My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 29

Sarah was completely and totally unimpressed. Nothing screamed small fry quite as loudly as overly ostentatious surroundings, that fruitless quest for grandeur without the budget or taste to achieve it. She'd seen the real thing, and this was a very, very pale imitation of... something. She pushed that all away, she didn't have the luxury of sliding into another delicate little faint. Just a wannabe little gangster. Barely important enough to attract her attention...in fact, he wouldn't be, if he didn't have the only ship with a chance of getting her all too precious body and soul off of Taris ahead of Malak. He was a means to an end, and he was disposable. But she nodded and half smiled her way through the introductions, calmly distant when Kang's curious gaze fell on her. His moments were numbered, she could feel it. She wasn't sure why or how, but she faced a dead man. She just had to wait until he reached that point in his road...

"Of course I'm always hiring good people. We live in dangerous times." Davik Kang chuckled, his pale eyes coasting over Sarah. They lingered slightly below her chin, and she only smiled slightly, knowing that she did not pass that sort of muster. That was a fact she'd always been more than grateful for. Her lovers found their values in other, more ephemeral things than her bust-line. "I heard that you broke the Vulkars..."

Sarah shrugged, probably not. "Nah." She finally voiced that doubt, and Kang raised a brow at the syllable. "They'll probably crawl back together in awhile. Knocked 'em back a few steps, and they're ripe for the picking if that's how you want to go." He was expecting her to inflate her abilities, but honesty could be disarming, and it wasn't as if she felt any real urge to impress him. He was, just like his compound, a pale imitation of things that she'd seen better of.

"Your will, milord. Your will."

No. Absolutely not. Maybe later, when she had the time, and people she trusted to pick her up off the floor, dust her off and take care of her. Not now, when she needed to be a force in this game... It was a struggle to push the fugue away, but it suddenly snapped and was gone, just like that. She took a deep breath, cracked her thumb joints in her grip, and gave Davik Kang a blunt stare.


*******


Bastila ground her teeth together, the very picture of focus. The memory was right there, screaming, pushing, immobile. At least Revan was, oddly enough, fighting it off...until she suddenly pushed it squarely onto Bastila. How had she done that? Little in what Bastila had been told about the bond even suggested that Revan could use it as a safety valve like that, but she just had.

"Your will, milord. Your will."

Bastila was immersed in the memory that Revan had rejected and driven into her, suddenly one with it. She could feel the weight of Revan's armor and robes, realizing that so much of the weight she'd experienced trying to aid the dying Revan on the bridge dais was not from what she know knew was a sparely built woman, but from everything that she'd been wearing when they'd confronted her. It should have dragged, encumbered, but Revan felt comfortable within it. In fact, Revan just felt supremely comfortable, at ease... everything around her touched, comprehended by, and guided with her innate and far reaching grasp of the Force.

"He says that now." The man behind Revan warned when the Exchange boss had been dismissed, and Bastila felt her eyes tear up. Alek. Or was it Malak? There was no hiding exactly what Revan felt for him when her attention focused on him, and Bastila could only accept the wave of loveobsessionlustownership that suddenly washed over her/Revan. Malak. He had already fallen at this point in Revan's memories. Revan had already fallen. This was the Dark Lord herself, and the truly frightening thing was, except for her fixation on Malak, nothing about her felt completely terrible, foreign, incomprehensible. Looking in on her like this was not what Bastila had both feared, and hoped for. It was a sudden and completely unwelcome epiphany.

Why? What had happened? That was a question they'd all like answered. What had overwhelmed Revan, had overwhelmed Alek? What had they faced, and been defeated by, when they had vanished after Malachor V? They'd been dark then, yes. They'd done terrible things, callously expedient things. But their rationale had been solid up to that point. Reckless, rebellious, but still comprehensible. They were at war to protect what they believed they were supposed to protect, and war was hell. They'd gotten their hands dirty, their souls marred...but they'd still managed to hold onto themselves through it. Their men respected them, adored them, loved them, followed them without question...because they'd already proved themselves. The Revanchists had held the line, and they had held a position in the eyes of the Republic that the Jedi who had bowed to the will of the Council could never hope to achieve even today, even after their fall. They had responded, they had fought, bled and willingly put themselves through hell to protect the Republic. Had it ended there, at Malachor V, they could have been in a position to challenge the Council itself. But it hadn't, and they had left the very moment that they were on an apex of power and influence. Revan, Alek, Meetra... poised perfectly to drive a schism into the heart of the Jedi Order, to bring the Revanchist into the light of the Republic, a martial, militant version of the Order. Had they simply imploded after they'd lost the focus of the War? Eaten each other when they ran out of Mandalorian targets? No. They could have done that quite well at home, they hadn't needed to undergo an exodus into the dark spaces of the Outer Rim for that. That had the feeling of yet another crusade, and whatever their objective had been, it was now lost to the Order. Revan's memories were a hair triggered explosive, and Malak wasn't going to share his secrets any time soon.

Show me. It was dangerous, and Bastila had no one to support her, but this moment of clarity in Revan's memories, especially with the understanding that Revan had turned away, rejected them, was too valuable to pass up.

NO!

Revan's sudden, convulsive reaction to that knocked the wind from Bastila's lungs and she was suddenly ejected back into her own awareness, slammed away from the bond.

"Damn." Bastila muttered, wiping the trace of blood from her nose and holding her temples. So close. And so very far.


**************


Sarah suddenly felt annoyed, peevish, and she beat the external signs of that frustration down. Something had happened. Something had changed... But again, she didn't have the luxury to try to figure it out. These all came at the most inopportune moments, distracting her when she couldn't be distracted.

"You with us, Sarah?" Carth murmured, and she nodded agreeably.

"Yeah."

"So." Canderous said, pointedly ignoring that hazy moment. "We wait until late and then..."

No. No. No. No. It was a sudden, jangling pain in her head that invited insanity... just on the heels of the last insanity provoking feeling. What was it about today that just seemed bound and determined to put her back in a hospital?

"No!" It sounded exactly like she wanted to snap, and for a moment, Sarah thought she had voiced the panic rising in her soul... But that was voice was lower than hers, and came from a higher point behind her. "We...we don't have time for that. I..."

Well, she wasn't the only one stumbling over the imperative from nowhere, and Carth had the same inability to express it that she had. But there was panic in his deep brown eyes, terrible concern engraved in his features. "We don't have time, Ordo. We move now."

She expected backtalk from the Mandalorian, they weren't precisely known for their willingness to follow the orders of strangers, but Canderous stared between the two of them measuringly. "It's going to be rough to take the Ebon Hawk during the wake cycle, but if the two of you are up to it..." He shrugged, picked up his rifle and grinned. "Nobody's going to say that some Republic flyboy young enough to be my kid has bigger balls than I do. Let's go."


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