Critical Points is a fan fiction novella written by MPK of the Star Wars Fanon Wikia. Acting as a prologue to the series begun by Torchbearer, it portrays the descent of Meetra Surik to the dark side of the Force during the events of Knights of the Old Republic II. It is meant to be read more as a character piece than a standard plot-driven narrative, with much of its length devoted to illustrating the inner psychology of the protagonist.
- Critical Points - PDF Format
- Critical Points - Fanfiction.net (external link, slightly updated text)
One week after the Battle of Malachor V, the Jedi High Council issues a demand that Revan and all of her Jedi Crusader followers return to Coruscant to give an account of their actions in the Mandalorian Wars. Aboard her flagship, Revan informs General Meetra Surik that the order will not be obeyed. However, she believes that the Council is owed some type of response, and so asks Meetra to go back and face them alone. Meetra is disquieted and apprehensive, but agrees to carry out Revan's request. Although neither of them say so explicitly, it is understood that she no longer has a place with the Crusaders, since she has lost her connection to the Force, and after her meeting with the Jedi Council, she will be on her own.
The rest of the narrative shows a variety of situations and moral choices faced by Meetra in the course of her journey, with occasional perspectives offered by some of her companions.
On Nar Shaddaa, Atton Rand witnesses an argument between Meetra and Kreia after the party risks itself to reunite Lootra and Aaida. Kreia argues that Lootra has lost an opportunity to prove whether or not he truly loves his wife, and Meetra expresses disgust with the old woman's callousness. Although Atton is loath to agree with Kreia on anything, he is irritated by Meetra's "do-gooder" attitude as well, intepreting it as Jedi condescension. Still, he tells himself that Meetra's real personality is different, and that sooner or later he'll "figure her out." Later on, Meetra privately tells Atton that even though she finds Kreia's beliefs abhorrent, she welcomes anyone who wants to help on their quest: "She’s already lost a hand just for me. I would do the same for her, and I’d do the same for you. And for anyone else on this ship."
Despite her compassion for the innocent and her fierce loyalty to her own friends, Meetra sometimes treats others with indifference or even ruthlessness as her journey continues. On Dxun, Mira is disturbed to witness how the ex-Jedi immediately accepts when Davrel challenges her to a fight to the death. Later in Iziz, Meetra tries to make peace with General Vaklu by accepting the mission offered by Anda, only to have second thoughts afterward; she has no real interest in Onderonian politics, nor any ill will toward the three Royalist captains. When Visas Marr volunteers to assassinate the captains on her own, Meetra compromises, insisting that they only be hurt enough to remove them from their duties, but not killed. As Visas sets out on her mission, the rest of the party turns its attention to freeing Dhagon Ghent from jail.
While they are en route to Korriban, Meetra uncovers Atton's past as a Sith assassin as well as his animosity toward Jedi. In the end Atton asks her to train him to use the Force, but she wants time and some distance before giving an answer. While trekking through the Valley of the Dark Lords, she contemplates her relationships with him and with other members of the crew, noting that she can't think of herself as anyone's master, and yet Visas treats her as exactly that.
Later in the Tomb of Ludo Kressh, Meetra is traumatized when she is forced to fight through illusory doubles of her friends. Later on in the crypt, she duels and kills a dopplegänger of herself, which she interpets as an image of the person she would have become, had she been able to retain her use of the Force and gone on to serve Revan as a Sith Lord. Afterward she battles a phantasm of Revan, though she perhaps fails to recognize it as such. In the ensuing duel, Meetra is beaten and eviscerated before the vision ends.
Before the Ebon Hawk returns to Onderon, Mical speaks with Meetra privately, sharing his reservations about being on Vaklu's side and about the repercussions if he takes control of Onderon. He is particularly troubled by the fact that Meetra sided with the Separatists purely out of convenience, rather than any true belief in their cause. Meetra dismisses his concerns, arguing that no one person can be held responsible for the fate of the Republic, and that she doesn't owe allegiance to anyone but herself and her friends. She goes on to recount the last conversation she had with her Jedi Master, Juroden Tovering.
Thanks to Meetra, the Separatists win the Onderon Civil War, Queen Talia is killed, and Master Kavar surrenders and is imprisoned. Afterward, Meetra convinces Vaklu to let the Jedi leave Onderon alive. While escorting Kavar to a shuttle, Meetra has a final, somewhat desperate argument with him which echoes her earlier one with Mical. As she tries to justify herself, Kavar is only more alienated by her disregard for the larger consequences of her actions. Though Kavar agrees to rendezvous with the other Jedi Masters on Dantooine, Meetra bitterly realizes that their friendship is only a memory now.
While the Ebon Hawk is on its way back to Dantooine, Meetra decides to begin training Atton in the ways of the Force, and together they reconstruct one of Kavar's lightsabers which Meetra had destroyed in their duel.
The Ebon Hawk's crew spends several days loitering on Dantooine as they wait for the Jedi to arrive, and Atton feels uncertain about his new place in relation to the Force. He also grows worried about Meetra, who has been even more withdrawn than usual since leaving Onderon, though his anxiety is mitigated somewhat when they sleep together.
The Jedi finally reach Dantooine. However, Meetra now believes that they only intend to manipulate her, so she attacks Vrook Lamar in the Taikaha Hills by night and murders him, draining his Force essence. The next day, she does the same thing to Kavar and Zez-Kai Ell in the Enclave. Though she manages to absolve herself of guilt for her actions, she begins to fear how her companions will react when they learn what has happened. After being confronted in the ruins by Kreia, however, Meetra frames her for the murder of the Jedi Masters.
On Telos IV, Atton experiences a bad omen when Meetra goes into the Jedi Academy to confront Atris alone, so he and Mical follow her. The two are delayed by the Handmaidens, but after Atton manages to wound three of them, he talks the rest into disengaging. By the time he and Mical reach the meditation chamber, Meetra has already beaten and maimed Atris in a duel, and they interrupt her just as she is about to consume the fallen Jedi's Force energy. Though Atton viscerally reacts to Meetra's use of the dark side, his relative ignorance of the Force prevents him from understanding what he's experienced, and he buries his doubts about Meetra's motives.
After Kreia's death on Malachor V, Atton, Mical, and Visas are escorted to Trayus Core by the Sith, who have acknowledged Meetra as Darth Traya's successor. There, she begins to explain what she learned from Traya about Revan, the Second Sith Empire, and the part they will play in the coming war. When Atton asks if they are Sith now, she answers, "In a way. But no, not truly."
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Behind the scenes
Shortly after devising the concept for the novel Torchbearer, which takes place years after Knights of the Old Republic II, the author came to see the standard "dark side playthrough" of the game as an inadequate explanation for how the Exile would descend into evil. As he put it, "depending on how one plays it [...] Miss Exile either is schizophrenic or else was inexplicably a villainess all along," and he wanted "to show her as having undergone some kind of an intelligible journey from being a basically well-intentioned person to being the villainess we see at the end."
The author first attempted to do this with a novella entitled The Betrayer, which was released as a rough draft in April of 2017. In hindsight, he judged the story to be a bloated and ponderous narrative, and eventually devised the concept for Critical Points in order to replace it as the prelude for Torchbearer. A number of elements from the original fan fiction were reused or adapted, including Atton's confrontation with the Handmaidens on Telos and Meetra's framing of Kreia for the murder of the Jedi Masters.
The original outline of Critical Points included a number of segments which ultimately were dropped. One of these was a prologue chapter set during the Battle of Dxun, following one of the soldiers under Meetra's command during the minefield charge. Most of the other cut segments would have focused mainly on party members such as Mandalore, Visas, Mira, and the droids.