My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 48

"Bastila?"

Mission had the absolute ability to pick the worst times to speak, and Bastila sighed, opening her eyes and letting her attempt at a meditation dissipate. At least Mission had picked up her side of the dorm, and had, up until then, been fairly intent on a screen. Whatever Carth had her doing, it had kept her attention, until now.

"Yes, Mission?" Revan had gotten out of dorm living, and apparently gave little thought to leaving Bastila with Mission. Patience. Calm. Acceptance.

"What's gonna happen to me? I mean, after this?"

That serious question, on the edge of Bastila's meditation, brought a sudden flash of intuition, strengthened by the flow of a peacefully, happily asleep Revan just meters away. That one breathed commitment, merrily tying and strengthening the knots that held Carth to her. Those two had made yet another step into that, together.

"Depends." Bastila answered truthfully. "If Sarah and Carth make it out the other side together, intact, they will adopt you. If they do not, I can assure you that the Jedi Order will intervene." If, of course, Mission survived. But those were words that Bastila could not put breath to. No one's survival in this was guaranteed. It was bad enough that she had to admit to Mission that she didn't consider Sarah's or Carth's survival a given, much less delve into the absolute worst case scenario. But Revan seemed to view Mission's part in this as necessary, or maybe it was Zaalbar that was necessary. There had been very little hint from Revan on Dantooine that she had really considered leaving Mission there. She might have considered it, but it had never really gained any ground. And none of the masters had challenged her over it, as Bastila had been expecting, been hoping. How much space were they willing to give Revan? Anything she needs. Anything she wants...

"You think they might not?" Mission's voice squeaked at the very idea. "Sarah takes care of Carth. And Sarah's a good Jedi, right? Right?"

"Sarah's better than a good Jedi. She's a great Jedi. And she takes care of Carth. She takes care of you. She...takes care of me." It was an awkward idea to understand that last one. Revan took care of Bastila and did a damned fine job of it. "If anybody can get us all through this, it's Sarah." And that was the truth, just as long as Sarah stuck and Revan remained asleep. Thankfully, she seemed truly content playing house with Carth, her episodes of sliding, of conflicting with her programming were fewer and less intense. And as she wrote her own, real, new memories...those padded over the loss she'd suffered. They gave her something to fall back on.

"But you keep saying she's sick. That there's something wrong with her. But Carth says she has to do this... That nobody else can."

"Nobody else can, Mission. He has that right. It would be best if someone else could, but..." Bastila shrugged. It all didn't matter, there was no someone else. Even now, now that they knew the planets, had the first two fragments on the path, it didn't feel like anything had changed. Revan was the one who must find the Star Forge...again. Carth must stand behind her during it. Bastila must be the one who knew what Revan was not allowed to, to be there when she faltered, to reinforce the programming that kept her Sarah. Even the random ones, the ones that the Dantooine Council had not chosen seemed to link in together. Sarah worked well with Canderous, and was now vital to Mission and Zaalbar. The pieces just seemed to click together. If she could just get Sarah through this without her getting another bash on the head, scrambling her brains even more, and somehow keep her from remembering... Bastila was disturbed by just how quickly she'd recovered after the crash landing on Taris. If she was capable of bouncing back from that in mere days, there was little hope her first injury would keep her down. All they had was the programming, and she was wearing away at that a little every day. And, unfortunately, that would make her the most vulnerable when she needed to be the strongest... Korriban.

The weight of Mission's stare dragged her back from those thoughts and Bastila sighed. "We make the best of it, Mission." She stood up, dusted herself off, and gazed at the teenager. "What have you been doing?"

"Carth bought a school program on Ord Mantell. Says if I learn enough math, he'll teach me how to navigate and fly. Says I need an education if I want to be more than a..." Mission flushed, and Bastila could guess exactly how Carth had put that. Most of the time he was very circumspect, very polite, but when he wanted to get a point across, he could get blunt and earthy. "And he's right, isn't he?" The girl dropped her head, playing anxiously with the tip of her left lekku.

"Carth is usually right." Bastila chuckled, resting a hand on Mission's shoulder. "And yes, he's right about this." At least he was bothering, trying. Canderous was another possibility, but he'd stepped back after it became obvious that Carth and Sarah were falling into parental roles. It just seemed like it was all happening so damned quickly, gaining speed as it fell together. It almost felt like it should be comforting, the more attention that Revan paid to Carth, the less she strained against her bonds. He was someone else to help Bastila carry this burden. But if Revan broke him...well, Bastila mourned to consider the consequences. He was vital to this. Revan owned Zaalbar, which meant quite bluntly that she owned Mission. And the Mandalorians had come out of the war...not despising Revan, but brimming with respect for her. The chances were high that even if he knew exactly who she was, Canderous would still follow Revan.

"I'm going to have to stay on the ship again, aren't I?" Mission sighed, and Bastila grimaced. Yes. Yes. And definitely yes.

"Mission... this is..." Truly no place for her. Bastila couldn't think of an environ more alien to someone raised in Taris's ecumenopolis if she tried. "What does Zaalbar say?"

"He..." The girl bit her bottom lip thoughtfully, "Says I shouldn't go. He will not go either. He doesn't say why."

Of course not. He'd just be property on a Czerka controlled world. And Mission wouldn't be much more. It was simply best that they handled this exactly as they had handled Tatooine... leave Carth to watch over the ship and these two. "Our next stop is Manaan." Bastila noted slowly. "It's quite civilized, I'm certain you'll be able to see it. Oceans as far as the eye can see..."

"Really? I've never seen an ocean. But I've never seen trees either, Bastila. I just feel kinda useless here. I can help. I've helped before, I took Sarah to the Upper City. The Sith Base..."

Bastila took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She didn't exactly mean to open the door to Revan, more to skim that one's surface thoughts. But Revan was not awake...she was asleep, caught just on the other side of her dream state and quite suggestible, much more open than Bastila had been counting on. Revan's guard was dropped, she had been lulled and comforted by Carth's presence. The fact he was also deeply asleep only added to it, she was all tied up with him. She'd also imbibed, and had not worked to mitigate the alcohol's absorption.

"You will be of utmost importance to this, Mission." With all of the static from her programming shut down in sleep, Revan's grasp of this was so crystal clear, so concrete. The exact details were still obscured, Bastila couldn't see the when, or the why, but the basic fact was there... Mission was vital. Pivotal. And on some level, Revan knew it.


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