Slayers of the Old Republic
Book V: Tatooine
By Michael Weyer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer owned by Ten Mutant Productions
Star Wars owned by George Lucas
Knights of the Old Republic created by BioWare Entertainment.
So here we go with a visit to a most familiar planet in SW lore. As always, all comments are welcomed.
Carth made his way through the hallways of the Ebon Hawk before coming to the quarters he was looking for. He knocked on them. “Hey, Faith? You in there?”
“Yeah,” she called out.
“Come on in.”
Carth did and had a look at Faith dressed only in underwear as she did a series of push-ups. He immediately backed up and slammed the door shut. “You told me you were decent!”
“Hey, I think I’m a damn sight better than decent!”
Carth sighed. “Can you put something on quick? I need to talk to you.”
Sighing, Faith rose up to throw on some pants and a shirt. She opened the door for Carth. “Okay, what’s up?”
Carth entered and crossed his arms as he drew a deep breath. “I need your feedback on the Jedi.”
Faith frowned as she wiped at her brow with a towel. “What do you mean?”
Carth bit his lip. “Well, with Jolee, we’ve got five Jedi on the ship. That’s a situation that makes me nervous.”
Faith’s frown deepened. “Listen, Carth, I’m not one for beating around the bush. Just what are you trying to say?”
Carth looked at his feet. “I used to think the Dark Side was just some fancy word the Jedi came up with, to excuse the ones who fell. Now…well, I think there is something out there. Something that tempts Jedi, that tries to lure them in.”
“So, I need to know if these Jedi can handle it,” Carth said in a cool voice. “Because we’re on a mission for the Republic. I’m not going to let them ruin it.”
“Hey, hey, hey,” Faith cut in, her face getting hard. “Listen, I’m no fan of the Jedi either. But I do trust Buffy and I think she can handle what’s coming.”
Carth shook his head. “We got a saying on my planet. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Faith raised an eyebrow. “We had that saying on my planet too.”
“Then it must be true.” Carth brushed back his hair. “Look, I know she’s your friend but…She, all of them, are tapping into some major power. Juhani nearly fell to it. I’m not going to hang around waiting for them to fall and suck us in.”
“What are you talking about here?” Faith demanded. “What, you wanna just shoot them now!”
“Of course not! I just think we need to be careful…”
Faith rolled her eyes. “Carth, if you’re asking me to spy on them, forget it. I’m not doing it. Maybe I don’t like Bastila and I’m not sure about Vance but once again, Buffy is someone you can trust, no matter the power she’s tempted with.”
Carth shook his head. “I shouldn’t have expected you to understand. You don’t know what the Sith are like.”
“I was there on Taris so don’t you dare say that again,” Faith hissed as Carth turned away. “You can’t just assume the worst about people, you know that? Believe me, I’m speaking from experience on this.”
Carth began to walk away. “You can do what you want. I’m not going to stand around and get betrayed again.”
“They won’t. I won’t.” Faith followed and hung in the doorway, yelling at him. “I’m not Saul!”
Carth barely paused as he marched away. Faith snarled as she slammed the door shut, stripped and went to her exercises with even more fervor than before.
Jolee entered the hold the Jedi were using as the training room and watched as Juhani and Bastila dueled. The Cathar ducked a slice and came up to bring her lightsaber against Bastila’s. The human Jedi whirled and let out a Force wave that knocked Juhani off her feet. She managed to flip back and land on her heels but found herself looking at Bastila’s yellow blade.
“You must always be mindful,” Bastila stated. “You cannot count on only your skills with the blade in a battle, Juhani. You must be ready to use the Force at all times in order to defend yourself.”
Juhani shook her head. “I try but…In the heat of battle, I fear using the Force may tap into the Dark Side.”
Bastila nodded. “Yes, I understand that. But you must still use what is needed, Juhani.”
“Give her a break, Bastila,” Buffy said. “She’s trying her best.”
“There is no try,” Bastila stated. “You know that. We must try to focus in battle. It is one thing I learned quickly, thanks to my gift. Yet even I must train to keep my abilities keen.”
Jolee saw Buffy roll her eyes at Vance with a “here we go again” expression on her face and chuckled. It looked like this young lady wasn’t going along with Bastila’s words, which he could agree with.
Juhani frowned as she rose up. “So you say you are able to control this power you have?” she said and there was something in her tone that got Jolee’s attention.
“If you are so powerful, then why could Taris not be saved?" Juhani snapped.
Bastila tried to explain. "It does not work like that. It-"
Juhani turned on Buffy then. "If it were not for you and your precious Bastila, the Sith would have never had reason to destroy that world! It was your fault for being there, and your fault for rescuing Bastila! Without your intervention the Sith would have had no cause to lay waste to my childhood!"
“Oh, shit,” Buffy whispered. “Taris…”
“Was my home, yes!” Juhani spat. “I learned of its destruction just before I dueled Quatra and it was the anger that drove me to almost kill her!”
"Now wait a minute,” Vance interjected. “What happened to Taris was not Bastila's fault, or mine."
"What did you think would happen by aiding the Republic?"
"Certainly not that!" Bastila interjected.
But Juhani was too caught up in her pain to stop. "Just let me vent my anger! I need someone to blame…something...anything! I hated that world, yet everything I learned as a child I learned there. It is as much a part of me as the air I breathe. I have this ache inside me where all my childhood memories lay, and I find your face there with them. If it was not for you, that world would still exist! It is so hard to lose your entire past. You would not understand."
“Yeah. I would.” Buffy’s words were quiet but strong, cutting through Juhani. The Cathar slowed her breathing as she got herself back under control.
"I…I suppose you did what you had to and it could not have been avoided. The Republic needs you and Bastila. Maybe needs you more than it needed Taris."
"I do not wish to speak of this anymore. Please excuse me." Juhani fled, leaving the other Jedi gaping after her.
“Damn,” Vance muttered. “I wish she’d told us earlier.”
“Indeed,” Bastila said with a deep sigh. “Perhaps I would have told the Council taking her alone was a bad idea.”
“Why?” The three turned to where Jolee was leaning against the bulkhead. “Because she’s torn up about losing her planet? That’s something to be expected. You can’t control natural emotions.”
“But we must,” Bastila stated. “If we do not, they will destroy us.”
“Come on, Bastila,” Buffy intoned. “I get annoyed and shit all the time, it’s a human reaction.”
“We are supposed to be above that,” her teacher stated.
Jolee let out a loud snort. “Oh, please, child.”
Bastila turned toward him. “Excuse me?”
“You know what I hate?” Jolee paused and shrugged. “Well, lots of things. I’m old and easily annoyed. What I hate is how people think about the Jedi, like we’re perfect, like we’re meant to be above everything else. That we can do no wrong.” He seemed to emphasize the last words. “But we’re not.”
Bastila brushed her hair back. “We must be above passion, Jolee. That can lead to the Dark Side.”
“Passion unleashed, yes,” Jolee noted. “But not simple reactions. You can’t be led to the Sith if you’re feeling ticked off about not eating enough or missing an important shuttle. There’s no way you can control that so why try?”
Bastila sighed. “It is not that easy and you know it, Jolee. We must be mindful of our feelings. That is why attachment is forbidden.”
Jolee rolled his eyes. “Oh, don’t get me started on that. Of all the idiotic and totally unnecessary rules the Council ever came up with, the idea of forbidding love has to be the topper.”
“Excuse me?” Vance asked, seeming interested at this. “You don’t think a Jedi falling in love is bad?”
Bastila gaped. “Of course it’s bad! It’s disastrous! Being overwhelmed by emotions such as those…”
“Let me ask you this: have you ever been in love? Truly in love, I mean, and not simple infatuation." Bastila just stared at him as if he were insane. Jolee didn't mind, he had grown used to it. "The Jedi, with their damnable sense of over-caution, would tell you love is something to avoid. Thankfully, anyone who's even partially alive knows that's not true."
Bastila simply stared at him as Buffy and Vance became more interested in what the elder Jedi was saying. “All this nonsense about avoiding love is so much foo-foo. Love doesn't lead to the dark side. Passion can lead to rage and fear, and can be controlled, but passion is not the same thing as love."
Bastila was decidedly not convinced. "What about the pain it can bring? Surely you can see the wisdom of not permitting emotional attachments. Love can only obscure and confuse the matter."
“As much as I hate to say it,” Buffy announced. “Bastila has a point. I’ve been in love before. My first time…” She sucked in her breath. “He…changed. He became a killer. He killed people just to get at me. And another time, with someone else, he…” She shook her head. “Let’s just say neither time ended well…In fact, both times ended with me wanting to die and end the pain.”
"Love causes pain, certainly,” Jolee said in a soft and soothing voice. “Inevitably love is going to lead to as much sorrow and regret as it does joy. But how you deal with the bad part of love is what determines your character, what determines the dark side's hold over you. Controlling your passions while being in love, that's what they should teach you to beware. But love, itself, will save you, not condemn you."
Bastila shook her head. “I refuse to accept that.”
“That’s your choice but it won’t change the facts. Then again, a little detail like that never really bothers the Council, now does it?”
Bastila grit her teeth. “You spend twenty years hiding in some forest and you think you can dictate to me how to act…”
Jolee smiled. “Hmm….getting irritated, are we? Angry? Upset?”
“Yes, damn you!”
Jolee leaned in. “And are you ready to swear allegiance to the Sith and join the Dark Side?”
Bastila’s face fell as she realized too late she’d been suckered. Jolee backed up, the smile still on as he turned to walk away. “Thus endeth the lesson.”
Bastila stood for a long moment, trying to soothe herself. She didn’t bother looking back before marching out of the hold, leaving Buffy and Vance alone to think about what they’d just witnessed.
“Interesting discussion,” Vance noted. He turned to face Buffy. “Are you okay?”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah, why?”
“Just…” He sighed. “I don’t need the Force to sense what happened to you in the past hurt. With this guy, whoever he was.” He paused and put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m worried, that’s all.”
Buffy paused before shrugging the hand away. “Maybe Bastila’s right. Maybe we’re not meant to fall in love.”
“Maybe,” Vance said. “But I think we can still be allowed to have friends. If that’s okay.”
Buffy looked over her shoulder with the slightest of smiles. “I guess.” She smiled more. “So…how about a friendly sparring match?”
“Sure,” Vance said as he lifted his lightsaber. “I’ll take it easy on you.”
“Good,” Buffy said. “That makes it even better to kick your ass.” She lit her lightsaber and moved in.
Carth entered the cockpit and sighed as he slumped into the pilot’s chair. Canderous was looking at the readouts on the co-pilot’s seat, looking up at him. He saw the tired look on Carth’s face and smiled. “Let’s see…either the Jedi Princess or that feisty brunette.”
“Faith,” Carth confirmed as he leaned in to check their position. “That woman is so damn infuriating. She and my wife would have gotten along great!”
Canderous was surprised. “Didn’t know you were married.”
Carth was quiet before speaking. “I’m from Telos.”
“Ah,” Canderous noted. “That was a nasty one.”
“Don’t need to tell me,” Carth rasped. “Listen, I’m not going to discuss my family with you, okay?”
“Fine by me,” Canderous noted. “She is something though. Faith, that is. She’d have made a fine Mandalorian.”
It was Carth’s turn to be surprised. “I didn’t think you had women in your armies.”
“A benefit of the armor is that it keeps us completely hidden,” Canderous replied. “You’d be amazed how many fine warriors were actually women.”
Carth sighed. “It’s just hard to talk to her. I was trying to enlist her help to keep an eye on these Jedi.”
Canderous raised an eyebrow. “Ah…so you don’t trust Bastila either?”
Carth shook his head. “Something stinks about this, Canderous. I don’t know what but it does. She’s hiding something from all of us. You don’t give a Knight, no matter how powerful, such an important assignment and that doesn’t mention those apprentices of hers.” He bit his lip. “And Jolee…I don’t buy his story of just wanting to get off of Kashyyk. He could have boarded a ship long before but he picked us, at this time. Why?” He shook his head again. “It just doesn’t add up.”
Canderous nodded. “I’ve felt the same but chalked it up to my usual paranoia. But yes, there is something about this that feels wrong.”
Carth glanced at him. “Then how come you’re still sticking with us? You could have jumped ship back on Dantooine, found some new corner of the galaxy. Why keep going with us?”
Canderous shrugged. “I love a challenge and this promises to be a big one. I’ll stick with it until the end, whatever may come.”
“Even if it’s your death?”
“I’ve cheated death more times than I care to count. If I’m going to meet my end, it might as well be on a quest like this. A small band able to destroy the all-powerful Sith? That’ll be something to lay at the feet of Mandalore.”
Carth stared at him. “You’re insane, you realize that?”
Canderous simply shrugged as he checked the readouts. “Looks like we’re coming to Tatooine.”
“Coming out of warp,” Carth intoned as he hit some buttons. The ship exited hyperspace and sailed toward the large yellow ball coming toward them. Carth clicked a button to activate the loudspeakers. “All right, folks, we’re coming up on Tatooine. It looks like its morning there and the weather promises to be hot and dry, hot and dry this afternoon and, from what I can tell, hot and dry for the next hundred years. We’ll be landing soon.”
As he clicked it off, he became aware of Canderous smiling at him. “What?”
The Mandalorian chuckled. “Maybe that Faith is more of an influence than you’d like to admit.”
Carth just glowered as the ship moved into Tatooine’s orbit.
A bit more character deepening than I expected. Next part will be landing at Anchorhead and the meeting with KOTOR’s most popular character…