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Old 05-24-2006, 01:19 PM   #151
machievelli
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Coruscant Glory

“What the hell was that?” Admiral Dodonna shook her head. She felt as if someone had smacked her in the forehead with a four kilo hammer. She staggered to her feet, looking around. Master Vandar lay in a heap, shuddering.

“Master-”

“I will be well. Fight your battle, Admiral.” A soft weak voice ordered.

“Damage report!” She roared.

“None from that blast, Admiral.” A lieutenant reported. “We have half a dozen in sickbay complaining of severe headaches, but only the Jedi seem to have been really hit by it.”

“The damn thing keeps coming up with more things to hit us with!” Dodonna pointed. “Take us in!”

The ship turned, and her guns punched into a frigate. Everyone gasped as the ship came apart as if it were a badly assembled toy.

“What is going on here?” She screamed. No one answered. “Send to all capital ships, close on the Star Forge upper structure.”



Danika

I watched the approaching ships, knew that I was going to die, and was content. This battle, the war, all of the death had all been my fault. It was I that led the Jedi into the Darkness, taking my best friend with me. I had dragged him over into the darkness, never requited his passion for me, never born his children. Promised proper treatment to those we had captured, yet thousands had ended up here as disposable parts because I had failed to make sure of that treatment. Been beaten by the Jedi. In so doing betrayed the Sith I had led into the slaughter. Then in turn had failed Bastila. Failed the Republic. How many billions could point to me and say ‘she caused our deaths’?

I had failed in everything.

I pulled out the package I had taken from Korriban, the Ebon sword of Ajunta Pall, and laid it on his chest. I had promised to have it destroyed, and from the look of the ships approaching, that was guaranteed. I closed his hands over it. He getting a funeral pyre the galaxy would remember. With his love going with him as custom demanded

“Danika, Report.”

Carth. I’m sorry, Carth. I betrayed your trust by being who I am. I must atone.

“My Mandalore, answer.”

Your entire race I have failed. Pick someone who won’t fail.

“Danika?”

Mission the sister I never had. Be well, live long, have children.

“Danika.” I heard Bastila’s voice. “Please, Don’t make me go through life alone again.”

I sobbed. Of all of them this call I wanted to answer. I’m sorry, Bastila. The blood of billions of dead is on my hands, on both sides. I can’t live with that. Please, think well of me and let me atone.

Amma yuru?” I spun. Sasha squirreled out of a vent, and ran to me. She caught my arm pulling frantically. “Come!” She said in Mando.

“You go my love.” I whispered turning back to my dead love. “I have something I have to do first.”

“No! You come with me!” She begged.

I looked down into that still face. So peaceful now. I couldn‘t bear to look away. “Go on. Go back to the ship. I’ll be with you in a little while.”

“I can’t.” She said. “The vents have collapsed. I don‘t know the way.” She cuddled against me. “I’m scared.”

I burst into tears, holding her as I stood. I failed one more time on that day.

I didn’t die.

As we fled the Star Forge, I saw it for what it was. The Rakata had been that first race reaching for the Force. They had used it, and like a child had abused it. Their abilities had not disappeared. They had been suppressed. The plague had been the Force striking back at them, balancing the Galaxy in the quickest manner possible. The Star Forge had merely added to their pain, drawing away all of the Force before they could even learn to use it. That they had survived at all was testament to the fact that they still had a place here in this galaxy among us.

Now that magnificent structure was falling to pieces before our very eyes. A section of ladder someone had installed broke away as the wall behind it fell into dust as we climbed down. Still I strived to save Sasha.

No one had ever dreamed of such a structure, powered both by machinery and the Force except for them. I knew the inner workings of that creation, and I vowed that nothing like it would ever be built again. I would place my records in the archives of what it was and how it had been destroyed. But what I knew, what I remembered, the surveys done by Malak and I before the Sith arrived, that I would take to my grave. Even the existence of the Star Forge must become a legend nothing more, I would assure that only those that were worthy would ever know of the truth.

I finally found an elevator shaft that hadn’t collapsed, and felt the car hurtle downward.

How would I choose who was worthy? I wouldn’t. The Force would.


Coruscant Glory

“All ships target the stabilizer at grid 411.” Admiral Dodonna ordered. There were only 20 capital ships left, but they had more than enough firepower to finish the job. Blasters ripped into the oddly fragile metal, tearing deep into the structure. An transparisteel panel on an upper deck shattered, and the air within belched out, carrying a man’s body. His hands had been locked around a sword of some kind. The body fell toward the star, flickered and was gone. Dodonna shook her head, smiling, but then looked around to make sure no one had seen it.

The stabilizer tower staggered, and as it did the Star Forge began sinking toward the star.

“All right, let’s get out of here!” Dodonna shouted. The capital ships clawed for separation. There were a dozen ships waiting for them. “Where’s the enemy fleet?” She demanded.

“A lot of them ran, Admiral.” The sensor officer reported. Those ones...”
As he stopped talking, fighters were pouring over the enemy frigates, all, she noticed of alien manufacture. One shattered like a crystal goblet under fire. Another signalled its surrender. The others ran. The fighters harried them.

“Admiral.” She turned. Vandar was sitting up, holding his head.

“Are you all right now, Master?”

“The battle?”

“Somehow we won. The enemy ships were starting to come apart. I don‘t know how to explain it.”

“I think I know who to ask. Where is the Ebon Hawk?”

“Sir?” She walked over to the sensor officer. Ebon Hawk wasn’t on her screen.

Ebon Hawk

Carth

Something happened. The Jedi all screamed, and collapsed, and we had one hell of a time getting them aboard the ship and holding off attacks at the same time. A short while after that Bastila and the other Jedi of our team staggered in. But of Sasha and Danika, we had no trace. I called her. Canderous called her Mission called her. Even Bastila called her. But there was no reply. Bastila seemed to be taking it the worst. She had collapsed, crying, shaking her head when we questioned her.

“She wants to die.” She finally got out. “She expects to die, and thinks, she thinks she deserves to die. That is why she won’t talk to us.”

I stormed out onto the deck, thumbing my com unit. “Danika, answer or so help me-”

“So help you what?” I spun. Danika was walking toward me, holding Sasha in her arms. I whooped, charging at her. She set the girl down just in time to avoid having her crushed as I picked her up in a bear hug.

Behind me I could hear shouting, and Bastila leaped past me. Danika turned as if she had known what would happen, and caught the smaller woman in a hug.

“You are never leaving me alone again, Danika.” Bastila looked up, and I was astonished by the joy in her eyes. “Never! Do you hear me?”

“All right already.” Danika replied brushing her cheek with her lips.

Mission was there, and Danika hugged her wordlessly. She nodded to Canderous, then motioned. “Can we all get out of here before we find out what the inside of a star feels like?”

We ran aboard, and Bastila and I took our stations. The ship shuddered, staggering into the air, and spun on her thrusters, punching through the force field and into space. We were closer to the star than I would ever want to be, and the glare almost blinded us. I climbed frantically, and watched the sensor behind us. The Star Forge sheared, the lower half suddenly buckling and falling away as the upper part spun madly. Then it was gone into the star as if it had never been.

“Where is everybody?” Mission asked. “All I am getting is a lot of small returns. Wreckage, a lot of wreckage.”

“Maybe they’re dead.” I turned to see Danika standing behind us. “It would be just my luck.”

“Now don’t-” I started.

“Ebon Hawk, this is Coruscant Glory. Come in please.“

I whooped. “Ebon Hawk here. Good to hear your voice!“

“Standby for Admiral Dodonna.”

“I expected her to survive.” I chuckled. “Never thought the Dark Lord of the Sixth would even get scratched.”

“Well a little scratched Carth.” The admiral’s voice replied dryly. “Finally I found out what you lower ranks called me all these years.” She chuckled in delight. “How are you down there?”

“Something big knocked out the Jedi. We had to drag them aboard. The Jedi from our team are all aboard. In fact, I don’t think we lost anybody.”

“Understood. Stand by for Master Vandar.”

“I will speak to Revan.” He said.

“Danika Wordweaver here, Master.” Danika replied. “We all know Revan is dead.”

“As you will.” He answered. “What happened to Bastila?”

“Other than having been suborned redeemed and getting bonded in truth to me, nothing, Master.”

There was a long silence. “And the affect of the weapon?”

“I don’t know, Master.” She admitted. “I don’t know the range, power or cumulative effect of it. Perhaps we will regain the use of the Force. Perhaps not.” She shrugged though he couldn’t see that. “But I submit that it crippled the enemy forces facing the fleet, and allowed them the victory.” She rubbed Bastila’s neck. “I think it would be a fair trade.”

“Such a weapon must never be made ever again.”

“Master, I destroyed all records as I went, and the only device that can make such a weapon is falling into the sun as we speak. I promise you that.”

“Not your decision to make. But done is done. Bastila must be retrained-”

“Master, unless you want me there as well, I suggest you rethink that.” Danika broke in. “I am protective of those I love.”

“You always were.” He grunted. “Meet us on the planet. Much there is to do yet.”

“On our way.” I called.



Recessional

Danika

The temple had not seen such a crowd in millennia. Hundreds had gathered. Humans, Twi-lek, Rodians. To one side stood a group of the Elders, and with them grim faced Mandalore.

Master Vandar stood with the Admiral as she prepared for the ceremony. I would have preferred to relax with a glass og Tihar among the Mando, but Bastila would have none of it. While preparing for the ceremony, we had discussed it at length. “We are being honored, my love. Better to be there than to appear to be sulking.”

I am not sulking.” I groused, brushing Sasha’s hair, then braiding it with economic movements. “I just would rather have a glass of tihaar and relax than have to stand around like a prize animal at a market.”

“Hush.” Bastila draped her arm over my neck, nuzzling against me. “We have to decide about Sasha. They will want to train her.”

“Why not?” I asked. I turned her around. My hairstyle on that small head should have looked silly. But she had her own presence. “Our girl can do anything. As long as she remembers to clean up after herself.”

“I couldn’t use a broom on the Leviathan.” She chirped back.

“Don’t get cheeky with me young lady.”

“I am no lady.” She retorted. “I was daughter of a farmer, slave of a Mando, and now I am daughter presumptive of a Jedi!” She retorted.

“Daughter presumptive?” Bastila asked confused.

“She’s been calling me Amma yuru for months now. Don’t you know what it means?”

“Mando is very difficult, and the Goodar dialect doubly so.” She closed her eyes. “Person I-” Her eyes opened. “Person I wish was my mother?”

“Close enough. She was calling me the equivalent of ‘stepmother’ all that time, and you didn’t know!” I caroled.

“Enough. What does that make me?” Bastila asked tartly.

Amma tu che yuru?” Sasha answered grinning.

Bastila mentally ran through it. “The not-so-nice stepmother? Wait! The wicked stepmother! Oh, no, I am not going to- Danika will you stop laughing! Sasha there must be...”

All that was behind us now. The door of the temple stood open, and I gloried in the feeling of the Force again. The effect had not been permanent, but I stood by what I had told master Vandar. It would have been worth the loss for the victory.

The Admiral was all set to give a speech, but I stepped up to her. “Please, there is something more important to do first.” I whispered.

“There can’t be!” She waved toward the medals. “We’ve won a great battle, and you say there is something more important than that?”

“Yes, Admiral. This was only a battle. An entire race needs to regain their honor.” She looked confused, and I stepped past her, leaping up on the edging stones of the ramp. “Mando! Hala! Macht Che-na!” I shouted.

The Mando around the One stiffened, and their chief started forward.

“No, all of you!” I roared in Basic. The other Mando looked at each other confused. Then they marched forward in a block. The Republic troops muttered and backed away.

“ALL!” I roared. About thirty of the humans among the Republic Forces came forward. Not all of the Mando had become mercenaries after the war. They gathered before me at the edge of the ramp.

“As Mandalore, I took your honor for crimes committed by your people. For services to myself, to the Republic, and to the Rakata people, I give you back your honor.” I said. The crowd below me stiffened. “But one last thing must be done. A Mandalore must live with her people, share their triumph and tragedy. This I cannot do.

“Canderous Ordo of Clan Ordo, come forth!” He came forward, and I motioned toward the stones at me feet where he knelt. “You took cleansing the honor not only of your clan but others upon yourself. I say that no man deserves to be Mandalore more than you. Though that is for the clans to decide.” He stared at me in amazement. “That is once I am done.”

“No, My Mandalore.” He looked up at me. “As you said, A Mandalore must live with his people. I will not lead them unless it is also in your service!”

The Mando at my feet roared at that. “Makiel Suuchin of Clan Lembat!” He stepped forward. “You are now Makiel Suuchin of Clan Suuchin. All that remain of your people on this planet shall bear your clan name with honor. Do any deny me?”

“I only ask.” Konrad Morgo of clan Shoomart said. The other local Mando groaned.

I shook my head. He‘d probably question the Gods on the last day. “What do you ask this time, Konrad?’

“Since we fought the battle here with you as our leader, should we not be Clan Wordweaver or clan Revan?” The others looked at him then at me intently. “After all, a name should not be forgotten if it has honor. It is the Canon.”

“Konrad, you are the most irritating man I have ever had the misfortune to meet!” I motioned for them to go away. “Choose among yourselves. Your Mandalore will be there when we are done.” They retreated bickering. Sasha giggled. “Nothing from you, little girl!”

“If I may?” Admiral Dodonna asked sarcastically.

“I apologize, Admiral.” I bowed to her. She shook her head ruefully, then looked at Master Vandar as if to say ‘She’s your problem’. Then she turned.

“We come to honor the heroes of the battle fought over our heads. It shall be called the Battle of Rakata after those that have asked to join the Republic.” She motioned toward the Elders. One by one we stepped forward, each bowing to accept our medals. Republic Crosses, the second highest award. Mission and Zaalbar together first. She had threatened to dump a ton of unprocessed Kolto on the proceeding if they ignored Zaalbar, and I had worried more that she might actually carry out the threat than where she might have gotten it. Then Juhani, Canderous Sasha and Jolee.

Canderous took it as he did everything, stoically. But I could see the gleam in his eyes. When he died, he expected to be in the front rank of that heavenly army.

Finally Carth Bastila and I stepped forward together. The Admiral smirked, and reached. “For the leaders of this endeavor, we have Crosses of Honor.” She leaned down. The highest award that can be offered, she had to get the Senate’s permission to even consider issuing them. She motioned, and we knelt. The only medal for valor you had to accept on bended knee. A tradition I understood, because all but ten had been posthumous. With the award came a lifetime stipend, and the honor of having everyone whatever their rank right up to Chancellor bowing to you first. I felt the ribbon drop, the medal hitting between my breasts. As I stood, I saw Carth’s face begging to be anywhere else. Bastila merely bowed her head as if remembering as I did all those that had died to earn it.

“Our heroes!” The Admiral shouted. The crowd roared, and we gathered on the edge of the ramp, waving like idiots.

“And the redemption of the fallen.” Vandar said. I winked at him, and he solemnly returned it.

A number of the modern ships had escaped the battle, several hundred of the Rakata designed ships had also fled. We hadn’t won the war, just set our toes and shoved the darkness back a pace. Would anything we had done matter?

Then I felt the worry niggling in my mind. An enemy that would not even be here for over 15 more years. I had discovered it, and all of my efforts had been turned to defeating it. Whatever it was. What would happen then?

Who cared? We had won the breathing space.

There is no dark, there is no light. There is only the Force.

End


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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