[FIN] Final Breath
A short FIC, feel free to leave comments and such HERE (click me)
Brianna paced restlessly in the hallways of the Telos Academy.
Atris was in her mediatation chamber. She had taken the old Sith woman with her. If Brianna knew Atris at all, the old witch Kreia would be dead within the hour.
She blinked back tears, fighting to remain upright standing. Kreia's death wouldn't bring him back, she realized, perhaps for the first time since leaving Dantooine. A traitor's death would never have the meaning of a hero's death, and thus- the tears were growing more difficult to restrain! -and thus the traitor's death would never atone for his!
She turned to the cold white wall and pounded her fist against it and let it hold there, her body beginning to tremble in mourning. She hid here face in her arm and let the tears flow free, letting her legs grow slack and finally sliding down, coming to rest with her knees tucked into her chest.
One of the handmaidens entered the room and, seeing Brianna so affected, let her lips curl into a rare smile.
"Why look, sisters. The last among us has returned."
Brianna forced the waters of her eyes to calm as the rest of her sisters sauntered in.
"How now, sister, why do you cry?" Sarcasm rang in every syllable of the handmaiden's words.
"Perhaps," said another, "our sister regrets having broken her oath?"
"I don't believe we should presume so much. Her passions were always what made her so weak."
"But her face is wet with tears."
"Surely they are not for Atris! The last among us never cared for our mistress."
"A betrayer of her oaths."
"You betrayed us, sister."
Brianna stayed silent through it all, focusing her downcast eyes upon one of the handmaidens' feet.
"She has shed the robes of our service, sister."
"Aye! And look what adorns her traitorous back now!"
"Robes of a Jedi."
"She has truly betrayed us all."
"Much like how the Exile betrayed our mistress."
"She's been corrupted by his teachings. It is as the mistress said."
"Where is he, sister? The Exile who has so corrupted you?"
Blood began pounding in Brianna's temples. She allowed her fingers to covertly slide around the cool metal of the lightsaber at her hip.
"She is silent, sister."
"I wonder what for?"
"Has he left her?"
"It is all as could have been forseen. It is as the mistress said. He could love none but himse-"
With a shriek of defiance Brianna lept from the floor, and with one fluid motion she ignited her lightsaber and struck out at her sister who would dare speak such untruths. The brilliant silver blade struck true, and the blaspheming head of the handmaiden tumbled to the ground, the body following slowly, as though weightless.
Brianna jumped back and ignited the second blade of her lightsaber, taking a combat stance as her other sisters whipped out their staffs. After a moment of self-collection, Brianna launched forth and thrust a shining blade through the torso of one, and in the same motion brought the other blade around in a flurried sweep to finish her off. The mangled body fell, and the four white-clad women remaining showed the faintest hint of uncertainty. Without hesitation, Brianna jumped into their midst, silencing one in with an upward thrust beneath the chin and through her head, and vanquishing another with a simple sweep which cleaved the unfortunate Echani in two.
The last pair nimbly ducked back from the sizzling blade, backing away as the "last among them" advanced. In anger, Brianna reached out with an open hand and grabbed them through the Force before tossing them down upon the cold, hard floor. Both fell with an eerie thud and a muffled grunt. One made a feeble attempt to rise, but was quickly stilled by the mercy of Brianna's blade.
With blood stained thick upon the sleeves of her robes, Brianna deactivated her lightsaber.
"I see that you are the last of the handmaidens no more."
Atris stood at the doorway leading into the chamber. Her white robe was flecked with drops of the blood sent forth from the second sister to fall. She's been watching, Brianna thought. Why did she not do anything?
Atris strode into the room with a hard expression, so that she was face to face with Brianna.
"You have been taught the ways of the Jedi."
"You have betrayed your oath."
"You have betrayed ME!"
"No, mistress, I-"
"And through it all you thought you would have HIM."
Atris took a deep breath and closed her eyes, taking a step backward.
"Did you love him?"
Brianna was struck dumb by the statement. For that is what it was. It could hardly be called a question, but nonetheless Atris demanded, "Answer me!"
Yet still Brianna persisted in her silence, though more in confusion than defiance.
Weakly, she began, "...I..."
Atris reached out her hand and set forth angry jets of Sith lightning, knocking Brianna off her feet and elicting from her a cry of pain.
"I demand it of you! Answer me!"
The young Handmaiden slowly rose to her knees, grimacing in pain, and reached weakly for her fallen lightsaber.
Atris launched another hail of electricity, this time drawing it out. Snakes of lightning crawled across Brianna's skin and she cried out in agony. Tears of pain flowed freely from her tortured eyes as she writhed upon the floor, curling herself feebly into a ball.
Atris once again stopped.
"Will you not answer?"
Brianna let her head fall to the ground, her breathing heavy and her face a mask of torment. After an eternal moment, she unsteadily lifted herself to her feet, slowly, painfully, and looked her mistress in the eye.
Atris froze a moment, stunned. She flushed in wrath, and let lightning flow from her fingertips once more.
Brianna tumbled back again, cries of suffering ever escaping her rose-red lips. She clenched her eyes shut as lightning burned across her fair face.
And then it suddenly stopped. Her breast rose and fell as she allowed herself to believe that she had died. But Atris was still standing over her, though not looking at her. She was staring at some point beyond the fallen Handmaiden. Odd, thought Brianna weakly.
"You shall not touch her, Atris."
The smooth, firm voice rang darkly in the chamber.
The Exile... unable to turn her head, Brianna merely raised her eyes to the ceiling, and despite the continuing pain smiled in glory... The Exile... The traitor Sith had not killed him... and he had come for her.
Atris stood agape, and said nothing. Brianna heard the sound of the Exile's traveling boots stride across the chamber. The footsteps stopped just before her.
"Brianna," he breathed. He lifted her head slightly and returned her continuing smile.
"Exile... thank you..." she sighed and choked off. A thin stream of blood ran from her mouth.
"Shhhhh..." he wiped her lips clean with his robe.
"Exile!" Atris had clearly regained her powers of speech.
He gently set Brianna's head upon the floor and turned defiantly.
"You, Atris, are no longer a Jedi!"
"You dare judge ME, Exile?"
"I am the last of the Jedi, Atris, and thus I shall pass judgement on your traitorous head."
Atris gasped for air, her eyes growing wide with suprise.
"I am the last of the Jedi! You- you... You betrayed me, you abomination to the Order!"
"You betrayed yourself."
She gasped again. The old Sith... his words echoed hers.
She instantly ignited her lightsaber. A red glow consumed the chamber.
"Taken to new teachings, milady?"
"You know nothing of 'teachings', Exile, except your own! Abominations of the code!"
She charged at him, red blade raised high. He quickly ignited his own, its blue aura illuminating his face. He parried her blow and sprang to the left, using the Force the speed his movements. Atris spun around in a fury and let fall another blow. The Exile easily parried it, and took advantage of his momentum to kick her in the gut. Atris doubled over somewhat, and lashed out haphazardly, eyes aglow with red.
"Blinded by hate, milady?"
Her fair nostrils aflame, Atris charged at the Exile with her blade above her head. With a flick of the wrist, the Exile nudged her slightly with the Force, and such was her lack of finesse in her assault that Atris fell sideways, lightsaber tumbling from her grip. The Exile drew the saber to himself, and placed both by her head.
"Is it your time Atris? Is this how you are meant to go? In a fury of, of all things, passion? Who would have thought it! 'Be not blinded by your emotions!' you said to me! I say that you have been blind since Malachor V. I lost my empathy with the Force, and yet I could see what you could not, not with all of the 'vision' your precious command of the Force allowed you. You were blinded, I finally was returned my sight.
"And yet, Atris, I think, indeed, I pray, that this is not how you were meant to end. Many Jedi die hypocrites. It is the way of Orders with so strict a code. We demand that others live some way and we find even ourselves unfit to do so. But Atris, I know this is not how your end was to be met. You were meant to die in defense of the teachings, Atris. It is written on the runes in your robe, in your obsession with the Code, in your love for the Order."
She looked up at the Exile with wonder in her eyes. It was... so much like the day of his judgment. He looked... so tall! So mighty! So sure of himself! With a silent sob which only she could hear, Atris closed her eyes.
The Exile deactivated the lightsabers and picked up the humbled Jedi beneath her arms. She opened her eyes again, her heart aching in remembrance of brighter times past. Damn those Mandalorians! That she could only rest in these gentle, protecting arms forevermore!
He placed her sitting against the wall and looked at her, eye to eye.
"So pray, you, learn your own teachings, Atris, for the sake of the Force, don't put another dead soul on my hands! I have killed too many, Atris, and all of them were blind. To die blind, without seeing the world as it truly should be seen... I cannot imagine it. I feel that with every blind life I take I am damning another poor soul to hell. Don't become one Atris, I beg you."
A lone tear escaped his right eye and fell onto her limp hand. She looked at him, and he stood to leave. He turned around, grasped the fallen Brianna by the hand and helped up the Handmaiden up. With her leaning for support on his broad shoulder, a soft, knowing smile upon his face, the couple began to exit the Telos Academy. Atris watched the Exile's retreating back, never blinking.
The two stopped at the doorway to the room as Atris looked on. Neither looked at her; they saw only each other. Shyly, the Exile kissed Brianna's lips whose red not even Sith lightning could temper. They stood still in their embrace, for a full minute, never flinching and never seeing the humiliated Atris looking on.
Atris smiled bitterly, her very soul in torment. The cry of Brianna rang still in her mind, the defiance, the passion, the "Yes!"
And she could hear the words the Exile had never spoken. The noble farewell to her, the memories of past times passing eternally between their eyes which were forevermore to be unsaid.
And as the Exile's lips tenderly left Brianna's, Atris breathed her final breath.
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