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Old 10-13-2006, 09:25 PM   #23
Walruseater
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*whew* Final chapter. I hope it came out okay.

Chapter 7 Endgame

Travick sighed softly. "I think a new plan may be in order," he said, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "Think about it. Desann, Tavion, Alora--they have all fallen, and Darth Eviwy will surely be next. Even if Markal succeeds in defeating Eviwy and taking her place, he will one day be defeated as well. It is the ancient tradition of the Sith, a never-ending cycle."

"Indeed," Admiral Staryoung agreed, nodding warily. He knew that this Sith minion had a good point. Staryoung himself had seen Tavion take over after Desann's defeat, and he had seen Eviwy take over after Tavion's defeat. And in each case, Luke Skywalker and Kyle Katarn had had a hand in the defeat of the Sith Lords. Luke was a powerful Jedi Knight, and had played a major role in defeating the Emperor... and his own father. Kyle Katarn had defeated Lord Jerec at the Valley of the Jedi. Luke and Kyle were very famous for their heroics for the Republic, and every time the Empire attempted to rebuild and retake its territory, the Jedi always defeated them, pushing them back. And the famous Jedi always had a hand in it.

We just can't keep going on like this, Staryoung thought, stroking his temple wearily. He had to face it... he was tired. Tired of seeing one Sith Lord fall just to be replaced by another. Tired of trying to keep the Imperial Remnant strong while the Republic and the Jedi kept ruining their achievements, driving them back. Perhaps it was... time to give up. Accept defeat.

Travick nodded slightly, as if he'd read the Admiral's mind. "This cycle is redundant, and must come to an end," he murmured.

"What are you suggesting?" Staryoung asked quietly.

"We should surrender peacefully when the Republic fleet arrives," the Sith answered.

Staryoung's eyebrows shot up, nearly vanishing under his bangs. That was the last thing he'd expected to hear from a Sith. Was this some kind of trick, or a test? In spite of himself, the Admiral chuckled nervously.

Travick's eyes narrowed. "Something amusing, Admiral?" he asked coolly.

"No, not really," Staryoung said, sounding rather tired. "Well, I'll be blunt," he added, sitting up straighter in his chair, and clasping his hands together on the desk in front of him. "I'm not used to hearing a Sith tell me that we should surrender."

Travick nodded, his features softening. "All things considered, it is the most logical course of action, Admiral. The Imperial Remnant is weak, and thanks to the Republic forces, it is growing weaker. When the Republic fleet arrives, their might--combined with that of the Jedi--could be enough to destroy us once and for all, and they will most likely capture those of us who survive, and put us on trial." He cocked his head to one side. "Wouldn't it be more beneficial to us all if we simply... surrendered without condition?"

Staryoung shook his head. "I still cannot believe my ears," he muttered. This man had just said the Imperial Remnant was weak... was he also saying that the Sith were weak as well? The Sith believed themselves to be strong... to think that one of them would say the Sith were weak was unthinkable.

"If you must know," Travick sighed, "I do have my self-interest in mind--and I have yours in mind, as well. Think about it, Admiral; Eviwy and Markal are under the illusion that the power of the Dark Side will somehow defeat the Jedi and drive back the Republic. But I have found that, no matter how powerful one person becomes in the Force, one person cannot stand up against an entire fleet--especially if they do not have much support. We must face fact; the Imperial Remnant is small and weak, and the Republic is strong, growing bigger and stronger every day. The way I see it, we can either wait for them to come down on us, and either kill us or take us captive. Or we can surrender peacefully, and perhaps we could work something out with the Republic."

The Admiral remained silent for a full minute, steepling his fingers before him. "Just between you and me," he said very quietly, "I have been thinking the same thing, somewhere in the back of my mind. But we cannot surrender. If I give the order for everyone to put their weapons and surrender, Eviwy will kill me, and she will order everyone to engage the Republic when their fleet arrives."

----------------------

Kyle Katarn grumbled impatiently, staring up at the ceiling. He was lying flat on his back in the medical bay, wishing he were somewhere else. Anywhere else, really. He had accepted the fact that he needed to stay put so that his chest wound would heal. But this droid was acting like a mother hen over him, and it protested when he shifted into a more comfortable position.

"Hey," he muttered as the droid began to scold him, "It's not like I'm going to kill myself if I just fluff my pillow a little!"

The medical droid let out a low whistle, the equivalent of an exasperated sigh perhaps. Then it beeped again, informing him that he should lie still and get some rest.

"Yes, Master," Kyle muttered. "If you put any more of those drugs into my system, I'll probably sleep for a week."

The droid was not amused.

"Listen, if you'll stop hovering over me, I'll go to sleep, I promise," Kyle said.

The floating machine seemed to consider what he said, then it booped in agreement. It moved away, settling down in a corner, then appeared to power down. However, Kyle was aware of the fact that its camera-eye was aimed directly at him.

He sighed softly, thinking, if I do so much as sneeze, it'll be back over here. He allowed his eyes to drift shut, and entered a state of deep meditation, relaxing his body and aiding the healing process. Perhaps he would be well enough to leave the medbay sooner if he could use the Force to repair the damage Jaden's lightsaber had done to his chest.

--------------------

Darth Eviwy returned to the planet's surface with her squadron, seething. It seemed as though events were working against her, thwarting every plan she tried to carry out. She'd had Kyle in a vulnerable position, and she could have killed him easily. Yet she had only wounded him, and thus allowed him to escape when Jan came to rescue him. She had then attempted to locate his ship, yet he had masked his Force-signature from her.

You know why you haven't been able to capture him, part of her brain told her. It's because you still care about him. He's the one thing that, deep down, you still care about.

Eviwy snarled, gripping the hilt of her lightsaber tightly. "The Republic fleet is coming, and I can't stop it," she murmured, slamming her fist against the control panel before her. The hatch on the cockpit opened, allowing her to climb out. Once her feet were on the ground, she gestured toward the pilots, who were waiting for her orders. "I order you all to return to space, and hold off the Republic fleet for as long as you can!" she snapped. "I will make preparations down here."

The men looked relunctant, but they knew better than to cross a Sith--especially a Sith Empress. They immediately climbed back into their ships, powered up their engines, and blasted off into space, knowing full well that they were most likely flying to their deaths.

Eviwy's face bore a scowl as she headed toward the main Imperial Compound where Admiral Staryoung's office was. Once there she brushed past his personal guards, giving each one a look that told them any interference from them would result in death. They didn't even try to stop her as she headed toward the office, uninvited. Normally it was considered proper to at least let the Admiral know someone was coming, in case he was in the middle of something important, or in case he was speaking with someone else. But everyone knew that look in Eviwy's eyes by now--a look of rage, which shone like fire.

She opened the office door and stalked in as if she owned the place. She opened her mouth to speak, but closed it quickly, noticing Travick standing before the Admiral's desk. Staryoung himself was seated behind his desk, and both men looked startled by her sudden appearance.

"Am I interrupting something?" Eviwy asked icily.

"No, of course not," Travick said, uncharacteristically tugging at the collar of his robe.

Eviwy thought about pressing the matter, to find out what was going on, but decided against it. "The Republic fleet will be here any minute," she began, but Staryoung cut her off.

"We know, we've already been contacted by the person in charge of the fleet," the Admiral said. "They want us to surrender."

"Of course they do," Eviwy sneered, "but that will never happen. I want all of the available ships to engage the Republic fleet, to stall them as long as possible while we set up our ground forces. We must prepare for an all-out attack."

"Darth Eviwy," Staryoung sighed, "we just can't keep doing this anymore." He glanced at Travick out of the corner of his eye, then continued. "The Republic has us outnumbered and outgunned, especially with the Jedi on their side. The only sensible thing we can do is surrender, and hope they'll be merciful to us. The only other option is to fight until we're all dead, or captured."

He got no further. Eviwy's lightsaber activated with a snap-hiss, and she pointed the tip of the blade at his throat. "If I ever hear you talking like that again," she hissed through clenched teeth, "I'll kill you."

"Leave him alone!" Travick shouted, activating his own lightsaber. "Eviwy, please--think about this rationally! We cannot--"

Eviwy raised her hand, using the Force to send him crashing into the opposite wall. "I should have known you've had a hand in this," she growled. "I'll show you what happens to traitors." She stretched out her arm, curving her fingers, then slowly clenched them into a fist. Travick's eyes bulged and he grabbed at his throat, choking as though his windpipe was being crushed.

"No--stop!" Staryoung snapped. He snatched up something out from under his desk--a small blaster pistol. He aimed it at Eviwy. "You Sith keep turning on each other--right now, we need all the men we have to survive, and to rebuild. Even if we do engage the Republic as you wish too, we cannot afford to lose any men. Let him go, now!"

Eviwy dropped her hand, and Travick went limp, gasping and choking on the floor. She slowly turned to face Staryoung, then used the Force to knock the weapon out of his grasp. "You have crossed me for the last time," she snarled, and used the Force to choke him. She crushed his windpipe, then snapped his neck. He let out a startled, gurgling cry, then fell forward across his desk. He released one final breath in a strangled wheeze, then he made no further sound or movement.

"Monster," Travick choked, attempting to stand. "How could you--*cough*--the people on this world will revolt when--*choke*--they find our you killed their leader!"

"They will not," Eviwy said. "Because from now on, I will show no weakness. Anyone who crosses me shall die, whether their offense is big or small. I will not show mercy or compassion--because such things lead to vulnerability. I will not be taken advantage of, nor will I be betrayed." She raised her lightsaber. "You have been consorting against me. For that, you will die. I shall make an example of all traitors!"

"Darth Eviwy--wait!" Travick pleaded, half-stumbling, half-kneeling in front of her. He figured he might as well tell her--what did he have to lose? She was probably going to kill him anyway. And perhaps there was a slim chance... she might spare him, if she deemed him useful. She would not show mercy anymore, she would only spare those who would serve her. "Need... to tell you... *cough* Marvick is planning to attack you, during the battle. He told me this. He wants to kill you, to take your place."

Eviwy studied him for a moment, then slowly lowered her blade. She did not shut off her weapon, but she made no move to strike him down, either. "I sense no deception from you," she said. "When--and how--is he planning to do this?" she asked, placing her free hand firmly on her hip.

"When the Republic attacks, he knew you would probably be distracted," Travick replied, rubbing his throat tentatively.

"I see," she replied after a moment. She stared at him, frowning, her eyes narrowing. "Everyone around me is turning on me," she murmured. "I cannot trust anyone anymore--trusting is a sign of weakness!" Right at that moment, she got a new look in her eyes, one that sent a chill up and down Travick's spine. It was a wild look, one that suggested the beginning signs of insanity.

And her next words confirmed Travick's fear--the fear that she was losing her mind. "I should kill everyone here. They're all going to betray me..."

As if on cue, the office door opened again, revealing none other than Marvick. "Darth Eviwy!" he said, "The Republic fleet has arrived, and they're sending ground troops to the planet's surface!" He looked like he had more to report, but he suddenly noticed the fact that Travick was kneeling on the floor at Eviwy's feet, clutching his neck... and Admiral Staryoung lay sprawled across his desk, as limp as a dead fish.

Before anyone could say anything, there was a loud explosion, immediately followed by a tremor in the floor beneath their fleet. Everyone knew what was going on: the Republic had begun its attack.

"So it has begun," Marvick said, activating his lightsaber. "You could have prevented this, Eviwy, had you been stronger," he growled, moving toward her threateningly.

"It was hopeless from the start," Travick murmured, rising from the floor.

"So are you both against me now?!" Eviwy said, her voice rising. "I will kill both of you!"

There was a flash of movement, and a lightsaber battle began. There was no way to tell who made the first move to engage the three-way battle.

-----------------

"No..." Kyle groaned, tossing and turning on his bed, causing the medical droid to squawk in alarm. He sat bolt-upright, panting, and only then did he realize that he'd fallen asleep. He forced himself to calm down and slow his breathing, then he noticed the droid hovering over him, prepared to administer a sedative. "I'm fine," he muttered, waving the droid away. It stared at him for a moment, scanning him, then finally retreated to its corner.

Jaden, Kyle thought, squeezing his eyes shut. He sensed a strong disturbance through the Force, sensing pain, fear, anger... and a heated battle. He sensed ripples in the Force that were caused my battle, and he knew that the Republic had begun its attack on the planet below. But even amidst all of the fighting, he could still make out his former student... his former friend. Jaden was losing her sanity, and she was battling other Dark Jedi.

Kyle swallowed, and attempted to reach out through the Force. He hoped to contact her, as he had right before she killed Rosh. She hadn't listened to him then, but perhaps there was still some spark of good within her that he could reach. Luke had sensed it after she'd stolen the Sceptor, and he had sensed it for himself when he had confronted her.

Jaden, he transmitted, desperate to reach her, to save her. Please listen to me...

The only response he recieved was a wave of anger and frustration. Then he sensed her blocking him out.

He gritted his teeth, clenching his fist in frustration. Was she beyond redemption? Surely there was some way that she could be saved...

---------------

The Imperial compound shuddered. It was obvious that the Republic warships were beginning to bombard the planet's surface. Perhaps they'd never even sent any ground forces down to begin with. Perhaps Marvick was lying, hoping to distract her, and maybe he was expecting Travick to aide him.

Either way, both men now lay on the ground, dead. And Eviwy leaned heavily against the wall, beside the office door, wounded. It had been a three-way battle, with each person fighting for their own life. Now that the battle was over, she was left with several broken ribs, a severed arm, a fractured leg, and a broken lightsaber. She could feel the ground trembling as the Republic proceeded with its attack, and she could feel the deaths of Dark Jedi and troopers all around her.

"No," she whispered, sliding down the wall onto the floor. She shook her head, trying to deny the truth. Staryoung was dead, her personal aides were dead, the Republic was attacking what remained of the Empire, and... and the Republic was winning.

Jaden, came Kyle's insistent "voice" within in her. She scrunched her eyes shut, gritting her teeth. "Shut up," she hissed through her teeth, curling into a ball on the floor. She did her best to ignore the pain.

Jaden, give it up, Kyle "said" to her. It was at that moment she realized how weak she really was. She could no longer block him out of her mind. She feebly attempted to raise the barriers around her mind, but it was like trying to use jello to stop a starship. However, Kyle was still the kind, compassionate man she'd remembered him to be. The "starship" went right through the "jello" and came in for a soft landing.

Go away, Eviwy thought, holding onto her anger and growing hatred, as if it were a tangable weapon she could use to fight him off. I'm NOT Jaden anymore. I'm Darth Eviwy.

What will it accomplish, to hold onto your anger? Jaden, please listen to me. I know that the Jaden I used to know, the girl who I trained, is still in there somewhere. And I think that part of you wants to let it go, to forgive Rosh. Jaden, please stop this.

"No," Jaden murmured aloud, her eyelids flickering. Another explosion sounded off nearby, took close for comfort. The office shuddered, and an enormous crack appeared in the ceiling. She looked around the room, and saw the Sceptor leaning against the opposite wall, where she had left it. She'd forgotten that she had left it there, when she went into space to try and capture Kyle. She stared at it, amazed that Travick hadn't taken it. To think that it had been sitting there all this time, and none of them had noticed it...

She tried to summon her strength, and she tried to focus on her anger. She was starting to get used to the dark power fueled by anger and hate, and yet... somehow, the dark emotions were beginning to evaporate. She growled, trying to summon up the anger she felt toward Rosh, the annoyance and frustration she'd often felt toward him... and yet it was like grasping at wisps of smoke. Somehow Kyle had a calming presence within her mind, and he was make the thick fog of dark emotion thin and clear out. It was then that she realized... that was why she loved him. And why she looked up to him as one would a father...

"Kyle," she whispered as tears began to streak down her face. She felt the darkness evaporating, as though she had been out in the cold, freezing, and had just gone indoors to sit by a warm fireplace with a roaring fire. Kyle's presence in her mind had that affect on her, and it even felt as though he were embracing her gently, just as a father would welcome his daughter to come in out of the cold, even after she had committed murder. And she even felt him spreading a figurative blanket across her shoulders, as she sat huddled before the metaphorical fireplace.

It's okay, Jaden, Kyle murmured within her mind. It's good that you finally see the truth. Nothing good could ever come of holding onto anger and hatred. Even the smallest grudge can lead to anger.

"Kyle, it's too late," Jaden said, her voice trembling. "I-I killed Rosh. I let the darkness take me. I was prepared to start a war against the Republic, and I was prepared to hurt you... and I did hurt you."

But you didn't kill me, Kyle said. That's how I knew there was still a spark of good in you. That you could be redeemed. Jaden, we can end this now. Destroy the Sceptor. And come back to us.

"No," Jaden whispered, slowly and painfully picking herself up off the floor. "It's too late... I don't deserve a second chance," she said. She slowly reached out and summoned Travick's fallen lighsaber to her with the Force. "I will destroy the Sceptor, Kyle... no one else will have it." With that, she limped over to it, and activated the saber blade. Then, in a smooth, swift motion, she destroyed the Sceptor. It glowed brightly, making a loud noise as bottled-up energy was instantly released, then the pieces fell to the floor, harmless and useless.

The building shuddered again, and the crack in the ceiling widened further. Jaden looked up at it, knowing that it could collapse at any moment.

Jaden, get out of there, now--

"No," Jaden said, shaking her head. "I won't."

The ceiling made a threatening sound, and she knew it was starting to cave in. But rather than look up at it, she raised the lightsaber blade to her chest, and she stabbed herself with the energy beam.

----------------

"Jaden--no!!"

Those words exploded from Kyle's lips, but he knew it was too late. She had killed herself, and even if the lightsaber wound hadn't been fatal... he knew the building had most likely collasped on top of her. Either way, he felt her death through the Force.

The medical droid approached him and adminstered a mild sedative, obviously under the assumption that he'd had a bad dream. He attempted to resist the drug, but quickly decided there was no longer any use. The main reason he'd stayed awake was to try and contact Jaden. And he had. He'd managed to return her to the Light, and he had been with her during her final moments of life. Now there was nothing left for him to do, except rest. The Sceptor was destroyed, the Republic was winning the battle. So he just closed his eyes, and allowed himself to drift off to sleep.

---------------

Several hours later, after the droid had relunctantly given him permission to leave the medbay, Kyle found Luke and Jan on the observation deck.

"Who's bright idea was it to put a droid in charge of the medbay?" was the first thing Kyle muttered as he joined them. "It mothered over me and wouldn't let me leave until it had scanned, poked, and prodded every inch of my person. Was that a medical bay, did I get dragged off to an Imperial torture chamber by mistake?"

Jan beamed at him, and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Good to know you're feeling better," she said cheerfully.

"Ah, it's good just to be out of there," Kyle replied, putting his arm around her, smiling at her.

Jan returned the smile, but it quickly faded as she turned to face Luke. "We've got some... news about Jaden," she said.

"I know, she's dead," Kyle said. "I sensed her through the Force."

Luke placed a hand on Kyle's shoulder. "I sensed what you did through the Force," he said. "I know that she died peacefully, because of what you told her."

"Told her?" Jan said, looking from one Jedi Master to the other. "What am I missing?"

"I contacted her through the Force," Kyle said. "I helped her to let go of her anger, and she turned away from the Dark Side. She destroyed the Sceptor... and then she killed herself."

Jan blinked. "From the reports... there were two Sith men in the room with her. We'd assumed that one of them had stabbed her, and was too wounded to escape the building before it collasped."

"No, Jaden defeated both of them, but she was severely wounded," Kyle said. "But she did have enough strength to destroy the Sceptor... and to take her own life. But... she found peace before she died, and she is one with the Force now.”

“She found her peace because of you, Kyle,” Luke said. “You did well.”

“If only I could have saved her, or taught her better, none of this would have happened,” Kyle replied sadly.

“The Force works in mysterious ways,” Luke told him. “Think about it. If she hadn’t fallen to the Dark Side, we never would have found the Imperial Remnants’ base of operations, because we would never have gone looking for her. We would have been able to destroy the pair of Imperial ships above Korriban, and we could have rounded up the troops and the Dark Jedi on Korriban’s surface. But we may never have found where their base of operations was located. And you did manage to bring her back to the Light, at the critical moment.”

Kyle thought about this for a moment, then nodded. “Yeah, that makes sense,” he murmured. “The Force knows what it’s doing.” He sighed, folding his hands in front of him. “But it’s a shame that our final victory came with such a price. Jaden was... a good kid.”


What does it mean, to be intolerant of others?
Does it include being intolerant of intolerance?
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