My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 18

Sarah could feel Carth's doubts, his reservations, his fears. They thrummed in the back of her mind, like a faint bass note reverberating. Oddly, it was not unpleasant, just omnipresent. It made her want to soothe them all away, to take him back to give him the calm that came afterward, but again, no time for that luxury. It would just have to wait, to simmer. That would just make the experience all the sweeter...

"Incoming." She stated, and he leveled his blasters forward, his attention fixed on the shadows.

"How do you do that?" He demanded, and she shrugged. She honestly had no idea... had she heard ragged breaths? The crunch of boots on ancient crumbled glass? It had to be hearing... everything ahead of her was just black shadows on a slightly less black background.

"Dunno. But..."

"Twi'lek. Young Twi'lek." He identified, and she raised a brow. It couldn't be that easy, could it?

"Let me guess...trailing half of Taris's rakghoul population in her wake?"

"No...but she sure doesn't look happy. And she's running like a fool..." He growled, setting his stance firmly and readying himself. Sarah didn't need any more of a warning, shadowing the motion.

She could hear it approaching, and while she still couldn't quite see it yet, Carth was right that it was no rakghoul... it ran on two feet. That didn't necessarily make it friend, though, and she stayed in position. But what fell out of the shadows was indeed a young Twi'lek girl, panting and desperate. She stared at the two of them, stunned, raising her hands into the uncertain light. "Don't shoot. Don't!"

"Mission Vao?" She definitely matched the description that Sarah had been given... how many teenaged rutian Twi'lek girls could there be running around down here? On second thought, knowing how the Tarisians viewed non humans, there could be quite a few...

"I'm Mission." She glanced between Sarah and Carth, "You're looking for me? Look, I don't have time for this...I really don't. Maybe later. I need to go get help..." If Carth thrummed with anxiety, Mission clanged with panic. Desperation was always a strong position to have someone that Sarah needed something

"You need help?"

Manic hope rose in the girl's wide brown eyes, and Sarah fought back a spreading smile. Oh, yes, she could definitely work with this... "My friend. They've taken my friend! Oh, please, help!"

"The rakghouls?" Carth muttered dubiously. "Wookiee...rakghoul..."

That was indeed an interesting visual, filled with chaos and destruction, but hardly anything that Sarah actually wanted to deal with. Something to be filed away for later thought and consideration...

"No, not the rakghoul! Gamorrean slavers. They jumped us, and..."

Sarah sighed, shaking her head. Of course they had, this pair would have been a real bundle of yum yum joy to a slaver. One male wookiee, everybody's favorite organic work machine, and one rather lovely example of adolescent female Twi'lek, everybody's favorite sex slave. Sarah wasn't surprised that it had happened, but she was surprised it hadn't happened sooner. But she could deal with Gamorreans, in fact, they were one of her favored targets.

"Where?" She cut into the girl's frantic patter. She didn't have the time nor inclination to listen to any more of it...the girl had a singularly annoying, high pitched voice...most of that was probably from panic, but Sarah had heard enough of it.

"The sewers, this way..."

She led the way to a large opening, and Sarah laughed aloud. She'd been imagining...sewers. Dark, dank, close and smelly. Frighteningly enough, this was a lot more well lit and welcoming than the Undercity behind them managed to be. The access lights still worked. The tunnel was broad, dry, with strong grates and secure handrails.

"Huh." Carth marveled behind her. "Who'd've thunk?"

She sent him a smile over her shoulder, as he stowed the glasses and thumbed off the low light screen on his blaster. "Lights." She agreed. Unfortunately, rakghoul were unimpressed by light, they were just as comfortable in full midday light as they were in complete darkness. But this way, they'd have a better chance of seeing them coming. "Lead the way, Mission."

"Right. They're this way."

As promised 'that way' was populated by Gamorreans, and Sarah snorted in amusement. Nothing should be that pleasurable to kill, nothing should have a dying squeal that plucked joy into her heart.

Far over Sarah's head, Bastila Shan raised her own head and studied the featureless wall next to her. Somewhere, Revan was in a killing spree, riding blood-lust, giving into joy, and Bastila shuddered in response.

Why now? Revan had been quiescent for months, throughout her hospital stay, and afterward. Things had been silent from her, a distant slumber. But the very moment she slipped from Bastila's watch, away from the Council's leash, she started to wake up. To come back to herself. To finally start giving Bastila the visions that the Council had been praying for. Here, where Bastila could do nothing whatsoever... That was probably it, Revan had bided her time, seemed to be dead to herself, waiting for her opportunity, and she had it now. Maybe she had engineered this, masterminded her own escape. Maybe hers had been the call that the Leviathan had responded to. Had Bastila just given the Sith their Dark Lord back, returned Revan to them? If she had, then it was all over. All she had to do was wait...and Revan would come for her. They'd played a dangerous game, a desperate game, and they'd lost. They'd put Revan back together, and now had her loose on Taris, with a force bound link to Bastila. It was all over. All done. She'd failed, worse than failed, she'd given her enemies more than they'd ever had before.

What was it like to fall? It had happened to Revan, once a bright and shining light, a paragon. It had happened to Alek, drawn along with his friend, his companion, and as the rumors whispered, his lover. They had both been better Jedi than Bastila; older, more experienced, strong in the Force. Their nadir was as deep as their zenith had been high...

Maybe Bastila would get lucky. Maybe Revan wouldn't come for her. Maybe the Sith wouldn't find her. When Taris was retaken by the Republic, she could get out of this predicament she'd found herself in.

"Who are you fooling?" She whispered. It was not fair, she was equipped with a neural disruptor, Revan shouldn't be able to reach her like this. Revan wasn't loud, but her focus was deepening. Bastila got more and more back through the bond, and what she felt didn't comfort her. They had simply rewritten the Dark Lord's memories, but they hadn't managed to purge the darkness from her. The Dark Lord rose again, and Bastila was now firmly bound to her.

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