It was a weary and relieved crowd that exited the shuttle at the Nar Shadaa spaceport. Talitha nearly stumbled out of the transport, her legs having been cramped up to her chin for the last goodness-knows how many hours. Pushing her way through the passengers she forced a way into some space, away from the flow of people making their way to the bright lights of Nar Shadaa’s streets.
“Oh there you are Talitha, I thought we’d never get to talk!”, chimed the tired but more animated voice of her Master.
“And you sound more yourself. Now will you tell me what’s going on?”, the Twi’lek demanded.
“No. But before you protest more about that, I will tell you that I will reveal it all within the hour. First though, we need to find a certain docking bay number.”
Talitha’s mouth snapped shut, her brow becoming furrowed again.
“I’m just not used to secrets. At least not from you.”, she muttered.
“Remember that lesson on deception, Talitha?” Restita questioned.
Her Apprentice just nodded.
“See the last few hours as putting that knowledge into practice. And please remember all that you learned that day in my office.”
Talitha blushed, a feeling of shame encircling her. The dark skinned Master, however, glanced down at her datapad, committed a number to memory and tucked the device into an inside pouch in her robe. Beckoning the Twi’lek to follow, she led her around a number of tight corridors and into a lift shaft. The platform ascended with the human and the Twi’lek, and the two waited in silence. Once they stopped moving, the doors hissed open, revealing a docking bay in which was one ship. Seeming to be made out of rusting durasteel and patched up more often than the often-reused Acolyte robes on Korriban, Talitha was not sure what to make of it.
“Tell me this isn’t my ship?” she glanced at her Master.
“Didn’t realise you were picky?”, Restita laughed. “This ship is hardly of Imperial design. So no, this is not your ship! It belongs my contact. He assured me it flies.”
“Better hope so!” Talitha retorted.
The Twi’lek Captain
“Well now we have two lovely ladies joining us for the next flight,” a relaxed male voice drawled behind them.
“Now dear, don’t get any ideas, we are getting married soon you know!”, a pretentious-sounded female voice chided.
Talitha and her Master turned to greet the owners of those voices. Talitha took an involuntary sharp breath in, and various thoughts began churning in her mind.
The yellow-skinned Twi’lek Captain took off his shades and held out a hand, which Restita shook first.
“Talitha, this is Tharic. Or ‘Ric’ apparently”
“He goes by different names depending where we go, but don’t that put you off” his fiancée stated.
“And you are?”, Restita asked curtly.
“Risha. Pleased to make your acquaintance. We need to pick up the Wookiee and Corso from the other side of the planet, but we will head off after.”
Her attitude irked Talitha, but she could not overcome the feeling that she should know the male Twi’lek. Or someone like him anyway.
“A Wookiee?” Restita asked, a little anxious.
“No need to panic, lady,” Ric assured her, a little too-informerly for Talitha’s tastes, “He’s usually friendly”.
Turning his head slightly, he glanced over at Talitha.
“Did ya lose your voice, darlin’?” he asked, winking.
“N-no, its n-nothing.” she managed to reply.
“Well time’s a-wastin’ so we should be headin’ off!” Ric smiled and ran up the ramp to get the engines started.
“The captain makes you nervous, Talitha?”, Restita smirked slyly.
“It’s not… that. Really not. Just,” Talitha stumbled over her words. “I don’t know. I just need to think.”
“Yes. You do an awful lot of that. Come on, let’s get settled in.”
And with that, they followed the captain into the ship. Or “rust bucket” as Talitha mentally called it.
A Destination Unexpected
The ship, it turned out, did fly. Surprisingly quickly too, but once they were in hyperspace, Talitha allowed herself to relax. Her caf-cup topped up with a liquid passable as a drink, she wondered where her Master had disappeared to. The Twi’lek Captain had passed through a number of times, usually on his way to fix something for the third or fourth time. And all the while she tried to figure out that niggling feeling that she had come across this particular guy before.
“Right Talitha, I’m here now.” her Master emerged in some brown, relaxed robes. She still looked shattered though, the Twi’lek noted.
Restita was carrying a parcel, the same that Talitha had seen delivered to her Master’s chambres. Unspeaking, Talitha’s eyes watched the dark-skinned human as she came and sat down on a seat opposite her. Restita placed the package on the table between them and pushed it towards her Apprentice.
“This is for you.”
The Twi’lek cautiously tore the paper and took out some robes that matched her Master’s, only being a few sizes smaller. Restita took a deep breath.
“Tal. If I can call you that, now? We are heading to Tython.”, she stated her heart-rate beginning to pick up.
“But that’s…a Jedi planet?” Talitha blurted, not wanting to believe what she was hearing.
“Yes it is.”
“And we’re Sith. They’ll just capture us!”
“No we’re not, not really. And no they won’t.”
“But… how?” The Twi’lek’s incredulous voice asked, somewhat louder than she had intended.
So she did. During her trials on Korriban, various Acolytes could be seen to be lighter or darker in their attitudes and abilities.
“We’re…attuned to the Light Side more than the Dark. So, we can pass off as Jedi. Okay, that is the ‘how’, but now I want to know…” she ventured.
“Why?”, Restita finished the question for her. “It’s complicated, so hug that caf-cup and listen. I may not get many more chances to speak with you like this.
Over the next hour, her Master revealed that she had been placed in the Sith Order as a spy for the Jedi. She had been working for both sides for a number of years and had narrowly escaped detection a number of times.
“Jedi spies inside the Sith sounds a bit unlikely, if you forgive me for saying so” Talitha questioned.
“What? You think the Sith don’t have spies in the Jedi?”
The Twi’lek closed her eyes for a moment. Her Master had a point.
“Despite a lack of evidence, I was never trusted. Which is the real reason I’m still only a Lord. Not that it matters any more. I won’t be welcome on Dromund Kaas again, I don’t think.”
“You’ve been found out?” Talitha asked, the new revelations coursing around her mind seeming to still make little sense.
“Most likely. But I still haven’t fully answered your question of ‘why’. First and foremost I wanted you to spend time with people who are encouraged to be the way you already are, agents of the Light. And to get healing on all levels before we continue our… work”.
Lord Vitae glanced over her shoulders and was relieved she had not said anything else, as Ric and Risha returned to the captains’ chairs a little way from where the Twi’lek and her Master were talking.
“We’re not here to become Jedi then? Good.” Talitha stated, her conviction of being inside the Empire surprising her even as she said it.
Her Master laughed.
“You are not here to become anything Talitha. You may discover a few things about yourself, or your life, or your connection to the Force. But you’re still officially training under a Sith Lord, regardless of who I am distrusted by. Plus what use is the Light if it can only be found within more Light?”
Talitha considered that, her early experiences as an Acolyte of knowing she didn’t fit in but surviving to keep her position, and her life, anyway.
“So it’s a Pilgrimage then?” Talitha smiled.
“Only a few days, but yes. A well-deserved rest from people trying to kill you.” her Master responded
“And from people trying to kill you?” the Twi’lek probed.
A feeling of guilt was betrayed by her Master’s eyes. Restita’s shoulders sagged and she slumped back in her chair. There was a brief, but clear moment of silence, before the usually-strong woman whispered: