Faith VII - There Is Peace
“Faith, please take a rest.”
“No time, Ralto,” Faith replied through her teeth, resuming her push against the immense stone door. Something had opened it just enough for her to get a hold on it, and she wasn’t going to back down now.
“Look, Jedi girl, we get it,” Vira said. “You’re strong and you’ve got the Force. You don’t have to prove anything to us.”
“We need to report this place to the Republic,” Cortland said calmly. “My comm’s not getting a signal down here. We could ride up the cable with our harnesses if we have to, but I’d like to know how the Imps were coming and going if they had Rakghouls guarding the entrance we came through.”
“You think they had their own entrance, Major?” Vira asked. “Why’d they just let Faith walk up to ‘em, then?”
“Arrogance and fear,” Ralto said sagely. “Sith are mercurial creatures on the best of days. Many would seek to challenge themselves, especially if they felt as if there would be no challenge at the end of such a gauntlet as those Rakghouls proved to be. Faith was… in character.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Faith said harshly.
She was starting to breathe a bit heavily after working at the door for over half an hour, and she didn’t like the hushed words and careful glances the others were shooting behind her back. Faith could sense their feelings even if she couldn’t hear them exactly.
“Well, Faith,” Cortland said fairly, “you do dress the part and look good doing so.”
“I know I look good,” Faith said, not amused. “Just get to the point, Tal.”
“What I’m getting at, Faith, is that you looked the part, you spoke the part minus the accent, and then…”
“And then you acted the part,” Vira said in a flat voice. “Only you weren’t killing the Imps on a whim, but because they were in the way. They’re the enemy, and you did what you had to do, Faith. I don’t think your old Master agrees with me.”
“No, I can’t say that I do,” Ralto said. “Those soldiers and scientists didn’t have to die, Faith.”
“Did you hear what they did to those people back in the tanks?” Faith shot back, not raising her voice. “They don’t deserve to die either, but I’m thinking it’d be a mercy to let ‘em die without killing their friends and family.”
“Faith,” Ralto said softly, “surely you don’t mean that.”
“There is no death, Ralto,” Faith said without emotion. “It’s best this way. Better to die who you are than to become a monster.” Memories of Xander and Willow telling her about their friend, Jesse, came to mind, followed by thoughts of her first Watcher, Diana Dormer. At least Kakistos had killed her instead of turning her.
“You don’t mean to fully embrace the Jedi Code, surely,” Ralto chided her. “It may be expected of you, but I know you better than that, Faith.”
“You think you know me?” Faith asked angrily, turning on her old Master as her heart began to race. “None of you knows me! You think that just because you find a girl with some power that you can turn her into Miss Proper Jedi of the Year or something? You think you can just erase my past that you know nothing about? You. Don’t. Know. Me,” she snarled.
“Faith,” Ralto said kindly.
Not in the mood for any more Jedi lectures, Faith stormed off back towards the lab section of the Imperial base. She wanted to get away from both Ralto and from the mysterious ruin. It was giving off some negative vibes that Faith knew she’d have to face eventually. She wasn’t ready to do so just yet.
Meandering over to the tanks full of infected Tarisians, Faith looked over the control mechanism and wondered if there was a way to kill the people inside without waking them up from whatever sleep they were in. It shouldn’t hurt them if she just killed the switch, right? If only she could find that switch in the first place.
Faith heard a set of footfalls approaching that she’d learned to distinguish since leaving Coruscant. “What do you want, Lieutenant?” she asked tiredly.
“`Lieutenant,’ is it?” Vira asked with no bite. “You never struck me as the formal type, Jedi girl.”
“Yeah, well maybe I’m not in the mood for informal right now, okay?” Faith said defensively.
Vira sighed. “Look, I just haven’t ever seen a Jedi look so… I don’t know how to put it, but you’re not like any Jedi I’ve ever met.”
Faith laughed humorlessly, not looking at the Lieutenant. “Yeah, I’ll bet. Nobody’s ever seen such a screw-up like me before. The Jedi are all harmonious and perfect and shit, and here I am just fumbling along and making a scene.”
Now Faith did turn to look at the one-eyed lieutenant. “I don’t think they make Jedi out of murderers, do they?”
Vira sighed, clearly frustrated. “These guys were the enemy, Faith. You didn’t ‘murder’ them. You made a tactical decision to remove any obstacles to completing our mission. It was the right call.”
Faith shook her head. “No, you don’t get it. There’s no way you could. I already told you: You don’t know me. You don’t know what I’ve done.”
“Maybe,” Vira conceded. “Just don’t stand in that pool of self-pity for too long, okay? You’re not the only one who’s ever been there. It’s not a pretty place.”
Faith arched a curious brow and crossed her arms under her breasts. She wanted to look in command, but she also wanted to listen.
“I’m from Balmorra,” the Lieutenant explained. “We have all the best droid and weapon factories, and before the Great War, we were proudly independent despite supporting the Republic on the whole.”
“Sounds like you guys had a bull’s-eye painted on you,” Faith remarked.
“Y’know… A target.”
“Ah, right. Yeah, the Empire wanted Balmorra pretty badly,” Vira said darkly. “The Republic tried to help us, but the Empire was winning, and it wasn’t pretty. These people will execute innocent families just to make a point, Jedi girl. Don’t ever doubt that they’re the bad guys, you hear me?”
“Yeah, I hear you,” Faith said. “That doesn’t make me a good guy.”
“Well, you’re not alone there. Growing up on Balmorra during the war wasn’t pretty. The Empire controlled everything, but there was a resistance. I wanted to join up as soon as I could. I wanted my home to be for me, not for some invading scum who just wanted to fuel their war machine.”
“That bad, huh?” Faith said.
“Yeah. That bad. They rounded up everyone in my hometown when they thought that there were resistance fighters hiding out there. They decided that since a fighter could be anyone, they’d take twenty random people and execute them right then and there.”
Faith’s eyes widened at the cold brutality of the Empire, and she sensed a sharp pain from Vira.
“It was a small little village, so the odds were stacked against me. I lost my mom, my oldest brother, and a friend that day. Pala, my friend, was only nine years old, dammit! And they killed her without even blinking. It’s just what they do. I was only ten, myself, at the time.”
“Why’re you telling me this?” Faith asked.
Vira laughed without humor. “Force, I don’t even know. I started off trying to make a point, but maybe this has all been on my mind for too long. Anyway, my dad brought me into the Resistance. Said that I was old enough to help clean stuff and carry food and medicine around. Stuff a kid could do, y’know? When I turned thirteen, I started practicing with a blaster rifle, and I started using it when I was fifteen. Killed a lot of Imps with that gun. For all I knew, they had families just like I did. Didn’t really matter, though. They were the enemy, and they had to die.
“One day, when I was nineteen, we infiltrated the Imperial base in Sobrik disguised as civilian workers. We were hoping to scare the bastards off Balmorra by bombing the homes of high-ranking officers. Seemed like a good idea at the time, and they’d done worse to us.”
Faith knew that this story wasn’t going to end well, but she didn’t interrupt. She let her stance relax a little to seem less challenging.
“So, we get the bomb set up all right,” Vira said. “I’m set to stay behind and make sure it goes off without a hitch, and then play the loyal Imperial lapdog and run screaming to the nearest Imp guard I can find. Risky, but it was a good way to get them focused on the bombing and not on the fleeing fighters.
“I stay just out of the way of the blast, and it goes off just like we planned, save for one thing. Just as I’m about to go fetch a guard before slipping away myself, I hear this wailing coming from inside the house. There was a little kid inside, couldn’t’ve been more than a baby by the screaming.”
“Damn!” Faith said quietly. “I’m not one to hand out pity, but that kid got the shaft.”
“I don’t know what ‘getting the shaft’ is, but it sounds about right,” Vira said. “When I heard that baby crying, all I could think about was how I had almost killed a little kid. A crying baby didn’t seem like an Imperial bastard to me. I just heard a kid screaming for help, and I did the dumbest thing I could’ve done and went in there to try and rescue him.
“I was nineteen, and I’d never been in a burning building before. I didn’t know anything about fire. But I found the kid on the ground floor. I wrapped a hand cloth from my pocket around his face to protect him from the smoke, and we got out of there just as the Imps were showing up.”
“Bet they thought you were the hero of the day,” Faith said with a small smile.
Vira snorted. “Hardly. I handed the kid off to the nearest person who wasn’t wearing a hard suit of armor – I think he might’ve been an officer – only to be smacked across the face and kicked back towards the burning house by some of those troopers I passed up because I didn’t want the kid to slip out of an awkward set of armor.
“There must’ve been a gas line or something in the house that wasn’t touched until right then and there. I was getting to my feet when a small blast catches me right in the face,” Vira said, pointing to the visible burn marks around her metal left eyepatch. “Some shrapnel caught me right in the eye, and I got a nice beauty mark all around it for my trouble.”
Faith felt very small in the company of the one-eyed soldier. Here she was, a messed-up Slayer who couldn’t make a right choice to save her life, and she was standing next to a woman with every reason to hate the Empire, and she’d risked it all to save some kid she didn’t know. Vira didn’t have any superpowers or the Force or anything to protect her, and she still did what was right, only to have the Empire slap her around for her trouble.
Vira Septus was a real hero, and Faith felt like a pretender in the Lieutenant’s shadow.
“Someone higher up the chain came down to see what was going on, and by then there were some folks out who saw me get beat around who were starting to get upset because of me. The higher-up decided to focus on putting out the fire and preventing the Sobrik natives from getting restless. He told a local doctor to take me and get the hell away from the crime scene. They told the doc not to take me very far so that they could question me when I was able to answer them.
“Luckily, this doc is a good guy with friends in the Republic. He doesn’t have the materials to treat me in his little clinic, but there’s a smuggler hiding out in his basement that brings in medicine that the Imps keep for themselves. The smuggler turned out to be a nice guy, running his operation with his wife and everything. They got me to Alderaan where a Republic doctor fixes up my face as best he can. He tells me that he can’t replace my eye, but he does give me a fake one. This patch is good at making people think I’m a cripple, but it’s got sensors in it that can see what the naked eye can’t. It’s not like having two real eyes, but it’s what I am now.
“The point I’m trying to make, Jedi girl,” Vira said not unkindly, “is that there’s all sorts of shades of grey here. I killed a guy’s wife and daughter with that bomb. Maybe that baby boy is growing up to be a nicer guy than his dad, but I probably just saved a life that’s going to end up fighting against the Republic some day. So if you want to call yourself a murderer, Jedi girl, then get in line. In war, there are no heroes, and nobody gets out without taking and dishing out all sorts of damage. You talk like a fighter, but you don’t sound like you’ve ever been in a war before.”
Faith sighed and unfolded her arms, trying to look anywhere but at Vira’s one blue eye. “Back home, on Earth, I was a fighter all right. One of the best there was. But I didn’t fight people. The things I fought were more like the Rakghouls back there. I was part of this group that protected everyone else from all the monsters out there that parents told their kids about to scare them, but that nobody ever thought were actually real.”
“How does an entire planet miss something like that?” Vira asked skeptically.
“Couldn’t say,” Faith answered honestly. “The creepy-crawlies weren’t walking about in broad daylight and such. Anyone who saw one was probably dead on their feet, and that’s where I came in.”
“Is this where you get the strength you say you don’t need the Force for?”
“I dunno where that comes from, but it’s what let me fight back,” Faith explained. “The way I hear it, people who don’t understand the Force call it ‘magic’ and stuff. That’s one of the words we used back home, only it’s different from the Force. I didn’t have it back home, but I have it here. You’d think I could use it for something other than killing people, wouldn’t you?”
“Stop it, Faith!” Vira snapped. “Stop kriffin’ blaming yourself for things that can’t be helped!”
“Buffy wouldn’t’ve let it go down like this,” Faith said more to herself than to anyone else. “She would’ve saved everyone. That’s what she does.”
“Huh?” Faith looked up at Vira and realized what she’d just been saying. “Buffy, right. Buffy is… complicated.”
“So? Un-complicate things for me,” Vira said dangerously.
“You know my story, right? Found on Denova without a clue? Buffy was there with me. We’re from the same place. She was the good Slayer, I was the bad Slayer. The dark Slayer. The murderer,” Faith spat, hating herself as she said the words she knew to be true.
“Another fighter like you?” Vira guessed.
“Yeah, she’s the best of the best. And before you try to tell me that people make mistakes, I couldn’t have done something so terrible, just don’t. The first guy I killed, it was an accident, okay? The others weren’t. I fell down a deep hole, and I kept digging myself deeper. I almost buried myself.”
“What stopped you?” Vira asked without any bite.
“Angel. He was Buffy’s ex, and he made himself my friend. B was pissed as all hell when she saw him helping me.”
“Buffy is B?”
“Kinda. B is our besh; first letter of Buffy’s name. It’s been my little nickname for her since the moment we met.”
“I think I see what’s going on,” Vira said.
“Do you, now?” Faith asked, not impressed.
“I do,” Vira said confidently, but she wasn’t smiling. “This isn’t about self-pity. This isn’t about your past or what you think you’ve done wrong. You’re trying to be Buffy.”
Of all the things Faith had been expecting to hear, that wasn’t it. “What?”
“You heard me, Jedi girl,” Vira snapped. “’Buffy’s so wonderful.’ ‘Buffy’s the good Slayer.’ ‘Buffy would have done things better.’ You practically worship her and think she’s perfect! For all I know, she really is all that and more. But you are not Buffy! You are Faith. You are a good woman and a hell of a fighter, and you’re desperate to do what’s right to make up for whatever you think you did wrong in the past. And you think that if you try to turn yourself into this Buffy person, then you’ll somehow erase all your sins and live happily ever after.”
Faith felt herself stepping backward, afraid of hearing the truth that was spewing from Vira Septus’s mouth.
“We all mess up, Faith. And you might’ve only had to kill monsters and beasts where you come from, but this isn’t your home. This isn’t Earth. This is a galaxy at war, and you’re on the right side. Those people you killed were the enemy. They were a different kind of monster than the Rakghouls and whatever else you’ve fought, but they were monsters all the same. As for those poor people in the tanks, you were right the first time. The best thing we can do is spare them the pain of waking up and turning into something nightmarish.
“You’re not Buffy, and you don’t have to be. Just be who you are. Just be Faith.”
The blatant simplicity of Vira’s words was such that Faith was caught off guard. After a brief silence, she laughed. “Just be Faith,” she repeated. “Not sure I’ve ever tried that before.”
“Time to start, don’t you think?” Vira said with a wry smirk.
Faith nodded. “Yeah, I’m thinking you’re right.” The Slayer dared to smile and leaned back on the console behind her.
She felt a switch flip under her palms, and a hiss of air escaping came from the ground nearby.
Faith had her lightsaber out in an instant, and Vira had her blaster rifle out as well. The two women exchanged a silent glance of solidarity.
The solid ground began to crack, and a circle opened in an iris, allowing a sealed platform to rise up out of the ground. The capsule opened to reveal a railing around the edge and a console.
“Huh,” Faith said simply. “Looks like we found the Imps’ secret entrance.”
“Looks that way,” Vira said. “You gonna be okay, Jedi girl?”
“Call me Faith, and you have yourself a deal, Lieutenant.”
“Just call me Vira, Faith. I don’t have to give you a hug or anything, do I? I’m not really the motherly type.”
Faith laughed. “Yeah, I’m not too big on the touchy-feely crap either. C’mon. I bet Ralto and Tal are worried about the cab we just called.”
After shooting one last worried look back at the helpless Tarisians stuck in the tanks of liquid, Faith followed Vira back to the entrance of the ruin.
Major Cortland was pacing back and forth, obviously nervous. Master Ralto looked pensive, but Faith could tell through the Force that he was a bit on edge as well.
“You guys doing all right?” Faith asked.
“For the time being,” Ralto said calmly. “And what about you, Faith? Have you come to any conclusions since you took off?”
“A few, yeah,” Faith said. “I still think that it’s a mercy to kill those people stuck in the tanks, and you’re not gonna convince me otherwise. As for killing the Imps… I dunno. They weren’t exactly playing nice here. I know I killed ‘em, but I’m not enjoying it or getting a thrill out of it, okay?”
“That’s a shame,” Cortland said darkly. “Some of the things the Imps have done make this look like child’s play. You’ll learn to hate them soon enough.”
“I certainly hope not,” Ralto said. “But that is a conversation for another time, I believe. We heard a sound from your area, but I sensed no worry on your parts. I take it everything is all right?”
“We found the Imps’ hidden entrance,” Vira said. “Some sort of turbolift that goes through the ground.”
“We’ll check that out later. Do we still have to stick around for this thing?” Cortland asked, gesturing at the ruin. “It’s giving me the creeps.”
“We made a dent already,” Faith said. “I just don’t know how. Remind me what we were doing when it opened a smidge.”
“Well,” Ralto said, closing his eyes and concentrating, “you were focusing on the ruin, and I believe I was chastising you for your recklessness.”
Faith nodded. “Right. Something we said or did must have triggered a reaction. Not sure what, though. We’re not in the same state of mind, so let’s go over what we said.”
“Master Ralto went over what’s been happening since we arrived on Taris,” Cortland said. “He mentioned the clinic, then the Rakghouls, then pretending to be a Sith, and then killing the Imps. After that, he started to talk to you a bit more directly but didn’t get very far before the doors budged a bit.”
Faith closed her eyes and tried to shut down her roiling emotions. It was easier now that she’d had her talk with Vira. ‘There is no emotion,’ she reminded herself. ‘There is peace.’ It was a platitude that she didn’t agree with all the time, but it was a helpful mantra for calming her mind.
Faith felt the Force flow through her and granting her clarity of what had happened.
“`I wonder,’” Faith repeated Ralto’s words, “`Jedi Lehane, if you.’ That’s what-“
She didn’t get to finish telling Master Ralto what he had said, since the four of them were drawn to the ruin’s doors, which had crept open a little bit more.
“It’s progress,” Faith said. “Not enough room to squeeze through yet. So, we have a password. Jedi?”
The ruin did not react.
“Your name, Faith,” Vira said darkly. “Something about your last name: Lehane.”
Vira’s words provoked the ruin into opening a bit more.
“Fascinating,” Ralto said. “Though I imagine that your name, Faith, is not quite the word the ruin is looking for. Perhaps a variation on the pronunciation will do the trick. Lehene. Lahane. Lehon.”
The first two words triggered small movements in the door. The third caused the giant stone doors to open entirely, causing vibrations in the ground as they ground against the floor of the cave.
“Remember that last one,” Faith said as she drew her lightsaber. “We’ll need to look it up if we ever get out of here. Weapons out, everyone. No telling what’s inside here, so let’s go in ready for anything.”
“Right behind you, Faith,” Vira said, and Faith sensed a growing bond of trust from the one-eyed redhead.
“I can’t say I like this, Faith,” Ralto said, “but I sense we need to see what is inside. I am ready.”
“I’m with you all,” Cortland said. “I just have to ask, though: Am I the only one who has a really bad feeling about this?”
“Nope,” Faith said. “C’mon. In we go.”
The four of them turned their wrist-mounted flashlights on and advanced into the ruin. They met a stone wall with another door built into it. There didn’t seem to be a handle or opening mechanism.
“Allow me,” Ralto said.
The Nautolan Master reached out with one hand and concentrated. The door slid open slowly and shakily, but it opened all the same.
“You all right, Ralto?” Faith asked.
“Mostly, I believe,” he replied. “This place is strong in the Dark Side of the Force. We are already on our guard, but there may be things down here worse than what we have encountered so far. Do not give into fear.”
“Sure thing,” Cortland said nervously. “No fear, right.”
“Hey!” Faith said harshly, striding over to the dark-skinned Major. “Get a hold of yourself! You’re no good if you’re all jumpy like this.”
Faith took the tall man’s head between her hands and forced his gaze down towards her own eyes. “Look at me, Tal. We are going to get through this, and we’re all going to be more than fine, and then we’re going to go and get so drunk that the hangover will make this place seem like a picnic. You with me, Tal?”
Without meaning to, Faith put more into her words than just her voice, and the Force served to reinvigorate Tal Cortland and steady his resolve. He nodded back at Faith. “I’m with you, Faith. Thanks for having my back.”
“Thanks for having mine,” Faith retorted with a smile. “Let’s go.”
The four companions marched through the door into a room that was lit with several glowing purple and orange crystals arranged on the walls like torches.
In the middle of the large room was a droid unlike any that Faith had seen before. It was easily taller than her by a few feet, and it had several arms and legs with a number of nasty-looking instruments on their ends.
The droid spoke in high-pitched language that Faith didn’t recognize.
“Did you understand that?” Vira asked. “Any of you?”
“I didn’t,” Cortland said.
“Nor did I,” Ralto concurred.
“I can say ‘donde esta el baño,’ but that’s about it,” Faith said.
Nobody asked for a translation, so Faith didn’t elaborate.
The droid said something in a different language that Faith didn’t recognize.
“I think I’ve heard that before,” Cortland said. “That sounded like the Selkath language.”
“There are Selkath on Taris?” Vira asked.
“What’s a Selkath?” Faith queried.
“They’re an aquatic species from Manaan, which provides the Republic with most of its kolto,” Cortland explained.
Faith knew enough to know that kolto was the primary healing drug in the Republic, but that was about it.
The droid cycled through another set of languages, some of which were recognized by Tal and Vira, even if they didn’t understand them. Faith got the feeling that Ralto could understand what the droid was saying, given the vibes she was getting off of him through the Force. She guessed he was staying quiet for the benefit of the three humans.
After another five languages…
“Who enters the domain of the Builders?” the droid said in what passed for both English and Basic. “Who dares to claim knowledge of Lehon?”
“We don’t know what Lehon is,” Faith declared loudly. “My name is Faith Lehane. I am a Slayer and a Jedi Knight. Who or what are the Builders?”
“Your name is a testament to the Builders’ legacy,” the droid said. “The Infinite Empire of the Builders is eternal and indisputable. Are you prepared to carry out the will of the Builders?”
Faith swore the temperature in the room dropped several degrees. Whoever or whatever these Builders were, they sounded like the equivalent of a Big Bad back home.
“What is it that the Builders want?” Ralto asked carefully.
“Faith Lehane: you will silence your lessers,” the droid said without inflection.
“Whoa. I think it believes I’m special or something,” Faith said. “Just let me handle this.”
Locking eyes with her three companions, Faith saw and felt their worry along with their silent trust in her.
“All right,” Faith said. “What do the Builders want?”
“Before you are entrusted with the will of the Builders,” the droid said, “you must face a test to prove that you are who you claim to be.”
“You calling me a liar, you fucking hunk of metal?” Faith spat at the droid.
The droid did not reply, but a whirring sound caught Faith’s ear, and she turned towards a corner of the room which was lit by three purple crystals.
There was a flash of light, and a large tripedal droid was suddenly looking at Faith, and she knew it was targeting her.
“Fucking droids,” Faith growled. “You wanna play? Fine by me.”
The droid raised four arms, each with a deadly-looking laser cannon on the end, and it opened fire.
Faith didn’t wait for her allies to help her out. She was tired of being tested and questioned and having to prove herself to anyone other than herself. Acting purely on instinct, Faith leaped forward at the droid, letting the Force propel her through the air.
Landing atop the droid’s head, Faith slashed her lightsaber through the two arm-cannons on its right side, severing them. The droid tried to shake her off, and Faith dropped her weapon.
An arm tried to reach backward to shoot her, but Faith wrapped her legs around the droid’s elongated head and ripped the top-left arm off with her bare hands.
Summoning her lightsaber with the Force, Faith sliced the final arm cannon off, dropped to the ground, and then cut off the droid’s three legs.
Finally, with a surge of anger, Faith grabbed the droid’s head and ripped it off of its immobilized body and tossed it aside.
Faith let herself breathe once the fight was over, and she sensed the awe from her companions who hadn’t had time to react to her fight with the droid before she’d entered the line of fire. She could also sense Ralto’s worry at her anger, but Faith made sure to steady her breathing and keep calm. If she had to face these Builders, then she needed to keep her head clear. Rushing into a fight blind was a good way to get killed.
“I’m okay,” Faith said as she walked back over. “I’m fine. And I think I just aced your test. Should’ve given me the written first.”
“You have passed the trial of strength,” the droid said. “You are ready to carry out the will of the Builders. You will use the knowledge of this place to find and activate the Purge Engine.”
“What’s a Purge Engine?” Faith asked, not liking the sound of the thing.
“You will use the knowledge of this place to find and activate the Purge Engine,” the droid repeated as its arms began to shift.
A cavity in the droid’s body revealed itself, and a small sphere floated out of it. It spun around rapidly, but Faith didn’t back away. She didn’t think it was a threat.
In a flash of light, the sphere was gone, replaced by a map of what could only be the galaxy. A purple light glowed on the outer edge of the map with several lines extending out from it, and there was a glowing orange dot midway between the endpoints of those lines.
After Faith had already taken in the existing information, a green dot appeared on the map at a place where she remembered the ship’s computer telling her that Taris was located. Just like the purple dot, a number of white lines stretched outward from Taris at varying lengths.
“Fascinating,” Ralto said. “It appears as though the map is trying to tell us where to go next. If we look for a midpoint between these lines’ endpoints, then we should find our destination right about… here.”
Ralto pointed to a place on the map, and it lit up in a flicker of red light.
“We should report this to the Jedi Council,” Master Ralto said. “They’ll want to know of this.”
“We can contact them from the ship,” Faith said. “I’m thinking we should find the next place on the map before the Empire does. What’s that purple dot over there?”
“That’s somewhere in the Unknown Regions,” Cortland said. “The only Republic presence I know of out there is on Ilum, and that purple light is a bit too far away to be Ilum. Probably Imperial space.”
“Just great,” Vira said. “So the Empire’s already on the trail of this Purge Engine, whatever it is.”
“Fun times,” Faith said darkly. “I don’t suppose we can take this info with us? Download it or whatever?”
“Maybe,” Vira said. “Let me see if my datapad is compatible with whatever this is.”
As if in response to her question, the light of the map began to flow into a funnel that spiraled into Vira’s portable computer, which glowed with a soft white light once the transfer was complete.
“All right, boys and girls. I say we get the hell out of here now,” Faith said. “Any objections?”
“None from me,” Tal said.
“I’m ready to move,” Vira agreed.
“We should go,” Ralto concurred.
“All right, then. Let’s move out,” Faith said confidently.
As the others started to file out of the ruin, Faith felt them not just agreeing with her, but heading out because she’d given the order, almost. It was as if they trusted her enough to follow her lead.
“Just be Faith,” she repeated to herself, remembering her earlier conversation with Vira. “I can do this.”
Casting one final look back at the droid with too many arms, Faith steeled herself and resolved that whatever Lehon was, she wasn’t going to be purging anything for any empire: Not the Sith Empire, not this so-called Infinite Empire, and for one else either.
She was Faith Lehane, she was a Slayer and a Jedi Knight, and she was okay with that.
Faith closed her eyes and mentally shed herself of the darkness pervading this place. ‘Just being Faith’ might not be easy, but it was what she had to do.
Just before she moved to follow her companions and exit the ruin, Faith sensed a flicker of something from where the map had been. It wasn’t anything in the room with her, but she almost felt like the droid and the ruin were allowing her to sense something somewhere else in the galaxy.
Something hot and powerful and sexy was just out of reach, and Faith felt a sudden rush of longing.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Wars do not belong to me. Specifically...
Master Ralto: original
Major Tal Cortland: original
Lieutenant Vira Septus: original
Balmorra: not mine
Taris: not mine
Rakghouls: not mine
Builders: not mine
Lehon: not mine
Purge Engine: original
Special Thanks to Sithspit for beta-reading this chapter. You are a life-saver, my friend.
If you enjoy the chapter, if you think it needs improvement, or if you just have something to say, please do leave a review. Feedback is always appreciated, and it is often very helpful. I write this story for you, the readers, after all.
Many Thanks to all of you for reading, and I hope you enjoy this chapter!