Floating Lost

He awoke to a vision of glass cracking like a spider’s web and the sound of screaming in his ears. The screaming he had heard before: it was his mother’s, when he had killed her.

Brant dragged himself up from where he’d fallen asleep lolled across his desk. For a second, he wasn’t even sure which desk it was. Navy, the Covenant? The one he hardly used at Velmor? They all started to look the same after a while. He pressed his face against the cool glass of the window, cognition slowly trickling back in. He was on a ship, without helmet or mask. That ruled out two desks, and as for the other… the sigil on the wall was wrong. So not Navy, but the ISS-Relentless. Close enough.

The ship smell must have been what had stirred his dream. He has spent his earliest years aboard a ship. He had at first thought the stars outside the cockpit had been a pretty wall-picture, until his father had taken him out to help repair a panel that had come loose from the outside of the ship. “You must hold on tightly,” said the old Mandalorian as they crawled their way across the hull. “If you do not, you will be floating lost forever.” After that day, it had been Brant’s childish nightmare: the cockpits cracking and expelling him out into emptiness.

Yet that had been years ago. He had been a little kid. Why would the nightmares return now?

Perhaps it was that feeling of floating lost…

He sat staring out the window at the starscape for some minutes, before returning to his desk and calling up a holocom. After a few minutes of connection attempts, a familiar face took form in the holo, and Brant leaned his chin on his arms to peer into it.

“Well, this is a surprise,” said Kellaro. “What can I do for you, vod?”

Brant considered answering him in Basic, scolding him with a kind of vengeful sadism that he was not Mando’ade and so Kellaro shouldn’t speak Mando’a words to him. But the words never made it out of his mouth. “Did I ever tell you about Sun-Eater?” he said instead in the forbidden language, using the literal Mando’a translation of Karkemir: the name of the Force Ghost trapped inside him.

Kellaro’s face grew somber. “That was Father’s Sith name.”

“And the name of the Dark Side spirit who possessed him,” said Brant carefully. The truth was somewhat more complicated than that, but he didn’t have the will to explain. “I can speak to him. He sounds like Father, but he is not, and I could… really do with Father’s advice right now,” he added sheepishly.

“Why don’t you ask that master of yours?” Kellaro answered waspishly. “Coercing spirits is a Sith kind of thing, isn’t it?”

“I don’t remember Father that well,” Brant went on, despite — or perhaps in spite of — Kellaro’s reluctance to talk about the matter. “You do. Probably one of the only ones alive now who does. You’d know better what he’d say.”

“I don’t know…” said Kellaro.

Brant said nothing for a long moment. He hated saying it, but… “Please.”

“The Shadow Covenant…” said Kellaro in awe, some minutes later. “We used to hear stories about them! And you! You now lead…? I guess it makes sense given your master, but won’t you get in trouble for telling me?”

“Not anymore,” said Brant. “As Revenant, I can be known now as a Shadow. I simply prefer not to be. If they knew some 19-year-old kid was leading them? They’d never trust me again, vod. They barely listen to me as it is.”

“And Sun-Eater’s advice for handling that is bad, why?” growled Kellaro. “I thought if anyone knew how to control a bunch of bloodthirsty Sith, he’d know the perfect way.”

Brant shook his head. “I don’t want the Sith way. Do you understand? The Covenant is supposed to be a team, but Sith don’t ‘team’ naturally. I need to understand how the Mando’ade do it — and I’m not getting anywhere with my crew on that, either.” He wrinkled his nose.

Kellaro sat looking at him, his true thoughts veiled behind his eyes. “You’ve got to actually care, Brant. The clans are family: adopted if they’re not blood–“

But Brant was shaking his head. “That is weakness — or would be perceived as such,” he added when Kellaro grunted in exasperation.

“Then strength,” said Kellaro. “I know you can’t duel them, because you might lose, but you can lead from the front instead of behind. Be the vanguard and not the strategist.” He grinned. “It’s not like you and me are that good at strategy, anyway.”

Brant smirked faintly, leaning back as he thought it over. “I don’t know if any of this will work,” he said lowly. “When you are anonymous, you do not have the notoriety of your master or your exploits in other parts of the Empire. You only have what you have contributed to the Covenant itself.”

“Well, someone must have noticed yours to put you up there,” said Kellaro. “Even if it is just because the Sphere Head’s your master. He could have his pick of any Sith. Still chose you. That has to count for something.”

“Or he just wants me to fail to get rid of me…”

Kellaro snorted. “If the only thing notable about you is you’re his, that’d just make him look bad.”

Brant didn’t answer, looking at the desk between his fingers.

“You know if this all goes south, I’ve got somewhere you could hide,” said Kellaro entreatingly. They both knew that was an impossibility — no one could hide from an angry Dark Councilor — but sometimes it was the thought that counted. Brant smiled despite — not in spite of — the outrageous offer.

“I am determined to not have to take you up on it.”

“Good!” said Kellaro. “Because that means you’ve succeeded. Stay alive, brother.”

“Ret’urcye mhi, vod,” said Brant softly, and he shut the holo off. Kellaro was right. Maybe he was worrying too much. He was not afraid of death… He glanced backwards at the starscape again.

Only… of floating lost…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *