My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 40

Ord Mantell. It wasn't Bastila's first choice for a resupply run, but Carth was correct. It made the most sense, from what he knew. Bastila, however, would prefer to keep Revan off of major inhabited worlds. She could be recognized. Something could spur an unfortunate memory. Thankfully, Revan had done most of her training and service out of the Dantooine enclave. Hopefully the chances of her running into someone who had known her were slim... They could blow it all, right here. The thought of having an aware Revan, loose on Ord Mantell, made her head spin. She stared at Revan, watching the older woman walk down the street with Mission at her side. Something subtle had changed between those two, and Bastila sighed. As if having Onasi attached to her wasn't bad enough, Revan had slid into a position of trust and authority over a child. She'd gained a lifedebt from a wookiee. Always, always, Revan built these bonds around her, attracted comrades, companions, friends and followers. People willing to commit questionable acts, atrocities, willing to die...for her. She would need them, this path was dangerous...but still, Bastila mourned. It had not gone well for Revan's previous inner circle, all either dead, fallen, or in exile, and there was little reason to believe this time would be different.

"Bastila. Stop thinking so hard." Revan joked, holding out a dessert towards Bastila. "It's a beautiful day. Enjoy."

Enjoy, while every fiber of her being was just waiting for someone to recognize Revan. For Revan to recognize someone from her past, to see something that triggered the cascading avalanche of her memories...

Except that Revan couldn't look less like Revan right now if she really tried to. Her hair was longer than Bastila had ever seen it, swept gracefully back from her forehead, falling from an ornamental clasp at the back. She wore civilian clothes, chosen not by her, but by a man ready, willing and able to see her as a lovely woman. She looked just like... Bastila took the dessert from her, happy to have something to focus on. She looked like the beloved wife of a Republic officer should. Only the sharpest eyes would catch the butt end of the lightsaber hilt protruding from her pocket, and it would take a Jedi to identify it as what it was. The gloriously over the top decoration made it appear to be some odd something...a case for something, a baton, an umbrella handle. Nothing screamed lightsaber. Nothing at all about her even whispered Jedi.

"What are we here for?" Bastila asked, eating. Other than a 'show Mission someplace a little more wholesome than Taris' tour, she didn't understand why Revan had decided to leave the docks, leave the Hawk, leave Carth, and come meandering here.

"Bedding, mostly. Some things for the galley. If we're crewing up, and intending on spending actual time on the Hawk, may as well make it comfortable. Her previous owners didn't seem to be really invested in cleanliness and comfort, and after putting in the cabin... well, I want stuff. You didn't have to come."

Oh, yes she did. Bastila wasn't going to leave Revan to roam Ord Mantell without a keeper. "So what's our first stop?" She asked, "Not here, but..." She gestured vaguely upwards.

"Tatooine. We're going to Tatooine, first." Revan peered up in the direction that Bastila had gestured in, studying the pink tinged sky as if it held answers to questions only she knew to ask. And that was probably true...

"Hey, look. A jeweler." Something a little more mundane to set her mind to. Revan and Mission gave her identical, confused stares. "You can get that ring cleaned." She ended lamely, and Revan tilted her head, considering the storefront, before nodding.

"Right." She agreed, heading towards it and stepping inside. Bastila trailed her, much more comfortable to be in a small, quiet shop than out in the press of people navigating the Trader's Quarter. Mission seemed happy to admire the wares displayed, her eyes wide...

"Ah." The shopkeeper, an older human male, short and wide, came out from the back. "Can I help you ladies?"

"I have a ring I need to have cleaned, possibly repaired. And I'd like to know something about it, if you can." Revan pulled it from her finger, and Bastila was not blind to the fact that it didn't want to let go. She could sense it much like any minor force artifact, she sensed no dark side to it, but it was more than a simple ring fallen into the sub flooring and recovered years, decades later.

"Oh, my." The jeweler cringed slightly, holding it up to the light. "I'll see what I can do. Feel free to look around, or wait in the waiting room... it'll only be a few minutes."

He returned, as promised, and held out a velvet covered tray to Revan. "There you go. It doesn't need any repairs, just a really good clean. An interesting piece, I'd have to say, uncommon craftsmanship, rare materials. Lovely. Main stone is a cabochon shadow opal, from Korriban. Flanked by two deep water Manaan pearls. The accent stones are Wroshyr amber and smaller Manaan pearls." Bastila's stomach went into a slow free fall. Korriban. Manaan. Kashyyyk. Dantooine. Tatooine. Too much of a coincidence... and by Revan's sudden stare, she must be following the same thought.

"Setting is sunsgold and argentium, hand carved. I'd say it was crafted on Coruscant, judging by its markings, but it's old."

"Thank you." Revan replied softly, claiming the ring from the tray and studying it for a long moment before sliding it back on. "How much do I owe you?"

Korriban. Manaan. Kashyyyk. Sunsgold was an export from Tatooine, argentium an export from Dantooine. It was too, too much to simply wave away. Carth had given Revan a ring crafted from the very ground, the very life, of the worlds that they were headed for, a ring that he'd found 'lost' under the Ebon Hawk's flooring.

Revan paid the man, and they stepped back out onto the street, much of her shining mood worn away. "That...stinks." She finally breathed, and Bastila rested a hand on her shoulder, feeling the waft of disappointment that contact with Revan gave her.

"It's a force artifact, Sarah. But I don't sense anything truly dark sided about could just be a gift. It could have honestly been a gift to Carth as well. He worked for it, he found it. For both of you, together, as a couple. Don't make it less, Sarah. You'll just hurt him. Let me see it."

She extended her hand, and Bastila got her first good look at the artifact. Any doubts fled, it was awash with the faint tendrils of the Force clinging to it. The center stone was sizable, and it was the only part of it that even hinted at dark side had been mined from Korriban, and that was inescapable. A dark stone, with fire in its depths. Two brightly nacreous gray pearls flanked it, gleaming in the sunlight. One side of the setting was golden, set with two small amber stones, butted up against the one pearl. The other side was shaded silver, set with two small pearls, butted up against the opposite pearl. It reeked of subtle power, undeniable symbolism. It belonged to Revan, a fitting gift from her newest consort...

"Carth gave that to you?" Mission demanded, breaking the mood like a hammer against thin ice. "Wow. So what are we doing, exactly? Why are we going to Tatooine?"

"Not in public. Later." Sarah shut it down, and obviously shook off her misgivings about the ring. "Now, we get what we came here for, because it's going to be awhile before we come up for air again."

If we ever do. But Revan was correct, this was their last reprieve before they stepped onto the path that had taken her and Malak down the last time she'd walked it. And there was no stepping away from it this time.


"Carth! Carth!" He looked up from studying the manifest, he'd been deep in thought, going over what they'd need for...well, however long this was going to take. It hadn't taken Sarah and Bastila long to find the star map on Dantooine, if it was that easy, at least three of the four remaining worlds could be done in days. But he doubted easy...and there was no way he'd ever consider going to Korriban to be a cake walk. So he was padding his estimates, going well beyond the optimistic.

"Afternoon, Mission." She looked so happy, her eyes gleamed. She'd been getting along with Sarah so much better recently...

"Look what Sarah bought for me! Have you ever seen anything so beautiful in all of your life?!" She held up a black case, and he warily opened it. A fully stocked expert's slicing kit, top of the line, indeed beautiful. But if they were going to be relying on Mission's talents, then she needed the equipment to make it possible.

"Well, yes, I have." He chuckled, handing it back to her. "My first wife. Sarah. You. But I must admit that I've never seen a slicing kit that fine before. Are they almost done shopping yet?" Sarah had left with a purpose, and he was pretty certain that purpose was spending money. But she'd been willing to take Mission with her, and Bastila.

"Yeah, they're not far behind. We went to all sorts of stores, Carth, amazing stores. And a jeweler. And a place that does nothing but make desserts. Ord Mantell is fantastic, nothing like Taris at all! Nobody looked at me like I didn't belong. Nobody called me any names. The guy in the jewelry store called us ladies. He meant me, too."

"Jeweler?" Jedi were not known for their love of ornamentation, their vanity. But Sarah really didn't seem to appreciate that prohibition, she'd left that morning looking quite nice, and not at all like a Jedi.

"To clean the ring you gave to Sarah."

Oh, great. For all he knew it was just a cheap piece of trash, lost and never missed. Well, it wasn't as if he'd tried to make it seem like anything more than what it was. "Ah. What did it turn out to be?"

"He was impressed." She grinned at him, easing the case from his grasp and clutching it to her chest. "Bastila said it was some sort of Force artifact, when Sarah seemed a little upset by something the jeweler said. Don't ask me..." He knew he looked concerned, but Mission only shrugged. "Jeweler used all sorts of expensive kind of words. Uncommon. Rare. Lovely. But Sarah and Bastila seemed a little...weirded out."

Weirded out? If he'd known it was going to be such an issue, he'd have just kept it. No. It belongs to Sarah. I was supposed to find it. I was supposed to give it to her. She needs to have it. The persistence of it all confused him. Somehow, deep in his heart, he had been happy to see it. Finally, he had a gift to give her, and he'd known that was it was, immediately. Otherwise, he was lost. A Force artifact? What in the hell did that mean, anyway?

"Hey." He greeted when Bastila and Sarah appeared, and if they'd been disturbed earlier, they showed little sign of it then. They were dragging bags, but seemed cheery enough, laughing...attracting attention as only a couple of beautiful women in a good mood could manage. He still had Mission, bubbling over with enthusiasm, standing next to him, and he suddenly recalled Sarah's comment on Taris about his harem. Somehow, he'd gotten himself very closely surrounded by females...each of them attractive in their own way.

He took one of the bags from was bulky, but light... it contained pillows, of all things. "Was thinking." He said, falling into step behind her. "Ord Mantell has some pretty decent restaurants. How about dinner? Before we leave?"

"That would be wonderful, Carth." She smiled, "I'd love it."

It had been so long since he'd brought anybody to a restaurant, he realized, perusing his menu thoughtfully. He'd tended to avoid them altogether since losing Morgana, usually content to eat alone, or with crew members. "So what's the deal with the ring?" He finally got the nerve up to ask. "Mission said you and Bastila were 'weirded out' by whatever it was that the jeweler said to you. If there's a problem with it..." He couldn't quite bring himself to suggest getting rid of it. Stupid...stupid...

"It's Force shit." She stated, meeting his eyes over her menu. "Things that get to be too coincidental to still be coincidental and become that 'the Force is in motion with you' moment. It may be needed. It may stand for something. It probably would just return. But the chances of you randomly finding a random ring crafted only from materials only found on each of the star map worlds which randomly fits me is astronomical."

"Ah, yeah." Put that way...

"The Force puts items in places all of the time. Lightsaber crystals, ma..." She went pale, her eyes utterly blank for a horribly long moment and Carth half stood, unwilling to draw too much attention, but ready to catch her if she slid into unconsciousness. She suddenly blinked, like a droid coming back online. "Shit." She muttered. "I...don't remember what I was saying, Carth."

"It's not a big deal." He soothed, warily sitting back in his seat. "Do we have everything we need?"

"I think so. Been over the list in my mind several times. I think we're as good as we're going to get."

"Agreed. It just feels like..."

"There's no coming back until we're done."

That. Exactly.

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