Part VIII: Jaq
I can feel the hate burning in my gut, eating me from the inside out. The dark side pours into me, drawn to my hate like a magnet. I can't wait any longer. I ignite my saber and stalk toward her, ready to break her like the doll she is.
She was never the type to go down without a fight, so I expect her to lift her saber in challenge. To my surprise, she does the exact opposite.
She turns it off.
I stop, unbelieving. Then I understand, and my chest heaves in rage. So she's
being all sweet and noble, too? After blazing a trail of death through the galaxy? Is there no end to Jedi hypocrisy?
Before I can act, the Exile closes her eyes and extends her arms sideways. I watch, eyes widening, as energy gathers around her in a swirling vortex of bright blue light. What the kriff? She’s supposed to be weakening—
The energy explodes outwards. I slam into the wall behind me and black out.
Seconds later, I wake up to find myself lying on the ground. The Exile is kneeling beside me with a hand on my face. Though her eyes are nearly too bright to look at, somehow I see they're glistening with tears.
"See it through the eyes of the Exile," she murmurs cryptically. She closes her eyes again, places her hands on either side of my head. . .
. . . and my senses collapse under a torrent of noise.
It's the sound of a raging windstorm, and above it the sound of one long scream, more hellish than any scream I've ever heard before. It sends white-hot agony sizzling through my nerves, electric, unbearable. I arch my back, bucking against the Exile's hold on me. Let go!
It doesn't help. She holds on like a madman. The scream increases in intensity until I'm screaming with it.
What's happening? Is she electrocuting me?
No. Inside my mind there's an explosion of light and heat, color and tears. It resolves itself into images, flashing through my head at light speed.
She's showing me her mind. Her memories.
"I have seen how you look at him, but only when he isn't looking at you. I have also noticed you seem to avoid him and him alone. Tell me, Rae. Are you in love with him?"
The Exile's voice, echoing all around me.
"Exile, hear me. Your enemies will show no mercy. If you value the fool's life, you will stay away from him."
I won't let you touch him!
"You were never different from them, Exile! They lie, they manipulate, they murder innocents, and
so do you! I'm dead inside because of you, and when I run you through, it'll be nothing but justice for what you did to me!"
I love you, Jaq.
Faces flash past my mind's eye. Mical. Bao-Dur. The Jedi Masters. Others I don't recognize. And, last of all, my own face—contorted with hate.
Through it all, the scream continues. It's Rae's voice screaming. Her pain I'm experiencing.
The pain of a wound in the Force.
It's my fault. If it wasn't for me, all of them would still be alive. I'm the death of the Force, of everyone I care about.
I should've died that day. Oh, Force, I should've died. . . .
I shout. This has happened before, and she
lied to me. They're liars, every last one of them!
Rae's whisper slices through the chaos. Don't you see? It's the truth.
Warmth floods me—the warmth of a love I didn't believe exists—and suddenly I'm remembering her
. Her pain, her death. I remember her ashen face. I remember the things I did to her. I remember the smell of her blood, and the smell sickens me.
It all melds with Rae; somehow they become one and the same. I'm standing before them both, one hand on their neck, the other drawing back a knife. One stab,
I think. One stab and I can watch their lifeblood gush down their shoulders.
Then I look them in the eye and see the love shining there.
"Before she opened her mind to mine, my only thought was that I would love to kill her."
The knife falls out of my hand, and I collapse on my knees.
"In the end, she wasted her life to save me. Me."
No. She . . . she lied to me. You're lying to me,
I protest feebly.
It's the truth. She loved you, Jaq.
Warmth floods me again. And
I love you.
I can't grasp it. I fight it with everything in me. Just when I think I can't take it anymore, Rae lets go. The scream dies away, taking the light and color and agony with it.
But not the tears.
My world's spinning out of control, and I whimper like a helpless pup, hating these tears.