(Mood Music: Dire Straits' On Every Street http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjO0zmFR7nM
(Author's Note: If this isn't the absolutely most unsettling, creepiest, most chilling and disturbing piece you've read from me, I'll eat my lightsaber!)
Malachor V was the end for me. Not only was it the end of my journey throughout the galaxy, but it could also be the end of my life. I had come here to confront and fight Darth Traya, third member of the Sith Triumvirate and Dark Lady of Betrayal. Tragically for me, her face was all too familiar...
"Dvyx." Her pale features were illuminated by the red glow of the Trayus Core.
"I've been looking for you."
She turned around slowly, deliberately. "I know. Have you come to kill me?"
"I'd hoped it wouldn't have to come to that. For our sake--please surrender."
"I will not. I have been searching for the very heart of the Sith, and you have brought it straight to me. Yield to you, exile? Never."
I couldn't believe it. Who was wearing the ebony robe, carrying the ruby lightsaber? More than that, who had it positioned at the opening angle of the Ataru form, the fourth of the Jedi combat techniques? Certainly not I. However, at this moment I would save my sanctimony. I had no right to judge her, no right to condemn her as she would condemn me. The only shred of honor I had left was that I had not come to kill Atris, necessarily, but to help redeem her as I had helped to redeem the one I treasured...
"Why did you murder Kreia in cold blood?"
"She had to be removed."
"Because she was a Sith Lord?"
"No. Because she was far more than that. Revan was, and still is, a monster, redemption or no. Who was the Master that taught him? More specifically, who is it that led him to fall towards the Dark Side? Who was it that put her own selfish ends, and the potential death of the Force, ahead of the life of the galaxy? I slew her as I shall slay you, because the reason I killed her is the same one that caused Lord Revan to make sure that Vreya fought and was slain on the front lines of the battle you've fought so many times before--in your mind, and in your dreams at night. She was a negative influence, a cancer, a poison that needed to be extracted from you. Ah, exile--don't become a poison! You are a phenomenon. That is why I now turn your offer of surrender back upon you. Will you yield, and finally become a Jedi once again?"
"Do you honestly believe you are still a Jedi, Atris? After Kreia's revelation?"
Atris smiled. "I only wear this robe and carry this lightsaber because they are the symbols of the evil that you believe you're fighting. However, you have become a servant of that evil. If it makes it easier to fight me because I'm wearing black instead of white, very well, but know that I'm the one who truly serves the Light. Let us end this, and we shall realize who is the victor."
I blinked. I reeled under the full weight of her madness through the Force.
Atris sighed. "Come, now. You had no idea Vreya's death was carefully planned?"
This was an attempt to goad me, to bait me. I prayed to stand my ground.
She sprang toward me, her lightsaber buzzing close to my ear, giving my neck a burning slash of heat. I was paralyzed, but only for a split second. Parrying her abrupt attack, I sought to throw her back using the Force, but to no avail. Atris had a remarkably high resistance to attacks of this kind, that were made drawing upon the inherently light side of the Force--wait--
If she were resistant to the Light Side, that meant only dark powers would ever render her vulnerable, barring saber damage. I would not fall for such a trap! She stood tall above me, pinning me fast to the heart of the Trayus Core through the use of the Force. I couldn't move, couldn't breathe...
"Three times you have betrayed the Jedi Order," she hissed. "Once when you followed Revan to war, again when you refused your second punishment under the true Jedi Masters, and now when you attempt to slay me. I
am the last Jedi, Dvyx, the last of a dying breed, and I--intend to rebuild--everything--" I was pushing outward, pushing upward, using the Force to try and slow her down. She wouldn't kill me this way, not like a dying animal--
Atris roughly forced me onto my knees. "Get up!" she snapped, as if I were a child late for her morning lessons at some elementary academy. With a deft flick of the wrist, she snatched the silver lightsaber from my belt and shoving it to one side of my neck, pressing her own red one to the other side. "You are admired by the Mandalorians? You are respected on the field of battle by dozens of soldiers? Mercenaries and bounty hunters flee from the sight of you? Pathetic!
You cannot duel me, or resist my powers! It shall be my pleasure to end your miserable existence, you paltry, prostituted wretch! You've sold yourself to everyone, including Lord Revan and the Dark Side!"
I gazed up at her. "Why, Atris?" I asked. "What are you trying to do?"
"Are you a Youngling? I won't answer that, you child, you weak little girl!"
"When you rebuild the Order," I whispered, "what will you teach the Jedi?"
She sighed, like a mother who has finally had enough of her misbehaving little ones. Her face was weary, haggard, that of a woman who had fought too long and too hard for rewards that never came. She looked like one who had believed in something, a cause, a deity, and had found out it was false. The Lady of Betrayal had been betrayed, and I was the one who had done it.
"I will teach them...that if a man will not be good of his own free will, then we will force him to be good. We must,
because we are the Jedi."
She fell silent. I knew that two words, and one promise, might reach her.
Tears were pouring down Atris' cheeks. I had told her I surrender,
and I meant it. She tightened her hands on the hilts of the lightsabers, weeping, gazing straight into my eyes, preparing to press. I reveled in the waiting.
Atris was thrown back by a sharp and abrupt wave of the Force, her head slamming into one of the marble pillars opposite me. Once, twice, three times, her skull smashed into the stone, causing cracks to form in both. Blood ran deep into the fissures of the column, and I struggled to stand as she fell...
"Kreia," I whispered. "I have failed you, failed both of us. Why did you--?"
Three reasons, apprentice, for the three times you have triumphed.
Once for the time you pledged to join Revan and thus save the galaxy.
Once for the time you betrayed him to save yourself, Vreya, and all of Dxun.
And, once, for your surrender. It's what a true Jedi would have done.
Somehow, I found the strength to leave Malachor V as it sundered into three parts, three remnants, three echoes that were now silent once and for all.