The trip to Dromund Kaas had been blissfully uneventful. Talitha’koum had spent most of it resting against her TaunTaun in the corner of the passenger deck seating area. Phasing in and out of sleep, occasionally waking up to feed her pet some treats she had picked up from Korriban before departure. The Capital Ship had quite the mixture of people aboard; Imperial Troopers being re-assigned to the Dromund Kaas, slaves being pushed around, Imperial Guard heading to the home world after completing training and of course, the Sith Apprentices who had survived Korriban.
A microcosm of the Sith Empire right here, she pondered, trying to stretch her back after being sat on the hard floor for hours.
Pulling her datapad out her small belongings satchel, she reviewed what she had downloaded from the Sith Archives. Known primarily for Kaas City, Dromund Kaas featured swamps, forests and quite the complement of aggressive wildlife. Kaas City was the centre for Imperial Intelligence on the one hand, and for the hired killers, the Mandalorian Enclave on the other.
What a bizarre combination. Trying to find criminals in one department, and encouraging them on the other! The Twi’lek thought.
She browsed through some holonet images showing the best of Dromund Kaas – the majestic buildings, the Sith keeping citizens in line, the enforced celebrations when a major Imperial victory was won. The perfect propaganda. Talitha wondered what the real Dromund Kaas would be like.
“My lords, and other passengers, we are preparing to come out of hyperspace. Be prepared to disembark within the hour”, the announcement came though the internal audio system.
The Twi’lek sighed and put everything back into her satchel. Looking up at her TaunTaun’s face, she stroked it gently.
“It’s going to be okay. There’s jungle and plenty of foliage to eat.”, she whispered, and a whole load of unknowns to get my head around, she didn’t say.
The First Taste of Freedom
Talitha had wanted to disembark last due to wanting to avoid the crowd, but the Deck Officer insisted that she left before the slaves.
“The dregs must understand that Sith are superior to them.”, he had said to justify it to her.
Talitha just nodded, painfully aware that just a few months ago, the same officer would have included her in his definition of ‘dregs’. Climbing gently onto her TaunTaun’s back she made her way through the bustling spaceport. Progress was slow – it felt to her like there were many more people than had seemed on the Imperial Destroyer. She was allowed to pass through Imperial Customs by virtue of her status as a Sith Apprentice and she urged her pet forward to the daylight.
Once free of the crowds, she took a deep breath in – her first fresh air since Ilum. A storm was brewing and the air pressure made the Twi’lek massage her temples. But the Force was alive here in the jungle. She hoped she would have chance to explore it another day.
Her thoughts were interrupted by her comm device. Patting the TaunTaun on the head she jumped down and led him to some grass to eat while she took the call. Pulling out the comm she hit the button to be greeted by her Master.
“Apprentice! You’ve arrived safely on Dromund Kaas, how was the journey?” Lord Vitae asked
“Let’s say the fresh air is welcome!”, Talitha smiled wryly.
“Those trips can get…stuffy sometimes, I understand.”
“Where should I meet you?”, the Twi’lek asked.
“In my office in the Sith Sanctum, we have a lot of work to do. But first it’s time you experience a little freedom. I’ve transferred some credits to your account. Go to Kaas City and buy some things for yourself. Whatever you want. You’re not a slave any more. Meet me this evening. Have fun, Apprentice!” Lord Vitae signed off.
Credits. Her account. Freedom. These were concepts she hadn’t known since before she was made a slave. A tear formed in her right eye which she brushed away. She hadn’t known an authority figure who hadn’t abused their position in some way. While far from happy, she made a mental note that good things can happen to the most unfortunate of people.
“Right, my friend, time to see the centre of this Empire. Hope you’re ready?”, she glanced up at her TaunTaun’s face, with grass hanging out of his mouth. Stifling a giggle at the sight, she jumped up onto his back and rode off in the direction of Kaas City.
In the Tython Orbital Station…
“Alright people, be careful with the next few containers. Med droids are standing by.”, the Republic Captain on shift instructed. It had been a long day and he was tired of being surrounded by excitable new Jedi and the superiority complexes of the Jedi Council.
Two lifter droids slowly made their way out with the containers and proceeded to carry them into the shuttle destined for the surface.
“Captain Kamius, I presume?”, a gentle but firm male voice said from behind him.
The Captain turned around in surprise.
“Yes sir, that’s me.”, he replied.
“Is this another delivery from Master Ellum’inus?” he asked.
“That depends who is asking?”, the Captain responded cautiously.
“Jedi Master Fain”, the man replied.
“He checks out Captain,” a nearby security droid announced. At that the Captain relaxed.
“Yes, these are from Master Ellum’inus. A more tricky operation this time.”, he explained
“Don’t worry, the hazard pay has been transferred from my own account. Probably best to stick to expected patrol routes for a while now.”
Kamius nodded, turned on his heels and headed into the shuttle. He was getting fed up of these cloak-and-dagger missions for the Jedi.
The towering buildings and shiny lights were not to dissimilar to the images from the Holonet, Talitha noted. Although most things were in traditional Imperial grey, there was a majesty she couldn’t deny. The lightening storm had duly drenched her and her pet but stepping into some of heated market shops had soon sorted that. It had amazed her that the mere presence of a lightsaber gained her access and preferential treatment by some of the sellers.
The word ‘Sith’ has more influence than I had realised. she noted.
It was a surreal experience for the former slave, browsing shops, haggling with sellers and not being watched all the time. But she came away with a brush for grooming her TaunTaun, fresh wax for her lekku and a new pair of boots for the climate of Dromund Kaas.
“Ownership had always been about who owned me. This is new.”, she mused out loud.
As she was packing her things into her satchel she sensed something and looked up. A blue Twi’lek was being dragged around by what looked like another Sith Apprentice. Whenever she opened her mouth, the Apprentice activated the shock collar and the Twi’lek dropped to the ground before pulling herself back upright. Talitha made eye contact with her, felt a little guilty of her position and lowered her head again.
Last week you were literally fighting for your life, she reminded herself, though I’m not sure which is worse – slavery or death.
Sighing at her conflicting throughts, she clambered back onto her TaunTaun and rode off to the taxi for the Sith Sanctum.