(Author's Note: Part 7 of the "Vremya" series. Once again, enjoy! )
After thoroughly surveying the Ebon Hawk
and T3-M4 for the first time since their repairs on Eriadu, Rodion, "Basta" and I decided we'd need more credits for our journey beyond the Outer Rim. We were still on Tatooine at this point, and Czerka had a thriving base of operations there. As such, we all became employed after a bit more formal processing than at Shiptech. Being a Mandalorian, as strong as the very beskar
iron of which their renowned armor was made, Rodion was put to work in the mines. As for me and the white-haired woman, Czerka Corporation had decided that we were fit for more menial tasks. She was sent to tend the plants and gardens that surrounded their new towering headquarters, and I to wash the steps outside.
"Humiliating work, this," grumbled Basta as her fair skin broiled in the heat of Tatooine's twin suns. "When I was younger, faster and more powerful, I used to go on vital diplomatic missions. Now look at me! A drunkard and a novice gardener! A weed-puller! What would Master Vandar think, or Zhar?" She turned to glance at me and laughed. "Close your mouth, girl. Yes, indeed, I was a Jedi. Is that really a surprise to you? You may have heard of me in the Archives. My name was Bastila Shan, although I prefer to go by 'Basta' now. Saves us all a lot of trouble--me from being hounded by the remnants of the Sith, and the whole galaxy from hounding me for my previous betrayal and redemption. I've known both the Light Side and the Dark, and it was only because of Revan, the former Darth Revan, that I'm here now with you."
"You've said much," I mumbled, my own mouth dry, not knowing what to say.
"Just listen. I know you love to talk, but sometimes silence behooves you far more than words." A small smile. "What good is it to talk of fighting evil, and hence the Sith, when the real evil lies within us all and can surface at any moment? I was once a disciple of what you call the Jedi Order, being first a Padawan and then a Knight. However, under grievous pressure and torture, I turned to the Sith, and an apprenticeship under Darth Malak. He's dead now, slain by Revan as he should have been. However, my journeys continued for years afterward, as I searched for the one you have undertaken to find. Nothing.
Not the slightest trace, or a word, for the woman he left behind. I was, and I still am, lost without him. It's come to a point now where if I ever see him again, I'm not sure if I'll embrace Revan or end his life. I hope, my dear child, that you will never reach such a point, one beyond hope."
"There's always hope," I said, and Basta laughed again, her head tilting back.
"So says one who has let love, and not duty, dictate the course of her life."
I was sad and confused. "Basta," I asked, "do you still love Revan?"
"No. Not anymore. There was a time when I loved him, but that time is long gone. He is dead to me, like a ghost, like a rotting corpse. The Jedi Code says that there is no death; there is only the Force. However, I've come to see that the Jedi are fools. Benevolent fools, no doubt, but they refuse to face the truth. If they never realize that death will come in the absence of love, in the absence of attachment, in the absence of caring and passion,
the Jedi will remain blind to the threats that pursue them--forever."
I remained quiet for a moment. "Basta--you say Revan's like a ghost," I tried to explain, finally. "Have you ever known a ghost, even one that's alive?"
"Who is to say I am not one?" A sudden chill, hot and cold, swept over me.
Someone was coming.
He was clad all in black, like a Sith Lord, right down to the flowing cloak. His eyes glowed bright yellow, his face as red as the sun on Korriban at dusk. However, he held no aura of malice, no sizzling tremors through the Force that would make either one of us, being sensitive, spring to attack. He was simply there, scary yet terrorless, a presence that made me at once hopeful and afraid. I stood up, almost knocking over my wash-pail in my haste, and Basta lay down her trowel. She looked more annoyed than angry, or even wary. This is an insect that must be squashed quickly,
her eyes said.
"Who are you?" I swallowed hard, though I tasted precious little saliva.
"Krov'yu Rakhtin. Ancient Sith for 'blood broken'. I come from the refuge on Korriban, one of Yuthura Ban's former followers, self-condemned to exile for twenty-eight years. I've come to this world to meet you, to see if all I've heard is true. Are you the banished Jedi who slew your mistress in the core of Malachor V? Answer me." He paid no heed to Basta, who stood glaring.
"Yes." All four of my limbs were shaking. "Tysyacha Dvyx. I am she."
"Touch my hand. You might think I'm a ghost, but I'm only partially so."
Cautiously, I reached out and felt his fingertips. Strange. He seemed half-transparent, as if part of him had vanished into the netherworld of the Force. "You've come to meet me?" I said, trying to laugh. "Why, of all things? I'm no one right now, only a servant of Czerka. A paid peon, not a Jedi!"
Krov'yu Rakhtin said nothing. He simply stood and then turned slightly to me. "I bring news from the slain one," he said. I caught more cold shivers.
"Finish these steps," he replied, smiling, "and I will." He strode upwards.
Basta stared, seething, and I heard nine whisper-soft words in her silence:
By my hand, Krov'yu Rakhtin, you will indeed die.