Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away

The Road to Rediscovery
Part 18 - Echoes of the Past

The Ebon Hawk touched down in a grassy clearing just outside the Dantooine Jedi Enclave. There had been no space amid the rubble in the enclave's landing courtyard.

Disembarking, Ev stepped off the Ebon Hawk's landing platform and let the afternoon air wash over her. She breathed deeply and shut her eyes. The smell of death and destruction still hung on the wind like a faint smoke. Inside her chest, Ev's heart ached. This place was a wound in the Force.

She reached out the Force for comfort, almost to comfort it. As it flowed through her, the Force seemed like a lonely child, relieved to see someone at last who could understand, to related all the horrors it had seen in this place. The dismayed yells of Jedi and screams of terrified younglings reached her ears, echoing as if over a great distance. Flickers of night, fire, lightsabers, and death danced past her inner vision in ephemeral fragments. Fear seized her heart as it had so many Jedi that night. This place cried out to all who would listen, and its cries would echo in the Force for centuries to come.

These echoes were not what Ev expected to find here. She did not know what to expect, although she had hopes of a more material sort. Ev wondered if all wounds like this from the wars cried out in the same way.

Ev sighed and opened her eyes, but the memories would not leave her. They embraced her. Perhaps this was the key to remembering.

She started over the dry grass towards the entrance to the enclave, which hung ajar and broken out of its track. Everywhere were signs of struggle. Black carbon of laser fire scored the outer walls. Rubble was cut in two, too evenly to be sliced by anything but an errant lightsaber. From the indentation in the dirt in front of the door and the fragments and feelings that the Force gave her, Ev knew that a Jedi had died there, cut down by the Sith. His body had undoubtedly been carried away by the small party of Jedi that came here shortly after the attack to investigate and give rest to the dead.

Inside, the Jedi Enclave was worse than it had seemed from the air. Piles of rubble collapsed in from the ceiling above made portions of the hallway nearly impassible. Ev clambered over the rocks and shifted large stones out of the way with the Force, slowly working her way inward. Every step of the way, flickers of horrifying memories accosted her at the edge of her consciousness.

Ev pushed out of the collapsed corridor and into the sunlight of an open courtyard again. In the center, amid all the destruction, still stood the stalwart, twisted cedar under whose branches Ev and Juhani had spent several long afternoons in conversation near the end of Ev's education here. A few branches were broken off, leaving splintered knobs behind, but the tree still stood, giving memory to all the life that had once flourished within the enclave walls.

Ev sat herself on the cracked embankment that encircled the tree. She stared out at the courtyard, taking it all in. Many Jedi, young and old, had died in this very place. Is this my fault too? More deaths to add to my list? They were looking for Bastila—or was that just a ruse? Malak knew who I was, and he wanted me. Even if this was just a random piece of Sith brutality, it would have never happened if I hadn't brought the Sith back in the first place and made Malak who he was. “I'm sorry. I'm so sorry,” Ev whispered to the ghosts of the Jedi who died that day, hoping that they would be good enough to forgive.

Ev pulled her legs up and crossed them beneath her. Breathing deeply, she let herself go deeper into the Force. The Force had much to say to her here, and she would listen.

Juhani burst into Bastila's room without knocking.

“And?” Bastila asked expectantly.

“I have just been to talk with Dustil,” Juhani reported after quietly closing the door behind her, “He said that Ev took off suddenly two days ago, saying that she had some personal investigation to do.”

“Which is odd, because she usually takes Dustil with her when she goes off-planet,” Bastila said.

“Then the Ebon Hawk is not in Carth's storage hangar?” Juhani asked.

Bastila nodded. “He did leave it here so that she could have access to it whenever she needed to,” she replied, “And now she's taking off with it at any chance she gets.” Bastila sighed. “I felt like a fool at the time, but now I don't regret tracking down that little astromech of hers and ordering it to come find me if anything ever happens to her.”

“T3-M4 is loyal and resourceful,” Juhani agreed. “But why must she keep doing this? Bastila, what do you sense from her? Is she alright?”

Bastila shook her head frustratedly. “Lately, she has been more focused,” she replied, “She has learned to shut me out more and more. I still feel her there at the other end of our connection, but it isn't a constant stream of her feelings any more.”

Juhani sank down onto the bed next to Bastila helplessly. “I want to be of help to her,” Juhani moaned, “But I do not know how.”

Most of the ways into the sublevel of the Jedi Temple were blocked, but Ev finally managed to find a way down through a hole in the floor above. Dust blanketed everything. It was not the dust of age but the dust of stonework blown to a powder by orbital bombardment lasers. Ev's foot falls were the only boot prints to disturb the dust recently. Signs of the beginnings of a lagrek colony in the Enclave's basement were already evident, however. Though she saw their track marks on the floor and heard them hissing and scuttling behind each corner, they avoided her.

In the dimness, Ev did not need her eyes to guide her. Memories did that for her. The scant month she spent here at the enclave, retraining under Master Zhar and Bastila, seemed like ages ago. So much had changed in these last two years. Ev had no idea then just what she would become, or what she had been before.

There had been so much hope here; not just for her future and the part she could play in ending the war, but in the futures of all the younglings who trained here. Ev's stomach turned over again inside her with frustration and grief. They did not deserve to die. No one did.

Like the small council chamber Ev now picked her way through, many rooms in the enclave's basement had been off limits to her and the younger trainees. There were more signs of battle here, slices at the stone chairs and scoring on the walls. The silvery hilt of a lightsaber lay discarded in one corner, sliced cleanly in half. Instinctively Ev knew that Malak had been the very Sith in this chamber two years ago to slay the owner of that saber.

Malak: her friend, protege, and creation.

These protected rooms, private to the Jedi Masters, held many secrets still, some secrets that Ev wished to uncover herself. As she had feared, there was evidence of salvagers picking through the ruins already, but not so much to destroy what she was looking for or ruin the memory of those that fell there. Not yet anyway.

From the scattered memories she now had and the accounts of a few kindly older Jedi, Ev knew that Dantooine had also been the enclave that raised her. Found as a refugee baby on the far outer room, Ev was brought here as an infant, raised and trained into a great Jedi. This place formed her early years. It even echoed on who she was now. Sneaking through these back hallways, no fear of being caught, was a familiar feeling.

Malak was raised here too, her closest friend. A part of her was baffled that he, even with all of his memories of this place in tact, would personally see to its destruction. The rest of her knew that Dark Malak of the Jedi Civil War was so far beyond sentiment and nostalgia to even remember what mercy would look like. Darth Malak became nothing more than a power-hungry, jealous killer. At the time of his death, he knew little else.

This enclave was also the place that the Jedi masters held her captive and reformed her mind. Somewhere, in the depths of the enclave, they were able to keep her secret from the rest of the Jedi as they delicately built her into a safe version of herself that they could use to win the war: a blaster without a trigger or a lightsaber without a focusing crystal, they hoped.

That secret place was the place Ev sought. With the Force to guide her, it would not evade her for long. Beneath all the pain of the attack on the enclave, Ev sensed another, separate darkness. It was a familiar darkness.

It was her own.

She pushed through cobwebs and unsteady rubble into the back entrance of the Dantooine archives. This was the way the Masters often entered, and also had access to a separate set of archives. Past the bashed-in door that creaked in protest as it slid open on its tracks, Ev found two more sets of doors, just as she had suspected. Turning to the right, she entered the private archive of the Jedi Masters. The holo records that lay strewn all over rattle shelves and the floor would bring new depth to her research, but that search was not what drove her now.

Ev stepped carefully over the data disks that the bombardment had shaken to the floor towards another door at the back of the small archive. She could sift through these later. The door looked like any other panel in the wall, but Ev knew it when she saw it. She knew it had to be here. In such a small archive, why leave one section of wall uncovered with shelves except that that section of the wall was a doorway and not a piece of wall at all. She probed it with the Force and it grated open, sliding along gritty tracks.

The door led to a passage down a winding set of stairs that plunged deep into the earth below the Jedi Enclave. It smelled musty and felt dark. Even as she reached the landing at the bottom and laid her hand on the door controls, Ev knew that this was the place. Here, the Jedi kept knowledge and artifacts too dangerous to be stored anywhere else and yet too precious to be destroyed.

Suddenly, the com terminal in Bastila's room beeped with an incoming call. Bastila leaped up and saw the incoming call labeled as 'Sojourn, Republic Navy.' She accepted the call, and Carth resolved into view.

“Carth, what can I do for you?” Bastila answered as calmly as she could.

“Bastila,” Carth started immediately, “I just noticed a message from the hangar I rent on Coruscant that the Ebon Hawk took off a few days ago. Is Ev on another trip?”

“As far as we can tell, yes,” Bastila replied.

Carth's shoulders sank. “So she didn't tell you either?” he asked.

Juhani shifted over to where Carth could see her in the com terminal. “Here we were hoping that she had told you the purpose of her trip,” Juhani said.

Carth sighed, “I want to trust her, but I just don't know any more. She's not herself.”

“Her research seems to be consuming her,” Juhani added.

“Carth, did she tell you she's been visiting families of people who died in these wars, on both sides?” Bastila asked.

“No, but Dustil did,” Carth replied, “She's apologizing to all of them. It's like guilt is eating her up inside.”

“She still reads that list of the dead when she thinks no one is watching,” Juhani said.

“I'm beginning to regret giving her my clearance into the navy files,” Carth admitted.

“She would have found her way to that information with or without you, Carth,” Bastila pointed out, “Don't beat yourself up over that.”

Carth sighed again. “I wish I was still on Coruscant. I hate not being able to be there for her,” he said.

“I wish you were here as well,” Juhani admitted, “She is so much more stable when you are around.”

“You know,” Carth started, “As soon as she gets back, tell me. I'm going to use some of my personal leave to come back to see her.” He laughed sarcastically at himself, “As if she needs me.”

“Of course she needs you, Carth,” Juhani protested, “She loves you.”

The room was small and cluttered. Deep underground, it was completely untouched by the Sith bombardment. The Sith did not know it was here and were not looking for it. All for the better they did not. The holocrons, ancient books, and Sith artifacts stored openly in this room would shock most Jedi and thrill any gleeful treasure-hunting Sith. Ev herself was floored by the volume of treasures kept hidden below the enclave.

In one corner there was a modern Force cage. Ev had no doubt as to what that had been for. Surely, that had been her prison for the months it took to reform her. Ev approached it tentatively, step by step, bracing herself for any sudden visions of returned memories. None came. She reached out and touched the activation panel, desperately trying to remember anything from that time, but the memories eluded her.

A plain footlocker near the cage mechanisms caught her eye. Among the ancient and arcane, it too stood out in the hidden chamber. Ev knelt down in front of it and lifted the lid. Folded neatly inside, as if stowed away for her own future use, were the dark robes, armor, and mask of Darth Revan. Ev froze and caught her breath.

There was a single lightsaber in the footlocker as well, beside the clothes. Seeing it there, Ev's left hand went reflexively to the hilt of her red saber to reassure herself that it was still there. The saber lying before her was almost identical as the one she hung from her belt. Just how Revan's second saber came to be at the Korriban academy, a prize for successful students, was a mystery. No matter how, there it was in the Tomb of Naga Sadow, waiting for her return. The saber the Sith had tested her with on Korriban wasn't just any saber. It was her saber. Now she had its mate as well.

The faceless mask stared up at her, eyes slits into deep abysses. It seemed almost expectant. Ev reached down. Her fingers brushed the cold metal, sending a shiver up her arms. This is what she had been looking for.

Ev had known all along that she could not understand her past self without looking out through those narrow slits and seeing the world as the Revanchist had seen it. Revan was not just a person, and she had known that. Revan was a leader and a symbol. She was the voice of a cause. She was more than just one individual. The mask was what made it all possible.

Thanks to the meticulous record keeping of the Republic Navy, Ev now knew the extent of her famed Masking Speech. She had read it so many times, she now had it memorized.

“Now knowing only the beginning of the horrors possible at the hands of the Mandalorians, I cannot sit by and simply beg for action. I must take action, and I cry out for my fellow Jedi to stand beside me.

“I don this mask, the mask of a Mandalorian who dared to beg for mercy for the Cathar, the mask of a Mandalorian who was shot down by her own for daring to speak for justice. I will wear it to speak for that justice that was her outcry. And until the victims of these atrocities have justice, until the galaxy is safe from the threat of the Mandalorians, I will not remove this helmet. Until the galaxy is secure, I give up my face for the face of this, my cause. So says Revan!”

Ev repeated it to herself, barely above a whisper, holding the helmet gently between her hands. A shiver of expectation ran down her spine.

The galaxy was not safe or secure. She felt that in her very being. Even with a name like Revan Roan'evrue Pell, the Prodigal Knight, Ev lacked the power she once had. She was just another Jedi Knight in the eyes of the galaxy. One Jedi Knight was nothing, insignificant. But a symbol like the Revanchist, masked and crusading for justice, that was powerful.

Though uneasiness coursed through her in waves, Ev knew that she had to reclaim the mask of Revan.

“Either way, I need her,” Carth replied. His voice sounded bleak.

“I am beginning to fear,” Bastila started hesitantly, “that with all of these sudden trips Ev is taking, she just might not return one day. She is out after something, but I don't know what it is. What if she finds it?”

“Bastila, don't say that!” Juhani admonished.

“Juhani, she's right,” Carth argued meekly, “I am afraid of exactly the same thing. She seems to be putting her search for whatever it is before anything or anyone else.”

Juhani set her jaw and declared firmly, “Once she returns, I will not let her out of my sight again.”

“Juhani, what of your training of Shasa?” Bastila asked, “Isn't that going a bit too far?”

“Shasa will have to learn Force Camouflage or be left behind,” Juhani said firmly, “We cannot lose Ev. I will follow her to the ends of the galaxy if I must.”

Carth looked more uncomfortable than ever over the com. “I need to get back to work,” he said reluctantly, “But please keep me updated. I'll try to get back to Coruscant as soon as I can.”

“We will, Carth,” Bastila promised.

Ev's Jedi robes lay discarded in a messy pile on the floor. Instead, she wore the heavy, black robes of Darth Revan, every clasp and buckle of it. Beneath all the leather, cotton, and wool, Ev felt more than just the weight of her clothing. What am I doing? Dressing up like the single most feared individual in the recent history of the galaxy? She stared down at the gray and red helmet in her gloved hands. Something—curiosity perhaps—compelled her to finish what she had begun. Slowly, laboriously, Ev turned the mask around in her hands and lifted it to her face.

Blinking, Ev stared out through the glossy eye slit. In the Force cage in the corner, she saw a specter of herself.

“So you will not thank us for saving your life, then, Roan'ev?” Master Vrook said distastefully. With him stood the other three Masters of the Dantooine Enclave: Vandar, Dorak, and Zhar.

Even through the obscuring slit of Revan's mask, the intensity of her glare was unmistakable. “You did not send those Jedi to my ship to save my life,” she replied sharply, voice echoing deeply from within the mask, “They came to capture me or to kill me. You have succeeded in the first. Will you continue with the later?”

“We Jedi do not kill our prisoners,” Master Dorak said.

“What now, then?” Revan asked, tilting her head to the side. Even within the Force cage, gloved hands manacled before her for extra protection, she bore herself calmly and confidently. “Will you demand that I tell you all my secrets?”

“And let you deceive us with your lies as you have deceived countless others?” Vandar asked, “No.”

Revan chuckled, “I would not have told you, had you asked. You know it is pointless to hold me here. Darth Malak will have taken control of the Sith by now. I am worth nothing as ransom. He will not want me back. I am no longer even a commander of a Sith that you can coerce into ending this war. Poorly played, Jedi.”

“There are techniques in the Force,” Master Vrook began slowly, “Through which you can rewrite a mind to follow a new cause.”

“You speak of such techniques as if I do not know them already,” Revan shot back, voice full of sudden venom, “You would make me a puppet of a Jedi, then? You would strip the galaxy of one of its most brilliant and powerful leaders?”

“You are delusional, Roan'ev,” Vrook spat.

“You have no idea what it is you are doing, Jedi,” Revan's voice raised to a terrifying timber, “By removing me, you are cutting the head off the cunning hydra. Each head that will spring back will strike harder, but will be stupid and lack all the direction it had with just one. By removing me, you leave open your galaxy to destruction beyond your wildest nightmares. I was your last line of defense. You no not what waits out there in the darkness for you, Jedi. Malak, with all the subtly of a Gamorrean cleaver, will not be your hero. Release me and survive, Jedi.”

“This galaxy has had enough of your poison, Revan,” Vrook shot back, “It is time for your 'redemption'.”

The other three Jedi Masters fell into position around the Force cage. Revan knew this technique well. She hoped that her own will to remember would be enough to counter the combined wills of the four Jedi Masters. Unfocused and pompous as they were, Revan had to believe that she was stronger.

Hands shaking, Ev lifted off the helmet. It was too obvious to her now. How could the Jedi Masters not have understood? They must have thought Revan's warnings the crazed pleadings of woman who had lost her mind to the dark side. Even if they had heeded her danger, they must have assumed she was only concerned with the fragmented Sith under Malak's reckless leadership.

No. Revan spoke of another danger, a danger that only she was ready to protect the galaxy from.

Ev gazed past the helmet in her hands to the pile of crumpled Jedi robes on the stone floor. There was no going back now.

- Next Part -

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