Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away

Under the Shadow of the Builders
Part 27- The Temple of the Ancients

After finishing the refreshments that had been served to them, the Elder Rakata's promise was quickly put into action. Two Rakata volunteered to guide the crew, sans Ev, Mission, and Zaalbar, to the wrecked ship they had mentioned to the South. The Wookiee and the young Twi'lek were comfortably situated in the mean time. Now knowing the Rakata language, Mission would have no trouble entertaining herself with her hosts. She could her curiosity about the planet and its people with any of her hosts that would answer her questions.

Six Rakata, including the three council members and one other who was identified as the Keeper of the History, collected various ritual instruments and ushered Ev out of the compound. Carth, along with Canderous, Jolee, Kionee, Juhani, and their two guides filed out behind them. As the two parties crossed the beach in opposite directions, Carth lingered in the gateway, then took a few steps after Ev's group.

One of the councilmen noticed. “She must go alone,” he reminded Carth sternly over his shoulder.

“I know,” Carth admitted with a frustrated sigh. And I don't like it one bit.

“I'm sure he only wants to see me off,” Ev reassured them, “Could he come along and watch the ritual? He can't use the Force anyway, so he couldn't enter even if he wanted to.”

She argues for me. I didn't even have to ask. I love you, Ev.

“I suppose that is permissible,” the Rakata allowed, then abruptly turned and continued along.

Carth had to scramble across the sand to catch up with them. “Thanks for that,” he murmured, moving into stride along side Ev.

“I was hoping you'd try to come along,” Ev admitted with a smile, then reached over and squeezed his hand. “This whole thing has me on edge, and I could use your company getting ready for it.”

“You, on edge?” Carth teased.

“I would argue that I was a soldier not too long ago, and only recently became a moderately serene Jedi,” Ev shot him a sideways glance, “But we both know that's more or less a lie. In truth, I don't think I ever was a perfectly serene Jedi. History can tell that.”

“You're afraid?” Carth asked.

“Afraid? No,” she replied, almost amused, “Fear is on the path to the Dark Side.”

Carth wasn't quite sure how serious she was being. “Is that you or your training speaking?” he asked.

“Carth, love,” she put a hand on his arm as they walked, “You're afraid enough for the both of us. I just need to be focused and alert for this. Infiltrating an ancient, Sith-infested temple full of dangerous who-knows-what, that takes careful concentration.”

“And you think you can do it?” Carth asked at almost a whisper. He didn't want their guides to overhear his concern.

“There's no room for speculating and what-ifs in the Force,” Ev replied, “That's one thing Master Zhar drilled into me. You've just got to throw yourself into the mercy of the Force and let the moment flow. Pondering about the future and foresight is something for Jedi Masters who sit around in their council chambers all day, planning for the Order. The life of the ordinary Jedi is very much in-the-moment. I'm on edge, as I said, because I'm trying not to think too much about what's ahead of me. When I get in there, I'll do what I need to do.”

“I hope you can,” Carth said, “This whole war really rests on whether you can or not.”

“Now that's something I really don't need reminding of,” Ev responded dryly, “But you heard what Canderous said: if anyone can do it, I can.”

“And he's right,” Carth agreed firmly, and took Ev's hand. “I would just feel a lot better being with you on the inside where I could see you—where I could help you, than just waiting on the outside, wondering what's going on.”

“For your sake, I hope you find something to do while I'm in there,” Ev said seriously, “You'll drive yourself crazy with worrying. Who knows how long it will take for me to get to the field generator and power it down. Promise me that you won't sit in front of that temple and wait the whole time?”

“Yeah, sure, I promise. I'm sure there will be plenty to do with repairing the ship,” Carth promised in order to appease her.

“Well, here we are,” Ev said as they rounded out of the enclosing cliffs and onto the meadow in front of the temple.

Carth and Ev did their best to stay out of the way as the six Rakata set up for the ritual. It seemed that Ev didn't need to take any part in it herself. She had only to be ready to dash inside the temple as soon as their chanting took the shield down. They set up a large white stone basin at the foot of the ramp up to the temple. Placing wood inside of it, they reverently poured on various oils and powders before lighting it all on fire. Five of the Rakata placed themselves evenly in a circle around it. They clasped their hands together, then knelt down, beginning their chant. The sixth Rakata simply stood back and watched.

Carth and Ev found themselves a spot to sit on the grass not too far away. There wasn't much to watch. The Rakata sat still as stones chanting endlessly in a form of the language so archaic that neither Carth nor Ev could make any sense of it.

Eventually, the sixth Rakata himself seemed to tire of the chanting as well. He strode over to where Ev and Carth sat, then kneeled down beside them.

“I should tell you that this will take a few hours,” the Elder Rakata began. “But you must be ready as soon as it is finished. The mechanisms in the temple are programmed to recognize our ritual and open the force field, but not for long. We would not want to have to repeat the process if you miss that opportunity.”

“I understand,” Ev nodded, “And you will tell me when it is almost finished?”

“Of course,” the Rakata rumbled. He gazed over both of the humans with his twisting eye stalks. Carth couldn't read his facial expressions at all, making him uncomfortable under the alien's stare. “Is it true that you do not remember any of your last visit here as the council has told me?” he asked after a moment. “You do seem somehow different.”

“It's true,” Ev replied, “The memories I have stretch back less than one standard year—that's less than a third the time since I was here last. My mind was damaged during the war and the Jedi restored it, then convinced me, in one way or another, to undo what I had done and fight against Malak and the Star Forge.”

“It is a relief to see that you have changed Revan,” the Rakata replied, “After your sincere interest in our people and our history, your betrayal shook us deeply.” He paused, then added, “I am sorry. If you do not remember your last visit, then you would not remember me. I am Osraa, Keeper of the History.”

“History? What sort?” Ev asked, straightening up, her eyes bright.

“I keep in my memory and in documentation the history of Lehon and the Rakata,” Osraa answered, “We Elders believe that such a thing is vital so that we do not repeat our past sins.”

“Then, would you mind answering a few questions of mine?” Ev asked as she tried to keep the eagerness from her voice, “I have been collecting clues about your civilization for the last several months in my travels. We went to five planets, all of which you had previously occupied, following the distorted data of star maps.”

“As you did the last time you came. And you were just as eager to know more about us then,” he replied, “It surprises me still that the Star Maps were able to regenerate themselves even after we sabotaged them so the slave races would be unable to find our home world. Such is the power of our terrible technology, even now. Please ask your questions. Though I do wish you hadn't forgotten our discussions of three years past.”

“I wish I hadn't either,” Ev admitted, “I guess one of the things that has been gnawing at me this whole time is: just how infinite was your Infinite Empire? Six planets is hardly deserving of that title.”

“If it were only six, we would not have been so bold in our naming,” Osraa chuckled, “Our empire consisted of over five-hundred planets, ten billion Rakata and over a trillion slaves.”

“Slaves?” Carth wondered out loud. “Not citizens?”

“You must understand, friend of Revan, that we are a violent race. We yearn for power and we take it savagely when we can. It is in our nature,” Osraa explained, “When we built our empire, we used each new planet as a resource to fuel our continuing ambitions. We enslaved all of the primitive races we encountered, for none were as advanced as we, and brutally crushed any rebellions. Our predecessors even reformed planets to better suit the needs of our staggering empire. Conquest is irresistible. The more we conquered, the more we wanted. Every Rakata with a name for himself wanted a planet or even a continent to govern.”

“But how did you travel the distances needed to create such an empire? That was long before the rest of the galaxy invented the hyperdrive,” Ev asked, eyes narrowed with interest.

“Since our earliest beginnings, the Rakata were what you call a Force-sensitive race. We combined technology with the power of the Force and used it to fling us through hyperspace and to discover life-supporting planets,” he explained, “Our ships, our weapons, our droids, our day-to-day machines, and even the Star Forge were all powered with the Force to some degree or another.”

“You said 'were,'” Ev observed keenly, “Are you not now? I haven't sensed the Force emanating from any of your people.”

“You observed correctly, Revan,” Osraa replied.

“Please call me Ev,” she cut in.

“Very well, Ev,” the Keeper continued, “The Rakata no longer feel the Force as they once did. It has been nearly a hundred generations since a Force-sensitive child has been born of the Elders. Some think it was an immunity to the Force that grew out of our long over-exposure to it. Our scientists suspect that our loss of sensitivity may have been caused by a genetic shift. They are hoping to isolate this Force gene, if such a thing exists. If we were able to breed sensitivity back into our population, we would once again be able to enter the Temple of the Ancients and relearn its secrets. There is hope that among the Black Rakata such a shadow of that gene still exists.”

“I thought you said that there were terrible things in the temple that should never be used again, do you want to create a second empire?” Ev asked warily.

“No, but we would join with the galactic community again, no longer living in isolation,” he replied solemnly.

“You mentioned Black Rakata,” Ev brought the conversation back. She seemed satisfied with his answer. “We were attacked shortly after landing by a group of shorter, darker-skinned Rakata. They aren't part of your settlement, are they?”

“No,” Osraa answered, “They are members of the tribe of the One, Black Rakata, descendants of an ancient warrior caste. The One is brutal and brilliant. He has risen as the most powerful of the primitive war lords on Lehon. Primitive and superstitious, they remember only through legends what we kept careful history of. They do not know the truth of our race. But their songs and legends brought them here. They know that within the walls of the Temple of the Ancients are great powers and secrets that could help their tribe dominate the world.”

“And they came to you demanding that you let them in?” Ev guesses.

Osraa nodded, “We could no easier let them inside as we could ourselves. None of their representatives seemed to have control of the Force. And, of course, we would never allow such dangerous technology into the hands of another warlord, only to repeat our past tragedies. They have persisted here for some time, since your last coming. They capture and kill our scouts when they can, hoping to persuade us.”

“And you don't do anything about it?” Carth asked, “Don't you have warriors of your own?”

“We have far superior weapons technology to them,” Osraa explained, “We could easily wipe them out. However, if we did, it would prove that we have learned nothing in these past forty thousand years. While they remain on this island, we will keep ourselves in the secluded safety of our enclave rather than fight and kill them.”

Carth sat back in mild amazement. The Elders impressed him. A violent race bent on preserving peace. That's a little bit like us humans, I guess.

“How did the empire fall?” Ev asked after some pensive moments.

“It was bound to happen, in the end,” Osraa answered, “Even if the whole galaxy were ours, it would not have satisfied our lust for conquest—our greed. Corruption ran rampant through our leaders, leading to bloody squabbles that affected not just the Rakata. Slave races began to cleverly unite against us all over our Empire. We began to lose our connection to the Force, having to rely more and more on primitive technology as fewer and fewer of our people could control what we had created before. Even still, we pressed on.

“What tipped the balance was a great plague that reached all edges of the galaxy. It killed only Rakata. Millions, if not billions, of our people died victims of it,” he continued, “It may have been an unusual mutation of a more ordinary virus, or it could have been engineered by one of the slave species. Though few possessed the technology to do such things. We saw to it that none of them learned our sciences. Regardless of the source, we fled from the galaxy at large as a weakened, frightened species.

“Being confined to our home planet bred malcontent, and the old leaders grappled for control over one another. They unleashed terrible weapons of mass destruction that flattened all of our cities and nearly destroyed our very planet. Billions more died. Some survived in underground warrens. We Elders lived in the safety of the temple and emerged years later to find only destruction. Our ancestors sealed off the temple, vowing never to let such creations loose on the world again, and thus we have stood in our duty to protect it,” he explained, “Until only a few thousand years ago, only we Elders walked the surface of this planet. Then the Black Rakata emerged little by little from the underground and found a lush world ready for the taking. Their kind are constantly at war. We would teach them otherwise, but they would not listen. Perhaps they will learn patience in the future and come to hear us.”

Ev took a while to take it all in. She gazed over at the continuing ritual, the five Rakata still stalwartly chanting, then up at the temple beyond them. “Is there anything I should know about the temple before I go inside?” Ev asked.

“We ourselves know little about its details,” Osraa admitted, “That was lost to us generations after we last were able to go inside. I do know that the disruptor field generator is on the roof of the complex, so you will have to ascend to its summit to shut it down.”

Ev nodded. “Thanks,” she said, “And what about the Star Forge. What exactly is it? What are we going up against?”

“Much of that is also lost to legends,” he answered, “But it is a terrible thing built by our ancestors. It is a great battle station that can construct massive fleets of ships, droids, and weapons quickly and easily from the elements it draws from our sun. More dangerous still, like all of our ancient technology it is fueled by the Force, the Dark Side as you call it. It is self-restoring, self-sustaining, and in a way, it has a consciousness of its own. Its dark power corrupts all that would try to use it. Only the strongest willed can control it. The Star Forge itself may have cause our leader's descent into bloody madness eons ago.”

“How can we destroy it then?” Carth asked.

“That is for you to discover. Perhaps you will find the answer in the Temple of the Ancients,” Osraa replied. Before Carth could ask him what he meant, the Keeper stood suddenly and stared in the direction of the Elder's enclave.

Hearing running footsteps approaching, Carth too turned to look. Both Juhani and Jolee jogged across the grass towards them. Neither looked calm.

“I trust that you have found the parts necessary to repair your ship?” Osraa addressed them as they approached.

They didn't reply directly. “Ev you're not going in there alone,” Jolee said darkly.

“Jolee, you know the promise I made,” Ev argued, “We need to abide by their traditions to earn their trust again.”

“Dammit Ev!” Jolee snapped in a low voice, “I don't care about their trust. I care about you staying alive to see another day. Just tell your friend here that we're going in with you.”

“She must go alone,” Osraa insisted calmly.

“Jolee, you know I can't—” Ev started to protest as she rose to her feet.

“Ev, we have had a vision—a premonition,” Juhani admitted slowly. There was worry in her yellow eyes.

“Your destiny, Ev, and probably the destiny of the whole galaxy will be decided inside that blasted temple,” Jolee continued on, his temper rising, “We already know that the place is crawling with Sith. They told us that themselves. Maybe Darth Malak himself is in there.”

“Perhaps this tradition has merit in their culture, but we cannot risk losing you, Ev,” Juhani added urgently.

“After what I saw, I am not letting you go in there alone,” Jolee said firmly, “I'm old, cranky, and stubborn, and I'm not going to back down.”

“I will not let you out of my sight either, Ev, you are too important to me, and to the whole galaxy,” Juhani added.

With a heavy sigh, Ev turned to Osraa. “You see the position they put me in,” Ev admitted to him, “What they say has merit. If that temple is full of my enemies, as you say, I am likely to be out-numbered. I think I may need their help in the temple, and ultimately, to destroy the Star Forge. If I fail in this today, our fight against the Star Forge is over.”

Osraa was deep in thought for quite some time. He stared at the chanters and up at the temple itself. “You ask me to break the laws of our traditions once again,” he addressed Ev at last, “And again I will agree to let you. Perhaps, if only because we are as anxious to rid our skies of the Star Forge as you are. Very well. The others will not be pleased, but you must be ready to enter the temple immediately and do not argue with them. I will explain my decision to them once they are finished with the ritual.”

And so they settled back down onto the grass, waiting. Ev seemed to have lost her enthusiasm for questions and conversation. She and the other two Jedi sat in a sort of pensive, meditative state. Carth reached over and took Ev's hand, resting it lightly on his lap. She graced him with a small smile but said nothing. They waited as the undulating chanted threatened to lull them to sleep. If would have, had their nerves not been on edge.

Sometime during the ritual, a single, small shuttle landed on the roof of the temple far away. All of them saw it, but none said anything.

That had better not be Malak.

Then something changed in the ritual. The pace quickened and the pitch rose. All five of the Rakata raised their clasped hands slightly. Amid the smoke above their fire a sort of glowing prism came into being. The light of the floating prism was answered by the glow of something that was clasped in between their hands. The lights drew together as beams towards the large prism, then it suddenly emitted a burst of white energy towards the door of the temple. By this time, Ev, Juhani, and Jolee were all on their feet. The force field guarding the door flickered and fell.

“Go,” Osraa urged, and the three dashed off up the ramp. Ev caught Carth's eyes only for a second before plunging inside. All three disappeared from sight.

As the Keeper had predicted, the other Rakata immediately erupted in protest at the sight of Ev's companions, but there was nothing they could do about it. No one, not even Carth, could follow them inside. As they angrily converged on Osraa, he turned to Carth and advised, “Go see to your companions, friend-of-Revan. I will deal with this.”

Carth didn't want to leave the temple, but he couldn't argue. He didn't want to get caught in the midst of a herd of angry Rakata. He backed away and pulled out his comlink. “Hey Canderous, where are you guys?” he asked, “Ev and the other two just went inside.”

“About time,” came Canderous' reply, “I take it the old coot convinced them? We're almost at the temple with a good loot of parts. Come and help us carry it.”

“Alright, I'll come find you,” Carth agreed, and stowed the comlink.

Carth met them even before he reached the Elder's enclave again. Both Kionee and Canderous were laden with make-shift bags and parcels of awkwardly shaped parts. Canderous immediately tossed two bundles at Carth. “Think this will be enough?” he asked wryly.

“I certainly hope so,” Carth replied, heaving the packs onto his shoulders.

They traveled back to the Ebon Hawk without any trouble. All the while, Carth kept glancing over his shoulder at the temple spire.

They did have more than enough parts for repairs, which were quickly underway between the three of them and their astromech droid. Carth's work with the hyperdrive was soon complete, while Canderous still worked away at the shields and Kionee at the stabilizer. Carth felt that he should be more concerned about the condition of the ship he had started to think of as his own, but Jolee and Juhani's worry had rubbed off on him. He couldn't stand not knowing what was going on inside the temple and what dangers they faced.

Carth checked over his work one more time, then headed off the ship. Canderous saw him walking up the path from where he crouched on top of the Ebon Hawk. “Where do you think you're going?” he demanded.

“The hyperdrive is fixed,” Carth called back up to him, “And you two don't look like you need any more help. I'm going to wait up at the temple until they come back.”

“You really fall apart when she's out of your sight, don't you?” Canderous chided.

Carth scowled. It wasn't any of his business. Without replying, he continued up the trail and back towards the Temple of the Ancients. “Sorry Ev,” he murmured, “I'm going to have to break that promise.”

When he arrived, he found that all of the Rakata had gone. Only the impression of their stone basin in the grass was left, scattered with a dusting of ashes. He sat down near by and waited but quickly grew restless.

Carth let himself pace aimlessly across the wide lawn in front of the temple's entrance. Eventually, he settled onto the wide stone railing that overlooked the bay between the temple's entrance and the larger part of the structure. He stared at it, hoping for some kind of sign that all was still going well. It had been a few hours already since Ev and the others entered the temple. If all was going perfectly, they should have the disruptor field down already and be on their way back. The temple wasn't that big. But there were still the fins of the transport ship sticking up above the ramparts of the temple.

Suddenly, something caught his eye. Two large objects—people soared over the edge of the temple's roof and plummeted towards the sea, accompanied by streaks of bright green and blue.

“Oh no,” he gasped. Something was wrong. Very wrong. Both crashed into the open water with a spectacular splash, one after another. “Juhani and Jolee,” Carth whispered as it hit him. But Ev is still inside, alone!

Carth quickly vaulted over the stone railing and scrambled down the almost cliff-like slope below. The crumbling slope gave way to a mass of large stones and boulders that angled down into the sea. Making his way across the slippery, salt-sprayed rocks, Carth continued towards the water line. Jolee and Juhani were already swimming towards him. As they drew closer, it took all of their concentration just to avoid being smashed up against the rocks. Carth didn't dare ask them any questions until they were ashore. Instead, he stripped off his boots and rolled up his pants to his knees then waded across the boulders to help them find a safe way up. He caught Juhani first, offering her a hand to steady her footing. She was shaking.

“What happened?” he asked quickly. The fear and curiosity was burning up inside of him.

Juhani was in shock, “Ev—she...”

Finding his own way without Carth's help, Jolee replied with a shake of his head, “I don't know, Carth. I really don't know.”

Carth's heart began to beat faster. Ev? What happened to Ev?

They climbed a little further above sea level and settled down to rest on a large boulder. Jolee and Juhani were both panting as they emptied out their boots and wrung out their clothes. Carth waited by them in anxious anticipation. Even as they tired to dry off, Carth could hear the whine of a distant spaceship engine. He didn't need to turn and look to know that the shuttle was taking off again.

He caught Jolee staring up at it. “There she goes, I'd bet,” he murmured.

“What happened up there?” Carth demanded, “Where's Ev?”

“Probably on that ship right now, heading for the Star Forge,” Jolee answered. All the light was gone from his eyes. “Carth, we had to do a lot of sneaking and even a bit of fighting to make it to the summit of the temple, but we made it in one piece.”

“Bastila...” Juhani murmured. She seemed to be unable to finish any of her sentences.

“Bastila was waiting for us there, she must have known we would come,” Jolee shook his head shamefully. “That up-start padawan traded her allegiance to the Republic for one to the Sith. I don't know what Malak did to her, but she his apprentice now, and has she ever gotten powerful.”

“No, no,” Carth exclaimed in disbelief, “It can't be true. Bastila was loyal to the Republic and the Jedi. She would never turn on us like that.”

“We always knew it was a possibility, Carth,” Jolee said gravely, “Even you admitted that. Believe what you like, but Bastila was brash and overconfident. She knew she was special for her battle meditation, and yet she still remained a padawan. Malak exploited those weaknesses.”

“She called us pawns of the Jedi Council, slaves,” Juhani whispered distantly, “That the masters only want to hold back and control those who are truly powerful like her—and like Ev.”

“I don't know how long we fought her, but we just couldn't get the upper hand,” Jolee continued, “I think she was using some small kind of battle meditation on us, making us feel like we were doomed. At first, she only wanted to kill Ev to impress her new master, but the longer we fought, the more she seemed impressed by Ev's strength and power. She changed her mind and began to taunt Ev, telling her to join with her to overthrow Malak and return to her place as Dark Lord of the Sith, and soon ruler of the whole galaxy. Bastila didn't give a whiff about us.”

“She has no allegiance except to herself,” Juhani spat angrily. “The Dark Side has twisted her.”

“Somewhere in the battle, when things seemed to be going their worst, Ev stepped back,” Jolee sounded pained in his narration, “She must have been considering Bastila's offer. The Dark Side energies of that place must have gone to her head. One moment she was urging us on. The next moment she turned on us. Juhani and I were so stunned, we could hardly keep from getting our hands cut off. There was no way we could win against Bastila and Ev's four blades with just our two. But we fought anyway.”

“Ev even tried to convince us to join with her and Bastila, so that we wouldn't have to die a meaningless death,” Juhani hissed, close to tears, “But Bastila said we were worthless puppets of the council and that Ev should just kill us.”

“I have never seen so great a change in a person happen that quickly, not in all my years,” Jolee said, shaking his head. “Bastila's words had a powerful hold over her. After Bastila said that, Ev flung us over the edge of that damned balcony. At least she put a little too much Force into that push and we missed the rocks.”

“No...” Carth's head was spinning, “No! This can't be true! That's not her! Ev wouldn't change sides just like that. Not when we've worked so hard to get this far, not when we're so close. We're so close...”

“It's true Carth. I don't want to believe it either,” Juhani swallowed hard, “And now we face an even bigger threat than Malak: Revan reborn with Bastila's battle meditation at her side.”

“The only hope we have now is that their in-fighting will provide enough confusion in the ranks, and take out enough of their goons to give us a chance at destroying their Star Forge,” Jolee said darkly. “How much time do we have until your Republic fleet arrives, Carth?”

“About twenty-seven hours,” Carth estimated, “By the length of this planet's days, that should put it sometime tomorrow afternoon. But, did you get the disruptor field down?”

Juhani nodded gravely. “I shut it down and destroyed the controls during the early part of the fight,” she replied, “They won't be able to activate it again, at least not in time for the fleet's arrival.”

“Well,” Carth said grimly. He just couldn't think about it. “We soldier on without her. We've still got our responsibility to the Republic.”

“And all the free people of the galaxy,” Juhani added.

“But we can't mention this to the Rakata,” Jolee said quietly, “They still have our friends, and there's no telling what they would do if they found out that she's about to betray them again.”

“But what can we tell them?” Juhani asked, “They will notice when she does not return.”

“Tell them that she's taken one of their shuttles in order to sneak in unnoticed on her own, to find the weak points,” Jolee suggested, “and that she wants us to go in and help her once the fleet arrives.”

Carth and Juhani nodded in agreement.

“Mission and Zaalbar should know though,” Carth suggested, “They've been with us since the beginning. They deserve to know.”

“If we can find a way to tell them without the Rakata overhearing,” Juhani said sternly.

Jolee coughed lightly, “I speak a little bit of Shiriiwook myself.”

“Fine, but what about Canderous?” Juhani asked, “He swore allegiance to Ev as the only commander worth following. He might turn on us for a chance to serve Ev again.”

“We'll have to trust that he won't,” Carth could hardly believe what was coming out of his own mouth, “He's a good fighter and we'll need him as an ally in this. He'll see right through us if we try to lie anyway. HK-47, that's another story. We'll have to give him a memory wipe or shut him down if we can't do that. We can't risk otherwise.”

“In the mean time, it looks like night is coming on,” Jolee observed, “I'd rather not be out here when darkness falls to see what sort of nasty critters come out at night on this island. Let's go lie to the Rakata and then get back to our ship. I think we're going to need plenty of rest and planning before we storm the Star Forge.” He paused as he pulled back on his boots, “Juhani, do you still have those schematics of the Star Forge we downloaded?”

She patted her hip pouch. “If the datapad wasn't destroyed by the salt water,” she answered.

“Well, let's get going,” Jolee urged and clambered up the rocky slope ahead of them. Juhani followed agilely after and Carth took up the rear. He just couldn't wrap his mind around all of it. It just didn't seem possible at all. How could Ev abandon them like this? How could she leave him?

As they climbed, he heard Juhani murmur, “I wonder if she has been planning this all along, or if it was her bond with Bastila that tipped her over in that moment...”

- Next Part -


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