Chapter Twelve: Superiors
Dromund Kaas. The heart of the Sith Empire, with skies just as dark.
Black spires and towering buildings made up Kaas City, the capital and largest settlement to emerge amongst the unforgiving jungles and ravines that populated the dark world. The Great Galactic War was at its peak and only the most influential and most insignificant Sith could afford to remain within the city for an extended period of time. Everyone in between was spread out amongst the galaxy, fighting to ensure a victory for the Empire. Powerful dark lords of the Sith took shelter within the bastion of the Citadel, guiding their forces and calculating their various plots. At the opposite end of the spectrum, one Sith sought shelter within a different bastion.
Whereas outside, the lights and sounds of thunderous lighting permeated the area, the local cantina traded those for luminous fixtures and continuous music. Imperial officers lucky enough to have the smallest allotment of free time hoped to use it finding a brief escape from the hardships afforded to them by their place in society. A lone figure sitting at the bar wished for the same.
Zabrak. Male. Dark skinned. Crown of horns. Garbed in a thick set of black robes indicative of a Sith. The figure sat hunched over, his eye peering deeply into the depths of the drink resting in his hand. Slowly, he raised the glass of his lips, taking a swig before releasing a heavy sigh. Disconnected from the world around him, the Zabrak was content to drink in solitude. Such want would go unheeded, however, when another Sith casually strolled up to the bar and took a seat next to him.
The alien tore his gaze from his glass to take a quick glance at the peculiarly chipper figure that had chosen to sit in the adjacent seat. His face was soft, and his coat was a vibrant red. Nothing about him conveyed a sense of darkness. It was almost off-putting.
“So. Did you hear? Word is the Republic finally managed to kill the Dread Masters,” the Human said, his gaze planted straight ahead toward the distant bartender.
“Yeah, that’s the word,” the Zabrak hesitantly replied.
“The name’s Vai Thorel. And you… must be Ikton Odrek.”
“You know my name?” Ikton replied, utterly unfazed by the revelation as he returned to his drink.
“Oh, I know more than that,” Thorel admitted. “Ikton Odrek. Security chief for Lord Norrok. Now that’s curious. Of all the Sith I’ve come to meet, I don’t think I’ve ever met one with the title of Security Chief. I dunno. Just doesn’t seem very Sith.”
The Zabrak released a low grumble. “I’m well aware of my place in this world. There’s little left to be said by those intent on insulting ‘filth’ like me.”
Thorel adopted a wide smile. “I’m sorry, I forgot. When people talk with a pleasant cantor around here, it’s rarely genuine. Contrary to what you might think, I am actually here to help you.”
“Help me? And how do you suppose you’ll do that?” Ikton asked.
“I know you’re Sith. Well, maybe not in the traditional sense,” Thorel admitted. “You never graduated from any of the Academies. You were picked up and trained at a Sith Lord’s own personal expense, to be used to fulfill his own needs. You’ve power, but not enough to properly challenge a Sith of proper standing and worth. Instead, you are in charge of guarding the Lord’s estate. More a highly specialized security guard, than a proper warrior. I think, however, that we can change that.”
“Me. And my master.”
“And who would that be?”
Thorel reached into the inside of his coat and retrieved a small holocommunicator and placed it on the bar. The small disk lit up, the shimmering blue form of Lord Tash eventually popping up from the device’s projector . The elder Human stood with his head held high, his posture utterly adamant.
“My name is Lord Tash,” the image spoke. “I take it my apprentice has extended my offer to you?”
“All he said is that you could somehow change my life.”
The image of Lord Tash offered a brief, silent glance toward his apprentice before focusing his attention back toward the Zabrak. “That is correct. In the immediate future, I intend to acquire a vast majority of Lord Norrok’s assets. His estate. His funds. His employees…”
“Me,” Ikton added.
“Correct,” Tash replied. “I would like to offer you the choice to join me. Lord Norrok sees you as nothing more than an animal to be kept on a short leash. I see the potential that rests within you.”
“You also see the fact that conquering his estate is much easier with his security chief on your side,” Ikton suggested.
The electronic figure’s lips curled into a smirk. “Quite the astute observation. Yes, it is true. I intend to exploit your position and knowledge for my own benefit, but such is the way of the Sith. I do not however, intend to throw you away after I am successful in my endeavors. I do not share the thoughts of my peers in regards to aliens. I believe in potential, pure and simple.”
“So, what, you’re offering me a place in your… what? Crew? Inner circle?”
“You would be my apprentice alongside Thorel there, that much I can offer you. But there is much more beyond that.”
“Like what?” Ikton asked.
“Like the fact that I know you have a son,” Tash plainly stated. “I know you have been training him yourself, in secret.”
The Zabrak began to swirl what little drink was left in his glass. “And?”
“I have much sway over who is permitted into the Korriban Academy,” Tash explained. “In fact, over the past few months, I have been gathering Force-sensitive children to fill a new series of openings. I can ensure your son has a place amongst them.”
“You… you can ensure my son gets into the Academy? Gets the chance to be a proper Sith?” Ikton asked, showing the first visible sign of genuine emotion.
“I can guarantee it,” Tash stated. “Of course, the nature of the Academy will forbid you from having any further contact with the boy…”
“That’s okay… that’s okay. If you can give my son the chance I never had… I’ll gladly join you.”
“Excellent,” Tash said with a nod. “Give Thorel the location of your son, then make your way to the Citadel. I will have an escort waiting for you at the entrance.”
The Zabrak offered an affirming nod as the holocommunicator shut off. Thorel returned the device to his pocket and offered a respecting shake of his hand to his fellow apprentice. While Ikton went to see his new Lord, the Human waded toward the outskirts of Kaas City, to an apartment complex that housed the alien’s son.
Thorel eventually made it to the designated housing, a small dwelling continually financed by Ikton. The Human knocked on the door and waited for a response. None came. He resorted to inputting the door code provided by the father. Entering the domicile, it appeared empty. By both persons and things. Little furniture occupied the small entry room. No extraneous decorations were present. It was the barest of living arrangements.
The boy had been living here on his own. Not leaving, making due with whatever his father could send his way. Thorel knew he was here, hiding. The apprentice closed his eyes, focused his mind. Before long, he had a fix on the child’s location. Thorel called out to him, said he was a friend. But a distrust of strangers had been firmly implanted into the boy’s mind via his father.
The apprentice eventually won him over, telling tales of the Academy and the future that awaited him. The young Zabrak emerged from his room, face stoic and chin held high. He walked out, ready to face whatever had come his way. Thorel offered a smile and a respectful nod of his head.
Together, the two exited the housing structure and made their way toward the nearby starport. Isorr was heading for the Academy.