My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 59

"You're leaving me behind." Bastila's voice was filled with doubt, and Amasri sighed. If she were only a little older, a little more experienced, a little less vital to the upcoming war effort, then Amasri could justify taking her. But Bastila was not a little older, not a little more experienced, and she was terribly vital to the war effort. And something more, Amasri just wasn't certain exactly what that was. All she knew was that Bastila should not, could not, follow her into this war. "Master, I am up to the task. I can prove myself to you if you only give me the chance. Don't leave me behind... please. I should be at your side."

"Bastila. What is your greatest dream in life?"

"Do not use that against me, Master. It's a terrible question to ask of me now. I am your padawan. I should follow you wherever you go. I want to. It is where I belong."

Amasri frowned, looking out over Dantooine's serene prairie, her hands on the small wall that marked off the beginning of the Enclave complex. It was safe here, for now. "You didn't answer my question, padawan."

Bastila's expression was hunted, she twisted her fingers in her tunic, obviously trying to come up with the best way to convince Amasri to give in, to change her mind. And Amasri was not known for changing her mind easily... "To become a Jedi Knight, to make my Master proud. To serve the Republic as a shining beacon."

"Hhhhhmmmm." Amasri breathed, the breeze stirring her hair. "The Council disapproves of my actions. I am coming perilously close to being banished from the Order. Hardly the best route for you to become a Jedi Knight...by disobeying the Masters of the Order."

"You need me behind you. You're going to war. Master, I am ready. And you do not address the other two parts of that...to make you proud. And to serve the Republic. I'm not too young. Other masters are taking their padawans. I know Alek will be there to watch over you, but I... Master, if you leave me, who will be my teacher? You, you are my master. I am not something to be abandoned, left behind."

Sarah jerked awake, her heart thundering in her ears. She rested on one of the beds in a tiny ship's medbay, but all of the monitors next to the bed were dark, turned off. The light directly overhead her bed, also turned off, dropping this side into a gloomy shadow. The other side of the room was lit, but dimly, and she could hear the repetitive sounds of a medical monitor beeping quietly. She knew who it was well before she looked over, she could feel him like she felt everyone who was, or had been, close to her. Even in that hallway, she'd felt Malak. Not as deeply, purely clear as she could feel Carth now, but the current had been there, a tie she could not deny.

"Hey, big guy." She forced the syllables through parched lips, but Carth did not so much as twitch in response. He was far, far away from her. "Hell of a day." If it was even the same day. She doubted if it was.

She laid her palms on his bare chest, feeling his warmth against her skin. What an absolute, unadulterated clusterfuck. I am not Revan. Oh, if only she could believe that, if only that idea would solidly click in her soul. No, the only thing that wanted to click was that she was. It was the only explanation that made any sense at all anymore. I am Revan, the Butcher. But how? Why? That was as much of an empty hole as anything else had been before...again, her past, denied to her.

I've lost Bastila. And that was a much more immediate and disturbing issue. First, for what it was...the obvious, that Bastila had been captured and was being held. Leaving someone from her command behind was something that ate at her soul. And the other... Bastila was bound to her. Now Malak held something intrinsically tied to her. She would have to make a decision, a terrible, terrible decision... The first tears slid down her nose, splashing on Carth's chest, and he stirred irritably under her touch.

His eyes finally opened and he covered her hands with one of hers. "I look that bad?" He whispered, and she snorted. As a matter of fact, he did. But he was still here, present and accounted for. He might be marked with burns, blisters, his cheeks oddly chubby, bruised and battered, but she could still touch him. She hadn't done such a great job of looking out for him, but she hadn't lost him.

"You look pretty bad. I'm sorry, I should have..." Done something else. Done something better. Something more. Something. "What's the use of having an ex Dark Lord of the Sith as a girlfriend if she can't kick ass for you?" It was put out as a joke, but Sarah was terrified. What the hell did she do now?

Malak cannot be allowed to hold the Star Forge. He is not stable enough to hold it at bay. It will consume him. He must be stopped. You created him, you must end him.

Carth relaxed, closing his eyes. "Can anybody hear us?" He murmured around what she then understood was packing in his mouth. She paused, feeling out with her senses. Mission was in the starboard dorm...with Zaalbar, both were deeply asleep. Canderous was in the main bay, dozing. If an alarm on Carth's monitor went off, if either one of them got loud, he'd wake up. But like this, no.

"Not if we keep it down. Canderous has one ear open." She corralled the stool against the wall and pulled it close enough to sit on. She sat for a long, silent moment, her forehead resting against his arm. She couldn't blame him if he decided to bail. It would be a sane reaction to a truly insane situation. He could simply return to Coruscant, and bring the admiralty the truly unwelcome news that Darth Revan was not nearly as gone as the Enclave claimed. He could just forget...he could just run.

"You really didn't know." It wasn't a question, but a statement...his fingertips sinking into her hair. "They hid that from you. They hid who you really were, from you."

"I really didn't know." A terrible truth. Bastila's responses made sense...Bastila had been sent to recover her, her master... from the Coruscate. It was exactly what Sarah's memories of her said she would do if called upon to do so. She would have fought to get on that strike team, to go after Sarah. That was the sort of person she was, and Sarah clenched her teeth. Bastila had risked her life to keep Sarah alive on the Coruscate's bridge. And she'd risked more to be the one to try to manage this, the only one who she'd trust with Sarah...withRevan. "I swear, Carth. I did not know." I didn't lie to you.

"And us?" He sounded exhausted, as if the question was almost too much to ask. Or that the expected answer would be too much for him to take. Or he was simply exhausted.

"I still feel the same way about you now as I did before. That hasn't changed, Carth." Everything else had, but that part of her understanding remained firm. The question was, was it the same with him? "I love you. I want to be with you." He was the only thing that made any sort of sense in her life.

"And the plan? The Star Forge? Malak?" He stroked her hair slowly.

"Malak has Bastila. I'm going to get her back. And...Malak is my Karath, Carth. I trusted him, I loved him, and things went badly." She'd played a part in that, but none of that truly mattered now. She'd tear him apart to get Bastila back. "Malak must die. He can't keep the Star Forge. I don't see where the plans have changed at all."

"And do you want the Star Forge back?"

Nooooo.

"No. I don't." She didn't really expect him to believe her, but it was the truth. The very thought if it was disturbing, frightening. That was no place she wanted to go back to. Even though she might not agree with what the Enclave had been trying to achieve with what they had done, she could see where this was a gift, freedom, for her. Another chance, a break in whatever insanity had possessed her. "Carth, I..."

She had no words for a long moment, and he remained steadfastly quiet to the point she was afraid he'd fallen back to sleep, but when she lifted her head to look at him, he was definitely still awake...his gaze on her. "I don't remember what I did that went so wrong. And all I see when I try to look there is that I don't want to go back there. That this has been an escape. A reprieve. Maybe a chance at redemption, or at least to help fix what I broke. But I don't want to be Darth Revan. I don't know why that ever was. I understand why I wasRevan...and I'd do that again. But the rest of it, no."

"So you want to fight for yourself."

She couldn't have put it better, herself. "Yeah. I want to fight to get myself back. I have to fight to get Bastila back. And I have to fight what I've done...with Malak. With the Star Forge. Otherwise we, you and I, don't stand a chance. He knows now. He's not going to forget."And eventually he's going to break Bastila. When he does that, I'm next...unless I cut her out of me before she breaks. But if I do that, she has no chance.

"Hey." He breathed, fighting to maneuver into a reclined position. "Sarah...what?"

"He holds Bastila, and Bastila and I share that bond. If I cut her away, he can't use it against me, but it yanks all of the support I can give her right out from underneath her. She doesn't stand a chance if I do that. Or I hold her tight and take the risk that I can't handle it."

"Then you hold her tight and we run that risk. If we're going to do this, then we do it. I just have one question." He sighed, running fingers over his cheek and grimacing when he poked the wad of packing.

Only one? Amazing. Sarah had hundreds. So many that she wasn't sure where she could even get started with them. "And it is?"

"What do you want me to call you now? Amasri? That was your name first, I think. Revan? Sarah?"

Sarah. It is your name from here on out. "Sarah. That's who I am now. Amasri died with Revan. And Revan dies with Sarah." That was his question? His only question? "You hurt?"

"Nope. I do not hurt. I feel no pain whatsoever. Whatever Canderous gave me works wonders." He gave her a lopsided, rueful smile, resting his palm against her cheek. "And we keep this to ourselves, babe."

"Agreed." Nobody else needed to know, especially if they were going to Korriban alone. "About Korriban..." Well, there was one good thing about the sudden influx of random information that learning who she was had given her. "I remember Korriban. I remember where the fragment is. I remember what's there."

"Sith. Lots of Sith. I hope you have some idea of how to make this work."

As a matter of fact, she did. She just didn't think he was going to enjoy it nearly as much as she was going to.


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