Revan stood in the main hold of the Ebon Hawk surrounded by his nine companions. They had assembled in a rough circle around the central holo-emitter, listening to the recording which delivered a summons from the Galactic Senate of the Republic on Coruscant.
The bluish, transparent holo image of the slim and grey-haired Chancellor and President of the Senate, Novus Valorum, still managed to convey a little of his solemn gravitas as it slowly materialised and began to speak.
“My greetings and sincere thanks to you, Bastila Shan and Carth Onasi, for your bravery during the recent conflict. Admiral Dodonna of the Outer Rim Fleet has informed me that your assistance was vital in turning the tide of battle. The entire galaxy is in your debt.”
“Heh! No mention of the blood and sweat the rest of us put in, I see,” Jolee remarked dryly. Revan motioned him to silence with a raised hand. The old man grunted again softly, but turned his eyes back toward the holo.
“We hope you will join us here on Coruscant, so that the Senate may offer you our thanks in person.”
Valorum paused then, and something in his posture changed, Revan noticed. His voice also took on a more formal intonation. The pleasantries over, he was preparing to deliver words of a less congratulatory nature.
“It has also come to our attention that the defeat of Darth Malak was in large measure due to the actions of another who now travels with you. Whatever name he is now known by, we know the one he carried in the past. Revan.”
“His recent actions indicate a willingness to aid the Republic, and several members of the Jedi Council here on Coruscant have assured me that he has turned his back on…a dark past. However, I must inform you that a motion was passed in the Senate one standard day ago, requiring that he appear before us in special session immediately. Some in the Senate are… less convinced of his apparent redemption, and have asked that they be given the opportunity to question him, before a decision on his future status is made by a vote of the full Senate.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” Mission said, frowning up at Revan.
“There is no obligation placed upon you, or any of your companions, to accompany him. This summons is meant for Revan alone. However, I must inform you that unless he presents himself before the Senate within the next standard month, security units are authorised to seek him out and apprehend him. Once again, I thank you for the outstanding service you have given the Republic. May the Force be with you.”
With that, the holo faded.
” Canderous spat the phrase in that harsh, mocking tone of his. “Ha! What’s that supposed to mean? If you’re not enough of a model Jedi for them, they’ll throw you in prison, or execute you?”
“Don’t be foolish! They would not allow an execution. It is not the Jedi way.” Juhani’s feline stare was fixed on the Mandalorian. T3 was beeping shrilly at the suggestion, his little droid head swivelling from side to side frantically.
“This isn’t the Jedi, Juhani, it’s the Senate, and they’re an entirely different animal,” Jolee put in, “Full of hot air, could talk all six legs off a kinrath, most of them, and that’s just deciding what to eat for dinner! Still, it’s odd that the Jedi Council on Coruscant aren’t taking the leading role in this.”
Carth was frowning in thought. “Maybe the Senate isn’t letting
them take the lead. It’s not all that surprising that people don’t trust the Jedi to keep their former students in line these days. Not that I agree with this, you understand, but we can’t ignore it, either. The Senate is the supreme authority within the Republic.”
“Commentary: Politicians are the most useless of all organic meatbags, Master.” HK-47’s opinion did not seem far out of step with the others in this. “It would not be wise for you to subject yourself to their whims. However, should the decision should go against you, a rescue attempt could prove to be enjoyably messy!” There was no mistaking his enthusiasm for that particular outcome.
[The droid is right], Zaalbar growled. [You should not go to Coruscant. If they come for you, I will be ready for them. They shall not take you while I live.]
“Yeah, you said it, Big Z!” Mission added.
Revan was once again silently thankful for his aptitude with alien languages, but he sighed inwardly. He had not asked for Zaalbar’s life-debt, but once he had sworn it there was nothing to be done.
Bastila was the only one who had not spoken. He turned to her now.
“Carth is right, Revan, you cannot ignore this summons. If you do then it will undermine all our efforts to stabilise the Republic, not to mention invite disaster upon yourself.” She was torn, he could sense. Her loyalty was to the Republic, but at the same time she was afraid for him.
“I am certain that the Senate will not see you for what you were, but for what you are now – the saviour of the Republic. And I will stand with you to make certain that they do.” She smiled, and he was surprised to discover through the bond that she was not feigning the confidence in her voice.
“I’m with you too,” Carth declared, “we all are.” There were nods all round, and emphatic beeps of confirmation from T3. Revan realised they were all waiting. He made his decision.
“Put us on course for Coruscant, Carth.”
The starlines condensed back into stars as Revan watched intently through the cockpit window of the Ebon Hawk
. The planet filled most of his vision now; a dark mass overlaid by a web of twinkling lights. Coruscant.
They had picked up the Corellian Run after their detour from Yavin, following it all the way into the heart of the Galactic Core. It had been a long but uneventful journey, yet a sense of unease had been building in him as his audience before the Senate drew nearer. He could feel the same in his companions too, though they tried not to show it openly. Carth and Bastila had already sent a transmission to the Chancellor alerting him to their imminent arrival.
“Well, here we are…” Carth announced, sitting up suddenly in the pilot’s chair. He turned to look over his shoulder expectantly at Revan.
“Might as well get this over with,” Revan replied slowly, “Take us down. We should be authorised to dock at one of the bays serving the Senate Building.”
Carth nodded an affirmative and turned back to the console. The hands of one of the Republic’s most capable pilots flew over the controls to guide them gently into the atmosphere.
Coruscant grew larger and larger in the viewing window, until finally it was impossible to tell where the planet ended and the surrounding space began. Revan could make out the intricate latticework of structures that covered almost the entire surface. Immense buildings of all descriptions cluttered the skyline as far as the eye could see, with transports, shuttles and airspeeders, tiny in comparison, flowing through the spaces between them like schools of metallic fish.
Soon the Ebon Hawk
was just another ship in one of those myriad lanes, joining the droves of local and interstellar traffic as it hurtled past some of the galactic capital’s most famous landmarks.
Unhindered by nearby structures, Revan had a perfect view of the Central Spire of the Jedi Temple, rearing defiantly into the sky not far away. And in the far distance, the sun was setting over the peaks of the Manarai Mountains, bathing the city in a gentle orange glow. With the holes in his memory, this was like seeing Coruscant for the first time again. The beauty of it soothed his troubled thoughts, if only for a moment.
The inverted bowl shape of the Galactic Senate Building was almost directly ahead now, statues lining the broad plaza at its base. The centre of government of the Republic for millennia, it was certainly an impressive sight.
Carth guided the Ebon Hawk
out of the swarming traffic and towards one of the wide docking bay entrances on the upper portion of the bowl. Many smaller ships were flitting in and out of other bays; Senators and their aides arriving for the special session, no doubt.
The Ebon Hawk
glided into the docking bay, landing legs extended. Revan felt a clunk
as they made contact with the ground, accompanied by the hiss of escaping gas from vents in the underbelly of the ship.
There was already a small crowd gathering inside the bay, but Revan paid it scant attention. He clapped Carth on the back of the shoulder, and the other man stood, turned and nodded firmly. He was ready to follow.
The others were waiting at the top of the Ebon Hawk
’s loading ramp, which was extending slowly. His gaze rested on each of them in turn.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen when I go in there,” Revan said, “but I do know this much. It’s something I can’t turn away from. Bastila, Carth and T3 will accompany me. The rest of you should remain here. If I don’t return within the next two standard days, I’ll most likely be in secure detention somewhere. If that happens, take the Ebon Hawk
as far as you can from Coruscant. There’s no reason for any of the rest of you to get involved in this. Don’t try to rescue me – and that’s an order, HK.”
He had already had a wretched time of it convincing the droid, let alone Zaalbar, to stay with the ship. He feared that the Wookie would tear the planet apart trying to find him whatever he said.
“Acknowledgement: As you desire, Master. However, should I accidentally
discover your whereabouts, could I be blamed if it proved to be the perfect place for a thorough trial exercise of my assassination protocols?”
Revan couldn’t resist a smile at that, before exchanging brief farewells with the others and starting down the ramp followed by Carth, Bastila, and T3 rolling along behind. Zaalbar’s anxious growl pursued them as they went.
Waiting for them below was nothing less than a full ceremonial escort. Members of the Senate Guard in their flowing blue robes and crested helmets ringed the walls and blocked the exits. They carried long, ornate blaster rifles; part of their traditional attire, but Revan had no doubt that those weapons could be lethally effective when necessary.
In the centre of the room stood two figures, one a three-eyed Gran, who from his regal demeanour appeared to the one holding highest rank. Next to him was a tall human male, youthful, with short blonde hair and a thin braid hanging down behind his right ear. His dark brown robes and white tunic were unmistakeable, and the silvery hilt of a lightsaber attached to his belt confirmed it. A Jedi; no-one Revan recognised, but that didn’t mean a great deal. The two groups stood facing each other, only a short distance apart.
The Gran spoke in barely accented Basic. “Greetings. I am Reko Leem, Vice-Chair of the Galactic Senate. You will please accompany me, Revan and companions, to the Senate chamber. But first I must ask you to turn over all weaponry and armaments until the session is concluded.”
One of the guards stepped forward, and Revan spread his arms to show he was carrying nothing, as did Bastila and Carth. The guard watched Revan intently as he ran a portable scanner over them to check for any concealed weapons.
“They’re clean,” he declared confidently, and stepped back towards the wall.
Reko Leem nodded, turned, and headed toward the rear exit. The guards formed a perimeter around them, and they had no choice but to follow.
“Nice welcome,” Carth said with a sarcastic smirk.
The blonde-haired Jedi overheard. “No disrespect is intended. Only one of you is on trial here.” He fixed Revan with an accusing stare.
“And you are?” Revan asked.
“Jol Kast, representative of the Jedi Council to the Galactic Senate. I am here to make sure this…proceeding is conducted in accordance with the tenets of the Jedi Code, and to report back to the Council on the outcome.”
“You are very young for such a crucial assignment,” Bastila observed, “it is strange that the Council did not send someone with a little more experience. A Master perhaps...”
If Kast was at all irritated by the comment, he gave no sign of it. His face remained a perfect mask of Jedi calm.
“I requested this assignment, and the Council felt it would be an appropriate test of my abilities. I am a student of galactic history and politics, and well practised in the mediation of disputes. And, unlike some on the Council, I am happy to let the Senate decide the fate of Revan. The taint of the dark side is not removed as easily as some may think. I fear many Jedi have lost sight of that”. After another sidelong glance at Revan, he fell silent and turned away from them.
They passed through a series of corridors, up a large flight of stairs, and finally through a door with a guard on each side. Like a small entrance into a vast cavern, it opened into the enormous expanse of the Senate chamber, and onto a small circular platform, where Revan was joined by his companions, Kast, and a pair of guards. T3 was directed to a section of the slim walkway which skirted the walls of the chamber.
The sounds were what struck Revan first. A low murmur of thousands of voices echoed through the chamber, filling the space in the centre so that somehow it felt gapingly empty yet claustrophobically crowded at the same time.
Clinging to the walls were hundreds, maybe over a thousand, circular repulsorlift platforms, with several beings standing up or seated on each. Senators, their aides and counsels, from all the member worlds of the Republic, spanning the length and breadth of the known galaxy. Sentients of all kinds, of all shapes and sizes were among them. Humans, Twi’leks, Duros, Mon Calamari and the bat-like Chadra-Fan were just small fraction of the species Revan noted, his eyes passing over a broad swath of the Senate platforms.
At the base of the chamber stood a central platform on a tall stand, reaching midway between the floor and the ceiling. There stood Chancellor Novus Valorum, accompanied by Reko Leem, who must have left their group at some point without Revan noticing.
Those thousands of voices were now suddenly silenced. There was no need for Leem to call them to order; they had seen the group enter. Every eye in the chamber was focused on Revan.
The platform they were standing on suddenly hummed into motion. It separated from the wall below the small door, and floated several meters towards the centre of the chamber before coming to a halt, hovering.
“The Senate is now in session”, Valorum intoned, his amplified voice filling the chamber, “to examine the matter of the erstwhile Jedi Knight Revan, who now stands before us, to judge his past and present conduct, and to determine his future. He will have the opportunity to make a statement in his own defence, along with any others who wish to support him. But first, the Chair recognises the Senator for the sovereign system of Telos, who proposed the motion for this special session”.
Another platform detached from the far wall, and came to rest on the other side of the Chancellor. The figure standing on it was tall, with greying hair and a short brown beard. His face was grim; etched with the pain of loss, and he spoke in a strident voice.
“Members of the Galactic Senate, I am Desil Oran, Senator for Telos. You may ask why my world still requires a representative, since it is now all but uninhabitable. My answer is this: there are those of Telos who were off-planet at the time of the Sith attack, many thousands in fact, and though they no longer have a home, they must still have a voice. I speak for them, and I believe that one day Telos will rise again, and once more become a leading world within the Republic.”
Carth’s eyes were growing wider with every word.
“That is why I have called for this session. Standing before us now is the architect of the destruction of Telos, Darth
Revan.” Oran sneered as he spoke the name. “Some say he is redeemed, that he is no longer a threat to the Republic. I say, where is justice?”
“Surely we cannot allow one who has caused so much destruction to wander freely across the galaxy, whatever virtuous actions he has supposedly performed of late? I say that for too long, the Jedi have wielded too much power in the Republic, and too often failed to instil loyalty in their students, with disastrous results. Ulic Qel-Droma. Exar Kun. Malak. Revan. How many more? And who will pay the price, as the people of Telos did? The people of your
worlds, perhaps…?” Oran’s piercing gaze took in the entire chamber.
“I implore you, honourable Senators, to consider this when giving your judgement on Revan, to make certain that he will never be free to inflict such suffering again, and do all you can to deter others from following his path. If you decide this demands his execution, I am willing to lend my support to such a resolution.” Oran glanced for a split second at Revan before falling silent, almost as if he was afraid to look, afraid of strength of his own feelings. His eyes were filled with rage, and Revan could feel the white heat of it through the Force.
“You don’t speak for everyone from Telos, Desil!” Carth bellowed, taking everyone by surprise.
“Carth Onasi..”, Oran mused, in a tone which said that the two men had a history, and not an amicable one, “I might have expected you to be wasting your time with matters that do nothing to help rebuild our homeworld, but I never thought that even you would side with a Sith Lord!”
“Both of us lost people we loved when Telos was attacked, Desil,” Carth replied, “but finding a convenient scapegoat to take it out on isn’t going to bring them back. If you want to blame someone, blame Saul Karath. He’s dead now, dead because of Revan, the one want you want to execute!”
The murmur among the Senators was growing again steadily. Several more repulsorlift platforms had detached from the walls, and they buzzed around the outer edge of the chamber like a swarm of angry mynocks.
Desil Oran drew himself up angrily, but his voice remained calm. “You accuse me of a personal vendetta, Carth, but what I am seeking here is justice and security for the entire galaxy! I will—”
“Order! We will
have order!” Reko Leem’s command gradually quietened the chamber once more.
Revan placed a hand on Carth’s shoulder, and whispered to him hurriedly.
“Thanks for the support, but we’d better let him have his say. I’m not surprised by the way he’s reacting, and I’m sure there are at least two dozen other Senators in here right now who feel exactly the same, and they’ll be backing Oran all the way. Maybe they’re even right.”
Carth was incredulous at that last comment, but he nodded silently. It still amazed Revan how much his relationship with the other man had changed since Taris. Back then, Carth hadn’t trusted him as far as he could throw a bantha, and that had been before
Revan’s true identity was revealed.
“If I may speak, Chancellor Valorum?” This new voice came from a platform off to Revan’s left, a Sullustan, his wide jowls bobbing up and down as he spoke. “It seems to me that the best approach is to put these questions to the accused directly. Only then can we begin to establish the facts. Saul Karath commanded the fleet which attacked Telos, but who gave the order?”
Valorum considered for a moment. “I agree with Senator Nunb.” He then turned to Revan.
“Like Ulic Qel-Droma before you, you stand before us with a dark history, Revan. I sincerely hope that this proceeding will not have a similar conclusion.” Ulic had been rescued from his trial by the Sith Lord Exar Kun, and they had slaughtered half the Senate in the process, Revan recalled. “And so I ask you: did you, or did you not give the order to destroy Telos?”
This was the kind of question Revan had been dreading. So many questions with no answers, and others who might know them were long dead now. He took a deep breath before replying.
“The truth, your Excellency, is that I no longer remember what orders I gave, or what plans I had. When I was captured by the Jedi, they purged all of my memories, and replaced them with those of a simple Republic soldier. Occasionally, I can recall a few images, voices, and faces, but none of what I have recalled so far would allow me to answer your question truthfully. But, I must concede, it is certainly a possibility. I won’t deny responsibility for what I have done. I am
Darth Revan, and I leave it to you and the Senate to decide my fate”.
He had to face it; his actions had undoubtedly caused the deaths of many, many thousands, if not on Telos, then certainly on other worlds.
“What convenience!” Desil Oran spat, “He cannot remember the atrocities he committed. If only the rest of us could be so fortunate! By claiming ignorance of his past he can avoid responsibility, and by wiping his memory the Jedi have a chance to conceal their worst mistakes!”
“It’s the truth!” Bastila shouted, “I was the one who healed Revan after we attacked his flagship. As a result, I have developed a strong Force bond with him that gives me access to his memories when they resurface. None of them relate to Telos, or any of the other worlds the Sith attacked. Revan stands here today as the saviour of the Republic! Without him, we would never have been able to destroy the Star Forge and defeat Malak, and I…I would not be standing here either. I beg the Senate to consider this when reaching its judgement.”
As Bastila launched into a passionate defence on his behalf, Revan was reminded of his own passion for her. If they did execute him, how would she suffer through the bond? He would do anything to spare her from more pain.
“What has the representative of the Jedi Council to say about this?” another Senator queried loudly from across the chamber.
The young Jol Kast sprang up from his seat behind Revan to reply.
“The Jedi Council regrets that the Senate finds it necessary to intervene in Jedi affairs, but we will accept your judgement. The lure of the dark side is something that all Jedi must face, and regrettably some few are unable to resist its temptations. Darth Revan and Darth Malak are two of the most deplorable examples.”
“The Council accepts that it must bear some responsibility for their fall, and a thorough investigation into our training methods will be conducted. However, I must remind you that Revan joined the Mandalorian wars against
the explicit instructions of the Jedi Council on Dantooine. All we ask now is that you spare him a death sentence. Bloodshed does not call for more bloodshed; that is the way to the dark side.” Kast seemed reluctant to speak that last sentence, as if he did not truly agree.
“Such platitudes are all very well for Jedi,” Desil Oran retorted, “but those of us who are not sensitive to the Force must apply cold logic. An example must be set. I call for a vote on the-”
Oran never got the chance to say what he would call for a vote on. A deafening blast resonated through the chamber as his repulsorlift platform erupted in a ball of searing flame. The shockwave and the heat slammed into Revan and those on the platform with him, hurling them to the floor.
Revan instinctively leaped towards Bastila, shielding her from the inferno and flying debris with his body. Carth and Jol Kast were face down, hands over their heads. Screaming, howling and babbling in a thousand different languages could be heard all around the Senate chamber. Senators were scrambling for the exits, and the central platform with the Chancellor was being hurriedly lowered into the floor, surrounded by guards. The charred remains of Desil Oran’s platform were pelting them like miniature meteors, full of twisted metal and padding. Oran’s body was nothing but ash now.
Bleeding from several small cuts, and aware that he was either saving their lives or signing his own death warrant, Revan dragged Bastila to her feet, tapped two fingers of his right hand on his forehead. then thrust them outwards in a salute-like motion.
From the walkway against the walls, T3-M4 beeped a loud acknowledgement, and three small compartments opened in the droid’s head, out of which shot three objects at an amazing speed. Revan watched them spin in mid-air through the cavernous chamber, their trajectories perfectly calculated. He seized one of the objects, a short metallic rod, and ignited it with a reassuring snap-hiss
. He was the likely target of the explosion, and with his lightsaber in hand, he could at least defend against any more conventional attacks. At the same moment, Carth grabbed his personal blaster out of the air and scanned the chamber, looking for a target. Bastila was already wielding her double-bladed yellow lightsaber with her back to Revan, providing cover.
Too late, Revan heard another snap-hiss
as Jol Kast ignited his own blue lightsaber, and raised it to block Revan’s green one. A shower of sparks fell from the two glowing blades as they made contact.
With one eye still on Kast, he could see that more and more guards were pouring in from the doors around the chamber, all with blaster rifles raised, and Revan had no doubt that every one of them was aimed straight at him…