. And her mind feels closed to him now. Whatever that strange sensation was from before, it is gone.
“You’re a monster!” she accuses hotly.
He is stung at the label. But then, he owns it. Like he owns everything he does. “Yes,” he grits his teeth. “Yes, I am.” And what does he expect? This Padawan girl clings to her ivory tower like all the rest back on Dantooine and Coruscant. Smug and safe within their moral fortress of bright lines and firm rules. It takes courage to step beyond those boundaries, Evan now knows. Especially since it earns you only disdain and shame no matter how noble your ambitions.
“I once was you,” he rasps at this inexperienced, untested investigator girl. “I believed it all once, too. Everything the Council did was right and everything the Jedi Masters taught was wise. I believed it all until I couldn’t any longer. I don’t know if you can understand this, but I wish I could believe it all again.” He wishes he had the luxury of moral absolutes once more. But once you walk past all that, it’s impossible to go back.
Does she understand what he is saying? He searches her face for understanding.
Her response comes out low and intense. “I have seen coldblooded murderers and sadistic torturers. I have helped to prosecute some of the most depraved criminals in the galaxy. I helped bring them to justice. But I don’t know if there is justice for you. I don’t know what justice means for you.” She looks down and away as she grumbles, “It’s not my responsibility anyway.”
He recognizes this punt. It’s what the Council wanted him to do—to leave the hard decisions to them and to not speak out. Yes, he thinks, Bastila Shan is a good Jedi through and through. Obedient and unquestioning with a black and white worldview. Anything that bears a taint of Dark is bad. Like the Council, her moral compass leaves little room for nuance. The focus is always on fearful condemnation.
Well, he’s done with this guessing game about who he is. He knows he’s a Jedi Crusader who fought with the late General Revan and General Malak. Evan refuses to be put off any longer. “Turn that sword off and start talking,” he orders curtly. “I want answers and you have them.”
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
She wakes up to Evan looming over her asleep in her darkened bedroom. Is he here to kill her? Bastila doesn’t take the chance. She pulls her sword and prepares to swing. It’s a reflexive move, but it escalates the situation immediately. He looks surprised, she is wary, and now the flash of her saber triggers another memory. This time without even trying she gets to eavesdrop on it.
It’s a horrible, gut wrenching memory of the event that made Revan and his followers infamous. Watching the Battle of Malachor through his perspective is confounding. Because as hundreds of thousands die on both sides in the final, cataclysmic confrontation of the war, all Evan can think about is himself and Malak. There can be no doubt in her mind now: Revan knew exactly what he was doing. He understood that he was turning Dark and he embraced it fully. He is truly unrepentant for his actions.
She’s seen that before in her casework. Plenty of criminals have no remorse. Often times, they are not sad they committed the crime, they are just sad that they were caught. But Revan is in a class by himself, Bastila realizes. He lacks remorse because he thinks he was doing the right thing in the circumstances. Like some heat of passion killer, he feels driven to his actions. Maybe even resigned to them. Because this was all the Mandalorians’ fault for provoking him. And perhaps the war context excuses that reasoning somewhat. But it doesn’t explain the friendly fire deaths of the majority of the Republic fleet.
The length and vividness of the memory surprises her. It’s sharper and more detailed than what she saw this afternoon. It makes her wonder if Evan is getting closer to remembering everything. And just how much has he remembered already? Bastila suspects that Evan knows far more than he’s letting on.
And what is he doing uninvited in her bedroom? He doesn’t appear to have a weapon, but she knows weapons are not necessary for a Dark Lord to kill. The Force alone could do it. Supposedly, these guys can snap your neck with just a thought.
“What are you doing here?” she demands hotly, feeling very exposed standing before him in just a tank top and panties with her hair streaming. She’s never had a man see her undressed.
But he doesn’t seem to even notice. “Turn that sword off and start talking,” Evan orders curtly. “I want answers and you have them.” As she hesitates, he steps closer to her blade and hisses, “I know who my brother is. I’ve seen Alek in the newsfeeds. He is a Jedi Crusader general.”
Yep, she feared that this would be the result of today. Between his memory flashbacks and her artless explanations, Evan learned just enough key information to start uncovering the truth. Fearful of provoking him further, Bastila gulps and confirms, “He goes by Malak now.”
“Yes. But only because he was in hiding back when the Jedi had an arrest warrant out for all of the Revanchists. The name, the shaved head, those tattoos. They were a disguise originally.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“You know plenty,” he accuses. “Now turn off that sword!”
She complies. It’s in her interest to tamp down the conflict that’s brewing. But Bastila is no fool. She keeps the hilt clasped tightly in her grip. She looks across the room to the control panel and flips on the room lights with the Force. It doesn’t look like she’s going to be able to avoid this conversation.
“If I am Jedi, then why am I hidden as an infantryman? If we are on the same side, then why is everyone lying to me? What are you supposedly protecting me from?” Evan keeps firing off questions. From the steely look in his dark eyes, Bastila can tell he already has strong suspicions for the answers. He’s testing her to see if she will confirm them.
Placate him. That was the advice she received from the Council. It’s an effort to salvage things, if possible. And it is the strategic choice for her safety. So Bastila does her best to tell the truth, but not the whole truth.
“Okay,” she nods as she reaches furtively for her tunic that lays on her bedside. She slips it over her head and sits on the bed looking up at him. Then, she tries to explain enough to diffuse the situation. “Evan, you were a Crusader. One of many Jedi who went to fight the Mandalorians. The Republic and the Order decided not to intervene at first, but some Jedi refused to accept that decision. They took it upon themselves to fight anyway. They organized an all-volunteer army under the Mercy Corps and went to war in the Outer Rim. They were hoping to contain the Mandalorians before they made it into the Republic.”
He nods along. “Yes. I fought in the war. I remember that. I remember fighting with my brother and the others.”
“It began very well intentioned,” she admits. “Like all wars do, I guess. The Republic and the Council were fine to let the Crusaders fight at first. You didn’t have their approval, but you were tolerated. Funded, too. Over time, as the war deepened and entered the Republic worlds, the Republic military intervened. Things had begun to go awry by then, so the Council asked them to assert themselves.”
“What does that mean?” he demands. “Things had begun to go awry??”
“Some of the Jedi Crusaders did things unbecoming to Knights of the Order,” she chooses her words carefully, trying not to sound too pejorative. She has to remember her audience.
“Things like that superweapon you just remembered that destroyed our fleet along with the enemy. But there were other lesser instances. A lot of them.”
“Like using the pretext of a prisoner exchange to lure the enemy into ambushes. Like deliberately destroying medical frigates and prisoner transports during battles. Like giving no quarter and shooting enemy troops who wished to surrender. There were even suicide missions. Evan, some of the tactics looked more like terrorism than traditional warfare. The Crusaders became very ruthless.”
“So was the enemy,” he objects.
She does not deny it. The brutality of the Mandalorians is well established. Their warrior culture prides itself on their total war ethos. But those aren’t Republic values.
Bastila continues, “As the war dragged on, the crusade for the Light that was supposed to save the Republic came to resemble a Dark war of retribution. Maybe even conquest. The goal of winning the war came to justify any act. The Senate mostly looked the other way. The politicians just wanted to win. But there were far too many moral shortcuts for the Council to swallow.” Bastila says this as diplomatically as possible, attempting to avoid all the overblown rhetoric of the actual debate on the topic. “That there were Jedi Generals making these decisions was a source of much consternation.” That is perhaps the understatement of the year, but Bastila goes with it.
Evan again objects. “You cannot fight the Mandalorians effectively unless you use their own tactics against them.”
“Maybe so,” she concedes. “I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But that sort of thinking corrupted many of the Crusaders. In their zeal to win, they lost their way as Jedi. It was deeply concerning. The Council started distancing itself from them.”
“Yes, I remember. They issued arrest warrants. Am I one of those who the Jedi Council broke with?”
“Yes.” She’s dying to know, but afraid to ask, if he remembers that he was the leader Revan.
“Was I injured when the Jedi came to arrest me?”
“Yes,” she answers truthfully. “We came to arrest the Crusader leaders. You were there. Some died, Malak got away, and you were injured.”
“So this is punishment? Is that it?”
“N-No.” This is mercy, she firmly believes. That moment when he was dying in her lap moved her to compassion, not to retribution. No one would have faulted her had she left the traitor Revan to die and saved herself. But that’s not how Bastila thinks. She is a believer in rehabilitation and second chances. It’s the motivation for her career in law enforcement. It’s why she can look a young gang member in the eye and tell him with conviction that his prison stint will be a chance to turn his life around and better himself in the long run.
“Evan, you were terribly injured. When you awoke you didn’t remember any of it. So to protect you, you were kept in hiding ignorant of your past.”
“To protect me from what?” he growls.
“From yourself, from making the same choices again. And from the other Crusaders. After the war ended, some of them turned on each other. Malak even tried to kill Revan by firing on his flagship.” She drops that fact in hopes it will draw out Evan’s thoughts on the topic. “Actually, the Republic wasn’t responsible for your injuries. It was Malak who fired on the bridge of the cruiser where we were.”
“You’re saying my brother tried to kill me?” Evan is disbelieving.
“He’s not your brother. He was a Padawan close in age to you. But, yes. He fired on the ship you were on. I was there, too.”
“Why? Why would you be there? I thought you said you are an investigator.”
“I am. But I have some special skills as an empath that can help in war. I didn’t fight in the war. But I was on that mission. Evan, you and I were the only ones who survived Malak’s attack.”
“That was when you saved me? There was no training accident?”
“Correct. You were injured by an attack from Malak.”
“Why? Why would he do that?”
“We think he was trying to consolidate power for himself. He was trying to kill Revan and the others so he could rule it all.”
“That doesn’t sound like Alek,” Evan shoots her a look. Then, things get really sticky when he asks, “So . . . I was there when Revan died?” Bastila sees again how Evan asks hard questions and cuts to the heart of the matter fast. It’s no wonder he is a master tactician. “Well? Is that what you’re telling me?”
How does she answer that? There’s only one answer that sticks the official version of events: “Yes.” And it’s kinda, sorta true from a certain point of view, she decides.
If Evan doubts her, he doesn’t let on. He’s still preoccupied with the news that Malak had fired on him. And, ironically, that’s the most truthful part of the tale. “That doesn’t sound like Alek,” he shakes his head. It’s clear he doesn’t believe her. “Squint’s not that kind of guy. I’ve known him my whole life.”
Watching Evan closely and trying to earn back some of his trust, Bastila makes a strategic reveal. “Supposedly, Malak is after me now.”
“I’m not sure. He may be looking for me for revenge. Or he may be looking for you to finish the job. Maybe he’s worried that you have betrayed the Crusaders.” Trying to make him understand, Bastila looks up and speaks plainly. “I know you might not understand this, but I am trying to help you. Being anonymous for a while kept you safe and gave you time to heal. It also gives you a second chance for a new life as a Jedi, if you want it.” This is the latest twist the Council has cooked up: now that Evan knows he’s a former Jedi, they will offer to retrain him. It’s a way to make sure that Revan stays in the Light and gets a full remedial course on Jedi ethics and obedience in the process.
“So you sided with the Council in the war?” he asks. He still appears very troubled.
“Yes. I was a young Padawan when it started. I watched the best and the brightest from an entire generation of Jedi leave to join the Crusaders. Evan, I’m not faulting you for joining. You were one of many. I think at its high point the Revanchists had close to a thousand Jedi in their ranks. My own Master joined the cause. He died at Serroco.”
“But not you. You stayed behind.”
“Yes. By the time I came of age to fight, it was clear where things were heading. All the Council’s worst fears had come true.”
“Moral shortcuts?” he sneers her words back at her.
“Yes,” she nods. “We lose—we all lose—if we revert to Darkness to save the Light. Evan, we win by saving what we love, not by killing what we hate.”
He scowls his frustration at her lofty words. “In war, there is no difference! Whether you kill to save the Republic or kill to destroy your enemy doesn’t matter. In the end, you are killing. It’s all the same.” Evan shoots her a look of impatient condescension. “Had you actually been to war, Bastila Shan, you would know that.”
“It does matter,” she contends, refusing to back down. “Sometimes, why we do what we do matters as much as what we do. Intent matters.” It’s a hallmark of the criminal justice system. It’s the difference between capital murder and manslaughter, between an accounting mistake and embezzlement. Knowledge of wrongdoing makes all the difference when it comes to culpability.
“Does it?” he challenges. “Is that how you excuse lying to me? Because it’s for my own good?”
“It wasn’t my idea,” she flushes.
“But you’re doing it anyway.”
“I am trying my best now to tell you the truth,” she grinds out. “But if I bow to the wishes of the Council, it is because I am a Jedi. I believe in the goals of the Council even if I do not believe in their means in this instance.” This is how she has rationalized her current assignment.
Evan doesn’t miss a beat. “Is that like how you believe in the goal of saving the Republic even if you do not believe in the Crusaders’ means?”
“And you’re comfortable with that contradiction?” he goads her. “You see no problem with the fact that the Crusaders are the bad guys because they do bad things, but the Council are the good guys even though they do bad things?”
Geez. This guy is making her head hurt. This conversation feels like some advanced seminar in Jedi ethics and she’s just a Padawan. Still, Bastila is no unthinking believer living the unexamined life divorced from the complexities of reality. And she wants Evan to know that.
“I am a Jedi because I value truth and justice, and because I want to further the ideals of the Light. I might not have gone to war, but I see a lot of ugly stuff in my line of work,” she informs him. “Trust me, I understand nuances and circumstances. I know that people’s motivations are complex. I’ve prosecuted spice kingpins who were philanthropists as well as murderers. Last month, I helped to prosecute a battered wife who hired an assassin to kill her abuser husband. So, I know life is not black and white. But that doesn’t mean we should abandon our principles completely.”
He gives her a skeptical look.
“The Council is far more right than it is wrong. They aren’t perfect and neither are we,” she contends.
He changes the topic. “So . . . what about the hidden weapons factory? Is that a lie too?”
“No. It’s all true. And we fear that Malak may have already found it. If so, he’ll be coming for the Republic soon.”
“No. He wouldn’t do that. Alek wouldn’t do that.” Evan is firm. Either he doesn’t remember being Darth Revan with his Apprentice Darth Malak, or he’s not letting on that he does.
“We think you saw the star maps when you were a Crusader. We think you know where that space station is. And we need you to remember those maps and help us find it.” Bastila conveniently omits the fact that the Council is the reason Evan doesn’t remember. Because she might salvage this situation if Evan doesn’t know he’s Revan and if he doesn’t know to blame her and the Jedi for the loss of his memory. Bastila tries to appeal to his better self now. “Evan, you and the other Crusaders saved the Republic from the Mandalorians. We need you to save the Republic again.”
“My brother is a hero!”
“He’s the villain now. He’s Dark. Evan, don’t get dragged back into Darkness.” Impulsively, Bastila reaches out to the Light, feeling its healing, calming balm wash over her. “Here,” she offers him her hand and he takes it. “Do you feel that?” She sets aside the saber in her other hand now so she can offer both hands up to Evan. “Do you feel that?” she prompts again, squeezing her fingers around his.
“Y-Yes,” he breathes out, squeezing back. As always, touch promotes any connection in the Force and now Bastila is sensing just how powerful Evan himself is. It’s like the universe is vibrating all around them. It’s like a low hum that you feel rather than hear. This is the mystical energy field that binds all life together. It surrounds them, penetrates them, and connects them as well.
“Stay in the Light,” she whispers. It’s both a plea and a command. “When you are tempted by Darkness again, I will help you. Come to me for the Light. Evan, I will make sure you do not lose your way again. And when you’re ready, we can retrain you as a Jedi,” she reups her earlier offer. “The Council is open to that.”
Mention of the Jedi Council spoils the mood. Evan frowns and snatches his hands away. “You’re wrong about Alek. You’re wrong!” he waves a finger under her nose. “Alek would never harm me. He doesn’t want to destroy the Republic. He wants to save it.”
“Maybe once. But not anymore. He’s fallen to the Dark Side like you and many others did. It changes people. It corrupts their values and steals the best of who they are. Malak is not the man you knew.”
“You’re overstating it,” he counters hotly. “There is Darkness in all of us to some degree.”
Yes, she knows. In her line of work, she sees a lot of Darkness. It’s in the self-destruction of spice and booze addictions, in the exploitative lust of prostitution and pornography, and in the pointless violence and selfish avarice that fuels and feeds on crime. Darkness begets Darkness. She’s seen it for herself. It’s why you must resist against it. “We are all fallible. Darkness calls to us. But that’s why we have the Code. To show us right from wrong.” Every Jedi knows that.
He shoots her a skeptical look. “The Code doesn’t do that. It doesn’t even come close. The Code has no meaning in war.”
“Don’t say that!” Her tone is sharp. “That thinking is how the Crusaders lost their way.”
“War brings out the best and the worst in people. You see selfless heroism and pointless cruelty. It is . . .” --he pauses, searching for the right word--“extreme. And it changes people. War makes them do things and become people they are not. Because when societies break down and all the normal rules don’t apply, people lose their inhibitions about all sorts of things. And when you are faced with losing everything, people will risk it all. It can make unspeakable acts and reckless choices feel reasonable in the moment. Excess sort of creeps up on you.”
His words are quiet and reflective, like a confession of sorts. This is a man of many moods, she’s sensing. And his mind is as sharp as everyone says even without his full memory.
“Is that what happened to you and the others? With the Force?” she asks.
“No. That was intentional. We knew what we were doing. We thought it was for the best. Sometimes you have to bend the rules so they don’t break.”
“Then what’s the point of rules?” she scoffs.
He takes her rhetorical question at face value and attempts to answer it. “The Code is aspirational, Bastila. It has value, but only to a point. The Council needs to stop using it as a club to beat over people’s heads. Love is not a crime. Attachments and emotions are healthy. You’re an empath—you probably understand emotion better than the average Jedi.”
He reverts to talking about the war again now. “You know, the randomness of war is the most shocking part. How one person dies and another lives with no satisfying explanation. Some people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. There’s no moral lesson from their suffering. No insight to be learned. It’s just all accidental.”
“Maybe the lesson is that war is wrong.”
“You sound like the Council.” He frowns at her. “What would you have done? Would you sit by and watch the Mandalorians slaughter people and topple the Republic? We didn’t choose this war, Bastila. We were not the aggressors. Peace is a lie. There is always conflict even when there is not all out war. But when war comes, you must fight for what you believe in.”
“There are other ways to resolve conflict other than violence.”
“Tell that to the Mandalorians,” he snaps. “If you had seen what I saw, you would have joined us,” he concludes.
“It was all over the newsfeeds. We all saw it.”
“That’s not the same! Watching other people’s suffering at a distance in safety and comfort is not the same. War is rotting bodies and dead children and bombed out homes and businesses people worked their whole lives to own.” His voice is rising now and he stops himself. With a sigh, he laments, “I wish I could make you understand. I’m not the bad guy.”
“I know that.” He looks genuinely surprised when she says this, so Bastila explains, “I’ve seen a lot of bad guys in my line of work. Bad guys think only of their needs and wants. True Darkness is selfish.” She cocks her head up at him. “You’re not selfish. You’re not really Dark, are you?” Perplexed, she shakes her head and grumbles, “I don’t know what you are . . .”
“Yeah? You called me a monster a few minutes ago. You seemed pretty sure then.”
Er . . . yeah, she did. Sheepish Bastila feels herself flush. “There’s something else.”
“I think you and I are bonded in the Force.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’m in your head and you’re in mine.” She looks up to see his expression darken and hurries to explain, “Force users can always sense when other Force users are around. That’s normal. And empaths like me can skim people’s thoughts and feelings easily. We have a knack for influencing people with the Force. But this is something else. It’s a deeper, more constant connection.”
“Yeah, well actually that’s why I’m here. You need to stop that. It’s extremely annoying,” he complains.
“I can’t stop it,” she says with resentment herself. “I think this happened when I saved you. The bond went dormant for a while, but our proximity must be promoting it now. It was a mistake for me to get inside your head today,” she gripes ruefully, “because I think that also strengthened it.”
“Well, since you did this, you need to fix it,” he snaps. “Whatever you did, you need to undo. Because I don’t need your drama distracting me and I don’t want you lurking in my head.”
“I think it was from the battle meditation,” she keeps explaining. She’s thought about the bond long and hard and spoken with the Council about it, too. “I was very deep in the Force already when I tried to save you.”
“What’s battle meditation?” He’s confused.
“It’s why a Sentinel like me tagged along on a mission to capture Crusaders. I can feed on the Force of others around me. I can transmit my Force to help inspire and empower others, and I can drain people of their power to demoralize and confuse them. That’s how we snuck on the Crusader command ship. I was there to confuse your troops and assist ours. I used a version of that same trick to save you, calling on the Force to strengthen you. That’s how we got bonded accidentally,” she grumbles.
He looks none too pleased with her explanation. “Has this happened with other people?”
“No. Only with you.”
“Why with me?”
“I don’t know. The Council thinks it’s because you were Dark at the time. Jedi are forbidden attachments, so we do not open our lives to personal connections the way others do. We are also more disciplined with our emotions. But you were none of those things at the time and . . . well, I am an empath. That makes me a little more involved with emotions than the average Jedi. So we might have been ripe for something like this to happen . . . ”
He digests this information and his eyes narrow. She can sense his temper rising. “So, you’re saying this is my fault?”
“No . . . not exactly . . .”
“Look, you need to fix this! My head is private space for me and me alone! I don’t need some prim goody two shoes spying on me to report to the Council every moment I’m not some perfect Jedi. Because you should know that I have no intention of being a perfect Jedi.”
“But I don’t know how—”
“And if I am going to be bonded with a woman, it sure won’t be you,” he says cuttingly.
“Uh . . . okay . . .” Bastila mumbles, feeling stung.
He’s very, very angry now. Evan is not a particularly big man, but he manages to feel physically intimidating nonetheless. It’s more his force of personality that makes an impression than his actual person. Revan is the brains of the Crusaders in counterpoint to the famed brawn of his first lieutenant Malak. The whole galaxy knows Revan as a charismatic man with a sharp, insightful mind and a ruthless military genius. Burying him in anonymity as an amnesiac Republic Private takes away none of those talents.
“Are you sure this wasn’t intentional?” he charges. Given all the lies he has been told, she can’t really blame Evan for his skepticism. “Because I could see how it might be convenient to attach you as a spy to a Crusader like me going forward.”
“A spy?? I’m not a spy! And what about me?” Bastila retorts as she leaps to her feet. “Don’t you think I’m worried that I’m bonded to you? What if you and your radical beliefs drag me down into Darkness?” she wails. Even to her own ears, she sounds a little shrill. “You could taint me!” she speaks her fear in dramatic fashion.
“Oh, get off your moral high horse! As if anyone would bother trying to ‘corrupt’ you! I know your type, I’ve seen you’re type. So sanctimonious and judgy.” Evan is really fuming now and he’s in her face. “Besides, you’ve done nothing but lie to me since I met you. You saved my life and then led me to believe that I am a completely different person in order to use my memories for your own advantage. So who’s the manipulative, deceitful Dark Sider, huh??”
“It was for the Republic! For democracy!” she hollers back.
“Bullshit!” he swears and she blinks. Because Jedi do not swear. But, of course, Revan would swear. He probably even has sex too, she thinks. Because once you throw some of your standards out the window, why keep any of them? Anything goes for these Revanchist types.
“It was for the fucking Council,” Evan accuses. “You’re just one more way they will try to exert control over me.”
“It was accident!” she wails. “I didn’t mean it!”
“So you’re just that inept and reckless with your talents?” he goads. “Is that while you still haven’t passed the trials at your age?”
“No,” she stiffens. She shoots him a dirty look. “I never took my trials. My Master followed you to war and so I never got to finish my training. The Council said I could do the trials anyway, but I’m not ready. There’s too much I don’t know. And with the Jedi Order a mess thanks to the war, there’s not a Master around to spare to finish with me. They’re all busy with the younglings. So yeah . . . I’m just a Padawan Learner and I’m fine with it. I’m totally fine with it!” she outright yells.
And now, to her horror Bastila starts to cry. And not a few dripping tears. She's ugly crying huge wracking sobs. It is an outpouring of emotion that is completely unbecoming a Jedi. First, she lost her temper and now she’s on a crying jag. Yep, this is an epic fail like that stupid impulse she had to save this guy in the first place. Just look what she has brought on herself. She’s a wreck.
"I'm s-sorry . . . I'm s-sorry,” she hiccups. “I never meant for it to h-happen and now . . ." She doesn't finish her sentence because she can't bear to say the words aloud that she feels doomed by the predicament she's in. Caught in a fast unraveling web of lies with a man who she's Force bonded with. He's her enemy who will likely kill her when he finally discovers the truth. For all her faith, Bastila Shan is afraid to die. But she's also afraid to fail and to let the Order down. Now, all that stress has gotten to her, reducing her to this oozing mess of emotion she ought to be able to repress easily.
She's a horrible Jedi. Just look at her--twenty-six years old and still crying like some three-year-old youngling who just got dropped off by his parents. It's humiliating. Normally, she's much better at containing her feelings. This show of strong emotion is terribly embarrassing.
"I'm a t-terrible J-Jedi," she stutters.
Evan makes a face and looks uncomfortable the way people always do when an adult cries. "No, you're not,” he grumbles. “You're just human. There is no shame in that. Let your emotions out. Feel them, Bastila, face them. It will empower you."
But Bastila fails to see anything empowering about her fear. And if the old adage is true, then fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. And that is a Dark place.
"I want to run away." Bastila can barely believe the words are coming out her mouth. But she says them again with more conviction. "I want to r-run away. It would be easy,” she thinks out loud. Bastila wipes at her runny nose and peeps up at Evan to see if he’s listening. “You could come with me if you want. We’re bonded so we might as well do it together. Maybe you'll get your memory back eventually. But in the meantime, we can hide from everyone and pretend that we're normal . . . "
He stares at her.
She embraces the impulse fully now, urging him, "We can leave behind the Order and all its drama. We can escape from the war’s aftermath and I can hide from Malak."
Evan is still staring at her like she’s speaking Huttese or something.
"It's the only way we have a chance to survive. Don't you see? Darth Malak is going to kill us both.”
"What about the Republic? What about the weapons factory?" he asks.
She is shamefaced but silent.
Evan exhales loudly. Then, he starts surprising her again. "Look, I know we see things very differently, but we both have the same goal: to safeguard the Republic. We have to at least try to save the Republic," he argues. “If that weapons factory falls into the hands of the remnant Mandalorians, the war could start up again.”
She just sniffs and wipes at her eyes again sullenly.
“You can’t run away from this. Nor should you,” Evan maintains staunchly.
Chastised Bastila reluctantly agrees. “I guess.”
“Basty, look at me, listen to me.” Evan steps closer and his voice is fervent. “This moment is what makes us Jedi. Not the lightsabers and the traditions. Not the Code and the Force. It’s the commitment to something more than ourselves. The point of being a Jedi is service to the Republic.”
She nods, she knows where he’s going. She uses the lingo of her tribe. “Sacrifice.”
“If necessary,” he nods. “But being Jedi is not about denying yourself emotion or pleasure or happiness. It’s about living the ideals of the Force and helping others to do the same. It’s about being better and helping others to be better, even in the face of adversity. We use our power for others. It’s the Sith who use their power for themselves. You said it yourself earlier.”
“I suppose,” she mutters. She’s not sure exactly what the difference is between Light and Dark. Because this guy doesn’t really sound that Dark to her.
“Do not let your doubts and fears define you,” Evan counsels softly. “When you being tested is when faith matters most.”
Bastila plops down heavily on the bed now. She feels like such a failure. Imagine being schooled on what it means to be a Jedi by this man of all people. But yet again, Revan confounds her expectations. He is not who she expected him to be. He’s no blustering demagogue or manipulative Svengali type. He’s sincere and straightforward and pretty patient given how much she and others have lied to him.
He sees her hesitation and takes it for indecision. “If you decide to leave, I won’t stop you. You must do what you feel is right, of course.”
That’s the moment that just kills her. Because this fallen Knight is not the one mired in deception and forcing his agenda on others. She’s the one doing that on behalf of the Council. More and more, Bastila feels like the bad guy in all of this.
“I’m sorry I called you a m-monster,” she sputters out. “That wasn’t fair. You’re not a monster.”
That’s his cue to apologize as well. “I said some unkind things myself. Forgive me, Basty?”
“Yeah, okay,” she hiccups. “But I can’t fix the bond. I don’t even understand the bond.”
He accepts her words this time. “Then perhaps we need to wait for the Force to explain it to us. The Force has a reason for everything it does.”
“How do you know that?”
“I don’t,” Evan answers. “But I believe it anyway. And so should you.”
“Just how much are you remembering?” she asks fearfully. Because this guy sounds a lot like the charismatic Jedi prodigy he once was.
Evan looks her in the eye. “I know the sort of man I am, even if I don’t yet know the details of my past. But the flashbacks are coming faster now. I will figure it all out eventually.”
“I know,” she gulps. “The Force is with you.” If there’s one thing that recent history has shown, it’s that Revan survives and prevails against long odds. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is still up for debate.
“If we’re bonded by the Force, then the Force is with you as well,” he says with a small smile tugging at his lips.
She sniffs again and hopes he’s right.
“Dry your tears and get some sleep,” he decides. “We’ll talk in the morning.”
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Fresh from a shower, Evan grabs his shaver to dispense with his morning stubble. The task complete, he towels off and dutifully applies ointment to the diagonal burn scars on either side of his face. These pale pink scars are old scars, the medics told him. Not like the still red and raised scars that crisscross his chest and abdomen from his supposed ‘training accident.’ These strangely symmetrical facial marks must be souvenirs from his war years. That they are burns and not lacerations makes them different as well. They are something of a brand, he realizes for the first time as he considers his reflection.
He reaches up to trace the mark down his left cheek. The fading scars themselves don’t really bother him. He’s not a vain guy. What bothers him is that he can't remember how he got the marks. Like so much else in his past, they are a mystery.
That doctor on Dantooine had seemed very concerned about healing his facial scars. Prescribing him ointments and doing laser treatments to lessen their appearance. The marks seemed to bother her a lot more than they bother him, maybe because they are on his face. Because no one ever bothered to prescribe him treatments for the much more lurid marks elsewhere on his body. Those surgical marks itch and pull. They could use some attention actually.
Dwelling on his mysterious past brings his thoughts back to Bastila Shan and their strange confrontation last night. She really is a terrible liar. In the course of two days, she has basically unraveled the entire ruse. It’s maddening to be a pawn of the Jedi Council like this. He himself is tempted to flee like Bastila had recklessly offered. Except that this space station weapons factory is real and its very existence is a threat to the Republic. And so, duty keeps him here.
It will keep Bastila here too, he knows. So earnest, she strikes him as a female version of his much younger self. Evan recalls a bit wistfully how he too had once been very certain of things. Until life and war had shown him the fallacy of black and white thinking. Truthfully, Bastila’s conviction draws him in. There is something very intellectually beguiling about simple truths. And, putting aside her teary impulse to run, this woman seems very committed to the Jedi teaching she was raised on. He misses that for himself. Knowing your creed and being embraced by your tribe has a certain comfort.
It’s more than mere words for Bastila, Evan knows. She lives her Code and he is proof. For she might have let an enemy Crusader die, but instead she saved him. That is compassion and mercy in action, and it inspires Evan. Those goals were partly what set him off on the Crusader path in the first place. Idealism is a very potent tool of persuasion. Try as it might, cynicism will never completely eclipse it, even in his own war-weary soul. Hope might not win the day, Evan knows, but it never dies. The Light endures even if it dims.
Bastila’s attitude is the furthest thing from the women he vaguely remembers being close to in his life. His Jedi Masters Arren Kae and Kreia, and his trusted comrade-in-arms Meetra Surik, were all women who challenged the prevailing Jedi orthodoxy. They were nothing like this conservative, traditional Jedi apologist Bastila Shan. They would have looked down upon Bastila. Maybe even been impatient with her beliefs. But is Bastila the influence the Force wants for him right now? That accidental bond has him wondering.
He’s finished dressing now, back in his Republic uniform. It’s fitting attire. Since when it came to a conflict of allegiance between the Jedi Order and the fate of the Republic, he chose the Republic. He sticks his head in front of the mirror again as he straightens his collar. Once more the burn marks, now shiny with ointment, get his attention. As he stares at them a moment, his memory floods back in another disjointed fragment.
“Uhhhhh . . . Uhhhhh . . . Hello?” Alek’s uncharacteristic stammering draws his attention. He looks over to where his brother stands near the door. Is the service droid here with some dinner? He hopes so. He’s hungry.
Dinner is served, but not by a droid. Two young women stand in the doorway. Like almost everyone in this creepy palace, the women are shrouded in voluminous black robes. They are the rare examples with the hoods thrown back. It puts their beauty on full display. The women are fully human and not the red skinned pureblood humanoid Sith species. One is dark haired with wide set eyes and a markedly demure stance. The other is very tall and bold looking with cascading platinum blonde hair that is almost white.
“Ladies?” Alek is unsure what to do.
But their guests do not lack for confidence. “His Excellency sent us with his compliments,” the blonde woman announces as she sashays into the room. Behind her, the brunette enters with the ghost of a coy smile about her lips. Bringing up the rear is a service droid with dinner for four and plenty of alcohol.
“My Lords, do you prefer to dine now or later?” the brunette asks quietly. Unlike the blonde, she has her long hair coiled tightly in a bun at the nap of her neck. “We are your guests for the evening,” she smiles pleasantly.
Alek looks to him, and he looks to Alek.
The blonde now moves to stand behind her shorter companion, slowly unclasping her friend’s heavy cape. Then she pulls it off before easing her own garment off her shoulders to drop to the floor.
Both women are stark naked underneath except for their high heels and tall stockings.
Alek looks to him, and he looks to Alek.
“Uhm . . . Uhm . . . ” Alek starts to stammer again.
The blonde smiles and walks over to stand before him. “Lord Malak, I presume?” She runs a languid hand down his arm from bicep to wrist. “You are just as handsome as you were described,” she purrs. Poor Alek looks ready to jump out of his skin.
The dark-haired woman now approaches him. “My Lord,” she inclines her head in a courtly gesture. The strict formality of the Sith culture takes some getting used to. It seems especially at odds with this woman’s casual nudity. “I am at your disposal,” she announces softly with her eyes cast down shyly. Then she reaches back to pull a pin from her tight bun. Rich, thick waves of mahogany hair tumble down.
He inhales and blinks. He has not seen this command performance for sex coming.
Neither has Alek who keeps sending him glances as if to say, ‘Is this for real??’ The blonde has her hands on Alek’s broad chest as he squeaks out, “What’s your name?” The woman leans in to whisper something and poor Squint flushes bright red with obvious embarrassment.
“Shall we stay together as a group? Four could be fun. Or would you prefer we pair off?” the brunette asks. Then, she smiles questioningly to Alek.
His brother blinks at this query. Being a lifelong Jedi, Alek has no experience with women. The one girl he had his eye on let him down gently after he finally garnered the nerve to declare himself. Now, poor Alek looks downright terrified. It’s a bit laughable given his brother’s reputation for fearlessness in the face of danger. But surely Alek must know that these women are here to test their allegiance to the Jedi
Order. Tonight is only superficially about sex. Its real purpose is temptation.
“We’re up for anything,” the tall blonde declares suggestively. And now, Alek truly looks scared.
“Perhaps we should pair off,” he offers and Alek fervently nods. Neither of them is up for anything that’s not strictly conventional.
As he and the brunette exit towards his bedroom in their adjoining suite, Alek begins nervously trying to make conversation with the blonde. She’s not looking to talk, but Squint can’t take the hint. The fantasy come to life of a naked and willing woman showing up on his doorstep is more than his kid brother can process apparently.
Once they are behind closed doors, the brunette tells him a name that is a lie and starts to put the moves on him. He gently but firmly untangles himself. “Not tonight,” he tells her.
She’s not used to this response, so she tries again. And again, he rebuffs her. And now, she looks very determined. “Hit me, then,” she offers.
“What?” He’s not following.
“Hit me. Please.”
“I can’t go back if we don’t go to bed,” she explains, suddenly appearing utterly serious. “There will be consequences.” All pretense at coy suggestiveness is gone. Now, she’s outright bargaining. “Look, some Lords prefer violence to sex so if you just want to hit me instead that will be okay. I’m here for whatever turns you on.”
Ugh. Now he definitely doesn’t want to take this woman to bed. She just effectively killed the fantasy right there while she simultaneously upped the stakes of Vitiate’s little test. Sleep with her or hurt her or she will be hurt? Is that it? The Emperor is giving him an offer his Jedi self can’t refuse and that his Sith self ought to casually accept. Well . . . no thanks. He resents being maneuvered like this.
It's not that he doesn't like women or that he's a stickler for the Jedi Code. It’s that he’s never been very interested in anonymous casual sex. He’s had opportunities before this. His younger, more rebellious self even took a few. But those experiences taught him that purely physical sex is a fleeting pleasure. Like a sweet dessert that tastes good but leaves a cloying aftertaste and indigestion. Vitiate has him pegged all wrong, he thinks. Because what would really tempt him is sex with attachment. That’s the ultimate in forbidden fruit: sex plus love. It combines Jedi caring with Sith passion and it breaks all the rules. But Vitiate isn’t offering that. This woman’s plight arouses more pity than lust in him.
“So . . . what will it be?” she demands anxiously. “Are we going to get it on or do you want to smack me some?”
Ugh. This bad situation is getting worse. But he tries not to let on. “Slow down, sweetheart,” he cautions, attempting to appear smooth. “You’re rushing things. Why don’t we start with a drink?” he suggests, trying to buy himself some time. He’s not sure yet how to handle this situation.
The woman gracefully takes the cue. She exits to the main room to pop the cork on the champagne bottle that awaits with their dinner. And damn, she’s an eyeful from the front but she’s not bad from the back either. He looks his fill. There’s no harm in looking, he figures.
“Your friend is in there holding her hand,” the woman chuckles deep in her throat as she reappears and slinks over to hand him a glass. “It’s cute. Next, he’s going to be reciting her love poetry,” she smirks, looking jaded in way he finds particularly unattractive. It’s very Sith, he thinks. These people are so sophisticated that they are almost coarse.
“Lord Malak is a romantic,” he explains in automatic defense of his sensitive, thoughtful brother.
“A romantic, eh? I’ve never met one of those.” The woman looks genuinely puzzled.
She settles herself beside him on the bedroom couch. She’s so completely comfortable with her state of undress that it makes him nervous. He endeavors to keep his eyes on hers, but inevitably they wander. But she’s probably used to that, he tells himself. Given the circumstances, she can’t possibly be offended. She is quite beautiful with a lean, sweetly curved body. She’s far more understated in her manner and her appearance than her brazen blonde companion.
“Tell me about the palace,” he begins, tipping his glass to her in a jaunty salute before he takes a swallow. He’s trying to play this cool. Like he chats with naked women all the time. Is this working? He hopes it’s working.
They drink and she relaxes. He then proceeds to pump her for all the information he can. Eager to please, she is forthcoming. She has a perspective from her role in Vitiate’s harem that gives her all sorts of anecdotal stories. As a palace courtesan, she is also droll and charming. She regales him with gossip that he soaks up. He keeps her talking a full hour before they are interrupted by the blonde knocking discreetly.
“Is it time for dinner yet?” the other woman asks. It’s clearly her way of asking ‘are you two done yet?’
“Yes,” he answers for them both.
Malak joins them and now together they pump the other woman for information over dinner. But when they are done eating, it’s suddenly awkward again.
The blonde takes the lead once more. She gets right to the point. “Okay, my lords, so what’s happening here? Are you just not into women?”
Is she asking if he and Alek are a couple? He and his brother exchange frowning looks.
The women take that for a ‘no.’ “Alright, well if that’s not the issue, then what’s the problem? If you don’t want full-on sex, we can just blow you and call it a night,” the blonde offers.
When he and Alek both hesitate, the brunette concludes unhappily, “This isn’t happening, is it? Well, okay, we understand.” Then she stands and walks over to unceremoniously slap her blonde friend across the face.
“Harder,” the woman advises as she blinks fast and recovers. “That won’t leave a mark.”
He and Alek watch in silence as the two women proceed to beat and scratch each other. One even goes so far as to bite. Next, they mess up each other’s hair and declare themselves satisfied. Then, they call it a night.
As the door shuts behind him, Alek turns to him. “I just . . . just . . .”
He cuts him off. “You don’t have to explain. We make lousy Jedi and lousy Sith,” he sighs.
“She wasn’t my type,” Alek grumbles.
“You mean she isn’t Jarael.”
“Yep,” Alek admits.
The memory recedes and Evan remembers his duty. He marches to the conference room to meet Bastila with a renewed sense of commitment. She might be lying to him about all sorts of things, but not about the threat to the Republic from this space station factory. They need to find it.
He's late and Bastila is waiting when he walks in. She has a mechanical companion. She gestures to the robot by her side. "I brought a navigational droid."
"Good. Let's get him started."
They get to work organizing the search parameters for the droid. If there is any lingering weirdness with Bastila from their confrontation last night, she doesn’t show it. She perseveres with typical Jedi aplomb. As expected, the droid is far more efficient at sorting data than he is. No human can compete with the processing capability of a droid. In a matter of an hour or so, they should have the existing star maps narrowed down to several hundred systems. They can start making educated guesses from there, he figures.
“It’s called the Star Forge,” he blurts out as they wait for the droid.
“What?” Bastila is lost in his non sequitur.
“The weapons factory. I remembered that it’s called the Star Forge.”
“Oh. Okay.” She looks excited now. “Tell me more.”
“That’s all I’ve got.”
“But it’s real? It truly exists?” she asks breathlessly.
“Emperor Vitiate thought it did.”
“So he’s real too?”
He looks Bastila in the eye. “He is very real. And very dangerous.”
His serious tone dampens her immediately. “Oh. The Council isn’t sure.”
“The Council is always slow to recognize threats. They don’t want to believe the hidden Sith exist.” He shakes his head. “They didn’t learn their lesson from the Mandalorian War. There are still threats out there, Bastila.”
“Malak,” she nods.
“No,” he corrects her. “Vitiate is the real bad guy.”
“Let’s blink the lights,” she decides, sidestepping that argument.
“Sure. Go ahead.” They have nothing better to do right now. And he is anxious to recover his full memory.
She flips the lights in an attempt to trigger another flashback. “Anything?” she asks after a moment.
He shakes his head. “Nothing.”
Seeing her disappointment, he suggests another approach. “Teach me to find the Light like you did last night. Let’s try that.”
“I don’t know if I should,” Bastila hesitates, looking uncertain.
“Come on,” Evan cajoles. “Teach me some Jedi stuff.” He doesn’t remember any of the specifics of using the Force even if he remembers a lot of the conflict surrounding it.
“I’m just a Padawan,” she says in a small voice.
“Who cares? Give it a try. Show me the Light.”
“O-Okay,” she relents. “Reach out with your feelings.”
He squints at her. “What does that mean?”
“I knew you were going to ask me that,” she grumbles. “Clear your mind and sense the world around us. Here, I’ll help. Hold my hand.”
“Is it working?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then concentrate on me. We’ll start there.”
“I’m already in your head, remember?” he smiles. He’s been sensing Bastila since he woke up this morning. He’s getting used to it . . . sort of. And she’s calmer today. That helps. Their argument last night has sort of cleared the air.
“Is it working?”
Yes, it is. This is the feeling he remembers from last night. This is the Light. This is a soft snowfall that settles to the ground and sticks. This is the cooling rain that diminishes the afternoon heat. Here are the first morning rays as dawn breaks for a new day. It is a chance to begin again, to try anew, to claim a fresh start, to let bygones be bygones. Compassion and mercy give forgiveness to his soul heavy with regrets and guilt. He cannot even recall all the things he has done through the years to need this reconciliation. His hands must be dripping with blood for this cleansing to be so satisfying. For it feels so good to experience the Light with Bastila.
The Light doesn’t command, it beckons. It leads by example. But its lure is potent all the same. For who would not want to bask in this radiant goodness? Evan could endure the preachy doublespeak of the Jedi Council just to feel this daily. Except he knows that Light alone isn’t the answer. It must be tempered by Darkness, where appropriate. He can’t remember anything truly important he has learned about the Force other than this: that the ultimate power lies in its full mastery. The achievement lies in being able to wield the Light and the Dark interchangeably. But that is blasphemy to the Jedi and heresy to the Sith. Neither Force tradition will suffer such a radical notion for its followers. And that makes him a man without a religion. Evan is everyone’s heretic.
“Is it working?” she whispers again.
Evan can’t answer. He’s suddenly immersed in another memory.
“We will do this together,” Alek informs him as they finally come upon their prey. But he waves away his brother and orders the others in their wake to back off.
“No,” he decides grimly, looking the enemy leader up and down. “I will do this myself.”
“To the death!” Mandalore the Ultimate hisses his challenge.
“Naturally,” he agrees. As his adversary calls off his own guards, he looks pointedly to Alek now. “Stay out of it. You must lead if I fall.”
“Squint,” he cuts his brother off curtly, “the Force is with us. But if I fall, save the dream. Save the Republic at any cost. Do not let my death be in vain.”
Troubled Alek scowls but backs down. He always knows when to speak up and when to follow orders, like a good second-in-command. Squint can be trusted to see things through if he falls. There is no one he depends on more than his big hearted, ever valiant little brother.
And then, the battle begins. It is fierce and ugly, just like the larger war it represents. With everything on the line, there is no room for stylistic flourishes or trash talk. It’s just brute force and cunning. His opponent might not have the Force, but he has skills to compensate for that. Someone has taught him well how to fight a Jedi.
But not well enough. The battle is not protracted but it is decisive. It’s not long before his arch nemesis lies dying at his feet, his much-prized armor stabbed and split with his sword. Still swollen with bloodlust and revenge, he reaches down to rip off the iconic mask of Mandalore the Ultimate. No longer will this symbol of tribal unity be used to consolidate the clans.
He crows his victory achieved at long last and at steep cost. “You are beaten! It’s over! Your fleet will be destroyed and you will die. Mandalore has fallen and the Republic will live!” This is the day he has envisioned for years. That it all ends now in single combat following years of mass destruction across half the galaxy seems almost ironic. But fitting. For this is a deeply personal and satisfying moment. Victory is sweet. This revenge is satisfying.
The man he has vanquished is a visionary in his own right. A brash leader who looked beyond his societal norms to reimagine what it means to be a Mandalorian. He spread his warrior culture beyond his insular tribes to welcome other humans and even aliens to their cause. Ruthless to the end, he sought to abolish all traditional conventions of warfare. This man and his followers saw no distinction between combatant and civilian. He saw no benefit in showing mercy to women and children. He professed to champion the strong and crush the weak. It was the natural order of things, he argued, as he trampled everything in his path. Scruples were for the soft liberals in the Republic, he decreed.
Even now dying in defeat, the man is undeterred. “Every word you just said is wrong. The war is just beginning. Mandalore will rise again. And your precious Republic will fall in the end.”
“He won. He said he would win no matter how the war turned out. He was right.”
The enemy leader now sneers out his triumph. “You had to become us to beat us. Our ideals prevailed in the end. His ideals too. You’re no Jedi. Not anymore,” Mandalore the Ultimate accuses with a wicked twist of a smile on his lips.
“He told me if we attacked the Republic, he would protect us. That we alone would remain safe when his Empire emerged. It was an offer we could not refuse.” Mandalore the Ultimate coughs and spits up blood now. Then he warns in a fast-failing rasp, “Your turn will come.”
“Who?? Who told you this??”
“He has many names and many enemies. I admired his grit . . . like I admire yours. You were a worthy opponent. He will meet his match in you.”
“Vitiate . . . D-Darth Vitiate . . . ”
The name means nothing to him. “Who is that?? Tell me!” he demands
“He is the E-Emperor of the S-Sith.”
“The Sith?” he blinks.
“Ah, Jedi, I have studied your religion . . . I know what you fear most. B-Beware because the Dark Side l-lives . . . You have n-not seen war until you meet the Sith . . . ”
Those are the dying words of Mandalore the Ultimate. Unsettled, he bends down to retrieve the mask of the fallen enemy leader. He traces a gloved finger down the diagonal marks of the traditional Mandalorian design.
Alek walks up behind him now. “What about those guys?” he nods to the remaining enemy guards who are now surrounded by Republic troopers.
“Kill them,” he decides. Vengeance rules the day today. “They will fall in battle like their leader has.” And in their tribal warrior tradition, he suspects it is the outcome these men would want, all things considered.
Alek nods to the troops who immediately carry out his orders. Then his brother turns back to him. “What did he say?” Alek asks, his eyes darting down to the body of their slain enemy.
“That he was just the messenger.”
“What does that mean?”
“There is another enemy.”
“Who?” Alek looks confused.
“Ourselves,” he answers. “And some guy named Vitiate.”
Alek shakes his head. “Never heard of him. He was probably just bluffing. Don’t let him get in your head.” Alek claps him on the back now. “Well done, bro. Now, let’s go deal with their fleet. The war’s not over yet.”
The memory fades and once again Evan is standing in a conference room with Bastila peering up at him. Reflexively, he reaches up to touch the scars on his face that remind him of his fallen foe’s headgear. He wonders again how he received those marks. Could they have anything to do with a Mandalorian mask? Could their dying leader be right? Did he become one of them in the end? Is that the big secret?
“Well?” Bastila steps closer. They are still holding hands. And maybe he’s imagining things, but their strange connection feels very strong in the moment. “I saw that flashback with you but I don’t know what it means. Is there a meaning to your memories? Or are they just random?”
He has wondered that himself. But he knows the meaning of that particular memory: “Vitiate is the real bad guy,” he repeats his earlier statement. “Not me. Not Malak. And I killed Mandalorian the Ultimate,” he realizes aloud. “I thought General Revan did that.” That’s what he read yesterday during his crash course in war history on the holonet.
Bastila doesn’t answer. She just pulls back her hands and turns away. It breaks their mental connection somewhat when she physically retreats. Touch promotes the connection, he recalls her telling him yesterday.
“Basty—“ he begins, angling for more of her and her lovely Light to prompt more of his memories. He is certain that this is the purpose of the bond—to draw them together. In the few days they have been around one another, the pull of this woman’s mind to his has become considerable. Last night, the shock of it all had him wanting to push her away. But now, he’s starting to crave more of Bastila.
“Don’t ask me questions!” she turns to retort, retreating further and looking very spooked. It tells him that he is getting close to the truth.
After last night, he has decided to stop pressing for Bastila to tell him his past. Now, he just wants her to help him remember it for himself. That way, she won’t get in trouble with her beloved Council and he will get what he wants. It’s a good strategy. Bastila is hardly in a position to refuse since she needs the information about the secret weapons factory.
“Basty, I know you know all the answers. In fact, I think you are the secret.”
“M-Me??” She’s backing away as he keeps stepping towards her.
“Yes. You. Light is not what’s triggering all these memories. It’s you. Ever since you showed up, I’m starting to remember a lot more.” The memories are longer and they feel richer and more detailed as well. It’s like the Force intends for Bastila to help him remember. That’s why it bonded them to draw them together.
“Basty,” he snags her hands and steps close. “Find the Force again for me. Let me be with you in the Light so I can remember.”
She raises fearful eyes to his and hesitates.
“Help me remember so we can find that weapons factory,” he presses his advantage. “Maybe I’ll remember something that will help us interpret the droid’s data.”
“Uh . . . “
“Help me save the Republic again,” Evan shamelessly manipulates this goodhearted Jedi.
She’s trembling now. Looking so fearful. He sees it with his eyes and feels it through their bond. Bastila is worried that he will hurt her when his full memory comes back. That’s how big a secret she is hiding.
So, he tries to reassure her. “We’re on the same side. I don’t want to hurt you. Whatever I learn, I promise I won’t be angry.”
“Uh . . . “ She looks over his shoulder towards the door. She’s still so threatened.
“I don’t want to hurt you.” In fact, standing this close, suddenly he wants something very different. It occurs to him now that Bastila is who that Imperial palace courtesan from long ago was trying to emulate. The understated lure of a dark-haired girl next door who’s not trying to seduce. But she does anyway. Just how much had Vitiate foreseen? Evan wonders.
“I need your help.”
“I hate this assignment,” Bastila breathes out and he can feel the honesty of her words. Because this Jedi investigator who values truth and justice hates to lie to him. This woman’s innate goodness again draws him in. In different circumstances, he thinks he would like Bastila Shan . . . a lot. Their politics and their views on the Force might be different, but their values are the same. And she’s very pretty in a quiet, neat sort of way. If she pulled a few pins from her hair, he wonders, would it tumble down in a rush just like it had for that Sith courtesan?
“Basty, kiss me,” he rasps as he impulsively dives for her mouth. Because while that trying-too-hard Sith whore failed to seduce him, this reluctant prim Jedi woman succeeds. And if there is enlightenment in just her proximity, what truths will be learned in her arms? He plans to find out. Touch promotes their connection, right?
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
What is he doing? Is he going to?? He is. Bastila automatically turns her head. "Stop! Don’t." She’s annoyed. "We're Jedi."
"So what?" Evan breathes against her cheek. “Try it. You’ll like it,” he whispers like some devil on her shoulder urging her on to sin.
He's so close and it is extremely distracting. Unexpectedly tempting, too. Bastila has never been kissed before. She'd be lying if she said she wasn't curious. But Bastila has never acted on that curiosity. She's never allowed herself the opportunity. And, frankly, most guys know better than to make a pass at a Jedi woman.
But not Revan. He probably thinks this is a challenge.
She keeps getting this guy wrong, Bastila realizes. She worried he would kill her, never that he would kiss her. This is a whole new kind of threat. So Bastila steps back and shakes her head. She shows him her palms in a clear rebuff. "It's against the rules and I don't want this. Back off!" she nearly hollers, sounding shrill. But who does this guy think he is?
He persists. Stepping forward to clasp her elbows firmly, Evan announces, "I don't do rules."
Yes, she knows. "No attachments," she whispers as he looms closer again. If he tries to kiss her once more, she might just toss him across the room with the Force. "We are forbidden attachments," Bastila reminds him primly.
"We're not attached," he breathes out his response. "This isn't love. This is just a kiss. This is you giving me my memory back." Then, before Bastila can pull away again, Evan captures her mouth.
And, oh, kissing is nice. Very nice. Who knew a man’s lips could be so soft? And so persistent. Bastila has her hands against Evan’s chest now, but she’s not pushing back. In fact, she might be pulling him closer. Maybe. She’s not sure. It’s hard to think straight in the moment.
This is like playing with fire, Bastila knows. Because what happens when Evan remembers that he is Revan? What happens when he remembers more than just his career as the charismatic Crusader out to save the Republic? What will he do when he recalls that he is on the Dark Side as a conqueror in his own right? A man now at war with the Republic he saved and a sworn enemy of the Jedi Order? She’s a dead woman then, Bastila fears. Between the threat of Revan remembering and the risk of Malak finding her, Bastila is feeling uncharacteristically reckless. And so, she fully indulges her kissing curiosity. She might as well.
“Stop!" Finally, she tears her mouth away just as his hands creep up her torso to touch her— "S-Stop!” she wails just in time before he reaches her breasts.
"It's just a kiss," Evan soothes, looking smugly amused. He cocks his head at her curiously now. "You've never been kissed, have you?"
"Of course not." Flustered Bastila looks down and flushes. She is rattled as much by her reaction as by Evan’s action. What is she thinking?? This is madness. And with this guy of all guys?? She steps back now and raises a trembling hand to her lips. "Don't," she warns as she backs up further, "Don’t ever do that again.”
"You're afraid," he accuses softly. “You’re so afraid of me.”
“Yes.” There is no shame in fearing sin and safeguarding virtue. Bastila worried that this man might kill her or that his radical ideas might sway her to his cause. But she never thought to fear this. The threat is not that Evan will seduce her to the Dark Side, but that he will seduce her into bed. And that she might go willingly into disgrace and dishonor in the arms of a fugitive Dark Lord is humiliating. “Don’t you ever do that again,” Bastila growls emphatically once more for good measure.
Thoroughly flustered, Bastila now does what she always does—she flees the scene. “Page me when that droid is done,” she orders gruffly. “I’ve got work to do.” She glares coldly at Evan as she heads for the door in a huff.
But she never makes her big exit. Bastila stops in her tracks when the ship’s alarm siren abruptly starts blaring. It is loud and incessant. Instantly, that reckless kiss is forgotten. There are bigger things to worry about now. Bastila looks to Evan and they both race down the hall to the bridge.
The news is bad. Very bad. Three enemy cruisers have just emerged from hyperspace in a triangular pattern to box them in. Already a squad of light fighters is pouring out of the lead ship, along with a small, heavily armored transport that surely must contain a boarding party. “It’s Malak,” the Captain confirms her worst fears. And sure enough, the trio of ships filling the bridge windows are repurposed Republic warships painted with the distinctive red and black stripe of the Revan-Malak Sith Empire that currently controls a third of the galaxy.
“Jump!” Bastila orders the Captain. “Jump us anywhere! Now!”
“Too late,” Evan assesses as their cruiser rocks from a barrage of laserfire. “It’s an ambush. And a good one. That ship placement is textbook. We’re going to have to fight.”
Bastila stares out the bridge windows and mutters, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
“Yeah, me too,” Evan agrees under his breath. “Captain,” he turns to the commanding officer. Evan Chist might be wearing the uniform of a Private, but he automatically and unconsciously takes charge of the situation. And the ship’s captain—who has no idea who Evan is, only that he is a very important passenger—defers to his leadership without question. “Defend the engines. They will disable the ship first before they board. Their first move is always the engines,” Evan advises tersely, not bothering to explain how he knows this. “Get troopers here to secure the bridge. The boarding party will head first to the bridge. Have your sidearm handy, Captain. You’re gonna need it.”
Another blast buffets the ship as an alarmed officer announces that the aft shield is only thirty percent and falling. Correctly reading the Captain’s widening eyes for deep concern, Bastila now decides that it is time for flight, not fight. “Can we get him launched in a fighter?” she asks the Captain of Evan. “We need to get him off this ship. He cannot fall into Sith hands.”
“Negative,” the Captain replies. “We’re scrambling all our fighters as we speak. There will be none left by the time you make it to the hangar bay.”
“Any other options?” anxious Bastila frowns.
“You could get in an escape pod,” the Captain improvises. “We’re in the Taris system. You’re probably close enough to land without assistance.”
“Good plan,” Bastila decides. “Come on,” she orders to Evan. “There’s no time to lose. We have to get you off this ship.”
“Why?” Evan balks and stands his ground. “Come clean, Basty. Why me? What’s really going on?”
This isn’t the time for a full confession. She gets right to the point. “You are the key to remembering where the Star Forge is. Malak is here to finish the job of killing you. And if you die, then the Republic will never be able to locate that factory. It will only be a matter of time before Malak controls the whole galaxy.” Glaring hard at Evan, Bastila orders, “Come!”
As they start for the bridge level escape pods, the cruiser rocks again. Then its lights blink and the low hum of its engines suddenly goes silent. Evan swears. “They’ve got us. They’ll be boarding soon. We’ve got five minutes tops.”
Sure enough, they now hear the whine of a cutting tool close by. The Sith boarding party is slicing through the cruiser’s hull to make a point of entry. It won’t be long before there will be enemy troopers onboard the ship.
“Come on!” Bastila urges. There’s no time to lose.
Around the corner are the six bridge level escape pods. Four are the large variety with life support to sustain twelve occupants. Bastila skips those and heads for the smaller version designed for a maximum of three people. She starts slapping at the control switches to activate and open a pod. Even the smaller pods require a minute or two to charge up before launch.
Bastila now whirls to find Evan down the hall investigating the cutting noise. Stressed and annoyed, she hollers, “What are you doing? Get over here and get in the pod!”
He nods and heads her direction. Satisfied, Bastila takes a deep breath, closes her eyes, and attempts to clear her head. She needs to find the Force so she can help. Blocking out the chaos of the space battle around them, the frantic minds of the officers on the bridge nearby, and the imminent threat of the boarding party, Bastila sinks into a Force trance. She folds her feet beneath her and drops to the floor in the classic Jedi mediation pose. Stretching out her feelings, calling to the awesome energy field that binds the universe together, Bastila now attempts to guide it to aide the Light. For the Force might control your actions from time to time, but it also obeys your commands. And today, Bastila needs the Force to cooperate.
“What are you doing?” Evan is confused. “Aren’t you coming??”
No, she’s not. His role is to survive to remember. Her role is to make certain that survival takes place. This makes twice that she has saved him, Bastila understands. Insight flashes up to her courtesy of the Force. This must her role in Revan’s journey, she realizes. She protects the protector of the Republic.
“Launch the pod,” Bastila instructs calmly, her eyes still closed. “It’s the big red button on the control panel. Leave me behind. I’ll be fine.”
“What?? No! Get in! What the Hell are you doing??” he demands.
“It will help. This will slow their boarding party down some. And it might confuse their gunners enough to let your pod slip by. Now launch and stop distracting me!” Bastila snaps.
“Can’t you do that from inside the pod?”
No, not effectively. A battle trance requires Bastila to be in the moment, sensing the chaos of combat, the adrenaline and fear of the troopers, the life and death struggle of war that surrounds them. Connecting it all is the Force and she is connected to the Force. That’s how Bastila manipulates the psyches of the combatants. Confusing and demoralizing the enemy while she sharpens the senses of their defenders and bolsters their determination. Battle meditation requires deep focus and it drains her. There’s no way she could do this hurtling away in space in an escape pod.
Evan shakes his head and digs in. “I'm not leaving you. You are one person who can tell me the truth. I’m not letting you die here so I’m stuck an amnesiac forever. So, get in!”
It’s an argument now, and that’s keeping Bastila from implementing her meditation fully. And that’s not good. It’s a lose-lose situation if she can’t help Evan and he won’t go. So, she hisses “Launch!” as firmly as she can. “Evan, he'll kill you! Malak was the one who injured you. He fired on the bridge of your ship. He's back to kill you!”
That argument holds no weight with Evan. “You’re wrong. He’s my brother. The Sith troopers might shoot me because I’m wearing this uniform but there’s no danger from Malak himself.” Evan sounds completely confident of this assessment.
Bastila starts panicking now. “Go! Stop wasting time! You have the knowledge of the Star Forge. You need to survive to remember so you can save the Republic—“
Evan’s eyes narrow as he deduces, “You don’t want me to meet him, do you? You’re afraid of what he will tell me! You’re protecting your secret!” he accuses.
It’s true. “I’m protecting you so you can protect the Republic!” Bastila retorts. “Darth Malak wants you dead! He’s not here to rescue you! He doesn’t want a reunion! He’s back to kill you.”
“He’s my brother!”
“Don’t be a fool! Get in that pod!”
“I want to see him!”
“But he’s going to kill you!” Bastila wails. Malak will kill them both. And now, the whining noise from cutting tools down the hall ceases. They both know what that means. “Oh, Gods—here they come!” Bastila throws Evan her gun from her holster. “Here! You might need this wherever you land.” Next, she tosses her comlink directly into the open escape pod. “Make contact with the Council as soon as you can. They will help you. May the Force be with you,” she reflexively blesses Evan with the ancient Jedi prayer.
Laserfire sounds from down the hall now. The Sith have breached the bridge. In seconds, they will be discovered. So, Bastila takes a deep breath and tosses Evan into the waiting escape pod with the Force. Then, she drops back into her battle meditation. She can hear the cruiser’s troops engaging the enemy. She concentrates harder now, determined to buy as much time as possible. But why won’t Evan launch that pod??
The problem with doing battle meditation on her own is that there’s no one to cover her. Bastila knows that she’ll be a sitting duck when Malak’s guys arrive. But she will do what she can for as long as she is able. If she cannot complete the Council’s mission to find the weapons factory, she will die trying. Sure enough, seconds later a pair of enemy troopers round the corner and she is spotted. “It’s her!” The men clearly know who they are looking for. “Hands up, Jedi!” they order.
But Bastila does not relent. She remains focused, eyes closed, on the floor in deep concentration.
“What is she doing?” The lead enemy trooper asks his colleague.
Those are his last words. Evan shoots both men dead from the pod’s doorway. Then he darts out to reach a hand down under Bastila’s arm. He yanks her roughly to her feet. “It’s too late for that,” he judges, decreeing her meditation ineffective and the battle lost. “Come on!”
Reinforcements for those first two Sith troopers appear immediately and open fire. Again, Evan takes them down with exquisite aim and reflexes unconsciously aided by the Force. He turns back to Bastila. “In the pod!” he orders in a tone that is pure Darth Revan.
With his back turned to the corridor that leads to the bridge, Evan doesn’t see the arrival of the Sith commander himself. But Bastila freezes at the dramatic sight of Darth Malak, Dark Lord of the Sith, marching forward with his red saber buzzing. Her concentration deserts her and the battle mediation fails. Just the feel of this guy in the Force is intimidating.
For a moment, she despairs. For herself, for Evan, for the Republic, for the Light. All feels lost in this moment of defeat.
This then is what remains of Evan’s sensitive, loyal boyhood friend Bastila had glimpsed in memories. Malak is simply enormous in person. Very tall and imposing with an armor enhanced physique that is nearly twice as wide as the average man. He’s almost a full head taller than Evan, she sees. The little brother completely dwarfs his smaller, slighter elder. Malak’s armor is red and his cape is black. But all Bastila sees is his damaged face. The baby-faced kid with the shock of dark hair is now bald, with bold blue-grey tattoo stripes on his skull and a mechanical collar that covers his lower face completely. Whatever injury that life support remediates, it must have been gruesome, Bastila surmises.
“Get in the pod,” she tells Evan quietly as she slips from his grip and lights her own sword. Following her steady gaze over his shoulder, Evan whirls. He comes face to face with his so-called brother.
“Squint,” Evan breathes out looking stunned.
"Revan,” Malak responds looking equally shocked.
Revan. That single word is a bombshell that explodes the fiction carefully crafted by the Jedi Council. With that name, all the lies are suddenly, irrevocably undone.
Bastila swallows hard.
“Revan,” Evan repeats softly. He’s blinking fast as he raises a hand to his temple and squints. Then his eyes find hers. His hard expression is both a question and an accusation.
Bastila nods. There’s no point in lying now.
Evan’s lips tighten. He looks to Malak with his lit red sword and then to her with her yellow saber buzzing. It’s a standoff between a Sith Lord and a Jedi Knight with Evan literally standing in the middle. “I guess the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” he growls, looking between them both.
“Revan . . . Brother . . . You’re alive . . .” Malak looks like he is seeing a ghost. “C-Come,” he invites in a choking voice. It’s a strange sound. Tinny and mechanically amplified like a droid but laced with human emotion nonetheless. The voice is produced by a prosthetic jaw beneath his collar while none of the visible parts of Malak’s face move. The towering Dark Lord now reaches out a gauntleted hand in a gesture of welcome. “Join me. Come home.”
“No!” horrified Bastila interjects.
But Malak ignores her. He holds his brother’s gaze steadily. “Lord Revan, Darth Revan, son of Darkness, hero of the Sith, reclaim your place at my side as my equal in our joint Empire—“ Malak begins.
“No!” Bastila shouts him down again. “No! Don’t trust him! He’ll kill you! He wants to supplant you!”
“Whereas you lie to me,” Evan hisses back.
Bastila has no rejoinder to that truth. Rebuffed, she takes a step back, suddenly realizing that the worst outcome here is not that Malak kills Evan, but that Malak welcomes his brother back. “It wasn’t my idea. You know that,” Bastila defends in a low voice.
Evan searches her features. “How could you be complicit in this? Basty, your ruse was Dark . . . very Dark . . . I can’t believe this of you. You of all people . . . ”
“She is the enemy!” Malak roars as he stares her down and points with his sword. “Don’t believe the lies of the Jedi, Rev. We’re long past that.”
Bastila stays focused on Evan. “I saved you from him! Then the Council saved you from yourself!”
Evan doesn’t hear her. He is livid. Justifiably so, she admits to herself. “You led me to believe I was someone else!” he grinds out.
It’s true. But those lies were well intentioned. “It was so you would stay in the Light,” Bastila explains shrilly. “Darth Revan is dead, but you still live! We gave you a second chance!”
“Why should I trust you?” Evan demands hotly. “Tell me!”
“Because the Republic needs you. Whether you call yourself Dark or Light, the Republic needs you again,” she wails. “You know all the secrets and will remember them in time—“
“I know them now,” Evan informs her. He looks to Malak pointedly. “I remember. I remember everything.”
That ominous comment makes both the Jedi and the Sith in attendance blanche. For the past of the Jedi Revan who became Darth Revan who became Private Evan Chist is complicated at best. And both the Jedi and the Sith have betrayed him in their own way. So where do his loyalties lie now? It’s anyone’s guess.
The towering Dark Lord now responds, “You’re my brother. We were in this together all along. Join me,” he reups his offer. “Together we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy. Just like we planned.”
“Don’t trust him!” Bastila objects. “He will betray you again. He has enslaved entire systems to his cause. See what he has done to Lehon and Dxon and Korriban--”
“Lying Jedi bitch!” Malak accuses. “Rev, you know what she represents. The Council will stop at nothing if you go back to them. Don’t continue to be a pawn of the Jedi Order—“
“Don’t do this,” Bastila pleads with Evan. “Come back to the Light. Please . . . it is the only way. He’s a monster!”
“You said that about me once,” Evan growls back.
Malak takes umbrage at her name calling. In his mind, he is clearly the hero. The Sith doubles down on that point now. “I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new Empire. We can do the same for the Republic. Rev, we can make things the way we want them to be. They’ll be no one to stop us this time,” Malak proclaims.
“You went too far,” Evan rasps back at her. He’s mostly ignoring Malak. His attention is all for her. “You and the Order went too far.”
“You must choose,” Malak goads with that strangely inscrutable expression of his. Without his lower face showing, his face betrays little in the way of emotion. All Bastila sees is his intense eyes that seem unreadable.
Evan takes a long look at Malak. Then a long look at her. Malak is the Dark. She is the Light. Malak is Sith. She is Jedi.
“You must choose,” Bastila echoes her enemy’s sentiment.
But Evan, the erstwhile Darth Revan, does what he always does. He takes his own path. He eschews the orthodoxies of his day and rejects the binary choice he is presented. With a blur of Force speed that confirms that he has indeed remembered his past, Evan rushes headlong into the escape pod and launches it.
The move leaves quaking Bastila staring down Malak.
Her breath catches in her throat. Bastila suddenly realizes what is coming next. None of the other pods are primed, so there is no escape from this man. At least Evan is saved, even if it’s ambiguous whose side he is on. But maybe that was always the case with Revan—he never fully belonged to the Dark or the Light. He is the enigma that neither Force tradition can rightfully claim. But that is not the case with her. That foolishness with the kiss earlier and her impulse to run away the other night mean nothing. She is Bastila Shan, Jedi Padawan Learner of the Temple Dantooine, and she stands for the Light. And today, she will die for the Light. Paying the ultimate price for her faith and for the Republic as a selfless Jedi should.
“You were the one I sensed before. The one with the battle meditation,” Malak speaks first. He doesn’t sound angry, he sounds almost impressed.
Bastila doesn’t answer. She just drops into classic Jedi ready position.
“Yellow?” Malak raises an eyebrow at her sword from behind his half-mask. “Which Sentinel trade are you? Tell me you are a Temple guard so you at least know how to fight.”
“I’m a criminal investigator,” she answers softly. “I don’t fight with my sword for justice, I fight with the truth.” The Jedi have long disdained violence as a solution for conflicts, and Bastila lives that in her chosen vocation. You can be a hero for the Light and not fight physical battles. You can make a difference in your world with your values and your example. Wars don’t make one great, she knows. In fact, wars represent failure in most circumstances.
Malak is still looking her over with contempt. “You’re a Padawan still, I see. Are you the best they could send against me?”
“I wasn’t sent to kill you. I was sent to save him.” And while Evan might not see the distinction in saving what you love rather than killing what you hate, Bastila does. Compassion is the essence of a Jedi, she learned long ago.
Malak is twirling his sword now and pacing. It’s an intimidating sight. This man is a foot taller than her and he outweighs her by at least a hundred pounds. Seeing how outmatched she is, Bastila struggles to remain calm. She’s not fool enough to believe that her basic lightsaber skills are a match for this man. But she will do her best not to embarrass the Order. She will die with dignity.
“Battle meditation is a rare skill,” Malak observes with interest. “You must be an empath.”
“Y-Yes,” Bastila admits, wondering how soon they can get this over with. She hopes it will be a quick and painless death. It’s not that she fears becoming one with the Force, but that she would rather not suffer greatly on the way to that goal.
“He likes you. Rev likes you,” Malak decides, still considering her. “He was far more interested in you than in me,” the Sith Lord observes, sounding almost jealous and more than a little hurt.
“He left me,” Bastila reminds Malak, unsure where this is going.
“He left to do your bidding. To save his precious Republic. No woman will ever mean more to him than his duty. Haven’t you figured that out?”
Bastila issues an automatic denial: “I am a Jedi. We’re not together.” She frowns at Malak’s implication.
“I know my brother. I know what I saw,” Malak counters. “Yes . . . “ He looks well satisfied. “You’re exactly his type. A loyal do-gooder, too. He’ll come back for you, alright. And when he does, I will be waiting for him.” Darth Malak sounds triumphant. “The circle is now complete. Once, I was but the learner, but now I am the Master.”
Bastila says nothing to this. She cares nothing for the ‘kill and replace’ methods of the Sith.
“What is your name?” Malak demands. “Who are you?”
“I am the Force,” Bastila proudly proclaims, using the opening line of a common Jedi prayer. She continues the words to give herself courage: “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows the Jedi will never walk in Darkness but will be the Light of the Force.”
Her pious cheekiness prompts a chuckle from her adversary. “I’m going to enjoy this,” Malak sneers. “Soon you are going to give me all the answers I want.” With those ominous words, he attacks.
END of PART ONE
More to come . . .
Chapter 9: Chapter 9--story notes to Part One
Hello and thanks for reading.
I’m not making this up. Like with my Old Republic story Darker, the basic plot of this tale is taken entirely from Legends canon. Basically, all the backstory details of Chapter 5 and elsewhere are true to canon. Revan was indeed both a hero and a villain, the three-time (!!) savior of the Republic and a traitor to the Jedi. He is a fascinating character. I will simplify things quite a bit for my plot, as I did with the Battle of Coruscant in Darker. There are just too many twists and turns in the official tale that seem created for a videogame conflict set piece. But the main thrust of my version will be true to the same conflicts as the canon version. Malak does indeed ambush the Endar Spire over Taris looking for Bastila Shan. Revan escapes in a bridge escape pod. Malak does indeed capture Bastila, although that does not happen on the Endar Spire cruiser. I’m skipping a lot in the middle that includes Revan’s retraining as a Jedi and the search for maps to the Star Forge. None of that seems necessary for Revan once his identity is revealed by Malak and his memory comes back.
The diagonal scars on Revan’s cheeks are burn marks from when Vitiate fried him with Force lightning while he was wearing his mask. It literally burns the imprint of Revan the Crusader Jedi into his skin. Gruesome, yes. But symbolic of the man that Revan is—even as a Sith, he’s a bit Jedi and it shows plainly on his face. When Revan is ‘born again’ as Private Evan Chist in my story, everyone wants to erase those marks like they want to erase the memory of the man they represent.
Masks are a big thing in Star Wars. From the bad guys Vader, Ren, and Phasma to the good guys like Revan, Enfys Nest, and Leia disguised as a bounty hunter in ROTJ, the putting on or removing of a mask matters. We put on disguises for the world to see for a reason, but they are rarely the whole story of who we are. The idea of removing a mask to reveal your true self is rampant in Star Wars. What’s neat about Revan’s mask is that even when he takes it off, its vestiges remain.
Masks also symbolize suffering and hurt in Star Wars, and the Old Republic bad guys are not immune from this trope. The half-mask Malak wears is because he lost his jaw and lower face to Revan’s lightsaber in a fight between the two Dark lords. Malak had begun to chafe in the shadow of Revan once they turned Dark and lots of conflict ensued, culminating in Malak’s attempt to kill Revan by firing on the bridge of his flagship. More on that conflict to come in Part Two. It is, of course, a time-honored tradition for the apprentice to attempt to supplant his Dark master. Malak’s great injury comes at the hands of his beloved brother—making it even more of a betrayal. The injury also helps visually complete the transformation between the Jedi Alek and the Sith Malak. Note that when Malak meets Revan again in Chapter 8 he offers him equality in their joint Empire—Malak is done being the apprentice.
There are different versions of Revan in the source materials, and I prefer the ambiguous version. In his original iteration, Revan is a man who is a Jedi but not a Jedi, and who is later a Sith but not a Sith. He sort of straddles the Dark and the Light by accident because he doesn’t really belong in either camp. The official canon book that addresses Revan (which I have not read and do not plan to read) apparently makes things a bit more definitive. You’re all good . . . until you’re all bad. It’s a bit simplistic. I like this guy as an enigma. My Sith Lords always have decent qualities to temper their evil ways—they are never completely bad. But none are like Revan. This guy really exists in the middle. Revan is the only character I know of in the SW universe who is able to move back and forth between using the Light Side and using the Dark Side. (In my fan fic universe, Kylo Ren manages this at the end of The Chosen One and it is the culmination of the story—the teenaged son Kylo thought would be the Chosen One has in fact gone very Dark and Kylo himself becomes the prophet of balance.) The really interesting part is that Revan never sets out for balance and he really has no concept of it in mind. But through his life experiences, he gets there all the same.
Alek—later Malak—was Revan’s closest friend from their Padawan days together. Revan was considered the stronger of the two men in the Force and the more eloquent spokesman for the cause. Revan took the role as the lead strategist for the Crusaders. But loyal Malak was with him all the way, even confronting Vitiate at Revan’s side. Malak gained a reputation as a brutal and reckless warrior in battle. Physically, Malak was a giant among men, muscled and very accomplished in battle. If Revan was the brains of the Crusaders, Malak was the brawn. In my version, Malak begins as something of a gentle giant. He’s a man whose imposing size suggests a domineering personality he does not naturally possess. Malak is the side kick—a committed follower, not a leader in his own right. After the Mandalorian War ends, Malak follows Revan into Darkness and becomes Darth Malak. Mostly because Malak does everything his buddy does.
I like the idea of Revan and Malak calling each other brothers. That’s partly because I like to write the Sith in a family context and also because I like the idea of the Revanchists seeking to recreate among their membership the family attachments that were forbidden to them. When the Crusaders rebel against the Jedi Council, they do it in both big and little ways. I envision a true esprit de corps among the Revanchists. They had to have had a tight knit identity to do what they dared. It’s no small thing to defy the Jedi Council.
In Legends canon, Bastila Shan is a Padawan sent along with a Jedi strike team to capture Malak and Revan. She’s there because she has the rare talent of Jedi battle meditation that allows her to strengthen her allies and demoralize her enemies using the Force. Bastila is the sole survivor of the effort when Malak fires on the bridge of the cruiser the strike team is on while confronting Revan. That day, Bastila saves Revan, a Force bond is formed, and Bastila takes Revan to the Jedi Council. The Jedi Council has the brilliant idea to wipe Revan’s mind using the Force. They dupe him into believing he is a regular Republic army member. Until, of course, Revan starts to remember. Bastila gets assigned to look after Revan and together they try to locate the Star Forge Dark Side weapons factory.
If Bastila is a Padawan, that makes her very young—early twenties at most. I kicked her age back a few years (she’s still a Padawan because she hasn’t taken the Jedi trials) because the age and life experience difference between her and Revan is huge. Revan is in his late thirties at this point. Almost literally twice Bastila’s age if she’s a regular Padawan. I think that age gap is too much. At age 20-22, a guy who’s almost 40 is more like a father/uncle figure than a love interest, if you ask me. (And this is coming from a woman with a husband several years her senior).
The idea to make Bastila an empath came from the Aryn Leneer character who meets Darth Malgus in canon and at the end of Darker. Aryn is something of an emotional Jedi, which leads her to seek revenge for her Jedi Master’s killing at the hands of Malgus. Ultimately, that act gets Aryn thrown out of the Jedi Order. I liked the idea of certain Jedi being less emotionally repressed than others, and I wanted to make Bastila one of those. It made her seem more empathetic in my mind. It also seems to fit with her unique battle meditation talent.
The concept of Bastila working as a Jedi Sentinel in criminal investigation is my gloss. I love to envision the Jedi Order as encompassing all sorts of Force talents and professional skills. I want to see the Jedi as more than just warrior monks, and I think that’s appropriate given their stated desire to use the Force for knowledge and defense. I also love the idea of Jedi using the Force for more than fighting and war, whether it’s Snoke’s Jedi love Shan Damask who is a Jedi archivist and researcher, the Force healing versions of Rey from my Reylo tales, or Bastila Shan here helping to solve crimes and prosecute criminals. Those characters further the cause of knowledge and justice without killing people. It’s a pet peeve of mine to want to see heroes--especially female heroes--who do more than physically fight. There are many ways for a person to be an agent of the Light and there are many ways to be strong and brave as a woman. You don’t have to swing a sword to matter in my stories.
So . . . we have Bastila and Revan from opposite sides of the Jedi civil war and from opposite sides of the Force. Reylo fans take note. Some people think that Revan was an influencing factor in Kylo Ren’s character development. But the canon version of Bastila and Revan doesn’t completely add up for me. Why would Revan fall for a woman who lies to him? Trust is a huge part of love and this woman is not lying about trivial things. She is attempting to convince Revan that he’s someone else entirely. How is that the basis for love? The romance of this story is very problematic for me. Sure Revan is supposedly very charismatic, but what would Bastila ever see in Revan if she doesn’t like his radical ideas?
I’m also just not sure what romance means in our current modern world. This issue really bothers me. Everywhere you look in popular culture/politics/life there is sex. But it all seems so obligatory and almost joyless in a way. Where are the great love stories of our time in the age of Tinder and Stormy Daniels?? Sex in any of its forms ceases to shock these days. We are just so oversaturated by it. Look--there’s Ariana Grande with her legs spread wide singing a gender-bending song about God. YAWN. Madonna did that same thing over twenty years ago. Nothing to see there.
I get it--we are in a time of upheaval in traditional gender roles and sexual norms. The sexual revolution brought us all sorts of social ills. It killed chivalry and a lot of common courtesy as well. Because when you climb down from your pedestal, it can get downright rude. But equality also brought us greater economic opportunity than ever before and many much-needed reforms. Women do things today their grandmothers never dreamed of. And that’s not just things like running businesses and rising to the top of professions, that’s basic stuff like buying your own house in your own name with your own money. There are tradeoffs in life, I get it. And freedom has its responsibilities and downsides too. When you reject the patriarchy, you also reject some of the more benign or beneficial aspects of it as well. But, here we are . . . whether we like it or not. And so many of us (men and women) are super angry and bitter. Justifiably so in many cases. But ugh . . . it seems so negative. Wasn’t the overarching goal of feminism supposed to be allowing women an equal opportunity to reach their full potential? If so, then why aren’t we happier now that we have achieved so much? Why are so many women alone for large periods of their life? It’s the age-old question: what do women want? Only it’s kind of a trick question because apparently no matter what you give some women, it will never be enough.
The prevailing mood of anger is everywhere, it seems. And its ruining romance in entertainment. I accidentally stumbled into it when I read a NY Times article on the new A Star is Born movie remake yesterday. Here I was wanting to read about a movie I thought might be a fun date night outing. Instead, I got a rebuke of romance in general and a myopic argument against some construct called ‘the drama of male sacrifice’ that completely ignores the idea that the trope of sacrifice knows no gender in Western Culture. If anything, it’s often the woman who gives all in the relationship. I just sat through three hours of Wagner’s opera Flying Dutchman on Friday night as a perfect case in point. (Woman dies to ensure the salvation of her eternally damned husband, the ghostly Flying Dutchman sailor condemned to wander the sea until he finds true love). We used to extol these romantic acts as selfless love. Now, we call it oppression. Er . . . what?? When did that happen exactly?
As a person and as a writer, I think I am never going to be able to pretend that men and women are interchangeable. I will never accept that gender is a social construct and that the differences between the sexes are not rooted in millennia of biology but are instead a tool of oppression. It’s not that I want to oppress women or turn back the clock so much as that I don’t want to gloss over the richness of the male and female perspectives. Maybe I’m out of step with modern culture. Or maybe I’m becoming the Camille Paglia of Star Wars fan fiction. But, yeah, blueenvelopes got the memo. Romance is OUT and anger is IN. Certainly, romance is out for my heroine Bastila Shan. She sees herself as the hero and not the love interest. This Jedi nun doesn’t want a man. She’ll gladly suffer and die for her beloved Republic, but not for a man. Bastila is very different from Rey in my many Reylo tales who sometimes suffers greatly for her commitment to Kylo (or their family).
As an aside, I think our current social climate will kill any chance of Reylo. Too many people will be clamoring for a moral comeuppance for Kylo Ren. He’s the Star Wars version of an angry white man who made bad choices and needs to suffer for it. And plenty of fans will be howling if Rey seems in any way less than in control of any Reylo relationship. She’s got to be a strong woman, which for Hollywood means she’s a girl boss who fights people (see also Capt. Phasma and Admiral Holdo who bark orders and start fights because nothing empowers a woman like stereotypically bad male behavior). The world is too political, too polarized, too looking for messages and archetypes in entertainment for Reylo. The sort of forgiveness and understanding that would be at the root of any Reylo relationship—dare I say it? maybe even some nurturing for Kylo from Rey??—has no place in our current environment. Perhaps that’s because Reylo is an old tale. There’s nothing new here. From Persephone, to Beauty and the Beast, to Phantom of the Opera, it’s the story of a young innocent, hopeful girl who takes pity and shows kindness to a tortured/obsessive/controlling/depraved Dark soul who others shun. The plot unfolds differently each time, and the villain is sometimes more or less sympathetic, but it’s the same story. Love of a good woman inspires (and maybe redeems) a bad man.
But what does that mean for Revan and Bastila, the Reylo forebearers in the Force? I don’t know. I’m really struggling with the romance for this fic. These two are supposed to be the great star-crossed lovers of the Old Republic era, except I’m not feeling the love.
I’m not big on lovers whose attraction is primarily physical. That’s just not my personal experience. Don’t get me wrong—I know what I like in a man—but for me so much of chemistry is personality and values. So, I didn’t feel like Bastila and Revan should be hopping into bed with him deep in amnesia. It would feel deceptive of her. Plus, it seems out of character for a conservative Jedi woman who sides with the Jedi Order in all things. Bastila is the last woman who will be enthusiastically stealing kisses with Darth Revan.
So that leaves the angle that Revan would be seducing Bastila because he’s Dark and all. Passion . . . deception . . . betrayal . . . Revan could be very Sith in the tale. Bastila could be the innocent he corrupts to pass the time, like Beatrice to Dr. Faust. I toyed with that idea a bit. But Revan—in all his various videogame and novel iterations--is a very principled character. If he is going to seduce Bastila, it’s to his cause and not into bed. So, it’s #notallSith for this story. These two barely share a kiss in Part One. It’s all sort of chaste.
Bastila and Revan spend a lot of time arguing over Jedi politics. Similarly, in the flashback sequences Revan and Malak worry over what it means to be Jedi. Is Revan still Dark? Was he ever Dark? Is he still a Jedi? It’s a question of identity--what makes you a good Jedi? If you challenge the prevailing orthodoxy of the institution intent on furthering its goals, are you hurting the institution or helping it? It’s a timely topic in different (less existential) settings. Put in our terms, are you more or less of an American because you take a knee during the national anthem? Who knows. I don’t really care about that issue, but lots of other people seem to.
“Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.” Thomas Jefferson said this in his inaugural address. He’s right that some differences can be tolerated or ignored. But some differences matter, and the ensuring conflict helps settle things one way or another. Sometimes, the result of those conflicts is for one side to prevail and then double down on their views. That’s what will happen with the Jedi Order following the Mandalorian War and the Jedi civil war. They will emerge a mess but ultimately rebuild, more paranoid than ever of Darkness. The Republic that Revan fights for will endure but his views of the Force will be completely rejected.
He won’t be the only one to have that experience. After Revan, the Jedi who dip into Darkness—be they young bereft Aryn Leneer of the Old Republic era or Anakin Skywalker of the prequels—will find no compassionate understanding within the Order. Even poor Luke Skywalker ends up terrified of Darkness in The Last Jedi. (Blowing up huts, judging totally self-taught Rey for going straight to the Dark Side, deciding to kill his young nephew who he sees going Dark rather than to even attempt to talk to him.) Through the ages, the concept of balance is something of an anathema to the Jedi Order. These guys are completely paranoid. Who thinks in absolutes? The Jedi. I’ll be interested to see how this ‘balance of the Force’ idea develops in Episode 9 of the sequel trilogy. Kylo Ren’s best chance of being the anti-hero is to be some version of Revan, I think. Revan is the bad guy who ends up saving the good guys who don’t realize that he was the good guy all along. He’s using bad means to save the good. I tried to write a version of that plot in Son of Darkness. It didn’t succeed very well. Maybe I’ll try again.
Anyhow, Last Jedi definitely influences this story. The whole concept of the Jedi Order in flux (and possibly in schism/reformation) is the main theme of the Old Republic Revan storyline. It makes the Old Republic era feel very current in Star Wars. That’s why Revan has some Kylo lines. He also gets some Anakin lines but in my mind the Anakin figure here is Malak, not Revan. Revan is more Qui-Gon Jinn than any other existing character. Qui-Gon is how I envision Revan’s personal demeanor as well. He’s patient, insightful, and slow to anger. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get angry or annoyed at times. But even then, he’s not snarky and pissy. He’s never going to have a temper tantrum. He’s too darn mature and committed for stunts like that. This man has been a leader for years—he’s not growing into the role.
I didn’t know anything about the Old Republic era until recently. I don’t read SW books and I don’t play the videogames. But honestly, this era has great stuff thematically and plotwise. I particularly love the female characters of the Old Republic. Meetra Surik—one of Revan’s generals who loves him like brother—is fantastic. She’s the one—not Revan—who gives the order to use the pyrrhic superweapon on Malachor V. In Legends canon, she is the only Jedi Crusader who returns to defend her war crime to the Jedi Council. They exile her—she becomes known as the ‘Jedi Exile’ because they don’t even say her name. Meetra tells off the Council and stabs her sword into the floor of the Council chamber when they demand her lightsaber. I loved that bit so much I put it in this story. Revan also has two female Jedi Masters—which I think is fabulous. One gets thrown out of the Order for an adulterous affair with a Republic general that produces an out of wedlock child. There’s a story, eh? So, Revan is already being raised by a Jedi Mommy who is a bit of a hellraiser. Revan’s other Jedi Master follows Revan on his Crusade and turns Sith. So basically, the person the Council would hope to influence Revan for the better turns out to be one of Revan’s followers. In the original and prequel trilogies, everyone is lacking a Mommy but in the Old Republic there are Mommy Jedi everywhere doing big things that matter. No token female characters here. Disney: take note.
In the Old Republic, Jedi seemed to fall to the Dark Side like they were catching a cold. And it never seems to have real lasting impact. Those Dark Jedi get redeemed just as easily. I’m not big on that idea. In the prequels, Jedi switching sides had major ramifications. Dooku took others with him to the Separatist side and helped topple the Republic. Anakin turning Dark ended the Clone Wars and culminated in Order 66 and a new Empire. Similarly, when Anakin was redeemed, there were momentous consequences. And in the sequel trilogy, Ben Solo going Dark matters for more than his family and Luke. That’s as it should be, I think. Flipping from Team Jedi to Team Sith like your changing your shirt seems too contrived. It’s too small stakes for melodrama loving me. When the Force and the galaxy are on the line, your choices matter and they have consequences for you, for those you love, and for innocents along the way.
Spoiler Alert! This story— the Legends canon version—gets grim from here. But, as with the tragic outcome of Malgus and Eleena in Darker, it’s not my idea. I’m writing a version of what the Lucasfilm guys intended. Honestly, I’m struggling with how Part 2 will be anything other than a downer read. Originally, this story was supposed to end with the revelation that Evan is Revan. So, if I can’t find something good about Part 2, I might not publish it. We shall see. I never set out to be the super downer fan fiction writer but I think I have cornered the market on depressing tales. I guess people know not to read my stuff if they need a happy ending. Still, I like to think that there can be substance and enjoyment in something even if it doesn’t neatly tie up in a happy ending. That’s what I mean when I say I write ‘adult Star Wars.’ It’s not adult in the sense of a lot of gratuitous sex and violence, but it’s adult in the conflicts and how those conflicts get resolved.
To be clear, Bastila does not deserve the fate she gets in canon. Arguably, Revan doesn’t either but at least he’s making his own choices along the way. Bastila is more in the nature of my other heroines in that she gets caught up in the consequences of Revan’s actions and the surrounding climate of war. Yes, she is more than a victim. But to say that Bastila has control of her outcome would be a stretch. Nothing ends up quite like she wants. But that is how the story goes. And that’s how life goes sometimes too. The life you plan to lead isn’t always what you end up with. But again—I’m not making this up. But I will, kinda sorta. Because as usual, I have my own gloss on what happens. Still . . . fair warning that you may get triggered or just turned off by how this story unfolds. Everyone ends up in the Light, but that’s not to say it’s a happy ending.
Revan’s role in Star Wars history is huge for two things—(1) how enormously important he was to the Republic and (2) how marginalized his ideas were by the Jedi Order. Revan is the guy who figures it all out except no one listens to him. Revan is the prophet of the Force teaching tolerance and balance who gets ignored. Balance is a very dangerous concept and not everyone is capable of it, as we shall see in the character of Malak in Part Two. All of the themes of this story are in place now and all the conflicts are going to unfold to fruition.
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
I’m a little Jedi girl
I am going to change my world
With Light and Hope I will protect
The Galactic Republic.
Revan wakes in the gutter he slept in on Taris to Bastila’s singsong voice in his head. Her faint, halting words tell him she’s still alive. Relief floods him instantly.
I’m a little Jedi boy
It is my mission to destroy
The evil that the Darkness brings
I trust the Force for everything.
She’s reciting a youngling’s rhyme he once chanted himself at his home Temple. All Jedi know this silly poem, Revan thinks as he fully rouses from sleep and wipes at his eyes. With little enthusiasm, he casts his eyes about at his dingy surroundings.
It took him two days in the slow-moving escape pod to get to Taris. Luckily, he half-crashed, half-landed the pod near an urban area. But the gritty, war ravaged Sith Empire world is not an easy place to navigate as a stranger in a Republic uniform. Revan tells people he is a deserter when they comment on his attire. No one has taken issue with his story yet, but that might be due to Bastila’s blaster conspicuously strapped to his thigh. With no other possessions to his name, he has been mind-tricking people for food and necessities for the past several days.
My Master and the Council teach
All I need to know to be
The loyal Knight that I can be
My Temple is my family.
Why is Basty doing this? It doesn’t matter. It means she’s alive. Revan takes heart at this news. For as frustrated as he is with his current situation, he realizes now that Bastila Shan is the wrong person to blame.
He himself is to blame.
But especially the Jedi Council.
Revan spent the two-day flight to Taris sorting through the rush of memories that have flooded back to him. Once he got it all straight, he began to assess what his past means. A week later, he still has one Hell of a headache. But at long last, he knows who he is and why he is in this predicament.
With his memory back, he realizes why Bastila was so afraid of him. He is the renegade leader of a breakaway splinter group who saved the Republic before declaring war on it. Bastila probably saw him as her enemy. No doubt she knew of his exploits at war and feared she would be next on his kill count. Yet even so, she saved him. Twice now, she has saved him. Because Bastila Shan lives her faith. She is not the Jedi Council with its meddlesome politics and blatant hypocrisy. She is just a too-old Padawan Learner who got the assignment of a lifetime when she first was sent to raid his ship and then got stuck playing nursemaid to his amnesiac self. In her position, Force bonded to an enemy of the state, he too would be terrified.
It’s been a long, strange road from the bright morning when he and Alek set off to war with a few followers and the humanitarian peacekeepers of the Jedi Mercy Corps. They spent years attempting to keep the Mandalorians at bay. But the enemy was relentless and ruthless. There were many days when he and Alek despaired of ever winning. On several occasions, they informed the Senate that containment was the best they could hope for with the Mandalorians. And so, when Revan saw the opportunity to end the war, he leapt at it.
He enthusiastically agreed to build a super weapon that would give the Republic the strategic advantage it desperately needed. All along, Revan intended to use the Mass Shadow Generator. It was never a showy pet project to provide a deterrent effect. The Mandalorians do not understand deterrence. All they understand is war. And he would give them war. Total war. Because you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, and you don’t preach peace to an enemy with a genocidal cultural objective.
It worked . . . and it didn’t. Because while the Mandalorians were defeated at Malachor V and their leader fell to his own sword, the war wasn’t over. In fact, it was just beginning. To his great chagrin, Revan learned that he had been shadowboxing with the Mandalorians. They were just the warm up act to the real thing. Only once he and Alek encountered Darth Vitiate deep in his hidden Empire had they understood the real threat.
There’s always a bigger fish. And this time, that bigger fish is a whale of an opponent. Vitiate had overpowered him and Alek immediately. And then, the Emperor surprised them by granting clemency. Mercy from a Sith?? It all makes sense now in hindsight. First, Vitiate had used the Mandalorians. And then, Vitiate had used him and Alek. Sending them forth with new knowledge in the Force and a new creed of Darkness, Vitiate had tasked them with finding the Star Forge and making war on the Republic.
The year-long quest for the abandoned Rakatan weapons factory was the hard part. Turning on the Republic was surprisingly easy. Because the Jedi Order that raised him had by then twice issued arrest warrants for him and his followers. The Jedi went so far as to have the Senate declare the Revanchists enemies of the state. It was the ultimate in ingratitude for the heroes who had saved the Republic. Their great victory at Malachor V had become their public shame, with the enormous friendly fire death toll sealing their fate. Now that the risk of the Mandalorians was gone, the politicians in cahoots with the Jedi Order came down hard on the Revanchist cause. Condemning them as dangerous vigilantes and war criminals. And so, in Revan’s mind, the Republic turned on him first.
His beloved Republic no longer stood for the values he and others had fought and died for. The dysfunction that had so long characterized the Jedi Order had bled into the Republic itself, like a cancer that destroys its host. In response, he and Alek decided to reform things themselves. Armed with the knowledge from Vitiate and planning to use the armaments the Star Forge would produce, Darth Revan and his Apprentice Darth Malak set out to conquer the Republic so they could return it to its original ideals. Once again, he and Alek took matters into their own hands.
Fueled by Darkness and rejection, he and his brother set out to settle the score. It was the wrong posture to assume, but Revan couldn’t see that at the time. Darkness had clouded his perception. Only Alek’s second attempt on his life and the Jedi Council’s mind wipe had pulled him out of that mindset. As nefarious as the Council’s actions have been, they have the benefit of giving him back a clear-eyed perspective. Over the past few days as he has sorted through his newfound memories, Revan can’t help but squirm. He does not regret Malachor V, but he does have regrets. Lots of them. He and Alek broke free of Vitiate’s direct influence when they got far enough away from his Empire. But the Emperor’s insidious Dark Side teachings had left their mark. And that’s when Revan’s regrets begin. There is some wisdom in the Jedi warning that once you start down the Dark path it will forever dominate your destiny. Because it is hard to unlearn what you have learned, and power is hard to relinquish. Power wants to be used. Moreover, Darkness feeds on itself. It hungers for more. Therein lies the reason for the Dark Side’s grand ambitions and zeal for glory. But also, its self-destruction and bleak nihilism. The Jedi were right to fear Darkness. Darkness is dangerous.
His plan was always to resort to the Dark Side in small measured doses, as and when necessary. But that required more discipline than either he or Alek had. The Dark Side is addicting, he now recognizes. The rush of sensation has a euphoria to it. It is easy to get caught up in its paradoxical agony and ecstasy because Darkness hurts so good. You both endure it and enjoy it. The Shadow Force intoxicates like no drug or drink ever can. It enthralls with an insatiable lust no mortal woman can inspire. It brings a sense of invincibility combined with inevitability that makes all things feel achievable. It is pleasure and power and possibility combined. It creates a boiling, aggressive, impulsive will to act.
The fact that the Dark Side is forbidden made its lure even stronger. For these are secrets no Jedi has dared to uncover. That knowledge fueled his maverick ego.
At first, it was something of an intellectual pursuit. A sort of study in contrasts. For while the Light is patient and kind, Darkness seethes and punishes. The Light forgives and forgets, whereas Darkness plots for vengeance. The Light is selfless and sacrificial, but Darkness triumphs the individual. The Light seeks peace and harmony, yet Darkness creates conflicts to exploit. The two opposing sides of the Force each have their merits and uses. To wield them both was the goal. That hubris, Revan now knows, has come back to haunt him and the galaxy. Because somewhere along the way, he and Alek both ended up too Dark.
Alek. His biggest regret is Alek. Just remembering that half mask which covers Squint’s face makes Revan squirm with guilt. He hadn’t intended to injure his brother. But what had started as a good-natured sparring match took on a deeper meaning as a struggle for dominance. Revan hadn’t seen it coming. Originally, Squint had volunteered for the role of Apprentice. He hadn’t insisted on it. But in the tiered hierarchical tradition of the Sith everyone must have their place and Squint wanted to secure his role as second-in-command. Revan had been fine with it.
He and his brother are no strangers to conflict. But only rarely has that conflict been between them. He and Squint have been fast friends since they met as younglings long ago. Together they have weathered political turmoil, death threats, arrest warrants, personal losses, and years of brutal war. They were trusted confidantes, comrades in arms, and beloved brothers before the Dark Side changed everything.
Friendship is different on the Dark Side. You are allies first and foremost as Sith. Loyalty is strategic and therefore transactional at best. Among the Jedi, Master is an honorific of respect and Padawan status indicates a learner. But on the Dark Side, Master makes you a sadistic tyrant and the Apprentice role makes you something of a voluntary whipping boy. You bide your time until your chance to supplant your Master arrives.
So immersed was he in Darkness, that Revan hadn’t perceived the true depth of Squint’s fall to the Dark Side. It was a shock when in the sparring match his own brother tried to kill him. Had any other person tried that, they would be dead. But this was Squint. Revan didn’t believe it even after it was all over and Squint was lying on his back with his jaw missing. He had been wracked with guilt afterwards. Begging and pleading for forgiveness. And all the while, his brother had been lusting for vengeance. Alek got his chance when he fired on his flagship. It would have worked had it not been for Bastila Shan. His pious Jedi angel of mercy had intervened to save him. The Light had stood up to Darkness that day and prevailed, with him as the unlikely beneficiary.
Alek is a grown man making his own decisions. But still . . . Revan blames himself. He was the one to lead them down this path. Darkness was supposed to be their means and not their goal. But Darkness is hard to control because it wants to control you. If you are not careful, it can consume you and ruin you. Like it did with poor Alek. Only the strongest of men can truly master the Dark Side as a tool. And those who try but fail pay a horrible price. What’s worse, they take others down with them. Revan worries that Bastila will be one of those casualties.
He thinks now of Bastila Shan, so earnest in her own desire to protect the Republic. She’s just as patriotic as he is, even if she comes at the issues from a different perspective. Where is Basty now? Revan fears for her safety. He recalls Alek’s wild ideas about how to fuel the Star Forge’s hunger for Darkness. Would Squint actually do those things? He fears the answer is yes. Sensitive, impressionable Squint had been enthralled by the unlimited power that Darkness promised. And without him around to temper those excesses, Revan worries for what his little brother has become.
I am the Force and the Force is with me. I fear nothing.
Revan hears Bastila’s choking voice flit through his mind again. Where is she? Why is she reciting more Jedi prayers? Is this what his reverent Padawan friend does on and off during the day? Revan doesn’t think so, because he’s never noticed this before using the bond. Mostly, the Force bond has been a sense of awareness rather than actual communication. But who knows how it is developing now. Was it the bond that gave him back his memory? Was it that kiss? Or was it the run in with Alek? Revan isn’t sure. But the Force keeps connecting him with Bastila. It keeps wanting him to know her prayers.
That thought weighs heavily on his mind as Revan plots his next steps. Because what now? Taking stock of his past, Revan sees all the shortcomings of the Republic and the failings of the Jedi Council. He sees the evil that he and Alek have done in the cause of reform. He sees the wrong and the right on both sides. And, he sees the wrong and the right in himself. He knows how he came to be the hero of the Republic and then its enemy seeking its violent overthrow. But what now?
Alek was right.
Bastila was right.
He must choose.
Should he side with his lost brother who flails away in rage and Dark hubris with the Star Forge at his command? Seeking vengeance and respect as much as he ostensibly seeks reform? Or should he side with the flawed, failed experiment that is the Republic? A grand democracy that is crumbling as its institutions languish from lack of leadership.
It is a terrible choice. For Revan feels responsible for them both.
Valiant are the warriors of the Light. The Force will be with them always.
It’s Bastila again, choking out encouragement for herself with phantom words that flit through his consciousness. These fleeting connections with her mind yield little actual information. But their repeated recurrence has begun to fill him with dread. Whatever these prayers mean, it can’t be good.
As the days of deliberation on Taris tick by, Revan can’t stop thinking of Bastila Shan. Of the girl sent to aid his enemies who ended up rescuing him. Of the girl who was a terrible liar because deceit is an anathema to her values. Of the Jedi who was willing to sacrifice her own life to save his life a second time. Bastila didn’t do it for any particular fondness for him. They barely know each other. She did it for the good of the Republic. Because Bastila wanted him to live to have a chance to do the right thing.
The Jedi Order might be a mess of contradictions, hypocrisy, and meaningless dogma. But there must be something good in it still to produce Bastila Shan. She doesn’t agree with his Revanchist views, but she shares his same reverence for the values the Republic was founded on. It gives him pause. Yes, the Republic has collapsed into partisan infighting and corruption. But still . . . was he wrong to declare the Republic no longer worth saving? Is the real problem the Jedi Council and not the Jedi Order? Is the issue the corrupt Senators themselves and not the Senate?
It’s very hard for him to fault Bastila in all of this. She didn’t seem any happier about his mind wipe than he is. But she went along with it like an obedient Padawan, raised from toddlerhood to respect and revere the elders on the Council. It makes Revan feel especially bad about deserting Bastila to fend for herself with Alek. But in the moment, with the rush of his regained memory flooding his mind, Revan had felt ill equipped to make any choice other than self-preservation.
His escape was a punt until he could figure things out for himself. With everyone around him telling him lies, he trusts no one’s judgement but his own. That’s why he spends days wandering the streets of Taris sorting through the situation. Weighing his options and considering his values. He has been the Jedi Revan, the Sith Darth Revan, the hapless dupe Private Evan Chist. So . . . who is he now? After days of reflection, he still doesn’t know. He doesn’t fit any particular creed. And that sort of makes him no one, he worries.
It is humiliating to realize that Mandalore the Ultimate’s dying words had been correct: he and Alek have become the enemies of the Republic they saved. But another enemy is still out there, and he is a common enemy to both the Republic and the Revanchists: Darth Vitiate. And there is no way that Revan can fight Vitiate without the help of Alek. That knowledge is what makes his decision. He decides that he’s asking the wrong question. Because it matters less who he is, than what he does.
And now, finally, Revan now knows what he has to do. He will save them all. He will rescue Bastila from Alek. He will save her life like she has twice saved his. He will destroy the Star Forge. It’s the only way he can save his brother from his spiral down into Darkness and it will keep the Forge from falling into Vitiate’s hands. He will reconcile with Alek and reclaim his brother’s love, showing Squint the compassion that Bastila had once showed to him. He will forgive Alek, if Alek will forgive him. Bygones will be bygones. Then, perhaps they can salvage the best of the Republic and reach accord with the Jedi Council. At the very least, they can prepare for the onslaught of Vitiate. Because for a second time, he and Alek need to save the Republic.
Yes . . . he was wrong to see his choice as Alek versus the Republic. The choice is Light versus Darkness. This time, Revan chooses Light. He chooses Bastila’s faith and compassion, he chooses the ideals of the Republic, and his chooses his prodigal little brother who he still loves. If he can beat the Mandalorians, Revan reasons, then he can do this.
Quickly, he formulates a plan to get off Taris. It takes him a week, but he manages to steal a decent ship to bypass the Sith blockade at the neutral zone and head for Coruscant. Lying, cheating, and stealing aren’t the Jedi way, but Revan doesn’t care. He does them all along the way. As always, Revan will do what he must. His ends have long justified his means.
Once he arrives at the giant Coruscant spaceport, Revan ditches his stolen ship, steals a speeder, and heads for the Upper Level Senate District. There, in perhaps his boldest, most daring move yet, the enemy of the state Darth Revan marches unarmed and alone into the Coruscant Jedi Temple.
As he walks up the grand steps of the massive edifice, he hears Bastila’s voice again echoing softly in his mind.
There is no death, there is only the Force. All is as the Force wills it.
Does she somehow, somewhere know what he is about to risk? Is she encouraging herself or is she encouraging him this time? Because Revan could use the encouragement. What he’s about to try has a remote chance of success. But he’s doing it all the same. He’s always been bold.
Bastila’s words repeat again: There is no death, there is only the Force. All is as the Force wills it.
Revan answers with a prayer of his own. It’s the ancient Jedi blessing even laymen use: May the Force be with you. If all goes well, he’ll be coming for Bastila soon with an army at his back. And he’ll be doing what she wants when he confronts Alek. He’ll be saving what he loves, not fighting what he hates.
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
The air is thick with tension when Revan marches uninvited and unannounced into the Jedi Council chamber. Luckily, the High Council is already in session. Looking around, Revan sees many of the members reach for their sabers. The four Temple guards he brushed by at the door now rush to intercept him. He resists the reflex to shoo them off with the Force. Aggression, even in self-defense, will impede his goals. This is going to be a hard sell, he knows. The weight of the history of all his prior confrontations with the Council precedes him.
“I come in peace,” Revan announces as two Temple guards grab him from behind and attempt to muscle him to the floor. The other two now light their swords in an unspoken threat. “I come in peace.” Revan coats his words with as much sincerity as he can using the Force. He also stares the crotchety Twi’lek Grandmaster, his longtime political nemesis, directly in the eyes.
The strategy works. A Jedi can never resist the promise of peace. The stern-faced Grandmaster now waves the guards off. There are murmurs of disapproval at this move, but the Twi’lek shoots a quelling look around the room. That prompts everyone in attendance to retake their seats in silence.
Like all who come before the High Council, Revan stands in the center of the large round room on the emblem of the Jedi Order that decorates the floor. Glancing down at the deep scar in the fancy mosaic where Meetra stabbed her sword, Revan stifles a smirk. How he wishes he had been there to see that rebellious move. You go girl, he thinks. Wherever you are, Meetra, may the Force be with you.
Glancing back up, Revan buries those feelings deep. He needs to win these fools over. He cannot show how aggrieved he truly feels at the mischaracterization of the Revanchist cause. But knowing all the fallout in the wake of Malachor V, Revan understands why he has been painted the villain. It’s because he was a villain. That’s why his posture today cannot antagonize.
“Revan.” The Grandmaster thankfully dispenses with the pretext of calling him by his ridiculous Evan Chist pseudonym. Is this a sign that they will speak plainly? Revan hopes so. He didn’t come here for the usual verbal jousts and doublespeak.
“Jedi,” Revan responds coolly. Despite his best intentions, the word comes out like an insult. He should refer to the Grandmaster as ‘Master,’ but he can’t bring himself to do so. He will not recognize the authority of the Council that has issued multiple arrest warrants for him and wiped his mind.
All eyes are on him. Eyebrows are raised and many regard him expectantly. Do they think he has come back to beg forgiveness? To reaffirm his commitment to the Order? To pledge allegiance to the narrow, dogmatic view of the Jedi? Not a chance.
From behind him, Master Vrook Lamar now attempts to skim his mind. It’s clumsily done. Revan turns to shoot the human Master from Dantooine his best Sith Lord look. “Don’t,” Revan warns. He’s done with Jedi fucking with his mind.
He’s still wearing his Republic uniform. It’s clean now and pressed for the occasion. That’s not an accident. He’s here for the Republic. He doesn’t give a damn about the Jedi Order. If he could, he would bypass the Council entirely, but he cannot.
“This is a surprise,” the pompous Twi’lek Grandmaster drawls as he looks Revan over without enthusiasm. “We thought you were lost with the rest of the crew of the Endar Spire. Or . . . back with your Sith friends.”
“I’m alive.” Revan gets right to the point. “I know who I am. I know what you did.”
The Grandmaster digests this news. “It was for your own good,” he proclaims with grating condescension. A chorus of nods around the room supports his claim.
Whatever. Revan does not want to debate the point. He’s not here for an ethics discussion or a lecture on the risks of Darkness. There is a crisis brewing that must be dealt with.
“Who are you now?” the Grandmaster asks, settling back to look up at him. “Are you this Darth Revan character still? This supposed Sith? Or are you back to being an upstart war criminal who flouts our authority openly?”
Revan doesn’t like either of those choices. And, he really has no answer to the question of ‘who am I?’ So, he punts. “I don’t need a label. Call me what you want.”
“What is your allegiance then?” the Grandmaster presses. “Where do your loyalties lie currently?” That last word is said with a touch of sarcasm.
“My allegiance is to democracy. To the Republic,” Revan answers.
"So . . . you are Jedi once more?” It’s Kavar, Meetra’s old sometime Jedi Master speaking up from his left.
“I don’t need a label,” Revan repeats. “What I need is a fleet.”
That response provokes another round of murmurs. No one has expected that demand. “A fleet?” the Grandmaster echoes. “What for?”
“The weapons factory you had Bastila Shan searching for is real. It must be destroyed. Only I know where it is. Give me a fleet and I will take care of it for you.”
It’s a bold ask and it receives a blunt response. “Give you a fleet so you can take it back to Malak to rejoin his cause? So you can deplete what little remains of our military after your series of wars?” The Grandmaster’s tone is pure skepticism.
Revan has anticipated this response. “Alek doesn’t need your ships. He has his own unlimited supply. That’s what makes the Star Forge so valuable. As long as it exists, he can simply remake a supply of weapons every few months.” Revan then proceeds to describe all the terrifying aspects of the Forge. There is no need to exaggerate or embellish. That thing is a dangerous tool that must be destroyed. Revan answers a few questions from Council members before he concludes: “I need a fleet to attack the Star Forge so I can save the Republic again. The Senate will never give me back my command unless you vouch for me.” And even then, Revan knows ruefully, it might be a lost cause. These days, the Senate is just as unfriendly to him as the Jedi High Council.
Master Kavar has a different plan. “How about you tell us where to find the Star Forge and we take care of it ourselves?” The handsome blonde, slightly grizzled human Master Guardian was Revan’s one-time rival to lead the Republic forces against the Mandalorians. Until he and Alek hauled off and took charge of things without anyone’s permission, that is. Seizing on the vacuum in leadership and exploiting tensions between the Jedi and the Senate, Revan got the job by default. He effectively elbowed Kavar out of the way. There were plenty of hard feelings, he recalls.
Sure enough, Kavar decides, “The Jedi can handle this ourselves,” as others nod their agreement.
“No, you can’t,” Revan objects. “No one in the Order will ever defeat Alek. Only I can do it. I know all his strengths and weaknesses. I know how he thinks. I must be the one to do it,” Revan maintains. “Plus, I know the Star Forge. How to attack it and disable it. Even if you knew where to find it, you’ll never do this without me.”
“Why should we trust you?” Again, the Grandmaster is blunt.
“You don’t have a choice,” Revan shoots back. “You are sworn to protect and defend the Republic, are you not? What is the point of the Jedi Order if you do not act now?”
“Not too long ago, you declared war on the Republic,” the Grandmaster reminds everyone.
It’s true. This whole situation is extremely complicated. There is much suspicion on both sides for good reason. He burnt his bridges with these people long ago. But Revan is hoping that they can all rise above that for the good of the Republic. “I come in good faith. But if you will not support me to the Chancellor, then I will act on my own. The choice is yours. The longer we delay, the larger Alek’s forces grow and the tougher the mission becomes. As it is, we will be vastly outgunned.”
Master Lamar speaks up now from behind. “Malak attacked the Dantooine Temple three weeks ago. We kept it out of the media successfully. He took prisoners. Why did he do that?”
Revan thinks fast. “He probably went looking for Bastila Shan. He must have learned the location of our ship from the Dantooine Temple strike. It must be how he found us. We were expertly ambushed over Taris.”
“And the Dantooine prisoners?”
“Alek probably needs them to amplify the Forge. It feeds off the energy of the Force.” The ancient alien technology of the long defunct Rakatan Empire is a perpetual, almost living machine. Like all machines, the Forge lacks the Force. But strangely, the Forge seems to crave it. It’s the most creepy aspect of the not-quite-sentient weapons factory—its quasi will to live.
“And Bastila? Is she dead with the rest?” Master Lamar wants to know.
“No. Alek has her. Probably at the Forge. Look, the longer you delay, the more likely those Dantooine captives and Bastila will die. If they are at the Forge now, they probably wish they were already dead.” Revan doesn’t want to think of how Bastila is probably suffering right now. Is she hooked up to the Forge for her life force to be syphoned off to create the Sith war machine? He fears she is. The Dark Side Forge would love to harness all Bastila’s pure Light.
“The Forge wants war,” Revan warns. “War is its sole purpose. Alek will use the Forge to conquer the Republic and he will control the galaxy. Then Vitiate will swoop in from the Unknown Regions to depose him. The Sith Emperor is just biding his time while we fight this out amongst ourselves. Vitiate won’t take the risk of attacking now when we might band together to oppose him.”
“There are no Sith. They are long gone,” the Grandmaster complains. “The oppression of the Sith will never return.”
“The Sith are real,” Revan snaps back through gritted teeth. “Vitiate is real. And there is not a Force user in the Republic who can defeat him. He is that powerful. There has never been a Master in the Jedi tradition who comes close to his level of knowledge of the Force.”
“He is a myth—“
“He enslaved me as his Dark disciple!” Revan raises his voice.
It’s a mistake. The show of temper just plays into his skeptics’ hands. The Grandmaster now nods slowly as he passes judgement. “Your Dark deeds were a conscious choice, Revan. Do not seek to deflect blame from where it belongs.”
Resolutely swallowing his frustration, Revan speaks softly and slowly now too. “Then listen to me for I speak from experience: do not underestimate the power of the Emperor or suffer my fate you will.” Revan casts his eyes about the group. “You don’t know the power of the Dark Side. None of you do.”
That shuts them all up. Fearmongering about Darkness is a time-honored Jedi tradition.
Master Kavar is the one to break the silence. “We can defer the issue of this supposed Sith Emperor for another day. Malak is a confirmed threat. And if he has this Star Forge, he must be stopped.” Master Kavar addresses him directly now. “Revan, if what you say is true, can Malak be defeated?”
“Not by any of you.”
“So yet again, you are the only man for the job?” the Grandmaster inserts himself.
“Yes. Only I can defeat him.” He will do it alone, too. Revan will not allow a strike team of Jedi to ambush Alek. That will surely end in death and that is not his goal for his brother. “I will defeat him and get Bastila and the other prisoners back. Bastila and I are still bonded in the Force. I sense her now and then. But the bond will grow stronger in proximity. I can use that when we attack. And once I free her, we can use her battle meditation skills. We’ll need it against the Sith fleet. Even if they become leaderless, they will continue to resist.”
Again, Master Kavar refocuses everyone on the critical issue. “So . . . you need a fleet?” he asks. “How large?”
“I’ll take every ship you can spare,” Revan responds, sensing an unexpected ally in the warrior Jedi Master Kavar. “And I need a sword. Where is my sword?”
“We destroyed it,” the Grandmaster informs him.
How typical. “Fine. Find me another. How soon can we get an audience with the Chancellor?” Revan concludes, trying to force a decision to move things forward.
But the Grandmaster sidesteps him. “The Council will take what you have told us under advisement. We will inform you of our decision.”
Revan scowls. “Do not waste time! Bastila and the others will be dead if you delay! And Alek will have created a gigantic fleet and a droid army that we will never defeat. Time is the enemy as much as Alek is.”
“You were our enemy a few months ago,” soft-spoken little Master Tocare points out. “So, you can understand why we wish to deliberate a bit.”
Revan digs in. “Haven’t you heard? The enemy of your enemy is your friend.” He turns to issue an ultimatum to the Grandmaster now. “You have until sundown to contact the Senate with my proposal.”
The Grandmaster’s reply is withering. “You do not make the rules here, Revan. You never have, and you never will.”
With a glance down at the scorch mark on the floor from Meetra’s sword, Revan storms out.
As it happens, the Council doesn’t take long to act. By mid afternoon that same day, Revan finds himself in a closed-door meeting in the Supreme Chancellor’s office. This Senate Chancellor is a stranger to Revan. Old Tol Cressa, who served as Chancellor during the Mandalorian Wars, has been term limited out of this role. And that’s too bad because he and Tol Cressa understood one another. Revan would have no problem convincing Cressa to hand over a fleet.
His replacement is another story, however. The man looks him up and down with clear disdain. His skepticism is even more blatant than the Jedi Council’s. “So . . . you are the man behind the mask.” The Chancellor looks thoroughly unimpressed.
“I am Revan.”
The politician crosses his arms over his chest. He leans back in his chair behind his massive desk. “I think if I still squint a little, I can still see that mask,” he remarks, gesturing to the scars on Revan’s face. “You have defected? Is that it?”
“Sure.” He will agree to whatever label these guys want to use to characterize him.
“Because Alek—Malak—is going down the wrong path.”
“I won’t argue with that assessment,” the Chancellor lays his sarcasm on thick.
“Malak has the weapons factory. It’s called the Star Forge,” Master Kavar interjects. “Revan knows where to find it. He will destroy it for us if we give him a fleet.”
“Yes, yes, I read the briefing. Let me be clear,” the Chancellor punctuates his words with a jabbing finger, “Darth Revan, had I known that the Jedi had you in custody, I would have demanded they surrender you for a public execution.”
Revan smirks. “Well, we’re even then, Senator. Because those were my exact plans for you when Malak and I made it to Coruscant.”
“Revan—“ Master Kavar’s voice has a warning edge at this disrespect.
But the Chancellor is nonplussed. He’s making a big show of not being intimated, but Revan senses how nervous he is. Still, the veteran politician hides it well. “Why should I trust you with a fleet?” the lawmaker from the Mid Rim challenges. “My predecessor trusted you with a fleet. You destroyed half of it with your super weapon before you and Malak absconded with the rest.”
Revan lays it out. “If you wait for Malak to get here to fight you, you won’t stand a chance. He’s too well equipped plus he has the best and brightest, most experienced minds of the Republic officer corps with him.” The Sith Empire is built on the military might and know-how of the former Revanchist forces. They are all former Republic personnel with a score to settle.
“Can you explain your newfound patriotism? A few months ago, your goal was to conquer the Republic. What has changed?” the Chancellor challenges again.
That’s his cue to wax eloquently about how he has regained his moral compass on the Light Side as a born-again Jedi. But Revan couldn’t make that claim with a straight face. So, he counters, “The goal was to reclaim and reform the Republic by force, if necessary. I have always been pro-Republic.”
The Chancellor grunts at this claim. “Well? Are you going to answer the question? What has changed?”
Revan answers plainly. “I have decided that a dysfunctional Republic is better than no Republic. I want to work from within the system to safeguard its aims.”
“You will forgive me if I find that contention hard to swallow,” the Chancellor is again sarcastic. “Master Jedi?” He looks to his advisors.
“He’s telling the truth,” the four Council members in attendance all confirm.
“Malak will destroy the Republic in one swift stroke using the Star Forge. And then the Sith Emperor will appear to claim it all for himself. Vitiate’s leadership will be far worse than Malak, I assure you,” Revan argues.
“Ah, yes, the bogeyman Sith Emperor. I was wondering when we would get to that part.” Again, the Chancellor looks to his advisors. “Master Jedi, do you assess the threat the same way?”
Master Kavar answers for the group. “We have no way of knowing whether this Vitiate character is real. But Revan believes he is.”
“You have not seen war, you have not seen death, and you have not seen evil,” Revan warns, “until you have met Darth Vitiate. You call me a war criminal? Senator, I’m a novice when it comes to being Sith.”
His words hang in the air a moment as Revan stares down the reluctant Chancellor.
As everyone squirms, he presses his case. “Do you think I would bother to come here to you now if I did not have good reason? I could go rejoin my brother. Or I could fade into anonymous obscurity. I could do many, many things other than volunteer to save this ungrateful Republic another time. I am doing this because I want the ideals of the Republic to live. If the Sith win, liberty dies, gentlemen. Probably along with billions of your citizens.”
Those forceful, sobering words appear to sway the Chancellor some. This guy might be a politician, but he is a patriot at heart as well. “Let’s suppose I gave you a fleet,” he posits. “I certainly can’t give you command. You’re a traitor and a fugitive from justice. The public outcry would be huge.”
“I’m also officially dead,” Revan points out. “You wouldn’t be giving the Jedi General Revan back his command. You’d be giving a Republic naval officer command. Call me any name you like.”
“Evan Chist? Was that it?”
“That’s fine,” he answers. “Very few outside the Jedi and the Sith high command have ever seen my face. No one needs to know who I am. You can give the credit to whomever you want.”
The Chancellor now talks through the scenario. “You would have to have Jedi oversight. We could not permit you unfettered control of the operation.”
“Your mission would be to destroy this Star Forge factory and to kill Malak.”
He isn’t going to kill his brother. Bur no one needs to know that. Revan easily sidesteps the direct lie. “I understand.”
The Chancellor nods thoughtfully. Then Revan is dismissed for the others to deliberate.
While he cools his heels in the hallway, Master Kavar leaves the group inside. Revan watches as he comes up to talk. In his brown cloak with the hood pulled low, Kavar looks like the quintessential Jedi Master. It’s kind of annoying, actually. Still, the build of the tall, lanky blonde knight reminds Revan of a young Alek even though Master Kavar is decades his brother’s senior. That was Alek before he grew into full manhood amidst war. Before he bulked up to his current massive scale.
“You will get your way in the end,” the Jedi Master appraises quietly. “The Chancellor won’t risk being wrong on something this big. His career will be over if we do nothing and Malak finally attacks the Core. Once it comes out that the Chancellor had a chance to do something to prevent it, the public will throw him out.”
“So you believe me?” Revan asks hopefully.
“Yes. I have always believed your claims, even if I have not always agreed with your means,” Kavar answers carefully as he strokes at his beard. That’s another annoying Jedi Master habit, Revan thinks to himself.
“Does anyone else on the Council believe me?”
“About the Sith Emperor? No. They think the Dark Side has clouded your vision and convinced you that the Sith are real.”
“It figures,” Revan sighs. You can speak truth to power but power doesn’t always listen.
“The Council isn't always right,” Master Kavar allows. “They were wrong about the Mandalorians. They were wrong about Meetra. That was a bad business with Meetra.” He shakes his head in regret.
Revan shrugs. “All in all, she’s probably fine with exile.”
“They did more than exile her.”
He glances up. “Yeah?”
Kavar holds his gaze steadily as he reveals, “Vrook Lamar did his Force sever trick on her.”
“The Council stripped her of the Force before they threw her out.”
“You’re kidding me.” Revan is aghast. And incensed.
“She left the Temple dead to the Force, worse than your average layman. It was . . .” Troubled Kavar looks away as he finishes, “horrible to behold. She took it like a trooper though. That’s Meetra.”
“Fuck!” Revan doesn’t bother to hide his dismay or watch his language around a Council member. “I should Force lightning that fucker Lamar,” he threatens. Revan can feel his eyes flash yellow. For immediately, he lusts for vengeance for poor Meetra Surik.
“You can shoot lightning?” Kavar turns to him in surprise.
Yellow-eyed Revan regards his one-time rival steadily. “I can do things in the Force that would shock you. But even then, I’m no match for Vitiate. None of us are.”
The famed Jedi Guardian considers this warning a moment before he reveals, “You know, there was a time when I thought I might join your cause.”
Revan isn’t listening. His mind is still on his friend’s undeserved fate. That Meetra suffered for their cause so terribly makes him indignant with rage. His palms are suddenly itching to shoot lightning at someone—anyone—to vent his anger. “I can’t believe they did that to Meetra. Poor Meetra . . . ”
Kavar keeps speaking about his own decision. “You were right about intervention. Delaying the war only made the war worse.”
“She didn’t deserve that. She was only acting on my orders. Did she say that? Did she blame me? Because she should have,” Revan laments unhappily.
But Kavar is still thinking of himself. “I saw where things were heading, so I didn’t join up. Revan, I believe in the institutions of our government. I would rather work to correct their errors than to openly defy their authority.”
Revan is still pacing and venting. “And I thought the Council fucking with my mind was bad! I got off easy compared to Meetra . . . ”
“There is more than one path to change. Different people can see the issues similarly but disagree on the solutions. But when a decision is made, it’s time for us all to get behind it,” Kavar explains like a good Jedi.
But Revan has never been one for authority. Especially now. “If Lamar tries to strip my Force I will snap his neck with the Dark Side!” he snarls. “I will fry him with Force lightning until he smokes.”
Kavar makes a face at these ugly threats. “You’re still pretty Dark, aren’t you?” he observes. “I see those eyes. Don’t let the rest of the Council see them or Lamar will be out here doing his trick on you.”
Revan blinks his eyes back to brown and grouses, “I’m not sure I was ever fully in the Light. And now, I will never be. I’m no Jedi,” he disavows his upbringing.
“And yet, here you are risking an arrest warrant to save the Republic,” Kavar points out. “Revan, had you played by the rules and shown more patience, you would be on the Council by now.”
“You mean I could be you, is that it?” Revan snorts at the very idea. He’s never been one for the traditional Jedi career path. Politics and sucking up are not his thing. He’s a man of action and principle.
“Had you been more of a conciliator and less of a disruptor, you might be leading the Order and not be an enemy of the state.” Master Kavar looks him over with undisguised frustration. “You could have been great, Revan. A Jedi for the ages! Instead, you became a notorious traitor and you dragged good Knights like Meetra down with you.” Kavar sighs and frowns. “That you have come back with this proposal gives me hope that it will all work out in the end. That maybe the Jedi Order will emerge from this civil war stronger than ever. Who knows? Perhaps before it’s all over, you will lead us anyway.”
Now it’s Revan’s turn to look skeptical. “I doubt that. I’m no Jedi,” he contends again.
“No one knows what you are,” the Jedi Master retorts. “And maybe that’s the point. We are being tested. Forced to examine our values. You, Revan, are our test.” Again, Master Kavar shoots him a frustrated look. “Our prodigal son has returned and he’s both the best and the worst of us.”
Revan isn’t following any of this. Sometimes, he thinks, Kavar can be cryptic as Hell. It’s sort of a Jedi Master thing to be obtuse and preachy at times. “I just want a fleet. I need that fleet as soon as possible.”
Master Kavar grunts. “You don’t even realize it, do you? You are the first Jedi in anyone’s memory to fall into Darkness and come back. That makes you . . . well, extraordinary. You have managed to both prove us right and prove us wrong. Maybe you will be the one to move us forward.”
“What are you saying?” Revan is impatient with Kavar’s ramblings.
“I’m saying that maybe you will be the one to bring balance to the Force.”
Revan smirks at the suggestion. “The Chosen One? Really?? That’s just a story. And not an original one.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Sith have their own version of a Chosen One story. The tale of the Sith’ari who will destroy the Sith to save them. It’s a bit different from our idea of a Jedi messiah who will destroy the Sith to bring balance to the Force. But the idea is the same: some guy comes along to destroy the status quo and create progress. It’s a fairytale,” Revan dismisses. “That’s not how the Force works.”
“Interesting. Very interesting,” Master Kavar considers. “So from their perspective, the Sith imagine the same figure? That actually provides credence to the prophesy, does it not?”
“Two fairytales makes two fairytales. Not truth,” Revan sniffs. Why are they talking about this? Stupid shit like the Chosen One myth are what makes many laymen consider the Jedi a hokey religion full of superstition.
But Kavar presses. “Well . . . aren’t you trying to destroy our Sith enemies Malak and Vitiate?”
Irritated Revan explains bluntly. “I’m trying to save the Republic, not save the Sith or balance the Force. That’s some other poor fool’s job.” And whoever they are, Revan pities them for their task. “What’s taking so long?” he complains.
Kavar shoots him a look for his impatience. “These are politicians. They never move fast on anything.”
Master Kavar is correct. In the end, it takes three full weeks to get his fleet. For the first two weeks, the Chancellor convenes meeting after meeting with various influential Senators. He solicits opinions on what to do in a showy attempt at consensus that is really advance damage control in case the decision to entrust him with a fleet goes badly. But once the requisite political cover is laid, the Chancellor gives the newly promoted, entirely fictional Admiral Evan Chist command of an armada. After that, it takes one additional week to assemble, outfit, and supply the ships.
Waiting for the Senate to act is frustrating for many reasons, but especially given his growing concerns for Bastila. Revan never again senses Bastila after that moment he hears her voice when he walks into the Jedi Temple. Is she dead? Has the Force cut off the bond? Has Bastila ventured too far away from him physically for their connection to work? Revan doesn’t know what to think. But he is worried. Very worried.
He thinks of the faithful Jedi Padawan who sat cross legged, eyes closed in battle meditation in the middle of an ambush so that her enemy might live to save the Republic from the Star Forge. Wherever you are, he promises Bastila, I won’t let you down. If she is one with the Force by now, he thinks Bastila would be fine with that outcome. The young woman who quoted him Jedi dogma and whispered prayers in the Force deeply believed in her cause and in her faith. There’s probably no better way she would choose to die than as a Jedi martyred by the Sith for the Republic. Revan hopes that’s not the case, but he knows his brother well enough to know it’s the likely outcome.
While he cools his heels waiting for the fleet, Revan plans his attack on the Star Forge. At first, the regular naval high command openly bristle at the newcomer in their midst. But their grumbling mostly ends when Revan is revealed to be a very experienced strategist who knows exactly what they are up against. No one seems to guess who he is exactly, although there is rampant speculation that he is a Sith defector. How else can you explain this stranger’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Mandalorian Wars? It is only when the fleet launches and Revan shows up on the bridge of the command ship with his new lightsaber bouncing at his hip that the secret is out.
His second in command presents himself to salute and sees the Jedi weapon. His eyes grow huge as the Major gasps. “Damn. You’re Jedi,” the man exclaims tactlessly. Then, he quickly puts it all together as he speaks his thoughts aloud. “If you’re Jedi but no one calls you a Jedi, then there must be a reason . . . meaning no disrespect, Sir . . . oh, fuck, you’re Revan, aren’t you? Of course . . . of course . . . You were rumored to have lived . . . ”
“Yes,” Revan nods. He tries to reassure the gaping man. “This will begin to make things right.” And this is for you, Bastila, wherever you are.
“When did you flip back to the Republic side?” the Major asks, looking both bewildered and impressed. “When did you become the good guy again?”
The Major won’t understand this. The Jedi don’t understand this. Neither does the Senate. No one does. But Revan says it anyway. “I was always the good guy.” At least, in his own mind he was. But Bastila Shan saw it, too. That’s why she was willing to die to save him. Wherever you are now, Revan promises Bastila, I will finish what you started. I promise to find the Star Forge and destroy it.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
See notes at the end of this chapter if you are concerned about triggers.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Star Forge is shaped like a giant tuning fork in space, with a nearby star centered between its immense arms. The placement is intentional. The Forge draws energy and matter from the star which, when combined with the Dark Side of the Force, make it capable of creating an endless supply of armaments. From ships to droids to munitions, the Star Forge is a mystical war machine.
Bastila is surprised to learn that it is an ancient artifact, built tens of thousands of years ago by a warlike race who sought to dominate the galaxy. The Rakatan failed in their ambition, she learns, mostly because the Forge came to feed off its creators. Corrupting them and toppling their fledgling empire. For such is the nature of the Dark Side, Darth Malak teaches. It consumes and controls those who wield it if they are not careful. And so, while its original creators perished, the Forge remained extant all these years as a semi-living thing. Malak explains proudly that the Forge is a fusion of self-perpetuating, self-repairing alien technology and Dark Side energy. But without a Dark Master to make use of its products, the limitless potential of the Forge remained untapped for ages.
But all that has changed now that Darth Malak has claimed it. He has it busy churning out weapons of war to fuel his planned mass destruction of the Republic Core worlds. The Forge desires death above all things, the Sith marvels aloud as Bastila stands stone faced beside him in handcuffs. Malak is clearly beguiled by the technological terror the Dark Side has created. He can’t stop talking about it, sounding very much the evil mastermind who relishes revealing his plans as much as he enjoys plotting them. The Forge is the Dark Side made manifest, Malak declares proudly as the cruiser they are on docks. This factory hungers like a living creature, he reveals. Its power can be amplified by suffering. And in the proper hands, it will be the key to controlling the galaxy.
Once they are inside, Malak takes Bastila on a lengthy tour, like she is an honored guest and not a prisoner shackled hand and foot. She soon discovers that the Star Forge is a house of horrors. It is one part weapons factory, one part Sith headquarters, and one part torture chamber. Malak methodically walks her through the entire facility, narrating as they go. Bastila sees the assembly line where an army of battle droids is being produced. She sees the shipyards where the Forge can complete a capital ship in a month’s time that would take a year back in the Republic. She sees the munitions depot where explosives and plasma cartridges are stockpiled around the clock. Things are much more efficient, Darth Malak explains, since the captives arrived.
The captives are two dozen Jedi prisoners taken from the large Temple enclave on Dantooine. Men and women, boys and girls, they are mercilessly tormented in solitary cages while they are hooked up to the Forge itself. The tortured Jedi are kept barely alive in horrible conditions and in intense pain. Their suffering fuels the giant war machine, augmenting its power and sating its need to consume life. For the Forge feeds on Darkness, Bastila learns.
I have to experiment with each new subject, Malak confides. He has an abstract objectivity about torture that Bastila finds repulsive. You need to keep the pain bearable to sustain the suffering. Otherwise, you run through the captives too quickly. Not all Jedi can withstand the same amount of pain. I had to kill a few captives to figure that out, Malak admits sheepishly. But I think I’ve got it now.
Aghast Bastila looks on bleakly. Will this be her fate? She swallows hard.
The Forge will make me invincible, Darth Malak crows. It is building me a fleet and an army of battle droids. It won’t be much longer before I will overwhelm the Republic’s defenses in one swift stroke. Then, my Empire will comprise the whole galaxy. I have become more powerful than any Jedi ever, he declares. I am definitely more powerful than Rev ever was, Malak repeats over and over. For the Forge bolsters my power as its one true Dark Master.
Malak speaks like this a lot, Bastila soon learns. With big sweeping statements that speak less to his ambitions and more to his insecurities. For powerful as this man might be, he is clearly beset by fears of his own inadequacies. Is this the result of being in Revan’s shadow so long? Darth Malak seems to have a deep seeded inferiority complex where his brother is concerned. He even calls himself Sith Magnus to one-up Revan’s generic Sith title. But all Lord Malak’s boasting and posturing just strike Bastila as trying too hard. And for all Darth Malak’s weaponry, he seems very dissatisfied. He only wants more, she comes to realize. But that is the illusory nature of the Dark Side. It fulfills its promises but it’s not enough. Because the nature of hate is that it needs to spread to sustain itself. Like the Forge Lord Malak commands, he too needs to keep consuming and destroying. Ruling a third of the galaxy is not enough. Darth Malak wants it all. And when he gets it, Bastila suspects he will only want more.
As they continue their tour, Bastila feels more and more anxious. She casts her eyes blankly about the alien design aesthetics. Visually, this place looks like nothing she has ever seen. But the cloying feel of this place in the Force is almost indescribable. It is fear that runs deep and makes you want to shut your eyes like a child. It is suffering of the type that leaves scars both visible and invisible. It is anger boiled down to bitterness. Sadness so pervasive it crowds out hope. Darkness so pure and potent that it makes her Light defiantly shine brighter in contrast.
And that Light turns out to be both her salvation and her downfall. Because Malak’s rambling tour ends at a prison cell. Jailers appear to remove her handcuffs and she is left alone with the Sith Lord. “Ready?” he asks. Then, Malak raises his hands and lightning erupts from his fingertips. Instantly, Bastila is writhing on the floor in agony, totally overpowered by this unprecedented perversion of the Force. She has never heard of such a skill, let alone seen it before. It seems like it takes forever before the lightning lets up. Bastila is panting, face down on the floor when the reprieve finally comes.
“Tell me about battle meditation,” the Sith says evenly. Like he’s talking about the weather.
“Go to Hell!” Bastila responds, earning herself some more lightning.
It goes on and on for hours. Lord Malak asks questions. She refuses to answer. He tortures her. It’s very unpleasant, but bearable. When he hurts her, Bastila finds the Force. Bathing her mind in the bright shining truth of the Light. Here no pain can reach her, no evil can befall her, and no doubts can challenge her. She is safe from Malak and all the Darkness he plots. For the Light bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. The Light never ends and never gives up.
“You’re going to die, Jedi girl. Whoever you are,” Malak snarls. He’s getting irritated.
“I am the Force and the Force is with me. I fear nothing,” Bastila answers calmly.
Malak doesn’t answer with words, he answers with lightning. Their impasse continues. Finally, Malak loses interest and it ends.
The next day, it begins again. Only this time, Malak adds drugs to his torture methods. A scary looking droid injects Bastila with something called a mind probe. It makes her thoughts fuzzy and disjointed, but with determination she still succeeds in finding the Force. And that’s all Bastila needs to survive. She runs through every Jedi prayer she has ever learned, saying the rote words in her mind with newfound conviction. For never before has she truly understood their meaning. It is only when your faith is tested that it is proven real.
“Valiant are the warriors of the Light. The Force will be with them always,” she wheezes out as she pants through the pain.
“Your faith is inspiring, Jedi girl,” Malak sneers. “But it won’t save you. Soon, you will meet your blessed Force,” he threatens.
Lord Malak keeps up until some flunkey arrives to interrupt with news of the war. The Sith stalks off in a huff and it ends. Bastila is apparently forgotten for more important matters.
But the next day Malak is back. He has grown frustrated. So, he strips off his gloves and takes a swing at her. He never once hits her face, but he pummels her body black and blue in between rounds of lightning. But still, Bastila does not talk. She will not betray the secret of battle meditation. She will not betray the Jedi Order or the Republic. She continues whispering prayers for encouragement as she struggles to keep her focus in the Force.
Towards the end of the day, lying in a haze of pain on the floor, Bastila stares up at her tormentor. “I forgive you,” she tells Darth Malak.
The Sith sucks in a breath. He clearly was not expecting her words.
“I will pray for you,” Bastila promises. “For I can only imagine how much pain you are in. It’s far worse than mine, I think.”
Darth Malak suddenly looks shaken and uncomfortable.
Until now, everything Bastila has known about the Dark Side has been theoretical. But imprisoned in this horrible place with this horrible man, she has come face to face with Darkness. Here in her bleakest moments, Bastila resolves to be the Light in action. She will be the example for herself, for Malak, and for the universe at large as she bears witness to the triumph of the Force. Darkness might kill her, but it will never kill the Light.
Malak recovers fast. His face hardens into a sneer. “Oh, you are worthy of him. I see it now. I know why you are Rev’s girl.” Malak persists in believing that she and Revan are a couple. Bastila does not contradict him. Because being Rev’s girl seems to convey a certain status and because she refuses to give this Sith any information. “If you are worthy of him,” Malak declares, “then you are worthy of me. I am the Sith Magus. I am the Dark Lord now. Everything Rev has he must render unto me.”
Abruptly, the Sith summons a jailer. “Get a medic. Clean her up,” he decides.
Thereafter, Malak changes his game plan to employ a new strategy. He will try a different form of violence now. And, all things considered, Bastila would much prefer a daily beating and some Force lightning. Because many hours, a shower, and lots of bacta patches later, Bastila is marched from the small infirmary where she has been treated. She thinks she’s being delivered back to her cell. But, no. She’s being delivered to Lord Malak. Not to the bridge or to his throne room, but to his private quarters. To his bedroom.
As soon as she realizes where she is, Bastila knows what coming next.
“Here she is, my lord.”
“Remove the cuffs. Then you are dismissed,” the Sith Lord orders.
Her jailers comply. Then they salute and withdraw, leaving Bastila alone with Darth Malak. He is facing away, looking out a window with his hands clasped behind his back.
“This is your fault,” he informs her. “I can’t sleep with you here. I close my eyes and all I sense is your bright Light. Calling to me. You blind my mind,” he rasps resentfully.
Bastila makes no reply. She just shifts her weight from side to side. She is terribly uncomfortable standing barefoot in a blouson hospital gown and not much else.
His angry rant continues. “Your Light taunts me. It tempts me. This is your fault,” he accuses once more.
Bastila is confused. Is he saying what she thinks he is saying? Has she misread the situation completely? Could Darth Malak be conflicted? Is that why he gave her medical help? Bastila takes a few steps forward and takes a chance. “You can always return to the Light. I’ll help you,” she offers sincerely. She even holds out her hand. “It’s not too late.” A sinner can always repent.
Malak turns around now. His yellow eyes narrow and his brow lowers above his steel half mask. “You think the solutions are simple, don’t you? That the Light is right and the Dark is evil. Look at you,” he gestures with contempt. “So sure. So pure. So . . . Jedi.”
“You can be those things again too,” she offers gamely, even flashing a weak smile. Bastila is unwilling to be dissuaded. This is her chance to coax this fallen Jedi back to the Light.
But walking to close the space between them, Darth Malak shakes his head. “I can never go home again. And neither can you. Not after me, you can’t.”
Bastila starts backing up now. And rather than chase her, Lord Malak simply extends his hand and pulls her to him with the Force. Bastila instantly starts to struggle, but he tightens his grip in silent warning and she ceases.
“You know,” he tells her as his free hand snakes around to tug the string that ties her hospital gown together behind her back, “I can take whatever I want.”
Clutching at her rapidly slipping gown, Bastila breathes out, “N-No—“ She starts struggle again, throwing up a hand to Force push Malak across the room. As usual, he anticipates her. Bastila’s skills are no match for the power of this Sith. That just leaves a physical tussle. But for this too, Bastila is at a disadvantage. Malak is nearly a foot taller than her.
“If you will not share your secrets, then you will share your body,” he growls as he muscles her across the room, yanking her medical gown down one shoulder in the process.
“You will regret this!” Bastila yelps as she attempts to cover herself.
“I doubt that,” he retorts. “But even if I did, you would forgive me, right? You’re such a good Jedi girl.” Malak says this sort of like an insult, but also like approval, too. It’s confusing to Bastila.
“You’re a monster!” she hollers.
Malak laughs. It’s an ugly sound coming from behind his half mask. “You are why the Light cannot win. Because it is so soft that it forgives its enemies.” He’s shaking her now, like a rag doll. “Sanctimony always loses. Trust me, I know. I have seen a lot of martyrs for the Force. Some were friends who fought with me, some were enemies I killed myself. Do you know what it means to be a martyr? Do you?? It means nothing! You’re dead like anyone else!”
“Don’t do this—please!” Bastila cries as he keeps dragging her back toward the bed. She didn’t once plead with him to stop his physical torture, but this is different. She is panicky with fear.
“I need to do this. It’s either this or kill you,” Malak confesses. “But since you’re Rev’s girl, I like this solution. I can’t wait to tell him about this when he arrives.”
Darth Malak has her on the bed now, pinned under him as she frantically thrashes about. Bastila fights while he grinds into her, clearly turning himself on. It’s disgusting and frightening.
“I like the fight in you. I like a girl who fights,” the Sith approves.
She keeps fighting, but it doesn’t do any good. Malak gets his way like they both knew he would.
Each night after that, trembling and afraid in tight handcuffs, Bastila is delivered to Darth Malak. The daytime physical torture ceases in favor of this new and especially cruel kind of pain. Life being what it is, violence against women tends not to be indifferent and systematic. Instead, it is impulsive and personal. Because when a certain type of man gets power over a woman, he exerts it in forced sexual degradation.
And, in this case, it quickly becomes oddly bizarre. Because after about a week, the lure of despoiling the virgin Jedi girl wears off. Malak then starts to dress her up. Her hair is bleached, her face is painted, and she is outfitted like some warrior girl pinup. Darth Malak himself personally draws out the strange blue facial and arm tattoos that he has a grooming droid mimic on her. Is this what he’s into, she wonders as she thinks of the bold blue stripes tattooed on Lord Malak’s own skull. Thankfully, the versions she gets are only semi-permanent. Staring blankly at the finished product in the droid’s mirror, embarrassed Bastila wonders if this is a further attempt to humiliate her. She’s a Jedi woman, celibate and uninterested in allure. The tarted up stranger starting back at her is nothing like her usual modest self.
But Bastila soon learns that this is a fantasy that has nothing to do with her. “Jarael,” Malak groans and grunts over her, his amplified voice sounding eerily strange as he pants and thrusts. Bastila just closes her eyes and averts her face. She endures nights with the Sith like she endured those first few days of torture. “Oh, Jarael,” he moans above her. “I miss you.”
Most nights Malak is brutal as he rapes her and pretends to rape his lost love. Roughing her up, holding her down, forcing himself on her, and reveling in her attempts to resist. He is angry, oh so angry at the woman who apparently dared to reject him. “I would have made you an Empress, you fucking bitch,” Malak roars before he slaps Bastila as the mystery woman’s stand-in. “You ungrateful half breed, I suffered for you with Demagol!”
Malak actually seems to welcome Bastila’s struggles those nights. Because when once when she just submits to get it over with, the Sith becomes frustrated, telling her she’s a fighter and she needs to fight. So, Bastila dutifully fights and he is appeased. That’s better, he approves. “Remember when you knocked me down? Not many women can knock me down. I love that you knocked me down. Oh Jaerel, I love you.”
But Bastila does not love. She hates. She hates Malak for what he does and for who he is. Whoever this Jarael woman is, she was right to reject him.
Inevitably, Malak dissolves into incoherent apologies and even tears afterwards as he begs his beloved Jarael’s forgiveness. It is all so creepy that it makes the nightmare of Bastila’s ongoing abuse that much more frightening. Darth Malak is a deeply disturbed man who is extremely emotionally unstable. His obsession, his violence, his paranoia, and his awkward loneliness all strike Bastila as hallmarks of his Darkness. For while the Shadow Force might fuel his power, it also tugs at his soul. This is the false bargain of the Dark Side, she knows. It promises everything but takes everything, too. Because for all his Dark prowess, Malak is a weak and unhappy man.
Bastila has seen this attitude before. She has run across several mentally deranged, sadistic, sad criminals in her work. These are aggrieved, extreme men who are convinced that the perceived wrongs done to them justify their actions. Filled with simmering rage, they are the serial killers, the stalkers, and the psychopaths of the universe. Usually, these men—and they are always men—feel powerless or inadequate, and so they seek to dominate and intimidate to prop themselves up. They want acceptance from people who dislike them. They want approval from people who disdain them. They want love from people who fear them. The repeated rejections that result only reinforce their bitter animus.
It’s not all rape fantasies. Other nights, Malak is almost romantic as he croons husky words of love to his mystery woman. “I need this. I need you. Love me, Jarael. I need you to love me. With Rev gone, there is no one to love me,” he complains. These are the nights when the Sith undresses himself fully. Then, with gentle, persistent hands and soft words, he seduces her with carnal pleasure. “I wish I could kiss you, Jarael. I never got to kiss a woman,” he laments his jaw injury. Instead of kisses, he nuzzles at her neck with his bald head while his fingers go everywhere. These nights are the worst because, try though she might, Bastila’s traitorous body sometimes responds. It becomes a challenge for him to turn her on. “Don’t fight it. Give yourself to the Dark Side,” he rumbles as he parts her legs and gets to work. “Through submission you will gain strength,” Darth Malak promises. Then, he abuses her and makes her like it. But she’s no fool. The obsession and the romance are for another woman, not for her. It’s all an empty pantomime of caring that does not exist. Those nights, she hates Malak but she hates herself more.
Bastila feels herself slipping away as the weeks tick by. More and more, she is acquiescent to Malak and numb to the pain he causes. Not really caring what happens to her in the end. Moreover, her whole sense of self feels like it is crumbling. Bastila now looks like another woman she has never met and she receives the twisted adoration and vicious rage directed for the mystery lover. It’s almost as if Bastila herself is no longer of interest. Being irrelevant might be the worst treatment of all. Because Bastila doesn’t even merit acknowledgement as an adversary. Now, she’s just a body to abuse and to slake Malak’s lust. He no longer bothers asking her about battle meditation.
He loves the fantasy of this other woman. Malak commits to the pretense fully, calling Bastila by another name, speaking to her like she knows the woman’s private past, promising Bastila a future he wants with someone else. This other woman is the ghost in the sheets with them, or maybe Bastila herself is the ghost now. For she is diminished more and more as each day goes by. She no longer looks like herself. She doesn’t feel like herself. She’s doing unspeakable sex acts on command that her normal self would never dream of doing. Truly, Bastila feels like another person. She worries that if this role playing goes on too long, she will actually become Darth Malak’s version of this other woman.
“Who is Jareal?” Bastila finally works up the nerve to ask.
“Don’t say her name you filthy Jedi whore!” Malak erupts. His rage is unpredictable to say the least. “Don’t say her name! You’re not fit to say her name!” He punctuates his outrage with a vicious blast of Force lightning.
“Did you kill her?” Bastila chokes out from where she lies sprawled on the floor. “Is that what happened?”
Malak looks terribly offended at the question. She can feel his rage rising in the Force.
“Did you kill her?” she demands again. “Is that how this ends?” When he doesn’t answer, she persists. “Will you kill me? Please?” She says the words impulsively before it even registers what she is suggesting.
Malak responds with a hard kick that breaks her ribs and lands her back in the infirmary. After that, Bastila doesn’t ask any more questions.
The worst part is that now she is Malak’s plaything and not a regular prisoner, she isn’t promptly escorted back to her cell after she is raped. She spends the entire night with Malak, usually tethered by a restraint at her foot. That means Bastila does not get to cry in private in her cell. When the tears bubble up, she’s still in bed with her tormentor. Malak gathers her close and lets her cry on his shoulder, stroking her hair and telling her to let it out. The advice is pure manipulation. She’s in the arms of a Dark monster who hurts her and then encourages her to feel all her pain rather than repress it. Telling her that emotions are powerful and she should use them.
She does. Because Bastila can’t cope with this situation any other way. The impersonal violence at the beginning she could ignore. She could grit her teeth and avert her eyes and lapse into her long-ingrained Jedi stoicism. But the repeated rape is different. It is a personal violation that she can’t pretend doesn’t bother her. And her ever deepening masquerade as Jarael makes it feel like Bastila Shan is being erased as an individual. Unable to assert herself in any meaningful way, Bastila resorts to emotion. To despair, to humiliation, and to anger.
“Good. Gooood,” Malak approves as she sobs into his bare chest one night. “Let the hate flow through you.”
She does. Bastila can’t stop herself.
“I can feel your anger,” Malak purrs with satisfaction. “It makes you stronger. It gives you focus.”
But truthfully, Bastila doesn’t feel strong. She feels weak and helpless. And that is especially humiliating for a Jedi woman.
With too much time on her hands, Bastila gets lost in sullen brooding as she waits in dread for the next night to come. It brings on extreme anxiety that is nothing like her normal level-headed self. She feels perpetually on the brink of rage or tears. Her mind begins to overflow with violent fantasies of murdering Malak. Is it justice for his crimes she seeks or revenge? Bastila isn’t certain. What’s worse—she no longer cares. After a little over a month spent in captivity, Bastila is downing in Darkness. It’s from Malak’s abuse, from the Star Forge setting, and from the hopelessness of her situation.
It’s a trap because the more she hates and fears, the harder it is to find the Force. Bastila craves the healing balm of the Light on her beleaguered soul. Some days, she feels almost desperate for its comfort. Forgive me for I have sinned, Bastila thinks, as she worries over her rapidly Darkening mindset. Truly, she is becoming more and more like Malak himself. Soon, she fears she will become the very thing she sought to destroy. As it gets harder and harder to connect with the Light, Bastila simply gives up. She no longer wastes time chanting prayers and remembering Jedi teaching. What’s the use? Darkness has eclipsed her Light.
Confined to her cell for long stretches with nothing to do, Bastila dwells incessantly on her predicament. She knows she’s supposed to be the Jedi heroine. She ought to be forming an escape plan to liberate the other Jedi captives and steal a ship. Or plotting to kill Malak in his sleep. But Bastila has no confidence in her ability to do either. Malak had easily beaten her with a saber on the Endar Spire. And her Force skills are no match for his. Moreover, all fight has gone out of her. Bastila only wants to survive. But surviving Malak keeps pulling her deeper into Darkness.
After a few weeks, Malak takes to summoning her several times a day for company. He likes her to accompany him as he inspects his latest capital ship. Darth Malak squires her around on these tours with courtly courtesy like she’s a princess. Until, that is, Bastila says something he doesn’t like and he punches her or shoots her with Force lightning. He likes a good show of force before his men. But usually, Malak’s summons is just to hold his hand in the command center. The Sith Lord spends hours staring covetously at his fleet, speaking aloud of his ambitions as he plots his conquest of the Republic. But whatever. Made up by the grooming droid and dressed in the tight, skimpy finery Malak prefers, Bastila stands there and listens. She’ll do anything to get out of her cell for an hour or two. Plus, it puts Lord Malak in a good mood and that tends to make their nightly interactions less violent. Some nights lately he skips the sex altogether and just wants to cuddle. It’s bizarre. But whatever. Her current strategy is to placate him.
It’s working because Malak keeps giving her more privileges. Last night, he even omitted the tether on her foot in bed. “I am trusting you, my dear,” he cooed. Bastila hadn’t bothered to make an attempt at escape. She just rolled away and went to sleep. She sleeps a lot now. There’s nothing else to do. And she is tired, oh so tired these days. Malak is testing her, she knows, and rewarding her for obedience. Was he surprised that she didn’t attempt to run away last night? Bastila’s not sure. But she wasn’t about to risk it. There is no place on the Star Forge to get away from this man.
Her decision pays off when today when she is granted unprecedented freedom to wander the halls with just a security droid as an attendant. After several minutes of aimless wandering, Bastila heads for the command deck out of habit. Seeing her arrive to join him of her own volition brings a smile to Malak’s face. You can’t actually see him smile behind the mask, but you can see his telltale uplifted cheeks and crinkled eyes.
“Welcome, Jarael,” he beckons her forward. “Come see my latest cruiser. We will tour her tomorrow.”
“As you wish, my lord,” she answers demurely, eyes downcast as always in public. Insecure, controlling Darth Malak relishes showy subservience.
“How beautiful you are,” he gushes, as his eyes rake over her presentation. She’s wearing a ridiculous getup that is a cross between a sexy evening gown and battle armor. But Darth Malak loves it. It’s his favorite.
When she doesn’t immediately reply, he raises her chin with one gloved finger. “You’re quiet today, my dear,” he observes thoughtfully.
“Yes, my lord,” she dutifully answers as she raises her fearful gaze to his.
He likes what he sees. “So beautiful,” Lord Malak gushes, moving his hand to cup her cheek possessively. “How proud I am of you.”
She’s not really following. But he seems to expect some answer, so Bastila just nods.
“No more cell,” Malak abruptly grants her more freedom. “From now on, you will live with me in my quarters, Jarael. We belong together.”
Bastila swallows hard. He probably thinks this is a reward, but it’s not. Not really. She has just lost what little privacy she has. So summoning her courage, she speaks up in a rare show of defiance. “My name is Bastila. I am Padawan Bastila Shan, a Sentinel of the Temple Coruscant.” She needs to say those words out loud to assert who she is. But as soon as they leave her lips, Bastila anticipates a harsh punishment. She prepares herself for Force lightning . . . or worse.
But the Sith surprises her. He responds only with words. “That name no longer has any meaning for you,” Lord Malak says gently but firmly. Then he reaches a comforting arm around her quivering shoulders. “I understand,” he tells her as he leans in close. “I once had a Jedi name and a Jedi life, too. But I put that behind me. In time, you will as well. I will help you,” he promises.
“Yes, my lord,” Bastila replies dully.
He squeezes her shoulders as he tells her, “Congratulations. You’ve come a long way in a very short time. We will celebrate tonight.” Then, he dismisses her and goes back to ruling his Empire.
It’s only later when Bastila randomly catches her reflection in a piece of shiny chrome that she fully understands Lord Malak’s parting words. Because the young woman with dyed hair, fake tattoos, and heavy makeup staring back at her has yellow eyes. They are the feral Dark Side eyes of the Sith. Those eyes confirm her worst fear, and they complete her transformation to a completely different woman. But depressed Bastila can’t summon the effort to cry about it. She just resumes floating aimlessly around the Star Forge, waiting to be summoned.
This story, like everything I write, is for adults. This chapter especially. It's full of torture, violence and rape. If you wish, you can skip along to the next chapter. You should be able to pick up the gist of the story from there. None of this subject matter is meant to be gratuitous. It serves a purpose in the story.
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
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.
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Thoroughly enraged by the treatment of Bastila Shan, Revan lights his borrowed sword and storms the Star Forge command center. He barges in to interrupt Alek torturing two near dead looking Jedi. The men appear to have been dragged in and unceremoniously dumped on the floor. Looking like a maniacal fiend, Alek shoots lightning at the dying captives. It is gratuitous Dark overkill, no doubt motivated by the escape of the other Jedi.
Scanning the room quickly, Revan sees that Alek is alone with a lot of lethal looking battle droids as protectors. Where are the regular Sith officers who usually man the command center? They must be responding to the raid, Revan decides.
Yellow eyed with his own fury, Revan now shoots lightning too. This is the raw, elemental power of the Dark Side. He nails Alek with it, throwing him clear across the room, while he simultaneously throws the phalanx of droids hard into the wall. As these things go, it’s quite an entrance. But it’s not designed for show. He’s trying to buy himself some time.
Revan crouches down beside one of the pitiful, still smoking Jedi prisoners. These two must be captives who had to be left behind, he surmises. The two men are dying painfully, so Revan gives them both a quick merciful death with his sword. He has killed his fair share of Jedi in his guise as Darth Revan, but these latest killings have no Dark animus. This is grim compassion for men who have suffered enough. Revan thinks again of the distraught, maybe pregnant Bastila Shan who begged for such a death and his heart hardens against his brother.
“Look how evil you have become,” Revan accuses.
Picking himself off the floor, Alek looks confused by his former Sith Master who just walked in to shoot Dark lightning and kill two Jedi. But who also now chides him for Darkness. Yellow eyes stare back at yellow eyes for a long moment in silence as the two aggrieved men size each other up. They have been friends, brothers, partners, comrades in arms, Master and Apprentice, and now . . . mortal enemies. To say that this confrontation is fraught with emotional baggage is an understatement. Revan watches as Alek’s powerful shoulders lift and fall with a deep breath. He knows Alek is summoning his courage to attempt to kill him a third time.
“I’ve been waiting for you. We meet again at last,” Alek begins the usual parley that proceeds a duel. Trading insults before crossing swords is a time-honored tradition of the Force. Revan has no plans to rush things. In fact, he plans to do a lot of talking. Once they begin trading blows, he knows his goal of convincing his brother to lay down arms will be lost.
“Once again, we will face each other in single combat, and the victor will decide the fate of the galaxy,” Alek crows. But Revan ignores this pompous speech. This confrontation might have huge consequences for everyone else, but to him it is mostly personal. He’s here now fighting to save his brother’s soul before the Republic kills them both when it destroys the Star Forge they’re on.
“I just saw Bastila. Why? Alek, why would you do that?” Of all the crimes attributable to his brother, somehow this one rises to the surface. The killing of combatants in war, Revan understands. The collateral damage to civilians is somewhat unavoidable. The tactic of torturing Jedi to fuel the Forge even makes a sort of sense. But what Alek did to Bastila seems so entirely gratuitous that it is in a different category with his brother’s usual excesses. “Was she supposed to be your Apprentice?” Revan demands. “Is that it? Why, Alek, why?”
“Because I can. I can take whatever I want—even your girl! I am Sith Magnus!” Alek proclaims as he lights his own sword.
Revan persists. “Give me a reason. Why would you do that? The Alek I know would never have done that.” Corrupting the earnest young Padawan body and soul strikes Revan as Darkness on a whole new level. Is this the influence of the supercharged Star Forge burgeoning Alek’s Dark power? Looking around at all the alien technology, Revan thinks the mental feel of this place is even worse than he remembers. His Darth Revan self had only spent time here in small doses, unlike Alek who had been fascinated by the Star Forge’s potential.
“Answer me!” Revan roars when his brother hesitates. He fully intends to call Alek to account for his treatment of Bastila.
To his credit, Alek starts to appear defensive. Revan knows him well enough to see the subtle signs even with the half mask obscuring his features. Squint starts to mumble and ramble. The words come out in a hollow, electronically produced voice that brings a rush of guilt to Revan. He firmly pushes that sentiment away. Revan knows he needs to stay focused on the task at hand.
“She wouldn’t have me . . . I found her and tried again . . . I wasn’t Jedi this time so I told her that there was nothing to stand in our way. But she wanted nothing to do with me. She’s still with that Carrick guy.”
“Is he still Jedi?”
“Who cares! He has filled her head with fear! Jarael was afraid of me. Rev, she was afraid of me!” Alek is indignant, like he can barely believe this reaction. For Darth Malak has a blind spot a sector wide for his own misdeeds. “She kept saying that she never wanted to be a Revanchist and that I am too Dark now. She loves that Carrick guy, so I let him live . . . ”
“You are too Dark. Can you see that? Do you recognize what has happened to yourself?”
“I have become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!” Alek declares. He punctuates his bold claim with an emphatic blast of lightning.
But Revan deflects it right back at his brother. This latest jolt of Force energy fries the circuity in Alek’s prosthesis, prompting sparks to encircle his head. Revan watches as his wincing brother panics. As if to belie his most recent words, Alek now runs from the room, sealing the command center doors behind him as he makes a hasty exit.
It leaves Revan alone with the dozen or so surviving battle droids. They aren’t much of a challenge but they do slow him down. It takes a good five minutes to destroy them all. Revan hacks and slashes until the droids are a pile of molten, twisted spare parts.
Has his melee with the droids given Alek enough time to get in a ship and flee? Revan had not anticipated that his brother might run. Squint has never been one to run from a fight. Usually, he’s rushing headlong into it. And so, Revan is taken aback. Luckily, he knows his brother’s two most likely destinations. Alek will either head for the hangar bay or head for the escape craft near the upper viewing platform. Revan concentrates a second in the Force and goes with his best hunch.
Sure enough, he catches up to Alek on the top of the Star Forge. This is the impressive observation area that provides a panoramic view of the Star Forge surroundings. It reveals the presence of Revan’s Republic fleet commencing their attack. Evidently, Master Kavar has relayed the order to engage. The Battle for the Star Forge begins as he and Alek watch a moment in silence.
“Those are Republic ships,” Alek accuses as he whirls to face him. “So, you’re Jedi again. Is that it?”
“No.” Revan resists the label.
“Then are you still Sith? Back for revenge?”
“Then what are you?” Squint hisses. “Whose side are you on?”
These are the same questions the Jedi Council asked him. Revan responds with a blunt, unsatisfactory response. “I don’t have a creed. I don’t need a cause. I am who I am.”
“Then what do you want? Why are you here to kill me—”
“No! Alek, I want to help you! You need to pull back from this Darkness. It’s destroying you!”
His concerns fall on deaf ears. Alek scoffs, “Don’t be a fool, it’s empowering me. I am the Dark Lord now! See that you have been supplanted,” he says with clear pride. “I have unlocked the true power of the Forge. Those Jedi captives make its output amazing. Suffering is the key--suffering is what the Forge needs to reach its true potential. We are operating at 300 percent of original capacity. I add new ships every day,” he declares.
Revan is repulsed. “You’re feeding the Forge like it’s a living thing—”
“You are making human sacrifices to this Dark god of a war machine—”
“Yes! You were always too soft to be a Sith,” Alek disparages. And given his role in Malachor V, Revan thinks that accusation seems widely off the mark.
He warns sternly now, “You need to get away from the Forge. Alek, the Forge is dangerous. It magnifies Darkness. Can you see yourself? Do you know what you have become? The Alek I knew would never have treated Bastila like you did.”
“You don’t like that I fucked your girl, is that it?” Alek sneers.
“She’s not my girl.” Revan is furious with his brother. But he also wants to see if he can awaken a conscience in him. To rekindle the sensitive, thoughtful boy who he hopes still lives somewhere in this brutal tyrant Sith. “Squint, how could you?? What if some guy had done that to Jarael? Or to Meetra?”
“She was the enemy!” Alek defends.
Revan shakes his head. “Enemies become prisoners of war or they get killed in action. They don’t get dressed up as fantasy women to be raped!”
“Don’t pretend you aren't Dark. I see those eyes!” Alek gibes. “You’re just mad that I got to fuck her first. She’s mine now, Rev. In time, she will love me and she will share the secret of her battle meditation. Together, our power will be unstoppable. I may even make her my Empress--”
“You will destroy her long before that happens,” Revan interrupts. “Darkness has its place. But when its aims are purely selfish—when the Dark Side is for your own purpose and not for others—it is evil. Can’t you see that?”
“I only see you back from the dead to lecture me again. Newsflash, Rev, I’m not the Apprentice any longer.”
“You never needed to be the Apprentice. We were brothers and partners out to make things better. And we can be that again. I need your help, Alek. Only together can we defeat Vitiate.”
“No!” his brother flatly rejects the overture. He is pacing back and forth like a caged animal now. His wide shoulders lifting as his anger swells. He is defensive and indignant and full of rage, with eyes wide and sword buzzing. “I see through the lies of the Jedi. I will not be a slave to the Code. I will not serve the Republic that is rotten to its core.”
Revan instinctively parries Alek’s raving with quiet calm of his own. He starts trying to talk Squint down. “You don’t have to be Jedi. But you can’t be this any longer. Give this up. Come with me now. Accept my offer of mercy before my fleet blows this place to pieces.”
“So you can hand me over to the Jedi so they can wipe my mind too? Or sever my Force? That is not mercy!” Alek sneers. “I know what the Council did to Meetra!”
“Forget the Jedi. Just give up this Darkness. Let go of your hate.”
“So I can be an anonymous nobody? Some Republic Private like you?”
“So you can help me kill Vitiate. I need your help, Squint. We always said we were in this to save the Republic. But we lost sight of that goal along the way.”
“I’m through being your sidekick. I am my own man. And when I kill you, there will be no one left to oppose me.”
“Vitiate will steal everything you have,” Revan warns. “Even if you kill me, you will still lose it all in the end.”
“We’ll see about that.”
“Alek, you can’t win!” Revan contends. “Don’t you see--we were played! This is what Vitiate wants--for the Republic to crumble and for us to turn on one another.”
“He wants us to conquer the Republic.”
“Yes, and then he will swoop in and take it from us! We wanted to seize control so we could reform the Republic. But Vitiate will destroy it! And us!”
“He’ll have to beat me first. I have the Forge—I am unstoppable! Your girl will only make it more so.”
“That’s what the Rakatan thought,” Revan reminds him. “They built the Forge and then lost everything. Don’t you see? In the end, you will lose everything too. You’re no match for Vitiate on your own. But together, we might do it.”
“You underestimate my power!” Alek is growing more and more alienated, Revan senses. The longer this goes on, the more his brother is feeling dissed and resentful. His plan to coax Alek back from the brink of Darkness is failing, he realizes unhappily. Is Squint too far gone? Revan refuses to believe it. Perhaps he’s a fool, but if there is one small spark of humanity left in his brother, then Revan believes he is worth saving. There is a good man buried somewhere beneath this cruel, covetous Sith Lord.
So, he tries again, imploring Squint to listen. “Alek, Vitiate is evil! The Forge is evil! Leave this place with me and we’ll work it out.”
“No,” Alek shakes his head. “I am on the brink of greatness!” He’s all but thumping his chest now.
With a glance over at the fierce space battle that surrounds the Forge, Revan knows that time is running short. He is filled with anxiety, regret, and guilt now as he sees where things are heading fast. “This is my fault. I led us down this path. I’m sorry.” He starts a heartfelt apology that’s probably long overdue.
But Alek keeps raving as he paces and gestures with his sword. “You’re holding me back! No rules! Remember when we said that? There are no rules for us or for the Force. Not anymore. The Forge is unlimited power. And it’s mine for the taking!”
“Rebelling against the Order doesn’t mean that anything goes. Squint, even in Darkness, there are still standards for who we are and how we behave.”
“Maybe for you. But I have no such limitations.”
Revan continues his miserable mea culpa. “This is my fault. I started you down this path but you continued down it. You have taken things far further than I ever dreamed you might. Glorying in Darkness and in your own power. That was never the point! Darkness is the means but not the end! It is to a tool, not an identity!”
“So says the man with yellow eyes!” Alek growls. “Don’t preach to me about Darkness—”
“I can let go of this any time I want,” Revan informs him with a little more confidence than he actually feels. “I can shake off the Dark and revert to the Light. I will teach you how to do it, too. You can be both Dark and Light when needed. Squint, the ultimate power is to use both sides of the Force. No Jedi or Sith can do that. But we can--”
“The ultimate power is Darkness. Light only weakens a man’s resolve.”
Those are Vitiate’s words, Revan recalls. Alek’s lust for power will not be abandoned, he sees. His brother stubbornly refuses to let go of his hate, and Revan is heartsick at this turn of events. He came here extending a forgiving hand to a man who twice tried to kill him. To his brother whom he still loves. But compassion has failed. The Light will not woo Alek back. This is more of what the Jedi refuse to understand: that no one can redeem another person, they have to redeem themselves. Change begins from within.
But Alek is refusing his chance.
Revan tries one more time. “Don’t do this! Please! Listen to me,” he pleads. “Let me make this right. I have failed you . . . I have failed myself . . . and I have failed the Republic.”
“Now, your failure is complete. I’m sorry, Rev, but this is the way it has to be.” Alek gives him a small salute with his sword. It’s a silly gesture from back when they were kids and used to spar for fun. But old habits die hard apparently, and now it has become the beginning of their final duel.
“No!” Revan tells Alek what he told Bastila. “I will not fight you.” He deactivates his sword and holds out his left hand.
Alek nearly chops it off. “You are unwise to lower your defenses!” Alek hisses as he attacks.
Revan lights his borrowed sword just in time to block the next blow aimed for his chest. And now, the fight begins in earnest. His brother sets a blistering pace that instantly has Revan on the defensive. So he hangs back and bides his time to make his move. Alek is far taller than he is, with a considerably longer reach. It makes Alek’s jabs and stabs particularly lethal. Revan finds himself leaping and dodging continuously to stay alive. For a big man, Squint is surprisingly nimble and quick.
Alek is an excellent duelist with much combat experience. Today, he seems faster than ever. So as Revan waits for Squint to settle into a rhythm and familiar attack patterns, he assesses his options. Can he disarm Alek? That might be a risky move. He and Alek have a history of these sorts of brawls. Back in the old days, they were a good-natured way to blow off steam and to show off a new trick. Those duels were only fought to a draw. But their more recent confrontations have taken on the feel of real combat, with very real consequences. Alek lost his jaw the last time they crossed swords. Revan hadn’t meant to inflict that disfiguring injury. But that’s how closely matched he and Alek are with swords. Even when he thinks he is pulling his punches, he can nearly kill his brother. So, biding his time to attempt to disarm Alek seems like a tricky maneuver.
One thing is for certain, Alek is fighting to win. This is the fierce courage and the relentless fury that had Alek at the forefront of every battle with the Mandalorians. Aggression has always come naturally to his little brother.
The men lock swords for a tense moment before Revan throws his brother back with the Force. But a split-second later Alek is driving him back fast and hard. It is a relentless press forward into the wall until Revan breaks left and leaps high over Alek’s head to safety. The impressive move earns him a nod of respect.
They circle one another in grim silence for a moment. Then Revan engages and the duel begins again.
His borrowed blue sword and Alek’s red blade are a blur to the eye and a clashing buzz to the ear. The sound of lightsabers connecting is distinctive, but the feel of them clashing is like nothing else. The static energy of the plasma blade meets the kinetic energy of the swing meets the universal energy of the Force. This is raw Dark power fighting for dominance in a duel to the death. They are done trading barbs. There is nothing left to say. Both he and Alek are quiet, concentrating hard. They are evenly matched, so this contest will be decided based on who makes the first mistake.
Revan throws up a hand to Force push his brother back mid-swing. Their swords fail to connect and Revan advances, pushing Alek back. But the Sith answers with a quick riposte of his own. Alek swings hard, coming in fast from the left. It’s his favorite attack pattern, Revan remembers from years past. But for as well as Revan knows his brother’s moves, Alek knows his own. There are no true surprises in this duel between experts who spent their formative years training together.
Soon they are locked in a battle of Force pushes, each with an arm extended and their power outstretched to resist against the other. It is a contest of wills to see who blinks first. Alek takes the opportunity to take a swing and Revan momentarily loses his concentration. He gets himself thrown across the room for it. But he’s on his feet quickly to block Alek’s charge. His brother’s blade is a red streak spinning as it swings for his head. But it is deflected just in time.
They circle one another in grim silence for yet another long moment. Then Alek engages and the duel begins again.
Once more, a challenge is made and is answered. Again, an attack commences only to be rebuffed. For each man fights with a combination of practiced finesse, long experience, and Dark power. This could go on forever, Revan thinks, were it not for the fierce space battle raging all around them. At any moment, the Forge’s shields could fail and this will all be over. Then, there will be no winner. There will only be losers.
Squint knows it, too. He keeps darting glances away at the windows. Because while Revan plotted today’s mission prepared to die if need be, Alek clearly has no such intentions. His brother’s uncharacteristic prior instinct to flee confirms that fact. And so, Revan senses his advantage. He was always the brains of the Revanchists, while Squint was the brawn and, well, the heart, too. Using that sharp tactical mind of his, Revan waits for his next opening.
There! Alek glances off to the side as a Republic light fighter strafes the port side of the Forge. The underbelly of the craft nearly swipes the observation windows as the fighter pulls up late. The distraction is just what he has been waiting for. Revan feints right and jabs hard. His sword finds its mark, passing straight through his brother’s torso.
Squint gasps, grabs for the wound, and staggers back.
The stab is through the center chest. It’s not a clean kill. Revan knows that he should finish this now. Immediately. A quick swipe will take his brother’s head and end his misery. But . . . he can’t.
Alek staggers back a few more steps before he drops his own sword. “Rev!” he gasps out. “Help!”
Instantly, Revan deactivates his sword and rushes to his side. He props up his brother as he makes a last-ditch offer, “Come, let’s get in the escape craft and get out of here! There’s still time--”
“T-Too late . . . “ Alek wheezes as he falls to his knees, taking them both down. “You got me, Rev. This time . . . you got me . . .”
Fuck. Revan closes his eyes a moment. And when he opens them, he rages against the situation.
“I hate this! You fucking asshole! Why didn’t you even try to compromise?? It didn’t have to be this way!” Revan wails at his brother’s side. One good look at Alek’s chest confirms that the wound is mortal. And why, why has it come to this? Of all the low moments in his war torn, conflict ridden life, this is the very worst. It’s like Revan can feel his heart breaking.
“It does have to be this way,” Alek wheezes out through his mask. “I c-can’t c-control it . . . not like you can,” he pants through the pain. “I’ll never be able to control it . . . it controls me . . . I couldn’t walk away from this if I wanted to . . .”
“Oh, Squint . . . you fucking idiot . . .” Revan is undone. He’s openly sobbing now here at the end. And this is just more proof that he is not Jedi. For this emotion and this attachment are forbidden by the Order. This is everything a true Knight would disdain.
“I’m s-sorry about your g-girl. Take her back, Rev . . . look after her. She’s pregnant but she’s too s-sheltered to r-realize it . . . or maybe she’s too afraid to tell me. But that’s my kid . . . ”
“I’ll help her. I promise.”
“I couldn’t stop myself. She was just so g-good . . . so wholesome . . . so forgiving . . . I couldn’t k-keep my hands off her. She made me so angry but I admired her any way . . . All that Light drew me in and tempted me . . . so I had to d-destroy it for my own sake . . . I was lonely without you . . . and then Jarael . . .“
It’s an honest admission, Revan knows from his own experience. For nothing beckons and threatens a Dark Sith more than the Light. There is a strong drive in Darkness to corrupt and destroy the Light. It’s mostly an aggressive form of self-defense. But Revan knows that in the end, it’s a trap. For nothing corrupts and destroys Darkness like Darkness itself. Darkness needs Light to sustain it, Revan suddenly realizes. He wonders a moment whether the converse is also true. Does the Light also need Darkness? Could the solution to sustaining the Light be dabbling in the Dark Side to a degree? Somewhere, somehow, there has to be a way to balance the opposing sides of the Force. Because pursuing pure forms of Dark or Light feels like it sets people up for failure. Yes, the Sith are extreme. But Revan knows firsthand that the Jedi can be extreme too.
Alek’s hand is clenching his tightly, frantically as their fleeting moments slip by. Through the Force, Revan can sense his brother’s fear and his pain. And also, his regret. There is so much distress reflected in Squint’s eyes and only some of it is physical. “Please tell her that I’m s-sorry . . . I have w-wronged her . . . I know that.”
“I’ll tell her,” he promises. “You’re still my brother,” Revan chokes out. “I love you. I always have. I always will.” And he will forever be plagued with guilt for his role in his brother’s downfall. Dark power has its price, Darth Vitiate had taught them. No one dabbles even a little in the Shadow Force without sacrifice. His sacrifice, Revan now knows, will be his brother.
Alek just nods. He’s weakening fast. “I love you,” Revan repeats again as he holds his brother’s gaze. He needs Alek to know that his love is unconditional. He might hate what Squint did, but he could never hate Squint. And even though his eyes are yellow still, nothing Revan has done today is motivated by hate. He came to destroy the Star Forge out of duty. But he came to confront Alek out of love. But sadly, he has failed to persuade.
“F-finish . . . what . . . we s-started,” are his brother’s dying words. “K-Kill . . .Vit-i-ate . . . avenge me. . . ” Then Alek’s hand relaxes and slips from his grip as his eyes close. The essence of his brother returns to the Force from which it came.
Is that Force Light or Dark? Revan does not know. For all the years he has studied the great mystery of the universe, he feels as if he knows nothing about it.
He sits there in silence for a long moment before he whispers aloud the ancient Jedi blessing. “May the Force be with you, Squint.” For good measure, he adds the corollary Sith wisdom. “The Force shall set you free.”
Revan has seen a lot of death through the years. Alek is but one tragedy among the millions he has caused. But Alek is his personal tragedy, and that makes it different. Because oh, this hurts in a way nothing else could. Revan thinks now of the innocent, trusting kid who went off to war with him. They became men together fighting the Mandalorians. First, they were the heroes. Then, they were the villains. And that’s where Alek got stuck. Squint couldn’t pull back from the Darkness he sought to understand. He became mired there permanently, falling deeper and deeper to the Dark Side.
Why was he able to step back into the Light when Alek couldn’t? Revan only has one explanation and it’s Bastila Shan. Her Light helped to pull him back from the brink, but he only realized it in retrospect. And, ironically, her relationship with him is what dragged her down into Darkness. As he became more Light, Bastila became more Dark. He wonders now whether that was the universe balancing itself out.
Gazing on his brother’s body, he remembers Bastila’s view of the purpose of war. To be Light, she wanted him to save what he loves, not to fight what he hates. It is all in the motivation, she had explained. Compassion and justice rule the day for a true Jedi like Bastila. But here he is, having killed the brother he loves because it was the only way to stop the cancerous Darkness within him.
Is this a mercy killing? It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like how he fought the Mandalorians. Like he is doing Dark deeds to save the Light. Like he is bending the rules to reach a larger goal. Damn, this hurts. This is not a victory, it is a defeat, Revan knows. Both he and Alek lost today. For this moment is the reckoning for all his mistakes and excesses. However well-intentioned they were at the time, they have led him here. To him being forced to kill the person who meant the most to him.
Revan feels lost. Utterly lost. Not fully Dark, not Light enough. Just . . . grey. It makes him a man with no allegiance. It makes him an enemy to all. Who is he? Revan can’t explain it to himself let alone to anyone else. This posture may have saved the galaxy, but it has cost him everything. He feels damned. Like he will never fit in anywhere again. Like he will forever walk alone as an outcast of the Force.
Glancing once more out the window at the chaotic space battle that rages, Revan wonders if the better course is for him to stay here on the Star Forge. It might be justice for him to die here with Squint. But then, he remembers how much Bastila needs him. And he remembers his promise to Alek to look after her. He remembers too his brother’s wish that he kill the Sith Emperor who started all of this with his Mandalorian invaders. He has failed his brother in so many ways, but Revan resolves not to fail in this. He will keep his promises or die trying.
Taking one last long look at his fallen brother, Revan heads for the escape craft. As always, he will do what he must.
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
Bastila sits immersed in deep concentration. She blocks out the exhaustion and pain emanating off the rescued Jedi captives who are sprawled out on the floor of the fleeing transport. She blocks out the scowling face of Master Kavar who keeps shooting her suspicious looks when he thinks she’s not paying attention. She blocks out the nervous fretting of the surviving Republic troopers who stand around in groups of twos and threes speculating about their odds of escape. Bastila, the rescued Jedi captives, the troopers, and a half dozen Jedi are the survivors of the Star Forge raid. Revan has been left behind to deal with Malak. And that is why she is back in battle meditation mode. This slow, minimally armored transport needs to slip past the Sith patrols undetected or they will all die.
“Why isn’t she in cuffs?” One of the swaggering Guardian types loudly demands of Master Kavar.
“She’s on our side,” the Jedi Master responds.
“Sure doesn’t look like it,” the unknown Jedi grunts. “How are we sure she’s helping us and not helping them?”
“Leave her be. Let her do her thing. We need her help to sneak past their sentry ships. They are alerted to our presence and this ship is slow,” Kavar explains testily.
Bastila keeps concentrating. Manipulating the Force to confuse the Sith patrols so they can slip away. It works. Not more than ten minutes after their transport sails out of the Star Forge hangar bay, they dock back at the nearby Republic flagship that lies in wait. Once they are safely onboard, the Republic fleet attacks.
Outnumbered and outgunned, the Republic has two advantages: the element of surprise and Bastila Shan.
Still seated cross-legged on the floor of the transport, Bastila continues her role as an invisible interloper disrupting things. For the Sith, she fosters confusion, sows doubt, and evokes fear. For the Republic, she encourages focus, promotes confidence, and bolsters esprit de corps. Their side has one main strategy for the battle: speed. Because the longer the fighting continues, the more the size and scale advantage of the Sith fleet matters. The Republic needs to destroy the Star Forge as soon as possible and then jump away to hyperspace. They can deal with the remnants of the enemy fleet later.
Knowing her task, Bastila does her part to achieve the objective. But she does so with a heavy heart. She knows, of course, that Revan is still on the Forge. But with the Republic at stake, Bastila cannot let her personal feelings interfere with her duty.
She can feel beads of sweat dripping down her face and chest as she struggles to keep her intense focus for a prolonged period. The frenetic space battle is the most complicated battle meditation scenario she has ever attempted. The sheer number of ships and troops involved makes this task extremely difficult. But thirty minutes into the conflict, the Republic prevails. In her mind’s eye, Bastila sees the giant Star Forge fuselage, already very battle scarred, suddenly explode. It’s a mini version of a supernova that sends a shockwave of energy rushing out through the Force, like a tidal wave of Darkness washing over her mind. It jolts her out of concentration. Gasping and panting, Bastila is dimly aware of cheers as people all over the Republic flagship react to the victory.
So deep is she in the Force that it takes a moment for Bastila’s mind to fully acclimate back to her actual surroundings. When finally she is composed, she blinks up at Master Kavar.
“Are you okay?” the slightly grizzled blonde Master asks gruffly.
Bastila wipes at her sweaty face. “I’m fine.” She says this in the manner of women everywhere, for whom ‘I’m fine’ is a statement that she is anything but okay. In fact, Bastila is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
But if the Jedi Master realizes this, he’s doesn’t appear to care. “Well done,” Kavar commends a bit begrudgingly. He frowns a moment before he awkwardly adds, “I’m sure Revan got off that thing before it blew. That guy is hard to kill.”
She nods. “He did. I can feel it.” The Force bond feels reinvigorated now. It had languished dormant during her captivity until Revan showed up. But ever since they met on the Star Forge, the bond seems reawakened and strengthened. Bastila knows without any concentration that Evan Chist is alive somewhere.
“You and Revan are still connected in the Force, I take it?” Master Kavar raises an eyebrow at her.
Bastila smiles. It’s her first genuine smile in a long, long time and it feels good. “Yes. I can feel his presence. He lives.”
Kavar doesn’t look happy about it. “I guess it was too much to hope that this could be his big sacrifice. That would have solved a problem for us.” Kavar is thinking about the Order, Bastila instantly understands. About how the Council will not be able to justify vilifying Revan now.
“He’s not who you fear he is,” Bastila says as she climbs to her feet.
“Maybe not,” the Jedi Master allows, “but he sure isn’t who I want him to be either.”
“Still . . . he was who we needed,” Bastila persists in her defense. “Twice now, Revan was who we needed. Whether we will admit it or not.”
“Don’t be too quick to count him a hero,” Kavar retorts. “We wouldn’t be here now if it hadn’t been for him in the first place. This is Revan’s mess to clean up.” The Jedi Master looks her over without enthusiasm. “Well, come on. Let’s get you to the infirmary to be checked out.”
The rescued Jedi captives are already there when Bastila arrives. They were transported immediately upon landing. As Master Kavar ventures away to check on their status, a medical droid approaches to scan Bastila. As she fears, the droid confirms her early pregnancy. Bastila is just beginning to process this unwelcome news when Kavar reappears to hear the gist of the droid’s medical advice.
“Any questions?” the droid asks miserable, red-faced Bastila.
“No questions,” she answers in a small voice.
There is a long uncomfortable moment of silence before Master Kavar exhales loudly and announces, “The Council will have to be told.”
“We can wait until we return to Coruscant to debrief,” he offers. “If you want, we can have one of the female Council Members speak with you. But the Council as a whole will consider your situation and decide what is best. Padawan, this is very serious.”
“Yes, Master.” Bastila hangs her head. She just wants to be left alone right now to process this life changing news. But that doesn’t seem to be an option. Kavar hasn’t once left her side and even here in the infirmary he’s got the five other Jedi with him guarding her like a prisoner. Everyone seems very wary of the pregnant Jedi Padawan with the yellow eyes. It’s like she’s the enemy now. Truthfully, this doesn’t feel much like the happy homecoming to the Order she had wanted. It’s more like she has been arrested than rescued.
Maybe Darth Malak was right, Bastila wonders. Maybe she can’t go home again.
She’s ruminating over her predicament when one of the five Jedi Guardians alerts their leader. “Master,” the Knight says under his breath. “He’s here. Look sharp.”
Bastila and everyone else looks over to the entrance to the infirmary where Revan is striding in. He appears unharmed. His face is devoid of emotion but his movements are brisk. This is a man on a mission still.
“Is he dead?” Master Kavar moves to stand directly in Revan’s path. When Revan doesn’t immediately answer, the Council member demands again. Louder this time. “Well? Is Malak dead?”
“Fuck you!” Revan never breaks stride. As he moves forward, he simply Force pushes the tall Jedi Master into a nearby wall. It prompts the other five Jedi to pull their swords. The sound of five lightsabers igniting is ominous, but Revan ignores it. He keeps striding forward towards her, still clad in the Sith uniform he wore as a disguise on the Star Forge. Only on Revan, no one is sure if it’s truly a ruse.
Master Kavar lands in a heap, and it dislodges his brown cloak from his shoulders. Revan casually detours over to reach down and swipe it up. Then he heads for where she stands, still ignoring the five Jedi brandishing swords in classic ready position.
“Evan.” Bastila says his assumed name because it’s how she thinks of him. “I knew you survived.”
“Here,” he settles Kavar’s cloak about her shoulders to cover her skimpy clothing.
Grateful, she hugs it closely and whispers, “Thanks.” It’s a small act of kindness, but in the moment it truly helps.
Revan looks terrible, she thinks. His eyes are bright yellow and up close she can tell that he has been crying. Bastila wants to hug him, but the Jedi onlookers with lit swords deter the show of emotion. So, instead she takes his hands in hers and squeezes tightly. He nods slightly to acknowledge it.
“I could tell that you were helping,” he breathes out. “I felt it through the Force.”
“I wanted him to lose,” Bastila confesses her unabashedly Dark motivation. “As revenge. I wanted him to suffer.”
Revan nods and reminds her, “You wanted to save the Republic as well,” as he looks pointedly at their audience.
She flushes. “That too . . . I guess . . .”
“Are you okay?” Revan asks, searching her yellow eyes with his own.
“The medics scanned me already,” she answers softly. Bastila looks down and away. She’s not ready to say the words out loud to confirm her unwanted pregnancy.
“Are you okay?” he asks again.
“No, not really,” she answers honestly.
Revan nods and inhales a ragged breath. “Neither am I.”
Yes, she knows. She can feel his extreme distress through the bond. He can probably sense her fear and despair for her own future, she realizes. They’re both a mess of extreme emotions.
“Let’s get out of here.”
Bastila nods automatically. “Okay.” Fleeing sounds very appealing right now.
“Revan.” It’s Master Kavar’s gravelly voice. He sounds none too pleased.
With a firm grip on her hand, Revan turns to stare down the irate looking Jedi Master and his five colleagues. “Put away your weapons. There’s been enough fighting today. You won,” he says bitterly.
No one lowers their sword. Instantly, it is a tense standoff.
Still, Revan is undeterred. “We’re leaving now. Our work here is done. The Republic should easily be able to deal with what remains of the Sith fleet.”
Kavar shakes his head. “You’re not taking her anywhere. She’s a Padawan under my supervision.”
“She needs my help.”
“The Jedi will help her.”
“You’ll just destroy her because you’re afraid of her!” Revan hisses. “Like you’re afraid of me.”
No one denies it.
Bastila watches as Revan eyes each of the six Jedi who confront him. Maybe Revan was the one to throw the first punch, but the Jedi have escalated things fast. Six on one is hardly a fair fight. And they all have swords lit while Revan hasn’t even reached for his.
While the men posture, Bastila is the one to back down. “It’s okay, I’ll stay,” she offers. Bastila has no wish to defy the Council’s representative. She’s in enough trouble as it is. “Go on,” she tells Revan as she blinks back shameful tears. This whole scene keeps getting more humiliating by the moment. “I’ll be fine. Go on.”
“No,” Revan turns to her. “The Jedi can’t help you. Only I can help you.”
“It’s not! They will treat you like an enemy and sever your Force. That won’t help you. It could make things worse—“
“She’s not going anywhere and neither are you,” Kavar growls menacingly to a chorus of nods from his colleagues.
Revan ignores them. His attention is all for her. “I wasn’t there to help Alek when he needed me,” Revan tells her in a choked voice. “But I can help you. And I think helping you might help me too.”
Bastila hesitates, looking from Revan to the Jedi holding swords. She is torn.
"Don’t trust them,” Revan warns. “They will do the wrong thing out of fear. Trust me, Basty. Trust me,” he urges. “No Jedi knows Darkness like I do."
It’s true. Bastila can feel the sincerity of his words. “Okay,” she whispers. Then she repeats her assent with more conviction. “Okay.” Revan squeezes her hand and she squeezes back in a covert sign of solidarity.
That is apparently the last straw for Master Kavar. “You are both under arrest,” he announces. “Bastila Shan and Evan Chist, you are forbidden to leave this ship without Jedi escort. I was hoping not to have to do this. But you forced my hand.”
“You mean you’re sorry I’m not dead because you have to deal with me still,” Revan retorts as Bastila cringes at the arrest announcement.
Master Kavar’s response is withering. “The Council will decide both your fates.”
Bastila can sense Revan’s temper flare in the Force. He walked in here very rattled and now he’s ready to snap. But after a long, tense moment, patience prevails. Revan continues to attempt to diffuse the situation. “Put away your weapons. I mean you no harm. I’m only here to collect her and go.”
But the Jedi Master asserts his authority again. “By the power vested in me by the Senate and the High Council of the Jedi Order, you are both under arrest as Dark Jedi and potential enemies of the state.”
Revan grips her hand tighter now. “I just saved the state,” he hisses. “And now, I’m saving Bastila. Do not interfere,” he warns.
“Reconsider, Revan,” Kavar gestures to his fellow Jedi. “There are six of us,” he makes a not so subtle threat.
“Yeah?” Revan smirks. “What else have you got?”
“It’s enough to kill you,” Kavar warns.
Looking exasperated, Revan concentrates a moment in the Force and all six of the Jedi are frozen immobile in the Force.
“Come,” he tugs her forward and breaks into a run. Gathering her pilfered cloak about her, Bastila keeps pace. “We’ll need your battle meditation if they launch fighters,” Revan hollers as they make a mad dash for the cruiser’s nearby hangar. Luckily, the warship is designed with the infirmary right off the main docking bay for immediate treatment of incoming battle casualties. It’s a hundred-meter dash before they rush up the ramp of a prepped and idling shuttle.
Revan takes the controls while she finds the Force. The shuttle launches fast. And despite all the ships in the flagship’s vicinity, there are no pursuers.
“Punch it!” Revan instructs and Bastila complies. They escape to lightspeed without even a single shot being fired.
“They let us go,” she marvels as she settles back in the co-pilot seat, feeling confused. “That’s the only explanation for the ease of our escape.”
“Those guys got really lucky. I resisted the urge to snap their necks,” Revan grumbles. “It was a very strong urge.”
“I suppose we’re fugitives now,” Bastila says unhappily. Suddenly, she is utterly exhausted as her adrenaline subsides. Can this get any worse? Probably not, she thinks. Somehow, she ended up on the Dark Side and now she’s fleeing arrest from the Jedi Council. She escaped Malak only to end up in utter disgrace. Her only hope is the most dangerous man in the galaxy who she’s Force bonded with. And she’s pregnant . . . oh Gods, she is pregnant . . .
Revan senses her panic in the Force. He assures her, “They won’t find us. They won’t even look for us. Basty, if we disappear, that makes it easier for them.”
“I hope you’re right,” she mutters. “Where are we going?”
“Any Republic world where there is not a Jedi temple.”
“Okay. Sounds good.” Once again, Bastila goes along with whatever Revan wants. Her life is spinning out of control and she’s not up for much decision-making. In the end, they settle on a lackluster Mid Rim system that is by no means cosmopolitan but not quite obscure. It’s a two-day flight from where they are in the Unknown Regions.
Between long hours of time spent alone, she and Revan have intense conversations. Their talks are in the nature of confessions. Each speaks of guilt, of fear, of regret, of mistakes, and of lessons learned.
For Revan, it is all talk of Malak.
“He’s gone. I killed him. I killed my own brother.” Revan says it matter of fact, but Bastila can tell that he is far from accepting it. “I tried to bring him back, but I failed. He refused. Then, I had to do it. But I hate that I did that.” Revan says this last part with a quiet voice and a faraway stare. “I think I hate myself for killing Alek.”
“He chose his own path,” Bastila murmurs. She’s trying to be supportive.
“Maybe,” Revan allows. “But I led him to that path.”
“You also showed him a path back towards the Light. You led him both directions.”
“We were fools . . . utter fools,” Revan laments. “You cannot dabble in Darkness. The Dark Side is dangerous,” he warns her. “Neither Alek nor I understood how dangerous until it was too late.”
“I’m sorry. I know how much he meant to you.”
“He wasn’t the man you met,” Revan sighs. “He was so much more than that. Alek was sorry, Basty. He said he was sorry for how he treated you. I don’t know if that helps any, but he regretted how he treated you.”
She doesn’t answer. She just nods.
“He knew about the baby. He asked me to help you.”
“I don’t want to talk about that.” Bastila is not ready to talk about her pregnancy. It doesn’t even seem real yet. Every time the issue comes up even obliquely, she shuts it down. But mostly she is the one who brings it up. For it is constantly on her mind.
She does talk about her experience with Malak. Not the details, of course. Not the violence either. Mostly, she just wants to understand what was motivating him.
“Who is Jarael?” she asks Revan.
“She’s one of those vagabond mercenary types. She flits along following some guy for a while and then moves on to the next. She’s a nice girl who grew up hard and had a hard life. I think Alek wanted to save her from all that.”
“He was very angry with her,” Bastila remembers.
“Their paths crossed when they were prisoners together. They both got captured by a Mandalorian scientist who was experimenting on Jedi to determine how best to beat us.”
“Jarael is Jedi?”
“No, but she is mildly Force sensitive. Probably not enough to train. But Alek wanted to train her. She turned down the chance to learn the Force and she turned down the chance to fight as a Revanchist. She also turned down being Alek’s girlfriend. She wanted to do her own thing.”
“He said he found her again recently and reupped his offer. She turned him down again.”
“I guess that’s why he tried to turn me into her?” Bastila surmises. “Maybe because he could never have the real thing?”
Revan has a different answer. “He was lonely.”
“Yes, I see that. Sometimes it made it easier that he called me by her name. I could pretend that I was someone else. That it wasn’t happening to me.” Choosing her words carefully, Bastila explains, “I think I got lost in the fantasy sometimes, too. After a while, I sort of lost my sense of self.”
“I hate that he did that to you,” Revan rasps. He keeps apologizing again and again for his brother’s bad acts. Revan clearly feels responsible. “I hate what my brother became.”
Bastila states it more simply: “I hate him.”
“I might have been able to forgive him in time if I weren’t . . . well, if there were not a baby involved. I feel like he has ruined two lives now,” Bastila chokes out before she succumbs yet again to tears.
“Go ahead and cry,” Revan encourages. “Feel your emotions. Embrace them. There is no shame in emotions. The Order would be a lot better if Knights were encouraged to be less cold.”
“I hate him . . . I hate him . . .” Bastila rambles between sniffs.
“No one will fault you if you don’t have this baby,” Revan tells her.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Once again, she shuts the topic down.
When Revan isn’t talking about Malak, he talks about the Sith Emperor Darth Vitiate. He seems to blame this Darth Vitiate guy as much as he blames himself.
“Looking back, I think he knew all that would happen. He had foreseen my capture by the Republic. He knew I would kill my brother.”
Bastila isn’t following. “Why did he let you live if he knew you would turn against him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he felt powerless to prevent it. Like if he intervened, then the Force might give him an even worse future. Or maybe he knows that I am not a real threat to him on my own without Alek.”
“Or maybe he no longer wants the Republic,” Bastila gives voice to her wishful thinking.
“Oh, he will be coming,” Revan warns. “The Sith always want more. Vitiate craves power and conflict.”
“Is there no way to defeat him?”
“Not that I know of.” Revan shakes his head as he looks back. “I think Vitiate was as curious about us as Alek and I were about him. I think he spared us because he wanted to see how Jedi would handle Darkness. I think he was intrigued to understand the Light through us.”
“Malak said he was drawn to the Light. To my Light,” she recalls.
Revan nods. “All Sith are. Darkness needs the Light. I just don’t know if Light needs Darkness in return.” Talk of the Force always brings up Revan’s guilt over his hubris. “I underestimated Darkness,” he admits. “It was so much more seductive than I understood. It was so easy. It felt so good . . . until it didn’t. I was too far gone to realize it.”
“Malak was very unhappy,” she agrees. “Darkness didn’t make him happy. He had lots of power and lots of weapons but he lacked the things he really wanted. I guess he wanted things he could not have.”
“Like Jarael. Like having you back. Like the respect of the Republic for defeating the Mandalorians. It was weird,” Bastila observes. “He wanted the girl who rejected him. He wanted the brother he tried to kill. He wanted the Republic he had declared war on. None of it made sense.”
But apparently, it does to Revan. For he explains, “Alek wanted love and acceptance. He wanted the Light. I think that’s why he treated you so awfully. He was drawn to your goodness, Basty, and he was ashamed of that.”
“I’m not Light. I’m not good,” she laments. “Not anymore.”
“You are good, and you will discover it again in time. I think when you are ready to make decisions about the future that will help. Having a path forward helps to put things in perspective,” he counsels.
Again, she shuts him down. “I don’t want to talk about it. It’s too soon.”
Revan tells her about a woman the Council exiled, the former Revanchist Jedi General Meetra Surik. Bastila only knows her as a brazen woman who marched into the Council chamber to defend her war crimes without remorse. She told off the Council and stabbed the floor with her sword. It was the ultimate in disrespect. But Revan remembers a different woman. His version is a principled young woman who made hard moral choices. He describes a needy woman who was full of compassion. She was a friend to all, Revan tells her. For a general, she had a surprisingly soft soul. She regularly agonized over the casualties on both sides of the war. To accuse Meetra Surik of willful war crimes was far off the mark, Revan contends.
Revan sees Meetra Surik as a cautionary tale, for he worries aloud that her fate will befall Bastila. The Council stripped her of the Force, Revan says bitterly. Meetra wasn’t even Dark, he bemoans. Not like you. And that prompts another round of Revan’s self-recrimination.
“I led Meetra down this path . . . I am why she lost her Force. I was the one to approve the super weapon.”
“You’re not responsible for the Council’s decisions,” Bastila points out.
“I feel responsible.”
Yes, she knows. Revan’s sense of commitment—to people he cares for and to the Republic he serves—is what reveals that he is not a Sith. For his motivations are not for himself. Looking at glum and grieving Revan, Bastila thinks that he has lost as much as anyone along the way. And that seems to be the antithesis of the selfish Sith. But while Revan can see the Light in Malak and mourn the man he once was, Bastila only remembers a cruel man who tortured to fuel his Forge and raped to fulfill his fantasies. Maybe Revan is right and we are all more than our worst moments and our weakest character flaws. But she is not ready to forgive.
Bastila does slowly start to heal. Once they land in the Mid Rim, she gets her hair dyed brown again and those temporary tattoos erased. She buys some new, more modest clothes. Bastila also spends hours doing exercises in the Force, seeking the Light with Revan again and again. She stops there, but he goes further. Revan practices going from Light to Dark and then back again. She watches as his eyes become brown, then yellow, then brown again. She sees him shoot lightning and watches him place a hand on her ever so slightly swollen belly to marvel at the growing life within. He is determined to control both sides of the Force on demand. With each passing day, Revan keeps making progress in his nebulous quest to be both Light and Dark.
Until now, Bastila has spent her whole life within the confines of the Order. Never questioning their priorities or teachings. Accepting what she was taught and believing it wholeheartedly. For the first time ever, Bastila finds herself confronting life outside the Order. It is as terrifying as it is intriguing. But Revan understands and commiserates. Because he too once was Jedi. His break with the Order was years in the making, not abrupt like hers. And it was his choice in the end. But still, he recognizes what an enormous step it is.
Bastila has been raised for a life of duty and public service. That is nothing like a secular woman’s life spent pursuing happiness. It’s not that a Jedi’s life has no self-determination or personal fulfillment. It’s that a Jedi’s life has a limited set of choices. And, well, choice can be sort of paralyzing. Bastila keeps looking to Revan for advice, but he tells her that she must decide her future for herself. You must do what you feel is right, he encourages her.
While Bastila mulls it all over, they live in shabby obscurity, ostensibly presenting themselves as husband and wife. In reality, they are roommates. Bastila has her doubts at first, but it works. Revan makes her feel safe and she needs that right now. He can be persistent with her, but he also knows when to back off. There is something very sensitive about Revan. The bond helps him to understand her moods, but it’s more than that. Bastila can see now how Revan became the charismatic leader of his cause. He is very good at reading people. That’s rare for a Jedi. As a rule, Knights are not known for their emotional intelligence. It’s not a skill the Order values. But it’s something she has begun to appreciate.
All this proximity between them promotes the Force bond. It strengthens to where they can communicate telepathically with no effort at all. The bond was the Light in her calling to the Light in him, Revan theorizes. That’s why when she fell Dark, the bond waned. Because Darkness is selfish. It does not bond. Only the Light can bond. And now, Revan speculates, the Light in him is calling forth the Light in her. The bond is working in reverse of its original intent. It’s a lovely thought—that compassion in one person prompts compassion in another—but Bastila isn’t sure whether she believes his theory. Revan has lots of crazy theories about the Force that fly in the face of conventional wisdom.
To make ends meet, Bastila works a basic service industry job that any droid could do. It’s far beneath her education and experience, but it gets her out in public and helps to give her a routine. Revan has his own similarly unimpressive gig. Together, they mostly scrape by and Revan mind tricks anyone who asks too many questions. He euphemistically calls it their ‘sabbatical’ and tells her it’s only temporary. Once the future is decided, things will be different, he promises.
The future keeps making its presence known. Between the morning sickness and her growing waistline, Bastila knows she can only avoid the topic of her pregnancy for so long. She thinks about it incessantly even if she declines to talk about. But one day, the future becomes clear. Bastila surprises herself and Revan when two months into their sabbatical she announces, “I am keeping the child.”
“Good,” he approves. “That is the Light in you resurfacing. Having a child to love will help you, Basty.”
And sure enough, about a week later Bastila sees brown eyes reflecting in the mirror where yellow eyes had once been. She is so happy, she cries.
“I’ll stay with you,” Revan offers. “We can get married for real. It can be just in name only, if you like, but it will give the child a family. We will give him stability and security. We can raise him however you wish.”
Bastila is touched by the offer. But still, she answers, “That’s not necessary. I can do this on my own.” She wasn’t expecting help.
“You shouldn’t have to do this by yourself,” Revan counters. “And besides, I want to look after you both.”
“We’re not your responsibility.”
“Yes, you are,” he stubbornly insists. “I promised Alek that I would help.”
A month later, Bastila makes another life altering decision. It too is agonized over. But once Bastila is committed, she does not waver. “I want to return to the Jedi Order,” she announces.
“W-What??” Revan immediately starts talking her out of it. They will exile you or sever your Force. Even without yellow eyes, they will always suspect you of being a secret Sith. They will never trust you fully, he argues.
“I’ll take the risk.” Because more than anything, Bastila wants her old life back. And that begins by reclaiming her identity as a Jedi.
What about the baby, Revan argues. They may take it away so you don’t grow attached. Are you ready for that? They may even sever the baby’s Force.
“I know,” she acknowledges all his points. “I will bring this child into the world and its fate will be in the hands of the Council.”
Revan scowls at this prospect. She knows he hates the Order and deeply distrusts the Council. But she doesn’t. After all that has happened, Bastila Shan is more convinced than ever of the Jedi way. It’s bright line rules and dogma are prudent measures to keep Knights safe from Darkness. And if the Council can be a little heavy handed now and then, it’s for the Order’s own good. And she should know, because she herself was once Dark. Darkness is dangerous, she reminds Revan of his own words.
Moreover, Bastila is determined that Malak’s actions will not ruin her life. He did not consign her to Darkness and he will not ruin her career as a Jedi. Malak may have said that she could never go home again, but Bastila is determined to prove him wrong. She will be everything she ever planned to be as a Jedi despite her experiences. For though she has been a victim, she refuses to let that status define her identity permanently.
As a child, Bastila was given over to the Jedi Order by her parents. But now, as an adult woman, she seeks to affirmatively select the life of a Knight. Because knowing what she knows now, and facing the very real prospect of life as an everyday secular wife and mother, Bastila Shan chooses the Jedi cloister. The grass is not greener outside the Order, it’s just different. She wants to resume her vocation as a Force priestess.
It is confounding to Revan that she can share some of his experiences but draw completely different conclusions. Bastila saw Darkness and it reaffirmed her allegiance to the Light. Whereas he saw Darkness and could never find his way completely back to the good side. You are a reformed sinner, he accuses, and that makes you the worst apologist for the Order. Maybe so, Bastila admits. But I need to place my faith in something. Maybe my church is not perfect, but perhaps one day it will be. And I would like to help it be better, if I can. I cannot adopt your vague gospel of grey, she bluntly tells Revan. Balancing the Force is just a fairytale from old prophesies. No one really believes that.
After she has argued with Revan long and hard, he comes to accept her decision. He understands how important—how empowering—this decision is for her. And that’s when he relents. “I’ll take you back to the Coruscant Temple on one condition.”
“We tell the Council that the baby is mine and not Alek’s.”
Chapter 16: Chapter 16
In the wake of the battle for the Star Forge, Revan feels no victory, only defeat. There is no glory in his many accomplishments, only loss. And for what? Viewing it all from a distance now, he sees that very little has changed. After all the death and destruction of a decade at war, only the superficial threats are gone. Vitiate, the real enemy, is still out there. The weakened Republic endures, at least for now. But so does the Jedi Order with its narrow dogmatic views and its culture of infighting and fearfulness.
Why the Hell does Bastila want to go back to all that?
Because he has failed to articulate a better alternative, Revan knows.
What has he accomplished? He was supposed to be a great leader. But he led his brother and his friends into Darkness, and he led many thousands of troops to their death. When he last led the Republic to victory it was under an assumed name. No one wants to follow Revan now. His name is a byword for traitor. He really can’t blame Bastila for leaving him. Much of the galaxy considers him a fallen hero corrupted by power.
What has he learned? He’s learned a great deal about the Force, mostly about Darkness. He respects the Dark Side for its abilities, for its strategy, and for its triumph of the individual. He sees the Force for what it is: a continuum from Dark to Light. But Revan sees now why the Jedi insist on its members staying purely in the Light. Darkness is dangerous. Not everyone can handle it. Witness what it did to poor Alek, what it did to Bastila, and what it almost did to himself.
He will never convince the Jedi Order to relax their views now. He will be the bogeyman example they use to scare the younglings about the Dark Side. Careful, the kids will be taught, lest you end up like Revan and Alek. He can only imagine the shrill fearmongering to come. But in the long term, the legacy of the Jedi will be failure, Revan firmly believes. Because in the end, any institution that fails to adapt and change will never endure. Any institution that refuses criticism and crushes dissent cannot succeed. Any institution that exiles its best and brightest with a mindset of punishment rather than encouragement will perish.
But still . . . Bastila wants to go back to the Order.
This too feels like a defeat. Because if he cannot convince Basty of his views, he will never convince anyone. But can she ever be happy again if she’s not part of the Order? Revan worries that the life of an outcast with him will only damage her more. That the better course is for Bastila to find some place within the Order where she can reclaim her Jedi identity. She has suffered enough on his behalf.
Identity matters. It’s a natural inclination to want to belong. That’s why it is not an easy thing to walk your own path. To break free from the conventional ideologies and convenient allegiances of your day. The problem with being an iconoclast, Revan now knows, is that everyone becomes your enemy. In the end, you stand alone.
There is no place for him in the Republic now. Not in its politics or its military. Definitely not in the Jedi Order. It’s strangely freeing to have nothing left to lose. He has lost his position, his reputation, and everyone he ever cared for. And that makes the decision of what to do next easy.
“I’ll settle things with the Order for you,” he promises Bastila. “Let me take the lead on this.”
She nods and responds softly, “And then, you’re as good as gone, aren’t you?”
She knows him well. “Yes,” he admits.
Can he confront Vitiate on his own without Alek’s help? It’s suicide, but he’s going to do it anyway. He might as well finish what he started with the Sith Emperor. He has to at least try. Because if he leaves this final part undone, then all the sacrifices made along the way are in vain.
“Do you think it’s possible to defeat Vitiate?” Bastila knows where he’s going, of course.
“I have to try. No Jedi can do it. It will take someone who understands Darkness to defeat him.”
Bastila doesn’t argue with him. She was raised on the concept of duty. She just nods.
“I think I owe it to Alek. It’s not vengeance, Basty, it’s justice.” At least, that’s what he tells himself. But truthfully, a large part of his motivation to kill Vitiate is Dark. He has become part Light and part Dark, neither Jedi nor Sith. Really, he is nothing. For all he has struggled and fought, Revan feels like a complete failure in life. It’s why taking on Vitiate is an easy call. Because it’s the only fight that matters in the end. He hopes it will give his many failures meaning after all.
Has everything leading up until now been preparation for this showdown? Is there any significance to the experience of being both the hero and the villain? Will the Force be with him? And, if so, will that Force be Light or Dark? Revan doesn’t know. It’s like the more he discovers about the Force, the more of a mystery it becomes.
He makes contact with Master Kavar to test the waters for Bastila’s return to the Order. To say that the man is unenthusiastic would be an understatement. But Revan is determined to settle Bastila back with the Jedi before he leaves.
“Why would we want her back?” the Jedi Master demands.
“Because in a different set of circumstances, she would be you. Because if Bastila Shan can turn Dark, so can any of you,” Revan argues.
“Don’t judge us all by your own failings,” Master Kavar’s response is cutting. “I don’t want to hear any of your moral equivalence.”
“Fine. Then let me speak to you of compassion,” Revan persists. He argues long and hard for forgiveness for Bastila Shan.
“Does this deal include taking you back?” Kavar wants to know. “Because that’s a non-starter.”
Revan smirks. “No. Bastila wants to leave me to rejoin the Order.”
“Is she still pregnant with Malak’s kid?” the Jedi Master asks him point blank.
“The boy is my child,” Revan lies. “And yes, she is due in a few months’ time.”
“It’s your kid? You want to dump your kid with us?”
“Yes. Basty and I were together before Alek captured her. My brother knew what she meant to me. That’s why he wanted her. That’s why he treated her the way he did. It was payback for me.”
Kavar shoots him a skeptical look. “Malak wanted her for her battle meditation skills.”
“That too,” Revan allows.
“Let me get this straight—you want the Order to take back the fugitive Padawan you’ve been living with for months who you claim to have gotten pregnant before she was captured by the Sith and turned Dark?”
“Yes. She’s not Dark any longer. She’s made huge progress. The pregnancy helps.”
“Oh, come on—that’s Malak’s kid! She as much as said it when we found her on the Star Forge. You forget that I was there!”
Revan decides to admit to the lie and again appeals to Kavar’s sense of compassion. “That child should not bear the burden of his father’s sins. That is very important to Bastila. For the sake of the child, he will be known as my son.”
“That hardly improves things,” Kavar points out.
“It’s an incremental improvement,” Revan shrugs, “but it’s something. If the Council was fine with wiping my mind, then they can swallow this lie.”
“The Council will sense you are lying. You’ll never get away with it,” the Jedi Master warns.
“Watch me,” Revan boasts.
And sure enough, as he and Bastila stand in the Jedi Council chamber holding hands claiming to be parting lovers, no one is the wiser. For deceit is a natural talent of a Dark Lord, and the former Darth Revan remembers well how to hide the truth using the Force. He teaches Bastila so she too can join in the ruse. Before the Council, Revan tells the tale that he seduced Bastila straight away before Malak stole her and seduced her to the Dark Side. Given his reputation for swaying many to his political cause, no one doubts that Revan could talk a young impressionable Padawan into bed. That’s Bastila’s cue to confess that she has seen the error of her ways and seeks to repent of her past transgressions. The sex, the Darkness, the attachment, all of it. She gives it up and begs readmission to the Jedi Order. It’s a complete mea culpa and the smug Council goes for it.
Revan knew they would. The Jedi need at least one wayward soul to hold up as their token reformed Revanchist since all the others have turned them down.
And now that the forbidden attachment is broken and Revan has publicly conceded to the Jedi authority to raise his supposed unborn son, the Council considers his case. But instead of the lecture he’s expecting or maybe another attempted arrest, the Grandmaster surprises him. The crotchety old Twi’lek announces, “The Council confers on you the title of Jedi Knight for your recent services in defense of the Republic.”
Revan blinks at this about-face. For not long ago, the Council had revoked his membership and declared him to be an enemy of that state. Destroying the Star Forge has brought him back into their good graces. Well, maybe. Because Revan doesn’t trust these guys. He rather cynically believes that this offer to rejoin the Order is an attempt to assess where he stands.
Are you one of us? That’s essentially what the Council is asking. And the question matters. Because if you're not with us, you're against us. Whether you want to be against us or not. For, as usual, the main goal of the Jedi Order is to control all known Force users. It’s how they determine friend or foe.
It’s frustrating to be in this position. But when your choices are stark, you get pushed to one extreme or the other, whether you like it or not. And that's a problem because all chance at compromise disappears when polarization rules. These are the times he lives in, Revan knows. And he himself helped to shape them. So when he points fingers, he should point one at himself.
Perhaps if the Order were more flexible in its views, he could find a path forward as a Jedi. But that seems impossible currently. There is no middle ground to be had in the Force. You are either Light or Dark. And, if you are even the slightest bit Dark, then you are all Dark in the eyes of the Council. That’s a view Revan can no longer accept for himself. Not after his experiences. For he firmly believes that you cannot fight the Dark Side without understanding it first. There is as much wisdom in the Dark as there is in the Light.
And so, Revan declines. “I’m no Jedi.”
“What will you do then?” This too is a loaded question. Answer it wrongly, and he’s facing an exile order at best or an attempt at a Force sever like poor Meetra.
Revan decides to give the Council the truth in hopes it will spare them another ugly confrontation. Because if anyone attempts to sever his Force, they are going to die from his lightning. “I leave soon to confront Vitiate.”
The Grandmaster grunts and appears relieved. “So be it,” he intones. “Take yourself and your ideas back to the Sith Emperor, if he truly exists.”
When it is all over and the awkward interview with the Council is over, Revan turns to Bastila. “Are you sure this is what you want?”
“You can still change your mind. We would be good together. We could bring up that boy together.”
Bastila raises an eyebrow. “So you could teach him all you know and set off to kill Vitiate with him one day?”
“Maybe,” Revan admits to the ambition. He has wondered a time or two whether Alek’s Force-strong son might join him even though Alek didn’t.
“No. This is what I want,” Bastila says firmly. “I want to be Jedi again. And I want my son to be raised right. In the Light.”
“Very well,” he relents, adding, “I want you to be happy. You are the best judge of what makes you happy.” Revan has great misgivings over this decision, but it is Bastila’s choice to make.
“Being Jedi again will make me happy.” Her expression tells him that she is completely decided.
“Alright.” Revan nods. “Then kiss me goodbye.”
“We just told everyone that is my kid, remember? So let’s make it look good for the gossips,” he smirks. “Pucker up, ex-wifey.”
In full view of way too many people, Bastila Shan gets her second and final kiss from a man.
“You’re notorious now,” Revan winks at her as he pulls back.
Bastila can’t help it. She laughs. “You take every chance you can to tweak the Order,” she accuses.
He smirks and points out, “They’d be disappointed if I didn’t.”
He wants Bastila to be happy, and she is in a fashion. But there are things that once broken can never be fully mended. Like the crockery that is glued but still shows where the crack occurred, like the severe injury that heals but leaves a scar. Like the adultery that is forgiven but provokes constant suspicion, like the faith that is regained but is forever questioning. Things are put right but the experience remains and its evidence lingers. That is how Bastila Shan comes to view the Jedi Order.
To Revan’s great relief, Bastila is once again welcomed as a member, accepted fully and publicly. But that showy magnanimity grates, he can tell. For in her own mind, Bastila Shan never left. She feels resentful at being the Order’s poster child for the Dark Side. She is considered the prodigal sinner who barely escaped Darkness and returned pregnant in disgrace. That’s not the truth, but it doesn’t matter. It fits the Council’s narrative to present her as a reformed Revanchist.
Bastila goes along with it because she chooses to see the best of the Jedi Order. She keeps looking to it for answers. Because she believes there are no answers in Darkness and that there is no other acceptable alternative but the Light. Revan knows that when Bastila chose to return to the Jedi, she was implicitly rejecting a life with him. In her mind, for all its failings, the Jedi Order is preferable to the nothingness of the Force that he lives. Better to be a sometimes grumpy Knight than to be a lost, wandering grey soul like him. A man adrift and unmoored to any ideology or institution. A man with unmatched power but with burdens heavier than he can bear.
The lie they tell the Jedi Council sticks. Everyone comes to believe their story of romance. As a result, Bastila’s life becomes forever intertwined with his legend. She gets subsumed into it. And that’s a shame because Bastila Shan isn't the woman many of her peers believe and history comes to recount. She isn’t the star-crossed lover of a sometime Dark Lord, left behind to raise his unborn child. Yes, there is love between them, but not the romantic type. Love takes many forms. It’s in the gentle stroke of a mother’s touch, it’s in the passionate lust of a lover’s mouth, and it’s in the patient caring of a friend who stands by you through something hard. He and Basty love as compassion, as acceptance, as forgiveness. And that is the sort of love that is always in short supply. It doesn’t make for grand sweeping passionate tales, though. And so that love mostly goes unheralded in life. But it is intrinsic to the Light.
You cannot dabble in Darkness and emerge unscathed. Revan tells Bastila that she will know the Light better now that she has been Dark. At first, she doesn’t believe him. But over time, she comes to appreciate the Light in a whole new respect. As she sits across from sinners in her job as a criminal investigator, Bastila understands the men’s experience in a new way. For she once she knew a man who was desperately unhappy in Darkness and prone to cruelty and excess. And she also knew a man who pulled back from Darkness to walk again in the Light . . . sometimes. Rehabilitation and redemption are by no means assured, but for some they can be achieved. Bastila knows this firsthand.
Bastila also understands the victim experience better, too. How hard it can be to get past the hurt. How it can take years to forgive. She understands the anger she sees in survivors and loved ones. She understands their cynicism and bitterness, too. She also understands their need to move on and to put bad experiences behind them. She knows what it means to not want to be defined forever by another’s bad choices.
Whenever anyone asks her about Revan, Bastila declines to defend his Jedi war record or explain his Sith ambitions. She doesn’t argue about his rightful place in history or debate the merits of his ideas. Instead, she speaks of the private man who she knew. He is full of compassion, she tells others. For in her mind, Revan exemplifies the best of the Jedi Order in that respect. Compassion was his undoing again and again. It led him to war against the Mandalorians that began his schism with the Order and sent him to the Sith looking for answers. Compassion is what established their Force bond and ostensibly led to their forbidden marriage attachment and their accidental, unplanned son. Compassion is also what broke his heart after killing the friend he considered his brother.
The thorny questions that he raised end up dogging the Order for many centuries to come. When should the Jedi intervene in a dispute? What is the role of the Jedi Order in war? How far should you go to save the Republic? What is the proper relationship between the High Council and the Senate? The Jedi will continue to grapple with those problems until the Order finally falls.
Revan’s deeper, more fundamental questions get ignored, however. No one dares to contemplate the proper role of Darkness in the Force. No one seeks to learn about the Sith perspective. No one really believes balance is possible, and those who do contemplate the idea get it wrong. They think of balance as the absence of Darkness, as a sort of default status quo of Light. That misses the point entirely. The idea that Darkness might be used to achieve an objective that is Light is similarly unthinkable. Because Darkness is a forever taint to any act or any person in the Jedi mindset. A true paranoia of the Dark Side sets in and takes hold.
After him, no Jedi seriously challenges the ban on attachments. Everyone obeys the High Council’s authority without question. The few who now and then stray from the Jedi Code are expelled. No tradition of dissent ever develops, and that pushes the disgruntled underground.
When many years hence long simmering tensions once again bubble to the surface, Revan’s example is in the forefront of everyone’s mind. But Revan is not who Dooku and his Jedi followers are emulating. It will be years before anyone realizes that Dooku isn’t another Revan figure. But by then, it is too late. And finally, the Republic that Revan loved and defended until his death truly does fall to the Sith.
But in the almost four thousand years in between, the Republic thrives and prospers. And once again, that is all thanks to him.
With the Jedi Civil War concluded, the Order rebuilds and retrenches to become more powerful than ever. With a stranglehold on the Force, the Jedi persevere. It is Revan who history regards as a failure. For he disappears into the Unknown Regions and is never heard from again. Everyone assumes that he is dead or that the threat of the hidden Sith Empire was a pretext all along. Revan had been crying wolf for his own advantage, the historians decide.
But they’re wrong.
It takes time and a few detours along the way, but ultimately Revan finds himself once again standing before the secret Sith Emperor Vitiate. Strangely enough, the ultimate Dark Lord appears almost happy to see him. That is unexpected.
“Welcome,” the Emperor beckons him forward. “Come in, come in. I did not expect you to return.”
“You underestimate me,” Revan smirks.
Vitiate smiles in response. He leans forward on his high throne. “What happened to your partner Lord Malak?”
“I killed him.”
Vitiate smiles broader still. He’s impressed. “To kill what you love is the ultimate test for a Sith. Few are capable of it. Welcome home, Darth Revan. Well done.”
Ignoring this, Revan announces, “The Star Forge is destroyed.”
Vitiate is unphased. “I don’t need it to succeed. The only weapon I need to topple the Republic is you, my servant.” As Revan puzzles over these words, the Sith Emperor rises to step down the dais. “Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen. The Jedi think you are their prodigal son. But in fact, you are a son of Darkness come home to me. My secret spy among the Republic.”
“No.” Revan disavows any allegiances now.
“Oh, yes,” Lord Vitiate’s yellow eyes are positively feral as he contemplates his prey. “Eventually, you will tell me everything I need to know to destroy the Republic.”
Knowing he’s on a suicide mission, Revan is all bravado. Because what the Hell? He shrugs off the Emperor’s boast. “Maybe so. But I’m going to make you work for it.”
Vitiate chuckles at this response. “I can be patient for things worth waiting for. Time is on my side, Lord Revan. Time means nothing to me. If I have to wait a hundred years to invade the Republic, I will.”
“You can’t win,” Revan now says what he has come to say. “Heed my words, Excellency. Darkness will never win. Neither will the Light. Light and Dark coexist in the Force and in the universe at large. Push too hard and you will sow the seeds of your own destruction. For balance is the default state of the Force, and it always seeks to return there. So keep your hidden Empire and leave the Republic alone. It will be to your advantage in the end.”
Lord Vitiate shakes his head indulgently and schools him on Sith ambition. “Foolish boy. Have you not realized that I dare anything? There are no limits on the Dark Side. Allow me to demonstrate.” With a flourish of his bony hands, Lord Vitiate begins the fight. He shoots a particularly potent kind of Force lightning that is bright red. It knocks Revan clear off his feet.
In that conversation lies the crux of Revan’s frustration, the true futility of his suffering. Because while he can speak truth to the Jedi High Council and to the Sith Emperor himself, no one listens. No one ever listens to Revan and so his wisdom is lost. Sadly, his legacy is mostly his political strategy and his military acumen, and not his insights into the Force.
He ends up a prisoner of Vitiate, kept alive in torment for three hundred years in a specially constructed prison hidden in the heart of the Maelstrom Nebula. He endures in a quasi stasis, hovering between life and death, used by the Emperor as a tool to augment his own power and knowledge. Darth Vitiate picks his brain for information about the Jedi Order, about the Senate, and about the Republic military. He also peruses Revan’s experience in the Force. As a result, Revan’s mind becomes no longer his own. He is intrinsically linked to Vitiate as the Sith Emperor permanently dominates his mind.
But Revan fights back. Resisting with his characteristic force of will. This is a man who is stubborn in his principles and dogged in his determination. And that means he, in turn, influences Vitiate. Revan pushes back against the Emperor’s Dark power by summoning the Light and shining it brightly on the Emperor’s own mind. It’s a last-ditch push for balance that only partially succeeds. But it tempers Vitiate’s plans, slowing them down. And so, when the Sith Empire finally sacks Coruscant three hundred years later, Revan is the influence that convinces the Emperor to accept the Treaty of Coruscant on Alderaan. The peace deal saves billions of lives and turns a hot war cold. In the process, Revan ends up saving the Galactic Republic from doom a third time. But . . . no one knows. Revan is yet again an unheralded hero whose contributions are mostly marginalized or ignored.
He was a prophet of the Force even though he himself didn’t realize it. Like most prophets, Revan was ridiculed and rejected in his own day. No one knew his importance until after he was long gone.
Without all the political biases and personal animosities for context, subsequent generations of Republic historians and a few Jedi scholars would consider Revan anew. They were in the minority. By that time, Revan’s reputation as a ruthless tactical genius was firmly established at the Republic military academies. But among the Jedi, his name was a byword for squandered potential and rebellious hubris. Revan ended up confirming everything the Jedi had ever feared about the Dark Side. His ironic legacy was to solidify their dogmatic views. Only part of what Revan learned was passed on: that Darkness is dangerous.
Ironically, it was on the Dark Side that Revan found vindication. Vitiate found him to be a fascinating character. The Emperor studied him incessantly, searching for the secret of wielding both sides of the Force. Vitiate wasn’t interested in balance, of course, he only wanted more power. Mastery of the Dark Side alone was not sufficient for the Eternal Emperor. He would master the entire Force. He would rule it all.
That goal—to excel at both the Dark and the Light—was passed down to subsequent generations of Sith. It fueled radical insights such as the idea that the Force is the Force and that the Dark and Light Sides are only convenient fictions. That they are shorthand for intent, merely constructs to explain differences in how you connect with the Force and why. For how else can you explain Darth Revan’s remarkable range of talents? Few Sith Masters actually adhered to Revan’s heresy, but the idea persisted. Inevitably, each generation there was some Sith Lord who preached it and wrote about it. Mastering the whole Force became a goal that just wouldn’t die.
So when several millennia later, there arose a Muun Sith Master who loved learning, he read all the fragmented journals and extant holochrons passed down by his forebears. Darth Plagueis would see the same radical idea appear again and again, and so he pondered it for himself. Is it possible to learn this power? Could a Sith Lord wield both the Light and the Dark? Darth Plagueis was never a Jedi. He was Sith through and through. But like Vitiate, he was curious about the Light.
That curiosity led Darth Plagueis to do two things that forever changed history. First, he used his scientific study of midichlorians to experiment with the Light Side. That’s how he accidentally discovered how to create life using the Force. That advance led Darth Plagueis to his ultimate achievement. For this Dark Lord had the power of a God: he could create life, sustain life, and resurrect life using the Force. The dirty secret of that neat Sith trick is that it is accomplished with mostly Light Side power.
But Darth Plagueis would be remembered mostly for his second noteworthy feat. Using his Godlike knowledge, the ambitious Sith decided that he would balance the Force. This goal wasn’t motivated by any altruism. It was a grab for power. He would create the Jedi Chosen One and the Sith’ari for himself, fashioning the perfect Apprentice as a child of the Force. And thus began the Skywalkers.
But, as fate would have it, the original scion of this storied clan eluded his creator. The young slave boy from Tatooine was stolen away by the Jedi before he could be claimed by his Sith Master father. Old Lord Plagueis was concerned lest he reveal all his Dark plans, and so he contented himself to look on from afar. Watching as his creation followed in Revan’s footsteps. For Darth Vader too was first a Jedi and then a Sith. Lord Vader did everything he was supposed to do, evening killing his Sith Master. But then . . . he died.
That left Lord Plagueis without his longed-for Apprentice. First, he approached Vader’s Jedi son with his pitch and was turned down. So next, Lord Plagueis plotted for Vader’s grandson. This time, he was successful. Darth Plagueis gave himself a new name but kept most of his old Dark Side credo. He took on the Jedi-raised youngster and made him a not-quite Sith. Then he sent his Apprentice off with two tasks: rule the galaxy and balance the Force. In time, the volatile and conflicted young Darth Ren did both. And from the netherworld of the Force, a much misunderstood, enigmatic man named Revan smiled. Someone finally got it right.
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
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.