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Afterimages: Dawn


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Vesaniae
07.02.2015 , 02:06 PM | #1
An Imperial-centric story of politics, romance, and galactic strife. SW, SI, IA, and JK spoilers to follow. Departs from established game canon following the end of the class stories.

Those who frequented the forums around summer and fall of 2012 may remember a little story of mine called Afterimages. Three years later, I've decided to redo the whole thing. The main characters are the same, but the plot is different and the writing is better. Hopefully, the result is something that I can reread in three years and not want to burn to the ground and start over. Reading the original thread is absolutely not necessary, but it may be found here.

I hope you all like it too!


One
The Citadel, Dromund Kaas
13 ATC



Her boots were loud on the polished black floor, each step cracking the foreboding silence of the Citadel. Although she was a slight figure, standing only a few inches above five feet in height, she moved with a confidence befitting the one who held the title of the Emperor’s Wrath.

She was Pureblood Sith, with skin the color of burnished copper and dark red hair pulled back severely into a tail behind her head. Her face, marked with the ridges characteristic of her species, had been called beautiful in the past. Now, however, only a few beings dared meet the golden eyes of one of the most powerful Sith Lords in the Empire.

Her name was A’tro. Darth A’tro now, though most only knew her by her title of Wrath. She found that she rather preferred it that way. Reputation was everything for a Sith, and hers was made all the more fearsome by lack of a name.

And so she walked through the dark corridors of the Citadel, occasionally passing red-armored Imperial Guards, who bowed deeply as she passed. She had been on the front lines for almost six months, and it was pleasant to be back on Dromund Kaas, at the heart of the Empire’s power. After months of fighting, she was coming home.

When she reached her destination, the entrance to an apartment located about halfway up the Citadel, she was not surprised to see a young human woman in plain black robes waiting outside the door. A’tro greeted her apprentice with a nod and approached the apartment’s keypad, entering in the code to unlock the door.

“Master,” Jaesa Willsaam said with a graceful bow. “I’ve been waiting here, as you requested.”

The door slid open with a soft hiss of motors. A’tro stepped inside, gesturing for Jaesa to follow.

The apartment was situated on one edge of the building, and one wall of the antechamber was solid glass, giving a spectacular view of Kaas City and the jungle beyond. It was only mid-afternoon, but the sky was obscured by thick clouds, shrouding the landscape in darkness. As A’tro watched, droplets of rain began to splash against the window.

“Did you deliver my request to the Ministry of War?” she asked abruptly.

“Yes, Master.” A pause. “If I may,” Jaesa said carefully, “I mean no disrespect, my lord, but…why me?”

A’tro turned away from the window to face her. “A Sith Lord of my rank does not waste time on errands. You are my apprentice, and as such, you represent my interests in matters that are too trivial for me to address personally.”

Jaesa’s brows drew together slightly. “I understand, Master.”

“If these assignments bore you, I suggest you bear in mind that we all serve the Empire in our own way.”

“I thought I served you.”

“Do not get impertinent with me, apprentice. The Empire is the Emperor, and I am his Wrath. You will find it is all very much the same thing.”

“I apologize, Master,” Jaesa murmured.

At least the Jedi taught her to be respectful, A’tro thought sourly. Sith apprentices tend to need the arrogance beaten out of them. “You’ll learn soon enough. It is my intention to remain in the capital for some time. As long as we are here, you must never forget your place in the order of things."

“I’m not sure I understand what that place is,” Jaesa admitted. “The Sith are…more complicated than I expected.”

“As my apprentice, you are on equal footing with most Sith who bear the title of Lord. Sometimes it will be necessary to remind them of that fact. Be bold, but not overconfident. Understand your own limitations.”

“I think I can do that.”

“Good.” A’tro turned away and started walking towards the door leading to the rest of the apartment. “You may go.”

“Where am I supposed to stay?”

“Figure it out.” I’ll teach her to be self-sufficient if it kills her.

“But I—yes, Master.” A strong current of curiosity surfaced in her Force presence, and was quickly suppressed.

A’tro paused and turned around. “Was there something you wanted?”

Jaesa’s gaze darted away from her and she bit her lip, something A’tro had come to recognize as a sign of nervousness. “I just wondered why—” She shook her head. “It’s none of my business, Master. Forget I said anything.”

A subtle chill ran down A’tro’s spine and settled in the pit of her stomach, where it quickly turned to a hot ember of anger. “Tell me.”

Jaesa visibly steeled herself. “Why did you have Captain Quinn reassigned? I thought the two of you were—worked well together.”

“I have my reasons,” A’tro said flatly. “And you were right to say that it is no business of yours. That will be all.”

“Yes, Master.” Jaesa swallowed hard. “I’m sorry I brought it up.” She bowed quickly and fled.

A’tro took a deep breath and laced her fingers together, cracking her knuckles one at a time. Outside, there was a distant peal of thunder.

Hopefully, Jaesa’s acute perception had failed to detect A’tro’s doubts on the matter. The old adage of keep your friends close and your enemies closer kept coming to mind. Whether Quinn was a friend or an enemy, however, was the question that continued to press irksomely at the back of her mind. Or perhaps that was too complicated a way of looking at it, and he was simply a liability. And liabilities had to be removed, no matter the cost.

to be continued.
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MilaniGrey
07.02.2015 , 02:14 PM | #2
The triumphant return!
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"How dreadfully spooky." -- Vesaniae's Darth Nox

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bright_ephemera
07.02.2015 , 03:22 PM | #3
Allow me to understate: Wooo! Good Jaesa moments. Poor, 'why is my master doing this' Jaesa moments.
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Lunafox
07.02.2015 , 05:09 PM | #4
I enjoyed this very much! Love Sith Warrior! Looking forward to more, and welcome back!

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ndcella
07.02.2015 , 06:29 PM | #5
I was instantly hooked, look forward to reading more. Keep up the great work! (Goes back to lurking the FanFiction)

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Vesaniae
07.03.2015 , 08:57 AM | #6
Thank you all for the comments! It's nice to be back.

Two
The Citadel, Dromund Kaas
13 ATC



"I'm ever so pleased that you agreed to meet with me, Wrath," Darth Nox said cheerfully.

The newest member of the Dark Council was a fair-skinned human woman with long, midnight black hair and pale gray eyes. Her face, while not conventionally beautiful, was nonetheless quite attractive, with a tapered jaw, prominent cheekbones, and a long, narrow nose. She had chosen to forego traditional Sith robes in favor of a high-collared white dress with embroidered gold accents.

A'tro had been present during Nox's climactic duel with Darth Thanaton in the Council chamber. Her conduct then made A'tro inclined to like her, but she definitely didn't trust her. Nox was dangerous.

That danger, however, was why A'tro had agreed to meet with her in the first place. "The pleasure is mine," she said smoothly. "I was eager to once again offer my congratulations on your victory over Thanaton."

The corners of Nox's scarlet mouth turned upwards. "Thank you."

They were meeting in one of the public seating areas of the Citadel, an array of chairs and couches arranged in front of a large window giving a grand view of the city. Such places were good locations for Sith to hold meetings, as one could carry on a private conversation if one was quiet, but it was public enough that only the boldest would try for a violent power grab.

Nox moved over to a chair by the window, floating across the floor like a ghost in her white dress. A’tro took a seat across from her, folding her hands in her lap, but taking care not to intertwine her fingers too tightly in case her lightsabers were needed. This was a public space, but this was also Darth Nox.

"I must admit," Nox said, "I'm curious as to what you intend to do with your new position."

A'tro studied the metal plate on the back of her right gauntlet for a long moment, contemplating her answer. "I defeated Darth Baras in single combat," she said finally. "By rights, his seat on the Dark Council belongs to me."

"Ambitious," Nox said admiringly. "To be the Emperor's Wrath and a member of the Dark Council... I doubt the others will like it."

"I'm not giving them a choice."

Nox chuckled. "I like you, Wrath."

"I'm flattered. Might I ask what you intend to do with your own position, Nox?"

"Oh...this and that." Her enigmatic smile returned in full force. "The Sphere of Ancient Knowledge will keep me satisfied for the time being."

"I must admit, I look forward to seeing where you go."

Nox's smile widened. "You may be the only one. I get the sense that certain members of our illustrious Council are not overly fond of me."

"Such things are to be expected."

“Still, it’s dreadfully inconvenient when one is trying to get things done. Especially inconvenient for the assassins, since they’re all dead now, but…I’m sure you understand.”

“As it happens, I haven’t had many difficulties in that area,” A’tro admitted.

Nox raised a thin black arch of an eyebrow. “You haven’t? No, of course you haven’t. You’re the Emperor’s Wrath; trying to assassinate you would be tantamount to a declaration against the Emperor himself. Sheer foolhardiness.”

“Indeed.”

“No wonder you’ve been so productive of late. You do impressive work, Wrath. Our colleagues had best be on their guard. I assume now that you’ve returned to proper civilization, you will be attending our meetings?”

“Yes. It’s time I became involved.”

“Good, good. I daresay you won’t have any difficulty finding somewhere to sit. There have been so many chairs open of late. It’s a little troubling.”

“The loss of Council members is a blow, to be sure, but they will be replaced soon enough.”

Nox pursed her lips and frowned. “Will they, though? I can’t help but notice that the Sphere of Imperial Intelligence has remained leaderless for some time.”

“Imperial Intelligence is dissolved, now. I imagine that complicates things.”

Nox’s frown deepened. “I am well aware. Whose foolhardy idea was that, anyway?”

A’tro shrugged.

Nox shook her head. “It doesn’t matter now. The point is, there is an empty seat and no one has taken it.”

“I’m not sure that the rest of the Council considers it empty. Darth Jadus is not dead, as far as we know.”

“‘As far as we know is’ decidedly limited. No one has seen or heard from Jadus in a year, now.”

“Considering what happened the last time he faked his demise, I understand the Council being reluctant to remove him from the picture.”

“Hmm.” Nox frowned at the window for several moments. Then the expression wiped itself clear from her face, replaced by her usual half-smile. “You know, you weren’t at all what I was expecting.”

A’tro stared at her blankly for a moment. “I wasn’t?”

“Not at all. When I heard that there was a new Emperor’s Wrath, and that they would likely be present when I faced Thanaton, I imagined some colossus of muscle looming over the proceedings.”

A’tro snorted. “Disappointed?”

“Not at all. No one bothered telling me you were a woman, either. Which, I have to say, is quite refreshing. The Empire could use a few more Sith ladies in visible positions of power.”

“On that, we can agree.”

“Not that I think our male colleagues are incompetent. Except for Ravage. Still, I find myself the recipient of a great deal of attention.”

A’tro looked from Nox’s face to her tight-fitting dress and back again several times. “I can’t imagine why.”

“Six months in power and they’re already clambering for my favor in droves.” Nox sighed dramatically. “Ah, the benefits of power. But what about you, my dear? A Pureblood such as yourself is at the top of the aesthetic food chain to most Sith.”

“I have no interest in such things.”

“No? More for me, then.” Nox settled back in her chair, her half-smile arranging itself into a full, confident smirk. “You can go a great distance on looks alone. I learned that a long time ago.”

“My strength can carry me all the distance I need to go.”

“Funny you should say that,” Nox said lightly. “Because unless I’m getting the Sith Code completely wrong, we gain our strength through passion.”

A’tro suppressed the urge to shake her head. She had witnessed Nox’s battle with Darth Thanaton, and the woman was as cold and calculating a fighter as she had ever seen. “I think the Code is referring to a different kind of passion.”

“Is it, though? An awful lot of Jedi can be convinced to switch sides with the promise of a little…fraternization.”

“I’ll give you that one,” A’tro said, thinking of some of the first questions Jaesa had asked her. “But I do not believe that ‘fraternization,’ as you put it, is as necessary as you make it sound. To indulge one’s appetites too far is weakness, plain and simple.”

“You prefer your hedonism in controlled doses, then?”

“I prefer not to waste my time.”

“Ah, one of those types.” Nox nodded sagely. “Perhaps I’ve been reading this all wrong. A military man—or woman—would be much more to your fancy than a Sith.” Her smile widened. “I do love our troops. So disciplined. So eager to please.”

Several extremely vivid memories flashed through A’tro’s mind. “I am finished with this line of conversation.”

“Of course, of course. Now that we’ve established your lack of interest, I can conquer as I see fit. Excellent.”

A’tro blinked. “You…you are strange, Nox.”

“I know. But I would be very boring otherwise.”
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MilaniGrey
07.03.2015 , 11:21 AM | #7
Nox/A'tro interactions <3 <3
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"How dreadfully spooky." -- Vesaniae's Darth Nox

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Vesaniae
07.04.2015 , 09:00 AM | #8
Three
The Citadel, Dromund Kaas
13 ATC



A’tro had set up her office with her desk at a slight diagonal away from the door. This meant that when she sat behind it and faced straight ahead, she was not looking directly at whoever might be in the room. It was a strategic choice, intended to force visitors to feel that they had to work to earn her full attention.

She was starting to realize that the layout also gave her an excuse to avoid looking at the one person she really didn’t want to see.

Captain Malavai Quinn stood at attention in the center of the room. He had been standing there, straight and rigid as a post, for several minutes, and A’tro had no intention of letting him relax. Let him be as uncomfortable in her presence as she was in his.

She quested outward with the Force, trying to get a sense of his emotions, and found nothing. She had never been very good at reading people.

She let the moments drag on, one after another, until she had finished the latest report from Corellia. At last, she closed the report, brought up a new document, and let her gaze turn ever so slightly towards the center of the room.

“Captain Quinn,” she said in the tone of one discussing the weather. “I believe that your talents would be best put to use within the Imperial military directly. To that end, you have been reassigned to the command of Moff Aurelius Drayle, effective immediately.”

A’tro forced herself to turn her head and look at him straight on. His face bore the same deliberately blank expression it always had.

“I trust you understand,” A’tro said, feeling the weight of the words as they emerged into the air to hang for a moment, then fall like mountains.

“Yes, my lord,” Quinn replied evenly.

A’tro wondered if this was all an act, or if he really didn’t care. She could never tell with him anymore. “That will be all, Captain. Dismissed.”

He bowed to her—a gratifying sight, she had to admit—and left.

The moment the doors closed behind him, A’tro slumped over in her chair with a heavy sigh. That had been entirely too difficult. Clearly, putting Quinn as far away from her as possible was the best option.

Reaching up behind her head, she removed the tie from her hair, then ran a hand through the rust-colored locks. It was done. Quinn was gone, the viper in her bed reduced to just another cog in the Imperial war machine.

I’ll miss him. She suppressed the thought as soon as it surfaced, but it was there nonetheless.


*****


The next day, A’tro received a call from Servant One.

“Wrath,” he said immediately. “You have returned to Dromund Kaas.”

“Our most vital campaigns are stable,” A’tro replied, unconsciously putting her hands behind her back in an Imperial parade rest. “I felt it best to return to the capital and—”

Servant One cut her off. “You misunderstand. Explanations for your actions are not required.”

A’tro nodded slowly, keeping her face impassive.

“The Emperor is pleased with his Wrath,” Servant One continued. “You have done well.”

“It has been my honor to serve our Emperor.”

“Yes,” Servant One said blandly. “Your dedication will be rewarded. I trust I need not explain to you the power of the Emperor’s chosen guardsmen?”

“The Imperial Guards live up to their reputation,” A’tro said. She realized what she was doing with her hands and jerked them down to her sides.

“Two of the Guard’s most capable members have been assigned to your service. You will find them awaiting your command outside your chambers.”

A’tro frowned. “I am grateful, but I don’t believe I require bodyguards.”

“They will do more than protect you. They are a symbol of the Emperor’s favor. With them at your side, all will know that you are truly his Wrath.”

“I believe I understand,” A’tro said slowly. The loyalty of the Imperial Guard could not be coerced. They answered only to the Emperor himself, and as such, only he could have commanded them to obey her. As symbols went, it was certainly a powerful one.

“Good. The Emperor is satisfied with you for now, but do not become complacent. You will not be permitted to repeat the mistakes of your predecessor.”

An icy claw of fear raked its way down her spine. “I am the Emperor’s loyal and humble servant.”

“Of course. Servant One out.” The transmission ended.

A’tro took several deep breaths. The cold claw had lodged itself in her gut. The Emperor’s Hand had never explained how or why the position of Wrath had become vacant. Every Sith with any political savvy had known who the Emperor’s Wrath was, even if they dared not speak of him.

The Wrath was the Emperor’s right hand, and above the ordinary squabbling of lesser Sith. The old Wrath likely had not been eliminated by rivals. If he had fallen in battle, the Republic surely would have claimed the credit for such an impressive victory. That left two possibilities: either he had failed the Emperor and been cast aside, or…

Her resources were few, given that she was new to the Dark Council and Imperial Intelligence was still effectively disbanded, but she had made subtle inquiries, with disturbing results. Shortly before the Emperor’s Hand had first contacted her, task forces of the Imperial Guard had been dispatched all across Imperial space and beyond, sweeping through system after system.

As if they were hunting someone.

It was a ludicrous notion, but A’tro found it haunted her nonetheless. Could the former Wrath have turned traitor? Surely it was impossible that a Sith of such high rank, so trusted by the Emperor, would ever betray that trust. Lesser Sith might falter in their convictions; she knew that far too well. But not an Emperor’s Wrath.

On some odd level, she found that she was actually grateful to the old Wrath, whatever his fate. Had the Emperor’s Hand not intervened, she would have likely perished in Baras’ trap on Quesh. But the Emperor had needed someone, and out of all the Sith in the Empire, he had chosen her.

She had wondered why, at first, but there was no point to that now, just as there was no point in speculating over the fate of her predecessor. It was time to meet these Imperial Guards who had been assigned to her.

She moved away from the holoterminal and checked the monitor that displayed the hallway outside her apartment. Sure enough, two figures in the distinctive red armor of the Emperor’s elite soldiers stood by her door. One was a head taller than the other, while the shorter of the pair had a more slender and curved figure, suggesting at a woman under the all-concealing red.

Interesting, A’tro thought. She had seen a fair number of the Imperial Guard on Corellia, but only a few of them were women. She went to the door and opened it.

The two guards immediately turned to face her, bowing in unison.

“Lord Wrath,” the shorter one said in a deep, but definitely female voice. “We have been instructed to present ourselves to you for induction into your service.”

“Yes, I’ve been informed,” A’tro said. “Come with me.”

She turned and walked further into her antechamber, trusting that they would follow. The sound of footsteps and the door closing confirmed her instinct.

“Now, then,” she continued, turning back to face them. “Each of you, show me your face and tell me your name and rank. I’d like to know who I’ll be dealing with.”

They hesitated for a moment, then removed their red helmets.

The tall guard was a man who looked to be somewhere in his mid-forties, with a hard, angular face and steely gray eyes. His hair was shaved close to his head, and he had a spectacular set of scars that slashed across his face and up over his scalp, probably from the claws of some wild animal. “Vorin Janeth, my lord,” he said. His voice was gravelly, as if he didn’t use it much.

“I’m Arden Zariel,” his female compatriot said. Of a similar age to Janeth, she had a cybernetic implant that mostly covered a patch of scar tissue on the right side of her pale face. Her gray-streaked black hair was cut short, and she had dark blue eyes that unsettlingly reminded A’tro of Quinn. “As we now serve you exclusively, we are outside the normal military chain of command. Only you and the Emperor himself have the authority to direct us, my lord.”

So I keep hearing. “Very well. I look forward to working with you both. While I am on Dromund Kaas, you will probably not see combat. In the field, however, I trust you are capable of battling any enemies I might face?”

Zariel inclined her head. “Rest assured, Lord Wrath, Janeth and I have slain many Jedi.” She hesitated for a moment. “And many Sith.”

There it was—both threat and reminder. The guardsmen were there to do more than protect her. They were there to watch her.

And if I fail, or show any signs of disloyalty, I’m sure they have orders to kill me, A’tro thought grimly. This “gift” may be more trouble than it’s worth. “Excellent,” she said smoothly, careful to betray no trace of her misgivings. “I will call on you tomorrow to accompany me on some business here in the capital. Until then, you are dismissed.”

Zariel and Janeth bowed, put their helmets on, and left the room, all in perfect unison that must have taken practice.

When they were gone, A’tro let her brow furrow into a worried frown. She was confident in her ability to carry out her duties, but the presence of the two guardsmen complicated things. They would probably report her every move to the Emperor’s Hand. It was just as well that she had settled matters with her personal life. She had to be conscious of the fact that her every move was now a reflection on the Emperor himself.

Her life was over. The time of the Emperor’s Wrath had begun.
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MilaniGrey
07.04.2015 , 09:53 AM | #9
*steeples fingers in a totally non-suspicious way*
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"How dreadfully spooky." -- Vesaniae's Darth Nox

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Vesaniae
07.15.2015 , 07:49 PM | #10
Four
Sith Academy, Korriban
13 ATC



It was A’tro’s first time back in the Sith Academy since she had killed Baras. She found herself the recipient of more than a few looks as she made her way through the corridors with two Imperial Guards in tow. Some, from older Sith and overseers, were speculative. The acolytes’ reactions were largely fearful, while a few who likely had more ambition than sense eyed her with open envy. Those would not last. All bowed to her respectfully as she passed, however.

While an assembly of the entire Dark Council was rare, there were always a few of its members who regularly gathered on Korriban to discuss current affairs and play politics. That business would start in a few hours; until then, A’tro had a different appointment to keep.

She made her way through the mazelike halls with Janeth and Zariel trailing dutifully behind her. As they passed into one of the older parts of the Academy structure, the corridors narrowed considerably. The Guardsmen continued to walk shoulder to shoulder, forcing the few acolytes they encountered to stand against the nearest wall or be run down.

While not at all subtle, they added an entirely new element of intimidation to her presence. This could definitely be used to her advantage when dealing with the military or lesser Sith. She could not imagine why she would ever need to talk to any civilians, but the Guardsmen would probably be useful then, too.

Having reached her destination, an unmarked door deep in the lowest levels of the Academy, she turned to face her escort.

“You will wait outside until my business is concluded,” she ordered.

“Yes, my lord,” said Zariel, who seemed to speak for the two of them. Both bowed and moved to stand on either side of the door.

A’tro nodded once and moved up to the door. She ignored the keypad—a Dark Lord of the Sith went where she pleased, and had no need to ask for permission to enter. Instead, she grasped the door with the Force, undid the locking mechanism, and forced it open. As she stepped inside, she released her mental hold, and the door slid shut with a whirr of strained servomotors.

The room was long and narrow, barely wide enough to accommodate the standard-issue desk that sat about two meters back from where A’tro stood. A dark red carpet covered the floor, and the walls were adorned with several portions of stone friezes that, judging by the red coloration of the stone, had been chiseled directly off Korriban’s tombs.

Behind the desk sat a Sith Pureblood woman dressed in traditional red and black robes. While A’tro knew she was in her late forties, there was little sign of ageing on her copper skin, which was just a few shades redder than A’tro’s own. They had the same rust-colored hair, but there was only a trace resemblance between their faces, which was good. A’tro had no desire to be reminded of her relationship to this woman.

“Overseer,” she said curtly. “I believe we have something to discuss.”

Ravinia Dhakar looked up from the computer built into her desk. She smiled, an expression that did not reach her orange eyes. “I wondered when you would come by. It’s been almost four years.”

A’tro scowled. “You will address me with respect.”

Ravinia inclined her head. “I apologize if I presumed…Lord Wrath. Even Lords of the Sith tend to relax the formalities with family.”

A’tro’s scowl deepened; the conversation was going exactly where she had known it would, and the fact that she had seen it coming was only making her more annoyed. “You may be my mother’s sister, but that does not make us family. My title will be good enough for you, Overseer.”

Ravinia’s expression turned somber, though her eyes remained hungry. “Are you aware that your mother is dead, my lord?”

“Good riddance,” A’tro snapped, her left wrist twinging softly in remembered pain. “I’m not here to chat about the past.”

The ridges on Ravinia’s brow lifted away from her eyes. “With, of course, all due respect, I was under the impression that you’d come here to discuss the debt you owe me.”

“I did. So tell me, what exactly is it that you think you’re going to get from me in return?”

Ravinia steepled her fingers together in front of her. “I have given the matter some thought.”

“I’m sure you have,” A’tro muttered.

“While I certainly enjoyed reaping the rewards of exposing a traitor to the Empire, concealing her apprentice’s fate was no easy matter.” Ravinia manipulated the controls of her computer. “I had to bribe the proper officials to have K’hera Dhakar declared dead, arrange for some semblance of documentation under your new name—it suits you, my lord—which required yet more bribes, arrange transportation… I have the expenses tallied here.”

“If all you wanted from me were credits, we would have settled this matter years ago.”

“Indeed.” Ravinia made another entry on the computer. “I could have smuggled you off Dromund Kaas and left it at that, but I did not. I convinced Tremel to bring you here so that you had an opportunity to start your life over again and rise high among the Sith under a master who was not a Jedi spy, because I knew that you would eventually find yourself in a position to make it worth my while.”

“Let me guess,” A’tro said darkly. “You want power.”

“Don’t we all?” Ravinia smiled. “I’ve always fancied the sound of ‘Lord Ravinia.’ Perhaps some property, as well? Your father still lives in the old Dhakar estate, but surely a scholar doesn’t need all that space—”

“No.”

“‘No’?” Ravinia echoed, her eyes widening. “You cannot refuse me, not after everything I’ve done for you!”

“Your assistance was useful, true. But I have no intention of giving you anything.”

Ravinia smiled again, showing pointed teeth. “You are free to do as you like…my lord. It would be a shame, however, if the Dark Council were to learn that Darth Evendre’s apprentice is still alive, under a new name, the disciple of a traitor in their very midst…”

“Do not presume to think that you can simply blackmail me,” A’tro said coldly. “Any accusation you make will be your word against mine, and my word carries the authority of the Emperor himself.”

“Not if I have proof—”

A’tro reached out with one hand, the dark side mimicking her gesture and seizing Ravinia by the throat. Her eyes went very wide, and her hands flew vainly to her neck. A’tro could feel her trying in vain to use the Force to dislodge her grip.

“It seems you misunderstand,” A’tro told her. “Were I in any other position, I would likely be obligated to give you something in exchange for your silence. But I am the Emperor’s Wrath, and to speak against me is treason.”

She closed her hand into a fist and drew it towards her, lifting Ravinia out of her chair and throwing her to the ground in a heap at her feet.

“You will die now,” A’tro said, and drew one lightsaber with her left hand.

Ravinia pushed herself up just enough to stare at A’tro. The hunger in her orange eyes had given way to fear. “Even a Dark Lord cannot simply execute an overseer of the Korriban Academy!”

“I killed your friend Tremel when I was only an acolyte. You’ll be replaced easily enough.”

Ravinia was silent for a long moment. “If…if I swear to keep your true past a secret,” she said finally, each word sounding as if it were being wrenched from her, “Will you…let me live?”

“Your word means less than nothing to me.” A’tro lifted her blade, ready to strike.

“Wait!” Ravinia choked out. A’tro could almost hear her swallowing her pride. “I—I’ll serve you. I’ll do anything you say.”

“You’re a liability,” A’tro said softly, almost to herself. “And liabilities have to be removed.”

The blade came down.

As A’tro strode out of the room and into the hallway, Zariel and Janeth fell into step behind her.

“In a few minutes, contact Academy security,” A’tro said. “Inform them that Overseer Ravinia has suffered an unfortunate accident.”

“Yes, Lord Wrath,” Zariel said in a tone that indicated she understood all too well.

A’tro adjusted her gloves and continued on.
There's always lightning.