Oh snap, a double post
Chapter 4: Rain
"Revan was power. It was like staring into the heart of the Force.”
Rastler watched the soldier pull a black stocking mask over his face, and as always, he was amazed by the transformation. Fear was faceless, nameless. Safety catches clicked off and the soldiers took up positions. It was hard to believe that anyone in the lift cab could have survived the fall. The soldiers were pulsing with adrenaline, their breaths coming short and sharp. The durasteel slowly bent out of the way, and he was impressed. The person was strong in the Force, and very good at shielding his presence. He had sensed only the faintest vibrations in the past few minutes.
A figure emerged from the smoking wreckage. He could have laughed when he saw who it was. The Force had a wonderful sense of symmetry. The man was empty-handed, but his lightsabers were at his belt, and he was quite possibly the most dangerous sentient in the galaxy.
The soldiers opened fire immediately, but Revan was already airborne. The Force rose in a storm around him and the soldiers were knocked off their feet by the time his own found solid ground. Revan’s eyes narrowed as he assessed the situation. Five of them, heavily armed. Guns that fired solid projectiles. He turned to the man directing them—shielded. His quarry or an underling, it was impossible to tell.
One thing about Jedi: they were very good at concentrating. The Force flared, searing into their minds. They collapsed, as did everyone within a hundred metre radius. He was already in the air by the time the first one hit the floor.
There was the echo…
The Force was being torn from him and he was helpless. An instant of agony, then she enfolded him.
It was like an eclipse.
Revan tried to stop her, tried to make her stay hidden, stay safe. She pushed him away, and he heard the distant echo of a million screams. Vaguely, he was aware of his body hitting the ferrocrete floor with the crack of breaking bones. Something large spun through the air and he found the air currents from it strangely soothing. Twisted metal embedded itself in the ground where the Sith had been standing.
“I’m here.” She rolled him over as gently as she could, but he gritted his teeth as the broken bones shifted. Her warm hand was on his cheek.
The crumpled lift door clanged as the Sith got to his feet. “You.”
She stood up slowly, and Revan struggled to heal his injuries.
Don’t. You’re a lousy healer and you know it.
“What’s the matter, Rastler? Can’t you remember my name?”
Cheap Nihilus rip-off.
“W-What brings you here, general?” He had always been jumpy, but he hid it quite well now, despite the fact that he was trembling. The years seemed to have smoothened out his stutter.
“I’ll take that as a no. I’m heartbroken, Rastler. I thought we were friends.”
“F-friends?” His laughter was high and unnatural, spurting forth irregularly from his thin lips. He was trembling visibly by now, nerves humming with an emotion that she couldn’t put a name to. “I-if you like, I c-can call you m-mother.”
Something about the way he said it made her pause. Revan propped himself up on his elbows, keeping a firm grip on his lightsaber.
“You made us at Malachor, after all. Y-you and him both.” Rastler’s grin was grotesquely wide, baring more gum than teeth. “M-mother and f-father. Aren’t you pr-proud of your children?”
“Enough, Rastler. Where’s Smapoec? You’re his little sycophant, after all.”
The mad gleam in his inflamed eyes seemed to fade. The man spat and his frothy spittle was stained brown. “Watch your tongue, general.”
“I’ll do that the next time I look in a mirror. What’s your new name, Rastler? Have you earned the title of Darth yet?” She lifted her chin slightly, and a patronizing tone crept into her voice. “It’s okay if you haven’t. I understand you and Smapoec well. Difficult, isn’t it?”
“Very funny. I’ll make it quick, general. After all, I owe you that much.” His lips peeled back from his teeth in a snarl. He remembered her stumbling over her words as she struggled to reassure them, all the ones who followed her blindly. He was not afraid of her.
Not at all afraid.
She was standing perfectly straight, so still that she could have been a statue. Time had not touched her; she still looked youthful, almost girlish. Yet the lack of expression on her face was…unnerving. He drew an unsteady breath and he was back on the fields of Xoxin, flames leaping around them, flecks of ash falling softly. She reached up to rub her eyes, smearing soot across her face.
He tore open the wound, crying out as he did. He wanted to make her see just what she had done to them all. Distantly, he felt Revan recoiling from the wound. Again, something came between them and he sank to his knees, feeling the emptiness inside clawing at him, screaming to be satiated. The darkness rimmed with light was scorched into his mind.
Her words were slow and deliberate. “It’s not too late. Turn and walk away. Forget the Sith. Forget the wound.”
They seemed to move simultaneously. In mid-air, lightsabers snapped to life and clashed. She landed lightly, but he catapulted backwards into the far wall. Before he could recover, he was already being flung to the ground. His limbs splayed forcefully, and he attempted to fight it before his limbs stopped responding, numb but for an unpleasant tingling arcing through every nerve. Her lightsaber ignited a mere milimetre away from his neck, silvery heat flushing the pale skin.
“Jedi don’t kill their prisoners.”
“No. But there are worse things than death. You let your apprentices attack us, hoping that they would weaken us so that you could take us down. You will not receive mercy from me. There will only be the truth—of what you have done, and of what you have become. If you don’t talk or if you lie to me, I will tear the information from your mind and I will show you the truth. And if you survive it, I will not give you the relief of death. You will live knowing this, and you will never be able to end your own miserable life, because you will see that you cannot.”
Lei. Don’t do this. Don’t go down my path.
“Who’s working with you?”
There was no response, and then a whimper as clarity cut through Rastler.
She was at his side in a heartbeat, casting about for anything he could use as a crutch.
We’ve got to get out. I don’t know if you already know, but there are many. Not all are Force-sensitive. And he set the fleet on us.
Can’t take a tram—we’ll be sitting ducks. We need to get a speeder.
Your ankle. I need time to heal it.
He slung his arm around her shoulders and she helped him up. They made their painful way to cover, Revan collapsing into a small nook behind a convenient pillar. She concentrated on his ankle, and he amused himself by pulling a commando’s weapons towards him and picking through them.
The entire glass façade of the building shattered, hardly hindering the military vehicle which drove right through. He reached over and pulled her into cover a second before it happened, once again using his body to shield her. She couldn’t help the way her heart leapt, and she was annoyed at herself for it.
I thought you secured the area.
Funny, I thought so too. Nice airspeeder though.
Right. Don’t move, but feel free to take them out.
The commandos were already clambering out of the vehicle when Revan unleashed the Force on their minds. She silently noted that it was a dirty tactic, and he shrugged. Supported by her on one side and with some careful use of the Force, they stood up and began half-hopping towards the speeder. In the face of overwhelming odds, he wasn’t about to discard any of the tools at his disposal. He hadn’t survived alone for six years by being stupid. Besides, it was better than killing them. She snorted and he knew he had made his point. She pulled herself up gracefully and offered him a slender hand.
A minute later, she was sinking into meditation, sorting through the fractured bones as he drove. Revan’s face was grim, eyes narrowed as he steered the speeder through the insane traffic. He was weaving crazily, swinging across multiple lanes and scraping between other speeders, but at best, he was on par with everyone else. This planet really needed sterner traffic cops.
“Heads up.” She sounded eerily calm, despite the distant roar of ships. “I wouldn’t worry too much. This place is full of civilians. If they use the fleet’s firepower on us, they’ll take out half the city.”
“You can never tell with the Sith. We should get off world, but it’s going to be a problem.” He braced himself as she tested his ankle’s range of moment, and then ordered him to roll it. He complied gingerly, but was not surprised that there wasn’t any more pain.
She was looking skywards, and he felt the sudden lurch of her stomach. “Revan, get out of the city bounds! They’re going do it.”
“Take the controls!”
There was a confused moment as they exchanged places in the cramped cabin. She grabbed the controls and sent them swooping upwards and outwards. Revan swore, nearly falling out of his seat when the safety webbing mechanism jammed.
“Plasma bombs. One hit and we’re gone. Excellent work showing them where we are.”
“Shut up.” To accentuate her point, she yanked sharply on the yoke and the speeder banked hard to the right. She clicked her tongue. “And now they aren’t going to bomb us to oblivion. Yet.”
“Head north—there’s a spaceport approximately twenty kilometres away.”
“And then what? Hijack a ship?”
“Something like that, yes.” He smiled as her disapproval washed over him. She always had been overly concerned with these…technicalities. Which was ironic, considering how the truth was the cruelest teacher of all, and that was what she had struck Rastler with.
He watched her drive, watching every gesture and every fleeting expression which crossed her face. She still tapped her foot incessantly, still pursed her lips in exactly the same way. Her cheeks had lost their childish roundness, but otherwise she looked exactly the same. Yet she seemed so cold when she had dealt with Rastler, no longer the trembling girl who had activated the mass shadow generator. No longer the one who had wept for Eres III, or for Dxun, or for every life ravaged by war. After all, she was just one more of those she would have once mourned.
Or was she? Maybe this was just what justice was—to make you understand the effect or your every action. She was doing nothing that she had not experienced herself; to stare down the demons that rise in your footsteps and to let their claws dig into you, claiming flesh and blood as was owed. If you weren’t strong enough, the pound of flesh that they removed might contain your heart…
But there are those who are mad, who know exactly what they are and cherish their violent insanity, polishing it carefully and occasionally letting it glimmer in the light of day. Some had nothing but that varnished veneer of madness, and she wondered what would happen if she cut through those incomplete minds.
Revan reached over and squeezed her shoulder. She turned to look at him, and for a moment, he saw her again, the grieving girl who was so alone.
“It’s going to rain,” she said abruptly.
“I like rain.”
“I know,” he stated quietly. Only if you’re indoors, and you’re curled up somewhere warm, or you can watch rainwater streaming down the plexiglass…
And there was something infinitely sad about the way that the Force was pulling them together and it hurt
, it gripped her chest and refused to let her breathe because every old memory that he reawakened was grey-washed with pain.
He had already unhooked the safety webbing, and again they tangled as they sought to change places for the second time. He smelled warm, she thought. Dazed and unhappy, she hugged her knees.
“I like rain,” she whispered to herself.