Buffy V - Who Is Darth Revan?
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers for the video game, Knights of the Old Republic; and not-as-major spoilers for the novel, The Old Republic: Revan; are about to hit early in this chapter. You have been warned.
“I will allow one question for now, and only one,” Dalen said. “Make it count, Summers.”
“Who is Darth Revan?” Buffy asked.
Dalen looked intently at his menu in lieu of answering Buffy’s question, but she could sense his lack of ease in the Force.
“You were not supposed to hear that name, Summers,” he said quietly.
“You know I’m not your average human, don’t you? The k’lor slugs and tuk’ata back on Korriban were nothing I hadn’t faced before I even knew the Force existed. Don’t underestimate me, Master,” Buffy said with a sarcastic emphasis on Dalen’s title.
“You will never learn your place, will you?” Dalen sighed, putting down his menu. “You were given one question, and you made it count. You have earned an answer, but it is a topic of a sensitive nature. It is not something one merely talks about without expecting certain repercussions.”
“Is this something classified?” Buffy asked.
“You could say that,” Dalen said carefully. “It is information that the Dark Council is not fond of publicizing, if you take my meaning.”
Buffy’s eyes widened at the implications. Dalen always chose his words carefully, and here he was saying that she’d just stumbled onto a topic that, since the Dark Council disapproved of it, would be punishable by death if anyone found out about it.
Thoughts of Darth Arctis laughing as Buffy cut down Telran and Malra flashed through her head, and in that moment, Buffy had a strong urge to stick it to the Dark Council in any way she could.
“I understand, Dalen, and I’m paying very close attention.” She did not mean to offend her Master by calling him by name, but she had a good feeling by now for when certain societal boundaries were to enforced without mercy and when formalities could be put aside.
Now was a time for all formalities to be forgone.
“Darth Revan,” Dalen said quietly, “was a Jedi Knight who waged war against the Mandalorians when they invaded the Republic three centuries ago. He defeated them, and to this day, the Mandalorian clans honor their defeat at his hands over Malachor V.”
Buffy was lost. “Who are the Mandalorians, and why did they honor the guy who beat them? And how does a Jedi get a Darth title?”
“All things in time, Summers. The Mandalorian clans are warriors without equal. That they posed a threat to the Jedi speaks to their combat prowess. They respect strength above all else, and this makes them natural allies of the Sith. A foe who poses a great challenge, even one that bests them, is worthy of respect among their culture, for that foe has proven himself worthy of the respect of the strong.”
Buffy nodded. “Got it. Mandalorians are macho men who like other macho men.”
“Whatever ‘macho’ means, Summers, you are mistaken. The ranks of Mandalorian warriors number men and women equally. Many Mandalorians become bounty hunters, seeking to test themselves against the toughest foes in the galaxy, but do not mistake the lot of them for mercenaries with no code of honor. Respect a Mandalorian, show your strength to him or her, test yourself against them, and you will earn a deadly ally.”
“And Darth Revan beat them all,” Buffy said, making sure to lower her voice again.
“He did, but he was not a Darth back then. At the time, he was merely a powerful Jedi. Some of this is only rumor substantiated by circumstantial evidence, but we believe that Revan and his ally, Malak, were called to Dromund Kaas by the Emperor, who dominated their minds and made them Sith.”
A cold shiver went up Buffy’s spine. “The Emperor can do that?”
“Among many things,” Dalen said without humor. “But Revan and Malak were strong-willed, even among Jedi. When the Emperor sent them to war against the Republic, he did not count on them freeing themselves of his influence. They could not rebel completely, and they remained Sith, but they fought on behalf of themselves. Revan became Darth Revan, and Darth Malak was his apprentice.”
“Given that the Republic’s still around,” Buffy said, “I’m guessing they didn’t succeed.”
“You would be only half-right, Summers. During the war with the Mandalorians, Revan had many followers amongst both the Jedi and the Republic military. They call it the Jedi Civil War in the Republic because of how many defected to Revan’s banner.
“With Sith being what they are, however, Malak betrayed his Master and presumed him to be dead. But Revan survived, found by the Jedi, who erased his memories and started his life anew in a hope to ‘redeem’ him to their way of thinking.”
“I’m not sensing a happily ever after in this story. Not for everyone, anyway,” Buffy observed.
“There is no such thing as ‘happily ever after,’ Summers. Get that through your head,” Dalen said harshly.
Buffy sensed she’d touched a nerve, so she kept quiet.
“Revan eventually regained his memory and defeated his old apprentice,” Dalen went on. “He was probably hailed as a hero by the Republic, given that the war ended with the ‘Sith’ in defeat. Revan and Malak served their purpose, however, and they tested the Republic’s mettle ahead of our true invasion. We observed from the shadows, and when the time was right, we retook Korriban and started a war that ended with the Treaty of Coruscant.”
“The war’s over?” Buffy asked, very confused now. “I thought the Sith were all ‘die, Jedi, die!’ And I thought that peace was a lie.”
“In this case, the peace is an excuse for the Empire to bide its time and prepare for a true onslaught. The Republic also readies for war, have no doubt of that.”
“Oh, I don’t doubt that. So, was that the end of Revan’s story? Or was that just the cliff notes?”
“Cliff notes?” Dalen asked with an arched eyebrow.
“Short version,” Buffy clarified.
“Ah, yes. That was, indeed, the ‘cliff notes,’ as you call them. And it is not the end of the story, but from here on, the truth grows even more difficult to discern. A few years after Darth Malak’s defeat, it is rumored that Revan returned to Dromund Kaas. Some believe that he faced the Emperor in combat, and some believe that he emerged triumphant and sits on the Emperor’s throne as we speak, held prisoner by the Dark Council.
“What is known to be true,” Dalen continued, “is that at the same time that Revan supposedly returned to Dromund Kaas, the Emperor ordered the entire Dark Council purged, along with all of their support staff. Some were killed by the Imperial Guard, while the Emperor himself defeated the remaining Councilors personally. What caused this purge is a mystery, but it served as a reminder to all Imperial citizens that while the Dark Council may be the public face of the Empire, and while they may run its day to day operations, there can be no questioning of the Emperor’s supremacy.”
Buffy took in all of Dalen’s information with rapt attention. She was so absorbed in his tale that she had somehow missed him ordering drinks for the two of them, which a server droid put down in front of either of them.
“What do you believe happened?” Buffy asked as she sipped at her drink, which tasted like a sweet variant of iced coffee.
“Me?” Dalen said with a wry grin. “I do not presume to know anything for certain. I let others guess at mysteries of the past. I concern myself with the future, as should you. This line of discussion is now behind us, Summers. Do you understand?”
Buffy knew that Dalen was trying to send a subtle message; he was crafty like that. She focused on his words. He hadn’t said that their conversation was over; it was merely behind them. “Sometimes the past has things to teach us,” Buffy said. “I think I understand.”
Dalen smiled and hailed a server droid. “I think you do as well. Now, then: what shall we have to eat?”
“Whew. Now that is one imposing piece of architecture,” Buffy said as she and Dalen approached the Imperial Citadel by speeder. The structure towered hundreds of meters above the catwalks that served as ‘ground level, which stood at the edge of a canyon that Buffy could not see the bottom of.
“Yes, the Citadel is truly the center of the Empire,” Dalen remarked idly. “The structure itself is nothing to fear, Summers. Better to fear the many powerful individuals who wait inside.”
The speeder came to a stop at a podium large enough to hold about five coming-and-going speeders, Buffy guessed, or maybe one very small shuttlecraft. There were two other similar podiums off in the distance to either side of her that were just barely visible.
“Those are the entrances to Imperial Intelligence HQ and the Mandalorian Enclave,” Dalen said to her unasked question.
Buffy was impressed. “These Mandalorians don’t mess around, do they? I mean, the Empire must really not want to tangle with them if they’re giving them space in the Citadel.”
“The Mandalorian Clans, Summers,” Dalen said impatiently, “have earned their place here. There are some who feel that outsiders have no place in these halls, but as the Enclave is quite separate from Imperial Intelligence and the Sith Sanctum, there is no real issue. The Citadel has room enough to spare, and then some.”
“Yeah, no kidding,” Buffy agreed, daunted by the size of Empire Central, as she called it in her mind. Thoughts of grand towers caused brief, haunting images of the World Trade Center falling on September 11th back home, but the thought of any plane, no matter how big, causing this Citadel to come crashing down… Buffy didn’t think it was possible.
A moment later, she recalled her history lesson about the Sacking of Coruscant, and her heart went out to all of the Jedi caught in their Temple when the Sith had crashed into it just before blowing it up. In that moment, Buffy hated herself for being impressed with the Citadel when those inside it had plotted and caused the deaths of so many.
“Be mindful of your feelings, Summers. They betray your misgivings,” Dalen warned her.
“Do I look like I give a damn, Master?” Buffy spat, practically snarling the honorific.
“Mind your tone, apprentice!” Dalen hissed, and Buffy immediately took notice of his use of her ‘title.’ “In this place, of all places, the forms must be observed. Here most of all, you must be Sith.”
Despite his harsh tone, Buffy got the impression that Dalen was looking out for her. “Yeah, I understand, Master.” She said the title gently, without either worship or disrespect. It had to be said, so she said it. There were probably a hundred Sith nearby more powerful than Dalen who could execute her on a whim. Buffy knew she was strong, but the Force granted powers that were still largely unknown to her, and she didn’t want to get herself killed if she could help it.
“Very good,” Dalen said crisply. “Follow, apprentice.”
Buffy nodded silently and fell into step behind Dalen as they headed inside out of the rain and humidity.
Upon entering the center of the Sith Sanctum, Buffy had a sudden desire to be back outside in the jungles of Dromund Kaas with the wild beasts and the never-ending lightning storms. The cavernous room was lit with red and purple flames that didn’t look or feel natural, and the ‘floor’ was a series of catwalks with just-barely-there railings to keep people from falling into what had to be the planet’s core, it went so far down.
More than all of that, however, was the crushing pressure of the Force all around her. Dark and cold and suffocating, Buffy knew that the power of the Dark Side – so strong in this place – would destroy her if she let it.
Calling on memories of Korriban, of slaughtering k’lor slugs in the Tomb of Ajunta Pall as she realized the nature of the Sith Code, Buffy looked inward and remembered her hatred of Darth Arctis, who they were about to meet, and she remembered that there was only passion, from which she gained strength and then power.
The Dark Side’s presence no longer seemed to choke her, but now served to invigorate Buffy, and she smirked proudly as she renewed her pace to keep up with Dalen.
Her Master looked upon her with a small smile of his own, and Buffy knew that she had just passed an unspoken test. She smiled to herself, and Buffy was surprised at just how happy she was that she had met Dalen’s expectations. Since when was she so eager to please the man?
Those thoughts were quickly pushed to the back of Buffy’s mind as she and Dalen came face to face with another pair of masked, red-robed Imperial Guards standing silently in front of an arched portal.
“Send them in,” Darth Arctis’s voice said over an intercom, and the guards parted to allow Buffy and Dalen to pass.
Buffy felt a renewed anger rise up inside of her, and the feeling of invigoration from the Dark Side’s presence in the Citadel greatened. She wanted to kill Arctis so badly, and she suspected she just might be able to.
Dalen led Buffy around a small bend into a small office that could not have been Arctis’s usual abode, given its lack of elaborate furnishings.
“Ah, yes. Do come in,” Arctis said. “Lord Dalen, I trust you have been enjoying your recent elevation within the Empire?”
“Yes, my Lord. Thank you, my Lord,” Dalen said with all the propriety due to a Dark Councilor.
“And I see your apprentice still yearns to kill me. I can feel her anger burning, so pure and hot inside of her. I sense she is eager to test herself against me. What say you, Lord Dalen? Do you think your apprentice skilled enough or powerful enough to best me?”
“She shows great promise, my Lord,” Dalen said carefully. “But she is not that powerful. Not yet.”
“So there is much untapped potential within her. Good, good. Tell me, apprentice, do you think you are ready to take me on? I can sense your lust for revenge, despite the unpleasant truth that those two acolytes died by your hand, not mine.”
That was the last straw for Buffy, who had her lightsaber out and ignited in an instant, and she leaped at Arctis, the Force powering and guiding her.
Arctis stretched out one hand casually and let out a torrent of indigo-colored lightning from his fingertips.
Buffy tried to absorb the blast with her lightsaber, but her blade was positioned to strike at Arctis’s throat, and she couldn’t move it far enough in time. The full force of the lightning hit her square in the chest, catapulting her backwards into the wall as she screamed in agony and pain.
Buffy felt her world go white as the Dark Side arced over her body and through her nerves and into her heart. The pain was far greater than Willow’s conjured blasts had ever been. Her friend’s dark powers were a thing of rage. Darth Arctis’s lightning was designed to torture, to cause pain. He delighted in suffering, and Buffy felt her anger renewed and stoked even further, and the pain of the lightning only made her want to kill the Dark Lord even more.
Darth Arctis only laughed like a madman. “So willful and impudent. So proud and full of anger and lust for revenge. Oh, you will be a mighty Sith, Summers. One day, you may even surpass me. But that day is not today. Now put away your weapon before I am forced to kill you.”
Buffy snarled with rage but felt a hand clamp down on her shoulder with more than just muscle gripping her.
“You heard him, apprentice,” Dalen said dangerously. “Stow your lightsaber. Now.”
For the briefest of moments, Buffy wanted to cut Dalen down on the spot, but the moment passed quickly. She realized that her Master was trying very hard to make sure she didn’t get herself killed, and Buffy knew that she would die if she tried to take revenge on Arctis right now, when she wasn’t ready.
Disengaging her blade, Buffy clasped the weapon back to her belt and stood at attention at Dalen’s side, hating Arctis all the more, but letting that anger simmer and boil to power her body and let it recover from his electric onslaught.
“Very good,” Darth Arctis said approvingly. “And now, to the real business at hand. I and all those under me serve in pursuing the power of ancient knowledge in whatever form it takes. Tomes and scrolls are useful teaching tools, but they are mundane and rarely carry any true power within them. Far more valuable are holocrons that contain the lost knowledge of long dead Sith Lords that live on within their devices, in a certain manner of speaking.
“There are other artifacts as well. Amulets and talismans that hold ancient Sith magicks within them, and there are other things, unknown to us until they come to light in the most unlikely of places.”
“I take it, my Lord Arctis,” Dalen said, “that you have found such an unknown relic?”
“Actually, it was not I, nor any of my agents, for it was not found in Imperial territory, nor is it in Republic hands. Two weeks ago, an archaeological team on Csilla found an unknown structure of some kind that they were unable to enter. The door only budged very slightly when a certain individual touched it, and she was later proven to be mildly sensitive to the Force. Logic dictates that a true Force wielder would have little difficulty in gaining access to the facility.”
“Csilla?” Dalen said curiously. “I was unaware that the Chiss had a history of Force users.”
“I do not believe they do,” Arctis said carefully. “Or if they do, then it is a carefully guarded secret. The Chiss are a very private people, and while I seldom hold alien opinions to be of any value, the Chiss have proven themselves to be worthy allies. Certain aspects of their technology make war with the Chiss an unappealing prospect.”
“How so, my Lord?” Dalen asked, visibly curious.
“The Chiss have developed blasters of a sort unlike ours or the Republic’s. They call them ‘charrics,’ and among many interesting fascinations, they are a rare breed of weapon that cannot be deflected by a lightsaber.
“Many Sith,” Arctis continued, “cannot contain their disdain of aliens, and too many within the Pyramid of Ancient Knowledge are set in traditional ways and are not accepting of change such as that which our Chiss allies represent. You, Lord Dalen, are more radical in your thinking, and have earned a reputation for finding the usefulness in alien ideas, much to the chagrin of many. My old apprentice, Darth Thanaton, was particularly against your elevation to the rank of Lord, but that is beside the point.”
“You want us to go and talk to the Chiss about this thing they uncovered,” Buffy said.
“Mind your place, apprentice!” Dalen warned harshly.
“You are wise to restrain your pupil, Lord Dalen,” Arctis said. “However, she intuits the matter correctly. The two of you are to travel to Csilla and ascertain the true nature of this discovery. Given that it is located outside of Imperial Territory, and given that we do not wish to provoke a conflict with the Chiss, I am granting you authority to negotiate for possession of the dig site on behalf of the Dark Council. These documents will vouch for that,” Arctis said, handing a small packet of datapads to Dalen.
“Now, if you have no questions, be on your way. I have arranged a ship for you and a droid to pilot it. You may find it in Hangar 21-Besh in the spaceport.”
“We understand, my Lord,” Dalen said.
“Very good. Now begone.”
Dalen bowed to the Dark Councilor and left, with Buffy following him after making a point to glower at Arctis without bowing.
“Tell me, apprentice,” Dalen said once they were out of Darth Arctis’s study, “do you have any particular opinions on snow and ice?”
“Not really,” Buffy said strangely, not knowing where Dalen was going with this. “I grew up in a hot area, and after that it was desert-y Korriban, and now humid Dromund Kaas. Why do you ask?”
“Csilla, the Chiss homeworld, is a place where cold is dominant. The warmest parts near the equator are covered in wet snow instead of dry snow, while most areas are covered in ice. I take it you will need new garments to accommodate the change in scenery?”
Buffy shivered at the mere thought of a world full of snow. The one time in Sunnydale had been interesting. A few winters in Cleveland had been unpleasant. But an entire planet of perpetual winter…
“Can I go back and try to kill Arctis again? You don’t have to stop me this time.”
Dalen shook his head and chuckled.
Buffy merely hung her head and sulked.
I own nothing. More specifically...
Shar Dalen: original
Darth Arctis: not mine
Revan: not mine
Malak: not mine
Mandalorians: not mine
Malachor V: not mine
Csilla: not mine
Chiss: not mine
Charrics: not mine
Darth Thanaton: not mine at all
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