Chapter 1: Trust
Jedi Knight Corellan Halcyon and his former Padawan, the newly-dubbed Jedi Knight Kira Carsen, stepped out of the chambers of the Jedi high council and into the halls of the Temple of Tython, the home and headquarters of the Jedi Order. In the aftermath of the Desolater Crisis, the halls of the Temple were abuzz with idle chatting and whispers from those around them. Some of these were directed at Kira, but most seemed to be pointed towards him. Already, in hushed whispers, they were calling him the 'Hero of Tython', the salutation bestowed on him moments earlier by Satele Shan, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order.
The whispers disturbed Corellan. In part, he knew it was because Kira's role in their victory seemed to be marginalized. But partly it was because in the back of his mind, there existed an ideal that Jedi should be above such gossip and hero-worship. Didn't they all have a collective duty to protect the Order and to defend the Republic, and therefore wasn't everyone's role important? But never mind. That was a problem for another day.
"Well, partner." he turned to Kira with a smile. "We each have three days of leave before we have to get back out there. Did you have plans on how you want to spend your break?"
Kira Carsen turned to Corellan, still practically glowing from her promotion, and from her victory in pushing the Sith Emperor out of her mind. She had overcome so much for them to have reached this point. He could not have been prouder of her. Kira had been raised in the Sith Academy as a Child of the Emperor, those Sith chosen at birth to serve Vitiate, the Emperor of the Sith Empire, and to be his eyes, ears and weapons to command. In effect, they were not only being asked to embrace the dark side, they were being asked to surrender all sense of personal identity. At the age of ten, Kira had broken free of the Emperor's control and had escaped Korriban and the Sith Empire. She had spent eight years growing up a street urchin and thief on Nar Shaddaa, one of the most corrupt and dangerous planets in the galaxy. That she had even survived to be recruited by the Jedi Order was a testament to her wits and skill. Since being assigned as Corellan's Padawan, she had done more than survive, she had thrived. Kira had stood strong through everything the galaxy had thrown at the two young Jedi. Their campaign to stop Darth Angral had been a whirlwind of fighting and investigating across multiple worlds in the span of a few short months. Time and time again, the duo had faced the Sith and their Imperial forces. Time and time again, they had emerged triumphant against impossible odds, culminating in their victory over Angral in orbit over Tython.
Over the course of that time, Corellan had quietly started to appreciate Kira's other qualities during their travels. The young redhead was beautiful, even in the Jedi Robes they both wore over their body armor, a combination of toned athletic build and feminine curves. Her smile made her even more lovely; the scar on her left cheek was the only blemish against her fair skin. The scar didn't bother Corellan. More than anyone else, he knew how Kira had earned it; the kind of life she had led. It somehow made her even more alluring.
He banished the thoughts from his mind. He was a Jedi. Those kinds of attachments were forbidden to him.
"Well, what were you planning to do?" Kira smiled back at him, genuinely interested. The two Jedi had been almost inseparable for a while, now, but they'd spent most of that time chasing down Angral's schemes. Kira had never seen her former master with more than a few short hours of downtime, and she wasn't going to pretend she wasn't curious.
Corellan gestured down the hallway. Here, just outside the council chambers, they were virtually in the middle of the temple, and they were attracting more glances and chatter, overt or otherwise. Best they start walking to minimize that sort of attention.
"Don't get me wrong, Kira." He said. "You are more than welcome to come with me if you wanted. Honestly, I'd like for you to come. But you're a newly-minted Jedi Knight, at the Temple of Tython. More than that, you're a hero. There are probably a hundred opportunities for you to explore right now. Things to learn, masters to talk to. Plus, in three days, we'll have to take off into space again. From what General Var Suthra said, the Sith Empire is on the move again. The galaxy will need more saving."
A new possibility suddenly entered his mind, and he stopped in his tracks, turning to Kira with a guilty look before she could answer him. "I'm sorry, Kira. I think I just assumed you'd be sticking with me after this. That was presumptuous. You're a Jedi Knight, now. You've more than earned the right to ask the council for a new assignment." He swallowed, feeling his throat go dry at the thought. "If you wanted one, I mean."
Kira's blue eyes went wide. "No!" she exclaimed, her eyelids fluttering just a bit. "I mean, of course not." She quickly recovered her composure, her voice dropping low enough that they couldn't be overheard. "I want to stay with you. You and Tee-Seven on the ship, I mean. We make a good team, don't you think?" she looked up into his eyes with an expression he had only seen twice from her before; a fear of abandonment, although this time with something else he couldn't quite identify.
"The best." He smiled broadly, masking his own relief. "We make the best team. And thanks. I just wanted to be sure that this is what you wanted." He quickly started walking again to break up the awkward moment. Movement seemed to be his natural state sometimes; lately he only seemed to relax when he was back on his ship. "Right. Like I was saying, we're going to lift off Tython in three days' time. I honestly have no idea when we might be back here. And you know the kind of pace we set when we're in space... It'll likely be awhile before we get a chance to rest and relax again."
"What I'm planning on doing is not particularly relaxing and is probably not most people's idea of fun. So, I'd hate for you to join me when you'd be better off resting up or learning something new in the Jedi Archives. I know you also have old friends on Tython, as well. You could visit with them, if you wanted."
The glint of curiosity returned to her eyes. "Okay, now I'm hooked." She smiled. "Where exactly are you going?"
He gave her a sheepish smile. He was only a couple of years older than she was, and every so often, his own relative youth showed. "I'm going to put a backpack together and head out into the wilderness for a couple of days. Reconnect with the wilds of Tython, you might say."
Kira just blinked at him in disbelief. "You're kidding me. You're going camping?" she exclaimed. "You've been flying from one end of the galaxy to the other for months, fighting and bleeding and saving people nonstop, barely a moment's rest, and when you finally get a chance for a break, you decide to go camping? That's so… you." She finished, giving him an incredulous smile and a shake of her head.
Corellan shrugged idly. "I have my reasons. If you want to learn them, you can come with me. Otherwise, take care of yourself for the next couple of days, and be ready to return to the ship when I get back."
Kira chuckled as the bait was offered, recognizing it for what it was. Corellan found himself smiling at the familiar, melodious sound. It was somehow comforting. They really had grown close.
"I can't believe I'm saying this." Kira shook her head again with a smile. "Alright, boss. You've got me. When do we leave?"
It had only taken about an hour to make the preparations. Corellan had checked in with their trusty AstroMech droid, Tee-Seven, aboard their ship. The droid had proven to be indispensable in their travels, up to and including the mission to stop Angral aboard the Oppressor. His surprising combat effectiveness and engineering ability were surpassed only by his impressive knowledge of the lore of the Jedi Order and of the greater galaxy at large. But even more than that, he'd become a valued friend to both Corellan and Kira. Tee-Seven had joyously beeped his congratulations to Kira on her ascension to Knighthood, leading Kira to laugh and thank the droid while Corellan simply smiled. The Jedi talked to the AstroMech droid about their plans, informing him that the leave extended to Tee-Seven as well. The Jedi told his friend he should get himself cleaned up and rested. They would all meet back on their ship when it was time to leave.
After that, they headed to the supply room and Corellan quickly ordered backpacks, sleeping bags and supplies for the both of them. Clearly, he had done this sort of thing before.
"No tent?" Kira had asked, taking note of everything as her former master – now senior partner – helped her pack. The younger Jedi had excellent survival instincts, but almost everything she had known had been based on a heavily urbanized environment like Nar Shaddaa.
He shook his head. "The weather report is clear for the next week. And if it's wrong, then we leave ourselves in the hands of the Force." Corellan wasn't going to bring up Kira's mild claustrophobia.
"Nifty." Kira checked the straps on her pack, finally nodding in approval. "Should we head to the speeders?"
He shook his head. "No, we do this the same way the ancient Jedi did. We walk on foot."
"Ugh." Kira groaned, reaching up and pinching the bridge of her nose. "Months of chasing behind you across every major battlefield in the rim, and now we're walking. And on our vacation, too." She sighed, looking up at him with a resigned expression that quickly turned into a smile. "You're trying to make me regret coming with you, aren't you?"
Corellan noted the tremble in her voice and, playing along, managed to give her a faux hurt expression. "Well, not intentionally. But it seems counter-productive to make plans to reconnect with Tython's natural wilderness and then take a speeder to get there. Besides, it's only a few hours away."
Kira just sighed, but gave him a grim smile. "Well, I've followed you this far. Lead on, boss."
Though they were both in peak physical condition, it still took the two Jedi about four hours to hike up into the hills far to the north of the temple, taking them close to nightfall. Eventually, the path he had chosen leveled off, and they began following a narrow river. Along the way, their conversation was relatively sparse. Reflecting on this, this seemed natural to Corellan; the exchanges he and Kira had shared while in the field were likewise usually brief, out of necessity. There were usually people trying to kill them in those periods, and there simply wasn't time for anything else. Even here on the relative safety of Tython, that approach still seemed to hold true.
Except this time there was no mission to distract them from further conversation.
"This is your idea of fun?" Kira huffed as they neared at the end of their journey.
"Well, for one thing, it does remind me of mountain climbing back on Uphrades." Corellan replied, coming to a stop at the edge of the cliff. "For another thing, if the maps are right, the payoff for this trek should be worth it."
"And what payoff is that…. Oh." The breath went out of Kira's voice as she joined Corellan at the cliff's edge. It was nearly a 30 meter drop straight to the bottom, and from this vantage point they could see the wilderness for miles around them. The river they had been following came down from the cliff in a waterfall, forming a lake far below them, with the last few rays of sunshine catching the surface of the water in a sparkle. To the west, the sun was setting behind the trees and mountains. Though both young Jedi had seen incredible things on dozens of worlds, it was by far one of the most spectacular natural sights either of them had ever seen.
Corellan gave Kira a slow grin, watching the sun's retreating light reflect in her eyes. "Well, partner? Was it worth the hike?"
Kira grinned back at him happily. "It'll do, I guess." She finally answered, nonchalant as usual. "You really wanted a site with a view that badly?"
Corellan turned and pointed roughly in the direction from which they had come, directing her to a line of trees about a hundred meters behind them. "That's the marker for the furthest extent of the Temple's monitoring network." He told her. "I checked before we left. The ground surveillance reports no Flesh Raider activity in this area for months, and I doubt this additional buffer will make a difference. Still, we'll setup our portable perimeter beacons. They'll warn us if anything gets close."
Kira nodded, putting her trust in Corellan's instincts for their security. "So, we're also outside the Temple's monitoring." She mused in reflection. "Nifty."
Corellan didn't comment to that, but instead conducted a scan of the water in the nearby river. "The river water is fresh. It should be safe for drinking." He opened his canteen and filled it, then took a sip. After sloshing it around in his mouth, he swallowed in approval. "Not bad."
The duo retreated to a clearing a safe distance from the edge of the cliff and the river, then set to work in setting up their campsite. Corellan used one of his lightsabers to gather firewood from some nearby trees, and they soon had a campfire ready. Kira set out their sleeping bags and secured their supplies before they both setup their perimeter markers. As usual, the two Jedi worked together almost seamlessly.
An hour later, huddled against the campfire and eating their field rations, they were well situated. Kira had already slipped into her sleeping bag while Corellan sat cross-legged, tending the fire with a stick.
"By the way," Kira said, giving her can a withering look as she took another bite. "Not to ruin the trip by complaining too much, but these field rations? Bantha dung. They're even making me miss C2-N2's cooking."
Corellan chuckled at the mention of their ship's much-maligned housekeeping droid as he finished up his own can. "I imagined that would be the case. That's why I packed this." He set the can and his fire tending stick aside and reached into his backpack, pulling out a long, slender device with a control handle. With the press of a button, it extended into a pole, complete with a string and hook.
"You packed a fishing rod." Kira said the words slowly, emphasizing each syllable. She then burst out giggling.
Corellan's eyebrows rose, but he took Kira's reaction in stride. "What? We used to fish all the time on Uphrades. We had to, really. Otherwise the rations from the monthly supply drops and the vegetables from our garden were all we had."
Kira's giggles were turning into laughs now. "You're a galactic hero. You're on your way to becoming the greatest warrior in the Jedi Order… and you're going fishing!"
Corellan continued to take it in stride even as Kira continued to laugh, a small smile on his lips. "Well, let's see if you're still laughing when we're eating fish tomorrow."
Kira finally recovered from her fits of laughter, drying her eyes and smiling over at him even as he put the pole away. "You didn't really come here just to fish, did you?" she asked, glancing up at him through downward lashes.
He gave her a thin smile. "No."
"You remember when you asked me what I would be if the Jedi hadn't taken me in?" Corellan spoke as he idly tended the fire with his stick.
"You told me you were born to be Jedi Knight." Kira remembered, regarding him curiously. The reflection of the fire seemed to dance in her eyes. "And you said that you never could have been anything else."
"Yeah." He nodded. "I'm thinking… you deserved a better response than that."
"Oh, really?" Kira seemed even more interested now. "You were holding out on me, partner?"
"I meant what I said." Corellan answered. "I honestly couldn't imagine being anything else. But there's more to it than that."
"Oh, nifty." Kira was sitting up now, smiling in anticipation. "Spill the goods."
The other Jedi withdrew the stick he had been tending the fire with, making sure the embers were out.
"When I was eight, I was still an initiate on Uphrades at the Jedi enclave there." He began. Kira's eyes flickered at the mention of Corellan's former home, knowing it had been destroyed by Darth Angral. But the senior Knight pressed on without hesitation. His Jedi discipline was serving him well. "The younglings there ranged from seven to about 13. Most of us graduated to Padawan after that, and were reassigned to Jedi knights and masters all over the galaxy."
"There were about a dozen of us at the time." He continued, preparing his bombshell. "I have to tell you, I was by far the weakest Jedi candidate of the group."
"Oh, come on!" Kira exclaimed, in complete disbelief.
"No, it's true." He insisted. "I could barely move a pebble with my mind. And that was after concentrating for almost an hour. Our Masters, Sogotto and Norwan, did the best they could with me, but I was hopeless. Honestly, I could barely recite the Jedi code, much less answer philosophical questions about it when they tested me. The other younglings didn't pick on me or bully me in any way. They were too well trained for that. But they looked on me with a sense of pity that was somehow worse. It looked like there was no chance I'd ever pass my Initiation Trials. Most likely I'd eventually be cast out of the order entirely." He was relieved that he managed to avoid cringing at the memory.
"And I was terrified, Kira. I remember being terrified of not becoming a Jedi. I remember being terrified of failing." He exhaled. "I was full of so much fear. And I don't need to tell you where that path leads."
KIra swallowed and nodded, the oft quoted Jedi lesson coming to the forefront of her mind. Fear was the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Suffering led to the dark side of the force and ultimately the way of the Sith.
"So. What happened?" she asked, her voice quiet.
His thin smile returned and he exhaled at the memory. "Well. They gave me my first training saber."
Kira chuckled again. By the time she had met him, Corellan was already regarded by many as one of the best duelists of his generation of Jedi, and that was before he'd even reached the rank of Jedi Knight. Kira had been with him through nearly every fight since then, and she more than anyone could testify to Corellan's prowess as a warrior.
"Of course. You were born to wield a lightsaber." She mused, still smiling at him.
Corellan briefly considered replying with another quip, more meaningless banter. Truth be told, he was embarrassed by the story. If it were anyone else, he wouldn't have even told them this much. No one outside the old enclave had ever heard this tale. Not even Master Orgus.
Instead, he just smiled faintly, staring into fire while he tended it with his stick.
"I remember the first time they trained us, and of holding the training sabre for the first time. I lined up in the training area like everyone else to practice the forms Master Sagotto was demonstrating for us. And in my mind, I was already expecting to fail. Or, at the very least, I'd lag behind everyone else. I was trying not to think about what would happen when the sparring started. I could imagine poking out my own eye, among other calamities."
"Instead, much to my own surprise, I picked the forms up quickly. They just seemed so natural my body just seemed to respond on its own. Master Sagotto would show us a movement, and I would copy it precisely, almost immediately. Then I learned the combinations. When the sparring finally started, I excelled, for the first time in my training. By the end of the first week, none of the other students were anywhere close to me in skill, even the older ones who'd been training for longer. And it all felt effortless."
"Soon, all my studies became easier. The Force was suddenly there for me. I no longer struggled to move pebbles; now I could move rocks, and even boulders. It seemed like every day, I grew stronger and faster, I could think more clearly, and I devoured knowledge at an impressive rate. Suddenly I was raising my hand to answer questions about the Code and everything else they lectured us on. By the time I was twelve, even Master Sagotto, the former Battle Master of the Jedi Order, couldn't stand against me in a pitched sparring session, and that man was a force of nature, even in his twilight years."
He sighed. "But my point is, you asked me who I'd be if the Jedi hadn't taken me in. The truth of it is, I was too terrified to even imagine what would have happened to me if I hadn't made it."
Kira blinked at this admission. "You know you're the bravest man I've ever met? Seriously? How many times have I've seen you charge into battle outnumbered and without a second thought?"
Corellan smiled at that. "And how many times have you been right behind me?"
She grinned back at him. "That's my job, partner. Besides, I can't let you have all the fun."
"And that's why we get along." He quipped playfully, enjoying the banter. It wasn't the first time he'd said it. "But everything I've told you is true."
She gazed up at him in understanding, clearly touched. "I believe you. And thanks for trusting me with your story."
Corellan smiled. "You've earned it. I know it isn't always easy teaming with someone like me."
"I'll say. Just from fighting beside you, I'm in the best shape of my life." She reached out and padded her shapely hip through the sleeping bag. Corellan's eyes were inadvertently drawn to her movement, before her voice drew his attention back to her. "You know, most Jedi need to take a break in between skirmishes. All that Force usage wears us down. But you… you never seem to get tired. Your natural stamina is off the charts."
"That's another legacy of Master Sagotto's training." He smiled at the remembrance. "The Enclave was basically an island and a small mountain. Mount Bastilla, we called it. It was actually an ancient volcano. As discipline, he'd have us run up the mountain and back down."
"Pretty hard-core." She grinned. "I can't imagine you ever merited many punishments, though."
"You'd be surprised." He exhaled and then smiled up at her. "I could be very… stubborn. I was never defiant, exactly. I just chose to do things the hard way. Sagotto was never the type to simply tell you 'no'. Instead, if you didn't do something to his standards, he'd put you through the paces. I had to run up that mountain every day, sometimes twice."
"You?" she looked at him in disbelief. "Mister Always minds his Jedi Code?"
He chuckled. "It was a long time ago. I was young and too ambitious by far. Looking back now, I was insufferable. Sagotto recognized that, and turned my stubbornness into discipline, both mental and physical. It was very hard. But if he hadn't done it, I wouldn't be what I am." He reflected for a long moment, glancing into the fire again. "I would say Sagotto influenced me more than any master up until Master Orgus Din."
"Orgus meant a lot to you, didn't he?" Kira whispered.
"He did." Corellan admitted, his voice vacant. "It's strange, isn't it? I learned from Master Sagotto for years and I had a string of masters after I left Uphrades. I was Orgus' Padawan for, what, just over a week? He was different from any other Jedi I'd ever met. He taught me about the living force. He was incredibly wise, but so grounded. There's so much I still want to ask him. Almost every day we face challenges that make me think to myself 'What would Master Orgus do?'" he sighed, staring off into the distance. "He was the best Jedi I've ever known. And the best man."
Kira reached over and grasped his forearm, her eyes full of compassion. "I'm sorry."
Corellan looked over to her as if snapped out of a trance. His expression softened in appreciation. "It's okay."
She withdrew her hand. "So how were you ambitious?" Kira asked, clearly looking to break up the awkwardness.
This time, Corellan allowed himself to cringe. "I suppose it was because I wanted to become the greatest warrior in the galaxy. I was a pretty insufferable initiate."
Kira chuckled. "Well, I'd say that ambition worked out for everyone in the end."
"Can I ask you something?" there was a focused curiosity in Kira's blue eyes as they looked up at him.
"You can ask me anything." He smiled, disposing of the remnants of their meal. He meant it, too. He trusted Kira absolutely.
"Why did we avoid the Twi'lek village when we were coming here? We could have stopped there, maybe traded supplies."
"Ah." He nodded somberly, sighing. "Did you hear about what happened there, after you and Master Kiwiks left for Coruscant?"
"Not really." Her brow furrowed. "Just that things were bad for a while there when Bengal Morr was running the Flesh Raiders. I haven't heard of any trouble since then, though." She was clearly still approaching the situation as a potential danger. "Not since you beat Morr."
Corellan nodded. "True enough. I was trying to help them out. They have a new Matriarch, Ranna Tao'Ven. Her mother passed away while all this was going on, and so Ranna became the leader of her people. The Flesh Raiders had planted toxin mines in the Twi'lek crop fields. She begged me to destroy them. It was hard task. I had to resist the toxins and the flesh raiders. But I pulled through. She thanked me afterwards, and I didn't think much of it. Orgus needed me elsewhere, so I didn't stay long."
He reached for his canteen and took a sip. "Sometime later Orgus told me to meet him at the village. They had sent out a distress call. I went there but couldn't find him. When I went to Ranna, she told me they hadn't sent for help. I knew something was wrong. Honest people make poor liars. While I was talking to her, three of her people ambushed me, against her protests."
"Why?" Kira exclaimed. "Why would they do that? You were helping them!"
"Bengal Morr. He had approached the Twi'leks and told them that he would spare them if they captured and turned over Master Orgus and myself. They'd already captured Orgus and given him to Morr. The trio of Twi'lek who ambushed me in the village intended to do the same to me. They hit me with a stun dart in the back, but I woke up hearing Ranna yelling at them. Apparently, she was willing to give up Orgus but not me."
"I managed to de-escalate the situation with the Mind Trick. The other three Twi'leks dropped their weapons and left, and Ranna tearfully confessed everything. She was upset, distraught and remorseful. I eventually forgave her. She told me what I needed to find Bengal Morr, and I managed to save Orgus. After that, I was made a Jedi Knight."
"But that was all later. Back in the village with Ranna, I was beside myself. I was going to ask how she could betray Orgus on the one hand but then try to save me on the other. But when I saw her in pain just from talking about what she'd done, something clicked in my head. I don't know how I didn't notice it before. I felt like a fool. She had developed… feelings for me. That's why she had tried to save me from the others."
Kira started at that. "She went through all that because she had a crush on you?"
He gave a nod of his head, disappointed in himself. "Orgus, the village and the Jedi Order all wound up safe. But if I had read Ranna clearly earlier, I can't help but think I would have wised up to what she and the Twi'leks were planning. Because I missed that, my Master was very nearly killed."
"You know that's ridiculous, right?" Kira answered. "Even if you'd have known about this Ranna, you couldn't have known what Morr would have done or how desperate the Twi'leks would become?"
He sighed. "Rationally, I know you're right. But that's why I avoided the village. The memory of that place, and of Ranna Tao'Ven, is painful. It's not because I resent her; I don't. I later defended her and her people to Master Satele and the Council. It just gets to me that even here on Tython, we find good people who are so scared they'll be abandoned by the Republic and their friends they turn on their own neighbors and do things they'd normally never consider. That's what the Empire has done more than anything, on virtually every world we've visited. The village is a constant reminder of that." He finally reached the end of his tale, falling back into silence and turning his attention back to the fire.
Kira had been listening attentively, and now seemed to be chewing over how to respond to this. She finally smirked, having worked something out. "Well. Everything else aside, that story explains why you didn't seem to notice that Mirialan on Nar Shaddaa."
"What?" Corellan blinked once, recalling the woman Kira was speaking of. "Deera Ulyette, the special liaison from the Senate to the Hutt Cartel." The attractive, green-skinned woman had met Corellan and Kira on Nar Shaddaa, enlisting their help in trying to get the Hutts to side with the Republic against the Sith Empire. He looked over at Kira. "Are you saying she was… interested in me?" he blinked at Kira again, clearly incredulous. "You're not teasing me, are you partner?"
Kira chuckled, her smirk widening in amusement. "Boss, it's a good thing you're a Jedi. If you were anything else, you'd be helpless with women. I swear, she was undressing you with her eyes!"
The other Jedi exhaled slowly. "I'll take your word for it. Alright, partner. From here on out, I'll be in charge of planning the missions. You'll be in charge of… letting me know about this other area where I apparently have a blind spot. Deal?" he reached over and offered her his hand.
"Deal." Kira grinned, accepting his hand in hers and giving it a firm shake. Their eyes met as their skin made contact…
The memory came to the forefront of Corellan's mind unexpectedly. Weeks ago, he and Kira had fought and slain Valis, a Child of the Emperor who was attempting to abduct Kira and bring her back to the Sith Empire and to the Emperor's service. Once they were back in the safety of their ship, a distraught Kira had confessed her past to him. It was the first time she had truly opened up to him. To her credit, she hadn't cried. Indeed, Kira never cried, and considering the hardships she'd endured, he admired her for that. But for the first time since he'd known her, she'd seemed on the verge of tears when she'd talked about the Emperor finding her.
"Now the Emperor knows where I am. The Sith will never stop hunting me." She had lamented.
Up until that point, she had been so fearless in all their travels. She'd been courageous, even enthusiastic in battle. When Ferav, a Sith Inquisitor and apprentice of Darth Angral, had captured her on Ord Martell and forced a hostage confrontation with Corellan, Kira hadn't wavered in the slightest, even with the Sith's lightsaber at her throat. She'd maintained the same carefree, plucky, sarcastic attitude she always had, mocking the Sith and maintaining the presence of mind to tell her Master that Ferav had been ordered not to kill her, so his threats against her could be safely ignored. Corellan and the Sith had fought, and for all the Inquisitor's bravado, and the presence of a trio of Imperial commandos, Ferav had fallen beneath the Jedi's blades. The experience had given him a new appreciation for Kira Carsen's bravery, building on a foundation of trust that had seen the duo accomplish incredible tasks, overcoming every challenge thrown their way.
But now seeing her so distraught after their confrontation with Valis troubled him deeply. He realized in that moment that Kira's greatest fear wasn't of falling in battle or the myriad of other dangers Jedi faced, but the idea of being rejected and abandoned; to be abandoned by the Jedi Order and, by extension, abandoned by Corellan. Above all, she feared falling under the Emperor's control again, and losing her own sense of identity. It made perfect sense, of course, now that he knew her story. Kira's parents had abandoned her to the Sith Academy and the Emperor when she was just a baby. She had spent her adolescence on her own on Nar Shaddaa, surviving only on her wits and the training she'd received back on Korriban. Of course, Kira feared abandonment.
It wasn't right. He immediately wanted to help her. To comfort and reassure her in her darkest hour that he would never abandon her, regardless of what the Sith threw at them.
The words came out of Corellan's mouth instinctively, before he even realized he was speaking. "They'll take you over my dead body."
As soon as the words left his lips, they filled him with a sense of discomfort. Strictly speaking, it wasn't the sort of thing a Jedi was supposed to say to his Padawan. At all. At the very least, the wording was… inappropriate. Very inappropriate. Properly, he could have just said 'I'll protect you' or he could have reminded her that Master Satele had ordered him to do exactly that when she became his Padawan back on Coruscant, and that nothing had changed. That would have been suitable. He hadn't intended the words to mean something more than that, but they had. They meant so much that he had felt an ever so slight and brief shift of his alignment with the force, which was normally so strongly attuned to the light. He had quickly and easily recovered, of course. No real harm done. Even the Jedi Masters hadn't noticed anything amiss. But it had been a new experience for him, that feeling of touching the dark side through one's actions. One more thing he wished that he'd had time to talk over with Master Orgus.
Kira, for her part back in the moment, had blushed and looked downward with an embarrassed smile, even as he felt the waves of relief roll off her. "I'm having a very inappropriate urge to kiss you… but I won't."
Now that response had left him stunned, and not trusting his own voice. Fortunately, the awkward silence was quickly broken up when Kira had declared that she was ready to tell the truth to the Jedi Order. From there, they'd traveled to Tython. She had spoken before the Council about her past, the masters had debated, Corellan had spoken on Kira's behalf, and Grand Master Satele had ultimately ruled that they could continue their mission together.
Neither of them had mentioned that previous exchange aboard the ship ever since...
Back in the present, Kira was looking at him expectantly, curiously. Corellan realized he was still holding her hand. He released it suddenly, mumbling an apology. Kira took her hand back, still smiling but turning her head to the side at the awkwardness, avoiding his gaze. The two Jedi fell into a silence.
The memories of their travels led Corellan to reflect on their final encounter with Angral, leading Corellan to chuckle suddenly, an expression he rarely allowed himself even amongst other Jedi.
"What?" Kira looked up, still smiling with a look of curiosity.
"'I'd rather jump out an airlock naked'." Corellan quoted Kira word-for-word from their confrontation with Darth Angral. The Sith Lord had ordered her to betray Corellan and stand beside Angral as a Child of the Emperor. Instead, even as she fought the Emperor's presence in her mind, she had defied Angral and helped her Master overcome their foe.
Kira's smile quickly changed from one of amusement to one of embarrassed sheepishness as her eyes cast downward. "It was the best comeback I could come up with on short notice." She managed to get the words out as she continued to look downward, avoiding his gaze. Watching her through the light of the fire, it took Corellan a moment to realize that she was blushing.
"Well, it was a good one." The Jedi grinned, and then let the moment pass. His mood turned somber. "Kira." His voice was lower than usual, leading his former Padawan to look up at him, questioningly.
"How much do you remember? I mean from when the Emperor was trying to control you?"
Corellan had resisted asking the question until now. He trusted Kira completely, now more than ever. Even the Council hadn't pressed her on this point when they'd given their report after returning to Tython. But it was gnawing at him, and here, just between the two of them, he sought an answer.
Kira closed her eyes and shivered at the memory. "Everything." She whispered. "It's like remembering a bad dream. No, it's like remembering a nightmare. I was a prisoner inside my own mind. I saw everything he said and did and I was helpless to stop it." She let out a deep breath, and then she opened her blue eyes, looking up at him with an expression approaching adoration. "You challenged the Emperor to a fight. For me."
Corellan looked away with a grin that was probably more boyish than he would have preferred. It was true enough; he'd tried to provoke the Sith Emperor into leaving Kira's mind. It hadn't worked, but Kira had ultimately proved strong enough to force Vitiate from her mind herself. Still, the context Kira presented did make him feel a little foolish. Fortunately, he had a safe answer ready. The same one he ought to have used back on the ship. "Well, it is my job to protect you. When you were still my Padawan, I mean. Master Satele ordered me to back on Coruscant, remember?"
"I remember. After we took down Tarnis and stopped the Planet Prison. That feels like it was a lifetime ago." Kira continued to look at him, her eyes now smoldering. "When I… when HE was fighting you. You were incredible. I've never seen you move that fast. I've never seen anyone move that fast."
It was true enough that Corellan had briefly dueled the Emperor as he possessed Kira. Somehow, the fact that he knew he would not – could not – harm Kira only pushed him to fight more aggressively. The Jedi Knight had disarmed his possessed Padawan, giving Kira the chance she needed to force the Emperor out of her mind with her own sheer willpower.
Back in the present, Corellan regarded Kira silently, fending off another bout of embarrassment. I never fought for so much before. Instead, he banished the stray thought from his mind and decided to break up the awkward silence with a quip. "Well, I had already stood up to Master Kaedan for you." He grinned. "So facing down the Emperor of the Sith wasn't so bad."
Kira blinked once and then exploded in laughter. Master Jaric Kaedan, stoned-faced, unyielding and unbending, held a seat on the Jedi High Council. Weeks before, when Kira's past had been revealed the council, Kaedan had demanded that Kira be imprisoned, claiming she represented 'a threat to our entire order'. Corellan, who at that point had been a Jedi Knight for less than a month, had calmly stood up before the council and declared that he trusted the Padawan with his life. Cooler heads had prevailed, and Kira had been allowed to remain at Corellan's side. Still, the encounter had quietly lingered with them both.
Of course, being Jedi, Kira and Corellan had both been reasonably discreet when they spoke about that council meeting, never specifically mentioning Kaedan by name.
Until just now, that is.
Kira's laughter now had her on her back, clutching her sides and gasping for air as she rolled around in her sleeping bag. Corellan merely smiled contentedly. His former Padawan – his friend and partner – who had been through so much in her young life from being raised in the Sith Academy to surviving the streets of Nar Shaddaa – was happy. That filled him with a warmth that eclipsed any honor Master Satele or General Var Suthra could ever bestow on him.
Kira finally recovered her breath, sitting up in the sleeping bag as she wiped tears from her eyes. "Wow, boss." She chuckled. "You're finally developing a sense of humor." she exhaled. "Nifty. Don't let the Council know, or they'll take back your 'model Jedi' badge."
"Noted, partner." Corellan just nodded. There was no such actual badge, of course. But Master Satele had heaped considerable praise on him, almost to the point of embarrassment.
Kira was still regarding him carefully. It was like she was looking for something within the other Jedi. "But seriously. That was incredibly brave. Heck, it was even heroic."
He smiled back at her, almost beaming. Then he gave her a slight shake of his head. "I had the easier time of it. I just had to defeat his lightsaber. You had to defeat him in your mind. And if we're trading praise, Kira, what you did on the bridge, rejecting the Emperor and declaring that you were a Jedi, and then that flash of light… all of that. I've never been prouder. Ever."
Kira's lips parted and her eyes widened in surprise at the admission. Her blush returned, deeper than before. She looked downward in embarrassment, averting her gaze.
"Blast it, boss." She managed a weak smile, still clearly overwhelmed by her former master's words. "Keep this up and you're going to make me cry. No one wants that." Kira was clearly desperate to change the subject. "So. Why are we really out here? You did promise to tell me."
Corellan smiled again. She'd held off asking the actual question for far longer than he'd have expected. Kira seemed so much happier now that she was free of the Emperor's influence and secured her place in the Order. She even seemed wiser and more patient for the experience. In short, she was at peace, maybe for the first time in her life.
"Do you remember the first thing you ever said to me?" he ducked his head a little, glancing at her.
Kira mulled that over, recalling the first time they had met each other. "You mean that time in the council chambers? I made that crack about your report on that Dark Sider brightening up the room…"
Corellan shook his head. "I meant later on, when we were out in the field in Kaleth. With Master Kiwiks."
"Oh." Realization came to Kira's eyes as she remembered the three Jedi meeting over the body of a slain Flesh Raider months ago.
She and Kiwiks had arrived on the scene just as Corellan, still a Padawan himself at the time, had finished off a group of the rampaging beasts. Kira had quipped to Corellan 'You sure made short work of this bunch. You ever leave survivors?'
Kira Carsen had never been one to embarrass easily. Yet for the third time that night she blushed in embarrassment, her eyes cast downward. "I was just running my mouth, again." She started to apologize. "I told you then I didn't mean anything by it…."
Corellan held up a forestalling hand and smiled. "Kira. It's fine. Honestly." He reached over and gave her hand a comforting squeeze. "I swear I wasn't offended, even back then."
Kira watched her partner closely, regaining her composure. She took a deep breath and exhaled. "So what was it?" she asked quietly.
The Jedi Knight withdrew his hand, returning his attention to the fire.
"You know I'd never even been to Tython before all this started." He began. "I was raised mostly in the Jedi enclave on Uphrades, and after that I spent a few years traveling with a string of masters when I was a Padawan. By the time I got here, I knew I was good with a lightsaber, and that I could handle myself in combat. And after my earlier difficulties I told you about, I had committed myself to the rest of my studies, at least enough to satisfy the masters. Still, something always seemed to get in the way of visiting our homeworld." Here he gestured around them for effect at Tython's wilderness.
"So for years, Tython had been built up in my mind to be an almost mythical place. Here, I would find an even deeper connection to the light side of the force. I would study and debate the philosophy of the Jedi code with wise Masters. I would meet with other young Jedi who were like myself, and hone my skills with the lightsaber beside my future comrades in arms. I would, effectively, complete not just my training, but myself, as a Jedi."
Kira raised an eyebrow, shifting in her sleeping bag. "So… what? It wasn't up to your expectations?"
He reached for his canteen and took a sip of water. His throat had grown parched from this fireside chat. "I stepped off the shuttle on Tython, and literally within five minutes I'm killing Flesh Raiders."
Kira's eyes widened. "You mean the attack on the training grounds."
He nodded. "They told me the Masters were spread too thin to respond. We had initiates and untrained Padawans trying to fend off armed Jedi-hunting monsters from out of a nightmare. It would have been a slaughter, so they sent me. I grabbed my vibroblade and went."
"You drove them back." There was pride in Kira's voice. She was proud to serve under a master as brave and skilled as Corellan was. "Everyone was talking about it afterwards, even the Masters. You saved those kids. You were already a hero, even back then at the beginning."
He gave her a weak smile in acknowledgement of her praise, but he pressed on. "They had taken a Jedi prisoner, so I tracked them to the caves. I managed to free their captive, but I was forced to kill the Dark Jedi who had led the attack before Master Orgus could reach us."
"After that, Orgus took me under his wing. He sent me into the hills. I found Tee-Seven. I fought off the attacks on the village. But mostly… mostly I remember killing the Flesh Raiders. I would hit one of their encampments, maybe to free a prisoner, maybe to claim some artifact that the Raiders were drawing power from… it was all a blur. All of it involved fighting and killing these Raiders. And I don't care how monstrous they look or act, they are sentient. They're people."
"They're evil." Kira countered. She was trying to reason through his words logically. "Whatever the Rakata did to them thousands of years ago, it gave them a taste for killing Jedi, and everyone else for that matter. There's a reason we call them Flesh Raiders."
"True." Corellan agreed. "Those creatures don't respond to anything but force. Like Master Kiwiks said, they follow the Dark Side as much as anything else. I lost count of how many of them I killed. Master Orgus' guidance kept me focused, and later, when we fixed up Tee-Seven and he joined me as a companion that helped as well. But I still felt it every time I killed."
He took another sip of his water. "Since then, well, you've been with me for most of it. I've killed street thugs on Coruscant, Rakghouls on Taris, cyborg mobsters on Nar Shaddaa, Sand People on Tatooine, dissident nobles on Alderaan, and Imperial soldiers and Sith Lords practically everywhere."
He looked up at Kira again. Her blue eyes were locked on him now, with no small amount of concern. But for once, she seemed to be at a loss for words. She was trying to truly understand what he was saying.
"And again, it's all been necessary. Every single death was justified. I know that. I do. They've all been either trying to kill us or trying to stop us from saving everyone else. But it made me think about what you said back here that day with Master Kiwiks. I don't leave many survivors, do i? Most of our enemies simply don't surrender or retreat. And it does wear on me. Before this war is won, I'm going to kill a lot more people. And I'll feel every single death."
"I don't know why, but it seemed very important to me to stop thinking of Tython as just another world where I fought and killed our enemies. And I can't do that back at the Temple, surrounded by people who either revere me for saving them or who question the tactics we use. That's why I decided to come out here. Because I want to feel what other Jedi feel when they come back to Tython. I want to feel like this planet is some kind of home."
He exhaled slowly, then looked up at her again intently. "You understand, with Master Orgus gone, you're the only one I can really talk to about these things."
Kira's eyes widened at the revelation, full of compassion. "You can tell me anything, anything at all. I'm here for you. But if you needed to talk to one of the masters…"
"It wouldn't go well." he shook his head with a sigh. "Look, Master Satele once told me we should reflect on the lives we take. Force knows, I've strived to do that. But if she knew how much it weighs on me, she'd give me a lot more than three days' leave. She'd ground me on Tython and confine me to the temple until the entire council was certain I wasn't at risk of falling to the dark side." He paused. "Or just until they were certain I wasn't at risk of burning out." He exhaled again. "The Jedi Order and the Republic need me – need us – right now. And let's face it – the fighting, the missions, those are the things I'm good at. That's how I can contribute to the Jedi and to the Republic. I'm a warrior, and this is wartime. I don't think any Jedi should be a warrior to the detriment of everything else we are supposed to be, but sometimes it feels like that's my destiny."
He smiled up at her wryly. "Be honest, can you really picture me meditating all day in the temple, dispensing my wisdom to eager young Padawans?"
Kira smiled back at that, but her eyes still looked concerned. "No, you'd be wasted in the Temple. I told you before you weren't like most Jedi, and I meant it. Running with you all over the galaxy… it's like you were born to do this." The younger Jedi thought about the problem for a moment. "Alright, fine, what about Lord Praven, the Pureblooded Sith on Tatooine who abducted Master Kiwiks and tried to activate the Shock Drum? We beat him, and you spared his life. Now he's somewhere here on Tython, learning to be a Jedi. That's a win, right? And Bengel Morr? That Dark Jedi who was behind the Flesh Raiders in the first place? Same thing. He's recovering with the masters' help, thanks to you. He even sent you a message, thanking you. Doesn't that show the kind of good you've done? Doesn't that prove what kind of Jedi you are?"
"Thanks." He smiled at her. She had made a couple of good points. He actually did feel better with her reassurance. "That means a lot, Kira. Really, it does. And maybe you're right. Maybe I am a better Jedi than I give myself credit for. But to me, the most important lesson is this: when I came to Tython, I thought I'd find many Jedi who were like me. Young Jedi who I could talk to and relate to as well as fight beside." He looked back at her with eyes that were full of trust.
"Instead, I only found one."
This time, Kira's face didn't betray her surprise, though a tremor seemed to pass through her body. Her eyes met his dead-on, blue oceans full of emotion. She suddenly hopped out of her sleeping bag in one fluid motion, strode over to where he was sitting in two steps, and then crouched down next to him. He still hadn't moved when Kira reached out, grabbed his face in her hands, leaned in and kissed him.
The touch of her soft lips to his sent an electric thrill through Corellan, causing him to completely forget his Jedi discipline. His body responded before his mind could, reaching up and taking Kira in his arms. His lips and tongue met hers on reflex, tasting her as he gave in to months of built up tension he didn't realize he even had.
Kira suddenly broke the kiss, looking aghast at herself for having so brazenly broken the Jedi rules. "I'm so sorry. I know I shouldn't have done that. I just wanted…"
Corellan interrupted her, grabbing Kira by the shoulders and pulling her into an embrace, kissing her passionately. Kira gave a small shriek and then a murmur of pleasure as she responded in kind, returning the kiss as her arms wrapped around her fellow Jedi's neck.
The emotions had taken months to build up. All that fighting and guarding the others' back against Tarnis, Ferav, Valis, Angral, and everyone else who'd tried and failed to kill them. They'd had the constant pressure of knowing the fates of entire planets were riding on their shoulders. Kira had endured the Emperor's attempts to reclaim her mind and soul as one of his Children, finally freeing herself for good. Corellan had coped with the death of Master Orgus Din, his mentor with whom he had forged a powerful connection in his final days as a Padawan, emerging stronger than ever. They had been there for each other and through it all, and they had come to trust each other completely.
That bond - and the emotions spawned from it - proved to be far more powerful than all the Council prohibitions against attachments could ever hope to be.
Shifting his arms without breaking the kiss, he drew her into his lap, his hands running up and down her back. Her knees shifted until she was straddling him, their bodies pressed against each other.
She unexpectedly broke the kiss again, her eyes burning on him intently. "Hey, Boss?" Kira spoke in a husky whisper as her arms grasped him tightly.
"Mmmm?" Corellan murmured up at her in surprise and concern. Had he done something wrong?
"That job you asked me to do before? That you wanted me to be in charge of?" she broke out into a grin. "I thought I should warn you. I think that cute redhead who used to be your Padawan likes you."
He returned her grin, overcome with relief. "Thanks, partner. Good work."
As the two young Jedi resumed their kiss and the rest of the galaxy melted away, Corellan knew he would never question his connection with Tython ever again.
Author's Notes: This was originally intended to be a stand-alone story, but I've decided to pursue it further. I've also made some edits since I originally posted it. As you can see, Corellan Halcyon is a light-side Jedi Knight, and with one or two exceptions, he has consistently toed the line with the Council. (Obviously, that last part may be changing.)
Chapter 2: Love
Immediately following Chapter 2
Author's Notes: This story is based on the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, drawn from the Jedi Knight class storyline. Our protagonist is Corellan, our male human Jedi Knight hero, having (mostly) chosen light-side options. Chapter 2 of this story takes place immediately following Chapter 2 in the in-game story. Spoilers will obviously be forthcoming. Kira Carsen and all other characters are the property of BioWare / Lucasfilm.
Jedi Knight Corellan Halcyon sat in the pilot seat of his Defender-class light corvette and inputted the coordinates he had been given for the Belsavis system. He and his crew – which now included a Sith Lord, Force help him – were leaving Tython after just a few short hours. This, after having spent months as prisoners of the Emperor of the Sith Empire. Properly, rationally, they all should have spent days or weeks being debriefed by the Jedi Order and Republic intelligence, followed by a mandatory (and possibly highly "supervised") extended leave of absence for rest and recovery.
But the Galaxy did not have weeks. If their mission to Belsavis failed, the Galaxy might not even have days.
Working from the engine room, Teeseven, his trusty AstroMech droid and the first companion he ever made, messaged him that they were finally ready to enter hyperspace. He messaged a thanks to his old friend, and triggered the hyperdrive. Seconds later, the stars outside the cockpit canopy shifted as the Defender made the jump.
Within a few hours, they would be on Belsavis, a hidden Galactic Republic world that had apparently been used as a top-secret prison for centuries. That world was now the target of a ritual by the Sith Emperor that would, if successful, give him the power to destroy the Galaxy. It was an utterly insane notion. But having confronted the Emperor and his madness twice now, Corellan didn't doubt that he would and could conceive and implement such a plan.
Behind him, someone stepped into the cockpit area, closing and locking the door behind them. Even without the Force, he would have known instantly who it was.
"Rusk is still having a staring contest with Scourge." Kira Carsen, his former Padawan, current partner, fellow Jedi Knight and covert lover spoke the name of the Sith Lord with all the contempt and scorn she could muster, which was considerable. Sergeant Fideltin Rusk, an elite soldier attached to Corellan's ad-hoc squad from the Republic Military, had made it his personal mission to watch Lord Scourge, formerly the Emperor's Wrath and personal executioner, now a traitor to the Empire pledged to Corellan's personal service, for signs of treachery.
Without turning away from her, Corellan's hand reached out and triggered the autopilot on the ship's console. He stood up, taking a step towards Kira, his eyes never leaving hers.
"Doc is getting his med-bay restocked and back in order. Says he needs to get the stench of Imperials out." Kira returned his look as she took another step towards him. "Teeseven is doing the same in the engine room. Running diagnostics and… so on." Her voice started to crack. Corellan didn't trust himself to speak at all.
The two Jedi simply gazed into each other's eyes, then simultaneously lunged into each other's arms, grasping each other. Their lips met and their spirits soared. It had been months since they had been together. Months of Kira being locked up with the others with no idea what was going to happen to any of them. Months of Corellan being brainwashed by the Emperor and doing things he could not remember and probably would not want to remember. They couldn't even share a kiss when Corellan had freed her in the interrogation chamber; it had been too dangerous with too many Sith and Imperial soldiers around. Then on the trip back to Tython, things had been tense with the rest of the crew. Corellan's decision to allow Scourge to join them had not been popular, and everyone was taking turns watching the Sith. There had been no privacy. No time.
There never seemed to be enough time for them. There was just 'right now'.
Their lips and tongues pressed together hungrily. Their arms wrapped around each other, pulling their bodies together. They needed this. There was want and need and affirmation in every touch and motion. The assurance that no matter how long it had been or what the Emperor had done to them, their connection, the bond they shared, could not be sundered. Not by the rules of the Jedi Council, and not by the machinations of the Emperor. He might well be the most powerful force-user in the Galaxy, but he could never destroy what they had.
Eventually, Corellan fell back into the pilot's seat, pulling Kira down in his arms. Even that didn't break the kiss. She simply wrapped her arms around his neck while he pulled her into in his lap. The pilot's chair squeaked a bit in protest as it leaned back; neither Jedi noticed. Their hands roamed their bodies wantonly. There was no subtlety here. No declarations. No words.
They didn't need words. Not now.
Kira sat up in his lap suddenly, gently caressing his face with her hand as she looked deep into his eyes with urgent longing. He returned her look, drowning in her blue eyes as, for one glorious moment, all his troubles faded away. Her free hand reached down for his belt…
Afterward, they straightened their clothes out and sat beside each other at the pilot's and co-pilot's stations. It almost felt like how it had been for them before. Back in their early days together, when it had just been the two of them and Teeseven, running around trying to stop a single Sith Lord from seizing planet-killing weapons of mass destruction. Corellan remembered the experience had seemed so overwhelming at the time. In retrospect, compared to the task ahead of him, that now seemed like a pleasant little adventure.
For now, though, for a little bit of precious time, he was at peace. He was with her.
"Thank you." he smiled over at her languidly. "I really, truly needed that."
She leaned back in her chair, folding her hands behind her head and grinning back at him impishly. "Believe me, partner, we both did."
"We never… did it quite like that before." He looked downward. The bulk of their clothes had essentially stayed on throughout the experience, with only the barest minimum of undressing and… things pushed out of the way.
"I know. But we have our whole crew plus a Sith Lord out there. Things are already on edge." She gestured towards the door, indicating the rest of the ship. "None of us should be alive after what we've been through. And tomorrow… tomorrow we could be dead." She exhaled, then gave him a smirk with a wild look in her eyes that was downright reckless. "I decided life is too short for taking clothes off."
He laughed lightly, leaning back in his seat as a sudden melancholy came over him. "I missed you." He sighed, reaching over and taking her hand in his. "I hardly remember a thing from when… from when he had me. From when he was under his control. But I couldn't not miss you."
"You blasted well better have." Kira's expression was more somber now, her voice becoming softer as her blue eyes, full of water, took him in. "Because I missed you every moment of every day."
Corellan's eyes close in pain and guilt. "I'm so sorry." He whispered quietly.
"For what?" her voice became firmer, more like her normal self. Assertive, sarcastic, fearless.
"For putting you in that position, for one thing. But more than that, for not listening to you. Before we attacked the Fortress, you felt it was a trap. You felt that the Emperor was expecting us. You tried to warn me and I didn't listen." He sighed. "We're partners. I'm supposed to trust your instincts and I didn't. We all could have been killed." He reached out and grasped her hand. "You were right, Kira. I'm sorry."
Kira blinked at him, her eyes suddenly full of sincere compassion, forgiveness and understanding. She loved him and could forgive him almost anything. But the young Jedi couldn't help who she was, and the kind look was just as soon replaced with a mischievous smirk. "Wait, I need to record that last part. Preserve it for posterity as my own personal holo-answering message."
He wrinkled his nose at her, resisting the urge to snort. Despite the aggravation, he was immediately relieved that she was making jokes. "Oh, very funny."
"No, I just want the recording of you saying 'You were right, Kira. I'm sorry'. Just that one line over and over again. I can leave it on a continuous loop for all eternity." she teased. She leaned back in her chair as she grinned at him.
"I'm pretty sure this constitutes insubordination." Corellan finally broke into a grin himself. He couldn't help it. Kira could always get under his skin, and get a smile out of him.
"You realize I'm not your Padawan anymore?" she leered just a bit at him, bumping up her eyebrows.
He rose to the bait. "You realize I can still knock you on your perfectly shaped rear end in a sparring match?" he smiled, folding his arms.
"Wow, partner." She laughed as her eyes lit up. "I see what you did there. Inserting flattery into a threat, huh? Nifty. Changing tactics on me mid-sentence the same way you do when we duel with lightsabers. Okay, 'boss'. Have it your way for now." Kira poked him in the arm, then fell back into her chair, looking rather smug. "So. What happened with the Council?"
Corellan's mood immediately shifted as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Kira could no doubt feel a wave of frustration surging within him, which was just as quickly suppressed. "'There is no emotion, there is peace.'" He exhaled, reciting the first line of the Jedi code. Plainly, he was exercising basic personal discipline techniques for maintaining self-control.
Kira smiled a bit as she reached out and caressed her hand through his hair. "Not so great, then."
"After Lord Scourge laid out the Emperor's plan for them and told them he would help me, Master Kaeden drew his lightsaber on him. There was no great preamble. No threats. Nothing." Corellan sighed. "He just said that Scourge's role in this was done. Even Master Kiwiiks was against letting him go free." The disappointment was evident in his voice. Kaeden had proven to be difficult in the past, but Kiwiiks had been Kira's former Master before she teamed with Corellan. Corellan and Kira had saved her life twice – first on Tatooine and then again on Tython when they had defeated Darth Angral. She had always been supportive of Corellan, Kira and their crew in the past.
"You know she was just worried." Kira gently defended her old master as she looked up at him with her blue eyes. She didn't want a fight. She and Corellan never really fought, exactly. But she wanted to make sure Corellan was seeing things clearly. "Worried about you."
She didn't come right out and say I am, too. But he could feel the unspoken words in her gaze.
"I know." He swallowed, his voice softening. He tried to press on. "I could feel the anger and contempt coming off Scourge, but he never even budged a muscle. He just stood there stoically, defiantly, and told Master Satele that we needed each other, like it or not." Just as he had at the time, Corellan held his breath in anticipation. It was unsettling.
"Fortunately, Master Satele believed him." He exhaled. "Or, at least, she felt the same in the Force. She warned me not to trust him too much, and let us go."
"He said himself that he'd always be a Sith." Kira offered the words carefully. Regardless of how she felt, she wasn't going to reproach him when he had already committed himself. Kira had always admired Corellan's decisiveness and conviction. She wouldn't turn on him now, no matter how much she disagreed with his decision.
Force, that meant so much to him.
"Maybe so. But right now, he's working to save the galaxy." Corellan countered, his voice level. It was always like this. Corellan and Kira never really argued, exactly. One of them would take a stand on something, and the other would simply accept it. Maybe it was their Jedi training. Maybe they were just too much in love. Regardless, they never seemed to raise their voices to each other. "And that makes him an ally. I don't trust him. But I trust he wants the Emperor dead. And I trust Orgus that we need him. That shows his willingness to work for the greater good. If he can do that, then he can change."
"He's not Praven." Kira gently prodded, her voice soft. "Satele was right that we can't trust him."
Corellan remembered Lord Praven. Like Scourge, he was a pure-blooded Sith Lord. He had once served Darth Angral during the Desolator Crisis. When Corellan had defeated him on Tatooine, Praven had elected to defect to the Jedi, realizing that the principles he held – honor most of all – to were far closer to the Light than the Dark, and ashamed of what he had done in his master's name. Now Praven was in training to be a Jedi, and was doing well by all reports.
Kira was right. Something within Praven had wanted to change, and Corellan had sensed that. He couldn't say the same about Scourge. But he did sense a resolve within the Sith Lord that was nigh unbreakable.
"Deep down, I know that. But Kira… this task before us seems monumental. The Emperor is committed to this plan. He'll send everything he has to stop us when we get in his way." He inhaled slowly and then let it out, applying a basic Jedi breathing technique. "I remember how I felt before we attacked the Emperor's Fortress. I never admitted it, but I think I honestly thought I was invincible. With four of the best Jedi in the order at my back, I was sure there was nothing the Emperor could throw at me that would stop us."
He turned away from her in shame, closing his eyes. "I was so arrogant. I had no comprehension of the power he wielded. I nearly lost everything. I could have gotten both of us – and the rest of the crew – killed or worse." He sighed. "I almost failed everyone."
He felt her hand grasp his chin, pulling it until he faced her again. Her eyes, lovely as ever, were narrowed on his with a resolve he hadn't seen since they took down Darth Angral. "But you didn't." she said firmly, steel in her voice. "Yes, you stumbled. It happens to the best of us. Up until now, it just had never happened to you, tough guy." Her tone allowed for no disagreement. "So, we get back up. We rally. We fight. We do what needs to be done. We win. Because that's what we do." She gave him a hard poke in the chest with a half-smirk. "That's what you taught me."
Corellan grinned at that. Only Kira could make him feel this way. "I guess I did a good job of teaching you something, then." He exhaled, his resolve reforming. Very slowly, he was starting to feel like himself again. He regarded his partner with a look of grim resolve. "You do know that eventually I'll have to face him again?"
Kira closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I know." she said quietly, giving him an encouraging smile. "Just… not until you're ready next time. Okay?"
The older Jedi nodded. "Every chance I get, however long this takes, I'm going to be training and learning from Scourge." He spoke with conviction. "Learning as much as I can about the Emperor. Getting stronger. That Sith has known the Emperor for 300 years. If the Emperor has any kind of weakness, he will know how to exploit it." He exhaled. "That's why I need Scourge."
At the mention of the Sith Lord on their ship, Kira's eyes widened. She reached over and took hold of his arm. "You know there are a hundred ways this whole deal could go wrong, right?" Her voice was quiet as she pressed him. "Including Scourge trying to turn you to the dark side." she visibly repressed a shiver.
His eyes locked on Kira's, and they were the same eyes that he had looked upon her on Tython, months ago. The eyes that said he trusted her above all others. "And that's why I need you."
She started at that, stunned, and Corellan pressed on. "I need you with me on this. Watching Scourge. Watching me. Making sure I don't get too deep. I know the others are worried, and I don't blame them. But… I need you with me on this." He swallowed. "I can't do this without you."
Kira shuddered. Corellan knew more than anyone how hard this must be for her. Kira's past as a Child of the Emperor, and breaking free of that life, at the age of ten no less, was the most difficult decision of her life. And then a year ago, completely rejecting the Emperor's attempts to control her and overcoming the Sith's bond to her, that had been her greatest challenge. One that resulted in she and Corellan saving Tython, surviving the Desolator Crisis and Kira finally being named a Jedi Knight by Master Satele.
Continuing to travel with a Sith Lord, and to watch for signs her partner, friend and lover was falling to the Dark Side, to someone like Kira, that must seem like the most difficult challenge imaginable.
But this was Kira Carsen. And she had done nothing but embrace challenges since the moment she'd been assigned as Corellan's Padawan. And probably since long before.
She finally nodded. "Okay." She whispered.
Corellan smiled up at Kira again, relieved. He was long past pretending to be the invincible hero with her. The person he was with her was the real him. He reached out an open hand over to her, grinning.
"Partners?" he offered.
The gesture made Kira's eyes light up. She had known since before that night on Tython that Corellan would always stand by her side, and that she would do the same for him. It reminded her that even back when he had been her Jedi master and she had been his Padawan, they had been friends and comrades first. It reminded her that before they were lovers, they had been partners. And everything they had done together had been built on trust and a commitment to each other.
"Partners." she answered, returning the grin with one of her own and accepting the firm handshake.
"So. Orgus freed you?" Kira finally worked up the courage to ask the question. She was still regarding him carefully, and she plainly knew she was treading on uncertain ground here. Corellan understood immediately, his Jedi training serving him well. When your partner tells you that his mind was freed of the Sith Emperor's influence by the force ghost of his former Jedi Master who has been dead for a year, it probably made sense to be wary.
"Yeah." Corellan replied, forcing himself to calm as the memory formed in his mind. Everything up to that from the moment he fell before the Emperor was a haze at best. "Kira, I don't… I don't remember anything before that. When Orgus freed me, he suppressed my memory of everything that happened from the moment we were taken." He closed his eyes, trying to remember. "I have vague glimpses of Chaskar putting me through training sessions against battle droids. Not much else." His eyes opened and refocused on Kira, showing the nearest thing to panic the younger Jedi had ever seen in her partner's eyes. "Kira, I think I did horrible things when I was in there. When I was under his control."
She reached out and gripped his arm firmly. "It wasn't you." She said. Her voice was low, but there was a ferocity to it. "It wasn't your fault."
He gave her a sad smile. "That's what Orgus said. When he freed me. When he… blocked my memories of what happened."
"Well, he was right." Kira's voice was fiercer now, her grip on his tightening. "So. When exactly did Master Orgus free you from the Emperor's control?"
Corellan closed his eyes and cringed. "About two minutes before that Sith overseer, Chaskar, brought me in to torture you." His body shivered. "Orgus always did have a good sense of timing."
That knocked the wind out of Kira's sails. Her eyes blinked once hard and she swallowed. "Well, then I'm real glad he showed up when he did." she half-stammered the words, managing a grim smile.
"Kira, I don't think it was a coincidence." He said, looking up at her. "If I'd… if I'd hurt you, I don't know if I could have come back from that." He exhaled. "I think I would have hated myself too much to ever escape the dark side, even if I had somehow escaped the Emperor." He closed his eyes. "I think Orgus must have known that."
The younger Jedi's lips parted just a bit in shock, her beautiful blue eyes widening further. They were full of surprise, compassion, worry and love. Her breathing slowed as she gazed at her friend and partner. It was rare for her to be caught silent.
"When Chaskar and I came in and I saw you strapped to that machine…" Corellan tried again. "It was all I could do not to kill him on the spot with my bare hands and then run to you. Then I would have carried you out of there." He closed his eyes again. "That… might also have pushed me over the edge." He exhaled.
"You…." she began, then stopped. It was Kira's turn to apply some standard Jedi breathing techniques. That accomplished, she started again, taking his hand in hers. "You once told me that Orgus had taught you that our choices are what matter. Not how we arrive at them."
"You've never had to deal with this before, have you?" she said the words almost accusingly. "We've faced our share of hardships, but you've never actually fought someone in a real battle and come up short." She paused for effect, and Corellan reluctantly shook his head. Her expression became hard and uncompromising as her blue eyes narrowed. "You, Jedi Knight Corellan, are a hero. And nothing will ever change that. You were a hero before I even met you. You'll be remembered as a hero long after we're both dead. You're good. Do you hear me? Good." She smirked suddenly. "Do I have to kick your butt to prove it?"
Corellan smiled softly. "No." he whispered. "And thank you. Again."
"Good." Kira grinned again, releasing her grip on his hand. "And your welcome." She stood up and folded her arms, looking rather pleased with herself.
"So, while you were meeting with the Council, I got another upload from the Jedi archives." She said, her voice idle as she turned away from him in her chair.
Corellan frowned as he turned back to her. He'd learned long ago that Kira often feigned indifference when something important was bothering her. She hardly ever stopped looking to prove how tough she was. "Oh?" he raised an eyebrow.
She seemed to be paying close attention to a navigational chart on her console. He couldn't see her eyes. "Yeah. Finally got the skinny on how we become an official Jedi twosome. Short version? Not happening." Corellan doubted that anyone but himself would notice the tremor of disappointment in her voice. He remembered their conversation before the raid on the Emperor's Fortress. She had told him there were records of Jedi living openly in "attached" relationships, even married and with children, with the Council's permission. She was going to research further.
"We'd only ever see each other on Tython." Kira continued. Her voice was dismissive, but she was still looking away from him. "Senior Council members would review us monthly. Make sure we stayed 'detached'. The clincher is, only Jedi who were raised by the order from birth get permission. I'm automatically disqualified."
He instinctively reached out his hand, placing it on her shoulder. "I'm sorry." He said quietly. "At least we have our answer."
She leaned back in her chair nonchalantly, looking over at him idly. "Still plenty of questions left. What happens when the Council catches us, for starters. The longer we keep things going, the harder they'll be to stop." She looked down again, refusing to meet his eyes. "Not gonna ruin your life, tough guy. If you want out of this, just say so."
Corellan decided to himself that no one else in the Galaxy would have noticed the slight tremor in her voice as she spoke. Kira was so tough, she wouldn't admit when the very idea of something was simply devastating to her.
Or maybe she simply knew him too well. It didn't matter.
There had been moments in Corellan's relatively brief but remarkable Jedi career where the path immediately before him had been unclear. Where he doubted that he could make the right decision or find the right answer on his own, and the Force itself provided no great insights. When that happened, he looked to his companions to be his beacons, lighting his way and reminding him of who he was. It was not always easy and he did not always act as his companions would prefer. But they had rarely led him to regret his actions.
The bond he shared with Kira predated their physical relationship. They had come to trust each other completely long before they had shared their first kiss. They were mutually devoted to each other long before they had slept together.
And the path before him had never been clearer.
"Kira, I just stood up to Masters Satele, Kaeden and Kiwiiks just so I could run around the galaxy with a Sith Lord I barely know in my cargo hold." Corellan reached out and took her hand in his, causing her to look up at him. "I'd rather face down the whole council than lose what we have."
And Kira smiled, looking up at him with devotion, her eyes glazed over and her lovely lips pursing as they moved to kiss each other. "You know, for a man of action, you've got a way with words."
This kiss was very different from their previous ones. It wasn't from a need to express relief or desire or happiness or even trust. It was a commitment. Pure and simple.
As they broke the kiss, held her closely, his forehead pressed against hers as they felt each other breathing heavily.
"I love you." He whispered, his eyes opening.
She grinned up at him happily, her eyes sparkling. "You know, that's the first time you've ever said that to me."
"I know." He beamed. "But I meant it every day."
They kissed again, and this time, there was no question what they were expressing to each other. Their spirits soared as they felt each other in the Force, embracing not just their bodies, but their souls.
As they parted for air, Kira's eyes looked him over hungrily. "How are you doing? Physically, I mean?"
Corellan shrugged, reflecting on the vague sense of fatigue in the back of his mind. It had been a long time since he'd had a real break. And it seemed unlikely he'd be getting a vacation anytime soon. "I'm fine, I guess. Doc checked me out before we got to Tython."
"But I didn't." she replied crisply, the smallest trace of a smile on her lips. "Here. Hold still."
He raised an eyebrow at that, but complied as her hands slipped inside his robe untying it and removing the adaptive armor padding beneath it. Within a minute, he was stripped to the waist.
"I thought life was too short for undressing." He shifted and smiled at her.
Kira's lips quirked. "Know what? I changed my mind." She then set about examining him thoroughly, a task she was well-suited for. After all, they knew every inch of each other's bodies.
Kira's fingertips gently caressed the tree-branch shaped scars around his right shoulder and bicep as she frowned in concern, recognizing the marks for what they were: The distinctive damage inflicted by Sith force lightning against human skin.
"These are new."
He sighed at her soft touch. "Yes."
She looked up at him, slightly puzzled. "I thought they put us all in bacta tanks right after he took us down."
"They did." He was silent for a moment. "I think I got closer to him than the others. I remember his lightning striking everyone down one after the other. It was down to Tol Braga and myself. We charged him. No subtlety about it. We were both taking a lot of hits. When Braga finally fell, I remember leaping right at the Emperor with both lightsabers drawn. The pain was unlike anything I've ever felt before. I went right for his heart. I was taking so much damage. I was… within inches of him when I blacked out." He sighed. "Looks like I fell just short." He glanced back to the lightning scars. "I got the full dose, it seems. That's why mine didn't heal all the way."
"Even when you fail, you have to be the hero." She mused, giving him a teasing smile. She looked up into his eyes as she leaned in, pursing her lips and planting a kiss on the scarred skin.
Corellan let out a slow moan, his eyelids flickering contentedly at her attentions, his hands moving to her waist. This. These were the moments he fought for. These were the moments he lived for. He would happily spend the rest of his life doing this with Kira. She was the only one who could free his mind from this war. Not just from the Republic against the Empire, but from the continual conflict between the Light and the Dark.
As they kissed each other, the Galaxy, and all his problems, once again faded away…
They both re-dressed, helping each other with their adaptive armor and robes.
"I doubt we'll have much time to do this on Belsavis. Or anyplace else we're headed to in the next few weeks." The words were wrapped with regret.
"Don't spoil it." Kira's hands secured the belt of his robes before planting themselves against his broad chest. "We'll make time when this is over."
With Kira in his arms, Corellan closed his eyes, taking it all in. He absorbed everything he had endured since he first arrived on Tython nearly two years before. He reflected on the challenges they had overcome, the troubles they had endured. Then he reached out into the Force, looking for guidance. He was hardly the most skilled Jedi at reflection, but he couldn't imagine being in a more tranquil state at any point in the immediate future.
In his mind's eye, Corellan was walking through a tunnel. Ahead, it grew darker and darker. He knew what was waiting for him there. Ahead, lying in wait, were the Empire's forces. The Sith. And in the darkest place of all, the Emperor himself.
But past the darkness, there was light. And when he looked deep into the light for what awaited him there, he saw only…. Kira.
He opened his eyes and turned to Kira, beaming.
"You know something, partner? We're going to win this."
Kira grinned and chuckled. "There you go, tough guy. I think I just gave you your mojo back." Her silky voice rolled off him even as she gave him one last quick kiss before sliding back into her own seat.
Corellan smiled at that. Deep down, he knew he would never quite be the same Jedi he was before the attack on the Emperor's Fortress. But that was alright. He knew who he was and what he had to do. Even better, he had the love of a woman who would stand by his side no matter what. A shining beacon to light his way and remind him of who he was.
"You're right, partner." He grinned, turning in his chair. "I feel fantastic. Let's go take on the Empire."
Author's Notes: So i wasn't necessarily as pleased with this edition as i was with Chapter 1. I had a number of things i wanted to use, but i realized most of them were more appropriate for future chapters. On the advice of one of my reviewers, one whom i respect, I avoided lengthy flashbacks this time around. To an extent, this Chapter felt like a "bridge" story between two larger, more impressive works.
Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than our successes.
The main point i am trying to convey here is that, mentally and emotionally, Corellan needs Kira as much as she needed him. In Chapter 1 of the game, when she was dealing with her Child of the Emperor issues, he saw her at her darkest moment, and he helped her deal with that. He didn't fight her battles for her, but her gave her the support she needed to win her own battles. Now she's doing the same for him.
Corellan's personality is obviously an X-factor, and that's the reality for most of these SWTOR-based stories. When he starts out, he's fairly bland. He's Superman. He's a Boy Scout. He has immense potential in the Force and incredible fighting skills, but there's not much else there. Then he meets a woman who slowly, surely changes how he thinks and feels about a number of things. Their relationship is clearly much more developed than it was in my previous Chapter, and its obviously going to become even more serious.
My next work will not be for this series, but will still be SWTOR-related. Please give me an "Author Follow" to keep a look out for it.
As always, feedback is always welcome.
Thank you, and may the Force be with You.
Chapter 3: Living
The Emperor has finally fallen. What becomes of the noble Jedi Knight and his crew?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Author's Notes: This story is based on the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, drawn from the Jedi Knight class storyline. Our protagonist is Corellan, a male human Jedi Knight Sentinel, having (mostly) chosen light-side options. Chapter 3 of this story takes place immediately following Chapter 3 in the in-game story. Spoilers will obviously be forthcoming. Kira Carsen and all other characters are the property of BioWare / Lucasfilm.
Jedi Master Corellan Halcyon, the newest and almost certainly the youngest Master in the Jedi Order, stepped through the ship's airlock and onto his Defender-class Corvette, following his crew in as they departed from the Valiant, the Galactic Republic's massive flagship. Corellan and his crew had just been recognized as heroes of the Republic by Grand Master Satele Shan, Admiral Dabrin and many of the Republic's top military leaders for their actions on Drommund Kaas. Each member of his crew had been awarded the Cross of Glory, the Republic's highest honor, while Corellan himself had been promoted to the rank of Master by Satele Shan on behalf of the Jedi Council.
The Emperor of the Sith was dead. The galaxy was saved.
As his crew all settled into the main living area, he allowed himself to smile proudly as he regarded each of them. Tee-Seven, his faithful AstroMech droid, who had been with him since the beginning, back when he was a Padawan on Tython. Sergeant Rusk, the Chagrian Republic soldier, who had joined them on Hoth and whose dedication and tactical advice had served the team with dedication and distinction ever since. Doctor Kimble, called "Doc", had joined them on Balmorra, and his medical expertise had been desperately needed. Doc's desire for personal fame sometimes tested Corellan's patience, but he knew the man's instinct for preserving the lives of others were his core, not glory-seeking. Lord Scourge, the 300-year old Sith Lord who had formerly served as the Emperor's Wrath. After centuries of serving his old master as his personal executioner, the Sith Lord had betrayed the Emperor and pledged himself to Corellan's service to save the galaxy. Though Scourge remained an unrepentant follower of the Dark Side of the Force, none could deny that without his help, they could never have prevailed on Drommund Kaas.
Finally, Kira Carsen. His former Padawan. His fellow Jedi. His partner. His closest confidante.
The love of his life.
She was the beacon of light shining his way through a dark storm. The one thing giving him hope for the future. He was far past the point of caring that their attachment, their relationship, their love violated the Jedi Council's rules. They had carefully kept it secret, even from their crew. Their crew. No matter how powerful he became or what feats he accomplished, Kira was, in fact, his partner in all things.
"Well, everyone." He smiled, taking the group in. "Looks like we've done it. Well done."
"Hey, same to you Mister Jedi Master!" Doc smirked, pulling a Corellian Ale from the refrigeration unit and plopping down on one of the couches surrounding the holo-terminal. "That's a pretty nice promotion for you."
"A well-deserved honor, Doctor." Rusk said sternly, taking a seat to Doc's right. "Master Corellan's victory in personal combat over the Emperor may well be the single greatest blow the Republic has ever dealt against the Empire. As Admiral Dabrin said, these events will raise the morale of every Republic soldier opposing the Sith… at least once it is made public."
The team had learned that the Republic had classified the operation to Drommund Kaas just prior to leaving the Valiant. Doc, for one, had not taken the news of the secrecy well, coveting the fame that would come with the galaxy at large learning of the team's achievements. Corellan had had to take the medic aside and assure him that the recognition Doc sought would come in good time. He didn't entirely approve of Doc's fame-seeking, but he did respect it was part of the medic's personality. For his own part, Corellan understood the need for security. From what Corellan now understood of how the Empire was structured, it seemed entirely possible most high-ranking Imperials would be completely unaware of the Emperor's death for quite some time, with the Dark Council continuing to rule in his name indefinitely.
"Thank you, Sergeant. But it's an achievement for all of us." Corellan smiled, still standing. "We could never have come this far if we hadn't worked together."
"So, what now, boss?" Kira smirked, taking a seat a few feet down and folding her arms as if in a challenge. Kira may have found Doctor Kimble irritating for his egotistical personality and his womanizing ways, but she had eventually accepted him as part of their crew. The bickering between the two hadn't completely abated, but it had gradually become more light-hearted. The two still grated on each other almost constantly, but the truth was their personalities were quite similar in many respects, though Corellan had decided never to say so out loud. Corellan couldn't quite say the same to Kira's relationship with Scourge. The Sith Lord was a walking, talking reminder of everything Kira had escaped years earlier on Korriban. But at least they had become civil to each other. For Scourge's part, Corellan knew the Sith respected Kira's strength of will and prowess as a warrior, even if he held little regard for her as an individual. Kira's devotion to Jedi principles (in most respects, anyway) meant that part of Scourge would always look upon her as wasted potential at best.
"Now?" Corellan paused. He'd been so focused for months on their mission to defeat the Emperor and save the galaxy that he hadn't given the subject of what they would all do afterward significant thought up until now. "Well, I suppose, all things considered, we've at least earned ourselves some leave."
"Oh, heck with that. The vacations can wait. Tell us about the fight!" Doc enthused, raising his bottle in the air.
"Hey, yeah. You never did say exactly how it went." Kira grinned. "One second we were all fighting around the Temple, trying to lure the Imperials away from you and Tee-Seven. The next second, the whole building was coming down, and we needed to get out of there." She tilted her head. "So, you obviously beat him. What was it like?"
Corellan blinked, reflecting inwardly. Privately, the fight with the Emperor had been… intense on multiple levels. He knew it would be the most challenging fight of his career going in, and it was, though perhaps not in the way he had anticipated. He had precisely no desire to relive the experience, not even for the benefit of his team.
"Honestly, there's not much to tell." He finally spoke in a rather soft voice. "It was…. trying, but Tee-Seven and I pulled through. He's gone, and we're all still here." He squared his shoulders, finding his voice again. "That's what matters."
"Oh, come on! You can do better than that!" Doc lamented. "We were all at that blasted Dark Temple. Sheesh, I'm gonna have nightmares about that place for weeks. But you and Tee were the only ones who laid eyes on the old bastard. The least you can do is tell us how you did him in." the medic grinned suddenly, his goatee twitching. "You gotta tell me: Did he grovel?"
"You have to tell us the story." Kira smiled over at him. "Unless you want us to get it out of Tee?"
Corellan finally sighed. "Look, its not that memorable a tale." He barely noticed Tee-Seven rolling behind him towards the opposite wall of the room. "Jedi don't usually tell stories about their exploits. I know I never really have. Master Orgus always told me…."
The Jedi Master suddenly stopped talking as he saw the faces of his crew. He had realized that they weren't listening to him, or even looking in his direction. All four of them were looking past him, with enraptured expressions on their faces.
Corellan turned around… and saw the Emperor of the Sith Empire sitting there on his throne.
For the briefest of moments, the Jedi's breathing stopped, his hands instinctively reaching for his twin lightsabers. But he had felt nothing of the Emperor in the Force. In fact, he had earlier felt him die. And the blue tint was a dead giveaway. All of this took a second to register before he finally reacted.
"Cease playback!" he shouted, mouth hanging open.
Ever obedient, Tee-Seven's holo-projection vanished, and the droid turned to his master.
"Tee-Seven…. What was that?" he released his grip on his sabers and pointed at where the projection had been.
"Tee-Seven + Jedi + Crew = Greatest Heroes in the Galaxy!" the droid beeped happily, dome-head spinning. "Story = Must be told!"
"What the…. You recorded the fight?!" Corellan was in total disbelief as he planted his hands on his hips. Through the Force, he could feel Kira smirking at him a bit from behind him. He rarely showed any loss of emotional control like this, and she was no doubt amused that he had been thrown off. He should have been irritated, but it was Kira. So instead, he continued to focus on Tee-Seven. "You weren't supposed to record it!"
The chastised AstroMech droid let out a sad whistle. "Jedi orders Tee-Seven to record all combat where Tee-Seven was present." He whined. "Tee-Seven = only following orders."
Corellan blinked at that, reminded of the command. "That was back on Tython… almost two years ago. We had just beaten Bengel Morr." He realized that this was more of an explanation to the others than an excuse. After all, back then it had just been Tee-Seven and himself. "And as I recall, that was intended for training purposes only." He carefully emphasized. Nevertheless, between his Jedi training and the technical correctness of the droid's answer, his initial revulsion at Tee-seven's actions was quickly fading. Just as well, as he could feel both Kira and Doc stifling their snickers behind his back.
"Jedi = Still need training!" Tee-seven chirped in response. "Training = Eternal!"
Corellan managed not to visibly react to that. Tee-Seven had reminded him of one of the tenants of the expanded Jedi Code. Training is eternal. He could remember everyone from his earliest Masters to Orgus Din himself impressing that one into his psyche.
"Training is eternal. Holo-recordings can assist training. But they still aren't supposed to be for…. entertainment." Corellan finally answered, pouring as much disdain as he could into that final word. His defenses were weakening, however. Kira would no doubt pick up on that through their bond. Blast it.
Indeed, as if on que, Kira jumped on it. "I say we put it to a vote." The young Jedi grinned. "All in favor of watching the holorecording, raise your hand." She promptly did so to demonstrate her position.
"Hey, great idea, Red." Doc promptly followed Kira's lead, raising his hand in the air like a schoolboy hoping to be called on by the teacher.
"Hey, who's in command here?" the young Jedi Master turned to the duo, as he felt his control of the situation slip away. "Last time I checked, we defended democracy aboard this ship. We don't practice it."
Seemingly ignoring him, Tee-Seven made his 'vote' clear in a serious of enthusiastic beeps. Finally, looking very reluctant, Rusk finally raised his hand as well.
"Sergeant…. Really?" Corellan raised an eyebrow at the normally taciturn Republic soldier.
"Apologies, Master Jedi." Rusk, with his devotion to the chain of command, had the good grace to look embarrassed for expressing opposition to his designated commanding officer's stated wishes. "The information we could obtain from this holovid could prove invaluable to strategizing future missions against the Sith."
No one present was exactly fooled by Rusk's reasoning. But no one would call the soldier out, either. He had been far too courageous throughout their campaign for Corellan to question the soldier's integrity.
They had all been so courageous, blast it. Corellan lamented to himself, sighing inwardly.
The Jedi Master finally turned towards Lord Scourge. The massive Sith Lord was standing to the side, his arms folded, almost as unmoving as a statue. Scourge's demeanor was stoic but dour, as usual. If Corellan had ever held out any hope that the Emperor's death would improve Scourge's sour disposition, he would have been disappointed. For three-hundred years, Scourge had waited for this day. Now that it had come, he did not seem happy or even particularly relived. But the Sith's ever-watchful eyes were keenly observing his crewmates. Clearly, he was interested in the proceedings.
Corellan placed his hands on his hips again as he regarded the Sith with a scrutinizing look and a raised eyebrow. "Shall I assume by your silence, Lord Scourge, that you are voting against this… proposal?"
The Sith Lord tilted his head at the Jedi Master, his perpetual frown in full effect. "I have no interest in participating in this expression of your absurd democratic beliefs." His low voice, just a couple of notches above a whisper, slithered across the chamber like a snake. Corellan had started to feel a small sense of inner relief – Scourge had been a loyal crewmember in his own fashion - when the Sith suddenly continued.
"However…" Scourge didn't smile. The Jedi Master knew from personal experience that this quality was not typical of other Sith. Sith Lords, Pureblood and otherwise, were known to arrogantly smile, grin and even laugh when circumstances warranted, usually at the suffering of others or in the anticipation of the destruction of an opponent. Lord Scourge, in contrast, wore a near-continuous expression of dissatisfaction, regardless of the occasion. Despite that, on certain rare occasions, Scourge's yellow eyes took on a certain gleam, and the tendrils hanging from his cheeks seemed to twinge in a way that seemed to suggest approval.
The tendrils moved in such a way now, much to Corellan's chagrin. "…. I, too, would like to see the Droid's holo-recording."
The Jedi Master reassessed the Sith carefully. As he always did, Scourge had referred to Tee-Seven simply as the Droid. Likewise, he referred to Kira as the Girl, Rusk as the Soldier and Doc as the Medic. When referring to Corellan himself, Scourge simply called him the Jedi. At some point, he would have to have a chat with the Sith about using the proper names of people, at least when it came to the crew.
But for now, they had more pressing matters to deal with.
The young Jedi did not feel much like a prestigious Master of his Order at this moment, feeling that he was neither calm nor astute nor particularly wise. Nothing in any of his Master's trainings seemed to fit this situation. Whatever other wisdom he had picked up along the way had been hard-earned through hard experiences. Corellan pinched the bridge of his nose, knowing the rest of his crew was watching him. He could simply forbid the playing of the holovid. He could order Tee-Seven to delete the recording. He could have just ignored all of this, retreated to his chambers and meditated, and found some of the inner peace he currently seemed to be lacking.
But if he did that, it wouldn't have been him. And after a day where it felt like he had fought the Dark Side itself, reinforcing his own sense of identity seemed important.
He opened his eyes and regarded each of his crewmates. His companions. Jedi code be damned, he couldn't deny his connection, his attachment, with each of them, nor his gratitude to them. He truly meant it when he said they couldn't have made it this far without each of them. More to the point, Corellan could not have become what he needed to become without their help. He owed them this.
"Alright. Here's the deal." He finally said. "We watch it together. Once. After tonight, we don't talk about it, even amongst ourselves, and certainly not with anyone outside this ship." He paused, giving Doc a hard look. "Particularly not while drinking in a Cantina." The Doctor raised his hands in acknowledgement and surrender, his smile spreading. Corellan nodded once and continued. "I'll instruct Tee-Seven never to play it again, except on my instructions." he exhaled slowly, his shoulders rising and falling. "That had better be acceptable to everyone."
Doc and Rusk each nodded enthusiastically. Tee-Seven tilted his chassis and beeped in a sign of acknowledgement. Scourge, after a moment, inclined his chin slightly, which Corellan realized was the closest thing to assent he was likely to get out of the Sith.
Kira just grinned over at him and chirped. "I dunno. I like to think even Master Satele and the Council would definitely find it fascinating viewing."
Corellan folded his arms at Kira, giving her a wry look. He didn't actually roll his eyes – as a Jedi, he rarely expressed himself in ways like that – but he was clearly disdainful.
The younger Jedi held up her hands, mimicking Doc's motion from moments before. "Just kidding. I'm in." Kira said, giving him a bright smile that pulled at his heart and soul, despite his mood.
Corellan quickly buried the feelings building inside him, clearing his head. He sighed again, resigned to the exercise. "Alright, then. I'll get the lights. Tee-Seven, plug into the holo-terminal and take it from the top."
The Jedi tapped the console button on the wall and the main lights dimmed until the room fell into darkness. Aside the small lights on a few control panels, they were blind. Corellan sat next to Kira at the end of the room on the side nearest to the cockpit, and he could feel her comforting smile even in the darkness. She discreetly wrapped her arm around his broad back, giving his left shoulder a squeeze. He smiled back at her as Tee-Seven moved into position next to the holo-terminal. Scourge finally had a seat at the far end of the room, opposite from where Corellan sat.
"Maybe I should have made popcorn?" Doc quipped in the darkness. Kira hastily shushed him as the recording began.
The AstroMech droid's projection came through much larger and clearer now, though it retained its blue, translucent tint. Tee-Seven had been just a few steps behind Corellan as the duo entered the throne room, and the Jedi Master saw himself from behind as they approached the steps to the throne.
The Emperor sat on his black marble throne high above them. Even in his supposedly weakened state, and even through the holoprojection, he radiated power. Pure, dark side power.
"The Circle closes. The end begins." The Emperor's deep voice reverberated unnaturally throughout the massive chamber as he rose from his throne and walked to the top of the steps. He looked down at Corellan, seemingly unconcerned.
"You dissipated your energy saving the weak. There are consequences."
Kira, sitting next to Corellan, gave a small inhale of breath. She remembered that Corellan, warned by Tee-Seven's sensors of her distress, had doubled-back away from the entrance to the Emperor's inner sanctum to rescue her when Kira had been cornered and wounded by Imperial droids. He saved her life, but it had given the Emperor several additional minutes to gather his power, which Scourge had repeatedly assured them was incredibly dangerous.
Corellan reached down and took Kira by the hand, giving her a comforting, reassuring squeeze. He would never normally have shown her even that level of intimacy in the presence of their crew, but with the lights off, he felt it was safe enough. The younger Jedi returned his grip and smiled up at him even as the recording continued.
There was a sudden flash of movement as Corellan could be seen drawing and igniting his lightsaber – his right-handed primary blade – then assuming a defensive position, all in a single, fluid motion just as the Emperor's Force lightning struck the blade. The saber absorbed the deadly attack, as the lightning dissipated harmlessly.
The Emperor seemed to glare down at him. His eyes were completely devoid of anything remotely resembling emotion. He reached out and gestured, and eddies of Dark Side energy encircled Corellan and Tee-Seven, each one forming into an exact duplicate of the Emperor with a red lightsaber drawn.
The Jedi and the droid didn't hesitate. Corellan ignited both of his weapons and attacked even as the illusions converged on them. Corellan skillfully deflected their lightsabers with his own even as he struck three of them down in rapid succession. The fourth came into view at close range and was momentarily stunned – by a blast emanating from Tee-Seven's force pike, Corellan remembered, though that was not entirely clear from this angle as the weapon was mere inches above the droid's recording eye –before the Jedi dispatched that one as well.
Corellan could then be seen turning on the true Emperor as the Sith reached the bottom of the steps. The hooded figure was tall, and even through the recording, his sheer power – and the evil it represented – could be felt.
"My Life spans millennia. Legions have risen to test me." The Emperor's mouth moved to the words, but once again, to Corellan, it was as if the gravelly sounds were coming from throughout the Temple. He thought that watching the recording would allow him to separate himself from that moment, and observe with real detachment. Instead, it was as if he were re-living it all over again.
"If you kill everyone in the galaxy, you'll be Emperor of nothing. What's the point of all this?" the question had seemed so obvious to Corellan at the time, he couldn't help but ask. The Sith were extremely ruthless, cruel and, by every definition of the word, evil, but to wantonly slaughter everyone living seemed pointless.
"You discern a fraction of reality." The Emperor seemed indifferent to Corellan's incredulity. "Beyond these stars exist other galaxies, other worlds, other beings. I will experience or ignore them as I wish. I will spend eternity becoming everything: a farmer, an artist, a simple man. When the last living thing in the universe finally dies, I will enjoy peace and wait for the cycle to begin again."
Corellan well-remembered his thoughts at the time. The Emperor simply didn't care. It wasn't insanity or evil that guided his actions. It was simply the belief that in all the Galaxy, he was the only one that mattered. A righteous fury stirred inside him, more powerful than he'd ever felt before. As he had every time before, he had transmuted that fire into steely resolve. At all costs, he would not fail. Not on this day.
"You will never possess that kind of power." Corellan brandished his saber.
"There is no death; there is only the Force - and I am its master." That had made the Jedi narrow his eyes and hesitate. Whatever he expected from this… being, he certainly didn't expect him to quote from the Jedi Code, even in part. His first reaction was to assume the Sith Lord was trying to provoke him. That would have been nothing new. Many Sith had tried to throw him off with a wide assortment of threats, insults, promises of what would happen if he won or if he lost. Indeed, virtually every Sith or Dark Sider he had ever come across expressed complete confidence that they would succeed in killing him.
Corellan had always brushed their bluster and arrogance aside. And he had prevailed.
But… no. This was different. This was truly how the Emperor viewed the Force and himself.
"My ascendance is inevitable. A day, a year, a millennium it matters not. I hold the patience of stone and the will of stars. Your striving is insignificant. Let your death be the same."
With that, they had begun. More illusions of the Emperor suddenly surrounded Corellan and Tee-Seven, each of them brandishing a lightsaber. The projection filled with a flurry of whirling lightsabers and Force lightning as the Jedi began moving too fast to be seen clearly.
Jedi often spoke of the light side of the Force in contrast to the dark side. Corellan believed in the Light side whole-heartedly; indeed, it represented everything he had ever fought for. But he also knew it rarely expressed itself as directly or dramatically as the dark side usually did. Only a few times in his life – such as when Kira had fought off the Emperor's influence at the end of the Desolator crisis – had Corellan truly seen the light manifest itself purely. Therefore, he was careful never to arrogantly assume too much of the light himself. He served the Force; but he was not the Force, and he was certainly not the light itself.
But watching himself fighting the Emperor, in that moment, in the throne room of the aptly named Dark Temple, surrounded by the Sith illusions and the dark side itself, just for a moment, Corellan really did seem to burn brightly amidst the dark, like a glow-rod or a lightsaber illuminating a cavern of pitch darkness. An avatar of the light.
The Jedi Master felt Kira squeeze his hand as he continued to watch. He turned slightly in her direction. She seemed enraptured by the fight, her chest rising and falling as her breathing became faster in excitement.
Corellan continued to fight the Emperor and his illusions. Every time he struck one down, another soon took its place. They seemed to be ignoring Tee-Seven for the most part, giving the droid the chance to observe the fighting, helping only when he could. Every few moments, he could feel the true Emperor attacking him with his Force lightning or his Death Field technique, or worse still attempting to freeze him in place with his static barrier. Each time, the Jedi's combat awareness only narrowly saved Corellan, leading him to defend from the true attack at the right moment, ignoring the distractions of the illusions. Likewise, each time this occurred the illusions would then change tactics, preventing him from turning his defense into offense against his true foe. Indeed, they converged in such a manner that within seconds he was unable to track the true Emperor. No doubt, that was the Sith's intent. The illusions attacked and dropped back with no discernible pattern.
In one particularly narrow escape, Corellan felt a massive concentration of pure Force energy build up. He barely dived out of the way of its path, then watched as it completely obliterated a decrepit old statue behind where he had been standing. The Jedi realized that attack would have completely pulverized him, and the Emperor could continue to try to employ that attack until it connected. He desperately reached out through the Force, hoping it would help him penetrate through the Emperor's illusions. If he could just concentrate hard enough, he was certain he could put his foe on the defensive.
Corellan could feel his crew becoming anxious for him as they continued to watch. Even though they knew he had survived and emerged victorious, caught up in the intensity holovid as they were, it was difficult to imagine how he could prevail. Kira's grip tightened once again, as if she were tightening her grip on the idea that he was, in fact, here and beside her and not dead at the Emperor's hand back on Drommund Kaas. This time, he squeezed her hand back in comfort and affirmation.
Kira. I am with you.
It was no use. The dark side was too strong here; it obfuscated the Emperor's precise presence; it was all he could do to mount an effective defense. Eventually, he would tire or get unlucky, and then he would fall. For the briefest of moments and for one of the few times in his life, despair threatened to overwhelm him.
No. He was a Jedi. There is no emotion, there is peace. He was living proof that if he kept calm and put his trust in the Force, he could find a way. He just had to clear his mind. To separate himself from the emotions of the moment.
And suddenly, there it was.
Corellan suddenly took a Force Leap out of the cluster of illusions that had surrounded him, striking out at an apparent Emperor who had moved to the periphery of the battle. This one fell back in the face of his assault rather than attempting to counter it with his lightsaber. Corellan could feel the illusions coming up from behind him with their own weapons, prepared to encircle him again. But this time, he pressed his attack against his target, ignoring the presence of the mirror images. His lightsabers slashed again and again, even as the Emperor desperately re-ignited his own weapon, attempting to fend off the attack. Withdraw. To buy himself enough time to gather another Force blast or to change tactics entirely.
For perhaps the first time in his existence, time was no longer on the Emperor's side.
The Jedi drove the Emperor back on his heel. As momentum shifted, the illusions seemed to lose their potency and focus.
So, too, did their master.
Scourge had once told Corellan that millennia before, the Emperor had gathered the population of an entire world, then proceeded to slaughter them all – Sith and non-Force sensitive alike – in a massive dark side ritual to grant himself immortality. The former Emperor's Wrath had further told him that during Scourge's mortal lifetime, the Emperor had once summoned the Dark Council – the most powerful Sith in his Empire – and destroyed them all in a single moment after discovering a conspiracy against him.
Corellan now understood how the Emperor had survived this long. Fear and preparation. Fear kept his potential enemies off-guard, reluctant or even completely stagnant. It gave him time to prepare. To manipulate circumstances to his own choosing. It was entirely possibly and even likely that in all his centuries, the Emperor had never fought a battle where he wasn't in complete control.
Until now. Until forced to face an enemy who could resist his Force abilities, and who had caught him in a weakened state. Until forced to face an enemy who did not fear him, nor was he blinded by hatred and anger.
Nothing in the Emperor's experience had prepared him for this.
Finally, one of Corellan's lightsabers struck true, and the Emperor collapsed, dropping his own weapon. More importantly, the illusions faded, along with much of his power. As Corellan stepped towards him to finish him off, the Sith, still clutching his side, sat up, raising a hand and using a Force push to drive the Jedi back.
Corellan recognized the move for what it was: Desperation.
The Emperor glared up at him with sheer hatred. "You harness immense power, but you lack the purity of will to direct it." He sneered.
Forcing himself to his feet, the Sith once again unleashed a constant steam of Force lightning at the Jedi, stepping towards him. Corellan used his right-handed saber to deflect and absorb the electricity, slowly closing with the Emperor.
They closed on each other, now. Two titanic opponents. A Jedi and a Sith. The story of ages. The light and the darkness. The Emperor might have believed himself above the eternal conflict, but he could not escape it. Not on this day.
As they finally met in the middle, Corellan spun, catching the Emperor in the back. The wounded Sith finally collapsed.
Corellan stood above him with his saber raised, prepared to finish him for good.
"I will not be contained. I cannot be redeemed. Death is all that remains, and you will not kill me." The Emperor's voice dripped with contempt.
Corellan shut down his saber and clipped it to his belt. His eyes narrowed at the defeated, but still unspeakably dangerous, Sith Lord.
Corellan watched the scene unfold on the ship. He did not look away. He would not look away, no matter how much he might want to. The room was silent – everyone else was as taken in by the holovid as he had was. He could feel it in the Force. At that moment, he realized he had stopped breathing. It was possible he would pass out right here, in the dark, without anyone in his crew noticing.
Except for Kira.
She could feel him. She could feel how difficult this was for him. She could certainly feel that his breathing had stopped.
Kira squeezed his hand.
I'm here with you, too, tough guy.
Gradually, Corellan started breathing again.
In the holovid, Corellan's eyes seemed to darken as his hand reached out.
"You've underestimated me for the last time."
Using the Force, the Jedi lifted the Emperor off the ground, raising his hand to do so. The Sith struggled, lightning cackling in his hands, but his power was spent. With a flick of his wrist, Corellan hurled the Emperor across the chamber, pinning him to the ground.
Then his hand reached out again, reaching up towards the ceiling as he called upon the Force to pull one of the massive, inverted spires down from the ceiling. There was no further hesitation from the Jedi Knight as several tons of stone plunged downward, crushing the Emperor completely.
Corellan could be seen observing all of this carefully, as if making sure. Then he turned and approached Tee-Seven, growing larger as he drew closer to the droid's eye-recorder. "Come in, Lord Scourge…." He said.
The projection suddenly stopped.
Corellan could feel the crew shifting in an uncomfortable silence. He released Kira's hand, the stood up and reached out, turning on the main lights. As the chamber was illuminated, he could see most of them adjusting to the lights.
"Right. It stops there because I was speaking with Lord Scourge using Tee-Seven's projector." He paused and waited for reactions as he took in the state of his crew. Scourge simply continued to sit, arms crossed, looking rather contemplative. Rusk looked like he was making internal notes for himself. No doubt, he'd want to talk to Corellan later about the tactics both he and the Emperor had used. Doc's mouth was hanging agape, his eyes still wide and on the now-deactivated terminal. When he turned to Kira, she was letting out a long breath, like the weight of the galaxy had been lifted off her shoulders. She closed her eyes and the Jedi Master could tell she was trying to bury her emotions. Tee-Seven simply disconnected from the main holo-display, then his top whirred, noting the reactions of each member of the crew before settling on Corellan. The droid seemed to want to ask if he'd made a mistake showing the recording. Corellan wished he had an answer to that.
Scourge finally seemed to notice the silence. "Well done." He nodded slightly in Corellan's direction.
Rusk seemed to take the Sith's lead. "An extraordinarily impressive victory, Master Jedi."
Doc finally regained the ability to close his mouth. "That... was... awesome!" he grinned, emphasizing each word. He jumped to his feet. "Wooo!"
That drew a series of chuckles from the crew as Doc ducked back into the hallway to the port-side airlock where the kitchen was. He soon returned with a crystal bottle containing a deep golden-brown liquid, along with five glasses.
"Corellian Reserve. Best brandy in the Galaxy. I've been holding onto this for a long time." The combat medic set the glasses down, then with a flourish he opened the crystal bottle and began to fill the glasses. "I was gonna save it for someone special. But no woman will ever be able to top this."
"Spoken like a true hedonist, you Nerf-herder." Kira made a face at Doc as she reluctantly accepted one of the glasses from him. The others accepted theirs as well, even Scourge.
Doc, pointedly ignoring Kira's barb, looked down at Tee-Seven. "Sorry, little buddy. I'm pretty sure this stuff would short-circuit you."
"Tee-Seven = Okay." The droid beeped an acknowledgement. "Have a drink for me."
Rusk accepted the glass Doc had filled for him. Scourge raised an eyebrow at the proceedings, but didn't refuse a glass.
"Technically, Jedi aren't supposed to …." Corellan started to speak as Doc offered him a glass.
Kira reached up and grasped his shoulder, making him turn his head to face her. "Just once, boss. Just for tonight. Live a little." From this angle, the others couldn't see her facial expression as he gazed down at her. She was giving him a knowing smile. She was the only one who had some idea of how much he had allowed himself to live, and how much that factored into who he was now. Just to drive the point home, she winked up at him in a way that made his heart skip a beat. Reluctantly, he turned back to the rest of the crew.
"I have a very bad feeling about this." The Jedi Master said. "Alright. Just for tonight." He accepted a glass from Doc.
Doc grinned and waited until they were all ready. "To Jedi Master Corellan!" Doc raised his glass in a toast.
Corellan reached out and gently grasped Doc's arm. "To the best crew in the Galaxy." He smiled somberly. That drew approving smiles from everyone but Scourge. All five humanoid crewmembers raised their glasses and drank while Tee-Seven adjusted his chassis to stand a bit taller.
Was this living? Corellan wondered. Were moments like this what life was about?
Kira sipped from her glass, eyeing Corellan curiously. "So. How did you figure out which Emperor was the real one?" she asked. "Did the Force tip you off?"
That seemed to get everyone's attention, as they all went quiet and turned to the Jedi. Rusk was obviously mentally taking notes. Tee-Seven tilted upwards. Even Scourge seemed intensely curious, as if he'd thought of the same question himself.
Part of Corellan still didn't feel like sharing. He honestly didn't like talking about the fight. He hadn't wanted to watch the holo-recording. He simply wanted to withdraw from the Galaxy. Meditate and reflect on all that had happened.
But he couldn't deny these people his best. For the same reason he didn't forbid them from watching the recording to begin with.
Corellan looked down into his glass of brandy. Being a Jedi, he very rarely drank, and he had never been truly intoxicated. But he knew enough to understand the principles of ingesting alcohol. He raised the glass to his lips and tilted his head back, downing the remains of the beverage in a single gulp and closing his eyes as it burned down his throat. He didn't particularly like the taste, but he suddenly realized why that Zabrak smuggler on Nar Shaddaa had referred to alcohol as "liquid courage". He took a breath and opened his eyes.
"Well, I had already fought him before." He said. "When I cleared my head, I realized something that both of us already knew." He paused, as the crew waited intently. "He was never going to beat me with a lightsaber. I just had to spot the version of him that wasn't bothering to use one." His lips pressed into a thin smile.
Doc laughed and Tee-Seven tooted. Rusk gave a rare smile at the tactic. Scourge, after a moment, simply nodded again.
Kira … looked stunned. After a moment's consideration, he remembered why. The whole crew knew that over a year ago, the Emperor had defeated Corellan, Master Tol Braga and the rest of the Jedi strike team at his Fortress, a massive cloaked space station that had been orbiting Drommund Kaas at the time. That had led to months of imprisonment for the crew back on the ship, and had nearly led to Corellan becoming the Emperor's slave forever before he broke free through the spirit of Orgus Din's intervention.
But only Kira and Scourge had been physically present for that earlier fight. And both knew that the Emperor had required only his Force Lightning to overwhelm and subdue Corellan, Kira and the other three Jedi who had opposed him.
Only Kira remembered the duel aboard the Desolator, nearly two years ago now. Kira, then still a fugitive Child of the Emperor, had been possessed by the Sith Lord in an attempt to slay Corellan and to destroy Tython, the Jedi home world. Only Kira remembered that the Emperor, using her body, had employed the defeated Darth Angral's lightsaber against Corellan instead of using Kira's own double-bladed weapon, and only she remembered that Corellan had defeated the Emperor, giving Kira the chance to free herself from the Sith forever. It had arguably been Kira's proudest moment as she had embraced the Jedi way, soon becoming a Jedi Knight.
The others, apart from Scourge, would make their assumptions. Kira knew the whole story. Had it not been for that earlier battle, had it not been for both Jedi coming through, Corellan might have lost to the Emperor once again.
He reached down and gave her hand a squeeze, then smiled as she looked up at him. Something silently passed between them as she smirked back at his smile, with a twinkle in her eyes that promised delights to come later.
As the volume of Doc's brandy continued to diminish, the group was soon taking turns sharing the stories about the circumstances that had brought them together. They had each come from radically different backgrounds. Their personalities were as diverse as their abilities, and their moral codes, perhaps even more so. But here, in this one moment, they were a single crew.
His crew. Their crew.
Corellan sat back and smiled.
Some hours later, Doc and Rusk were each half-sprawled on the seat cushions. Rusk seemed woozy while Doc was completely out. Corellan was laying back on the couch, while Kira leaned against his shoulder. Even Scourge had finally relaxed somewhat. The Sith might not have been able to enjoy the taste of alcohol, but he was not completely immune to its after-effects. Likewise, the Sith rarely took pleasure at being in the company of others, but he seemed to be content with the camaraderie of the crew. Naturally, only Tee-Seven seemed to be moving around at optimal capacity, but even he had slowed down now that things had died down.
Corellan looked about again, surveying his crew. He was surprised at how… happy he felt at this moment. The simple pleasure of their shared experiences made this current situation, ridiculous as it was, seem natural.
But all good things must come to an end. Wasn't that a part of living, too?
"Sergeant Rusk." He finally said, raising his head up and speaking in his best authoritarian tone.
Rusk quickly shook off his lethargy, rising to his feet at attention as his military discipline took over.
"Master Jedi." Rusk didn't literally salute, but for all other intents, he was himself.
"Would you please see Doc to his quarters? I don't think he can make it on his own."
"Of course." Rusk helped the groggy Doctor to his feet, wrapping one of the human's arms behind the Chagrian's neck. "Congratulations again on your victory, Master Jedi."
Corellan just smiled and nodded. After the duo left, Tee-Seven rolled over the two Jedi.
"Fight with Emperor + Ceremony on Valiant + Party with Crew = Long Day." The droid began delivering its trademark beeps. "Tee-Seven = Going to engine room + Shutting down for the night."
"Go ahead, old friend." Corellan smiled, reaching out and touching the top of the droid's hull. "You've more than earned the rest. We all have." He paused. "And… thanks. For everything."
Tee-Seven's head-top spun at the compliment, then he tilted his chassis in a sort of bow. He finally rolled out of the main conference room, headed for the stairs that led to the engine room where he usually resided when not on a mission or socializing with the rest of the crew.
Scourge seemed to take that as his que to make his departure, no doubt returning to the cargo hold that he had converted into his personal chambers. He rose, stalking towards the stairs to the lower deck, and then paused, turning and regarding the Jedi Master. The Sith's gaze was level, or as level as it could be looking downward. But the look in his eyes was somewhat disturbing to Corellan. He obviously seemed… intrigued by something he had seen in the holovid. There was a new respect there, but it was mixed with something else he couldn't quite identify. A warning? Fear, even? Scourge was difficult to read.
"We should speak tomorrow." The Jedi finally said.
"Yes." The Sith agreed, speaking enigmatically. He gave him a slight nod of his head – a sincere gesture of respect. With that, he made his exit. A few moments later, Corellan gently reached out through the Force, confirming the Sith was, in fact, in his cargo bay and turning in for the night.
Every being needed to live in hope. Corellan reflected. Even Lords of the Sith.
Satisfied that the two Jedi were truly alone, he finally turned to Kira. He walked towards her as she stood up, reaching out and taking her hand in his again. She happily gave the hand a squeeze, drawing her body closer to his as he instinctively wrapped his arms around her.
She suddenly smirked up at him. "Blast. I'm going to have to start calling you 'Master' again, aren't I?"
Corellan chuckled lightly as his eyes met hers. "Only in public." As usual, he found her smile as infectious as her humor, and as tantalizing as everything else about her. "In private... well, you can still call me 'tough guy', I suppose." His hands wrapped around her waist.
Kira stifled a laugh, giving him a playful shove in the chest. "Funny. Or not." She smiled up at him, drawing closer again. Their lips met as their eyes closed, softly gauging each other, their breathing synching with each other.
She finally broke the kiss, resting her head against his chest as if listening for a heartbeat. "I'm sorry." Kira whispered. "For …. the whole voting thing. Making you show us the recording. I didn't think."
His fingers reached up, gently caressing through her hair. "You were right. You and our crew deserved to see it. And maybe I needed to see it, too. And you were here for me when I needed you."
"Mmmmmmm." Kira sighed contentedly, relieved. Suddenly, her own breathing paused, and her eyes snapped opened. "I just realized something." Kira was now looking up at him, a bewildered look in her eyes. "When we were in the Temple and you saved me... Tee-Seven saw us kissing."
Corellan simply nodded. "And he didn't say anything. To us or to Master Satele. Even though, with decades of experiencing serving the Jedi Order, he probably knows the Jedi Code even better than we do." He winced just a little, giving Kira a wry smile. "And he is probably a tad more dedicated to some of its orthodox principles."
She chuckled lightly at that. "Does that mean you think he… approves?"
"Maybe." Corellan just smiled. "But he was our friend long before any of this started. Maybe he just decided his loyalty to us was more important than whether we followed the Council's edicts to the letter?" he wrapped his arm around her waist again. "Or maybe he just decided that after everything you and I have been through that we deserved a little happiness. That maybe we should be allowed to… live a little." He smiled, using the same phrase she'd used earlier.
Kira's smile was almost glowing as her eyes lit up again. "Just a little, huh?" her arms wrapped around his neck again. "So. Tee-Seven is apparently okay. What about you?" She flinched a little. "I wish I could have been there with you."
"You were there." He reassured her. "In here." He took her hand and pressed it to his chest. She could feel his heart beating within, going faster now that she was in his arms.
Her smile returned, and she looked up at him with watery eyes. "How is it you can get me going with such a sappy line?" she chuckled, before giving him a serious look. She was his partner. She had been his partner long before she had been his lover, or even his friend. She was going to be sure he was alright before anything else happened. "But I know finishing him off was… hard for you."
"It was." he agreed somberly. "I had to touch the dark side to do it. There was no way around that. Part of me wanted me to lie to myself when I did it. Tell myself that I was acting under orders from Master Satele. Or that if I let him get back up he would recover his power and kill me, so that it would be a form of self-defense. But I couldn't quite bring myself to do that." He exhaled. "No, the only way I could deliver the death blow was to reach out and remember what was at stake."
"The whole Galaxy was at stake." Kira mused, caressing his cheek as she continued to look up at him. "That should have been a powerful motivation. Even for a Jedi with strong morals. Everyone living owes it to you."
Corellan drew her closer, looking down at her. His normally gray eyes were just a touch darker. Perhaps a bit like they had been in the holovid. When his words finally came, they were just above a whisper. They were only for her.
"It wasn't the Galaxy I was reaching out for when I struck him down."
Kira blinked, and it took her a moment to realize what he meant. Her eyes widened, and her breathing stopped. She grabbed the front of his robes, and, as she had in the Dark Temple, she pulled him in for a long, deep kiss. He returned it, holding her against his body. It was a kiss that promised that even if this were to be the end for them both, it would have all have been worth it. Every single moment they had spent together.
Neither of them would have traded this moment for anything.
Kira finally broke the kiss, breathing heavy and looking up at him with utter devotion.
"Your room, tough guy. Now." Her lovely lips quirked into an impish, sarcastic grin. "…. Master."
Corellan just smiled, wrapping an arm around her and leading Kira to bed.
My last chapter was rather bleak in tone, at least for me. I wanted to be a bit more upbeat this time around, even if I had to use pseudo-flashbacks to do it. I know I don't focus as much on the Corellan/Kira relationship here. I felt I needed to have one chapter where I talk about the whole group and how they interacted before taking it back to our two young lovers. I do promise that my future chapters of this story will re-focus on the duo.
Also - Before anyone asks, yes, I checked. Popcorn does apparently exist in the Star Wars universe, at least in the Legends continuity. It appeared in the novel Jedi Dawn.
Regarding characterization, I was reasonably pleased with how Kira and Scourge came out. Rusk and Tee-Seven were okay, I think. Doc… maybe less so. To be honest, I always found him mildly irritating in the game. I'm trying to expand past that, make him a bit deeper, but this wasn't my best effort to that effect. Something to work on. I'd also like to further explore the Corellan/Scourge dynamic at some point, though not until I'm done with this.
Bookmarks, Kudos and especially Reviews are always welcome.
Chapter 4: Perfection
Author’s Notes: Written for the Tumblr prompt “IT’S VACATION TIME!” (From 27 July, 2018) on Tumblr. Set shortly after the conclusion of Chapter 3 of the Jedi Knight Class storyline.
“I can’t believe you talked me into this.”
Jedi Master Corellan Halcyon, known to many around the galaxy as the Hero of Tython, gazed down the side of the snow-covered hill. Not for the first time in his life, or even for the first time that day, he basked in Alderaan’s natural beauty. With this world nominally still recovering from an ice age, much of its mountains, forests and rivers were the very picture of pristine wilderness. He had seen dozens of worlds and had found Alderaan more awe-inspiring than any of them.
Despite these surroundings, the idea of attempting to ski down this slope with absolutely no formal training was enough to give him pause.
“Oh, don’t be such a baby.”
Kira Carsen smirked up at him. His former padawan - now a highly decorated Jedi Knight – had stood by his side through thick and thin, culminating in his defeat of the Sith Emperor. Of course, that didn’t tell the whole story of their relationship, but it was all the Jedi Order or anyone else needed to know. So, with Corellan and his crew visiting Alderaan for some much-appreciated downtime, he shouldn’t have been surprised that she would insist on an adrenaline-inducing recreational activity.
Both young Jedi were outfitted with thermal retention garments and they were adorned with the requisite ski gear, all provided as a courtesy of a grateful House Organa. Unfortunately, that was as far as their preparations had gone.
“Neither of us have any idea what we’re doing.” He reasoned logically.
“When has that ever stopped us before?” she grinned happily. More than once, Kira had suggested that the two of them retire from the Jedi once the war was over and spend the rest of their lives doing something ‘fun’. The idea had been growing on him, he had to admit, which is probably the biggest reason why he had agreed to this: There were so many things he was unable to give Kira at this point in their lives for so many reasons. At the very least he could give her this.
“Ready to race me down the hill?” her grin turned into her trademarked smirk.
“I have a very bad feeling about this.” he gritted his teeth as he tentatively took his position at the edge of their summit. “You’re crazy. You know that, right?”
“Well, I was your Padawan. So that’s probably your fault.” She teased. “Last one to the bottom is bantha fodder!”
With that, she took off down the slope.
What could he do but follow? She had followed him across every major battlefield in the galaxy.
The two Jedi zipped down the slope. Had they been ordinary novices, this almost certainly would have been disastrous. But they were both honed to their physical peaks. They had the Force, and they could feel each other through their bond. Their movements were hardly elegant or skilled, but they were better than they had any right to be.
So, it was that they had made it almost to the bottom when, with Corellan having edged into the lead and Kira fiercely looking to pull ahead, they finally collided with each other. Both Jedi came crashing down, skis and poles scattering.
When the dust settled, the two now found themselves laying in the snow beside each other, both face up.
“Wow.” Kira sighed as the high of their near-disaster wore off.
“Ow.” Corellan answered.
She sat up quickly, immediately concerned. “You hurt?”
“I think I sprained my ankle.” Corellan grumbled, sitting up in turn and looking down at his right foot.
“Aww.” The sound was nowhere near as sympathetic as it could have been. She reached over and touched the region between his foot and leg gingerly through his thermal leggings. He winced slightly, and she nodded in agreement. “Well, I could kiss it and make it better…. or I could fix you up with a kolto bandage.”
He wrinkled his nose at her. “I’ll take the kolto, please.” She chuckled and reached for the pad in her medpack. “Given everything we’ve been through, that would have been an embarrassing way to die.” He said.
“Admit it. You loved every second of it.” She grinned over at him with a look that was knowing and wild and so very Kira. He felt his heart skip a beat and he forgot to breathe.
She was right.
The words escaped his lips suddenly, as they sat there watching each other.
Kira blinked, an expression of disbelief and then concern coming to her eyes. The kolto bandage was forgotten as she reached a hand towards his face. “You hit your head, didn’t you? Don’t move. I can comm Doc….”
“I had it planned, you know?” he cut her off. “I was going to have Duke Organa setup a private candlelight dinner for the two of us. Then I was going to surprise you with… it doesn’t matter.” He swallowed, reaching into his coat pocket urgently. “The moment will never get more perfect than this.”
The Jedi pulled out a small object and held it out to Kira.
It was a silver, ornate ring… formed around a large diamond.
A promise ring.
Kira’s eyes widened, her disbelief turning to shock. Her frosty breaths, which had been heavy from the exertion and laughter, now stopped entirely.
Corellan rose slightly, then dropped to a knee before her, ignoring the slight pain as he put pressure on his ankle. He presented the ring to her in his open palm.
“I’m not fighting this war for anyone but the woman I love. The one who makes my ship into a home.” He swallowed again – truly nervous for the first time in his life - but pressed on. “I’ll spend the rest of my life with you Kira – if you’ll let me.”
Kira’s deep blue eyes started to glisten as she gazed into Corellan’s own pale blues. She finally leapt at him, her arms gripping behind his back, grasping him to her and clinging to him desperately. He recovered from the impact, giving a half-chuckle in relief as his hand closed around the ring so he wouldn’t lose it in the snow.
She finally pulled away just enough for her full lips to find his, kissing him passionately. He returned the kiss in full, letting out a low moan. It was a long while before either of them broke for breath, laying there with their foreheads pressed against each other as their breathing synchronized in little clouds of frozen breaths.
There would be other moments for the couple. But perhaps none so perfect as this one.
“’Course I will. Thanks for asking.”
Kira Carsen glared daggers at the smug Alderaanian noble. Jharkus Thul, the so-called ‘Wolf Baron’, (What a dumb nickname!) had just laid out his ‘proposal’ to Kira, her partner, Jedi Knight Corellan Halcyon, and to Duke Charles Organa. The two Jedi and the leader of House Organa were standing in a Thul field base – really a converted barn – just a few kilometers south of Castle Organa, having fought off an ambush by House Thul moments earlier at what was supposed to be a peaceful negotiation.
Small chance of that. Kira thought. House Thul is aligned with the Sith Empire. No way they can be trusted to bargain in good faith.
Thul had decided that Corellan was effectively the lynchpin in Organa’s defenses at the moment. (He was probably right about that.) The Baron had therefore demanded that the Jedi Knight, who – with Kira’s help – had already fought off two attacks against Organa’s forces and had liberated the fabled ‘Spears of Organa’ besides, surrender himself in return for the release of three hundred forty-eight of Organa’s citizens who had been taken hostage by House Thul. He’d promised that he would not harm the Jedi Knight; that he would simply ransom Corellan back to the Republic after the Baron finished crushing House Organa. Likewise, he’d promised that he’d execute all the prisoners if Corellan refused the offer.
Now Kira watched as Corellan regarded the Baron with his cool, thousand-meter stare, his pale blue-grey eyes scrutinizing their foe unflinchingly.
You could cut through the tension in this room with a lightsaber. Kira thought. Any second now, she was certain, Corellan would give Kira the signal and they would attack. They’d dispatch the last of Thul’s flunkies, then they’d take the Baron prisoner and figure out a way to save the hostages. Maybe they’d barter the Baron back in return, or maybe they’d have to go charging in to wherever Thul was holding the hostages. Whatever it took. That was their motto. And Kira knew she would stand by Corellan’s side no matter what.
Any second now…
Instead, Corellan slowly unclipped both his lightsabers from his belt, then turned and handed them both to Kira. The Padawan blinked up at her master in confusion.
“Kira. Take these and head back to the ship. Contact the council so they know what’s happened, and then await further instructions.”
Kira’s confusion turned to sheer disbelief. “What?”
Corellan turned back to the Baron, still holding his weapons out to Kira. “I accept your terms, Baron Thul. Release the hostages.”
Duke Organa turned to the Jedi Knight with a grateful expression. “You will not be forgotten, Master Jedi. I swear it.”
“Corellan, no!” Kira cried out in alarm. “We can still beat him.”
Corellan turned back to his Padawan, his eyes softening. “Yes, we could, Kira. But we wouldn’t be able to save the hostages in time. The price is far too high.”
“They’ll kill you.”
Corellan shook his head slowly. “I don’t think so. And even if he might, it’s a chance I’ll have to take. But the council needs to know the status of the mission so they can make contingency plans. That has to be the priority.”
“I can’t just leave you behind!” Kira exclaimed. The Jedi padawan fought down a surge of panic she felt in her heart. This was Corellan. This was the toughest hero she’d ever met, and the best lightsaber duelist among his generation of Jedi. They’d already saved four entire planets together – including the untold billions of people on Coruscant. With Darth Angral still on the run, the whole galaxy needed him right now.
Kira needed him right now.
He promised he’d protect me from the Sith. She thought bitterly. He’s my…. He’s Corellan.
Corellan’s pale blue eyes met Kira’s own deep blues squarely. His gaze was gentle but firm. Just like he was.
“You have to. Please, Kira.” Corellan pleaded softly.
So many things left unspoken in those five words. So many emotions that neither of them had dared to acknowledge. It was almost overwhelming.
Kira swallowed. Reluctantly, she finally reached out and accepted his twin lightsabers. She turned back towards the Wolf Baron, glaring at him again.
“I’m holding you responsible for what happens to him.” Every word was pointed like a threat.
The Baron, heedless of the danger he was in, merely scoffed dismissively. “I am a man of my word, girl.”
Kira’s eyes narrowed, but she realized it was pointless to push any further with Thul. She turned back to Corellan, not trusting herself to speak again. The two Jedi exchanged one final, fleeting look, then Kira forced herself to turn away.
She walked out of the building and back in the direction of the spaceport, feeling her heart break with every step.
Two hours later, Kira was still pacing around the ship anxiously. She’d sent a quickly composed report to the Council about what had happened. Maybe they were sitting around the table in their chambers, debating their next course of action. Maybe they were all meditating on the dilemma, seeking guidance through the Force.
Maybe they should all get off their collective butts and do something.
Kira let out a slow exhale, closing her eyes and pressing her hands together, and using one of the exercises she’d learned from the Jedi to restore some semblance of calm. She knew she shouldn’t be so hard on the Council. After all, they’d let her stay with Corellan on his mission even after her past as a Sith was revealed. She wondered if Master Kiwiiks was even back on Tython yet. She’d been so weakened by her experience on Tatooine… Kira worried about her old Master.
And now she was worried even more about her new one.
Teeseven had tried to get her to meditate, but she couldn’t focus. Corellan… he meant too much to her.
She was about to mutter ‘kriff it’ and to run back out there by herself when her holo-communicator chimed.
Pressing the receive button, Kira felt an immense sense of relief when she saw a projection of Corellan smiling up at her. His robes looked a bit worse for wear –he had clearly been fighting – but he looked otherwise unhurt.
“Where have you been?” Kira blurted out before he could speak. Her cheeks reddened a bit at her own reaction.
Corellan raised an eyebrow in bemusement but didn’t press. “Sorry, Kira. I couldn’t get to a transmitter until now.”
“What happened?” she asked.
“The Organa prisoners. When they heard I had turned myself in for them, they attacked the Thul troops and released me. Then we flanked Thul’s invasion force from behind. I managed well enough with a vibroblade until I could down a Sith carrying a lightsaber. I started using that.” He paused. “The battle’s over. Organa troops captured the Wolf Baron, his Sith support is gone and his remaining Thul soldiers are either being rounded up or they’re fleeing on foot into the wilderness.”
“House Organa is safe.”
Kira bit her lip, happy that he was alright but also disappointed that she had missed the excitement, and that she hadn’t been at his side in the fight. It stung deeper than she thought it could.
“Oh.” She said finally.
“Duke Organa has invited all three of us – you, me and Tee-seven – to a ball at the castle tonight.” He smiled. “We’re the guests of honor. I don’t think Master Orgus would begrudge us a few hours of relaxation before we go find him.”
Kira’s eyebrows rose. The most infuriatingly driven man she had ever met had just asked her to a dance.
“I don’t have anything to wear.” She blurted out awkwardly.
Corellan waved his hand. “The Duke is taking care of all that. He’s having his royal tailors make a suit for me… and a gown for you.”
Kira felt her cheeks redden again. “A gown, huh?” she swallowed.
He nodded. “You and Teeseven should meet me at the Palace, alright? You and I need to get fitted, and we can get Tee cleaned up as well.”
“Right. We’re on our way.” She nodded, her confidence reemerging. “I’m not gonna miss a party.”
“Great. And Kira?”
“Remember my lightsabers.”
Kira smirked at that. “Sure thing, tough guy.”
Darth Marr’s flagship
“We’re free and clear… but it’s not looking good out here!” Kira shouted as the Defender disembarked from the Imperial destroyer.
All around them, the allied task force was being pulverized by the massive enemy fleet. Neither the Republic nor Sith warships seemed able to mount an effective response. As they had with Marr’s Terminus, these mysterious wild spacers were pounding through their shields, then launching boarding pods with battle droids were wrecking destruction on the ships’ internal systems.
It was a losing fight for the allies. Made even worse by the fact that with the airlock to Marr’s ship crushed, they’d been forced to leave Jedi Master Corellan Halcyon, the Hero of Tython and the Battlemaster of the Jedi Order, alone aboard the destroyer.
He was also Kira’s fiancée, but she didn’t think telling their attackers that would help anyone.
“If you see an opening to escape, take it.” Corellan’s level voice came through their communicator. “Someone has to make it back to the Republic.”
A surge of panic rose in Kira’s heart. Years of experience and training had left her far more grounded and disciplined than she’d been as a Padawan. But the thought of leaving Corellan behind in the middle of all this still was as overwhelming to her now as it had been years prior.
“I – WE can’t just leave you behind!” she exclaimed, catching herself. Kira could feel Doc and Teeseven looking at her for direction on the bridge of their Defender, but that wasn’t something she cared about right now.
Corellan’s voice was gentle but firm, just like he was.
“You have to. Please, Kira.”
The words were a plea. Kira knew that. And she could feel the meaning behind them through their Force bond; all the many emotions that there was no time to give a voice to.
Kira’s eyes pressed closed for a moment. It was almost overwhelming.
“All right… but you’d better be right behind us. May the Force be with you, Master.”
Kira quickly plotted a course away from the battle, then hit the emergency jumper. The stars outside the ship streaked as they entered hyperspace.
She sat back and exhaled slowly, finding no peace in it. Somewhere, Corellan was fighting a battle, and Kira wasn’t by his side.
He’s the Hero of Tython. Kira tried to tell herself. He’s the Battlemaster of the Jedi Order. The conqueror of the Sith Emperor. The champion of the Galactic Republic. The greatest warrior this galaxy has to offer. He’ll find a way back to us. Back to me.
“Come back to me, tough guy.” She whispered.
Then why did every light year of distance they put between themselves and the battle feel like her heart was breaking over and over again….
Chronologically, this will be the final piece in this series. Don’t worry, though. I’ll be continuing these chapters; they’ll just all be taking place prior to KOTFE. If you would like to read my works regarding Corellan & Kira post-KOTFE/KOTET, check out my Awakenings series.
Chapter 6: Bound
Two Jedi discover something new about themselves.
Author’s Notes: Mild warnings for adult content. The following chapter takes place two days after the conclusion to Shadow of Revan . Special thanks to rainofaugust / rainofaugustsith for her assistance.
Kira Carsen grunted in exertion as she half-carried her lover to the bed.
Two days ago, Jedi Master Corellan Halcyon had defeated Revan on Yavin IV, concluding a brief but brutal campaign that had witnessed an unprecedented alliance between the troops of the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire against the Revanites. That coalition may have been negotiated between their respective leaders, Jedi Grand Master Satele Shan and Darth Marr, the Dark Lord of the Sith, but it had only been possible because Corellan had fought every moment of every day to make it a reality and give the troops a sense of cooperation.
(The battle of Yavin had also seen the return of the Sith Emperor, but Kira was trying very hard not to think about that right now.)
Unfortunately, Corellan had not been able to sleep on Yavin, not with everything else going on. He had privately confided in Kira that even meditation wasn’t doing him much good, not with Yavin so enveloped by the dark side, not to mention the presence of both Revan and the Emperor. And this was coming on the heels of their operation of Rishii, where he’d hardly been idle, what with the pirates, and the Mandalorians, and Orgus Din’s spirit, and so on. After Marr had confirmed what they’d all suspected – that the Sith Emperor was still alive, in some form or another – he’d been unable to rest on the journey to Yavin.
So it was that he had spent day and night bouncing back and forth between the main coalition camp and the field almost constantly, usually finding himself in the heaviest of the fighting. This had culminated in the final confrontation with Revan, which Kira knew had been mentally as well as physically exhausting.
As usual, Corellan had rotated his crew carefully, only keeping one of his five companions with him at any given time while the others either rested or conducted side missions. It had been amazingly effective; the team had performed beautifully on Yavin, and the campaign had ended with little physical harm to any of them.
(Alright, so Scourge had almost been eviscerated by Revan, but he, at least, was practically immortal. He’d be fine.)
It stung Kira a bit that she hadn’t been there for the last battle against Revan, but there had been too many Force users present. Master Satele, Marr and Lana Beniko, not to mention Revan himself had all been present. Any of them might have picked up on her relationship with Corellan if they had been there together in an intense environment at the same time. Therefore, it was Scourge who had been chosen for the crucial fight. At least she’d been by Corellan’s side earlier when they had defeated Lord Kael, Scourge’s successor as Emperor’s Wrath, who’d been a major thorn in the Republic’s side for years before suddenly defecting to the Revanites.
Throughout the entire campaign, Corellan had been very careful not to show any weakness of any kind, especially not in the presence of the Sith. He had put up his ‘invincible hero’ face, knowing full well that to do anything else would have been to invite betrayal. (Thank you, Scourge, for teaching him that lesson. Kira thought dryly.) It hard worked. The Sith had (mostly) behaved themselves. In recognition for his incredible performance during the campaign, Master Satele had afterwards pronounced Corellan Halcyon as the new Battlemaster of the Jedi Order.
Afterwards, back on their ship, Corellan had spent several hours recovering in Doc’s medical bay. After the team medic had cautiously cleared him for light duty, Corellan had pronounced himself ‘fine’.
That self-assessment had held up… right up until the moment where Corellan had passed out while eating dinner.
It was at that point that Kira came to two conclusions:
First, as much as she loved it when Corellan played the ‘tough guy’, she was not going to let him put himself in any further risk. His legendary stamina, that bottomless well of endurance (something else she loved about him) wasn’t regenerating as it should be. Knowing they could be called back into action at any time, that needed fixing.
Second, she was going to have to clear the ship to help him properly, removing all distractions.
She could have taken him to Tython, of course, but there, the healers would want to observe him for weeks on end. Weeks during which he wouldn’t be at the forefront of the war. Weeks during which their crew would grow listless while underutilized. Weeks during which he’d be unavailable in the event of an emergency.
(Weeks during which he also wouldn’t be free to spend time with Kira...)
Really, it would be irresponsible of her to let that happen.
Kira accessed the crew’s war chest, then bestowed a significant sum of credits each to Scourge, Rusk and Doc. She told each of them to take a few days of leave, and that she’d let them know when Corellan had recovered. To no one’s surprise, Doc had complained the loudest. Most of his arguments centered around his duties as the crew’s medic and Corellan’s medical condition, but really, Kira knew he just didn’t want to feel left out. She had held her ground, knowing that Corellan’s condition wasn’t medical-related. Doc had decisively stomped off, announcing that he was going to Nar Shaddaa with his allotment of credits. (After he left the conference room, she could overhear him grumbling something about spending all his leave money on ‘booze and hookers’.)
Rusk, in stark contrast, had regarded Kira appraisingly, and in a cool silence. In turn, the young Jedi had held the old soldier’s gaze without flinching. After a moment, he nodded, saying that he understood. Rusk then told her he would join Doc on Nar Shaddaa to keep the medic “out of trouble”.
That left Lord Scourge. Immortal or not, the Sith Lord was still recovering from his own injuries, and Doc had wrapped several layers of bandages around his torso. If Rusk had given her the thousand-meter stare, then the look the massive Pureblood Sith gave her was one she’d have feel from a light-year away. Finally, the tendrils around his mouth seemed to quiver.
“I hope that you know what you’re doing, Jedi.” He emphasized the title as he took his share of the credits and departed.
He didn’t bother to tell her where he was headed, and she didn’t bother to ask. At least he wasn’t calling her the girl anymore.
After their three companions had left the ship, Kira had found a nice patch of empty space where they could lie low in the Defender. She asked Teeseven to watch over everything, and to answer the holo-terminal if anyone tried to contact them. She didn’t know what kind of excuse the droid would offer if Master Satele and the council came calling, but she was sure he’d come up with something.
Then she had taken Corellan by the hand and brought him to the Jedi meditation shrine in his quarters.
The healing potential of Force meditation were common knowledge, and they could heal the spirit as well as the mind. Corellan, however, obviously needed a push if he was ever going to ‘jump start’ the process. Fortunately, Kira, from sharing a Force bond with him, was well-suited to provide him that ‘push’.
The two Jedi had then knelt facing each other, letting their minds link to each other and to the Force, and shutting away everything else.
They were both still sitting there nineteen hours later when at last Kira felt her efforts had bearing fruit.
(Did people have any idea how hard it is to sit still for nineteen hours straight? Especially for a girl who tended to get antsy from just standing around??? Really.)
That familiar spark within Corellan Halcyon’s spirit had reignited. She could feel the Force start to flow through him again on its own accord and was relieved to find his body start to respond as it should.
By that point, however, both Jedi were physically exhausted, with Corellan particularly weakened despite the recovery of his spirit. Kira was considering giving Corellan another sedative and sending him straight to bed when she realized that neither of them had bathed since before Yavin, and now they were both in desperate need.
Kira had undressed them both, pulling Corellan into the refresher. She had resisted the urge to initiate anything at that point; he needed his rest, after all.
Once done, Kira had shut off the water and dried them both off, hastily wrapping them both in bathrobes. From there, she had helped Corellan to his bed, tucking him in. She briefly considered returning to her own quarters, but then decided neither of them should be without the other after all of that, so she joined him in his bed, curling up against him, pressing her back against his chest and wrapping his arms around her waist, grasping him to her.
Honestly, Kira would have been fine spending the rest of the night like that. Or spending the next full day like that. Or to spend the rest of their lives like that.
Much to her surprise, she felt his body start to respond to her. He murmured her name as she felt his lips brushing the back of her neck, and up towards her ear.
Kira moaned softly at his attentions. Yes, she ought to have said no. He needed his rest right now, because if he overdid it, it could undo all the work she had just put in to fixing him. She really ought to have just kissed him goodnight, then slipped away to her own quarters. It would have been the prudent choice.
But Kira Carsen’s life had rarely been defined by making the prudent choice.
She turned into his arms, kissing him full on the lips as she pressed her hands to his chest. He sighed in pleasure, returning the kiss, his hands pulling her to him as they ran up and down her back.
Fighting against her own instincts, Kira broke the kiss, then turned Corellan onto his back, turning her hips until she straddled him. He reached for her again, but this time, she forestalled him by pressing a finger to his lips.
“Okay, tough guy.” She whispered conspiratorially. “Here’s the deal: I’m not going through all of this again because you get too excited. So just this one time, you’re just going to lie back and let me take care of everything. Okay?”
Corellan’s pale blue eyes peered up at her with a slightly glazed over look. There was minimal illumination in the darkened room, with only a chrono on his bedside displaying the time and flashing a bit of lighting. Nevertheless, his eyes seemed to twinkle up at her.
“M’kay.” He smiled happily, sincere and glowing.
Kira couldn’t help but return the smile and give him a quick pec on the lips. He was adorable like this.
Then she began. It had been more than a week since they’d had a chance like this, and quite frankly, she needed it.
They both did.
Two minutes in, however, his hands reached for her body, and she could feel his ardor growing. She closed her eyes and let an involuntary sigh escape her lips, as the pleasurable sensations travelled right to her core. Normally, she loved how he was with her. Through their Force bond, it was like he knew exactly what she liked, even better than she did. And this came after a nineteen-hour long meditation that had probably linked them more than ever. Even now, she could sense with eager anticipation what he was about to do next…
Not tonight. Tonight, she needed him to settle down.
Her hands reached for his wrists, pulling his hands from her and pinning his arms to the bed. Despite their bodies still being entangled, she did her best to look down at him reproachingly.
“You agreed you’d just lie there.” She clucked her tongue at him, pretending to look cross.
Corellan’s eyes fluttered open. Though physically he was far stronger than she was, he made no attempt whatsoever to free himself. He didn’t even struggle, now that she had halted her attentions.
“Can’t help it.” He smiled up at her apologetically, looking bashful. “I want you.”
Kira’s heart did a backflip as her lips parted. Hearing him say things like that so freely always got to her. He was normally the model of self-control, but right now he was… woozy? No, addled. She bit her lower lip in consideration. The problem was that in his present state, he would try to regain control the moment she started again…
Then inspiration struck her.
“What if you… couldn’t move your hands?” she finally said.
He looked back up at her, and she could feel his sense of puzzlement.
“Don’t need hands.” He murmured. “Just need you.”
Kira’s mouth twisted into a lopsided grin.
“Hold on a second, tough guy. Don’t go anywhere.” She said the words while still straddling him without any sense of irony.
Without bothering to untangle herself from Corellan, Kira released his wrists and then reached over the bed’s edge to where his bathrobe had been left on the floor. She pulled the soft cloth belt free from the robe, then looked down at Corellan again. His fingers by now were caressing her hips in gentle encouragement. He looked passive enough for the moment, but she had no doubt he would become active again once she resumed.
She held up one end of the belt to him.
“I’m going to tie this around your wrist, okay?” she asked, gently gauging him for any hesitancy or reluctance.
His eyes attempted to focus on the belt in the dark.
“Okay.” He murmured.
Kira carefully took hold of one of his hands, tying one end of the belt around his wrist. (Ironically, she reflected, she had learned about knots from Corellan himself when he had taught her how to survive in the wilderness.)
She caressed his cheek. “Is that too tight?”
He leaned into her touch contentedly. “No.”
Emboldened by his trust, Kira reached out and pulled the belt through the bars of the bed’s headboard, pulling it until it stretched his arm well above his head, pulling the other end back down towards her.
“Mmm.” He closed his eyes and grinned. “I’m learning all kinds of things from you.” He murmured.
Kira scoffed at the remark, a phrase he’d used more than once regarding his relationship with Kira. Still, she couldn’t keep the smirk off her face.
“I’m serious!” she insisted.
“I’m good.” He said, tilting his head. “Always good with you.”
Kira swallowed, then took his other wrist and repeated the process with the other end, looping the belt so it allowed just the right amount of give that he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. Then she double-checked the knots to make they weren’t too tight.
Finally satisfied, she took a moment to admire her work.
His arms were pulled above his head, seriously limiting his movements, just as Kira had intended. When she reached out to caress his cheek again, he again leaned into her touch. He did keep giving his arms occasional tugs – instinctively trying to return the touch as he had before – but he wasn’t struggling to try to free himself, and he made no sounds of protest or discomfort.
Satisfied that he was alright, she let her hands caress down his broad, well-muscled chest. The two had been intimate with each other hundreds of times by now. Normally, however, Corellan was active. Very active. A quality in her lover that Kira approved of enthusiastically. But just this once, it was nice to just touch him unimpeded. To run her fingers over the hard muscles of his body, gently examining the scars that had been left behind from countless battles and skirmishes. She felt free to do what she liked with him.
That thought gave Kira an unexpected rush of power. She wondered if this experience had taught her something new about herself.
As her hands slid further downward, caressing the muscles of his abdomen, he let out a pleasurable sound. She could feel his body’s approval of what she was doing, both physically and through the Force. She bit her lower lip again, believing he was enjoying this as much as she was.
Just as she was about to begin in earnest, a sliver of doubt entered her mind: This was new territory. They had never done anything quite like this before. At this moment his mind wasn’t at its sharpest…
She had to be absolutely certain.
Kira reached down, and took Corellan by his chin, gently tilting him until his eyes refocused on her.
“Corellan.” She whispered seriously. “Are you sure about this? Are you sure you want this?”
His blue eyes looked up into hers, full of love and trust and even passion.
“Want this.” he murmured. “Always want you.”
A relieved Kira grinned at that, then leaned in and pressed her lips to his.
“That’s all I needed to hear, tough guy.”
Thirteen hours later, the two lovers awakened.
It was unclear who awoke first. It was likely that the waking thoughts of one had awoken the other. Or, perhaps, they were so synchronized at that moment that they simply had awoken in the same moment.
(Kira later reflected that Corellan was normally a morning person while she, decidedly, was not. But by this point, their sleep cycles were shot anyway.)
Fortunately, Kira had released Corellan from his bonds just moments before they had fallen asleep. As a result, both Jedi awoke rested, content and very rejuvenated.
Soon, they would step out of Corellan’s quarters, where they would greet Teeseven and take in a quick meal before heading out to Nar Shaddaa to pickup the rest of their crew. No doubt, somewhere, the galaxy needed saving, and they would be needed.
Still lying in bed, the two Jedi smiled happily at each other, then kissed. Even when the kiss broke, their foreheads pressed against each other as they breathed in unison.
“Thank you.” Corellan finally whispered. “For… last night.”
Kira chuckled happily. “Play your cards right, tough guy, and I’ll give you the chance to return the favor.”
“No, ah…” the newly minted Jedi Battlemaster reached up and scratched the back of his head sheepishly. “I meant, ah, with the whole belt… knots… thing.”
Kira giggled at his embarrassment, her trademark smirk widening.
“So did I.”
On the other hand, maybe their crew – and the rest of the galaxy – could hold off for one more day….
Chapter 7: Embrace
Author’s Notes: Written using the @elimemes Tumblr prompt – “Soft Angst Starters”. The following story takes place late in Chapter 1 of the Jedi Knight storyline.
Kira Carsen silently followed Corellan Halcyon up the loading ramp as they boarded their Defender.
As they stepped into the main hold and the door closed behind them, Corellan stopped, reaching for the holo-communicator on his belt. He thumbed it, opening a channel to Teeseven, their loyal astromech droid, dutifully waiting for them down in the engine room.
“Tee, get us airborne. We need to put Alderaan behind us as soon as possible.” His voice was level, but far more curt than usual.
Teeseven beeped his acknowledgement. The droid could do that much remotely, even without coming to the cockpit.
Corellan then closed the channel and, in a movement that Kira found very uncharacteristic, gripped the handlebar railing for support, looking downward. He then let out a slow exhale, as if trying to catch his breath. Kira could see the slight tremble in his shoulders, as if he were desperately trying to control his breathing.
In the past week, Corellan, with Kira by his side, had accomplished amazing things on Alderaan.
They had restored House Organa’s off-world communications array after an attack by House Thul, thus preventing the Empire from cutting Alderaan off from the Republic. They had saved over three hundred Organa hostages from ‘the Wolf Baron’ of House Thul, ultimately saving Organa itself from an assault by Thul and his Sith allies. Duke Charles had even named Corellan as a Paladin of House Organa.
But Orgus Din was dead.
In the Alsakan Lowlands, they had rescued even more Organa hostages from Thul, then they had saved Doctor Parvux from being eaten by Kiliks at the Death Mark laboratory, knocking out the superweapon’s primary power grid in the process. They had helped Jedi Master Skohani Ren save an Organa noble from being ‘joined’ to the Kilik nests. They had even saved the Kilik nests from being controlled and tortured by House Ulgo.
But Orgus Din was dead.
They had saved Duke Horis Thul, apparently the only Thul leader genuinely interested in peace, from the assassin Aleyna Hark, thus saving the prospect of peace on Alderaan. They had rescued Andra Cressen, a wannabe spy in the service of House Organa, from House Rist. Then they’d used Andra’s information to save an Organa convoy from being destroyed by Rist saboteurs.
But Orgus Din was dead.
In the Glarrus Valley, they had defeated the cybernetic Sith Lord Deral Thul and his imperial forces who had been seizing Organa and Republic-aligned assets in the region. From there, they’d saved the last survivors of House Panteer, Alderaan’s defunct ruling house, from Ulgo’s forces. Then they’d toppled House Ulgo, defeating ‘King’ Bouris Ulgo and bringing him to justice for his murder of the old monarch.
But Orgus Din was dead.
Finally, they had achieved their primary objective on Alderaan. The infamous Death Mark weapon had been destroyed, and Darth Angral’s apprentice, Lord Nefarid, was dead, failing to kill either of them.
(Somewhere in between all these events, the two Jedi had found the time to attend a ball hosted by Duke Organa in their honor. Kira had worn a gown, Corellan a suit. The two had danced together. Kira was trying very hard not to think too much about that right now…)
But Orgus Din was dead.
Kira heard the ship’s engines start to roar, as the Defender started to take off under Teeseven’s control.
It had been Nefarid’s final gambit; forcing Corellan and Kira to watch a live holo-broadcast of Darth Angral slaying Jedi Master Orgus Din, Corellan’s last master and mentor.
It hadn’t saved the Sith. Not even unleashing the Death Mark device on Corellan while the Sith had used a stealth field generator to strike from the shadows had saved him. Instead, the two young Jedi had silently coordinated their actions, with Nefarid pouncing on a feint by Corellan to give Kira the perfect opening she needed to deliver a fatal blow.
But the ploy – obviously feeling Orgus’ death even as he watched – had nevertheless devastated Corellan emotionally. Kira could feel it, especially now that they had a moment to catch their breaths. They’d barely spoken since it had happened; she simply didn’t have the words.
Now she watched him grip the bar and stare at the floor, his broad shoulders rising and dropping in short breaths. She had never seen him like this before. He was normally a rock. Now he was… anguished.
He should be headed to the cockpit to prepare the ship to jump into hyperspace. He should have been communicating with General Var Suthra, letting him know that Alderaan was secure. (And about Orgus.) He should have been preparing to pursue Darth Angral and finish him once and for all. Worst case scenario, he should have been meditating about what he had just been through before doing all those other things.
But right now, he couldn’t do any of that. He was too shattered inside.
He had won on every world. He had saved the Jedi on Tython. He had saved the entire Republic when he had saved Coruscant. He had saved Doctor Godera on Taris. He had saved entire worlds from Angral’s plans. Nar Shaddaa, Tatooine and now Alderaan.
Kira had been with him since Coruscant. He had saved her on Ord Mantell. He had backed her against Valis, then supported her to the Jedi Council. She, better than anyone, knew how driven he was, how dedicated he was, how frustratingly noble he could be.
Now, seeing him like this, feeling him like this…
It was like he should be ranting in anger against the Sith and the injustice of the galaxy but couldn’t. Like he should be sobbing but didn’t know how.
For the first time, it was like Corellan didn’t know what to do.
Fortunately, somewhere in the back of Kira’s mind, or perhaps in her heart, she did know what to do.
She stepped up behind him and wrapped her arms around his body, grasping her hands together as she tried to pull him into an embrace. She could feel his entire body go rigid for a moment, as if confused by this totally foreign gesture.
Blasted Jedi training. Kira thought to herself. This was a man completely at home fighting three armed Sith simultaneously, but he had no idea how to respond to a hug.
Just as she was about to pull away to avoid any further awkwardness, she felt something within him thaw. Melt, even.
He turned away from the handlebar, his arms wrapping around Kira, returning the embrace. He pulled her tightly against his broad chest, still clad in robes and adaptive armor, holding on to her for support even as Kira felt the ship break atmosphere. She turned her head and rested it against his chest, closing her eyes. She clung to him, her hands wrapped around his shoulders. Slowly, he started to breath normally again. Even through the thin body armor, she could hear his heartbeat.
And Kira could feel his spark start to return. It grew warm and bright and powerful. And she felt a surge of happiness in her own belly, as if the two Jedi were synching with each other in comfort as they had a few hours ago in battle against Nefarid.
Kira thought she could stay like that, leaning against him, all day.
Inevitably, it had to end. Corellan let out a sigh, then gently grasped her shoulders, pulling away. He was looking down at her with the most grateful expression.
“Thanks.” He finally whispered, not trusting himself to say more than that.
“Anytime.” Kira swallowed nervously, biting her lip and stepping back just a bit. Her right hand reached behind her back and gripped her opposite arm, just to keep from fidgeting.
Corellan exhaled slowly, still not looking away from her.
“You prep us for hyperspace, I’ll comm General Var Suthra?” he finally offered, recognizing they both wanted to change the subject.
“Yeah, I remember the drill.” Kira nodded, giving him a soft smile.
“Okay. Thanks, Kira.”
With that, he set his jaw in place and strode into the main conference area, preparing to contact Var Suthra.
Once again, he appeared to be the invincible hero.
As she turned towards the cockpit, a strange thought formed in Kira’s mind:
She had personally liked Orgus Din. He was kind to her, had a better sense of humor than most Jedi Masters, and he was even gentle when he rebuked her for talking too much during council meetings when Master Kiwiks had Kira attend.
For all of that, he and Kira weren’t particularly close. Certainly not close enough to have developed a Force bond.
But when he had died, Kira had felt it intensely. She had even cried out his name in pain.
She now realized that she hadn’t been the one feeling Orgus dying; Corellan had. But Kira had felt Corellan’s pain as his former master died, as he felt it through his bond with the Jedi Master.
But it was their bond – the bond that had grown between Kira and Corellan – that made her cry out; and it was their bond that had made it possible for Kira to help him just now.
As Kira Carsen sat in the co-pilot’s chair, a smile spread across her lips.
Like she had said; she’d be there for him anytime he needed.