Torchbearer is a fan fiction novel written by MPK of the Star Wars Fanon Wikia. Taking place six years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic II, it follows the story of a lost Jedi Padawan named Kaevee as she becomes involved in a mission to combat the imminent invasion of the true Sith from the Unknown Regions. It is intended, God willing, to serve as the first installment in an as-yet untitled series.
Six years after the death of Darth Traya, a group of Sith assassins led by Visas Marr invade the ruins of the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine, which are home to a lone Jedi Padawan named Kaevee and a nest of tame laigreks. The Sith nearly kill Kaevee when she confronts them, but she is saved by the Force adept Atton Rand, and the two escape aboard the Ebon Hawk along with a single laigrek that followed them. Aside from the pilot, the ship is crewed only by two droids, X-C88 and a small floating sphere called the Remote.
Excited by her rescue, Kaevee assumes that her rescuer is a Jedi, and that he was sent to rescue her by his master. When an exhausted and fatigued Atton realizes this, he decides to play along in order to simplify matters in the short term. As they conduct minor repairs and maintenance on the ship, he gradually and selectively fills her in on their mission and the current state of the galaxy. The Republic will soon be invaded from the Unknown Regions by a resurgent Sith Empire, which has recently been usurped by Darth Revan, who disappeared nearly ten years ago. Atton hopes to warn the Republic and convince it to stall the invasion by attacking Malachor V, which is to be the main staging area for the incoming Sith forces.
The Sith in known space consist of an isolationist Remnant in the Outer Rim, now controlled by Meetra Surik after the death of Darth Traya. Since Surik's departure to join Revan in the Unknown Regions, Trayus Academy has been left in the hands of its current Headmaster, Thoriel Silbus. Still in pursuit of the Ebon Hawk, Visas Marr contacts Silbus to request reinforcements. Since the assassins in her company were already taken from the academy without his permission, the Headmaster refuses to aid Marr further. Leaving her to chase Atton down on her own, Silbus tends to his own business in the academy.
At Lossway spaceport on Ord Lonesome, the Ebon Hawk's crew meets with Cole Terrick, a spacer hired by Atton to acquire supplies and spare parts for the ship. Cole reports that some of the supplies will be in slightly later than expected, and they arrange to meet again soon. On their way back to the hangars, Atton and Kaevee are accosted by a group of thugs who say they know someone who would recognize their ship. However, the confrontation is defused by Cole, and the Ebon Hawk departs without further incident.
In an abandoned monastery on Belsavis, Atton introduces Kaevee to his "master," a frail, maimed old woman who turns out to be Atris, once a member of the Jedi High Council. Atris explains that Atton found her in exile while looking for Force-sensitives to help him battle the Sith, and after seeing Kaevee in a vision, she sent him to Dantooine. Kaevee is distraught and outraged when she realizes that Atton lied to her and neither of her rescuers are actually Jedi. She is further disturbed to hear that Atris has renounced the Jedi ways and considers their teachings to be corrupt. A heated argument ensues, and Kaevee at first wants to return to Dantooine to wait for a true Jedi to come and train her. After taking some time to think it over, however, she reluctantly decides to remain with the Ebon Hawk's crew.
Atton and his companions return to the Ord Lonesome system, where they dock with Cole Terrick's ship, the Sharp Turn, to acquire the supplies. While transferring the cargo, they come under attack by a pirate vessel whose crew includes the same beings who accosted Atton and Kaevee in the spaceport. Visas Marr's ship enters the fray as well, and Atton mans the Hawk's turbolaser turrets while trying to fend off both attacking ships. Kaevee and Ecksee manage to transfer the last of the cargo, but the Sharp Turn suffers catastrophic damage, and the Padawan ends up saving Cole's life by Force-pulling him aboard the Hawk before the two vessels undock. The Sharp Turn is destroyed, and the Ebon Hawk escapes.
Cole is furious, blaming Atton for the destruction of his ship, and they argue in the main hold. Kaevee attempts to mediate, suggesting that Cole temporarily join the crew, but the argument degenerates into a scuffle, and afterwards the spacer is given time to sulk by himself. Not long after this, Kaevee confronts Atton over his callousness toward their new companion, as well as the pilot's secrecy over his own past. In the end Atton placates her by telling briefly about his time traveling with Meetra Surik, up until her murder of the Jedi Masters on Dantooine. Kaevee is not satisfied, but fails to learn anything more, and later on Atris urges her to not pry into Atton's past.
Time passes as work on the Ebon Hawk continues. Atton tries to coach Kaevee on the use of basic Force powers, and Cole emerges from his isolation and agrees to join the crew. They next travel to an unmanned Republic hyperwave relay station on Daluuj. Atton uses the relay to send important data on the Sith invasion to Admiral Sargo Opelle, who like Atton fought in the Battle of Malachor V.
Before they can leave Daluuj, Atton and his companions are ambushed and captured by the "pirates" from Ord Lonesome, who turn out to be a gang of bounty hunters. Atton quickly recognizes their leader as Mira, another former companion of Meetra Surik. As Mira interrogates the crew, however, she turns out to have grown markedly crueler and more vicious over the past six years. She threatens Cole Terrick with torture in an effort to make Kaevee talk about their mission, but is interrupted by a company of Republic soldiers who take both groups into custody.
While imprisoned aboard the command ship Valiant, Atton and his companions learn that the Republic has been following them for some weeks, since their ship was last known to be owned by a Sith Lord. Later on they speak with Admiral Opelle, who has reviewed the data they sent from the relay and believes it to be genuine. However, certain Republic officials still believe that the Ebon Hawk's crew may be spies for the Sith, and under that pretext they could be kept in custody indefinitely. The admiral offers to have them cleared if they agree to work for the Republic as a nebulously-defined "team of specialists" in the coming conflict with the Sith. The crew agrees.
Some time passes as the Republic fleet assembles and prepares for battle. Before Mira is taken to Coruscant to be tried for various crimes, Atton visits her in the Valiant's brig, but the bounty hunter refuses to divulge who hired her to capture the Ebon Hawk.
The attack on Malachor commences with a battle between Sith and Republic fleets. The Hammerhead-class cruiser Monitor bombards the planet from orbit, collapsing Singularity Base's shield and destroying much of Trayus Academy. A handful of survivors is led to the base by Lord Silbus, where they find Visas Marr with her assassins, and hatch a plan to withstand the assault. Atton accompanies Republic ground forces as they invade the facility and fight their way toward Mass Shadow Generator Control. Accompanied by Cole, Kaevee is left at the landing zone with Major Hawkins and his troops; the Padawan's instructions are to sound the alarm if she senses any dark-siders approaching the dropships.
At a choke point before MSG Control, Atton and the invading troops are ambushed by two groups of Sith Marauders and adepts. The Sith are killed, but only a small handful of troopers survive along with Atton. Meanwhile, the landing zone is attacked and overwhelmed by drexls under Lord Silbus' control. The defenders there flee into Singularity Base, where they capture a hangar and prepare for evacuation using a Sith transport. Kaevee and Cole go with a squad of troopers to collect Atton and the other survivors from the choke point, only to find that Atton went on to complete the mission by himself, accompanied only by the Remote. When Cole tries to discourage her, Kaevee calls him a coward and goes after Atton alone.
Inside MSG Control, Atton parts ways with the Remote before battling Sith assassins, Marauders, and finally Visas Marr. Meanwhile, Kaevee is chased into a control room by Gorbus, where she tries to fight him with her Force powers. After her pet laigrek is badly wounded while helping her, the Padawan kills the Sith Marauder with a blaster. While on her way to help Atton, she runs into Lord Silbus, who pursues her a short way before incapacitating her.
The Headmaster briefly interrogates Kaevee before using the Force to invade her mind, whereupon he learns of Atris' survival. The Padawan tries to fight back, and with the old woman's help manages to withstand Silbus' initial attempt to telekinetically crush her. The confrontation is interrupted when, to Silbus' shock, the Mass Shadow Generator's ignition sequence begins despite Atton's interception. In reality, his confrontation with the Sith was meant to distract them while the Remote reached the superweapon's controls unnoticed. At this moment Kaevee's laigrek turns out to have followed her in spite of its wounds, and while Silbus is still distracted, the creature sets him on fire, and he burns to death. The laigrek itself apparently expires soon after.
Meanwhile, an exhausted Atton remains locked in a losing battle with Visas Marr. With Silbus dead, however, Kaevee uses the last of her power to take control of one of the drexls and sends it to drive Visas off, saving Atton's life. Atton follows the Remote to Kaevee, who is barely conscious, and he carries her back to the hangar. The Republic survivors escape, as does Visas Marr, and the Mass Shadow Generator crushes Malachor V into oblivion.
Days pass as the Republic fleet heads to the shipyards of Arkania for repairs. Although the role of the Ebon Hawk's crew is kept secret, news of the battle at Malachor circulates along with the revelation of the coming invasion, and the Republic preemptively declares war on the Second Sith Empire. After a meeting with Admiral Opelle, Atton has time to reflect on his new situation as an agent of the Republic as well as to continue work on the Ebon Hawk with the help of Cole and the droids. Meanwhile, Kaevee's recent experiences have shaken her conceits and her confidence in herself as a Jedi. Though she still holds reverence for the Order's memory, she finally begins to open up to Atris and to learn about the Force from her.
All too soon, however, Atton receives new orders from Captain Pollard, and the Ebon Hawk's crew leaves on their next mission for the Republic.
After the narrative there is a "Coda", which simply consists of John McCrae's poem "Flanders Fields."
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Behind the scenes
The original story concept that would eventually become Torchbearer was generated between late 2015 and early 2016. While writing a series of essays about the Knights of the Old Republic games, the author considered the following as a possible way of continuing its story from where The Sith Lords leaves off:
[H]ere's a KotOR 3 fic idea from out of left field: go with the dark side endings of both games [...] Keep the common fan premise where whoever's left goes into the Unknown Regions and teams up with Revan, but here's the twist: somehow or other they take out the Sith Emperor - like, early on. They throw the Empire into chaos. But then, because they're dark-sided, they turn out to be the real villains of the story: Revan, the Exile, evil Bastila, and everyone else who's still alive and dark-sided from both games' main cast. For your heroes, start with one or two party members who deserted or were left behind or something on account of still being light-sided - such as Handmaiden, Disciple, Mira, perhaps Atton, or even T3 - and throw in a couple original characters, and maybe a third "hero of KotOR 3" to lead them.
—Essay IV - On TSL's Plot Holes and Contradictions, with a Focus on its Ending
Several elements are based upon content that was cut from Knights of the Old Republic II, including a Republic admiral by the name of Opelle, his starship being named the Valiant, and the protagonist, Kaevee.
James Luceno's Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader is one of several official Star Wars works that influenced the themes of Torchbearer. Similar to Roan Shryne and Olee Starstone, Kaevee's arc has to do with the tension produced by her attachment to the Jedi Order and the reality of a galaxy that seems to have moved on from it.
Shout-outs and references
Several bits of Atton Rand's dialogue are lifted from the Dark Forces saga's Kyle Katarn, including his farewell to Mira ("See you on the dark side") and his reference to himself as "a guy with a lightsaber."
Atton's comment that he wouldn't mind having a yellow lightsaber is a reference to his Jedi class in Knights of the Old Republic II (Jedi Sentinels use yellow blades). The unstable blade of his actual lightsaber resembles that of Kylo Ren from the Star Wars sequel movies, as well as those used by the Sith-Jedi clones from the Jaden Korr duology.
The mantra that Kaevee recites throughout the narrative is similar to and inspired by that of Chirrut Îmwe in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Emon Corsio's admonition to "Trust the Force" is spoken originally by Jyn Erso's mother in the same movie.
The Supreme Chancellor's statement that "we fight not because we hate what we see before us, but because we love what stands behind us" is lifted from English writer G. K. Chesterton.