Talitha awoke to the sound of another thunder storm over Dromund Kaas and the infernal drumming of the latest downpour on the canvas of her tent. With some relief her satchel and datapad were fine, having been kept on her roll-mat during her restless night’s slumber. She forced herself to sit up, her back aching from her night on the floor.
Rubbing her eyes she gazed through the storm, watching the lightening illuminate the rugged crags on the horizon. Such a display of raw, uncontrolled power was capable of lighting up the darkness.
The Twi’lek allowed a half-smile to cross her face at that thought.
Across the Great Divide
“Ah, you’re awake, my lord”
Looking up at the Imperial Trooper who addressed her, she blinked, curious as to why she was being addressed. Suppressing the urge to highlight the fact that the obvious had just been stated, she managed to be more courteous in her reply;
“I’m feeling very drenched and I sort of envy your waterproof armour. Can I help you?”, she asked
“I was more hoping to help you, my lord. One of the slaves has sent a package for you. We haven’t opened it but Imperial Intelligence performed a preliminary scan, so we believe it’s safe.”
“Thank you for checking, I’ll take it.”
The trooper handed her a small box, drew himself up into a standing salute and withdrew back to his post.
The card outer wrapping hadn’t survived the rain but, opening the protected inner layer, she was taken aback by the aroma that invaded her senses.
“Fresh bread, and…a holo?” she mused, realising how hungry she was.
Gratefully biting into the warm crusty roll, she played the holo message.
Sith. Fellow Twi’lek. I don’t know if this will reach you, or if the Imperials will kill me for trying. We don’t have much, as you must be aware. But we managed to get a droid to Kaas City and back again. This is breakfast for you. And an apology. We shouldn’t have judged you, just because other Sith have judged us. I hope more like you are trained. Twi’leks deserve to impact the galaxy, instead of always being enslaved by it. You taught us to listen before acting – we had to learn the hard way. So I’m sorry and I hope your shoulder heals. And I hope you make good on your promise to come back to us, whenever that can be. Ta’kan’len out.
As she finished up every crumb of the roll, she let her mind wander over the message. Twi’leks didn’t deserve to be slaves. But then, what species did? But she did feel that somewhere in her future, helping her kin would be a key part of the reason the Force had allowed her to find the Sith. One thing stood out above all things to the young Apprentice – the number of times Ta’kan’len had used the word “hope”.
Facing Her Fear
An hour or so later, the storm abated, allowing Talitha to get up and stretch. She looked down at her damp and dirty robes and looked forward to a warm shower and a clean change of clothes. But first, she needed to find what she came here for. Gathering up her belongings and dusting herself down as much as possible, she made her way into what looked like a slave-rebellion stronghold.
Turrets, guard Droids, slave sentries – all showed an impressive display of organisation. But no-one attacked her today.
Maybe my friends from yesterday relayed my image to their comrades., she wondered.
She took time to look around her to catch her bearings, before pulling up the map on her datapad. Her brow furrowed as she struggled to reconcile the image on the pad with the structures she saw with her eyes. It was then she felt a prompting to put the datapad away. Checking around her, she did so and closed her eyes, focussing on the Force as best as she could. Her heart rate slowed and her facial muscles relaxed, until she felt a dark presence coming from one particular direction.
Picking her way through the buildings, and around piles of ammunition crates, she found what looked like a cave entrance nearby. Glancing around her, she took a deep breath before facing her fear of the darkness and stepping inside.
Killer in the Shadows
The tunnel was infested with various native creatures of Dromund Kaas. Some had ignored her, but others she was forced to slay with her Lightsaber. At the end of the tunnel was a huge durasteel door. The Twi’lek checked for any signs of further security measures and, once sure she was safe, hit the button to open it.
As it grated loudly open, she saw the body of a Sith lying before what looked like an alter of some description. Talitha stepped carefully up to the lifeless form on the floor and was saddened to know there were no signs of life at all emminating from him.
“Can I go just one day on this planet without killing, people trying to kill me, or without seeing someone dead?”, she muttered.
She returned her gaze to the alter-like structure. The top of it was really dusty, save for a rugged outline where no dust had settled.
“What used to be here, I wonder?”, she thought.
It was at that moment that her Lekku twitched nervously. Something wasn’t right here. The Twi’lek was about to reach for her Lightsaber, when she was lifted up and pinned against the wall. Gasping for breath after the impact she opened her eyes to look at her assailant.
“You should not have come here, little Sith”, the creature uttered.
The hulking wall of pure muscle and dark side hatred felt like a living nightmare. He wasn’t Force Choking her at least, but she was powerless against this creature.
“Who are you? What are you?”, Talitha whispered her bottom lip quivering, afraid of the beast that imprisoned her with the Force.
“I am Khem Val, I am Dashade. I am former servant of Tulak Hord. Now slave to another little Sith and his pathetic Master.”
“Isn’t Tulak Hord…” The Twi’lek started
“Dead. Yes. I did not protect my Master enough.”, the Dashade spat out the words in his native tongue, still reaching out to keep the Apprentice pinned.
“Who is your Master’s Master?”, the girl managed to ask trying to distract his mind from his Force control.
“The Witch who stinks of death. Zash.”
“If you hate her, help me, please.” Talitha begged.
The Dashade known as Khem Val, thought about that before releasing her so she fell unceremoniously on the hard stone floor. She felt like his eyes were boring right into her soul, but she had no defence against it.
Falling back to sit with her back against the wall, she nervously eyed the Dashade. Khem himself stood with his arms crossed, towering over her.
“Feel fortunate I have not eaten you…yet, little Sith.”
Yet?, she almost cried out. Gulping down air as fast as she could she tried to move the conversation along from her being lunch.
“What was here before that Sith died? What does Zash want?”, the Twi’lek probed.
“Ancient Trandoshan relic to use against the machine Sith. I will help you, but only because she befouls the name Tulak Hord by seeking his power.”
“I think it’s best you start from the beginning…” Talitha suggested, reaching for her datapad.