fan fiction scrollThe Reverend’s Fall: Part V

 Star Wars

The aftermath of the battle was far bloodier than Tidis was used to and he had to shield his nose and mouth from the smell. Victims cauterised by his lightsabre lay inoffensively in the sand, but the explosive grenade that Tidis had triggered had blown the retreating xan into pieces. The intense sun accentuated the smell of blood and a plague of spinal-flies had accumulated around the scattered body parts.
“We must reach the next waypoint before the xan merchants hear of their failure,” Nareen said. “I will programme the remaining droid to bury the dead.”
“Take one of the undamaged rifles,” Tidis suggested, “I will return shortly. I need to contact my superior.”
“Very well, but make it quick.”
Tidis left Nareen with the droid and moved out of earshot. He took a communicator from the inside folds of his cloak and keyed in a code before lifting the device up to his ear.
“This is Revere Nine,” Tidis said.
“Has the cargo been located?” A male voice asked.
“I am on route to destination.”
“Has the assignment been compromised?”
“The assignment had not been compromised, Revere Nine is continuing with directive.”
“Maintain contact until cargo is found.”
Tidis replaced the communicator and walked back to Nareen’s side.
“I believe you owe me your smile,” Tidis said.
Nareen paused briefly before lowering her head. She placed her hand around the front of her mask and pulled it free. With its removal, Nareen’s previously contained hair now fell about her shoulders. She raised her head, revealing large eyes; both her hair and her iris’ were dark blue in colour accentuating a red tint to her smooth skin. Nareen was indisputably beautiful.
“You are Zeltron,” Tidis said.
“Have you come across our people before?”
“Rarely, but I have met your kind in the distant past.”
“Then you will know that we are distrustful of the Jedi order.”
“If I remember correctly the Zeltron are distrustful of our religious practices, but not of our motivations. We have never had a conflictive relationship because we have never had a relationship to speak of.”
“Until now it seems.”
Nareen gathered her hair in a ponytail and replaced the mask.
“I have never seen a Jedi in battle,” she said, “they are most effective.”
Tidis laughed. “You make us sound like droids.”
“That was not my intention; you are an instinctive combatant, far removed from the involuntary actions of a droid.”
Tidis paused. “We should leave.”
The pair commandeered the only undamaged speeder and left the droid to bury the xan beneath the dunes.
Tidis shielded his face from the encroaching mantle of sand and listened to the wind.
He had always struggled with some of the Jedi teachings, in particular, principles of emotional restraint and a Knight’s obligation to disregard desire. During his training at the academy, he had developed a fixation on the concept of perfection, on the idea of bettering oneself to reach a standard of existence beyond comparison. During a profiling session, Tidis was confronted by Councillor Tarr, who had sensed this confliction in the Padawan. “What is occupying your mind?” Tarr had asked. But Tidis had evaded the question and left his desires buried, hoping ignorance and the passage of time would quell the fire.
Now Tidis was left with the image of Nareen’s impeccable features. He looked up to regard her as she directed the speeder. She had said her mask was worn for practical reasons but the Jedi believed there was another reason: a Zeltron – and one as striking as Nareen – would not be taken seriously at face value; within Brea’ Bas’ patriarchal society she would have been swiftly married off to a wealthy merchant. Tidis wondered if anyone else had glimpsed her face; he mused that even Remintago may not have.
“Why do you stare?” Nareen asked.
“I am thinking about the past, you provoked some memories.”
“You often wear the expression of a man with unresolved history.”
“Do I seem that troubled?”
“Not troubled, more reflective. Look, we have arrived at the waypoint.”
She extended her arm to the west. Tidis momentarily turned his face into the buffeting sand and observed their destination. The waypoint had a functioning navigation beacon, which flashed bright purple, contrasting the colour of the sloping dunes framing the enclosure.
Nareen powered down the engine and the vehicle came to a stop. She stepped off and immediately felt her feet begin to sink. “Be wary, the dunes around here are unstable,” she said.
“I have studied the history of Palikiti; it is hard to believe that just fifty years ago there was a metropolis here,” he said.
“Nerro’ Bas was many times the size of Brea’ Bas, a hub for merchants across the galaxy, then one day it was gone, along with a million lives.”
“News of the cataclysm reached us in Coruscant; my Master described the tragedy as a ‘jolt in the Force’.”
“Many a citizen of Brea’ Bas talk of a curse, they say that Palikiti is an evil land and they will not travel beyond the city limits.”
“And what do you think?”
“That Palikiti swallowed a city, just as it swallowed thousands of travellers before.”
Tidis stepped from the speeder and paced cautiously towards the navigation beacon. The purple light was intense and he found it difficult not to blink erratically.
“Where are the supplies?” he asked.
“There is an underground bunker connected to the beacon.”
She searched the vicinity and quickly located the bunker entrance. She sifted through heaps of sand until she found a small metallic panel. Feeling along the side, her fingers met a convex button which she compressed. The bunker doorway moaned and stuttered before rising to a ninety-degree angle. Sand cascaded from the edges of the opening and formed domed piles below.
“How can we be sure the bunker has not been infiltrated?” he questioned.
“Only the Pasha and I know of this place.”
Tidis nodded and followed her down. He noticed the elegance with which she moved, how her hips swayed delicately, how her even posture alluded to a higher societal status.
“The supplies are in the vault,” she said, “we can take what we need.”
The bunker was supported by six decrepit pillars leading to a small vaulted cell at the far end of the room. As they passed through the arch to the vault, Tidis glimpsed a collection of footprints encircling one of the pillars and trailing towards the shadowy recesses of the room.
Nareen removed the lid from the nearest crate and lifted out a laser rifle with a scope attachment. She slung the weapon over her shoulder and secured the support strap. Tidis walked over to the only other crate and placed his hands on the lid. He thought about the footprints, he thought about Nareen’s hips, about the gruesome remains of the xan mercenaries, he pictured the droid solemnly digging trenches in the sand and he pictured his severed arm suspended in fluid. He lifted the lid to the crate and heard the seal break. He watched the green vapours permeate the vault, he felt them travel up his nostrils and down his windpipe; the dense, acrid fumes acting like smoke but mimicking the properties of liquid. As he felt his head swim and his eyes blur, he turned to Nareen. She stood unaffected, gazing down at him, unblinking, the rifle in her hands pointing at his chest.

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