A/N: So... Niner was asking me whether I was taking part in this month's Javyar's Cantina contest. Initially, I said no, but I realised that I actually have an appropriate plot bunny for it. I went digging through my folders (which are chock full of emo stuff), and found that particular plot bunny has not been born yet, but a lot of others which I shall now post here
I'm afraid that I'm lazy and often just merge them with a few additional bits to make it more readable, but what the hey. Enjoy, and comments will be very welcome
* * *
Shortly after the Mandalorian Wars
“You should get some sleep, General.” His brown eyes were very kind, his gentle voice piercing the haze.
I wish I could. But I see them and I hear them.
I chose death for them.
“Come on, I’ll bring to your cabin. If you can’t sleep, we’ll go grab a bite. You’re too thin for your own good.”
“I’m not hungry.” My voice sounded peculiar. The words seemed to swirl and lose their meaning. I. I. I is the same as me. Not? Not not not. Like nod or beating out a rhythm. Hungry. Hun. Gry. Han Kri. Just sounds. Making sense of sounds.
The ship’s engines rumbled. Like the machine that ended it. A deep metal growl.
He is steering me back to my cabin, and I see the looks on his crew’s faces. The captain is good man. He should not have to face me at a time like this. No one should.
In 72 hours, they will deliver me to Coruscant. They’re waiting for me. I see them now, each trying to find the calm within their storms. Master Lonna, Atris…Kavar.
Don’t turn away. Please, don’t.
* * *
The captain was speaking quietly to her as he walked her out of the ship. She seemed like she was sleepwalking, her dark eyes taking everything in but revealing nothing while her full lips curved sadly the way they always did when she wasn't smiling...which had been rare.
"Master Jedi," The captain saluted me.
"Just call me Kavar. Thank you for taking care of her. What is your name?" She looked at me as I spoke, and she pressed her lips together, and seemed to flinch.
"It was no problem, sir. My name's Carth Onasi. Sir...I was wondering. What is going to happen to her? She's too young for war, but I've heard of her valour. And I know that the Council expressly forbade them from going to war."
Her eyes narrowed slightly as she flicked her gaze to him, then back to me. I could tell that she did not appreciate being talked about in third person, but she made no move to protest.
"I am not privy to that, I'm afraid. Thank you, Captain Onasi, for all you have done. Farewell, and may the Force be with you."
"And also with you. Take care of yourself, General." He nodded at her and returned to the ship.
I put a hand on her shoulder, and it was tensed, like she was afraid that any second I would turn on her. Giving it a squeeze, I guided her away from the assembled crowd, while we both pretended that we had not seen Atris' silver hair, and her white robes swirl as she turned her back on us.
* * *
Sometimes, I see myself as others would see me. Perhaps I shut out the world so much that even that dreamy part of me is expelled, and I sense myself in this curious two-pronged way.
Look at me, sitting stiffly, hunched slightly with my hands in my lap, eyes staring at them stonily. Look at Kavar, looking away in frustration, upset as he never had been before. Listen to the susurrus of whispers. See the one who returned from the war. Atris was her mentor. Look at how she treats Kavar. Bad girl. Bad Jedi. Don’t be like her. Don’t care.
I focus on myself because I don’t want to see your misery. I am responsible, but there’s nothing I can do now. Why do I use words to pull you apart? Haven’t I done enough? But this remaining part of me is utterly destructive.
Do you understand why I can’t talk to you? I’m so afraid that you will be like Atris; that you’ll turn away. Yet I’m treating you like that’s exactly what I want.
Abruptly, he pushes his chair away from the table, and I startle. As he walks away, my stomach twists in that horribly familiar nausea.
I’ve never felt so alone.
* * *
“Why are you acting like this? What have I done?” I couldn’t help lashing out at the hollow creature sitting in front of me. Where was she? Was she in there? I restrained my frustration until I was safely sequestered in my quarters, and even then I suppressed my anger, extinguishing it paradoxically with a long breath.
The council will convene tomorrow. In 12 hours and 2 minutes, to be precise. I…They…
What were we going to do?
She was wounded, and there was not a damned thing any of us could do.
I could have prevented it. I should have gone with her, I should have been the one to carry her burden.
I resist the urge to drive my fist into the wall and continue pacing. Twenty-one steps, turn, twelve steps, turn, ad infinitum.
Step step step open the door.
* * *
He didn’t knock, but simply came in, shutting the door firmly behind him. Always so…sure of everything.
But he did waver once. How infectious my doubt is. All it took was a few words, and I knew he was torn. And I walked away.
I couldn’t make him go against what he truly believed. See my pallid reflection in the mirror. Master manipulator me. Double standards devious speech. Spare him but not them. Make them march to their bloody deaths with glorious words ringing in their heads.
Before he can stop me, I raise my hand and smash the mirror to shiny silver smithereens, against which dark venous blood contrasts very nicely.
He grabs my hand with his own warm one, but I pull out of his grasp. Small penance. Exsanguination is an impossible dream. Spatter my blood on their faces and wake the dead. Raise all of them and let them try me for my crimes.
Who else would?
Let the Jedi do with me as they see fit.
“I’m so sorry.” Once, Atris told me that you could hold back tears. Hot wet tears well up and they fall anyway.
“Come here.” His arms are around me, and I cry into his neck. “What’s wrong? It’s ok. It’s going to be all right. I promise.”
But it’s not
. It’s just a matter of time until we destroy ourselves. Why be sentient? Let me be an ignorant bantha, grazing happily until you blow my brains out.
* * *
She’s all sharp angles, skin drawn tight over bones and corded muscle. When I reach for her hand again, she doesn’t protest. I run my fingers over the calluses on her palm and fingers as I send the Force seeping into the flesh of her knuckles, knitting the blood vessels into wholeness, then the skin, leaving the faintest of scars.
Leading her to the bed, I make her lie down, and she stares up at the ceiling with those dark eyes while the echo in her overwhelms me.
It is a belief among us that everything is due to the will of the Force. Yet there is also a smoldering dissatisfaction, even anger, at the hand we have received. To have first lost, and to be turned upon is more than most of us can bear. We blame them, but if that belief is valid, they really had no choice in the matter.
I see Atris now, the barely concealed anger in her eyes. She still blames her for turning away from us. What Atris doesn’t know is how close I came to following that girl we both loved. What would the outcome had been if I had? If I could have protected her, and Revan, from the harsh choices that awaited them both. I should have.
I was trapped between my duty to the Council and my duty to them, the lost ones… Even now, I do not know which would be the right choice. But I know that more than anything, I would have spared her the pain, even if I had to take it upon myself. This fact is the only thing that is crystalline in the haze of uncertainty that clouds us now.
She is never still when she sleeps, eyes fluttering under closed lids, fingers twitching gently, muscles jerking every so often as she walks her restless dreams. Atris stands at the threshold, but does not come further. She watches her for a time, and she leaves without looking back. I know that she will never forgive her, taking it as a personal betrayal.
Her lightsabers lie on the table beside her. Her main lightsaber is relatively intact, but the shoto is badly damaged, carbon scored and dented. The crystals rattle loosely, and I know it will not ignite. We built it together, when she first told me that she wished to master the style I used. I remember the look on her face when she ignited it for the first time, every crystal in perfect alignment on her first try. It is silver, the crystals changing colour to suit her. That is how I remember it, a pure moment of joy.
But now a broken hilt is in my hand, and a broken girl sleeps in an impersonal dormitory while I watch over her. The echo and the wound that she has become will not stop me from this last gesture.
Tomorrow, Atris and I will stand before her in Council. I already know what the outcome will be, and though it breaks my heart to do it, I will name her exile without betraying the slightest hint of emotion, and let her walk away again.