Realllllllllly sorry about the long time between posting. I ended up moving a few things around and editing stuff, then felt like I hit a brick wall. Anyway, back to Veresia's time on Korriban:
The academy had reacted to Spindrall’s death just as I had expected it to; in-fighting, bickering and plenty of mutual recriminations among the Sith. After all, who but a Sith would have even thought to kill an old man with little to offer but insight into the Dark Side? Certainly not an acolyte that had once been a slave, known more for her acid tongue than a propensity for violence. Though I tried to hide it, my pleasure slipped past the façade I used as armor; knowing glances when Spindrall was referenced, a sly smile when I was sure I was not being watched.
Some part of me knew that what I had done had placed me on the precipice. It wasn’t just justice for Kory that I had been seeking, I wanted Spindrall to hurt, I wanted to cause the Sith pain. I want them to pay for everything they’ve done to me. To everyone. I had thought I could do that without risking who I was in the name of vengeance, but as every day passed in the heart of Sith cruelty, I couldn’t help but realize it would be a small price to pay. I couldn’t accept breaking more of my promises, not after Ally and Kory.
As I entered Harkun’s chamber, I noticed that we had the room to ourselves. Ffon was probably off in the torture chambers pulling the wings off Genosians, but I had no clue as to where Balek and Wydr might be; neither had Harkun’s favor, and I could still feel them through the Force, however tenuously, so they hadn’t been added to the pile of bodies quite yet. No doubt, Harkun has something planned for them too.
The overseer eyed me sourly as I sauntered in, taking as much time as possible to draw out his annoyance. He waved me forward impatiently, but that simply encouraged me to slow down, languidly stretch my arms, and enjoy the ambiance of the academy.
“Good morning, Overseer. Quite the lovely day for a scenic tour of the torture chambers and murder pits, is it not?”
The vein above his right eye looked about ready to burst. “Silence, slave. I did not give you leave to speak.”
I smiled innocently. “And yet, I spoke. The wonders of the Force never cease to amaze.”
He looked about ready to strike me, but he restrained himself. Whether it was because he had been ordered to do so, out of self-control he had developed in his years as an instructor, or perhaps some small shred of decency, I did not know. “I have had enough of your games and childish behavior, slave. Somehow, you have managed to survive your trials so far.” He paused, his vein pulsing slightly, which amused me. “No doubt that will all change soon enough. The Force will not allow such a worthless piece of filth to attain the rank of a Sith.”
I let out a small giggle to set him up. “Hmmm. You know, Harkun, it occurs to me that the Force saw it fit to allow you to reach the rank of Overseer, so perhaps its standards aren’t quite what you think they are.” His face reddened noticeably. “No doubt that ugly Sith grandmother of yours would have been so proud of your progress.” I smiled broadly at him.
This time, he did hit me. Hard, right across the mouth. I cringed as I bit deep into my lower lip. I tasted blood, but mixed with that sourness was the sweet taste of victory.
“Enough, slave!” He was practically shaking with rage. “I have no more patience within me, and I will not hesitate to end your pathetic life if you continue these games.” I blinked at him, innocent as a babe. That only seemed to aggravate him further. “You are to report to the training room for instructions on how to properly use a blade in combat. It is quite clear that you lack the necessary experience with a weapon.”
As I exited the room, I casually looked back at him over my shoulder. “Overseer, do you have experience with your, *ahem* weapon? You must get quite a lot of practice.”
I did not hear his response, though it sounded quite angry, especially when it was punctuated by a large crash against the door as it closed behind me. Oh Harkun, so easy to wind up. I looked forward to the day I could drive my saber through what remained of his shriveled heart.
Fortunately, my trip to the training rooms was uneventful, largely due to the combination of the continued investigation into Spindrall’s death, but also because I chose to whistle the Imperial anthem horribly off-key as I walked, drawing a few curious looks, but no interference.
The room was deserted when I entered it, triggering alarm bells in my head; it should have been filled with acolytes and apprentices alike, all honing their ability to kill. It was never this empty even at the oddest hour of night; there were always plenty of students scrambling desperately for every little edge that might help them survive their experience on Korriban. I moved past a pair of training dummies and glanced around the observation room, which was also empty. I could feel the goose bumps on my skin.
When I returned to the main training area, there were two shadows bracketing the ones cast by the dummies, and felt even dark presences behind them. Ah, so that’s what this is.
“Hello Wydr, Balek.” I nodded to the twins in turn. “I assume you aren’t here for some friendly sparring.” I kept my tone light, but slid my hand underneath my robe to get the hilt of my blade within reach.
“Um, no we aren’t.” Balek. I could only tell them apart because his brother was the one trying futilely to grow a moustache, a beard, any kind of facial hair. “Sorry, but you aren’t going to like this.”
I gave my shoulders a half-shrug to loosen my robes, then put a distinctly mock-innocent intonation in my voice. “Are you sure, boys? How do you know I won’t like it?”
Balek rubbed the back of his head uneasily, while his brother stared holes into the ground in front of him. “Look, it isn’t like that at all. We like you, we really do. Hell, Wydr’s had a crush on you since the moment he saw you on the shuttle.”
I flushed slightly at the news, but recognized a potential opportunity. “If that’s true, we don’t need to do this. We can find a way around whatever Harkun has put you up to.”
For a moment, a brief moment, a ray of hope shone on Balek’s face. It died quickly. “We can’t do that. He said he’d get us off Korriban if we took care of you. Ffon will kill us if we don’t, him or Harkun. I don’t want to die here. Neither of us does.” He looked ready to cry.
“I will kill Ffon, and I don’t want or need to kill you.” I hoped he recognized the sincerity in my voice. Balek and Wydr were victims, not villains, not my enemies.
He mulled that over for a second. “Maybe you could. We can’t take that risk, though, we have to get out of here. Neither of us are going to survive Ffon or Harkun. Neither of us will make it off Korriban.”
No, you aren’t I thought sadly as they drew their vibro-blades and activated them, bathing the darkened room in unnatural red and orange light.
“I’m sorry.” It was the last thing either of them would ever say.
Balek feinted at me from my right, while Wydr charged in hard. His heart wasn’t into it, though, so I casually sidestepped him and kicked out at the back of his leg, sending him sprawling. Balek came at me, screaming like a wild animal, but leaving his guard wide open as he swung wildly for where my head had been.
“I’m sorry,” I told him as I cut into his stomach.
He mouthed something silently as he dropped his sword, clutching at his stomach in a futile attempt to hold everything in. I forced myself to look away, and wrinkled my nose pungent odor filled the air. This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen. I sighed and turned back to Balek, who had pushed himself off the floor and was facing me, sword at the ready.
Balek wasn’t moving though, and his eyes were focused intently on his brother’s corpse. “Make it quick. Please. Quick and painless.” His eyes moved from Wydr to mine, the plea they had for me even weightier. “Not like him.”
I shook my head vigorously. “I can get you off Korriban, I’ve helped people escape. You don’t have to die. Neither of you did.” Even as my voice trailed off, I could sense what was coming. The Force did not lie to me, even when I wanted it to.
He answered by swinging his blade towards me, then adjusting quickly as I pirouetted out of the way. His slashes became faster, more wild, and it wouldn’t be long before he scored a lucky hit. Harkun was not a complete fool – I was no duelist. Time to make an end of it.
It came faster than either of us expected; he stabbed forcefully for my stomach, but I parried the blow and followed my inertia towards his body. He sank onto my blade, spitting out blood.
He looked at me sadly. “Can I go home now?” I couldn’t trust myself to speak, so I nodded as I lay his body down on the ground, closing his eyelids with my hand. I shivered, and crawled over to where his brother lay in a growing pool of blood.
I had not known Wydr, I couldn’t even remember having spoken to him, but I knew he had deserved better. I kissed his forehead gently, and sat in silence for moments that felt like an eternity.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
More blood on my hands. More lives to be weighed on the scale.