[identity profile] velvatier.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] starwarsficfest
Title: A Curious Proposition, or, A Brief Examination of Multiple Profound Issues, None of Which is Sufficiently Resolved

Author/Artist: Ariel Gray, under [livejournal.com profile] velvatier

Rating: Suitable for ages 16+.

Warnings: NSFW. There is a small illustration containing blurry nudity. Story contains graphic descriptions of violence, nudity, disturbing thematic elements, mild language, and a few big words. Dark side female Revan, lacking canon, has been crafted to suit my own vision.

Prompt: EU; DarkSideFemale!Revan and Canderous Ordo; Tension builds during a particularly gruesome battle - Blood lust.

Word count: 6629

Betaed by: [livejournal.com profile] penguin_antlers

Summary: This narrative has been compiled from excerpts taken from a series of journals retrieved from the Emperor Palpatine's private library after the Republic recovery of Coruscant. It details the private thoughts of the General Revan, and the Mandalorian Commander Canderous Ordo, best known for uniting the Neo-Crusaders. In particular, these entries cover a series of executions and a small but violent duel on an unknown world that, according to these documents, seems to have shaped the nature and the outcome of the Mandalorian Wars. However, while these accounts appear to have come from the proper time period, most scholars agree that the General Revan was, in fact, a man - and as no other verifiable document written by Canderous Ordo or his contemporaries mentions these events, their authenticity is currently under suspicion.



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There is no honour in death. I know that now, above all things.
I've seen the contorted face of a dying man as his entrails spill from his bowels, warm and pulsing and glimmering, seeping forth from those secret places where a man's soul is hidden away and into his trembling hands. I've seen this thing so many times that the vague nausea that followed my first eviscerations is but a fading memory, replaced then with revulsion at the sheer indignity of these last few moments. I conjure the memory of a stillbirth; the blood, the quivering, the screaming and the tears - the disbelief at the failing of your flesh, and the inability to reconcile the life you had envisioned with the stark reality fate has thrust upon you. I am the midwife, then, shepherding the reluctant from this world to the next. Of all my great skills unsurpassed by solider or Jedi, it is the terrible powers that are most malleable in my capable hands. And it is a terrible power indeed to transmute a glorified soldier into mere marrow and meat. Where has his honour gone, then?

The executions were born of frustration and fury, but they also served as a mighty call to action. I knew he would fight for them. Would their honour become his? Perhaps he would reveal to me the chambers of the heart where honour was stowed away, or the hidden network of delicate capillaries where honor flowed through to the extremities of my enemies, providing them strength beyond that of a mortal solider - an ordinary man who fears his death as I one day will fear my own. Or perhaps he knew what I knew, and fought to protect the secret that every warrior must bear alone - that each of us, in our turn, has our glory stripped away with our muscle and sinew and is turned, naked and dishonored, to the fire.

I needed an answer. The question was burning in me and threatened to consume me the way the search for certain mysterious elixirs had consumed the best alchemists of my generation. At my wit's end I had put out the order: capture, don't kill. My curiosity lost a hundred of my best men, yet I reaped the reward - three hundred Mandalorian captives marched shackled for miles across the scorching desert. From mid-day to sunrise we advanced without rest, and I was without mercy for my prisoners or my men. We burned by day and froze by night, and as the weak and the injured fell gasping I bid my men impale their bodies and leave their carrion to the sands and to the snakes. At daybreak my soldiers fashioned their camp in the brush and the nettles, and they roasted lizards no bigger than my thumb a dozen at a time on spits. Together, we sucked sickly meats out of the charred skins which fell away like ash and scattered in the wind. All the while the Mandalorians looked on, perhaps expecting scraps or a prisoner's rations. They would never be received. Daybreak to daybreak I starved them, weeding out the infected and the young who fell quickly at the hands of their superiors, so desperate for water they slashed the wrists of their kinsmen that they might suckle at the wounds. It was perhaps a hundred and seventy men who stood living at that second daybreak, and I ordered my men grant them their final indignities - strip them then, of armor and cloth, and see them hanged...

"But, General..."

It was a Commander that protested. My men touch me and lead me aside and speak to me without fear of retribution, at times with critique or contempt. My years in the order taught me well what becomes of one who goes unheard, the torment that brews and rages and floods over in the one who is unwanted.

"There will be retribution for this. I mean, after all, General...really, this is a war crime. Surely, you must realize how barbarians respond to a massacre!"

I watched as his face twitched. I noticed how one of his eyebrows was set far lower than the other, how the little white scar above the indentation in his upper lip never seemed to fully heal. I watched his short, thick fingers roll the tatters of a useless, sweat stained map around a noxious weed and set it alight, and as he inhaled the thick, blue-grey smoke I could see the emptiness that radiated from his dead, pallid blue eyes. He carried a lightsabre still, but there was no Jedi left in him.

I wanted to tell him that he had more to fear than Mandalorian retribution. I wanted to say that months from now he would still wake up in the dead of the night, drenched in an ice-cold fever sweat, unable to chase away the daemons and the endless dreams of carnage - and that more horrifying still, just when he started to think that his heart had truly left them behind forever, he would find himself half asleep with the Jedi Code lingering on his tongue. I wanted to tell him that I didn't know how to fill or escape the void that would grow within him, save with hate and bloodshed, and that even after you've reveled in the butchering of innocent men, the dreams still come at night - that now and forever, he would feel deracinated, wondering endlessly what would have become of him had he simply made a different choice. I knew at that moment what each of my men had, in their turn, laid down for me, and I loved each of them desperately as my brother. I knew they would follow me to hell if I led them, for indeed, they had followed me to worse places and would march on behind my banner still. A God could not have felt more pride, more power, more guilt. But I did not say these things.

"I suspect the Mandalorians will come regardless of what I do, Commander."

"Why take the unnecessary risk? Really, if they're going to come hell or high-water then there's no point in execution. We've already killed off half of the bastards parading them day and night - Shit, it's a wonder half our own boys didn't collapse! But General, use some sense, let's exile the lot of them and get the hell off this forsaken rock."

"How many men have I turned out to Wild Space already? And how many of those have come back again to fight against us? I'm using sense, Commander - the Mandalorians are as spoiled children, carving a chasm of destruction in an infantile quest for attention, for recognition. Well, Commander, I recognize them! I will send them a message to reverberate across every living clan: Attention has been paid."

I turned to walk away. I thought his curiosity would be satisfied, for he had made his bit and I had acknowledged it. Many of my men had already turned to disrobe the prisoners, and I'm loathe to put a soldier to a task that I'm not also doing with my own hands.

"Damnit, Revan, it's not about the Mandalorians! It's about us, who we are..."

I faced him. My robes caught up the wind and billowed behind me, and by my stance he surely knew our conversation would soon be over.

"I am tired, Commander! I am tired of responding to savagery with civility! I am tired of this war. I am tired of spending night upon night in worlds that are alien, that are strange to me. I am tired of fighting a horde that never seems to dwindle, an army with strength and a power of will that shows no end. I am tired of sleepless nights reading infinite lists of names of men - my men, good men - who have fallen and died for another man's honour! I have to find where it's stowed away, find a way to crush it, to carve it out, to strip it from them...
I...I would give anything - I've given everything to win this war, Commander. I'll do anything to push them back, and if that means slaughtering every last man, woman, and child in the galaxy, so be it, I will see it through."

"But do we really want to be known as an army that butchers prisoners of war? Do we really want to stand for carnage?"

His tone was quiet now. I thought perhaps I had gone too far.

"Commander, I want you to listen closely, for you may need to quote me on this one day after I am dead, and the scholars are arguing long into the night about the content of my character. I cannot speak for the soldiers, I do not want to speak for the soldiers - but as for me, I am for carnage.

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I know now why they call her a Witch!
Of course there's the mask, the cloak, the constant references to some ancient magics - her demeanor, that placid surface stretched taut against the frenzy crawling beneath her skin - most men couldn't help but give her marks for presentation. I don't care about presentation. I care about military prowess, and in Revan I at last saw a formidable opponent, an opponent worthy to face Mandalore's legions - to face my legion.

The battle was lost before it ever began. The enemy outnumbered us five to one and with Revan at their head every action was decisive, carried out with a swift, elegant brutality that only a General with a love of war can understand. Still, we stood our ground like men, like soldiers, and prepared to meet our glorious end, secure in the knowledge that a thousand others would rise up to take our place. But the end never came. In a brilliant flash the enemy encircled us, disarming my men in one singular fluid motion - I've never seen such harmony in an army, any army, in all my years. And you know, after that, if Revan wants to claim she wields magic beyond that of ordinary Jedi, well hell, it was nearly enough to make me a believer - but I didn't have the time to mull over philosophy. For two days my surviving men and I were subjected to brutalities I'd just as soon not revisit, and some half of us died from injury or exhaustion, or otherwise turned on each other to assure our own survival. It's never over until you're dead - bruised and beaten and half delirious from thirst, there was a warrior in me yet.

I'm ashamed to say I didn't see the call for executions coming. I figured if anything we'd be sold off to slavers to fund the war effort, and frankly I wasn't concerned - there's no slaver in the galaxy that can hold a Mandalorian for long. Executions though, with Revan at the head, promised to be a trickier situation - exactly the kind of situation I hope for. I knew if I kept my wits about me, I could turn my certain demise into a worthy battle. I could reclaim the honour lost in slaying my brethren and then some. Where my soldiers saw oblivion, I saw opportunity.

They deprived us of our armor and separated us for execution ten at a time. Revan's men knew exactly what they were doing, and our deaths would be swift and violent. Hardly five minutes would pass without the grind and crack that comes with a broken neck. Execution isn't a pretty sight. Looking at all those men strung up like meat, still caked in blood, eyes bulging, their genitals engorged near bursting in a death erection, their heads unnaturally lolled off to one side, soiling themselves...well, I suppose the picture is pretty clear. Many of my men were starting to get nervous. This wasn't exactly the sensational death a Mandalorian envisions as a boy in the battle circle.

In the battle circle...

I knew if I could appeal to Revan we could have a chance - me, my remaining men - I could keep my honour and my men could keep their lives, and we would all leave here in something other than a winding cloth.

"Revan!"

I called her out. My voice was hoarse from the lack of water and took me aback.

"Revan, I have a proposition, and I demand an audience, Commander to Commander!"

I had been expertly bound and was unable to look behind to see if she was ignoring me, or if she had even heard me in the first place. When she appeared in front of me, I was surprised that she helped me to my feet.

"I'm not a Commander," she said, bluntly, "You may be a Commander, but I am a General. Speak your piece."

"You and your men may have bested us on the battlefield, but you and I, I believe we are equals. Worthy opponents. It would dishonour us both to never cross blades in the battle circle."

I couldn't see her face, but it felt like she was bemused by me.

"Then you wish for the chance to slay your oppressor?"

"Not a death-match. A deal. If I win, we leave this place with our honour intact. If you win, you carry out your executions."

"I believe I'm already doing that, Commander. Quite well, in fact, if I might be so bold."

"I don't think you need to be concerned about being bold at this point, Revan."

"And of course you know my question."

"What's in it for you?"

"Exactly."

And what could I promise her? The only thing I knew to say was a long shot at best, but sometimes a long shot is all you can hope for.

"To face an enemy in on the battlefield and to face them man to man - it's an entirely different animal. You know you have to understand us in order to defeat us - in order to attempt to defeat us - what better way to truly know a man than to catch him on the end of your blade?"

Revan stepped back, and was silent, and in that silence I knew I had already won. A moment passed. She continued.

"What are our terms?"

"Strength only. No lightsabre, no Jedi powers. To the first blood."

"No. To incapacitation."

"You use the Force, Revan. How do I know you won't just heal yourself?"

Again, she paused, and reached out, catching a hand below my chin and raising it to stare into the place that her eyes would be were she without her mask.

"I swear it."

And I believed her.

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It seemed all too easy.
I am accustomed to getting things without effort, to having all things the way I wish them. This is my gift in the Force: in all my life, I have never known - I will never know - what it is to feel weakness. Yet to fight without my innate abilities is something all together unknown to me. I do not call upon the Force, the Force flows from me, bending effortlessly to my every will. It is my constant company, and I feel it always thrumming within me, a strange electrical hum reverberating deep within my core, filling those slick and empty spaces with a power strange and absolute. There is no skill beyond my mastery, no lesson beyond my comprehension, and no matter where I am, or who is in my company, I will never be as ordinary men. I am the supernova, the tsunami, untamed and untamable, a ghost and a God, the feared and the fearsome. I know that I alone am an anomaly, and my Greatness is as indisputable as my Solitude. As a child I sparred with the most skilled of Jedi knights, and now perhaps I may realign the stars for my delight. Yet I cannot win this war through power alone.

There are Jedi who have said to be without the force is akin to being blind, but I find this to be a great understatement. It is akin to being dead. It is akin to being without a soul. How can you ask a man to fight without his humanity?

Still, I knew I must try. It is a fool who denies the opportunities presented him, a luxury all together foreign to those trained in unworldly powers, be they light or dark or something yet unnamed. I unshackled my prisoner and discarded the chains, guiding him gently to my side as I would my own men. We were enemies, yes, and we would perhaps yet slay each other on the battlefield if I faltered in our duel, but we were also soldiers. There is an unspoken camaraderie between those who seek their pleasures in the blood of other men. We are two sides of the same war, he and I, and our fates would always be inextricable. Like the two sides to a coin, or even the two sides to the Force, the Mandalorians and I would now and forever be a part of each other, a black mark seared across the heart where we had each in our turn dealt our most enduring wounds. We would both bear the same indelible scar, and this, and only this, made us kin.

My men fell back in a wave as I guided the Mandalorian Commander through my camp. I could see by the looks they gave that they were only marginally surprised. I had, after all, been known to do stranger things. I let the Mandalorian drink from my own flask, and some small bit of colour returned to him as he discarded it, empty, upon the sands.

"Do you need to rest?"

"I thought you were tired of responding to savagery with niceties, Revan. Your words."

"What you do to a shackled prisoner and what you do to a man you've brought into your camp are completely different things, Commander."

"I know what you are, Revan."

He was perceptive, if nothing else. I gave him the answer he knew to be true.

"I find no joy in wounding the weak."

"Still not quite right. More like, you find mild amusement in putting the weak out of their misery, but it's the difficult kill, the slaughter of a man who's really fighting tooth and nail for his life - the man who really wants to get out of here alive - that gets your blood boiling. Bloodlust. I know your type."

"And the Mandalorians have no thirst for blood, Commander?"

"Canderous."

"What?"

"Canderous. Of the Mandalorian clan Ordo."

"You didn't answer my question."

"You didn't ask it right. What you really meant was, 'Why do we fight?' Well, That's what you stand to learn."

I had emerged from battle virtually unscathed, while it was evident in his disrobed state that Canderous had suffered many wounds. If we were going to fight hand to hand, as civilized men would fight, I found it suitable to make all things fair.

"A circle, then?"

He nodded. Stretching his arms up over his chest, surely to ease aching muscles after his long period of confinement.

"Draw it."

I handed him my own sword. A wise man would have impaled me where I stood, for without me the war effort was surely lost. Canderous did not do this, but rather drew a circle in the sands large enough, perhaps, for four men to sleep inside. He returned it to me by the blade. In one easy motion, and without so much as an audible breath, I split my arm from wrist to joint, and slowly marked out our arena in my own blood. Then, as effortlessly as breathing, I used my Great Skill to ease the flow - my own flesh, as all other things, bound to my command.

"There. Now both our bodies are taxed and worn. Now we can fight as equals."

"You're a strange breed, Revan. But you're not quite on the mark."

His stare fell to my chest-plate. I knew exactly what he meant - I was clad in leather and metals, and he was as at the moment of his birth. I did not return his armor to him. Instead, as in so many things, I chose the aesthetic path.

Now at last my men were shocked. As I discarded layer upon layer I felt monumental, as if I was revealing to my enemy, in these last few hours before his death, not merely my form, but a carefully guarded narrative of myself. It was as if my every thought had been etched upon my skin, a testament to the secret life lived out only in my head. I imagined that my enemy, in beholding the truth of my flesh, would at last be granted an understanding of my inner most being that I myself could not fully grasp. If I were born a man, perhaps it would have been so - but while more man than most, there is no denying my womanhood. Here and now, no man could deny what I was, for it had been presented before his own eyes. A quiet murmur passed through the camp among those who did not know me before the wars. Canderous, at last, was speechless.

"Revan...I...had no idea...I mean, none of us had any idea. You fight as a man fights, with the strength of a man...the ferocity!"

He looked as if he thought he ought to continue, but did not know what to say. I was amused.

"Yes, Commander, Canderous, and I will kill you as a man kills a man if you do not pull yourself together."

That was all it took. He was a Commander, after all. Every Commander worth the cost of their rations is swift to accept the unexpected.

"The mask?"

"Always."

He understood. Together, we entered the battle circle.

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I knew it wasn't going to be easy.
Man or woman - and who ever could have known? - Revan would be a savage opponent. It would be suicide to try and pretend otherwise. She didn't understand me, my kind, but I'd seen her sort before, hundreds of times. It was the love of the act that drove her. Impalement, mutilation - Mandalorians don't waste their time with such extravagances, but Revan seemed to feed off of them, examining the splayed corpses of her enemies the way an ordinary man might study a painting. Maybe she sees some sort of beauty in the dead, the decaying - but I thought there had to be a deeper meaning. I felt like she was searching for something, as if she felt the key to understanding the Mandalorian Way was tucked within our guts. Hell, maybe it was, but I never developed a taste for inspecting rotting meat.

She drew the circle in her own blood. Intimidating, a warrior's move. Again, it's the presentation - every part of her was bared to me, save for her face - her breasts, her torso streaked in blood. I've seen some strange things in my day, but this was down-right surreal - the kind of thing that only exists in lewd campfire stories. A lesser man would have lost his wits from lust or sheer confusion.

There's something primal about a man and a woman opposed in combat. There's a real charged sexual energy in that space, better than an orgasm. It's the anticipation, the build up. You just know, standing there exposed in the battle circle, that all this passion is going to have to go somewhere, and the only way to get release is to wound or be wounded. A fight, a real, unrestrained fight, is more intimate than sex. Revan and I would know each other better than any lover when we had finished here - we'd each stake our claim to the flesh of our enemy, declaring our given right to wield power not over mere pleasure, but over life and death. The higher the stakes, the more impassioned the players, the more of yourself you have to give to achieve your end. We were prepared to give everything of ourselves to each other. This was a battle that would go down in stories and songs. Here, there was real honour to be won.

We waited on opposite sides of the ring - the air was alive and buzzing, so thick I could have sliced it with my blade.

"Remember, no Jedi powers. Fists, sand, stones - all fair game. Pass out or fall out of the battle circle and lose. Understood?"

"I understand, Canderous."

We were ready. I lunged forward.

In a single deft turn I seized her left ankle and her right arm at the joint, pitching her head over heels until the base of her skill hit against the sand with a sickening thump. I leaned all my weight into it, feeling the strain against her neck, bracing myself for the telltale pop.

"It's not bloodlust, Revan. It's the Challenge, the Glory, it's..."

I was cut off by a blow to the chin, sent reeling backwards, my vision blurred, mouth wet with the taste of blood. Up off her back now, Revan kicked me hard at the back of the knee and my legs went flying out from under me. I turned in midair, and Revan followed, planting her elbow in my side as I hit the ground. The pain was sharp, and I doubled over, clawing at her so frantically that her arm was soon slick with her own blood.

"Those are just words Canderous, just words. Glory, Honour. You speak, and yet you say nothing."

A sudden jerk and I was on my feet, pulled up by my hair, and an instant later I found my face smashed brutally into the unyielding metal of that damn mask. A crack. Stunned, I fell to my knees. Blood poured from my nostrils. I spit mouthful upon mouthful of my blood onto the sands, and two of my teeth came with it.

I knew I had to regain my ground. If I could throw her out of the circle, I could end it here and now. I launched myself upward, picking her up and throwing her over my shoulder. I was surprised at the lightness of her, the delicacy. How could so much rage come from something so frail?

"What General doesn't understand Honour, Revan? The Honour in besting your opponent, in defeating death itself?"

From over my shoulder Revan kicked me hard, upward into the groin and I fell, both of us dangerously close to the edge of the ring. We both scrambled to our feet, eager to deal the first blow, but Revan is smaller and faster. She right hooked me in the jaw. Another tooth, more blood. In the blink of an eye she was in the air, the heel of her foot planted in my chest. I fell backwards, towards the center of the battle circle, and she landed heavy against my sternum. I felt my ribs give way and all my breath left me.

"No man defeats death, Canderous. Not me, not you, not..."

I raised my knee to my chin and kicked her as hard as I could up, into the pelvis, knocking her back into the air. I acted quickly, grabbing her by the calf and turning her upend, throwing her face first into the sands. She was always a fast one, on her back again in a heartbeat, but I was already over her, on top of her, one hand around her slender neck, my knee firmly set between her ribs, trapping her. I tightened my grip. I could feel her pulse beating frantically against my hand, the blood rising in her throat, the desperate, shallow breath.

"It's not about the end. It's about the moment. That one brief moment where you prove what you're really made of. The moment where you feel immortal. I feel that moment now, Revan, do you? Do you feel it?"

She needed to breathe. Her panic was tangible. She grasped in vain at the sands all around us. Or so I thought.

There must have been a stone nearby, and Revan slammed it into the side of my face. Again, teeth, blood. I tried to maintain my grip but she didn't stop, again she hit me, and again, and on the third blow I felt my cheekbone shatter. Blood streamed from my mouth and onto her mask. I'm struck a fourth time, below the eye. Blood vessels burst and my vision goes black. My grip loosens.

Sensing my moment of weakness Revan grabbed me by the left ear, striking me twice in the throat. I feel the top of my ear tear out of place and blood pours down my cheek. Winded and dazed, I fell to my back, and all too gently Revan crawled on top of me, straddling herself atop my chest. Nimbly, she dug her thumbnails beneath my eye sockets, clawing at the side of my face like an animal. I couldn't even tell where I was bleeding from anymore.

"That's not Honour you feel, Canderous." Her voice was quiet and composed. For a moment, I wasn't sure if I was even awake. "That's power. Power is what drives a man against other men. Power is what drives a man against death."

Then she actually laughed!

"You are just like me, Canderous Ordo. You fear death as any man! You seek it out, inflict it, become intimately acquainted, so that for one moment, one brief and beautiful moment, you are the Destroyer of lives and worlds. For one moment, you are in absolute control of your own destiny, and neither fate nor the Force would dare to intervene. You seek to shape your own story, and I know you. I have known you each and every day, for all of my life."

Nausea. My vision was dim and murky. At this rate she threatened to blind me. I took a stab in the dark - with one free arm, I reached up, tearing her mask away and throwing it to the opposite side of the circle.

In an instant her hands flew up to guard her face. I don't know if it was sheer disorientation, or hallucination...but she was beautiful, with eyes as black as the velvet night of the void.

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Treachery!
So this is what we had been reduced to, our comity fallen away, my veneer stripped from me, strewn carelessly to one side. I was filled with a righteous fury, for since the wars began I allowed no man to look upon my face. I refused to be degraded into an ordinary mortal in the eyes of my enemy, in the eyes of my infantry. Every look of fear, of doubt, every sleepless night and every fevered dream was bared to my victim, and though I held my place atop his chest, though he seemed to bleed from every pore, he at last had gained the high ground.

I knew I had but one option - to become so fearsome, so vile and bright and awesome that none who looked on could ever again deny my dominion, my magnificence. Indeed, better to be seen as a monster than a man!

As wild beast attacking its prey, I tore at his throat with my teeth. A cascade of blood sprung forth as I rent his flesh to tattered ribbons, and the taste was not of honor, but of iron and rage, spirit and sweat. Perhaps he screamed. I would imagine so, but I heard nothing save for the heavy pulse against my mouth, and the sound of my own heart beating in time. Blood streaming across my clavicle, I understood at last.

Let us not fight then as men, as soldiers. Let us not speak again of civility, of honor and glory, no! Let us fight then as a wounded animal would fight, with each side meeting the savagery of the other with a new and grievous cruelty of their own. Let all that is sacred now and forever be profane. Let every levy break, let every field then be razed and the earth be salted. Let all worlds burn to rock and ash and take up their graves - but let us never take ours. For this moment, for this war, let us cast away all laws and virtues and let every solider rise up to claim his rightful place as King and God! Be all of us here set free, that we might revel in our might, setting power against power, man against man that we might finally see if we are worthy of the breath within us. For what man beset by death is worthy of life? Let us prove otherwise. We will hold no limits, as our enemy holds no limits, and every taboo will be exploited and wasted until there is nothing left to fight against us, nothing left to hold us back from the promise of our True Selves. As the Force trembles beneath my hand, let all men do this also! Let the galaxy see now, at last, what it is to be a free man, each man among me bound to no law but his own, and I at the head as the lawbreaker, setting every boundary to its proper place at the ends of every world. For only in the light of the flames of destruction can we at last see the True Nature of the ties that bind us and by our own might break and burn them. Let the destruction then be absolute, and let no Man stand left to fight, save he who has proven himself his own master. Save he who answers to none.

"Revan! Get off of him...Revan, it's over! Revan!"

My dissenting commander. I don't know how long he had been screaming for me, how long he had been trying to pull me away from my rival. I don't know when Canderous had slipped away into that injured sleep, but there he lay, quiet and still, his breath pathetic, fluctuating wildly - the breathing of a dying man.

I composed myself. Every small part of my being ached and throbbed, my skin sticky with sweat and spit and blood. With a quiet dignity I retrieved my mask from the other side of the ring, all the while gazing at the appalled or elated faces of my comrades through parted fingers. With my identity intact I returned to rouse my foe.

A touch. His breath returned, the blood flow staunched, the pain lessened. His eyes fluttered open.

"You should have let me bleed to death."

"Would you have let me die, Canderous?"

"Actually, no. Before you showed up this wasn't a war, it was a massacre. That was never our objective."

"I know."

And for once, he didn't object.

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Defeat.
I knew what it would cost me, and Revan fulfilled her bargain. We sat together in the battle circle, naked, bruised, blood-soaked, and together we watched my men meet their final moments. I didn't object. I won't have it said that Canderous Ordo isn't a man who lives up to his word. I knew she'd save my hanging for last. I suspected she wanted to be the one to carry it out, wanted to be the one to watch my face spasm and fall slack as I died. I wasn't afraid. At least I managed one last battle before the end.

When every last one of my men hanged limp from barren branches Revan escorted me to one of her Commanders. The poor bastard looked like he was three seconds away from retching. I knew they had been arguing earlier and I wondered how long he would last in her ranks.

"Commander."

"Yes, General?"

"See the Mandalorian to a star-fighter and escort him until he makes the jump."

It hit me like a wall. I wasn't going to die after all. I'd won the enemy and beaten death yet again - and of all my men, I was the only one with the strength and the wit to come out of this place alive. Her Commander seemed to look relieved. Maybe he wasn't in the mood for any more broken necks.

"Yes, General."

Revan turned to me. Even unclad she was an image of strength and pride, every movement of every muscle commanding respect.

"Tell your Mandalore what I have done. If he wishes to seek retribution, I will be amassing my forces at Malachor V. Can you remember this?"

"Then the war..."

"Will end, one way or another."

"It'll be a hell of a battle. A hell of a battle, and I'm eager to see it through. You know, they're right, they're all right - you're a viper, Revan. A damned Witch. Where your story will wind up, hell, I can't even imagine."

"Well, Canderous,"

Her amusement was obvious. I'd bet anything she was standing there with a self-righteous smirk.

"That's what you stand to learn."

Photobucket
For everything, a price.
I never saw my outspoken Commander again. He escorted Canderous as he was told, and then made a hyperspace jump himself to a place entirely unknown. Perhaps he had seen enough of death and pain, or perhaps he sensed that I would lead him to a raw and crooked place, a place where his indoctrination would never truly permit him to follow. Did he make the right choice? Perhaps he is happier now, in a simpler life, tucked away from the Force and the things it demands of its acolytes. More likely, perhaps, he is a drunkard or an addict, drowning what is left of his potential in a flood of intoxicants, making a quick and eager spiral towards Worlds Beyond. Still, I hope that he found some little satisfaction, whatever life he chose, and I think on him with great fondness for the strength it took to forge his own path.

I gathered my armor and my men gathered their camps, and there was a quiet about us. I had made them a promise with my own words to bring each in our company to the end of this war, and for every man that meant a looming end to a way of life. Every ending is bittersweet, and the end to bloodshed bears no exception to this rule. As we boarded our ships, united in purpose for perhaps the last time, there were no words to absolve us, nor to express what we had meant to one another. Yet each of us in our heart knew the other, and I at last knew the heart of the enemy, and for me, for them, this was some little condolence.

I suspect some part of my humanity still belongs to that barren world, forever buried beneath the sands. There was a sickness that flourished within me that day, some dark, clandestine part of myself that fed off the blood of my adversary and grew in strength and substance. I wonder still what would have happened to the wars if we had never faced each other, and what would have happened after - but that choice was slain by my own hand, and there is little point in dwelling at those crossroads now. To have fallen so far and given so much, what would my old Masters think of me here? Yet I alone stand triumphant, and be it Dark or Light that guides me let it be known that for every world in ruins a dozen more were kept safe from harm not through peace, not through patience, but through will and might and thirst for blood. This is a victory that will forever be mine, and those who would cast me out will know always in their hearts that I have done what they could not do. They will forever be haunted by inaction, for they have chosen their daemons, as I have chosen mine, and as they fight to serve the Force they need only realize that I am the heart of it - for what man, serving a will other than his own, can truly be free? Perhaps they will never understand as I understand, for I am never bound to any order, but only to the ages.

And the Force is with me, always.



Photobucket

hastily drawn sketch by [livejournal.com profile] penguin_antlers

Date: 2008-07-15 05:43 pm (UTC)
ext_25678: (Default)
From: [identity profile] pronker.livejournal.com
"I do not call upon the Force, the Force flows from me, bending effortlessly to my every will. It is my constant company, and I feel it always thrumming within me, a strange electrical hum reverberating deep within my core, filling those slick and empty spaces with a power strange and absolute."

This story has unique thoughts on the Force and on the bloodlust of battle, both of which seem to me to be the essence of KOTOR, not that I've ever played it. But the sense of what it is to be a gamer is in this story, and I must say that the drawing and the format/font throughout really added to the sense of a journal entry.

Date: 2008-12-10 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sixthbrightest.livejournal.com
This is an amaaaaazing story. I love your Revan, I love how she and Canderous fight. I'd love to see how this affects them in the timeline of the game- have you done any other Revan fic? Would Canderous recognize Revan in the pre-reveal form?

Date: 2012-07-10 04:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ovephssg.livejournal.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6M_6qOz-yw

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