Author's Note: This entry is not eligible to win, as I've already won once, but please feel free to vote and comment on it if you enjoyed it! )
Author's Second Note: I wish I would have had the opportunity to do something like this in the course of my TSL gameplay, and I'd give up a year of buying RPG games for the chance...)
Alas! I had never imagined I'd be glad for the dark energy of Malachor V to embrace me with its red heat, but there it rested on my skin and soul. I was sweating, but only slightly. Traya would never torture her opposing partner in battle, not as Darth Sion had, or Nihilus. That was their crude way, not hers. My Master, instead, would slowly draw you to her as a mother draws a baby to her breast. Slowly, tenderly, forming a bond that would never break.
"Kreia?" My voice was gentle, soft. "I have not come to kill you. Stand down."
"I will not." Traya turned to face me. "Is Malachor V as you remember it?"
"Completely," I told her. "Why did you let it consume you again?"
"Consume me? Hardly. I have returned to this dark world, as you have, to settle a score that was long overdue and confront the ruins of my past."
"Settle a score?" My mouth fell open in shock and anger, yet the sorrow was much greater than the fury. "Is that why you trained me? To use me to kill Sion and Nihilus? If that was the case, and the only case, then you'll pay!"
Traya smiled, her black lips perenially rich and full. In the heat of passion, no longer able to control the overwhelming feelings that suffused me, I lunged and struck once, throwing the weight of my body behind a Power Attack.
To my horror, Kreia only stepped backward slightly and took the full blow. Humbly, almost. Her next words both chilled me and gave me warm comfort.
"You are wrong, but you are becoming right. I did not only use you to slay the future murderers of this galaxy, but also to lure the Jedi Masters to Dantooine so that they could learn their final lesson--that the tenets of their Code would only bring death and blind enslavement to the Force. I used you to find the Lost Jedi. Someone must restart the Order once it collapses! Hopefully, you will be a far better teacher than Kavar, Vrook, and Zez-Kai Ell were. It is they who learned nothing, not until it was too late." A soft sigh.
I still didn't understand, and my whole feminine frame was quivering. "Why?"
"Why? I loathe the Force, that is why. After all my years of studying the credoes of the Jedi and the Sith, I came to know that the Force is the diseased, bleeding heart that sustains them both. You believe I
used you? The Force uses us all, no matter which side of it we claim, and that is the true evil that plagues this galaxy. It is abhorrent to me. The Force used Revan to challenge the Republic and the Jedi through the Mandalorian Wars, yet how many hundreds of thousands died under his leadership? The Force used me to teach the two Sith Lords you've slain and to work great good and harm, and yet will I return to it once I die? No--it shall at last forsake me!"
A seething well of rage began to rise in me. I loved the Force, and yet here stood the only Master
I truly loved, bent upon destroying it. I would not let this stand.
"You are wrong about the Force," I hissed, "and I will show you every point on which you are!" I ignited my two silver lightsabers and began my lecture.
Normally during lessons, a teacher, point by point, might say, "For one thing, for two, for three," and so on, and so my twin blades slashed the words:
Vo-pyervykh! Vo-vtorykh! V-tret'ikh! Admit, Kreia, your every mistake!
Darth Traya was not without her own questions and rebuttals, which came in the form of several life-drains that left me spent, and storms of lightning from the Force that singed my sweating flesh. Who would win this dark debate?
"Good!" Traya cried. "I see you have learned something of passion after all! Use it to defeat me. Cut me down!" I whirled again and blindsided her.
The Lady of the Sith keeled over, doubled with pain. I exulted when her saber clattered to the base of the Trayus Core as her remaining hand fell. Victory!
At that moment, however, I saw my face in the reflection of the mirror-like crystals that acted as light sources for the blood-red heart of Malachor V.
It was gaunt, hard, reddened as if I'd basked too long in the Dantooine sun. My smile was becoming a sharp rictus, and a mad gleam shone in my golden eyes. My hands, once soft, pliant, and ever-so-willing to help any beggar or oppressed innocent that came my way, were now curled around my two sabers as if they were all that held me between life and death. Who was I?
"You know who you are, still," came the voice of Traya. "Strike. End this."
I looked down at myself in utter horror. The darkness of this place was holding me, clutching me in its fatal grasp. Would I let it move me now?
And isn't it,
came my own voice, that you will be just as controlled by the Force if you do than if you don't? What does your heart say, Exile? Let it guide you. Do you wish to give this Sith the fate the Force thinks she deserves, or will you cast aside its manipulating 'guidance' and spare her?
"I love you, Kreia," I replied, tears streaming down my cheeks. "I will not."
"You will not show me mercy," said the Lady hotly. "I'll break you before that!"
Three purple lightsabers suddenly rose from nothingness, wielded only by Traya's remaining strength in the Force. With my last ounce of reserves, I cast the Destroy Droid power toward them all, five times until they charred.
"It is done," announced Kreia, doubling over again as her wounds burned. "At last, it is done. You have sent the Sith into the disarray it was meant to fall prey to. You have rebirthed the Jedi Order from a motley crew of sentients with little strength, but much heart. And, lastly, you have slain me here."
"I don't want to slay you," I said quickly, "but rather save you, and myself!"
"Then hear me now. Find Revan, and find where his supposed 'goodness' has compelled him to go. Was it worth it to forsake his true love, forsake the crew that served him, to turn his back on everything he knew to fight the true Sith? If I had known where he had gone, I would have followed him. Sadly, I do not, and cannot. You must go in my place, and with my hope."
"Your hope?" I assumed that there was now no hope left for the fallen Traya.
"My hope is the hope that someday the galaxy will be free. Either that, or that the Force, if it has a will, will stop and consider whether any sacrifice is worth the pain and the 'better future' it might cause. You must carry this hope with you into the Unknown Regions, as you once did...a decade ago."
"Kreia? This I'll do, for both our sake, and for what it's worth, I forgive you."
Darth Traya smiled. "Forgive the Force, and the Jedi who were thralls to it. Forgive the ones who let their hate destroy them, or else their ascetic ideals. Most of all, forgive yourself, Exile, for you are more rare than you know. You are the only being who gave up the Force and became stronger for it. I will be here, in the life and the spirit of this galaxy, if you ever need me again."
I leaned close to her ear. "Rest now, Kreia. Your time in this place is over."
The Dark Lady's eyes began to clear and turn to a marbly white once again.
"May the Force be with you...Tysyacha Dvukh." Sighing, Traya collapsed.
I left Malachor V, gladly noticing the galaxy ahead seemed slightly...veiled.