Devil’s Due: Part 1: The Old Machinations

Here’s the beginning of my attempt to think like a super-villain! The story of a complicated, talented, slightly-unhinged teenage boy and his struggle to survive and maybe, maybe find a better life. And more importantly, the story of a writer frustrated with the lack of agency and deviousness in BioWare’s SWTOR Inquisitor storyline, which could have been a really cool story if they didn’t make the main character wander blindly in the direction the last person told them to, falling in all the traps and being saved not by their intellect and skill but by random people who don’t really have a reason to. Not to mention the ghost-eating and the DNA rebuilding and the magic rocks. >.>

EDIT: I forgot the chapter boss battle theme! Also, the soundtrack for basically this whole story is the Corpse Party soundtrack. : D

 

Part 1: The Old Machinations

 

A tall, lanky figure shuffled down the steel-grey corridor, head down, silver shock collar gleaming on the back of its neck, heavily laden with scrubbers and cleaning solution. Perfect posture, neatly dressed in pale grey, because even a slave had to be presentable if they worked in the house, didn’t they? Guards marched past the figure, not giving it even a second glance; it kept its head down, red hair covering its eyes, and shuffled on.

A door was open on the left, and the slave paused in the doorway. Only one guard was within, Ridderick, usually working security. His keycards were on the table, and he was turned away, just for an instant, pulling his underarmour over his head – he was coming off duty.

An awkwardly long-fingered red hand turned towards the table, and one of the keycards shivered and flew into it. The slave shuffled on.

When Ridderick was fired the next day for missing the keycard to the main security office, he couldn’t explain himself. He’d never misplaced any of his cards before, and he swore he’d had it when he entered the guard ready room. Even the camera footage of the room was no use – no one was to be seen between his entering and leaving it.

 

Lord Phurrl Netokos was the richest man on Commenor, if you believed everything he had to say about himself. He was Sith by title, but a merchant in deed – not that there was anything wrong with that, if you didn’t want bounty hunters to show up on your doorstep for slandering him. But his Sith nature did grant him a measure of ruthlessness in both trade and politics that made him one of the most powerful men on Commenor, almost its de facto ruler. Almost, because he still answered to the Council of the Hundred, as did all his rivals.

But he had the best guards – the unfortunate Ridderick no longer among their number – the largest estate, the largest mansion, the fastest yacht, and the most slaves. The younger, prettier ones were assigned to the mansion itself, segregated by gender of course, while the rest worked the factories and mines and fields until they dropped. What else were they good for? They were all the same. There was nothing outstanding about any sentient being unfortunate enough to be a slave. If there was, they wouldn’t have been a slave in the first place. Right?

 

“Who’s been stealing food?” thundered the guard – Krznaf, this one, a big brute who hated slaves almost as much as they hated him. He stomped further into the male slave quarters, tapping his truncheon on the floor, glaring around at them all even as they cowered. Two more guards followed, Wimgree and Brebuss, throwing blankets around, crushing pillows in search of contraband.

It wasn’t long before Wimgree gave a cry of triumph, holding up a package of crackers from a torn pillow like it was some magnificent prize. “Whose is this?”

A frozen moment of horror from all the slaves, then a shivering, blinking, small, slender Twi’lek boy, maybe eighteen years old, put up his hand. “I-I-I sleep there, s-sir, but those aren’t mine…”

Krznaf grabbed his arm and dragged him to the centre of the room. “You think I’d believe such nonsense?”

Tenkobu, a larger Twi’lek, took an involuntary step forward. “He couldn’t! I know Nelonk’ile. He couldn’t do such a thing.”

“Are you saying that you did it?” Krznaf demanded, squeezing Nelonk’ile’s arm harder.

Tenkobu’s expression didn’t flicker. “Maybe I did. Please let him go.”

Krznaf sneered. “I don’t believe you. Anyway, it doesn’t matter if I’ve caught the right one. He’ll make as good an example as any other.” He threw Nelonkile to the floor and began to beat him with his truncheon. The boy’s despairing cries echoed around the room as the other slaves watched in silence.

Finally satisfied, Krznaf kicked Nelonk’ile towards Tenkobu and headed for the door. “You know what happens if you steal. Just try it again!”

Tenkobu knelt beside his barely-conscious boyfriend. “Shh, shh, Nel, he’s gone. I’ll take care of you.”

“I didn’t do it, Ten. I didn’t…”

“I know. I don’t know who framed you, but you heard him. It doesn’t matter. Shh, now. I’ll cover for you for a couple days.” But when he raised his head, his eyes were hard and angry.

The redhead near the doorway noted it, then rolled over to sleep. Wake-up call was in five hours. Tenkobu’s promise of assistance wouldn’t affect anything. Nelonk’ile would be forced to work anyway. Tenkobu would still be strong enough for his plan.

 

Cleaning the library was nearly a full-time job in itself; Lord Netokos hardly read any of his holocrons, but he had to have a big library, the biggest on Commenor if possible, and it had to be pristine if ever he deigned to visit, so there was always work to be done there. Which meant many opportunities for a certain redhead to read, and learn, and scheme.

Today he was after a certain prize – a holocron of the last battles of Naga Sadow, very rare, sure to be informative, certain to give him new insights into his plan. He’d thought he’d considered every angle, but one of the first things he’d learned from the holocrons was “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. So when he would inevitably have to adapt and modify the plan, the more precedents he had to draw on, the better.

His name was Murlesson, a red Zabrak, somewhere between fifteen and seventeen Commenor years old, and he was going to tear his freedom from Netokos’s cold dead hands very, very soon. Though he courted death with every illicit movement every day, that goal beat fiercely in his breast, ahead of even his indomitable will to survive.

He was tall, but hadn’t yet filled out into a true adult; his hair was red, and his eyes were a flat, red-ringed yellow, and his nearly-settled voice was shockingly deep. But most important, and most precious and secret, was his gift. He had the strange ability to will things to happen, and to an extent, they would happen. Objects would move without touch. People, and even droids, would ignore him if he wanted to be ignored, or follow suggestions. He sensed presences and intentions, often before they even manifested. He didn’t know what it was. The few Sith he saw seemed to do similar things, and he stayed away from them in case they caught him. But no one else in his situation could have done the things he did.

He made his slow, dull way down the shelves, polishing ever closer to the holocron he was after. He reached it and moved past without changing his motions, and only someone watching very closely would have seen the slight flick of his fingers that impelled the cube to move without touch into his sleeve. Now he just had to get somewhere private enough to read some of it.

But before he could reach his hidey-hole, a cupboard under one of the shelves with a sliding door he could vanish into for at least twenty minutes, he passed one of his fellow slaves and got elbowed so hard he stumbled. “Where are you going?” Buhi hissed.

Murlesson shot him a venomous glance that didn’t seem to affect the Bith. Buhi had always seemed more resistant to his gift than others, and to make matters worse, was a complete dick, even to his fellow slaves. Especially to his fellow slaves. “Away from you. I got tired of your stench.”

Buhi put down his cleaners and turned to face him threateningly. “Say that again, scum.”

If I pacify him, he’ll know something’s up, and if I escalate, they might catch me. “The only scum I see here is you.”

Buhi swung; Murlesson ducked, smooth as water, sliding back. Buhi punched again, and he stepped back again. There was something wrong with Buhi’s attacks, though, he wasn’t necessarily trying to hit…

He sensed people behind him and whirled – too fast. He almost stumbled into two guards, checked himself at the last second, and the holocron tumbled from his sleeve and across the floor with a sharp metallic sound.

Yellow eyes went wide. His gift couldn’t save him now. “You saw nothing.” They couldn’t kill him more if he tried and failed.

Melcran snorted. “Ha, ha. Jokes won’t get you out of this.” Buhi was grinning maliciously, gleefully. An inexorable grip clamped around Murlesson’s arm and dragged him away. “Tobrat, cover for me while I take this filth down to get his desserts.”

The guard led him through halls to a place he was called in to clean far too often, and to a room where there were the two things he hoped to see least – a torture rack, and Lord Netokos. He almost bolted, terror choking him. All his plans, he’d tried so hard not to get caught, to never be strapped into that thing…

Netokos smiled and spread his hands wide. “So you’re the one who just couldn’t resist a peek at my collection. I didn’t even know you could read. Such a smart boy.” The sarcasm was as thick as Netokos’s spittle, and if Murlesson had been as powerful as Netokos, he could have offered a few barbs in return, but words failed him now.

Shaking, he held back, and Melcran gave him a yank. “The longer you resist, the longer you stay in the bed. Move.” He went limp and let them pull him forward. He had no clever plan for this.

 

He couldn’t tell if he was dead or not. Everything was dark, and his entire body was aching. Someone was… dragging him by the wrists?

Logic began to filter back, to tell him that it was dark because his eyes were closed, that if he were dead it would hurt a lot less. Past that, he couldn’t think. He couldn’t think, couldn’t remember what was going on, and began to panic. No, no, his name was Murlesson, and he was a slave to – and a black wave of hatred broke over him, almost numbing the pain. He tensed once, the emotion almost breaking free, then had to let it go from his body, even while it rolled around his head and chest unchecked. He couldn’t even fight the guard dragging him, let alone a mansion full of more guards and Sith. No. Stick to the plan.

He heard a door open, felt himself flying, heard himself whimper as he struck the floor and rolled.

“Next time you get dragged before Lord Netokos, he’ll break literally every bone in your body,” growled the guard, and Murlesson heard him slam the door. He must be back in the slave quarters.

He felt hands on him and suddenly fought, throwing himself back and away, scratching at his assailant, then faltered when he heard Tenkobu yelp. “Mur, hey, Mur, I’m trying to help, calm down!”

“Don’t waste your time on that asshole,” he heard Buhi call from across the room, and felt his teeth bare in an involuntary snarl. “He got his own stupid self caught with a holocron, remember? He knew what would happen.”

Murlesson cracked his eyes open, pushed himself to something resembling standing, and lunged for Buhi, but Ten caught him, restraining him easily, even though everything in Murlesson was telling him to tear Buhi’s arms off and choke the life out of him. “Whoa, wait, Mur. Rest. Tell me what happened. You’ve been gone for three days, I’ve been so worried. A holocron?” Ten’s brow was furrowed. He, too, must be wondering how Murlesson had been so stupid.

“Kn-knowledge,” Murlesson stammered out, forcing his sluggish mouth to move. His voice cracked in the middle of it. He slumped back against the wall and slid down to the floor again, gasping in pain, limbs shaking.

“Knowledge? What kind? What for?”

Knowledge was power, didn’t Ten know that? And Naga Sadow offered plenty of the kind he wanted. But he could hardly look at Ten, guilt suddenly wringing him as much as the torture. “I’m s-sorry about Nel.”

“It’s all right. It wasn’t his fault, but you got much worse than him.”

Karma, Balea of the female slaves called it. Maybe it was. But karma wouldn’t stop him. No matter how he felt, no matter what happened to the others, it was worth it in the end. Was it time to set things in motion? “What if I told you,” he said to Ten in a whisper that wouldn’t reach Buhi, “that I have a plan?”

Ten’s eyes widened, and he shrank back. “I don’t think I want to know.”

Suddenly his gaze focused on Ten, boring into him slightly lopsidedly. “You want revenge, don’t you? For Nel. And I want revenge. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I think it can work.” Murlesson knew he wasn’t quite in control, his eye twitching, his limbs trembling, breathing erratic. But he’d never been more earnest about anything in his whole life. His efforts had to pay off.

The Twi’lek stared at him with fear and concern mingled in his blue eyes. “I think you should rest.”

“I will. But tell me if you’re in.”

“I-I have to think about it, all right, Mur?”

That meant Ten didn’t want to. Without him, it would fail! He’d thought Ten had been primed for this moment! His fingers curled, longing to seize Ten’s tunic and drag him closer, hiss in his face. He didn’t. “It will work. It has to. I’m going to pay back Netokos for every single thing that’s happened to any of us. Or at least make him stop. I wouldn’t risk us all if I didn’t think we had a good chance.”

“Is that what the holocron was for?”

“Yes, to help me with my plans. I wanted to see if there were any more options I should know about. But it will work. I promise.” He tried to restrain the eye twitching, the sick crawl of hatred in his belly, tried to look trustworthy.

“Well…” Ten’s eyes grew hard and determined. “If you’re so sure. What do you need me to do?”

Murlesson relaxed in relief, then gasped again as that sent spasms up his back. “We all look to you, for good reason. When the time comes, lead the others in an uprising. I can’t get you weapons… but I can get security down. I can block the signal from the shock collar remotes.” Plans. Plans were good. He could talk about those and not lose control. “I have the password to the central computer.”

“How do you know that?”

Murlesson flicked his gaze towards Ylon, a human boy not more than eleven. He wouldn’t be around much longer, either, if this revolt didn’t happen soon. The youngest ones wore out the most quickly. Murlesson had let himself get attached exactly once. “Netokos likes to brag in bed.”

Ten barely restrained a shiver. “I think… I don’t know… I think Buhi has a vibroknife.”

“I know. He doesn’t know I know. Keep it that way. I need it to get into security.”

“You’re doing the most dangerous part, you can have it. But we can overpower a few guards to begin with, take their weapons. We’ll have to break the women out, too, they can help.”

“Yes.”

“And then?”

“Then head for the hangar. Steal a ship. I’ve learned what I can about how they work, and I hope it’ll be enough. But the estate should be in enough uproar for us to figure it out before we get shot.”

“And then… we’ll figure things out from there, I take it.”

Murlesson felt his eye twitching again. “Not a word to anyone until I say, right?”

“Not a word. Not even to Nel. Promise. Poor fellow wouldn’t want to know anyway. I’ll have to keep him back from the fighting, he can’t fight.”

“You might be surprised,” Murlesson said drily. “Now, pretend you were scolding me this whole time for being stupid.”

Ten nodded and stood, raising his voice a bit. “You’re not going to do that again, right? Don’t throw your life away for a box of words. It’s not worth it.”

“You tell that-” Buhi began.

“You can shut up, too,” Ten said, rounding on him. “If you hadn’t picked a fight, he might not have gotten tortured.”

Buhi stood, advancing on Ten. “You can drop the mamma manka routine any time, asshole. You’re just as much a gutter stain as any of us.”

Ten held Buhi’s eyes until the other was forced to drop them, slinking away back to his blanket, and Ten returned to the blanket he shared with Nel, curling around the boy protectively. Murlesson watched them for a moment, their entwined limbs and lekku. They couldn’t exactly claim happiness, not here, not now, but at least they had each other.

Guilt bit him again in the gut and he rolled over so he didn’t have to see them anymore.

His dreams were full of pain and leering faces. Morning was almost a relief.

 

The only thing standing in the way of his plan was the most opportune time. Sometime before the end of the week and the passwords would change, but not while he was still under censure for his crime. And preferably not while he was still weak from being electrocuted for three days. He was clumsier than usual because of it, and got smacked more than once for dropping cleaner bottles.

He was cleaning the slave toilets, scrubbing dully at old mold in the corners, and the door opened. Immediately his gift pricked him like a needle, and he looked up to see Buhi entering, a dark look on his face. “What do you want, you snitch?”

“You’re up to something, scum, and I know it,” Buhi snapped. “You think I haven’t noticed all the time you’re spending with mamma?”

It was true; Murlesson had spent more time with Ten over the last two days, trying to impart his various contingencies to his ersatz commander. Ten was no Marka Ragnos, but he would have to do. He’d tried to be subtle enough that Buhi wouldn’t notice something was up, but there wasn’t really time to do it properly. “He’s trying to get me to not come after you for what you did.” He rose to his feet, but not to the proper, upright stance of a good slave, settling into a tense, combat-ready crouch. “But here you’ve come to me, and he’s not here now, is he?” If he beat up Buhi enough, he would get in trouble, but Buhi wouldn’t interfere until it was time to strike. At which point Murlesson could kill him and dispose of him quietly.

Buhi’s tiny mouth opened in a snarl, and he lunged forward, fist cocked to punch. Murlesson slid sideways and punched back. He didn’t get his guard up in time to prevent an elbow from striking his cheekbone and staggered backwards.

Buhi’s hands wrapped around his neck, and Murlesson struggled with them for a brief second before he whipped his head forward and butted him in the face. Bith skulls might be hard, but Zabrak horns were harder, and Buhi reeled back, feeling the lump in the centre of his forehead. “You bitch!” He jumped away, scrabbling for something behind one of the mirrors. Murlesson sprang after him, he was going for…

…the vibroknife, which stabbed towards him viciously. Murlesson ducked, catching Buhi’s wrist, and they reeled for a moment, balanced against each other’s strength. Then Murlesson kicked out, catching Buhi in the knee, but the older, heavier slave toppled over onto him. The knife buzzed angrily against the tile by Murlesson’s ear, then raised to stab him in the face. Murlesson grabbed the wrist with both hands, and Buhi got his forearm over the Zabrak’s throat, pressing down. Murlesson hissed in fury, and thrashed, forcing the full power of his gift against Buhi. The pressure lifted, and as Buhi flinched in surprise and disbelief, Murlesson got control of the knife and slammed it into Buhi’s ribcage.

The Bith collapsed instantly, and Murlesson wriggled out from underneath the heavy body, breathing hard. Fascinating, how quickly living things lost control when they received their deathblow. He reached up to touch his throat, and stopped when he saw how covered in blood his hands were. His hands, the knife, his sleeves, and a large patch on his chest, sticky with greenish Bith blood.

There was no going back now. There wasn’t anywhere nearby he could hide the body, and no way he could hide that it was him who had killed him. He washed his hands and the vibroblade, put it into the bucket of cleaning supplies and picked it up again, holding it to hide the bloodstain. First, to the place he’d hidden the keycard, out in the halls. He shuffled as fast as he dared, his heart racing, clenching his gift with his mind. There’s no one here. No one to see. Nothing important.

The door to the security office was a long way away, but either he was lucky, his gift was working, or everyone had forgotten that he’d committed a crime already. Probably all three. The door was watched by two guards. They looked bored. Nothing happened around here. There’s nothing important going on. Softly, he put the bucket down near them and took the vibroblade in hand. His hand was trembling.

Swift as an adder, the knife stabbed both guards in the back of the neck. Murlesson swept the keycard through the lock and crouched. As the door hissed open, he lunged through, staying low, taking the three officers inside by surprise. He tackled the first one around the knees, snatching his blaster, and shot the other two before they could draw their own weapons.

The officer below him struck him with a closed fist, slamming him into a console and making him drop the blaster, and reached for the alarm. The thrown vibroblade caught him in the throat and he slumped backwards.

Murlesson glanced frantically at the door, but there were no reinforcements. Heart threatening to jump out of his throat, he dashed to what he believed was the main console. He was closer to more technology than he’d ever been before in his life, and holocrons could only teach so much. He had some luck with him; the officers were still logged in. With fingers violently trembling from fear and adrenaline, he searched for and found the signal frequency of the shock collar remotes, then entered the command that would initiate a jamming signal, setting it to loop automatically from all transmitters within the entire estate. Even when he shut down the computer, the jamming should remain. With priority one taken care of, he entered the commands that locked the doors to the guard quarters and everything related to guards that he could see. It wouldn’t stop reinforcements, but it would slow them down. Then he activated mansion-wide comm. “It’s time!” His voice cracked again, but it didn’t matter. Ten would understand. Ten would handle it.

The last thing he had to do in here was a general shut-down. He couldn’t find it from the menu, but he knew how to do a basic search function, thank goodness, and there it was, asking for the security password for confirmation. Ylon’s intel hadn’t been wasted. He poked it in quickly and heard a mechanical dwoo sound that seem to signal success. The bank of security camera screens before him went blank. Another panel, the one for the automated turrets, went dark.

Job done, he grabbed one of the blasters and shot everything that still had lights on it, then grabbed the other blasters and ran. There was something he needed in the library.

He ran into Nelonk’ile at the entrance. “Mur! What’s going on? Why did someone say ‘it’s time’? Why are you run- are those guns!?”

Murlesson shoved one at him. “We’re getting out. Take these to Ten. If you see a guard, shoot him. Shoot him several times. Make sure he’s not getting back up. Or he’ll kill you.”

“I-I d-don’t know- I c-can’t…”

“Yes, you can!” Murlesson yelled at him. “You have to! Remember what they did to you! To me! To all of us!”

Nelonk’ile looked like he was on the edge of a full-blown panic attack. Suddenly three slaves came running around the corner – Murlesson almost shot them. Two women and a man, one woman with a guard’s helmet in her hands, the other two with guns and stripped armour. “Nel! Mur! You guys all right?”

Murlesson shoved his extra guns at them. “Take care of Nel. I’m going ahead.”

Lasha grinned at him. “Ten says it’s thanks to you this is all happening. We’ve got guns, we’ve got a link into the guards’ comm system, and we outnumber them three to one. We’ll regroup and follow you.”

Murlesson nodded and ran. Tried to keep his heart from opening to them. For all he knew, she’d die around the next corner. All he cared for was getting himself out. Everything else could burn. He didn’t care. He hoped it did.

Right?

 

Lord Netokos had caught wind of the trouble, naturally, and Murlesson, moving more cautiously the closer he got to the hangar, caught sight of his personal bodyguard in the hangar’s antechamber. He was running until his guards had subdued the riot. Murlesson would have condemned him for his cowardice, if it didn’t play right into his plan. If he hadn’t counted on it in the first place.

Gift. He had to use his gift. There’s no one here. Everything is fine. There’s no one here, no one at all. He had to cross their field of vision to reach the service corridor, and he did the slave shuffle until he was halfway down, long out of their sight. Then he relaxed his posture into something more lightfooted, and slunk into the hangar.

Netokos was before him, standing at the foot of his private yacht; he looked like he was arguing with someone already on board. Probably the pilot. His lord of the last three years was an overweight human with red blotches on his face – not a proper red like Murlesson’s own scarlet skin, but the sort of purple-pink that humans thought was red when applied to a light brown-pink skin-tone. His clothes were brightly coloured and impractical for movement, though he had his lightsaber at his side.

Murlesson hit the door controls and then blasted them, locking the bodyguards outside for the mob to deal with when they got there, then lit the lightsaber he’d stolen from the library and charged.

Netokos turned, eyes bulging in surprise, but his own lightsaber was in his hand quick as thought. Murlesson felt his hands begin to tremble again, but not with fear – hatred flooded him now, black and venomous and bringing power to his limbs, blurring his vision, rising in his throat with a howl.

Netokos bared his own teeth. “What, slave? I keep you alive, fed, clothed, sheltered, busy, and you think you can challenge me?” He blocked Murlesson’s strike, and the next. “You don’t even know how to use that weapon.”

Murlesson didn’t bother to answer. He didn’t know how to use it properly, maybe… but Buhi hadn’t been the first person he’d shanked. And his gift was useful for more than just turning minds and eyes away from him. Although if he could cause confusion to Netokos as well, even in the heat of the moment… Cat-like, he hopped backwards from Netokos’s counterattack, catching the blows on his orange blade, sensing where they’d fall. He could have shot at him with the blaster, he had decent hand-eye coordination, but he knew the Sith could deflect bolts. One holocron had said lightsaber-users were useless against blasters when using Makashi form, but he had no idea what that was. So headlong suicidal hand-to-hand combat it was.

Netokos paused in his onslaught. “You’re a Force-sensitive, aren’t you? Incredible. You’ve survived in secret for so long, I almost admire you. But now I’ll take great pleasure in ending you!”

Slow. He shouldn’t have stopped. Murlesson attacked again, viciously pressing his brief advantage, battering his opponent’s guard, every strike angling for the kill.

But Netokos blocked and swiped his lightsaber in a motion Murlesson couldn’t follow, and suddenly his lightsaber was torn from his grasp and searing pain burned along his ribcage. The Sith laughed as Murlesson staggered, clutching his side. “You weren’t even close. Now you’ll die in great pain-”

Pain was no stranger to him, and he exploded forwards with a roar, skidding under the blast of lightning that shot from Netokos’s fingertips and struck the floor behind him. He snatched the vibroknife from his belt and hurled himself at his enemy, up between his arms. Netokos fell backwards, Murlesson on him. He was stabbing, over and over and over, his clothes becoming wet with crimson-black patches. Netokos was still, his breath and pulse gone, and yet he continued, mindless with hate.

A slow clap to his left brought him to his senses with a jolt. Someone was descending the ramp of the yacht slowly.

Murlesson bolted. He only made it a single step before something invisible gripped him, lifting him into the air and turning him to face… her. A regal lady, face white as paper with makeup, and orange eyes in pools of black eyeshadow. Her black hair was elaborately done on the top of her head, and her red robes swished around her legs as she strode slowly forwards. “Well done, child. The Empire is well rid of that waste, and it seems my visit was not completely in vain.”

Murlesson struggled silently. Any questions he had were not worth asking. He just had to get away, to get away from the greater, colder evil before him.

She stopped before him and reached out to stroke his face. He winced at her touch, then even more as she smiled. “Yes, you are very strong, aren’t you? You’ll do very well.” She let him down, though the invisible force did not let him go. “I am Darth Lachris. You are going to come with me, and I will take you to a new life. As here, you will either thrive, or die… but your destiny will at last be your own.” She tilted her head. “Doesn’t that sound nice?”

What could he do? What could he say? He’d fought for his freedom so hard, and now it was gone from him yet again. He swallowed. He would submit… for now. A chance would come. He could scheme against this woman too.

He nodded. She smiled and clapped her hands. “Wonderful! Now, follow me.” She released him entirely and turned to head back into the yacht. Meekly, he followed, clamping down on the resentment and hate in his belly.

He’d never been on a ship before, that he could remember, and stared at everything curiously. Some of it he recognized from holocrons, but most of it was completely foreign to him. He followed her to the… cockpit? and watched her hit buttons and move levers until the ship rose in the air, shifting slightly under his feet. His wound pained him, but it didn’t seem to be bleeding much. She didn’t go far, waiting for something, a mysterous smile on her face still. He could see the mansion. It looked relatively intact, though some windows were now shedding faint smoke.

A few minutes later, another shuttle rose from the mansion’s hangar, much more unsteadily. So at least some of the other slaves made it out. He tried not to feel too much, not with the Sith sitting right there, but he was relieved all the same.

That relief turned to horror as the Sith gently turned the ship in the direction of the shuttle, touching a button that announced “weapons systems powering up” as she did so. “It wouldn’t do to have baggage from your past knocking about, would it?” Her fingers found the trigger.

He stepped forward, raised his hand – and was slammed back into a seat and held there. “Please,” he blurted out, helpless as he was, and his voice cracked. He didn’t really care about them… did he?

But they’d fought for their freedom, too, and they’d won it as truly as he had. It wasn’t fair if no one got free.

She spared him a contemptuous look, and turned the approaching shuttle into a fireball.

The rising hate-filled snarl broke free of his teeth and he tore himself from the chair, his gift pushing back against the invisible force holding him. She rose, turning to face him, and stretched out her hand, and he choked.

“You hate me, don’t you?” she said, smirking. Oh, how he wanted to scratch that look off her face. “You hated Netokos, and you hate me. Good. With potential like yours, and that fuel to the fire, you’ll serve the Empire very well. But first, you need a lesson in power and who wields it here.”

His throat closed on itself, and he couldn’t breathe – he couldn’t-

 

Part 2

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