My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 23

Something had gone wrong with the plan. Bastila didn't know what, but she didn't need the Force to understand anger and embarrassment when she saw it...and she saw it on the faces of her guards. It was supposed to have been easy, they'd rigged the race. They would win the great prize, her, in a glorious show. All just a joke. So here she was, in a force cage, with a neural disruptor around her neck, dressed in...next to nothing...waiting for her new owner to claim her and... Well, the and had been her nightmare for over a week now.

"For fuck's sake!" The voice was outraged, but it set off every response in Bastila's heart and soul. She knew that voice, it haunted her nightmares. "You slimy, lying, cheating little cumbucket!"

There was something intrinsically wrong with one of the greatest force users in the known galaxy using such...earthy...language. That was Revan, and she apparently possessed a toilet mouth vocabulary. What was she doing here? She had to sense the bond she shared with Bastila, even through what had been done to her, had that drawn her out?

Bastila raised her eyes, staring through the luminous 'bars' of the cage. Revan, just bristling with fury and outrage, facing down Bastila's main captor... and what was she wearing? Behind her...Captain Onasi, looking equally put out...his arms folded over his chest.

"I won your race, fair and square. I'm here for my prize!"

Bastila closed her eyes again, biting her lip. No. No. That couldn't be. Revan had won her? That was...terrible, the idea of being owned by that was worse than the idea of being turned over to Malak. But Revan had Onasi with her, that was a bright spot...he could be trusted.Just a week. She can't have done much to him in such a short period of time. They're here to for a rescue. They had to be, the idea that they weren't was just too terrible to contemplate.

She's coming back to herself. Which meant that Bastila had to get loose. Revan couldn't be allowed to remember. It just couldn't happen. If she did, their last chance was gone. And Onasi... he was ripe for this... Revan could twist him just as she had done to Alek; use his despair, use his isolation, feed on his tragedy.

No.

"You cheated." It was a weak rebuttal from her captor, Brejik, Bastila sensed the lie in it. Revan hadn't. There was no need for her to, the Force loved her. "But I'll still give you the purse money...I'll double it."

"The hell I cheated! You're just backing out!" The rest of Revan's response was in some spitting, hissing, malice filled language that Bastila didn't recognize. "I won your race. I broke your record. Give me the woman!"

And she had an amazing ability to work a crowd. Didn't they realize that was what she was doing? Of course not. She was a natural Force user, she wanted something, and she was going to get it. And right now, she wanted a riot, something that the already agitated crowd seemed more than willing to give her.

I have to get out of here.

Revan raised her gaze to Bastila, and the younger woman felt the bond yank hard, then she felt power flow back through it, a rushing tide. Revan got what she wanted, and she wanted Bastila at that moment. Free. All Bastila had to do was use what she'd just been given, focus, an external viewpoint, distance, something to grab onto out of this fog and... The disruptor shorted out.

"Shit!" Brejik shouted, pulling a weapon on...Revan, who appeared to be unarmed. We're going to lose her here, lose her now...

It was difficult to determine who reacted first; Onasi, a large male wookiee, or a crack shot of a young twi'lek, but they all seemed willing to kill and die over Revan...who had chosen to duck into cover. "Sarah, heads up!" Onasi shouted, tossing a blaster back behind that cover. She popped up again, alive, whole, and now armed.

Open, open, open, open... Bastila chanted it in her head, focusing on the cage. She had to be a part of this, she couldn't just let Revan rescue her...or claim her...or whatever the hell this was. The cage dropped, and Bastila was free, tossed into an incipient gang battle.

"Don't you go anywhere!" Onasi bellowed at her, moving on a flanking path parallel to Revan's headstrong assault right up the middle. "Damnit, Sarah!"

Sarah. The name that Revan had been programmed to respond to, to believe was hers. If he was calling her that, there was a chance that the programming was mostly intact, or she was hiding her true identity from him, or he was smarter than to be yelling it in a firefight.

"Too late!" Revan yelled back, "Just kill him!"

"What do you think I'm trying to do?"

You're trying to protect her. Bastila knew, but that idea was disturbing. Where was the rest of the crew? It certainly looked like this was Revan, Onasi, and a street gang out for some serious blood.

And Brejik was down, Revan on top of him as he fell. She was moving slowly, almost painfully... and suddenly, Bastila's heart sank. Don't. Don't. Don't. One of the last things she ever wanted to see again was Revan armed with a lightsaber, turning to her. Cold panic washed over her...not again...not again... except this time, there was no convenient disgruntled apprentice in a Interdictor class cruiser to take a cheap shot and save Bastila. She was going to be killed with her own weapon...

"Hey!" She yelled at Bastila, and tossed the hilt in her direction, an easy, arcing pitch. "Catch!"

Even with the warning, Bastila almost fumbled the catch, almost dropped her own weapon... and it was obvious by Revan's less than impressed look that the other woman had caught the bobble. Damn it... she whipped it over her head, igniting it in the same motion, glorying in the echo of both blades cutting through the air. If I just keep going, I don't have to turn around and face her.

Unfortunately, there weren't that many targets, and Bastila stopped, cautiously turning to look behind her. It can't be.

Onasi was leaning close to Revan, almost touching her, concern obvious on the features that Bastila was used to seeing closed with his very special brand of distance and disapproval. He's fallen for Revan.

And Revan met his eyes back, her expression open, the hand going to his shoulder in support, the shake of her head a denial to his worried question.

No, it was worse than that. They were a couple, together. Bastila felt suddenly sick, overwhelmed. Nothing could have prepared her for this, nothing at all. This has just gotten so much more complicated.

"Let's go..." Onasi ordered, standing up and giving Revan a hand up. "So, what'd you do to yourself this time, sister?" He asked with a long suffering air, half concern, half joke. Sister? He called Revan sister? What terribly messed up situation was this? He seemed almost human like this. And Revan... she looked a decade younger than the last time that Bastila had seen her, focused, back on track. Her bond to the Force sang in the air around her, but it was a different song than the last time that Bastila had experienced it. No dark and ominous dirge, but a smoothly soothing peal. It had been described before, but like most things that transcended words, it had to be felt, experienced.

Revan, as she once was, when our armies answered her call. I get to see it. Feel it. No Darth, no Dark Lord of the Sith...but the Supreme Commander of the Republic...

"Stressed my ankle. And beat up my knees. I'm okay, Devid."

Devid? Who? She was obviously referring to Onasi, but that one's given name was Carth. But to call him that would be suicide...the Sith would love to capture him. A fake name, to keep him safe, she could work with that. "Good." He gave Revan a half smile and a slight pat on her shoulder before turning to close the distance with Bastila. "Come on." He said, "Let's get out of here before the Sith arrive to break the fight up."

A fine idea... Bastila needed time to figure this out, wrap her mind around it, and calm to chase away the screaming headache that breaking the neural disruptor had given her. Somehow, she had to make this all work...somehow, although it was obvious that their plans were destroyed, shattered along with the Endar Spire.

I have to get her back to Dantooine, back to the Enclave. They can deal with her there. They can deal with Onasi there. She just had to hold it all together, a little bit farther. And right now, that meant following Onasi out of here, away from the promised Sith response to this.

He nodded, spinning to stalk after Revan's retreat...his path covered by the young twi'lek and the wookiee. Why does it have to be you? Both of you? She should be relieved...Onasi was the finest pilot they still had, and Revan was so precious...but she didn't want to deal with either one of them closely. He had always reeked with an almost paternal disapproval, a doubt that he never quite managed to mask. And she...was Revan.

She doesn't remember.

And how long would that last, faced with, so close to, Bastila? This was supposed to be more cautious than this, more controlled. "Where are we going?" She finally asked, managing to coat the question with something that didn't sound like panic.

"The gang's base." Onasi replied, shooing her ahead of him...making it obvious he'd be happiest with her and Revan together, both in his front view. "We'll be good there, for awhile."

Speak for yourself.

Revan led the way through confusing corridors, moving fast in spite of a fairly obvious limp. At first, they were empty corridors, but as she traveled, there were more people...people quick to smile at her, to cheer her on, to clap her on the back, to pass her a cold one. Bastila was used to everyone around knowing exactly what they were dealing with, people who treated Revan with care. And Revan had responded to that with a puzzled solitude, a frank distance... Bastila had simply assumed that was what she was like, but now she knew better. Revan accepted this companionship with an open smile, rubbing her brow with the cold container, and then wiping it dry with her forearm. But her eyes always returned to Onasi, like an auto reticle returning to center point.

They passed through a guarded bay door, into a large hangar beyond...into more cheers. Louder cheers. More people with great big smiles, happy to press a bottle into even Bastila's hand...even when she tried to scoot away from them...closer to the dubious, yet paternal weight of Onasi trailing them.

"You okay?" He finally asked, his voice low, and she fought back a strangled laugh. It was hard to tell that he'd even noticed her in all of the hubbub. She felt like a peripheral concern, in spite of the fact that they'd apparently run, and won, the race to get her freed. And that was whining and sniveling at its very best.

"I am just fine, Captain Onasi." She stated back, making certain that her identification of him couldn't be heard over the growing noise of Revan being helped up to the top of a couple of packing crates, accepting the chanting, cheering pride of the crowd around her with broad waves and an even broader grin. "Although some less revealing clothes would be appreciated."

"I'll get on that as soon as I can." His eyes coasted over her, but there was little to no interest in them...unlike the gaze he gave Revan. On one hand, Bastila found it comforting, she didn't want his interest. On the other hand, she didn't want him to be eying Revan like he was.

It's not fair. Pain grew in her heart, he deserved better, he deserved more. He deserved to not be torn apart, again.

"That's our cubby." He stated, motioning to a pile of packing crates, a tarp half assedly tossed over a makeshift 'doorway' in them. "I'm going to go rescue Sarah, and see what she's gone and done to herself. I'll be right there."

The cubby was simply a small room formed by crates, with a sagging, sad mattress tossed on the bare, metal floor. Yup, they were really living the high life here, indeed. But at least it was out of view of the gang, somewhat private, distanced from the increasing sound of a party just getting started. She perched awkwardly on the edge of the mattress, which promptly sank all of the way to the floor. Exasperated, she chose to sit in the corner, instead, running her fingertips along the hilt of her lightsaber. It was back. Revan had returned it.

She heard Onasi's steps, heavier, slightly staggering, and he appeared, carrying a grinning Revan in his arms. She had a beer in one of her hands, the other arm was slung behind his shoulders. "I'm fine." She chuckled, "Really, Devid."

"And that's why you're limping." He admonished, parking her almost gracefully on the mattress. "Let me see."

"Fine." She grumbled, sliding out of her boots and armored leggings without a second's pause. Bastila flinched, there was nothing shy or dubious in her manner, because...

No...

"Crap, Sarah. You know you're supposed to avoid the obstacles... right?" Her pale skin was riddled with rising, blood colored welts, flowing backwards from her knees, along her thighs.

"Not when you're trying to kill that kind of time." She shrugged. "It's not my knees that bother the worst. It's the ankle, hurts a hell of a lot worse then it ought to."

Revan had shattered her right ankle in the War. Neither she nor Alek were particularly adept healers, it had never set correctly. Bastila could feel the injury's low throb, irritated now, and she shooed Onasi to the side, taking Revan's foot in her hand. The swelling was visible, the skin graying to a pale violet. "I'll do what I can." She said, and cursed internally when Onasi gave her a thankful look in return.

What the...? She felt the ankle, and a litany of other bodily insults when she opened up to her bond mate's physical status. "What have you done to yourself, Sarah?" She asked, unaware for a moment that she had echoed Onasi's earlier question almost verbatim. "This is more than grazing a couple of obstacles."

Onasi's eyes went dark, his brows lowered. "Our escape pod made an extraordinarily bad landing." He said, guilt dripping from the syllables. "She suffered a head injury."

Bastila blinked, meeting Revan's eyes against her better instincts. They were wide, deep gray, stern and calm, but there was a hint of mischief in them. "You raced that race after a head injury?" Bastila spluttered in horror. You slept with Captain Onasi, after a head injury?Well, maybe that last one made a little more sense, it would take a special brand of crazy for that.

"Yeah. Damn stupid, I know." That grin was startling. Revan shouldn't be able to manage it, self deprecating, wicked, so very human. "Anything to get you back."

Wha?

Even Onasi seemed vaguely off balanced by that, his eyes moving between their faces. There was just a tinge of something behind his features, and it took Bastila a long moment to label it as jealousy. He thought that? What did they know? What did they think they knew?

She closed her eyes and focused. Healing Revan had always come easily, more easily than healing herself. In spite of the residual effects from the head injury, and all of the small insults from the race, Revan felt fine. Good. Better than she ever had in Bastila's care, before. "That should help get you back to your own party." She smiled, feeling the injury repair as well as it was ever going to. "Wouldn't want you to miss out, although I do suggest putting your pants back on, first." Or, better yet, exchange them for looser pants. No wonder Onasi was panting...

Revan merely smiled, saluting Bastila with her bottle.


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