Talitha’koum left her Master’s chambres and headed to one of the terminals in the Sith Sanctum. Fighting slaves while tracking down a Darth wasn’t really how she’s envisaged her real apprenticeship under Lord Vitae would pan out. But that was the card she had been dealt, for now at least. Collapsing on a chair in front of one of the terminals, the Twi’lek read the instructions she found by it and connected to it using her datapad.
“Right, time to see what’s going on out there then”, she mused in a mutter, before typing “Unfinished Colossus Dromund Kaas” into the screen.
“No wonder they revolted. Even ‘freedom’ within an area of Dromund Kaas is better than no freedom at all,” Talitha frowned, copying the information to her Datapad.
She sat back in thought. Why would Darth Zash have sent her apprentice to an area that’s mostly filled with rebellious slaves? What did she want – more slaves of her own, information on her rivals’ apprentices, or something else to give her power? It was too early to know anything. The Twi’lek was about to sign off when a thought crossed her mind.
She looked over her shoulders before trying one more search.
Why am I not surprised?, she shook her head and reset the terminal for the next user. Pushing yet more questions out of her mind, she took and headed for the taxi to start her investigation work.
A Slave Misplaced
Disembarking the taxi, the high stone walls around the Unfinished Colossus merely highlighted that the slaves were in a prison, whatever they thought. She had chosen to leave her TaunTaun behind in the warmth of the Kaas City pens. If the slaves were armed she didn’t want her furry friend to be in the firing line. Making her way slowly through the Sith, Researchers and various guard droids she surveyed the area with a furrowed brow. She could see the enormous statue the Terminal had referred to, an incomplete attempt at, she was sure, a male Sith ego-trip. Groups of slaves from various species milled around. Taking a breath she stepped slowly into the chaos.
A mixture of feelings were buzzing around her – excitement at the opportunities of freedom, anger at those who had enslaved them and desperation at the squalid conditions they lived in.
And they don’t know the Imperials plan to poison them, Talitha thought, a sickening feeling taking grip on her stomach.
She was just forming some thoughts about her investigation when she instinctively reached for her Lightsaber.
“Hey Sith girly, want to come and play with my blaster?”, one male slave jeered.
“Yeah she’s on her own, that would send a message wouldn’t it?”, a human female pointed out, grinning.
The Twi’lek felt trapped as various slaves gathered around those who shouted.
“I don’t want to hurt you, I’m just…looking for information”, Talitha stammered, her fingers twitching at her Lightsaber hilt.
“Sure, ‘cos Sith come here all the time for ‘information’, girly.”, the male slave growled, “Hey, what did that last guy do again?”
Another Twi’lek stepped up to his side, red-skinned and dark-eyed.
“He kiled a whole bunch of us for kicks, that’s what. We sent him packing with burns, cuts and a limp.”, she recalled, her lip twisted into a snarl.
“But…I’m not like that, I…I used to be a slave too.”, Talitha tried
“Well maybe you’re the favoured one. Does that make you better than us?”, the red-skinned Twi’lek demanded
“No, no it doesn’t. I never asked for this.”, Tal struggled to hold her feelings in.
“Yeah well it’s not our fault you got all high-and-mighty is it. Take her!”
Talitha ignited her saber just in time to deflect some blaster fire and she jumped up on some crates, her turquoise light held in front of her face. Her deep breathing hissed against the blade. The group of angry slaves ran at her, but she drew on her training and used the Force to push the group more than arms length away. A few got up, stunned. While Talitha was trying to get her breath, a blaster bolt from a different direction singed her right shoulder, causing her to wince in pain. Swinging round, Saber in her preferred left hand, she deflected the next one back at her attacker and was horrified to see the would-be sniper, fall from his perch face-down in the dirt.
“Oh no!”, she cried running over to him.
Kneeling down, the wet dirt seeping into her white skirt, she rolled him over. Instantly she knew it was no use.
“Look what you made me do!”, she looked up at the others who were craning their necks to see the latest casualty, like carrion on a dead Bantha.
“This wouldn’t have happened if you’d just kept your distance! I said I didn’t want to hurt you”.
She tried to blink back the tears.
“We just assumed you’d be like all the others”, the red Twi’lek said quietly, “I’m…I’m sorry.”
Talitha stood, deactivated her Saber and clipped it back onto her belt. Brushing some of the dirt from her clothing, she looked at the group of slaves, a tear gently working its way down her right cheek.
“You were forced to be slaves here. I was forced to be a slave to the Sith. Neither is better. Bury your friend. I will come back to you.”, she managed.
And with that she pushed her way through the compound, not daring to look back. The pain in her shoulder was a reminder she would keep until it scarred.
I can heal it, but I never want to forget where I came from, she thought with determination.
The Night Before the Day After
Reaching a small, well-fortified Imperial Camp, Talitha’koum searched for a spare tent and sat under it. She couldn’t get the scenes she had just witnessed out of her mind. And she was struggling to come to terms with how angry she had been.
Anger itself…at injustice…isn’t bad., she pondered.
She was still shaking from the experience and felt as dirty within as her clothes looked. She had come for information and had instead killed someone.
I still have a job to do, she decided. Time to get more detailed plans of this area.
With half her mind looking for unusual structures, caves or restricted-access doors she began to plan how to search for where Darth Zash, or her Apprentice may have been. The other half of her mind was still fighting with the echoes of the past she had just had to endure.