I haven't posted it as seperate posts this time as I can't be bothed, not because I don't love you or want to torture you in anyway. Enjoy.
Carth stumbled over the lip of the doorway to the port side crew quarters on the Ebon Hawk. Too much Tarisian ale had taken its toll on his motor functions. He said a silent 'thank you'
to Davick Kang for having had the foresight to load the Hawk with as much ale as she could carry. He was going to be sure to drink every bit of it, as long as Canderous didn't figure out that it was there in the hidden floor compartments of the Cargo Hold.
He closed the door to the crew quarters behind him and locked it. He was tired of listening to the endless arguing over what had happened to Tana on the Star Forge. Everyone had questions and there seemed to be no concrete answers only assumptions and theories.
He was through running errands, he was through with the Republic and more importantly he was through with Jedi.
Making an "executive” decision Carth had set the Hawk's controls for the core planet of Coruscant. He then locked the coordinates in so that no-one could change his intended direction. Then he had informed them all that once in the capital they would all get off his
ship and leave him alone. Bastila had wanted to argue over whose
ship it really was. When he pointed out that he
was the only one with access to the air lock control mechanisms and there were only so many number of space suits vs. people who might need them, the disagreement had been cleared up fairly quickly.
Carth was tired. More then that he was beaten. Even after Telos he had never felt so hopeless and drained. His hatred for Saul had driven him but now he only felt empty. It kept swimming in his head, ' Why had Malak let Bastila go? If he had defeated Tana, and the Star Forge not destroyed why had they escaped and the Republic fleet been able to retreat without being completely obliterated?
"Damn it!" he cursed. Squeezing his eyes tight and trying to shake the thoughts from his mind. He didn't want to think about it anymore.
Carth stumbled to his bunk. The lights flickered, winking to life as he sat down on the hard mattress. They were not the most comfortable beds he had ever known but he had gotten used to them. He had come to think of the Ebon Hawk as his home, as their
There it was again, the nagging suspicion of betrayal, the endless question reeling in his mind. It seemed there wasn't going to be enough Tarisian ale in the galaxy to wipe it from his thoughts, to wipe her
from his thoughts.
Carth lay back on the stiff pillow of his bunk. He just wanted to sleep, to disappear, and to forget everything that happened. The pillow was unnaturally hard as if a metal plate had been placed under it. Carth felt around underneath it, retrieving a datapad.
He looked at it curiously for a moment, flipping it over and over as if one more turn might reveal what it was doing under his pillow. Still feeling the effects of the ale it took him a moment to realise he should probably try to turn it on and see who it belonged to.
Sitting up against the bulkhead he pressed his thumb to the ident pad. Surprising it glowed to life. He heard a voice then, her
voice "For you Carth." she said. The sound of her dulcet tones nearly sobered him completely as he stared at the screen of the datapad. As she spoke the words scrolled in front of him.
"I cannot say what may happen now that we are about to..." there was a slow hiss cutting off her words and the screen pixilated the words from view. Carth shook the datapad hitting the side with his open palm. The words and her voice reappeared suddenly, "...journey has changed me in ways my former self perhaps would not have thought possible. When you told me that you loved me on that beach...in front of everyone...I...I..." her voice trailed off for a moment, "I felt the loneliness, which has plagued me since waking up on the Endar Spire, finally disappear."
She sounded so sad and Carth felt his heart beating wildly in his chest. She continued, "Love...love is a dangerous emotion especially for Jedi. That much I have learned from the stories of others who have loved and been lost before me. Yet without it I would not be able to face what is ahead of me and I shall do what is...necessary." there was a long pause and Carth could hear her breathing, she must have held the datapad very close to her mouth, and he imagined her bow shaped, rose hued lips, when she whispered "as you must."
-End voice message-
The words flashed on the screen and blinked at him over and over again. Carth stared in disbelief. He shook the datapad again, "no! Wait! What does that mean?!" he shouted throwing the pad onto the bed. It bounced slightly and came to rest in hollow made by the ridges of the blanket. He ran his hands through his thick, dark hair and squeezed his skull with his fingers. Then he grabbed up the datapad again trying to find a way to replay the message, perhaps there was more.
-Voice message erased-
The screen flashed, then went dark and the datapad felt lifeless in his hands. He stared at it for a long moment his nostrils flaring his eyes wide with fury. His head throbbed and the blood pounded in his ears. In anger he threw the datapad across the room. It clattered to the floor.
Carth closed his eyes and pounded his fist against his forehead as if trying to drive a spike through his head.
Then he heard something, a faint beeping sound from somewhere in the room. He opened his eyes and looked around, he was most certainly alone. He looked to where he had thrown the datapad. It was glowing faintly and something flashed on the screen.
Curious, he moved off the bunk and stood over it, he turned his head slightly trying to read the flashing screen upside down. Then gingerly he picked it up.
-Private log, enter security code-
He stared at the datapad in his hand. He realised he had no idea what she would use for a password. He didn't know her birth date or her Republic serial number. Not that she was a real soldier but she had been issued one and most soldiers used their serial numbers for passwords. 'Think Carth, think!
' he commanded to himself.
Reticently he tapped in the code "Red-47"; remembering that little incident on Korriban with the Rodian who wanted Davik's hidden cache of spice. When he finished typing it in the screen went blank for a moment then it flashed angrily at him.
-Security code incorrect-
-Attempts to access logs incorrectly will result in deletion of additional files-
His heart sank into the pit of his stomach. That didn't sound good. He was going to have to be more careful. Carth went to his bunk and sat down with the datapad in his hands. He looked around the room. It was pretty sparse. He recalled his much more spacious and comfortable private quarters on the Endar Spire. Since Taris he had been forced to share the port quarters with Tana and Canderous.
Tana never slept well, too many bad dreams and visions. She was always anxious and uneasy when the ship was quiet. Even on Taris she hadn't slept much in the long weeks they spent looking for Bastila. The abandoned apartment was certainly much more comfortable then the crew quarters of the Ebon Hawk, yet he had often found her perched on one side of the couch watching the illegally tapped government news feed on the scavenged holoprompter late into the night.
There was precious little entertainment on the Hawk. Tana had taken up Pazaak on Taris with zeal and made quite a few credits which had funded their expeditions into the Lower and Under city to find Bastila. She had tried to teach him the finer points of the game in their late night sessions on the Hawk but it was no good. He had enjoyed her company though and the laughter they shared as he lost miserably. He recalled her bright eyes as she teased him about his complete ineptitude for the game. So many times he had wanted to take her up in his arms and just kiss her.
Instead they had developed a habit of sitting on her bunk end to end, their knees touching slightly as they talked until he, at least, could no longer keep his eyes open and fell asleep. There had been a few times he had woken up to find her curled up in the crook of his arm. It seemed to be the only time she would sleep without having any visions. He had liked the feel of her back against his side and her head resting on his bicep, the soft sound of her breathing and the scent of her hair wafting gently up to his nostrils. He didn't dare move for fear of disturbing her.
Even when he was still unsure of her, especially after Dantooine and all that secrecy of the Council, it was comforting somehow to lay with her like that in the quiet depths of space as if they were the only two people in the galaxy.
He got up and went to her bunk. Carth stood looking at it for a long moment. They had talked about so many things, but he realised he didn't really know that much about her. Many of her memories were false, implanted by the Jedi to give her a new identity. Once he had discovered she was Revan there had not been time to find out the true stories of her past, the truth was he had never bothered to ask.
The cryptic voice print had only made his conflict worse. He had all these memories and feelings of her, impressions that had helped him love her even through the knowledge of who she had really been. Yet always present in the back of his mind was Saul, who had been his mentor and friend and had turned on him at that critical moment. The memory of his wife, dead at the hands of the Sith under Saul's command still lingered painfully in his mind. Then there was Dustil, who he had never realised was force sensitive, blinded by hate for his absent father. He had turned to the Sith, Carth's sworn enemy, for succour.
Then he reminded himself that Dustil had been saved from the Sith. The moment they had heard of Dustil’s whereabouts she
had insisted they go to Korriban. Without hesitation she had entered the Sith Academy and taken on their trials in order to help him save his son. She had seemed so tormented in that place; the dreams had been very bad there. Yet there was never any complaint, she had done what was "Necessary." he whispered the word aloud.
The sound of his own voice spurred Carth into action. He tore back the neatly made bed covers and flipped the flimsy mattress onto the floor. He dug in the pillow case. Then he slid open the drawers under the bunk and began rummaging through her clothing. He tossed one Jedi robe after another onto the floor. How many robes exactly did one Jedi need?
At the bottom of one of the drawers, under a selection of neatly folded Republic issue underwear, he found a collection of datapads. He sat crossed legged on the floor with them in his lap, holding each one up to determine its content. There were about 5 different Mandalorian datapads about broken speeders and hunting Wookiees, several journals from long dead Jedi who had been hunting tarentateks, and something about the history of a band called 'The Twisted Rancor Trio'. None of the datapads held anything concrete.
Carth lay back on the floor with a light sigh. Surrounded by her clothes and belongings he thought that he could smell her just faintly. She always managed to smell good, even after a hundred battles and endless running around unknown planets. He chuckled as he thought of her delight when they had discovered an old-fashioned Hydro shower on the Hawk. There had been a cache of scented soaps, gels and perfumes in one of the plastaceel containers in the hold as well.
' I guess Davik liked to smell good too.
' he laughed to himself remembering the plush guest quarters and the slave women of Davik's mansion on Taris.
Carth lifted up one of the robes that held the most scent; she had worn it on Manaan until he had met that strange little Bothan tailor who made, of all things, Jedi robes. What he was doing on Manaan rather then somewhere like Coruscant or Dantooine where there were actually Jedi, Carth could never really ascertain. However, the Bothan seemed quite excited when Carth revealed that he knew a Jedi. The Bothan had insisted on giving Carth some Jedi robes he had made to give his Jedi friend as a gift. At first he had been a bit suspicious and had presented them to Tana tentatively but when her face lit up at the sight of them all his fears had been allayed.
He held the cloth to his nostrils and breathed in. A wave of memories, images of her, swept through his mind. Her lovely eyes, her lovely smile, her...something banged against the metal buckles of his flight jacket with a soft clunk. It was hard and had sharp edges. He held up the robe, there was something square filling one pocket. Quickly he ripped the pocket open and a cube of hard, clear plastic fell into his palm. He dropped the robe and studied the object.
He held it up trying to make sense of it. Inside were many pinpoints of white light. When he turned it in one direction, a pattern of coloured lights seemed to form within the centre. Then if he turned it in another direction, the pattern changed. Carth turned it this way and that, trying to make sense of the patterns that formed. They looked almost like constellations.
"It's an Inverseri." Canderous said leaning on the frame of the open doorway.
Carth looked up startled. He hadn’t heard the door open. Instinctively he reached for his blaster which wasn’t there. He had left in the weapons locker of the garage.
"How...?" Carth started to ask, but before he could finish the question, Canderous grinned and tilted his head to one side indicating a small, blue figure hiding behind his powerful arm.
Mission peeked out from behind the Mandalorian and looked at Carth sheepishly, "sorry...it's just that...well...we were worried about you." the Twi'lek stammered biting her lip.
"Yeah the kid wanted me to make sure you weren't going to have any accidents
with that blaster of yours." Canderous smirked.
"I'm not a kid." Mission hissed.
Carth only glared at them both. Mission quickly stole away back down the corridor toward the common room, but the Mandalorian stayed contemplating the soldier knee deep in Tana's belongings on the floor of their quarters. He watched with interest as Carth turned the Inversi over in his hands with a bemused look on his face.
It was time for the little chat he had been avoiding, he was just as tired of all the speculation and it seemed the Republic flyboy was in need of a little coaxing from a helpful
Canderous stepped into the room and sat down on the edge of Carth's bunk.
gave it to her." he said candidly.
Carth merely glanced at Canderous and tossed the object in his direction. Canderous caught it in his hand and looked at it wistfully.
"Then I guess you had better have it back." Carth said coldly.
He started folding Tana's clothes and placing them back into the drawers from which they had come.
"In a better world," Canderous mused turning the cube over and over in one hand, "it would have been me."
Carth said nothing. He had expected the Mandalorian to try and goad him somehow. He wasn’t going to rise to the occasion. He turned his attention back to the datapad. There must be a logical way to work out her password.
"I could tell she was special
the moment I laid eyes on her." Canderous continued with a gleam in his eye despite Carth’s obvious attempt to ignore him.
He thought back to that incidents on Taris where he been privileged to witness her ferocity. Her steady gaze as she gunned down those hapless Black Vulkars without remorse and her merciless efficiency with an Echani sword in the Duel Ring. For the first time he had held respect for the light melee weapon of the dancing fighters as he watched her cut down her opponent in swift, rapid strokes. Bendak Starkiller had never seen her coming and Canderous had never wanted any woman more.
"If I had known she was Revan then, you wouldn't have stood a chance." he smiled to himself watching the patterns of light change within the core of the Inverseri.
Then he furrowed his brow and pursed his broad lips for a moment as if making a distasteful realisation, "but it was you
she wanted in the end." he said quietly.
Carth stopped and looked over at the Mandalorian. He didn't think he believed what he was hearing. Did Canderous actually have feelings for her? At first he suspected it was some kind of ploy to get him into a fight. He never would have believed for a moment that Mandalorians were capable of love.
Unsure how to react or even that he wanted to know that Canderous had held some feeling for Tana other
then respect Carth tried to steer the conversation back to something more useful, "So, what does it do?" he asked.
"It's a metaphor." Canderous replied flatly tossing it back to Carth. It landed in his lap but he made no move to retrieve it.
"We Mandalorians have a saying when something isn't quite what it seems," Canderous said with a philosophical air, "its called 'An Inverse of Stars'..."
Carth nodded interrupting, "Yes, yes, the older instructors used to bandy that phrase around at the Academy." he said dismissively.
"The stars look different from planet side then they do in space so you can't rely on your eyes you need the navicomputer to help indicate where you are on the grid..."
Canderous cleared his throat but it sounded more like a menacing growl. It got Carth's attention and he stopped in mid sentence allowing the Mandalorian to finish.
"When she told me about her dreams," Canderous continued, "there seemed to be something more then just the revelations of the Star Maps or her connection with Bastila. Even on Dantooine I think she suspected that the Council was hiding something from her. She felt as if she was being used."
He paused for a moment looking at Carth out of the corner of his eye. He had chosen his words very carefully and replayed the conversation in his head many times to decide best how to gain the desired effect.
"There was something else..." he said more thoughtfully, "something she thought was calling to her out of the past. Images she could not quite place. Things that even Revan had forgotten and she
was beginning to remember."
Carth narrowed his eyes and he could feel the heat rising in his face. She had shared secrets with the Mandalorian, his blood boiled. Carth's nostrils flared as he listened to the Mandalorians words this was going to get ugly fast, he could feel the rage rising from his stomach like burning acid into his throat.
"Why is it she never told me any of this?!" Carth demanded leaping to his feet. The Inverseri smashed against the floor and shattered in a thousand shards of plastic and tiny fibre optic particles.
Canderous smirked. There it was he had known it was only a matter of time before the "hero" blew his top with a fit of unmasked jealousy and rage. Emotional predictability was one of Carth's strongest traits.
"Because you didn't trust her, and she knew it." Canderous replied matter-of-factly watching as Carth winced slightly, the guilt evident in his eyes.
"Do you remember after the Leviathan?" he asked pointedly, "you wouldn't even speak to her. Then she had that really nasty vision, the one about Bastila being tortured. She practically tore the ship apart from the anguish and the pain it caused her. You weren't so concerned who she was telling what, then were you?"
He focused his hard gaze on Carth, he wanted to make Carth feel Tana's suffering as it had been at that moment, "It was I
who stopped her from getting tangled in the hyper drive components, it was I
who carried her back to her bunk and it was I
who sat with her all night." The Mandalorian said beating his chest for effect every time he said the word "I".
With all the severity he could muster to drive the point home he added coldly "It should have been you."
Squeezing his eyes shut Carth wanted to shut out the memory of her horrifying screams as she ran franticly around the ship in some deranged panic attack calling Bastila’s name. Canderous had cornered her whilst Jolee injected her with something to calm her down. He had stolen a moment in the shadows watching as she slept fitfully. She had called out his name in her delirium but instead of comforting her, he had left her alone with the Mandalorian.
'There's no-one around.
' Canderous thought waiting for Carth to react. The left side of his mouth curled up in a mischievous smile as he gently touched the blaster at his side for a moment before letting his hand drop and the smile fade.
'She would never forgive me.
' he reminded himself. Besides which it wasn't honourable to kill an unarmed opponent.
Canderous snorted his disdain and glowered at Carth. "Maybe she didn't tell you all her deep dark secrets Carth, but you're the one she loved...and she did love you." he said looking Carth in the eye, "Of that, at least, I am certain."
Then he made a fist shaking it at Carth menacingly and growling, "so are you going to let that soulless tin can have her, or are you finally going to make good on your promise?!" he demanded.
Carth looked at the datapad still in his hand Canderous' powerful words ringing in his ears. He did believe that she had loved him and the idea of Malak and her, the way Bastila had described, made him furious but the Mandalorian had only succeeded in proving that there was so much more to her then he had known, perhaps could ever know. Was he willing to risk everything to save her even if she had fallen again?
He stood quietly contemplating the ruins of the Inverseri on the floor, and after a long pause, "Yes." was all he said.