“Ugh, my head” the Twi’lek groaned forcing herself to sit up the bunk.
Pushing a button on the nearby console, the window covers slid back to reveal a cloudy day on Dromund Kaas.
“Huh, no rain or lightening yet, who would have thought it?”, she mumbled sleepily.
Flinging her legs over the side of the bunk, she was disgusted to realise she had fallen asleep in the grubby attire from the previous day. Her skin seems to crawl with the mud and dirt from the slave camp and, being only half-awake, she couldn’t bring herself to prioritise the ‘greater good’ just yet. First she had to get clean.
“Ah, you’re awake my lord,” the over-eager Protocol droid announced, “Your Master thought you needed food, but any other requests?”
“Two, actually, ” Talitha groaned, “One, get a separate programme for people that don’t do mornings. And two, some clean clothes. I’ll apologise later for being rude.”
“Considering some Sith Lords I’ve had the…priviledge to serve, you are not being rude. I will return shortly with your clothes.”
And with that the droid turned and departed to fulfil at least one of his orders.
The Twi’lek shuffled into the shower room and derobed, making sure to lock the door behind her. Yes he was a machine, but still, there were limits.
The Last Few Moments of Calm
Half an hour later, her yellow skin fresher and cleaner, Talitha’koum emerged from her room. She had even had time to buff her Lekku – the first opportunity since she bought the stuff to do it after landing on Dromund Kaas. The droid had followed instructions; even better he had located an outfit not too dissimilar in style to those she was accustomed to. He had also assured her that her own clothes would be cleaned, pressed and with her again by evening.
“Thank you,” she had replied, “I just hope that pressing doesn’t go to waste in another jungle escapade!”
“It’s good to see you looking….more yourself, my Lord”, the droid had tentatively commented.
Smiling, and giving the droid a hearty thump on his shoulder, she just reminded him that mornings weren’t her best time.
She had hoped to catch Lord Vitae before heading to the Dark Temple, but a Holo left out next to the breakfast bread and meats told her that would not be the case. Breaking open some bread and cramming in as much of the meat as she could muster (she had long given up asking which beasts “meat” came from – it was rarely encouraging) she hit the play-back button on the Holo, munching on breakfast as she watched:
“My dear Apprentice, apologies for this being vague. I know you understand. I am elsewhere on Dromund Kaas today, but I know you will be fine on your visit to the Dark Temple. See the other Sith in our closest output for the current situation. I will meet you this evening in the Nexus Room Cantina. You will have earned a few drinks by the end of the day. May the Force make you strong, Talitha.”
The image of her master pressed her hands together and inclined her head slightly before cutting off.
“I’m going to need more supplies,” the Twi’lek reasoned, and paced swiftly to her room to pick up her satchel and Lightsaber.
She returned to Lord Vitae’s office and made up a couple more rolls, wrapped them up tightly in some of the serving cloths they had arrived in and bundled them into her satchel. She took one final deep breath, enjoying the peace and quiet of her Master’s office and headed out to the taxi. It was time to get to work.
To the Fringes of Insanity
As useful as the mechanical taxis were, Talitha missed riding her TaunTaun, which was still being looked after in the animal pens. Making a mental note to check up on him tomorrow, she also promised herself she would give him some of her company wherever her galactic travels would take her next.
As the taxi lifted up from the Sith Sanctum taxi pad, the Twi’lek couldn’t help but be awed by the sheer scale of Kaas City. Towering blocks, housing Sith, traders and Imperial Citizens seemed to stretch for mile-upon-mile. Even the distant thunderstorm, lighting up the sky with each resounding boom, only added to the power she thought she could feel resonating from the planet. Talitha sat back and allowed the wind to lift her Lekku out behind her, and closed her eyes briefly to enjoy the rush of cold air as the speeder rushed towards the Dark Temple.
A few moments later, she made note that the distant thunderstorm was no longer so far away. In fact, it seemed to be occuring directly over the Dark Temple.
Should have bought a holo-cam, she pondered, as horrible as this place is going to be, I should be documenting my training.
The speeder rushed through an underground cavern on its approach to the outpost near the Dark Temple, and the Twi’lek could have sworn she saw Sith and Imperial Troopers wandering around aimlessly and attacking people at random. Shaking her head, she put it down to how fast she was travelling, hoping she had been mistaken.
The taxi slowed down and Talitha’koum could feel the humidity increase as they approached ground level once more. She also remarked that the robes she was borrowing were actually looser than her own.
A droid who thinks beyond what he has been instructed? Whatever next?, the Twi’lek thought.
Thanking the taxi droid and transferring a fee to it from her datapad, she jumped out and looked around. Something was definitely not normal here. Making sure her curved Lightsaber hilt was both securely attached and easily-accessible she made her way towards one of the nearby Sith Lords.
“At last, the Dark Council has heard my pleas and send a fine young Sith to secure the Dark Temple!”, he announced with passion.
Talitha frowned, “Sorry I’m, uh, here for my Master, my Lord. Can I help?”, she ventured.
As the Sith Lord’s brow furrowed, the Twi’lek couldn’t help but notice the pale complexion, extra lines and exceedingly dark veins in the face of her superior. She wondered whether her trials on Korriban had blinded her to seeing these features in other dark Force-users.
“Of course I’ve been ignored again. However, yes, you can help.”
He proceeded to explain that some ignorant Sith had tried to ransack the Temple for powerful artifacts but had unleashed some Spirits of long-dead Sith Lords. Talitha struggled to concentrate as he rambled but her mind snapped into action when he mentiond “Lord Kallig”.
“Lord Kallig’s spirit is…alive in there?” she double-checked.
“Even more than that, his madnesss fills the Temple and has spilled out, but we need to secure the other Tombs inside too. Unfortunately with a large metal torch, ineligant but effective”.
Quickly pulling out her datapad, she remembered Kallig being referred to by her Master the previous day, and added a note of her own.
“Wait, Force Spirits can be contained by…large doors and metal torches?”, she ventured, trying not to chuckle at that thought, willing herself to respect the Lord in front of her.
“Unconventional, yes, but it works. That and some curses placed on the doors themselves. Are you willing to help me, Apprentice?”
“If it leads me to Kallig, then that’s not a problem my Lord,” Talitha bowed.
“Beware, Apprentice. Kallig has driven mad anyone who is still alive in the Temple. We’ve heard rumours of slaves thinking they’re Sith Lords, among other things.”
“I will be cautious, thank you, my Lord.”
Turning to leave the outpost, she suddenly had an urge to unclip and hold her Lightsaber in her hand. Putting her satchel over both shoulders she carefully stepped out, the hilt firmly gripped in her usual left hand. Within just a few paces she gasped at seeing contorted Sith, meandering Troopers and explorers digging holes in seemingly random locations. Some of the possessed were emitting high-pitched cackling sounds, eerie, unnatural laughs that casued Talitha’s Lekku to twitch nervously.
I’ve focussed too much on healing the physical, the Twi’lek thought ruefully, And I completely forgot the mind.
It would be a long walk to the Dark Temple. She was on the edge of insanity, heading towards the Heart of Darkness itself. This was worse than Korriban, she realised trembling, this would be a living nightmare.