My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 34

I have been here. I have done this. It didn't work last time, and now, I don't even remember. They hold all of the cards...

Sarah stared at the Dantooine Council arrayed before her, Bastila standing two paces behind her and to her left. "Yes?" They'd spent hours 'examining' her, something she'd apparently been happy to sleep through. Or been knocked out for, she wasn't quite certain. She didn't feel bad...merely tampered with. Which was frustrating enough as it was.

"Long, long faces. Is this where you tell me I'm dying and only have moments left to live?" That went over about as well as she'd been expecting...which was not at all. Only Vandar seemed even slightly amused by the question.

"No, Sarah. This is when we tell you something we never thought we would, but we cannot deny the obvious. You are recovering at a faster rate than we'd ever dared hope, and regaining things that we'd assumed were lost to you forever."

Like my memories? My entire life?

"I know this is going to sound cruel, Sarah, but we believed what we did was in your best interest. And in Bastila's."

That sounded dire. Sarah risked a glance at Bastila, but she was expressionless.

"You came so close to death on Revan's flagship, Sarah, that we thought we had lost you forever. You came here...home...to the enclave where you were raised. Where you underwent your training as a Jedi. Bastila risked her own life to see you given enough time to get back to us, and we did our best for both of you. Even with our best efforts, your recovery seemed incomplete...your connection to the force seemed to have been irrevocably damaged during the fight, your injury."

Jedi? What? But every syllable he spoke seemed to resonate within her as truth. She'd attacked a Sith governor...with blades, and had dominated him every step of the way. "I don't understand." She breathed, "I was a Jedi, once?"

Yes.

"Absolutely, Sarah. We were your instructors. Here is where you grew up."

"Why are you telling me this now? What difference does it suddenly make? You were willing to keep me in the dark for months..."

Vandar nodded, and he seemed to have been volunteered as their spokesman. The others seemed to content to let him do the talking. "We felt we were in a terrible position. Did we tell you that you had been a Jedi Knight, but were now crippled? Or did we hold it from you, give you back all of the things we were certain you were retaining? Not an easy decision for us. We decided to focus on what you still had, and what would keep you with Bastila. Never...ever...did we think that the force would open up again to you, but it has begun to."

"No."

He chuckled, turning away from her and hopping back up on his chair. "No that it has begun to, or no for what you know is coming? Now that you see, do you deny what you were doing on Taris?"

People bent to my will. Did as I ordered. Mission, especially. Carth...

"Ah. You have concerns... Captain Onasi, perhaps?" He tilted his head, measuring, weighing. "You should not. He was made aware of what you were by someone else. He seems to have taken the news in stride. And you've done very little to him, we have checked."

"Someone else? Bastila?" She was meddling...they were all just meddling. In her business. What gave them the right?

"No." Bastila answered quickly, shaking her head. "Canderous saw right through you. You gave it away, merrily swinging dual vibroblades against Kang's men instead of shooting them like a sane person would. Your first instinct, trained into you since childhood...go for the blade. I half expected you to keep my lightsaber once you got a hold of it."

"No!" Sarah spat, and Bastila gave her the ghost of a smile.

"Not just no, but hell no, I see. Why? Because it wasn't yours, or because it was wrong?"

"Both."

"You always preferred a lightsaber/short lightsaber combination."

Well, that was interesting to know, but completely worthless. "Why are you telling me this, now? You made the decision to keep me oblivious, but now decide to tell me?"

"Right now..." Ah, a new voice. The twi'lek master, the one who watched her with greedy eyes, like she was some sort of prize... "You are a threat to those around you. The force moves around you, answers you, yet you have forgotten your training. You gleam like a beacon again, you will attract the Sith, you will unwittingly bend your companions to your will, you will instinctively rely on what you have always relied on...and it has changed for you. It is not the same as it last was. One day, you will try to reflexively do something...only to realize you cannot anymore. Or you will fail to even attempt to do something that you will now be very strong in. Sarah, you need to be retrained, here."

"No." Sarah had already lost her entire life. She wasn't about to pour away the next twenty years on this idea, the thought of being damn near sixty and...no. Just no. And then there was Carth... No, she was going to snatch what little time she had left, hold it close.

Bastila's exasperated sigh was loud in the silent room.

"No!" Sarah snarled, spinning on her. The younger woman fell all over herself in a rush to get away...stumbling backwards, panic in her eyes. "No. I won't do this. I lost my entire life, damn near forty years...and now I'm beginning to understand why...how... it happened. But now you want more of my time? And let me guess... tell Carth goodbye?"

"Sarah." Vandar hopped back down, insinuating his small body between Sarah and the wary Bastila. "We're not suggesting you return to us for a complete reworking of your training...from the ground up. From what we see, that is completely unnecessary. Your training is there, you just have to be reminded of it. None of your memories are completely lost, or we wouldn't be having this discussion. You need to be reawakened, not taught from the ground up. Just enough to where you no longer pose a threat to those around you. Perhaps you may chose to return to the Order, if you can achieve that level of competence again...if... but I don't see that happening. You are free to continue your relationship with Captain Onasi if you choose to, it would be some good thing to have come out of this for you. But it would be reckless and irresponsible of us to not give you the tools to manage the remnants of your training that may float up. Quite bluntly, Sarah, we do not have the luxury...the time...to indulge in what you're afraid of. We need Bastila ready to go, soon. And you need to be with her."

"Why?"

He dropped his head, studying the floor. "That bridge was the center of

a crashing flow of the force...our strike team, Bastila, you, Revan, even Malak was focused on it at that time. So much power. A turning point, a nexus in the flow. This tied people together, Sarah. You. Bastila. And Revan. You have dreams?"

"Many."

"And there are some that don't make sense?"

"They all make sense...when they're happening. But they don't when I wake up."

"Because those aren't your memories, Sarah. You were down and dying at the same time that Revan was. Your injury caused some imprinting between you and Revan, transfer of memories... and we need access to those memories. It's why you've been kept with Bastila, her bond to you allows her to see them as well. She interprets them with much more clarity...she has not been wounded. This is our only hope to stop Malak, Sarah. Those visions, that information, it is the key. Somewhere in there is the location to the Star Forge, the source of the Sith Fleet, and that knowledge is vital to the survival of the Republic. For you. For Captain Onasi. For everything around you. You fear we will keep you here for years... but we don't have years. We have weeks, and to get those weeks will come at a grave cost. But it must be done."

"I...see." It made a twisted sort of sense, she guessed. She could give them weeks.

"Master Zhar will be in charge of your retraining. You start tomorrow morning."


**********


"I hate lying to her." Bastila stated, watching the moons swim in a cloud-bank. "She'll figure it out."

"Of course you hate lying to her. She is part of you, now. And yes, she will figure it out. We can hold that off for only so long. We walk a razor edge." Vandar frowned, staring up at her, the council chamber silent and dim behind him.

Bastila nodded...they had to keep enough of Revan awake and aware to produce the visions, yet enough of Revan asleep to keep her manageable. Her programming was holding, for now.

We're Jedi. And we lie.

"What is it, Bastila?"

"I am told that what Revan did was wrong. She went against our teachings, but she did the exact same thing that we're doing. She did things against the Code, for what she thought were the right reasons. She did what she did to protect the Republic. And here we are, using her, lying to her, manipulating her, to protect the Republic. We say we have to stop the Sith and destroy the Star Forge. She said we had to stop the Mandalorians..."

"Indeed."

She'd been expecting an argument. Some sort of disagreement. Wisdom, perhaps. But never that blunt confirmation of her fears. "How...how do you justify that? To yourself?"

"I knew Revan before she fell." He said it slowly, "And that person would want me to do whatever it took to save the Republic. Including using her. Revan...the real Revan...would understand. She would condone our actions for just those very same reasons."

Hopefully, except that Bastila was probably going to be the one to deal with her when she remembered. That idea sent chills down her back. Hearing Revan talk in her sleep was enough to panic her.

"You will not be alone when Revan remembers." Vandar stated, turning to move away from her. "Onasi is her pillar. Onasi is your pillar. He is the one who can bring her back from this...the only one. You cannot hide from her, Bastila. And she cannot kill you."

"She can bring me down with her."

He paused, glancing over his shoulder. "Yes. She can bring you down. You may bring her down. Many, many threads. Uncertainty is the only certain thing in this."


********


Carth found her just outside of the enclave, pacing. "What is it?" He asked bluntly. She was upset, he could taste it in the air.

"They told me that you already know." She hissed, and he stepped back slightly...opening his hands in confusion. "That I was a Jedi..." She sighed, reading his expression. He was stunned, Bastila had seemed so certain that they were never going to tell her, and now, they had? Well, that left him looking like a real piece of work...

"I knew. For a very short time, Sarah. It isn't like I've kept it from you for months, years."

"You haven't known me long enough to have kept anything from me for years." She sighed, raking her fingers through her hair. "I...I..."

"It's a lot to take in." He noted softly, finally risking getting close enough to rest a hand on her shoulder. "I understand why they'd keep it from you, though. To lose that... but why would they tell you now?"

"They think I'm remembering parts of it. Some of the things I did on Taris. They think I'm dangerous."

Carth froze, considering the last sentence. "And what..." He dropped his voice to where only she had a chance of hearing him, "Do they intend to do about that?" He knew all too well that the Jedi weren't perfect. That they made mistakes, that they could condemn the innocent... Carrick had been innocent of his 'crimes', but that hadn't prevented the Jedi from marking him as a murderer, from hunting him. They could do the same to Sarah, easily. But the Ebon Hawk still sat in the courtyard, and there were clear skies over Dantooine. They could run...

"They want to see if they can jog the memories of my training."

"Oh." He breathed, swallowing down bitter disappointment. What could he say to that? 'Oh, sorry, I thought we had something going, of course you should abandon your lifelong calling for me...' No. That would be on the same level of her asking him to give up flying, only more. Jedi were raised from childhood, it was their entire life... They gave up the idea of family, spouse, close lover. And there was no retirement plan, they were usually Jedi until they died. He couldn't even wait for her...

"What's the long face for?"

"You're going to be a Jedi again. I mean, it's great..." If he only believed it, maybe he could convince her of that.

"You have got to be the worst liar I've ever seen, Carth Onasi. Talk to me."

She was beautiful, bathed in moonlight, staring at him. "Sarah. I know Jedi don't have partners. I mean, husbands. Real lovers. Attachments. Me."

"I told them no." She stated, and he stepped back, tilting his head. No? Did she even have that option? He had no clue, he knew...well, he knew very little about the process. The rules, if there were even such things.

"O...kay. How'd that go for you?"

"It at least got me a promise that I don't have to give you up, and that it's not going to take years. Only weeks. They still think I'm broken... They tell me I'll never amount to anything as a Jedi. They want to teach me enough so that I will not be a danger to you, to others."

He didn't know what to say to that. Neither response worked, being pleased fell flat. Being upset, likewise. It just was what it was. "Will this help you get back at least part of your past, your memories?"

She looked pensive, uncertain. "I don't know. It's odd, they tell me that the memories I thought I did have aren't even mine. So I have less than I thought I did. They tell me I was raised here, on Dantooine, in this enclave. And I think I remember being here. But something about it just feels...false. Like I'm surrounded by half truths, almost rights."

He knew that feeling. "I get that every time I deal with this bunch. With Bastila. But what could it hurt?" He asked, pulling her into a loose hug. "Dance with me."

"Here, under the moonlight? Sure." She chuckled, wrapping her arms around his neck and swaying with him. "Although I do now at least know what they're looking for. What they're after. What you lost the Endar Spire over."

"It had better be good." He growled, tightening his grip on her waist.

"They're looking for the source of the Sith Fleet. Something they call the Star Forge. They think I have some clue where, but their rationale is kind of bizarre."

"They're Jedi. Their rationale is often bizarre. Do I get to hear this, or are you going to leave me guessing?" He hooked his fingers into her waistband, resting his forehead against her shoulder.

"So...on the deck of the Coruscate." She twined her fingers in his hair, "You have Darth Revan. Bastila. The strike force and me."

"Right. That is the official, accepted version. Except that they get kind of fuzzy as to who was on the strike team... Bastila gets all the credit. Impressive...for a padawan." And that stank all in itself. Such an important mission, and they'd put a padawan in charge of it. With no mention of a master anywhere to be seen. Sarah had been, by Bastila's own account, a fully fledged Jedi knight, almost twice Bastila's age, presumably with double the experience and seasoning to go along with it. And Sarah had been the fallen Jedi that Bastila had risked her life to hold onto... Had Sarah been the conspicuously lacking senior Jedi in the mix, her identity obscured when they'd hatched a plan to give her a new life? Had Sarah been Bastila's unnamed master?

"Malak fires on the Coruscate."

"Right." And that's where the rest of it became even fuzzier, but Carth was certain he'd been getting the redacted version the same as everybody else.

"Giving Bastila the opening to kill Darth Revan. So I'm down and dying...and Revan is down and dying."

A Jedi knight and the Dark Lord of the Sith, dying within feet of each other. He could imagine the scene in his head, and the visual twisted his gut. To see Sarah like that, even in his imagination, was tragic.

"They believe I picked up on some of Revan's memories while we both had our guard down. Like a blank disc picking up stray data. And that I may have picked up clues as to where the Sith Fleet is coming from, and that is in my dreams. The dreams that Bastila sees clearly, but I don't."

Carth sighed. "I've heard worse." He admitted slowly. He could not deny that the Jedi were vastly valuable, he'd seen enough of that during the War...but the thought that he had lost the Spire, and her crew, over a series of secondhand, no...thirdhand... dreams spawned by a brain injury survivor that her own Order considered to be 'too broken' to be a sister of theirs anymore did not sit well with him. "And I've heard better. It's a pretty cockamamie story, Sarah. I'm just afraid that... Ah, hell, I don't even know what it is I'm afraid of."

"The fact it reeks of desperation?"

"It does, yeah." He agreed slowly. But he was no fool, they were losing. They were holding off the tide, barely, with Bastila's gifts. They had to do better than that, better than placing all of their hope on a single person, especially one as young and inexperienced as Bastila was...

"Are we really that badly off, Carth?"

"Yes. We are." He murmured, feeling her breathe, the throb of her heartbeat against his nose. It seemed so distant at that moment, just a concept instead of a reality. He felt as safe as he always did with her...

His eyes shot open when the pieces clicked together, and he chuckled, hugging her tightly. Of course. She was a mature Jedi waking up from a series of terrible injuries. They were afraid that she was going to sway her companions because she was already doing it... to him. It should annoy him, it should piss him off, but it seemed like a hilarious thing to complain about. 'Damn you for making me feel better!' And even more hilarious when he understood that she had no control over it. "The Sith seem to have a limitless flow of war materiel, and we're losing in a war of attrition. If we could stop their production, slow it down, we'd have a chance. We went pretty much straight from fighting the Mandos to fighting the Sith. We need to catch a break sometime, Sarah, or this is done. It's gonna be over."

He'd been much more at peace with that inevitability before, but now he had something to fight for again. Sarah was a prize, custom wrapped for Sith control... Force aware, trained, and holding on by a thread...

"Promise me something." He said, and she froze at the tone in his voice. Was she the source of the treason that had settled uneasily in the back of his mind? Or was that simply a dark corner of himself, choosing to come out, blinking and wary?

"What?" She asked steadily, her attention locked on him.

"If you get caught. If they break you...come for me." He couldn't serve against her, he knew that. He couldn't wonder if every Sith vessel he squared off against had her on it. "I still want to be with you." He wouldn't serve directly under the man who had bombed Telos into dust, but he wouldn't serve against Sarah, either.

"I understand."

"I still want to beat these sonsabitches, but..."

"I swear, Carth Onasi, that I will come for you."


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