Chapter 23: Holding the Line and Surprises
We came out of hyperspace just after the retreating enemy. We followed them down to the surface of Avalon, with my fighter in the lead. From the looks of things, the retreating enemy had take refuge with the rest of the their reinforcements behind the knoll that was behind Sigara’s fortress. Close behind us was our reinforcements, the Republic. I entered the atmosphere and brought my fighter down to the deck and commenced firing. Red Squadron followed suit and we took out the cannon fire as best as we could. It increased our odds.
Skimming the surface, I caught a glimpse of Revan who flagged me down. I brought my ship low and opened the cockpit. I shouted out, “How are we doing?”
“Holding the line,” she replied with a smile.
I noticed that her lightsaber was damaged and I tossed her one of mine. She took it without question. The look was enough to tell me that she was glad that I was back. I also caught a whiff of something that was hidden, secretive. I didn’t have long to wonder about it for my comm beeped to tell me that they needed reinforcements near the south end of the field. I quickly popped the hatch and let an energetic Kapu out. He quickly ran up to Revan and T3 and I took off.
Along the way while trying to clear a path, T3 beeped. Some of it wasn’t approval or helpful hints. I responded, “What do mean that wasn’t nice?”
T3 beeped. I replied, “And what would she have done had I told her? She’ll find out soon enough T3. We have a job to do now.”
T3 agreed. He was upset that I didn’t say anything o Revan about Carth being there. We were in the middle of a battle and we had a job to do. Plus I found it to be a bit romantic if they met under slightly better circumstances.
Brushing that brief stint aside, I focused my attention on the line and holding it. I noticed that the main thing that seemed to be standing in the way of forcing the Rashikians to retreat was the huge cannon on the knoll itself. The armor was too strong for blasters and to use one of the turrets from a Republic capitol ship would be stupid. Besides laying a huge crater in the middle of the plains, it would kill a lot of our people. There had to be another way. I was listening to reports of the space battle ahead. It sounded like things were going well and the ships were retreating to Belos where they had taken over, for now.
All of a sudden my fighter got hit by something and my controls became disabled. I called to my wingman, “Foley, I’ve been hit,” as my ship began a long descent to the ground. I braced for impact and T3 was screaming out his fear. It’s a wonder he didn’t blow his voice box. The fighter hit a small hill and bounced off then we hit into something hard.
I had hit my head on the control panel and blood was coming from a small gash near my hairline. I ignored it and checked where I was. I was crashed near the huge cannon where I could see about a hundred thousand Rashikians priming up. I opened the cockpit by pushing it open. T3 let out a deflated warble. I turned and saw that he was not in a good condition. I popped the release mechanism and struggled to pull him out.
After finally managing to get him out, I pulled him behind some boulders and went back to my fighter to retrieve my survival pack that I had found during my stay on Duxn. In it were a couple of surprises waiting for that huge cannon and the Rashikians, a stealth generator and a spare comlink. I made my way back to T3 and gave him a repair kit for him to repair himself enough to be able to follow. I made a quick inventory of my pack and found what I needed, a special thermal detonator. Thank the Force for Mira teaching me how to work with explosives.
I slung the pack over my shoulder and made my way as close as I can to the cannon and away from the fighter. T3 followed behind not beeping. I guess he knew the seriousness of the situation and followed my lead. I motioned for him to stay put and activated the stealth field. I approached as carefully as I could past the Rashikians. It was slow work but worth the effort. I managed to make it to the power supply panel without fuss and proceeded to carefully slice into the power system and set up the detonator. I had just finished when I was pushed hard by someone or rather by a Force push. I deactivated my stealth generator and turned to face who it was who shoved me.
Eómeros looked at me with a darkened grin that was sadistic. In his right he had the unmistakable hilt of a lightsaber. He activated it and it glowed a deep crimson red. I had a sudden wave come over me and I closed my eyes briefly and opened them. We were standing in the middle of a dueling circle but it was just us two. I stood up slowly to look at him. The vision faded and we were back on the battlefield. He continued to smile at me and he said in an inquisitive tone, “Hello Kirabaros.” The rest of the Rashikians didn’t move. They were attentive to the battle and not the two of us.
I replied slowly, “Hello Eómeros.”
“Aren’t you slow on the upkeep. It’s Lorien now. You didn’t think I’d let you get the upper hand so easily. I admit though your tactics caught us off guard with your profound change in personality. Besides I had to see for myself the great Kirabaros and see if he really is worthy of his name.”
“It is just a name,” I began but I guess I wasn’t convinced, “I…”
“Oh please. You who can call thousands to battle with more fervor than the Exile and Revan combined. You who can lead men of all races towards a single goal. Surely you aren’t going to feed that poodoo you have spat at everyone else.”
“True courage comes from those that follow the advice of the one that gives it.”
“Don’t spew your Jedi ramblings and Tergis lessons at me. I have seen a new light. One of power and strength. Something I had dreamed of long before I was named heir apparent. Eómeros is dead my friend. Lorien is born and I have a master. One powerful and an old friend of yours,” and he made a quick slash with his lightsaber at me.
He missed chopping my head off but he did manage to open the scar on my left eye. The heat burned as I cried out. He laughed at me as I clutched where he got me. He was still laughing when he said, “I thought you were stronger than this,” and he moved to the right, “Come on. Let us end this in a traditional battle of the Sith even though we were not master and apprentice.”
I slowly got back to my feet. My left brow was still burning and my head gash was aching and bleeding. I managed to pull my saber off my belt and activated it. The brilliant bronzium blade contrasted sharply with his. I had to fight him off in order to activate the detonator. I flourished my blade and started in the Shi-Cho form, the simplest. Lorien came at me waving his blade.
Fighting Lorien was detrimental to my strength as I was losing blood from the gash on my head and the pain was intense on my face. Still I found it in me to keep up the defense. Eventually I switched to the Makashi form and took the attack to him. At one point I again experienced déjà vu where we locked blades and our faces were about inches apart. He grinned at me and said, “Use your hate. You know you want to unless you are a coward.”
That made me angry but I didn’t let it fuel me. He gave me a shove like the one the Rashikian gave me on NarShadaa but instead of me falling, I back stepped and with a deft twist of my lightsaber, I cut off the hand holding the lightsaber and gave a Force Wave that sent him flying into a busted speeder. I then turned and activated the detonator and then yelled into the comlink to T3 to get a move on it. I then took off running. I knew this wasn’t over between Lorien and I but for now, it was done.
I was running towards our side trying to shout at the line to stay there. Behind me were a few straggling Rashikians trying to catch me. T3 was rolling as fast as he could. We were almost to the safe zone when the cannon exploded taking the Rashikian reinforcements with them. The remaining ones sounded retreat and fell back. I stood watching them go after I picked myself up from where the blast had carried me. I heard Carth on my comm that the enemy fleet was retreating as well. I responded with, “We held the line. Well done. I suggest you come in for a landing Admiral.”
Gazing at the retreating figures, I used my senses to search out Lorien. I was able to get a faint sign and a single emotion but that was all. He was still alive after all that. He was alive and out for revenge now. He would go back to his master. His master. That had me thinking. He said that it was an old friend of mine. I was taught better than to put stock in the half truths that people who fell to the darkside spewed out. I couldn’t help it though. The only feeling I got from my dreams when I saw the faceless man beside him was the extreme fear and shame that I had felt during my time at boarding school. Something wasn’t right and I knew it. This battle was only the beginning of a long campaign against an enemy that may be nothing more than a memory.
I sighed briefly and scanned the cheering faces. I saw Revan amongst them and then spotted Darius. They made their way towards me smiling. Revan gave me a hug to show her happiness that I had returned. I responded with a polite peck on the cheek. I then turned to Darius and we shook hands. He said, “So I guess this means the tide may turn?”
I responded, “For now. Always in motion the future is.”
They both grinned slightly at me for reminding them a lesson of the Jedi. T3 beeped and Kapu gave a slight woof. We were safe for a moment as we stood there on the battlefield strewn with corpses and bloody jasilyn blossoms. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed one jasilyn blossom that was still pure and white. I went over to pluck it from the ground. I gazed at the delicate white petals as I held it gently in my hand. Thoughtfully I took off towards the medical tents with Revan and Darius following me close behind with T3 and Kapu. If it looked strange that I was gazing off into space, they didn’t say anything. Who would?