Beyond Good and Evil
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06.02.2013 , 06:49 PM |
Road to Revelation
er will bloß sagen, wie es eigentlich gewesen
-Leopold von Ranke,
Geschichte der romanischen und germanischen Völker von 1494 bis 1514
The duel wasn’t difficult to arrange.
I don’t really know how my Master contacted Darth Baras. I wasn’t there; I was busily showing my two impersonators – well, “impersonators” might be too strong a word – the way around my ship, “my” little Defender that I’d never actually flown myself. The two of them, Ulldin and Zylixx, seemed like they’d teamed up for lots of missions before: they had a sort of banter going. But I couldn’t really keep the thread of their conversation. My mind was…on other things.
I guess my Master briefed them beforehand, because they didn’t really ask me many questions about Baras’ apprentice. Just the personal settings on the ship – that I hadn’t actually changed from the defaults – places they could bunk, and so on. Zylixx seemed more interested in finally getting down to brass tacks and flying off to chat with the Sith, but Ulldin, the big one, actually seemed pretty solicitous. Not in a “he’s totally hitting on me” way, but as though he genuinely cared about my well-being. He asked if I was going to be in a safe place while all of this was going down, and if I was okay with everything that was happening. That did a lot to set my mind at ease about the whole operation.
know was where the duel was going to be. My Master wanted to have the face-off on Nal Hutta. It seemed like a strange choice at first: the slimy, mucky, polluted Hutt capital was hardly an obvious location for a showdown between Jedi and Sith. But Master Karr’s reasoning, once he explained it, made some sense. The Hutts were neutral, so theoretically neither Karr nor Baras would have an advantage. There were plenty of places to hide our ship on that mudball, so I’d be safe if anything happened to him. But I figured the most important reason was the one he mentioned offhandedly at the end: that it was where he’d had his last showdown with Baras, back in his spying days.
You’d think a Jedi wouldn’t be sentimental about that sort of thing.
The flight to Hutta went pretty quickly. I got my first good sleep in awhile. I was self-confident again. I had a
. I was helping my Master finally defeat his greatest enemy. I was saving people. And it felt like I was doing the will of the Force.
When we landed, though, doubts set in again. I started to second-guess myself, alone on the ship as my Master waded through the bogs towards the meeting point. So far, the sum total of my contribution to the whole plan – even though the whole confrontation was supposedly about me in the first place – had been to lie to a Sith and hide on a ship. I was at the most important point in my life so far and I didn’t feel like I was
solving any problems
. I was just sitting on Master Karr’s ship, offstage, waiting for other people to play their parts.
I got restless and started to wander around the ship idly, sitting down in various places to try meditation and standing up again almost instantly. Master Karr hadn’t really marked out places not to go – Jedi don’t tend to deal with personal possessions, much less boundaries. But I still felt…tied to the main hold, sitting around the holocommunicator.
So that’s where I was when the message came in.
I accessed the holocommunicator’s mail system by reflex, not really thinking about whether it was something private or not. There was no password prompt or biometric scan; I guess I was supposed to have the run of the messaging system…or Master Karr had forgotten about it…or something.
The scene that flickered into existence on the holocomm looked oddly familiar. It took a few seconds for me to realize that it was the interior of “my” ship. Master Karr must’ve installed some sort of bug on it. I lost myself for a few seconds in trying to figure out when he did that and so didn’t notice when Zylixx and Ulldin emerged from one of the other compartments, facing the main hatch.
I did, however, notice when
arrived, about a minute later.
She hadn’t changed much from two and a half months prior on Tatooine. Same robes over the same spare armor, although these were cleaner, less dusty. Same hairstyle. Same sort of swagger. Humming the same tune, tinny due to the bug’s little microphone…and then it clicked.
Oh. Hey. I know what song she’s humming.
I started to unconsciously sing along. “I didn’t know that it was so cold and…you needed someone to show you the way…”
The Twi’lek, Vette, had come with her again. She didn’t seem like she’d changed much, except for looking a lot less nervous than she’d been on Tatooine. Actually, she was acting pretty chipper. I had a hard time believing that she would be so happy about going off to murder a Padawan.
“…so I took your hand and…we figured out that…when the tide comes I’ll take you away…”
And then they saw the two Jedi Knights standing in the hold, and abruptly stopped. Vette looked crestfallen, muttering something under her breath about “always has to be right about
”. But the Sith was just inscrutable. She stopped humming and just quietly stared at the two Jedi. The expression on her face…well, it didn’t make any sense.
It almost seemed as though she was unbearably
Zylixx spoke up first. “Well, well. We’re going to have to thank Nomen Karr after all. The Sith showed.”
“Stand down, Sith,” added Ulldin. They’d probably done this back-and-forth routine so many times it was branded into their brains. “The Padawan you seek is not here. Master Karr discovered her plan and talked her out of it.”
“It’s just not your day,” said Zylixx sardonically. “You were expecting one lowly little Padawan to crush, and instead you get us.”
She finally broke her silence. “I should’ve known this wasn’t going to be easy.”
“Just like a Sith, always looking for a shortcut.”
“I thought the Jedi were big on bloodless victories,” she shot back.
They ignored her. “I am Ulldin, and this is Zylixx. We are fully trained Jedi Knights, and more than your match. You should submit.”
“You think you two are tougher than two Jedi
Zylixx shrugged. “Of course. We’ve yet to encounter a Sith who had the sense to surrender. You all seem bent on having us destroy you.”
The Sith didn’t say anything for several seconds, her gaze darting around the compartment. Then, finally, with a heavy sigh: “I’ve got no quarrel with you. Let’s just go our separate ways.”
“Now, why would we agree to just…
let you go
?” tsked Zylixx.
His friend frowned. “Zylixx, we assumed this Sith would engage, as all others we’ve faced have. If that’s not the case…” he trailed off.
The other shook his head. “No, Ulldin, this Sith will continue to hunt Nomen Karr and his Padawan. We must end this threat for good.”
“Can you two just finish up your Wint and Kidd routine so I can leave?” She rolled her eyes. “…I
leave, right? Your Jedi Code prohibits attacking to kill. Doesn’t the light side demand temperance?”
Zylixx rounded on her. “Who are you to lecture anyone about morality? The Sith
us to take measures like this!”
“You, Sith, are an exception,” rumbled Ulldin. “Your vile attempts to hurt Nomen Karr and Jaesa Willsaam are provocation enough.”
attempts?” Vette chimed in.
“Yeah, you don’t know anything about my motivations, Knight Situational Kriffing Ethics,” added the Sith.
, it doesn’t take a genius to know you came here to destroy,” ground out Zylixx exasperatedly. “Your presence is all the confirmation we need. Right, Ulldin?”
But the bigger Knight was wavering. I knew how he felt. “No, Zylixx…I…I’m unsure.” He turned away. “Master Karr claims this Sith means Jaesa harm, but we have no
“Master Karr’s word is proof enough. Are you
going to have a crisis of conscience, accepting the word of a Jedi Master?”
word of a Jedi Master
. If his instructions to his Padawan meant anything, he didn’t seem to think one’s
was all that binding.
“That’s an assumption I can’t make, my friend. I won’t fight her. I have to walk away,” Ulldin said sadly, “and I hope you will do the same.” He left the compartment and disappeared from view.
Zylixx rounded on the Sith and Vette with what I assumed was meant to be righteous fury. “You may have derailed Ulldin’s resolve, Sith, but your luck ends there. I’ll take you on myself!” He lit his lightsaber and paced menacingly in front of her.
She shrugged, still unarmed. “You’re going to regret that.”
But Zylixx…it was sort of horrifying, in a detached way. He wouldn’t let it go. What had he said earlier? ‘You all seem bent on having us destroy you.’
Wasn’t that what he was doing now? What Masters Yonlach and Yul-Li had done?
A familiar feeling of dread settled in my gut. This was going to be like watching a shuttle crash.
It happened almost as
as a shuttle crash, too. Vette didn’t even unholster her blasters in time to catch Zylixx. He sprang towards the Sith on legs strengthened by the Force, but her saber had already cleared her belt and easily blocked his blade. It seemed briefly like it wouldn’t matter, that Zylixx would just keep pushing until her arms bent backwards and she was gutted by her own lightsaber, like she’d almost done to Yul-Li.
All the while matching him strength for strength, she hooked her left leg around his right and twisted, then used her kneecap to hammer the back of his own knee. He snarled and collapsed backwards in pain, tripping over her leg and disengaging his lightsaber from hers. He tried to use the space he gained to push her back with the Force and give him some breathing room, but she was already on him, booting the saber out of his hands and using her own Force push to send him flying across the compartment.
For such an ostensibly deadly Sith-slayer, he went down embarrassingly easily.
He knew it too. “I yield! I yield to you!” And he had a scapegoat ready: “Damn Ulldin for leaving me to face you alone!”
She closed down her lightsaber and kneeled in front of him. “Wouldn’t have turned out any differently.”
Zylixx just gaped in amazement. “Your strength…it’s undeniable. Is there such power in the dark side?”
The Sith laughed mirthlessly and stood back up with his lightsaber in her hand. “The
” She shook her head. “I’m out of here. Have fun thinking about your future.”
Zylixx could only stare as the Sith walked back towards the airlock, tossing his lightsaber into a corner as she left the room. Vette, whose pistols were firmly trained on the fallen Jedi, backed out behind her. About a minute later, I could hear docking clamps disengage. The airlock vented explosively. The Sith was gone.
I just sagged back onto the acceleration couch. I didn’t know whether to be horrified at what had just happened or overjoyed. So, this was how it actually was. No tricks, no mental editing, no intermediary parties. From where I stood, this Sith didn’t seem all that evil at all. Was I being vindicated? Would it even matter anymore? Had we – had I – blown the chance to see
what she was after, anyway
I was more confused than ever.
What was happening
My gaze drifted back over the frozen final image from the Defender. For the first time, I noticed the timestamp on the recording.
Duh, that made sense. Probably on a preset transmit schedule.
Then it hit me: the recording had been made 17 hours ago. The Sith – I strangely felt like an idiot for
not knowing her name – could be anywhere. The Sith could be
, joining the showdown in the Hutta swamps with Darth Baras.
As if in answer, I suddenly felt a wave of pain wash over me. And it wasn’t coming from me.
My Master was dying.
I sprinted for the airlock.
(n., Greek) - "mirth, merriment"
Beyond Good and Evil