One of Thousands
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Kirkwall/The Free Marches
Current Game: Dragon Age II
(Author's Note: Part 14 of my "Vremya" series, darker than ever...Enjoy!)
"Please remind me why we now have two Mandalorians aboard, Captain."
Jolee Bindo was sitting cross-legged on the metal cot in medbay aboard the Ebon Hawk, wrinkling his dark-skinned forehead and staring at me with a peeved expression. "Seriously, one is bad enough, but it sounds like a war zone in the cargo hold! What are those two doing, anyway?" He jerked his head toward the clamor-filled place where Rodion was sparring with the Mandalore, Canderous Ordo, leader and consummate warlord of all the clans of his race. Mandalore had taken a liking (if you could call it that) to my partner, and Rodion had dutifully submitted to Canderous' plans to train him. For twelve hours each day, they put themselves through the rigorous paces of combat training and hard manual labor on the ship, leaving precious little time for idle chatter (or idle kisses, though Rodion did manage to sneak in some of those!) It left the rest of us wondering if we should follow suit.
"They're practicing, I guess," I mumbled, feeling somewhat guilty that I'd neglected my lightsaber for a while. "If we're going to find and fight the True Sith, we'd better be prepared." I grinned sheepishly. "I'm one to talk, huh?"
Jolee rubbed his chin, thinking. "Talk is cheap," he said after a moment, "but I would like to talk to you. About those Jedi spies on Eriadu, the two that were trying to infiltrate the Exchange." I blinked. Had he actually said that aloud?!
"Captain? Are you all right?"
Shaking my head free of all the cobwebs, I cleared my throat and coughed. "I must have spaced out for a minute. T3-M4 does that sometimes when he's on sentry duty and getting tired. That happens with old droids," I mumbled, all of a sudden realizing I might have offended Jolee due to his age. "Sorry."
A trace of a smile crossed the former Jedi's lips. "No apology needed. I simply wondered if you were preoccupied about something." He placed his hands on his knees in a meditative pose. "As for me, I'm concerned that something's still not right about how the situation on Eriadu went down. The Exchange could have found them out, or someone could have blown their cover, but"--He paused. "Those two spies were too good. They were some of our most experienced agents. They would have known better than to let something slip, or to"--Jolee shook his head. "Forget it. I'm just a paranoid old man."
I put my hand upon one of his in a gesture that, I hoped, would remind him of a daughter or granddaughter. Jolee, to my relief and his credit, did not shrug it off. "No. I want to hear more about these agents. What they knew could be, and probably was, very important to the Jedi and the Republic's efforts."
"You got that right." Jolee sighed. "All right, here's the story, 'the real scoop,' if you want to know the truth. Yurran Thul and Sal Draund were more than just spies, more than even just Jedi spies. These two were the best of the best, the cream of the crop, and if they would have been sensitive to the Force, they would have been unstoppable. These men were innately born for espionage, and what they found out about the Exchange and their even more shady 'connections' could have had tremendous repercussions for the galaxy. However, with the loss of their lives came the loss of their proof, for the info we needed was stored directly in their heads. We've got no datapads, no holocrons, not even a piece of flimsi to prove what we thought we knew..."
"Which was?" For some reason, I couldn't stop my heart from pounding.
"The Exchange is more than just a crime syndicate. They're in league with the Sith, the real Sith that always come around like cannoks to the scent of blood when they sense the Republic is weak. From what I last heard from Yurran and Sal, they were on the brink of securing proof of Sith dealings from one slimy Thurga the Hutt, son of Vogga. For another thing, those spies had..." He trailed off. "If I ever find their murderer, or murderers, I'll reveal that little secret once they confess or are convicted. Right before I send them off to a mandatory sentence at hard labor." Sweat was pouring down Jolee's face. "For now, I've wasted enough of your time, Captain. Farewell."
"Wait, wait, wait!" I cried. "What's the secret? I won't tell anyone."
"That," said the ex-Jedi, his voice drawling darkly, "has something to do with three dead Sith Lords, and one former one who's still alive." He turned to go.
I stood up, trembling, and the second Jolee left, I bolted for my own bunk.
"Kreia?" I whispered once I was sure no one, not even that old snake of an amateur detective, could hear me through the Force. "What does he know? Is he just trying to scare me? He's an old fool, right? The spies didn't know anything. Not about you, not Sion, not Nihilus. They were only after the Exchange, not the Sith Lords. Jolee's just playing. Pretending. Right?!"
Hissssss. The holocron glowed red, and I began to weep. I knew Kreia's answer, and it was not the one I wanted to hear. Would comforting words ever reach my ears again? Rodion and a ghost from the Force were my only real allies now, and perhaps Mandalore. The other two either wanted to punish me or use me for their own destructive ends. Which fate was worse?
I couldn't ponder this for very long. Guess who wanted to talk to us?
"Excuse me," began Basta once we had all gathered round in the main hold--again. "I have a humble suggestion to offer as to the whereabouts of Revan, Captain." She looked at me with a meaningful gaze that meant more than everyone else except Rodion thought it did. "Coruscant. Where else?"
"That's just stupid." Canderous was irritated. "Why would he go somewhere to hide in plain sight when he knows the True Sith are out there, lurking in the Unknown Regions? Coruscant is as big of a city as you can find--hell, the whole planet is one big city--but I know Revan, or at least I thought I did, and the one thing he's not is a coward. Besides, what's on Coruscant but Jedi, a bunch of weakling urban dwellers, and the Galactic Senate chambers?"
"That's exactly where we must go." Basta stared at him coldly. "Revan needs to convince the Senate of the existence of the True Sith before it will send any ships to eradicate it. He will need the Republic's aid no matter what. Even such a strong and indomitable man as he is only one man. Revan's not invulnerable or infallible. If we find the Senate, then we will find him. I know."
"No, you won't." The sound of the Jedi Shadow Operative's voice made me jump a mile out of my seat, hard and rapping against my consciousness like a hammer against a nail. "You're wrong, Basta, and do you know why? You consistently underestimate the strength and the guile of one specter you thought you knew. Revan is a cipher. An anomaly. A loose cannon. You waste your time, and everyone else's, trying to track him down when the real threat lies much closer to home. You refuse to consider all possible angles."
"How dare you!" Basta stormed up to the Operative and shoved her face right up toward his. "I may be a drunkard who's gone to the bad, but I'm no fool!"
"Are you?" The Operative sighed. "It's as I thought. You don't know. Your eyes have completely failed you. You honestly don't remember..." I gasped.
He stood up before all of us, his face and eyes unreadable. "Yes. I'm Revan."