Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away

The Road to Rediscovery
Part 21 - Empty Places

Dustil hesitated, fist hovering centimeters in front of the hotel door. He took a deep, calming breath, then knocked twice and waited. Dustil was about to give up and abandon his task when the door opened on Carth. He looked terrible, wearing a too-small women's robe. His face was pale against puffy, reddened eyes. He hardly seemed to see Dustil standing there outside his door. It seemed unlikely that he would notice the second saber that hung from his belt, Revan's lightsaber, his parting gift from Ev. That would be for the best. His father did not need any further reminding.

“Dad, uh, Bastila said I could find you here,” Dustil began.

“And so you found me,” Carth replied gruffly, and stepped back to let Dustil inside. Though it was nearly mid-day the curtains were still drawn, on the dim, musty room. Carth had not even bothered to turn up the climate control to a comfortable level. The bed sheets lay wadded in disarray, though it looked like he had long since given up on sleeping there. A half empty bottle of Corellian Brandy sat on the bed side table.

“I—uh,” Dustil began, but started over again, “Ev wanted me to give this to you.” Dustil held out a small, single-use holo recorder.

Carth took it but hardly looked at it. “You knew she was going to leave, then?” Carth observed, almost accusingly.

“I guessed it,” Dustil admitted, “I saw a vision of the future that didn't include her, and somehow I knew she was going to go.” He added hastily, “But she made me promise not to tell you.”

“Why?” Carth demanded, but not of Dustil. It was as if he was asking the whole universe to answer him, “Why would Ev leave without telling me? Why would she leave like that, without saying goodbye?”

“I don't know for sure, but I would bet she said something about her reasons on that,” Dustil suggested, waving a hand at the holo recorder that Carth held. “You don't have to watch it in front of me, though.”

“No, it's alright,” Carth sighed, then waved Dustil to the chairs in front of the bed, “Come on in. You're her family too.”

Carth sunk into the chair near his brandy with another heavy sigh. Dustil stiffly took a seat on the other, ready to jump up and leave at a moments notice if his father needed more privacy. Carth activated the holo projector and a bluish projection of Ev from the waist up hovered above the black and silver disk.

“Carth, I'm sorry,” she began, “I am leaving. I am sorry that it had to be this way, but I know that if I had to face you and tell you myself, I wouldn't be able to bring myself to go. I love you too much, and I never want to see you hurt again.

“There are places that I have to walk that you cannot go with me, places I can't bring people that I love. As Revan, I have unfinished business, and I cannot risk anyone else's lives on that. I believe that there was something else behind the Mandalorian Wars. I don't think it was really their choice to attack the Republic as they did. Now it is my duty to find it and fight it. It is something that only I, as Revan, can do.

“Carth, I know this is going to be hard for you to take, but you need to stay strong. Don't come looking for me. Stay where you are. The Republic needs you. Please, keep the Republic strong.

“Until we meet again, Carth. I love you. Please, don't forget me.”

“How could I ever?” Carth whispered huskily. Tears glistened in his eyes.

Dustil remained where he was, feeling awkward and intrusive.

Carth swallowed hard, then looked up at his son. “First your mother, and now Ev,” he tried to smile but could not. “And now she had to go off all alone into who knows what kind of danger.”

“Actually,” Dustil hoped to comfort him, “Juhani is gone too. Bastila said that she was shadowing you and Ev last night and that she hasn't come back either. I think she managed to follow Ev aboard the Ebon Hawk when she left.”

Carth looked as if just a little weight was lifted from his shoulders. “I trust Juhani with her,” he admitted with a sigh, “She will stick to Ev like glue and do her best to keep her out of trouble. I just wish...”

“That she'd take you with her?” Dustil asked.

Carth nodded wordlessly, swallowing hard again.

“If it makes you feel any better, she wouldn't take me along either,” Dustil offered, “And I'm supposed to be her student and follow her everywhere.” He paused then added, “Boy is she going to be mad when she finds out that Juhani snuck past her.”

Carth let out a short, halfhearted laugh. “You bet she will be.”

Bastila and Snow walked away from one of the large lecture halls in the Jedi Temple from a debriefing on the closing campaigns of the war with the Sith. All the Jedi and their padawans on Coruscant had been invited, and still the two hundred-seat auditorium was not filled. Only small pockets of Sith resistance remained, and it was just a matter of cleaning them up to finish the war. Still, there were a number of powerful Sith who seemed to have disappeared entirely. While they hoped that the Sith had killed each other off in the far reaches of the galaxy, the unspoken fear remained that they were hiding, waiting for their moment to rise again.

Bastila and her padawan took a turn and headed away from the rest of the departing crowd, towards the Eastern Arboretum where they would begin their training for the afternoon. They walked in silence, delving deep into the passages of the Jedi Temple. Nearing the arboretum, Bastila did not notice how long the silence between her and her padawan had stretched on.

“Something is bother you today, Bastila,” Snow observed gently. It was a statement, not a question.

“Ah, sorry,” Bastila apologized, “I was distracted there. What did you think about the debriefings?”

“I don't think you were thinking about them at all,” Snow replied firmly. As always, she would not let Bastila avoid any topic once brought up.

Bastila sighed and shook her head. “Two of my dearest friends have gone away,” she admitted quietly, “And I don't know when, or if, I will ever see them again.”

“Ev and Juhani,” Snow surmised.

Bastila nodded. “But I don't want this going around the Jedi temple just yet,” she cautioned, “The less I worry the council, the better.”

“You have my silence,” Snow promised.

“I can always trust you, Snow,” Bastila replied heavily. The pair arrived at the arboretum and stepped inside, letting the lush life force of all the greenery wash over them. Bastila took a deep breath and let it out slowly, calming her.

“Do you feel her through your bond?” Snow asked.

Bastila searched within herself. She nodded. “Yes, she's still there,” Bastila replied, “It's faint, as if I'm looking at her at a distance through a dense fog.”

“She is far away already then?” Snow asked.

“No,” Bastila countered, “Distance makes no difference to our bond. Ev is willfully shutting me out to the best of her abilities.”

“She does not want to tie you in with this quest of yours,” Snow suggested, “Or burden you with it.”

“I wish she would have,” Bastila replied heavily.

“This is going to weigh on you for some time, isn't it?” Snow observed.

Bastila nodded again. “I think you're right,” she agreed. Cutting Ev out of her life was like losing a part of herself.

“Then you can't just stay around here training me and wallowing in your loss,” Snow started sharply, “We should volunteer for one of those clean-up missions on the outer rim. You will need a distraction—a cause.”

“Snow, I am not sure if you are ready for that yet,” Bastila cautioned.

“My lightsaber skills are nearly as good as yours,” Snow pointed out stubbornly, “My control over the Force is fine-tuned. If you are concerned about my stability, what better way to find out if I am ready than to test it? Dustil said that Ev tested him by returning to Korriban. Or aren't you ready to face the Dark Side again?”

“Snow,” Bastila said sharply, “Who here is the master and who is the student? Your suggestion has its merits, though. I will think on it.”

“I'm sorry,” Snow bowed her head, but Bastila still felt smoldering assertiveness rolling off of her.

The arboretum door behind them hissed open and another Jedi hurried inside.

“Bastila, there you are,” Master Embrik Waykennit began hurriedly.

“Master Waykennit,” Bastila bowed in greeting. To Snow, she said, “I will catch up with you in a moment.” Snow, however, remained rooted to her spot beside Bastila. As long as she keeps her opinions to herself for the moment, I’ll allow her to stay.

Embrik continued briskly towards her, looking around cautiously. “Bastila, if I may,” he began, “I have a question for you, about an issue which concerns both of us, I suspect.”

“Yes?” Bastila asked, bracing herself for the worst. Could he know already? Was he listening to us earlier?

“Do you know what has happened to Juhani?” he asked quietly, “I had hoped to ask Ev, but she was also missing this morning.”

Bastila stared warily back at him, tight-lipped, unsure how to respond.

“Shasa came to me this morning when I was training the other Korriban and Selkath apprentices and said that she could not find her master,” Embrik continued, “It seems that she is nowhere in the Temple. Shasa said that she left very suddenly yesterday evening and has not returned since.”

Bastila still held her silence. Embrik had been one of Ev's greatest supporters on the Jedi High Council and even had trained her on control in private. His term on the council was finished, however, so he no longer wielded the influence he previously had. Still, Bastila hardly knew him herself and was unsure how much to trust him.

“Bastila, you know something,” he observed, “I can feel it. Please tell me.”

Glancing around, even though her senses told her that no one else was near, Bastila finally acquiesced. “Master Waykennit,” she prefaced, “You have always been one of Ev's strongest supporters among the Jedi. Therefore, I trust you to not speak of this to any others until we know more. I do not want to create any kind of unnecessary panic among the Jedi.”

“Unless it is something that I cannot risk keeping quiet,” he nodded, his expression darkening, “Fine.”

Bastila began, choosing her words with care, “I believe that Ev was beginning to remember her past. She remembered something that frightened her and now she has set off to set it right. Although she never told me her intentions herself, that is my best guess.” She added quickly, “Ev herself is not a danger to the Jedi or to the Republic, I can promise you that still. But what she seeks may be.”

Embrik nodded slowly. “I see,” he said, “And Juhani?”

“Juhani was afraid Ev would try to leave on her own without a word, just as she tried to do yesterday,” Bastila explained, “I believe that her skill with Force Camouflage allowed her follow Ev to wherever she went. Juhani is with her, and I know she will not leave her.”

“At least that is some comfort,” Embrik relaxed slightly, “Did she take Dustil with her?”

Bastila shook her head, “No. He is still here. He only went to run and errand in the city this morning.”

Embrik looked as if he wanted to ask after that errand, but stopped himself. “They will not be returning any time soon, I gather,” he said.

“No, I don't believe so,” Bastila affirmed, “Whatever Ev is after will probably take her quite some time.”

“Then what to do about their padawans?” he asked, “There are so few Jedi these days. I doubt any one will want to take on Dustil or Shasa as long as we believe their masters to still be alive.”

“I will watch over them,” Bastila volunteered.

“The Jedi council still has not repealed its one padawan policy,” Embrik cautioned, “They would not agree to let you formally train two more.”

“Then I will train them informally,” Bastila promised, “It would be a disservice to my friends not to.”

Embrik nodded. “Then if Shasa comes to me again, I will send her to you,” he promised. “And please, don't keep this secret longer than you feel you need to. The Council will find out soon enough that they are missing and they will come straight to you. It would be easier on everyone the sooner you let them know of it.”

“If they can keep it quiet from the rest of the Jedi and from the press,” Bastila promised, “I will. I absolutely do not want the galaxy to begin to think that Revan has gone rouge again.”

“Then let them think that she has been sent off on a special mission,” Embrik suggested.

“That is precisely what she would have us think,” Bastila agreed.

Embrik reached out and touched Bastila on the shoulder. “I am sorry for your loss, Bastila,” he said sympathetically, “Let the Force guide you and heal you.” Master Waykennit’s concern for her startled her.

“Thank you Master Waykennit,” she replied, and truly meant it.

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