Author's note: Well, here it is. I don't have the energy to devote to improving it at the moment, so I await your tips
I've always thought there's a lot more depth to Atris than most give her credit for, and a certain desperation. I hope you enjoy the story!
* * *
There is wakefulness. There is sleep. I am weak in sleep. The voices invade even this last refuge.
They are metallic. The words are distorted, growing in volume and strength.
I must not sleep.
* * *
“Calm yourselves. I am all right.” Do they see the fine tremor in my hands? No need to, really. The dark circles under my eyes give me away surely enough.
“But mistress, you just fell…” Her voice trailed away when I glared at her. “Please mistress, let us tend to you. You’ll have bruises. Will you eat something? You haven’t eaten in days!”
“No.” Even I was surprised at the tone of my voice. “I am going to meditate. Just make sure that I am not disturbed.”
“As you wish, mistress. I will inform my sisters” She looked hurt, but I did not feel anything. I could not.
“What happened to you?”
It had been like a slap across the face, when she had said that. The memory of it was one of the few things that could silence the cacophony of ugly words that clawed at my mind, but I choose them over that clear voice anytime.
The door shuts behind me. Extraordinary is a word. Yes. She liked that word. I shall forget that word.
Am I going mad? To silence the babble, I am silencing myself. In silencing myself, I am…
“You are weak.”
My hands clenched, the green tracery of veins under the pale skin becoming even more prominent. “I am strong enough to learn your secrets, and to use them against you.”
“Know thine enemy?”
The voices broke into harsh laughter, grating at my ears, my nerves, the very essence of my being. Scraping away, fine pieces of me lost in the noise.
“Stop it! Please stop it!” I was crying by now, pressing my hands over my ears, crushing the fragile cartilage against my head, crouching down in the middle of the cold, cold meditation hall. They’re around me, inside my head. “I’m strong enough! I am!”
“Why are you doing this?”
* * *
Silence. I shall sa...savour it. Yes. That was the word. Savour.
No. Not this. I don’t want to remember.
You came back from the war. Why? You should have died! Maybe then I would have been able to lie to myself, tell myself that it was Revan, yes, yes, it was Revan who forced you to go war.
But now you’re standing before me, and the echo screams in my ears. The wound is bleeding. You are the wound, Lei. It cannot be. There is no being that exists like this. You are unnatural. You are ruined. I can’t see you like this.
I turn and stumble away, blinded by tears and…fear.
And then you said that. “Why are you doing this?” How can I answer? I heard what you left unspoken. I, of all people, should forsake you now. I left you there, standing at the Jedi landing pad, the condemning eyes of a hundred Jedi on you, and I did not look back.
* * *
The madness has passed. I’m just so cold. Numbed and frozen.
I wish I could do it all over again. I’d have said yes when you asked me to go with you to fight the Mandalorians. I would not freeze, whether with rage or terror, nor would I have struck you and branded you traitor. The word hurt you more than the blow did. I saw it in your eyes.
I told you not to do it. I warned you against it. And when you returned as the wound, there was not even the cold comfort of knowing that I was right.
* * *
“Atris, I must speak with you.”
“Kavar, this isn’t a good time.” That was a severe understatement. She had been exiled. I had wanted them to execute her. She’d be better off dead. I’d be better off if she was dead. It was a chilling thought, but to the numbness that comes after pain, it had a certain logic.
He grabbed me by the shoulder and spun me around to look at him, his sharp blue eyes probing mine. “What’s wrong with you? Won’t you even speak with her before she leaves?”
I shook him off coldly. I’m safe now. I’ll never trust anyone again.
“It’s not her fault that you refused to go with her! And it’s not her fault that she was forced into a corner, where she had only death or more death as her choices. We were not there. We failed them, Atris. All the Masters did. Because we were afraid of going to war again!” His voice was rising, as was the colour in my cheeks. Lies! Filthy lies!
“I wanted to go with her. But I chose the Order over her. And now… if not for the Sith, I would follow her to keep her safe, as I should have. But I can’t leave now.” I could feel his anguish. He loved her.
His voice had fallen to a whisper by now. “And you wanted her dead because of her wound. Because you wondered whether you might have spared her that fate, if only by taking it upon yourself.”
* * *
Pull yourself together, Atris.
No, I’m not Atris anymore. That foolish woman died on Coruscant that day. I killed her. All it took was a turn, a step away, and she began her slow death.
I’m stronger than she was. I’m strong enough.
Stand up. The lightsaber-- ignite it. Their knowledge will be mine. They will fall by my hand.
Like the Jedi did?
* * *
The echo travels, never reaching its destination and it takes all of us with it, tears us out of our bodies as the screams die on our lips. It is what we fear the most, a death without the Force, disconnected from everything. The blind ones die with us all but one, and the shade walks the dead planet’s surface and claims her for his own…And she stands over my corpse and cries out, “What happened to you?”
I break out of the vision with a sharp gasp. I’ve sweated through my robes, my body preparing itself for flight. There would be no fight. Just the horrible emptiness that cut sharper that any blade could.
I leave the meditation chamber and head straight for my quarters, stepping into the shower and letting the cold water shock me back into sensibility. It’s all lies, because the traitor was in it. Therefore, it cannot be a vision of the truth. The exile is nothing now.
But, perhaps I should mention it to them. And I suppose that I should stay away from Katarr.
When I step out of my quarters, Kavar is in the courtyard, watching Dantooine’s twin moons with a strange expression shadowing his handsome features. Since she left, he has become increasingly subdued, seemingly robbed of that innate happiness he once possessed. He is staring at the night sky, his thoughts carefully clouded.
He notices me when I clear my throat.
“Eh? Oh, Atris. Is something the matter?”
I freeze again, the same way I did when she asked me to come with her and I could not find the strength.
I duck my head and say, “No. Nothing at all.”
* * *
“It is such a quiet thing, to fall. But far more terrible is to admit it.”
But I’ve always tried to act for the good of everyone. For the good of the Jedi.
It makes sense that as the last Jedi Master, I should remain hidden. She would be good bait for the Sith, an exile whom they would lose interest in once they realized that she had lost her connection to the Force.
Wasn’t it? She wouldn’t get hurt, would she? Even if they did harm her, perhaps they’d give her the death that she must surely crave, release from the abhorrent echo that resonates at the core of her being.
Kavar was wrong. I could never have spared her that fate. She betrayed me, and now it is time for me to take up the mantle as Betrayal’s Mistress, she who has been betrayed and betrayed in turn. I let the Jedi die at Katarr, and now I will ensure that the Sith meet the same fate.
She is in the way. The fool cannot hope to understand what I am doing. I will remove her before I deal with the Sith fleet that orbits the planet. It is within my capability. I am sure of it.
Her death will be as painless as I can make it, because I am not a cruel person. I am sure that her last breath will be a sigh of relief, and I will be freed of her voice forever.
There is no death, there is the Force.