Part IV: Mical
I'm getting weak. I've been fighting back with all of my strength for what seems like hours. Now it's slipping away from me, and he knows it. He grins more often—a terrible expression on that corpse-like face—and fights with ever more arrogant flair, striking so hard that my joints feel battered from parrying. I try to draw upon the light side for strength, but I can hardly reach it. I am too inexperienced, and the dark side is too strong here.
In time we spin out of each other's reach. Breathing hard, I hold my lightsaber in front of me, ready for the next round of attacks. Atton advances with a look of venom. "Wanna know why I hate the Jedi?"
I do not answer.
. They preach compassion, but when you come to them for help, they throw you out the airlock. They say they have the truth, then they turn around and lie and manipulate. And the whole time they're doing it, they think they're better
than everyone else!
"Twice in my life I thought I met a Jedi who was different, who was 'real'. But time showed 'em up for the frauds they were. Jedi are all the same. The galaxy doesn't need their arrogance or hypocrisy anymore!"
"You're wrong," I exclaim, unable to restrain my anger. "The Jedi may make mistakes—"
"Of course you'd defend them; you're one
of them! Force, I wish you'd die, I wish you'd all
He launches himself at me with a cry of rage. I brace myself to parry his strike, only to see his true intent at the last second—and by then it's too late. A wall of Force energy broadsides me from out of nowhere and slams me into a pillar. The impact knocks my lightsaber out of my hand, and I collapse on the floor.
Get up! Get your lightsaber!
But I can't. The room is spinning. Before I can move, he is there, and once again it's too late.
Seizing me by the collar, he pulls me up from the floor and promptly shears my arms off at the elbow. I scream in agony, but the physical pain can't compare with the crushing weight of my despair.
I've lost, Rae. Oh, Force forgive me.
"Well, that was fun, wasn't it, kid? We should do it again sometime." He slams me against the pillar, this time with his hands instead of the Force. I feel something break in my back, and through the haze of pain I realize that only the darkness of Malachor V could give him this strength. My blood runs cold with fear.
Oh, Rae, forgive me.
Atton guesses my thoughts. He grins maliciously, still holding me against the pillar. "Aw, thinkin' about her
, are we? Don't worry. Like I said, she's safe, and I'm gonna take good care of her. I'm crazy about her too, remember?" He leans in and drawls in my ear. "She could've come and saved you, you know. Makes you think twice about the Jedi, doesn't it?"
Everything seems surreal. This isn't happening. It's all a nightmare.
"Well, much as I love chattin' with ya, I've waited a long time for this. And I hate long goodbyes."
With that, he brings his lightsaber up to my face, letting me recognize it as my last sight in this life. I try to control my breathing, even if I can't control my heartbeat.
Rae, forgive me.
"I'm afraid I've been influencing you all. Without realizing it."
They were in the portside dormitory again, except this time they were on their way to Telos to find Kreia. Rae was sitting on one of the bunks, looking so uncharacteristically vulnerable that it jarred him. "I don't understand what you mean," he said.
"Do you understand why you attack who I attack, kill who I kill? Mical, why are you following me?" The look in her eyes was heartbreaking. "Do you ever wonder why you're with me?"
"Never." He stepped over to her and took her hands in his. Even if she didn't love him, he would not stand aloof while her world crumbled around her. "I believe in what we are doing, what you are doing.
"I am here"—he smiled down at her and her vulnerable eyes—"because I choose to be."