As the bread settled in her stomach, the Twi’lek looked up from her datapad at the lifeless structure around her. The Dark Temple was older than the current Empire, and carried a Force Aura heavy with the dark designs of its creator, the Emperor himself.
Not its builder, I bet,, Talitha thought, why do work yourself that slaves can do for you?
Putting her few belongings back into her pack she stood stiffly, feeling all the tension from the mere journey here throughout her body. She could see more mindless minions of the Sith Spirits wandering about. This was their dominion, in their opinions anyway.
The Twi’lek took a big breath. Though the air felt a huge weight on her shoulders, it was at least cold. It was eerily quiet inside the Dark Temple, compared to the frenzied chaos outside. Refocussing what little energy she had left, she began to pick her way across the cavernous – what could she call it? Sanctuary? Antechamber?
Talitha shook her head, suddenly aware that she was already becoming distracted by thoughts other than her purpose for coming.
I need to do what I came for, and quickly. I was ill-prepared for this nightmare.
With every footstep, she thought her boots were making a sound so loud every spirit and being in the Temple could hear her. Once safely across the other side, the Twi’lek peered around an enormous pillar to check for foes. Relieved the way was clear, she quickly removed her boots and flung them into her backpack. The stone felt cold to her feet, and she shivered.
I am trying to track an adept in stealth, making noise will betray me before I’m ready.
The Voice Within
Checking her bearings she rehung her pack over her shoulders, and glanced nervously about her. Talitha’s heart was beating hard again, threatening to burst from within, and destroying her previous moment of peace she thought she had gained.
“Peace is a lie”, said a voice out of nowhere.
The Twi’lek clasped a hand over her mouth to stifle a cry of surprise. Turning around wildly, she did not know whether to be disturbed or relieved that no one was there.
This is horrible, horrible. Why did my Master send me in here?
Finding a circular stairway, Talitha anxiously glanced up, annoyed that she could not see how many possessed denizens stood between her and the next level of the Temple. Her left hand was trembling and she worried she would drop her Lightsaber hilt and betray her presence.
Dammit, she said biting her lip and drawing blood and making her eyes water.
Reluctantly, the Twi’lek re-attached her Lightsaber to her belt and wiped her arm across her eyes to clear them. Her mouth was parched and the tension in the air was becoming insufferable.
“Which will you give up first – mind or body?”, the Voice prompted her again.
Shut up, just shut up., she screamed internally, There is no death, there is the Force, she recalled from her ‘Knowing the Enemy’ classes back on Korriban
“Both then? Ha ha ha.”, the voice laughed insidiously then fell silent.
A Dark Distraction
How long she had spent paralysed at the foot of the steps, she no longer knew, but willed herself to move once again, forcing her legs to lift up dreadful step by dreadful step. She was almost at the summit when she heard two voices; one cackling horribly and another begging and choking – then the second voice was suddenly silenced before a heavy thud ensued. Talitha crouched down on all fours, to get a closer look and attempt to discern the best way forward. What appeared to be a female human, face ravaged by the Dark Side was pacing from side to side of a huge archway.
The Force is my ally, she willed herself against all hope, trying desperately to think how to leave this place alive.
“The Dark Side is your ally, weakling.” the disembodied Voice tempted her.
She then recalled a class she had desperately wanted to avoid – mind control. Although she failed hard at the class, she had caused some interest in being able to cause a distraction to her target. She knew she had to use her Dark Side training. Mind games to combat mind games.
Finally, you have your uses, Talitha responded to the Voice, but the Force is still my ally.
Closing her eyes she concentrated as hard as possible, sweat dripping onto the cold stone under her hands, despite the absence of any heat source in the Temple. Steadying her aching body on two knees and one arm, she reached out her right arm, wincing slightly at the wound she had been inflicted with earlier that day. The Force Adept’s mind was not her own, making it easier to distract. The Twi’lek hated having to use manipulative techniques, but survival drove her on.
The Dark Side is a tool, it isn’t my identity. The Dark Side is a tool, it isn’t my identity.
Glancing up, the Adept was swinging around wildly, before turning on her heels and stomping after an unseen threat. Talitha slowly pushed herself to her feet, nearly slipping on her now damp and dirty palms. With her back to the wall she completed her ascent and stepped into the arch way.
I’m tired, so so tired, she thought despairingly, I hate it here.
“Let that hate drive and consume you!”, the Voice commanded.
No, I can’t, I just….can’t. Talitha shouted in her mind, tears threatening to blur her vision.
The Voice Without
Glancing to her left, she saw the final archway she needed to make to reach the place she thought Zash’s Apprentice was located. There were potential threats wandering around, but the one she most wanted to flee from was in her own head. Taking a breath she ran for the archway and slumped behind some stacked crates. Only then did she realise she had been holding her breath and her lungs felt like they were burning up. Hugging her knees, she rested her head on them and took what breaths of air she could manage.
Fatigue swept over her, and the idea of sleep became most welcoming. Jolting her head up she unclipped her Lightsaber hilt and clung to it, her fingers tracing each outlined pattern and metal joints – anything to remain conscious. The Twi’lek was about to attempt to stand again when she heard a Voice. This time it was not in her head, but just a little way down the passageway.
“Beware your Master. Beware your Apprentice.”
Her bright blue eyes widened in shock and again she had to stop herself crying out. It wasn’t just any voice. It was the Voice. And she had walked right into its path.