As the end credits rolled down the computer monitor, Rachel spoke, "that may well be the single most cheesy, unrealistic ending to anything ever."
"I thought it was nice and uplifting," said Willow. "Lots of warm fuzzy feelings."
Rachel snorted. "Come on, Wills. Vandar wouldn't have finished saying my name before people started trying to kill me. Or fled in abject terror. One of the two. Probably the second when I think about it."
"You're too cynical for your own good," said Willow. "Revan had just saved the galaxy and defeated the big bad Sith Lord. That has to be worth a get out of jail free card."
"And who was that Sith Lord's master, Wills?" asked Rachel. "I don't think you realise just how scared people were of me, and for good reason. I was not a good person to know back then. It's like having Darth Vader survive the last film. He'd have lived about as long as it took for the lynch mobs to find him."
"Cynical!" said Willow.
"Realistic is more like it," said Rachel. "Wonder what the Dark Side ending's like . . . Can't be any worse."
Willow just blew a raspberry at her. "Well, I liked it. And I especially liked the romance!"
Rachel's brows furrowed at that. "Feh. You try to be nice to the paranoid old git and suddenly he's madly in love with you. Typical."
"Well, I thought it was sweet."
"You would," said Rachel.
"It was you that kept the romance sub-plot going, you know."
"And it was you that nagged me into doing it!"
Willow just blew another raspberry at her.
"Real mature, Wills. Real mature," said Rachel with a small grin.
"I try," said Willow. "I've had fun, but I wish the others had played through the game with us."
Rachel shrugged her shoulders. "If it was a two hour movie they'd have stuck around, but a twenty-five hour game? And it's not like Buffy, Faith, Giles, or Oz are exactly interested in this sort of thing. I'm sure they'd be interested in a summary of things but the full thing is just too much."
They slipped into silence for a while after that, and Rachel noticed that the credits had finished, leaving the game back at the main menu, complete with the 3D model of Malak staring out at her.
"You know, they really did gyp Malak in that game," said Rachel. "He did not do that stupid villain laugh. Ever. And he wasn't an idiot or a coward, not like they made him seem. I've seen Malak take on dozens of Mandalorians at a time without flinching and he cut through Jedi like a hot knife through butter after he turned."
"Why do you care?" asked Willow, looking genuinely confused. "He's tried to kill you how many times now?"
Rachel suddenly felt very cold and instinctively wrapped her arms around herself. "He was my friend once, Willow. We were as close as any two people can be, closer than family, closer than lovers even. What he is now . . . it's my fault. He was always more of a follower than a leader and when I went down the dark path he followed, and I twisted him into becoming my apprentice."
Willow just looked like she didn't have a clue what to say.
"I really, really don't want to kill him Willow," said Rachel. "He's not beyond redemption, not really, but I don't think he'll listen to me of all people, and it wouldn't be right for me to leave my mess for someone else to clean up." After a moment of silence, she waved her hand in the general direction of the computer, "and that Revan? She didn't even realise what Malak meant to her when she killed him. Probably didn't even think twice about it. Damn Jedi Council, that's their fault. Couldn't heal her mind, my arse. It's just too damn convenient that she just so happens to remember the bits they need her to remember and nothing else."
Willow just looked at Rachel with wide eyes and took several moments before replying in a very quiet tone of voice. "So what are you going to do?"
"I will do my duty for the greater good," said Rachel, with a hint of bitterness. "I have no other choice. It's not like there's anyone else out there who can deal with him, and it's me he's fixated on."
"But . . . "
"It's not like it's anything I haven't done before, Wills," said Rachel. "Remember Jesse? Same situation, same end result."
"Jesse was a vampire," said Willow, looking deeply pained by the memories. "There wasn't anything we could have done for him, not then."
"I know," said Rachel. "Believe me, I know. I just hate that Jesse got cut down just like that when a monster like Angelus gets second and third chances. What's next? Spike showing up with a soul looking for redemption?"
Willow's eyes crossed for a moment before she burst out laughing. "I can't even begin to imagine that."
"Yeah, well I expect anyone who knew Angelus back in the day would say the same thing," said Rachel.
"You're not going to forgive Angel anytime soon, are you?"
"An apology would be a start, you know?" said Rachel. "Guy looks like a kicked puppy more often than not but would it kill him to actually say, 'I'm sorry'? It's pathetic. He likes playing the tortured soul but he doesn't do diddly to make up for the things he did wrong - just sits around in the dark moping."
"But he . . . he helps Buffy! He helped us that time those demons opened the hellmouth," said Willow. "So he does do stuff to make up for what he did."
Rachel waved her off. "Yeah, yeah. He helps out every so often but do you see him out on a normal night hunting vampires? No. He only fights when Buffy might be in danger and the rest of the time he just mopes. It's not like he has anything better to do, is it? He's a bloody vampire."
The patrol that night proved to be a bit of a bust. In all honesty, pickings were getting to be a bit thin on the ground with two Slayers and a Jedi roaming around the hellmouth. Apart from the semi-regular newcomers and speciality demons that stirred up trouble, there just wasn't a huge amount to do a lot of the time. Normal vampires seemed to have taken the hint and moved on or learned to keep their activities quiet enough that they weren't spotted and dealt with.
The current situation was probably inevitable, really. You can only kill so many idiots trying to pick up a meal at the local nightclub before the rest start to realise that it might not be the best of ideas to hunt there anymore and fan out, and once they've fanned out it becomes bloody hard to catch them in a town like Sunnydale. Place was like a bloody rat warren or something. And a few bouts of chucking molotov cocktails at the abandoned buildings they used as nests ensured their holing up in the bloody sewers from then on. And she wasn't stupid enough to go hunting down there without a damn good reason.
With that in mind, she almost - almost - thought she was being a little hard on Deadboy. It wasn't like there was much for him to do anyway, and he was the weakest of the supernatural fighters on the team these days. But then there was always one or two who'd slip through the net that might have been caught if he patrolled regularly, and if anyone should know how to catch vampires it was another vampire. There were times she wondered if he'd be better off somewhere else away from Buffy. Maybe then he'd get on with things instead of spending all his time pining after something he could never really have.
She felt something in the air as she entered the school library to report to Giles before heading home. Something was happening, something important. The fact that Buffy and Faith were there with Giles and all three looked antsy was a dead giveaway in itself really.
"What's going on, guys?" asked Rachel. "Oh, and for what it's worth, patrol was a bust. Caught a couple of stupid newbies but that's it. They seem to be avoiding me these days."
"Yo, Darth," said Faith. "We've just had some weird demon try to sell us some books about something called Ascension."
"That sounds important," said Rachel. "How much was it asking?"
"Five thousand," said Buffy. "Like we have five thousand to spare."
Rachel's response was immediate. "I could cover it, but it damn well better be worth it."
Buffy just gaped. "Where'd you get that much money from?"
Rachel smirked. "Have you seen those new laptop PCs with dozen hour battery lives?" At Willow's nod she continued. "The battery technology came from me and what I picked up from Halloween. I'm not short of money. The companies are virtually begging me to let them use the stuff I come up with these days."
They were all gaping at her now and she just rolled her eyes. "Come on. I told you what I was doing. Don't any of you listen?"
Giles was rubbing away at his glasses by the time Rachel finished speaking, "I didn't realise that you had been quite so successful," he said.
Rachel shrugged her shoulders. "You didn't ask," she said. "And the real money won't start coming in till summer when the royalty cheques for the last six months are due."
"Huh," said Faith. "Well, that settles that. We gonna buy these books, then?"
"Yeah," said Rachel. "But if they turn out to be a con I'm not going to be pleased. Bank's gonna be a pain in the ass too. They won't like me drawing out five grand in cash just like that."
Rachel was sat in the library tweaking her lightsabre when Buffy and Faith came stumbling in looking much the worse for wear, having to support each other to stay upright, the next night.
"Oh good Lord," said Giles. "What happened?"
"It was fuckin' insane," said Faith as both Slayers collapsed into nearby chairs, and promptly winced in union. "These weird robot things attacked us when we met the demon. Was like someone from the sci-fi channel."
Rachel's attention was quite suddenly entirely on the Slayers as they made their report. This . . . this was bad.
"We only just made it out of there, Giles," said Buffy. "Those things were tough."
"Still beat them, though," said Faith. "No stupid machine's gonna beat a Slayer."
"What sort of weapons were they equipped with?" asked Rachel. "Staffs? Swords? Guns?"
"They had these weird staff things," said Faith. "Stung like a bitch when they hit us."
"Yeah," said Buffy. "They made this weird buzzing noise too."
"Sounds like Malak built some duelling droids and sent them after you," said Rachel. "Those staffs should have knocked you out cold if they were working properly, though. Slayer constitution?"
"It seems likely," said Giles. "Slayers are much more resistant to that sort of attack than a normal human."
"Well thank fuck for that," said Faith. "Those hits hurt enough for me, thanks."
"I don't suppose either of you thought to collect the weapons for analysis?" asked Wesley. Honestly, Rachel was surprised he'd said anything. He'd been thoroughly cowed since the whole mess with Faith.
"Uh . . . " said Faith. "No?"
"Bit too busy trying to stay upright to grab any goodies," said Buffy. "It was all busted up anyway."
"Did you get the books?" asked Rachel.
"Well, you see . . . " said Buffy. "It's kinda like, um, well, the demon ran off with the money, and by the time the fight was finished . . . "
"Someone pinched the books," finished Faith.
Rachel proceeded to treat the occupants of the library to a litany of paint-strippingly horrendous obscenities from every language she had every learned, which, with Revan's memories, was a hell of a lot, finishing with a graphic description of just what the book thief could do with his haul and the near-impossible physical contortions he could make while doing so. By the time she was finished, Giles looked faintly impressed, Wesley's skin had taken on a distinctly green hue, and Willow just looked puzzled. Faith and Buffy just had completely blank expressions on their faces.
"I didn't know that it was possible to do that," said Willow. "And wow. Impressed."
"Only if you're very, very flexible," said Rachel. "And that's so not the point."
"And what is the point, then?" asked Giles dryly.
"The fact that we're utterly screwed, perhaps?" asked Rachel. "Our best, maybe only, chance of finding out just what the hell Wilkins is up to is in the hands of the enemy, and Malak's deploying combat units that we're just not equipped to face. Yeah, this is looking great, isn't it?"
"Well, can't you whip up something to help us out with the robots?" asked Faith. "You know, ray guns, or something?"
"Do you have any idea how much it would cost or how difficult it would be to do something like that?" asked Rachel. "I just don't have the resources to pull off something like that. Home-made explosives are about my limit right now."
"What about the staff weapons?" asked Willow. "They don't sound like they'd be too difficult."
"Wouldn't be very useful either," said Rachel. "You can't stun a droid and most demons have hides too thick for them to work on them either. These staffs are just over-sized, futuristic tazers, you know."
"I think that for now we should just keep our eyes open and see if any other opportunities arise like this demon's offer," said Wesley.
"Yes," said Giles. "That does seem the best course of action. It might be a good idea to check out the local demon bar to see if Willy knows anything also."
Rachel slowly traced the paths of energy flowing through her body as she sought out a way to trigger the transformation back into Xander. Most of her concentration was on the groin and heart chakra points - which encompassed sexuality and identity amongst others, less relevant to the issue, things. The other chakra points showed some interesting things - the brow chakra was positively blinding, for example - but it was more idle curiosity than anything useful that made her look at those.
The way the energy knotted up at the groin and heart chakra points certainly didn't look to be natural. It looked a lot more forced than the other points, even the ones that had been artificially strengthened by her connection to the Force. She reached out with her senses and took a closer look, definitely not natural. Those points had a real feel of chaos magic to them. They positively reeked of it now that she was looking for it and it wasn't a particularly pleasant odour.
With that discovered, she devoted her concentration to understanding the energy patterns that were circulating around those points. Hmm. The heart chakra was quite blocked but the groin chakra was so bunged up that barely a trickle of the energy there was actually moving. Very odd, but it explained a few things, like why her sex drive had dropped to almost nil overnight that halloween. It disturbed her quite a bit to discover that such an important part of her personality could have been so thoroughly disrupted without her even realising it. She'd thought it was normal - after all, the girls at school didn't seem half as hormonal as the boys. Not something she really wanted to think about.
Concentrating her energies, she took hold of one of the immobilised strands of energy and gave it a light tug. At first nothing happened and then slowly the energy at that point sped up. It was barely noticeable but it was definitely happening. Encouraged by this, Rachel began to tug at the other strands to loosen them, and the flow of energy through that chakra point began to approach normal levels. But this did not come without a cost. Manipulating her own chakra points in this way was tremendously difficult and she could feel her grasp on the Force slipping as the exhaustion began to slip in. Soon enough she lost her grasp and slipped out of her deep meditative state, but not before that chakra point was working at normal speeds.
But she was not male.
She levered herself onto shaky legs and looked around the room. Hmm, she did feel different, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. Ah, well, she could work with the heart chakra next time and see what happened.
"Are you quite alright, Rachel?" asked Giles.
She turned to look at him, and there was definitely something different, but she still couldn't put her finger on it. "I'm fine, Giles. Just a little tired and in need of a shower, I think," she said as she brushed the sweat away from her eyes. "I feel like I've ran a marathon."
"You look it too," said Giles, looking vaguely uncomfortable. "I don't think I've ever seen you in such a state."
Rachel sniffed at the air and wrinkled her nose. "Hmm, time for a shower, for certain. Maybe I'll get it next time."
She discovered the cause of Giles' discomfort when she looked in the bathroom mirror and saw that her shirt was soaked through with sweat and altogether too close to transparency for comfort. For a prim and proper guy like Giles - well, when he wasn't channelling Ripper - that would definitely be a cause for discomfort. It was times like this that she really wished that her robes were appropriate clothing to wear, but she'd attract far too much attention walking around in such outlandish clothing.
Patrol the next night proved to be as tedious as all recent patrols had been. If there wasn't a hellmouth, patrol would be a hell of a lot more effective, but with all that background noise swamping her senses and rendering them almost entirely useless at anything more than visual range. She was almost as supernaturally blind as Buffy in this town, and that was not a good thing. Buffy could fight as well as any Slayer that had ever been Called but she'd been well and truly gypped on the supernatural senses front.
With there being so very little for her to do and with the moon so far aware and not pressing her to hunt the abominations, she decided to call it an early night and head to the Bronze and see if anyone was hanging around there for her to spend some time with. She hadn't been to the Bronze in ages - there was always something more important that had needed doing, or she just plain hadn't felt like it - and she figured that it would make for a nice change from the never-ending meditations and the following abortive attempts to trigger the change to her male form.
As she approached the club she began to get an icy feeling of wrongness deep in her gut and sped up her walking pace. The idea of visiting the club was beginning to look like it hadn't just came from a personal whim. As she neared the teenage hangout, the feeling or urgency continued to grow till it felt like she had a family of snakes writhing around in her guts, which was not a pleasant experience. As the feeling of urgency grew, she broke into a jog. When she saw the battered door of the club hanging off its hinges, she broke into a sprint.
Her heart skipped a beat when she saw what was in the club. Two chunky but still recognisably humanoid combat units with blaster rifles levelled at Willow, who looked like a deer trapped in the headlights of an oncoming truck, and half a dozen or so vampires spread out across the club, also armed with blaster rifles, two of the vampires were moving towards Oz on the stage. This was not a good thing. Rachel immediately wrapped the Force around her like a cloak and slipped into the shadows. She needed time, time to plan.
"Dead or alive, you're coming with us," said one of the droids in the typical nasally tone that comes from using really cheaply made vocoders.
"I don't think so," said Rachel in a carefully measured tone of voice. Hell with planning, this thing was threatening Willow.
The club immediately erupted into a hailstorm of blaster fire and the screams of the terrified patrons as they dived for cover. All the blaster fire was aimed at Rachel, and she was a whirlwind of motion as she swept her blade through the air and deflected each attack while step by step approaching the combat droids. They backed off from her, all the while maintaining a steady stream of blaster fire but they couldn't manage the volume needed to hold her down and within moments the two droids fell to the ground in neatly bisected halves.
The Force sang through Rachel now and her lightsabre was a blur as the blaster fire from the blaster-equipped vampires was deflected up into the roof of the club. She opened herself completely to the Force in battle for the first time since she'd been changed and she almost laughed out-loud at the joy she felt from it. Now this, this was the way things were meant to be, the way she was meant to be. She could see the vampires moves, their plans, formulate as the vampires came up with them, she could see the possibilities for where the next attacks would come from and where they would be aimed if those probabilities held. It was nothing else she'd ever experienced, even Revan's memories had not prepared her for this.
The meagre efforts of the vampires didn't even slow her down as she cut through them like a hot knife through butter. From her completely opening herself to the Force to the end, it couldn't have been more than thirty seconds.
"Intense," said Oz as he eyed the absolute destruction, just before Willow latched onto him for dear life and speaking became pretty damn close to impossible for him.
"Gather the weapons," ordered Rachel as she eyed the scene. There didn't seem to be anyone fatally injured and she hadn't felt anyone pass on and become one with the Force, but some of them were going to have nasty burns. "We cannot allow them to fall into the possession of the general public."
At that point Willow latched onto Rachel and began to babble at a pace so fast that even she with all experience of Willow-babble could not even come close to understanding it.
"Work now, breakdown later, Willow," said Rachel gently as she disengaged from the highly disturbed Willow. It seemed that pointing a gun at her got straight by all the mental strength she'd built up over the years and Rachel had a strong urge to find the personal responsible for this and tear their heart out.
As Rachel picked her way across the wreckage to where the remains of the droids laid, she took in the people at the club. Most had a distinct glass-eyed look to them, going into shock it seemed, but some looked far too alert for her tastes. She did not need to be dealing with the sort of attention this would gather right now.
"Forget this," said Rachel, lacing her words with persuasive power. "This is not something you want to be involved in."
That seemed to take care of the awkward ones and with that Rachel telekinetically hefted the droid wreckage into the air and departed, followed by a pair of weighed-down scoobies carrying enough firepower to make the US military jealous. Rachel just felt cold right down to the marrow of her bones. It was a miracle that someone hadn't been killed by Malak's little game. The time to end this charade was coming, she felt, and she really wasn't looking forward to it.
"Good Lord," said Giles, as they entered the library with their haul. "What on Earth happened?"
"Malak is stepping things up," said Rachel grimly. "He's equipping Wilkins' men with Star Wars level weaponry and building Star Wars level battle droids to top things off."
"We already found out about the droids last night, didn't we?" said Giles as Willow collapsed into a chair and Oz moved to comfort her.
"Duelling droids are one thing, these things . . . they're something else," said Rachel. "There's very little on Earth that could stop them short of heavy artillery. And vampires with blasters? That's all kinds of badness. What the hell will Buffy or Faith be able to do against something that's shooting at them?"
"Run like hell," said Faith, as she walked up behind Rachel looking distinctly displeased. "What the fuck is going on here, Jeeves, Darth? I didn't sign up to be an extra in the latest sci-fi flick, you know."
"This has to stop," said Rachel grimly. "I don't like it, but it's time to deal with Malak. And before we get to that, where's Buffy? If she's out there now . . . she could be in trouble."
"She's still too banged up from those things last night," said Faith. "She took a bad hit for me and it'll be a couple of days before she's back in the groove."
"Faith, I'd appreciate it if you could get in touch with her and warn her about what's going," said Rachel. "These droids don't need an invitation to enter her home and attack her."
"One of us has to stay here in case they attack, and I have the best chance of stopping them," said Rachel. "You should be able to get to Buffy's house and back unmolested with your skills."
"Fair enough," said Faith. "Hope you appreciate this, Darth."
And then Faith left.
"These weapons should help, at least," said Giles, while inspecting one of the blaster rifles.
"And how many of us can actually shoot?" asked Rachel. "It's not something I ever learned how to do."
"The use of firearms is part of Watcher training," said Giles, "so Wesley and I will be able to use these weapons at least. Buffy and Faith should be able to learn how to use them without too much difficulty too."
"Buffy can't stand guns, Giles," said Willow, coming out of her shock. "I doubt you'll get her to use them."
"Well she'll bloody well just have to get over it," said Giles. "I have no desire to see her get herself killed because she refuses to use the only weapons we have that will be effective against these enemies."
"Willow, I know you're pretty shook up, but I need you to do something for me," said Rachel. Oz glared at Rachel briefly when he heard what she said, but he soon looked away when she returned his glare. Ah, the privileges of being Alpha.
"What do you need?" asked Willow.
"I need to know where Malak is staying, and, if possible, the blueprints of wherever he is," said Rachel.
"You're going to attack him?" asked Giles.
"Attack implies that I am the aggressor," said Rachel. "I am not. I am simply acting in defence of the people Malak has threatened with this insanity. Deploying Star Wars level weapons on his planet . . . it's just unspeakably stupid. It'll draw an insane amount of attention unless he's stopped and stopped soon. Even the Sunnydale effect won't stop the government from coming in if they think they can get bigger guns out of it."
"This protection is going to take a while to break," said Willow. "It's a pretty good setup they've got on their computers."
At that moment Faith re-entered the library, "yo," she said. "B's been warned off going out."
"That was quick," remarked Rachel.
"There's this new-fangled invention, you might have heard of it, it's called 'the telephone'," drawled Faith looking altogether too pleased with herself for Rachel's tastes.
"Smartass," said Rachel. "I'm going to go get ready for this. I shouldn't be too long."
As Rachel dug through her wardrobe to find her Jedi robes, she found something else entirely: her Sith robes. For a moment she was tempted. Malak wanted to pick a fight with Revan? Well, she could give him Revan, alright. She could shove Revan down his throat till he suffocated on her. But she shook it off. She wasn't that person, not really, and certainly not these days. The red-bladed lightsabre was bad enough. She put the robes back on their hanger and went back to finding the Jedi robes. Dammit, she wore them so infrequently that she could never find them when she needed them.
Eventually she found them and after going through the rigmarole of putting them on - they were surprisingly difficult to don for such simple clothing - she began to fill the numerous pockets and folds with the various toys she'd constructed since Halloween. Thermal detonators, gas grenades, sonic grenades, shaped charges, all sorts of fun things - all in the robes and ready for her to use tonight.
"Shit, that's one big hideout," said Faith. Rachel had to agree. Malak had always been prone to excess and this was no different from his normal. Living in a mansion . . . sheesh.
"The sewer opens up right here in this room at the back of the mansion," said Giles. "That might be a good place to enter."
"No," said Rachel. "He'll be expecting that. And I don't want to have to deal with the inevitable vampires and demons I'll run into if I try that way. It'll be too damned noisy. I want to at least get into the building before I start blowing shit up."
"So what do you suggest?" asked Giles.
Rachel pointed at a location on the blueprint, "the mansion runs by a major road here. It shouldn't be too hard to plant a shaped charge there and get in that way."
"A shaped charge?" asked Giles. "You have access to that sort of thing?"
"Yup," said Rachel. "Built them myself."
"And what do you plan after you gain entrance?"
"That depends on what sort of defences Malak has," said Rachel. "I doubt he can build anything I can't deal with and he never was imaginative in the use of whatever he had available to him."
"You? What about the rest of us?" asked Faith.
"This isn't your fight," said Rachel sharply. "This is just another bout of Sith Vs. Jedi, and I'd rather you all stayed out of it as much as possible."
Faith snorted, "yeah, right. I'd say we lost that option when they started shooting at us with ray guns."
Rachel sighed. "Can you use the blaster rifles? Otherwise, you might as well not bother. Your normal weapons will be useless here."
"I can use any weapon," said Faith confidently. "It's just like a gun, right?"
"Pretty much," said Rachel. "Point at the enemy and pull the trigger. Recoil is minimal unless these are really shoddy blasters."
"Cool," said Faith, with that little kid with a new toy expression that all Slayers get when they get their mitts on a nice, new weapon.
"I'm in too," said Willow, resolve face firmly in place. "No way I'm letting you run off on your own for this."
"I'm there," said Oz.
"It would be rather cowardly of me if I did not also attend the battle," said Wesley, who'd turned up sometime while she was off getting her equipment.
"I'm coming, too," said Angel, stepping out of the shadows.
Rachel eyed the tall vampire with distaste written all over her face. "Buffy needs protection. That's your task."
Angel blinked, "but-"
"I have no use for soldiers I cannot trust," said Rachel coldly. "Go. Protect Buffy to the best of your abilities and know that any injury inflicted upon her will be visited upon you tenfold when I discover it."
And with that Angel signed, and left. No-one spoke in his defence. Rachel eyed those that remained and unconsciously shifted her body language and tone of voice to that of the commander who'd led entire fleets into battle time and time again. "Fine. But you will obey my orders. If I tell you to fall back, you fall back. If I tell you to retreat, you will retreat. If I tell you to retreat but stay behind myself, then you'll damn well retreat and leave me. There will be no room for argument or dissension on the field of battle."
"So why are we following your orders?" asked Faith, looking less than impressed with the idea of, well, following anyone's orders but her own, really.
"Because I was the Supreme Commander of the Republic Navy and ran a war the likes of which this world has never seen," said Rachel in a voice that was as cold as Arctic wind. "Because I know what I'm doing and none of you do."
Faith didn't exactly look happy with the idea but she acknowledged it with a grudging nod and none of the others seemed prepared to speak up after that.
"I will take point," said Rachel. "That way most enemy fire will be deflected before it becomes a threat. Giles and Wesley will be primary backup. They're the best shots. Faith will cover the rear. Oz and Willow, you will secure the transport and cover our escape when we're ready. Any questions?"
"Transport?" asked Oz.
"Your van," clarified Rachel. "It's either that or Giles' car. Any more questions? No? Well get your weapons and get moving."
The wall exploded inwards with a dull booming sound and Rachel immediately leapt through the new hole as an alarm started to blare, her lightsabre flashing into life as she moved into a defensive position, but there was no defensive fire as the others followed her into the building.
"Which way?" asked Giles, his eyes continually moving as he scanned the area.
Rachel closed her eyes and read the patterns of the Force for just a moment before opening her eyes again and taking off down the corridor to the left of their entry position. As the group approached the next turn in the corridor Rachel barked, "suppression fire, now!" as felt a group of vampires moving to intercept them.
Giles and Wesley immediately started filling the area with sustained blaster fire as Rachel reached into her robes and pulled out one of her sonic grenades. She quickly twisted the activation knob and bounced it round the corner towards the cowering vampires. "Cover your ears," she yelled as she folded the Force over her own ears for protection, a moment before the grenade exploded with a horrendous screeching sound and the vampires started screaming. When she rounded the corner a moment later she was treated to a rather pathetic sight: four vampires rolling around on the floor, clutching their ears and screaming in agony. It was but a moment's work to put them out of their misery.
"Follow," ordered Rachel, and they were off again.
There was no more interference till they reached a T-junction in the corridor they were following. With options of left or right, it was typical that luck that it was the narrow door in the middle of the junction that they needed to enter and that Rachel could sense numerous hostiles on the other side of it. She held up a hand and signalled the group following her to come to a halt. The way that Giles and Wesley were breathing hard from keeping up with the pace she was setting would have been quite amusing under other circumstances.
"What's up?" asked Faith.
"Multiple hostiles setup for ambush on the other side of that door," said Rachel as she groped around in her robes for the other shaped charge she'd brought with her.
"What are you planning?" asked Giles.
"Boom boom," said Rachel. Dammit she'd only brought the one shaped charge. Ah, well, time for a less precise explosive. She pulled a thermal detonator out of her robes. "Might want to take cover," she said as she dialled in the fuse time. As the others scrambled to take cover behind an uprooted heavy table that just so happened to be at the other end of the corridor, she set the fuse for thirty seconds and switched the detonator to active before moving to take cover herself.
Suffice to say, it made a big bang. The explosion was absolutely deafening, even with her hands over her ears, and there wasn't a whole lot of wall, or corridor, left after the bomb went off. Rachel immediately re-ignited her lightsabre and then charged the enemy position. The droids on the other side of the wreckage weren't like those that had been sent after Willow or the ones that had Buffy and Faith had fought - they were cheaply made and boxy in construction, designed to pack maximum firepower for minimum cost. The crossfire was absolutely withering and Rachel's reflexes were pushed to their limits as she defended herself from the sustained attack.
While Rachel was completely pinned down and incapable of even using her telekinetic powers to retaliate, the others were not so hard pressed, and soon the antechamber was the site of a pitched firefight with a stressed Jedi Knight right in the middle deflecting enough blaster fire to pin down your average platoon. Times like this, she really missed HK-47, that psychotic droid would have been right in his element in such a battle. Eventually the fire from the droids thinned out and she was able to begin fighting back, and the droids were soon dealt with at that point.
"Well, that was fun," she muttered. She eyed the stairs and took a quick reading of the energy patterns around the staircase. "This is it. Malak's at the top of those stairs with a small army of droids."
"Oh . . . joy," said a very bedraggled looking Wesley.
"You can help with the droids," said Rachel, "but once it's down to Malak you will leave. No questions asked. That is my fight."
"You sure, Darth?" asked Faith. "Sounds like a big ask to me, taking down that guy on your own."
"It is my destiny," said Rachel shortly. "I could duck the fight now but eventually it will come down to me and Malak whether I like it or not. The Force will not allow me to dodge this responsibility."
"Right," said Faith, obviously not impressed with 'destiny'.
"Keep your heads down," said Rachel. "This is going to be a warzone and none of you are trained soldiers. Take what shots you can, but your prime objective is to survive. Let me deal with enemy."
With that said, Rachel took a deep breath and centred herself, allowing the power of the Force to fully flow through and empower her. Then, with two mighty bounds, she scaled the stairs and was in the midst of a small army of droids, vampires, demons, and other assorted nasties, all equipped with Star Wars level weapons of various kinds. She'd cut down three vampires before the enemy forces could react, and then all hell broke loose. The volume of blaster fire was absolutely staggering and the only thing standing Rachel and death was her incredibly agility and Force powers as she dodged from place to place, never staying still long enough for them to draw a bead on her.
With her stick and move tactics firmly in mind, Rachel became a blur of frantic motion as she leapt from place to place, slicing a limb here and there, telekinetically throwing occasionally, and constantly whittling down the enemy forces. Even the droids equipped with heavy repeater cannons or duelling equipment proved inadequate to the task of stopping her and with the fire support of the rest of the group backing her - sporadic as it was with them having to dodge return fire - they were completely overwhelmed. In this state, she was the Force incarnate, and mere blasters would not stop her.
"You have regained your strength," said Malak in a strong, clear voice that carried all the way from where he was stood on a raised platform at the end of the gargantuan laboratory cum observatory.
Rachel deactivated her lightsabre and went into a loose, non-committal stance. "Like you didn't already know that, Malak."
"I had to test you, Revan," he said. "I had to know for sure that you were strong enough for this to be worthwhile."
"And to do that you had to send battle droids into a club full of kids?"
Rachel shook her head. "You never were good with subtlety," she said before turning to her allies. "Leave us. This is between me and Malak now."
"Are you sure, Rachel?" asked Giles. "I'd be happy to stay and help you," he said, glaring at Malak all the while.
"No, Giles," said Rachel. "This is Jedi business. Take the van and go. I'll meet you all at the usual place when it's over."
"Run along, old man," sneered Malak, "before I destroy you."
Giles started to move forward but Rachel placed a calming hand on his chest and shook her head, "not a good idea, Giles. Just go."
The others made some noises of protest but they soon left, leaving Rachel alone with Malak.
"Once again destiny has brought us together," said Malak as the last of the group filed out. "Once more we will do battle to determine who truly is the strongest of us."
"It doesn't have to be like that Malak," said Rachel. "It's not too late for you."
"Why do you persist in these ridiculous attempts to redeem someone who does not want redemption?" asked Malak. "You tried this at the Star Forge, too, and it failed. Why waste the energy?"
"Because I have no desire to kill you," said Rachel. "And unlike that Revan, I actually remember you. I remember growing up with you, going to war with you, and falling to the Dark Side with you."
"And you remember being betrayed by me," said Malak flatly.
"Yes," admitted Rachel. "But that is the way of the Sith. It would be rather hypocritical of me to hold it against you after some of the things I did, wouldn't it? Malak, please, I don't want to do this."
Just for a moment Malak wavered and some of the yellow seemed to fade out of his eyes. For one glorious moment, Rachel thought it might have worked. But then Rachel felt the darkness within Malak swell and grow as he wrapped it around himself like a suit of armour and his eyes glowed a brighter yellow than ever. The darkness he exuded now was so thick that Rachel almost felt she could reach out and touch it with her fingers.
"I am the Dark Lord of the Sith," said Malak. "And I answer to no-one!"
With that, the darkness swelled even higher and Rachel had but a moment's warning as she hastily ignited her lightsabre and blocked the thick torrents of lightning that spewed forth from Malak's fingertips.
"Damn it, Malak!" she yelled.
Malak didn't say another word. He just leapt from the platform and glided down to Rachel's level. This was it. Her old friend ignited his sabre, and, with an arrogant flourish, assumed a standard neutral forward stance. Rachel responded by igniting her sabre and lowering into a standard low guard position. She wouldn't bother with the normal tricks here. No overly-aggressive stance for intimidation value and no attempts to disguise which form she used. Malak already knew everything there was to know about her fighting style. She was a Makashi master, though she knew at least the basics of all the forms.
Of course, this knowledge also extended to Malak's form. He was a Shien master, possibly one of the greatest masters of that form who've ever lived. The fighting style he used was all about power, both physical and supernatural. Few could match it. Between his freakish physical strength and outstanding connection to the Force, he was a formidable foe. Add to that the fact that many wrote him off as a lumbering brute of no great skill, and he was rarely troubled in battle. She knew better than that though. He was deceptively quick and a wonderful tactician. It was strategy that let him down. He had never quite grasped the idea that you sometimes had to cede a battle to win the war. Too idealistic as a Jedi and too impatient as a Sith. It had been that idealism that the war had broken him of, and that had made his fall so very, very hard when it came.
Unsurprisingly it was Malak who attacked first, using powerful strikes in an attempt to overpower Rachel quickly. Not a bad strategy really, she thought, as she parried the strikes aside. He was massive and physically overpowering, and she, well, wasn't. All she could do was play the angles and try to knock the attacks away from her body without getting her blade smashed out of her hands, which would be real bad way to end the day as far as she was concerned.
Malak launched a powerful series of overhand strikes aimed at cleaving Rachel's head in two and her body shuddered with each attack she parried. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, she gathered the Force in her legs and leapt away from Malak to give herself some room to breathe. Malak rushed at her to maintain the attack but Rachel met him with the quick, precise strikes that characterised her style of duelling and kept Malak from being capable of overwhelming her.
It was almost like a dance as they moved around the cavernous chamber, the only sounds being those of their deep, even breathing and the crackling sounds of their lightsabres repeatedly connecting with each other. Malak hadn't let his form slip at all, it seemed, and it was taking a hell of a lot out of Rachel to keep him at bay. Fighting Malak was like fighting a force of nature and about the only consolation was that she knew it was just as difficult for him to fight her as it was for her to fight him, just in different ways.
Rachel danced inside Malak's reach and with a series of precise strikes she drove him back against a wall. A look of panic flashed through his eyes for just a moment, and then the darkness flooded in again. He snarled with rage, like a cornered animal, and then he attacked with everything he had and Rachel found herself on the back foot again as Malak bombed forward hammering away at her defences with all the subtlety of a nuclear bomb, and about the same amount of power.
Rachel fell back before the assault, letting Malak's power wash over and through her rather than trying to resist it with brute force. The look on his face was . . . it was animalistic, contorted with rage and hate, and even a little fear, she thought. Was this what she had looked like the few times she had tapped into the Dark Side since Halloween? Like some sort of rabid animal? It certainly wasn't an appealing thought to her, not at all.
The attack was ferocious and each and every blow she parried felt like a train smashing into her arms. Realising that she could not sustain this effort, she looked for a way out, analysing Malak's movements. Ah there it was. Rachel blocked an overhand strike aimed at her head and quick as lightning she dropped to the ground and swept Malak off his feet with a sweep kick to the ankles. She moved to deliver the killing blow but she hesitated just for a second and that was enough for the Dark Lord to deflect the blow and roll away.
Malak rolled onto his feet with cat-like grace and stood opposite from Rachel with his lightsabre held in front of him defensively. He looked like he wanted to taunt her but couldn't think of anything to say. They stood staring at each other across their sabres for a long, quiet moment before they both lunged forward as if by some unheard signal and started trading blows furiously, their blades little more than blurs as they both tapped deeply into the side of the Force that they called their own.
For Rachel, it was like staring into the heart of darkness itself. Malak was like a black hole in the Force with the way he was drawing on the Dark Side in this battle and he seemed to be growing more and more bleak as the battle drew on. Discarding those thoughts from her mind, she simply concentrating on the furious blows that they were exchanging. The way they were fighting, one simple mistake would result in some sort of injury at least, and something had to give because not even they could keep this up.
Eventually something gave. One of them misjudged a parry by a hair and a lightsabre sliced through and left a long, angry looking burn down their chest. Rachel staggered back clutching at the wound as the pain blazed through her, bringing stinging tears to her eyes. The smell of burnt flesh was strong in the air.
"Is this the best you can do, Revan?" taunted Malak. "Perhaps you are not as strong as I believed you to be."
Rachel, with a herculean effort, shoved the pain aside. She'd pay for it later, but she had to be alert right now. "I'm strong enough for this, Malak."
Malak smiled at her but there was no warmth in it at all. It was the smile of a predator eyeing up its next meal. And then he attacked, a furious blur of rage and hatred, as he attempted to finish Rachel off. She backed off, parrying and dodging frantically, wincing with every blow she countered as the burnt flesh on her chest pulled to and fro. Her mobility had been limited and she knew it. Gathering the Force around her, she backflipped away from Malak and his furious assault.
Malak immediately moved to chase after her and continue his assault, but Rachel was having none of it. Gesturing with her off hand, she lifted a large chunk that had been carved out of a combat droid and telekinetically hurled it at Malak. He leapt over it easily enough, but before he could glide back down onto the ground Rachel followed it up with another chunk of battle droid that smashed into him and hurled him across the room where he slammed into the floor with a loud thud.
"Perhaps you are the one lacking in power, Malak," taunted Rachel as he leapt back onto his feet, snarling in rage.
Malak's response was simple: enough Force lightning to power the state of California for a couple of months. Rachel was barely able to get her lightsabre into the way in time and it was all she could do to deflect the lightning, which was arcing around the room in insane patterns as Malak put all of the darkness he could muster behind it. Such was the force behind the assault that Rachel was forced to back off several paces. The sheer darkness behind the attack was like nothing she'd ever had pitted against her before, not even when she'd slaughtered the Sith Lords who'd carved up the Empire and took their place.
Eventually the attack tapered off and Rachel lowered her lightsabre. Something just didn't ring true here for Rachel. Malak was damned powerful, but not like that. That was the level that the great Sith Lords of history would have managed! It just didn't make any sense to her. Well, Malak at least seemed slightly drained by the assault, and Rachel took the time to centre herself and call upon the healing powers of the Force to try and make her wound more tolerable. She felt the puckered skin on her chest begin to smooth out and the pain began to ease off, but then she saw Malak charging, lightsabre swinging, and she had to let go of the power used for healing and resume battle.
Impossibly, Malak seemed to have grown even stronger. There seemed to be no limit on the amount of dark power he could summon and Rachel found herself hard-pressed to match his attacks with counters. Her mind worked furiously as she fought desperately to keep her body in one piece. Only her great skill and agility kept her from losing limbs at several points during the attack and she was being chased around the site of the battle like some sort of animal.
It just didn't make sense! She'd always been more powerful than Malak, and the computer game that documented the events after the betrayal didn't show anything to contradict that at all. Right now it felt like she'd gone back in time and picked a fight with someone like Exar Kun or gone forward and picked a fight with Palpatine. She was holding her own and making it bloody difficult for her opponent, but she was running out of options. This power had to be coming from somewhere. She knew that Sith would grow more powerful from areas of great darkness . . . the hellmouth, it had to be. Oh, wonderful. She was fighting a Sith Lord that was drawing on the power of Hell itself. Could it get any worse? Maybe an army of Dark Jedi to back him up? A few Star Destroyers? A Death Star?
Rachel rolled away and began to bombard Malak with chunks of debris to keep him at a distance. He'd never been the best at multi-tasking so it would keep him off her for a while even with his new-found powers. With that done she folded the Force over her eyes and focussed on the patterns of energy that surrounded Malak. Good God but he reeked of power at the moment. Even on the Star Forge or Korriban, hell, even Malachor V she hadn't been able to boost her power to that sort of level. She focussed deeper, looking for the links. Ah, there they were. Thick tendrils of power flowing into him, heading off in the direction of the school library. Perfect.
Well, there was more than one way to skin a cat. Malak had her beaten on raw power on this battlefield, but she still had a few tricks up her sleeve. She reached into the part of her self that was her presence in the Force and began to fold it over herself, diminishing her presence within the Force. It was a trick she'd picked up from her first master back when she was still a part of the Jedi order, and it was pretty effective. What a Sith or a Jedi could not sense, they could not fight, or at least not as effectively.
Rachel used a fierce telekinetic bombardment to distract Malak and then she seemed to dissolve into the shadows. That was her little addition to the tricks she'd picked up. Her master could disguise her presence, but she could physically conceal herself in the shadows, any shadows. It was something she'd pieced together from the Trayus Academy's library, one of the few things from there that she could use without fear of turning herself into some sort of freakish monster.
"You can't hide forever, Revan," said Malak, as she scanned the chamber, searching for Rachel.
"We'll see," said Rachel, using the Force to throw her voice over to the opposite side of the chamber where it echoed loudly.
Malak immediately span around to face that direction and lashed out with a deadly torrent of lightning that scorched the wall it struck badly. Rachel immediately sprang out from her hiding place and lashed out with a swipe of her lightsabre that would have eviscerated Malak had he not reacted with superhuman speed and twisted away from the attack. As it was, even with his incredibly reaction, he still received a blow that slashed open his armour and left a deep burn across his gut.
"Very clever, Revan," he gasped. "But you are not strong enough to defeat me here."
And with that Malak impossibly straightened up and resumed his offensive against a Rachel who was too caught by surprise to re-engage her disguising of her Force presence. Malak rained the blows in at a furious pace and Rachel soon found herself retreating before the powerful attacks. Eventually she caught one of Malak's attacks with a high block and before she could move to counter-attack, Malak slammed a kick into her gut that sent her rolling back across the floor, barely keeping her grip on her weapon, before she came to a halt, slamming into a pile of droid debris.
"It is futile to resist, Revan," gloated Malak as he stalked the winded Rachel. "Even if you were to defeat me, I have taken steps to ensure that you will never again know peace."
"Never been big on peaceful living, really," said Rachel. "And it's not like your plans ever works out anyway."
Rachel re-ignited her lightsabre and launched a series of probing strikes at Malak's defences, aiming for around the stomach area in an effort to take advantage of the wound she had inflicted. Malak proved up to the task of defending himself against the attacks but she forced him into a retreat several times as her strikes came too close for his comfort. Seeing this, Rachel stepped up the pace of her attacks and soon had Malak in a full-fledged retreat across the chamber as she pressed her advantage.
Feinting low and then striking high, Rachel came with an inch of bisecting Malak as he struggled to defend against the attack. As it was their sabres locked and spat angry red sparks everywhere as both combatants briefly struggled against each other.
"So you do have some strength left in you after all, Revan," said Malak, "but in the end it will not matter."
And with that he threw Rachel back with pure brute strength and began hacking away at Rachel with all the subtlety of a planetary bombardment. Rachel found herself unable to answer there attacks and once again fell back. For the first time in the battle she felt true fear rising up inside her. He was overpowering her completely and she was running dry on tricks that he didn't already know she could do. She could feel the Dark Side stirring within her, offering her the power she would need . . . and it was tempting.
She could feel the Dark Side whispering in her ear, promising her the power to defeat this treacherous upstart, to make her strong enough to defeat all her enemies, to make her so strong that she could rule this primitive planet for all time and re-establish a Sith Empire that would spread its rule across the entire galaxy. It was the same temptation that she had felt during the Mandalorian Wars, the same temptation she had eventually given into and the pull was strong.
On autopilot she ducked underneath a swipe aimed at her neck, and rolled away to put some room between herself and the Sith Lord. Moving to put a large amount of debris between herself and Malak, she reached into herself and tried to purge herself of these dark thoughts.
"I can feel your fear, Revan," said Malak. "And it is a sweet taste indeed. Do you realise your folly now? Do you realise the weakness of the Jedi way?"
Rachel didn't reply. She just kept her distance and sought to obtain the calm she needed, searching for that place she had inside herself where all emotion faded away to nothing and only the Force and its guidance remained. It was there but it was just outside of her grasp.
"There is no emotion; there is peace," said Rachel, as much to herself as to Malak.
"Jedi platitudes," spat Malak. "We both know that they hold little truth. Perhaps I should enlighten you as to the true nature of the Force before I destroy you once and for all."
It was closer now . . . almost there.
"You were defeated in the end, Malak, and by a Jedi no less," said Rachel.
Malak snarled and launched himself over the debris and into a furious series of attacks aimed at battering Rachel into submission through raw strength. But with the rage came sloppiness in the form, and Rachel was able to hold her ground against the assault, parrying each blow with precision born from years of experience and hard training as Revan and then herself.
"Is this the best you can do, Malak?" she taunted. "I've had better challenges from Korriban students."
The place within herself - she was almost there now. Malak growled at her and doubled the pace of the attacks, but still she held firm, giving no ground even against the maelstrom of dark power that was being unleashed against her, keeping an icy calm all the while.
"I must have been a true failure as a teacher if this is the best you can do, Malak," taunted Rachel. "I am ashamed to say you were my apprentice."
Malak roared in rage and charged, all subtlety gone from his mind, replaced by a bezerker rage born out of the Dark Side. And there she had it. Perfect clarity. She saw exactly what she had to do. She stepped aside, just one pace, to avoid Malak's charge and then before he could react she thrust her sabre backwards - straight through Malak's heart, leaving the tip of the blade protruding from his chest. And then the perfect clarity was gone, replaced by just Rachel and the mortally wounded Sith Lord behind her.
"It didn't have to end like this Malak," she said, her voice thick with regret, as he collapsed to his knees, clutching at the wound.
"It . . . it is the way of the Sith," said Malak. "You were my master."
"Nothing compelled you to follow that path, Malak," said Rachel. "You could have turned away from it."
"It does not matter," said Malak, coughing up blood as his body failed. "You . . . you have defeated me, but . . . this is not the end."
"Of course . . . " said Rachel, trailing off, as a sudden flash of intuition ran through her. "Oh please tell me you didn't."
Malak laughed, though that quickly trailed off into pained coughing. "Of course I did," he said. "My holocrons will ensure that the Sith are eternal, that you will never again know peace for the rest of your wretched life."
"I'll just have to destroy them then," said Rachel, "before they fall into the hands of those who could use them."
"I have . . . I have taken steps to ensure that you will never find them," said Malak. "Not before they are . . . used."
"You have condemned an entire planet out of spite," said an utterly disgusted Rachel. "I did not believe that you could sink so low."
"I am Sith," said Malak, as if that explained everything. Perhaps it did. And with that Darth Malak, Dark Lord of the Sith, breathed his last.
It was several long moments before Rachel's mind started working again. When it did, she immediately planned out her next moves: retrieve the books, retrieve Malak's lightsabre, set a thermal detonator to destroy the wretched place and everything in it, and then take Malak's corpse to give him a proper send-off. She encountered no problems executing the plan, and the explosion of the building was truly quite spectacular. Malak must have had some seriously flammable products in there.
The air was thick with the smell of burning flesh as Malak's funeral pyre went up in flames. It was not a particularly pleasant tradition to dispose of bodies in this manner, but it was the Jedi way, and she would observe the proper rites. As twisted as he had became, Malak had once been one of the greatest Jedi in the galaxy, and he had been a war hero the likes of which are rarely seen outside of fantasy. He deserved a proper funeral, even if she personally found the tradition to be quite revolting.
Strangely enough she had found it difficult to find any grief in herself for him. As much as she hadn't wanted to kill him, he had not done much to endear himself to her in recent time, and spitefully letting loose the Sith Order onto a primitive planet that was in no way equipped to deal with them was just evil. She realised that she hadn't exactly been the best of friends to him, either, since they'd started their slide into darkness during the wars and everything had gone to hell, but it still sat poorly with her that he had done such terrible things for no good reason.
Eventually she found that while she could not mourn the monster that he had become, she could mourn the man he had been, and the boy she had known when they trained as Jedi together. It had been Revan and Malak together against the galaxy for a long time before things had went to hell and you just can't forget that sort of closeness. She could mourn the loss of that, the way it had been corrupted into hatred and eventually violent confrontation. Yes, there was a deep sadness there for what had happened to that relationship.
As the funeral pyre dwindled away to nothing, her mind drifted to what Malak had said as he died. Sith holocrons. How in the name of the Force was she supposed to deal with that? Admittedly, her lycanthropy would extend her lifespan considerably, but she was not truly immortal, and she would become one with the Force eventually. If Malak had been intelligent about it he probably created several holocrons, and they were probably distributed widely, and enchanted to seek out those who would make use of them. She'd never be able to be sure that the Sith were completely defeated.
With that in mind, passing on what she knew, passing on the way of the Jedi, took on a whole new level of importance. It was something that had been at the back of her mind for a long time now, but now . . . now, it had to be at the front. The Jedi Order would have to be re-created to combat the threat of the Sith, and with that the world was condemned to be the centre of a war that would never truly come to an end. And, oh God no, she would have to be a Jedi Master, a Council member, hell, the leader of the council She could almost hear Vrook spinning in his grave now. Hell, he was probably attaining orbital velocity at the mere thought of such a thing. If she ever actually did it, he'd probably reach hyperspeed.
It was inevitable though. She could feel it in her bones. She would create a new order and she would lead it. That . . . that was not something she looked forward to. The last thing she needed was to have people looking to her for guidance. The last thing prospective Jedi needed was to have her as their shining example of Jediness too. She'd been planning on spending the rest of her life fighting demons and tinkering with machines, and maybe passing on what she knew when she got too old to be running around with a lightsabre. That was more than enough excitement for her tastes, but now she had bloody Sith to deal with of all things.
At least it would be a good few years before she actually had to worry about them. There was no way they'd show up any sooner than that. The Dark Side was easier to master, but now that easy.