Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Ellri
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Ellri Lord of Eat / Relic

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Some time before Mission: Harvest Moon
6 ATC month 4 week 1 day 1



The Solo Disaster



Dashara paused outside the speeder bike rental building. Her eyes absorbed the image to memory, noting its bland appearance. She wasn't impressed with the presentation at all. It blended into the rest of the scene with its stone walls and wooden roof. Over all, it showed no distinguishing features beside the sign outside that read it was a rental service.

After a few moments, she inhaled and walked inside. It was difficult enough to find it in what she considered to be a backwater planet named Teya VI. The planet's rural feel and lacking bustling cities put her nerves to a new height of paranoia. Places like this were not her favorite, but rumors stirred her curiosity.

Word had it, someone was looking to trade a very unique and powerful weapon. One that once belonged to a Jedi.

Neith's tales about her time within the Order had sparked Dash into investigating it. If it proved correct, it wouldn't be hard to have it exchanged hands. More specifically, into hers.

A string tugged at a bell causing it to ring, bring a small, slender Strak to the counter. She wore a simple, plain dress and basic string baubles decorated her horns. They extended from her skull toward the back, but she seemed mindful of them. Her figure took wide turns from anything she could knock down.

Her lips curled into a weak, tired smile as she addressed Dashara.

"Welcome to Bilad's Speedster Rental Services. My name is Mione Korra, how may I help you?" Her statement held a rehearsed rhythm that came from a few years of experience.

Dash felt a hint of pity for the young Strak. She knew exactly how dull and painful those repeated lines could easily get. Her eyes caught the Strak's surprise at her appearance, noting the Zeltron features. She expected it since her kin rarely ventured outside pleasure settings.

Deciding to make the most of the situation, she put on her most charming smile and walked up to the counter.

Her torso leaned onto the surface and her arms folded underneath. She didn't care if it exposed a little flesh as she talked.

"Yes, I wanted to rent a speeder bike for about a week. How much would that cost and do you take credits?"

Mione frowned at the mention of credits. She briefly shook her head and delivered the bad news.

"I'm sorry, we prefer local currency to credits. Barter materials is also acceptable if the quality of the material is worth the amount."

"Oh," Dash played innocent, her torso lifted upright.

She tapped her finger to her lips as her other arm curled about her narrow waist, her hips cocked to one side. After a second or two, she looked to Mione.

"Is there anywhere I can exchange my credits with local currency? A currency post or something?"

Mione considered the question.

"The Trader's post often deals with tourists and will likely be able to exchange them. However, the rate is high since credits value has fallen recently out here. Few people consider them worth anything."

Dash nodded and pulled up a rustic map, "Can you direct me to him, please?"

Mione's finger touched the paper indicating the location in the small village. "It's not far from here."

"I'm sorry but I never got the cost for the rental."

"About nine hundred and fifty, including loss and damage coverage."

"That's rather costly..." Dash feinted shock.

Mione looked saddened and guilty, "I'm sorry, I don't make the prices. I only relay the information."

Dash took Mione's hand. Over the course of their conversation, her pheromones filled the air. She noticed the Strak's eyes gloss a bit to indicate it had taken affect. Her other hand rested on the woman's in a comforting gesture.

"It's understandable. I have to say, at least I get to see a pretty face around here." Dashara flirted. She watched the Strak's green skin take on a pinkish hue underneath at the compliment.

The half-zeltron had taken a calculated risk. If the Strak wasn't interested in her, the reaction would've been less embarrassed. While she could alter emotions, she couldn't change someone's sexuality. In heterosexual situations, she would've been an endearing friend.

Dash set the female's hand back onto the counter and turned to the door.

"I'll be back in a week, I promise."

******


Things went well with the trader.

Dashara checked her side and tugged at her side pouch, the minted currency jiggling at her touch. Her lips curled into a smirk. She had requested a small exchange using a special credit stick. It had a 'large' amount of credits listed on it, something she knew would keep his attention. Every time the trader attempted to withdraw her credits, the stick glitched near the end.

While the sour trader attempted to sort it out, she pilfered a sizable amount of local currency. Enough to pay for the speeder bike rental and some extra for spending.

When he couldn't get it to work, he banished her from the post. Told her to try somewhere else and return to him when she could get a stick that worked right. She expected, but she still played the role. She never stopped apologizing for the trouble on her way out.

All that acting was worth it in the end.

Not wasting time, she returned to the rental shop once more. When Dash entered, an excited Mione stood upright from behind the counter. This time her lips had a genuine smile.

"Did you get your credits exchanged?"

"Yep, how much was it again?" Dash asked, testing to see if the price had changed.

"Nine hundred and fifty." Mione's tone indicated she had considered changing it, even if she got into trouble for it.

Dashara didn't press for the discount. Instead, she slid the full amount onto the counter and continued to smile.

"That should cover it all. Is there a station or somewhere I can increase my rental time? I don't want to overcharge for late returns," she explained, once more bring out the map.

Mione was happy to help and she pointed to a spot not far from Dash's destination. It worked out well. Dashara collected her map, keys to the speeder bike, and started to depart. She stopped abruptly at the door when she caught Mione emotions. The female Strak's happy disposition had fallen.

Dashara bit her lip and twisted about, leaning against the door frame. Mione's hopeful expression made her cute in the hybrid's eyes. What was a little trip without some risk and reward? Dash gave into her own desires and went for it.

"You know, if you're off when I return... I would love to spend some quality time with you."

Mione nodded with enthusiasm at her subtle suggestion.

"It will be fun. My name's Dashara Horizon and I'll see you in a week."

******


Dashara eased up on the steering bars and parked the speeder bike. She leaned back as her hands raised to her helmet. With a small tilt and flick of her palms, it slipped off into her lap. Another unimpressive location, she thought bitterly.

She sighed then began to dismount.

It had taken her a little less than half the week to arrive here. Twice she nearly got turned around with the absence of obvious landmarks along the way. She slipped the helmet strap around the steering bars and brushed the dust from her tan breeches. They reached all the way down, protection against splattering bugs. She wore a short shirt with sleeves rolled up to her elbows, adding some variety to her usual apparel. Over all, her outfit was firm fitting and practical.

The only dangerous element on her person was the vibro-rapier bouncing at her side. Hidden in her boot was a simple dagger, something she kept on her person at all times. She knew the galaxy was a dangerous place to be weaponless in.

Locking up the bike, she headed inside.

~ | Some time earlier on Korriban | ~


Previous events had troubled Kurin Tonaal. He had not expected to be threatened by the leader of the Jedi Order on his previous mission. How could he have expected it? It did not help that the threat made him feel afraid. Weak. No, he had made the right choice getting out of there as quickly as possible. He did not let anyone know why the escape pod on his ship had been ejected. He simply reported it as ‘necessary’ without providing any information. Oh, and he separately sent a note to his master about whom he had encountered. She would take care of notifying anyone who needed to know.

He had taken a few days break after that mission. His master did not have any specific tasks for him at the time. Having sent his crew on leave, he had had the ship to himself. That was when he found that Jedi’s lightsaber. The one he’d taken when he took her captive. “I imagine she is incensed about this. Heh, heh, heh.” he muttered to himself, chuckling a little. “I know just what to do with this…”

~ | On Teya IV | ~


Procuring the materials and tools to modify the lightsaber had been easy. Especially on Korriban. Procuring a miniaturized tracker that fit inside the hilt without adversely affecting its functionality had taken more time, but both had been taken care of. That had been an interesting series of events. He thought back to that day.

The room was brightly lit. Kurin had not needed to wait more than three hours after requesting the use of a lightsaber workshop. Just the time he needed to requisition the parts. He seated himself before the workbench, lifting the lightsaber with the Force, rotating it slowly to get a feel for is design. In many ways, it was a simple yet highly effective design. Unfortunately, right now the influence of the light side oozed from it, almost making him feel nauseated.

Carefully he identified each part and how to take it apart. Without touching it, he opened the housing, extracting the power cell. Only then did he split the other components from each other. The blue crystal glowed faintly even in the bright light of the workshop.

He carefully lowered each component to the workbench, meticulously placing them in just the right order for reassembly. There was no denying that the components were all high-quality. The only piece left hovering was the blue crystal that made the lightsaber into a true weapon.

With steady steps, he moved away from the workbench, into the side meditation chamber. Setting the crystal to hover over the central pillar, he pondered how to clean the crystal of its pollution. Clearly it involved showing it the true power of the dark side… but how?

A curt gesture closed the door before he called on his anger to channel the raw power of the Dark Side into the crystal, in the form of Force Lightning. After a single burst, Kurin sat down to sense the effect it had upon the crystal. Still nauseatingly inundated with Light Side corruption, but there was something deeper. He reached into its depths, feeling the very structure of the crystal. It was not improved. If anything, it was worse. Weakened. Starting to fracture.

“No.” he muttered to himself. Force lightning was too powerful for something so small that had been corrupted by the light side. He needed to use his patience. Take his time achieving this. He left the crystal hovering over the pillar, seating himself down before it. Then he started meditating. Feeding it with his anger, his hatred. The anger he felt towards himself when threatened by the Jedi. His hatred of the Jedi. Of Revanites. Of the Republic that protected the Jedi. Of people who would see the Sith Empire laid low again.

For hours on end he fed it with his anger, his fury, his hatred. It realigned him with his purpose in life. For the first hour and a half there was no effect on the crystal. But ever so slowly he could sense that his power had started to leech the corruption out of it. It felt good.

He did not stop to think about that minor success. No. He kept going, feeding it more and more. Beneath his breath, he was chanting the Sith code, over and over, sometimes in basic, other times in Sith, as his master had taught him.

Focused channeling of the Force slowly cleansed the crystal, removing every last shred of Light Side corruption from within its essence. The weakened crystal matrix slowly realigned itself, the nigh imperceptible flaws wiped from existence as the full power of the Force flowed freely through the crystal once more.

He smiled to himself as he got to his feet, shaking his arms and legs and stretching his shoulders to restore mobility after sitting in the same position for so many hours on end. Before his eyes he no longer saw a blue crystal hovering above the pillar. Now the crystal had taken on a pure, crimson color. The color of Power. Of Strength.

After opening the door once more he returned to the main chamber, the crystal floating beside him, held aloft by the power of the Force. He took his time in reassembling the lightsaber, putting it back together in exactly the opposite order of the way he disassembled it, except for adding in a small tracking beacon near the bottom of the hilt. It would not be detected by most sensors and would not work between stars, but it was reliable enough for his use.


Kurin brought his mind back to the present. To his plan for a fishing expedition. Through several sets of intermediaries he had arranged for the lightsaber to find its way into the hands of a merchant dealing in goods of questionable legality. Here, so far out from the center of the Empire the laws were not enforced as well as they should be. Scavengers were many, pilfering the ruins of the Jedi Praxeum that had been on this world before its conquest by the Empire.

It was not implausible that such merchants might get lucky enough to get ahold of a lightsaber. Illegal, of course, but still plausible. Half his goods were at best questionable. Not that the merchant had any idea he was being used. He didn’t even know the Empire was involved in the transaction. Kurin would arrange for Imperial Intelligence getting word of this merchant’s operation once he was done playing with it. They would either take it down, or put it to further use in service of the Empire. It did not matter to him.

Now all he had to do was wait for someone to take the bait. Someone Force-sensitive. He had positioned himself close enough to detect any Force-sensitives, but far enough away not to attract undue attention. His ship was suitably concealed far away.

******


Dash glanced around the area, but she didn't see anything that caught her attention. Nothing felt dangerous either. Trusting her instincts, she ducked and entered the hut.

A thin, sharp chinned human was sitting on a chair. A death stick was lit and poured out smoke, hazing up the interior. Dash waved her hand about her nose to waft away the foul smell. It didn't help. Deciding to ignore the foul odor, she turned to the human eyeing her up.

Her mind flicked to the information she had spent a few days collecting. Smugglers and buyers alike called him Deng Horne, a man who dealt in the expected contraband. He wasn't hard to find, but the information over his illegal goods were.

He wasn't on good terms with either the Republic or Empire, which made her more comfortable. Less of a risk he would turn her in for a profit.

Dashara put on her widest smile and started off the conversation.

"I heard you sold some interesting merchandise here. Dash Horizon and shall we get down to business?" She used a tone that was pleasant, but she didn't intend to socialize with friendly chit chat.

The merchant looked up, a curious look on his face. “Define ’interesting’.” he said as he took a long draw on his deathstick.

Dashara chuckled, her arms crossed over her chest and hips cocked. Her mind already turned to the what she planned to say.

"Something that once belonged to a... Jedi, I believe was what the information entailed to. I'm curious to see if that is actually true."

“Why would I have such?” the merchant asked, struggling to contain the urge to look furtively around. “It isn’t healthy to deal in Jedi artifacts around these parts…”

Dash sensed his nervousness and sighed, letting her own pheromones release. She hoped it would calm him and allow him to think clearly, rather than just bolt.

"It isn't healthy to smoke deathsticks either, but that's beside the point," she countered.

She inhaled then waited a moment before she continued. Her hand toyed with the local currency attached to her side, jiggling it enough for him to hear. Dash hoped his greed might help coax him out of his 'shell'.

"Since the rumors were false, what do you happen to sell that might be interesting?"

“I do not deal in rumors.” he muttered stubbornly. “I sell a variety of things. Spare parts, blasters, holotomes…” He looked her over carefully, then chuckled. “I know exactly what you want.”

He scrounged beneath his counter, digging through what was presumably a box of various goods, coming up with a small storage device, the sort of which might be plugged into a holotome. “The Teyan Apology, by none other than Acertya Brayle!” He paused a second, placing a hand beside his mouth conspiratorially and whispered, “All six volumes.”

Idly, Dashara took the device, hooked it up to her datapad and flipped through a few display pages. Inspecting the goods to see their authenticity. She could easily summarize the whole subject in one go and heavily disagreed with it.

"A friend once told me something interesting. The Jedi are nothing but liars and the Sith are monsters. Seeing this, the first part of her words makes a lot of sense now."

She shut it off and slid it back to him, her head shaking.

"It's interesting, but not what I'm looking for. About the only thing I own that is even close to this is a holonovel called 'Dawn of a Knight's Dream'. The intimate scenes could be...spicier in that one." Dash stated in a nonchalant fashion.

“What else do you got?”

“Difficult customer, eh?” he muttered, somehow sounding both satisfied and frustrated at the same time. Beneath his counter, out of sight of the customer a small signal light had switched from red to yellow.

"I'm a picky gal. I don't just settle for anything or one." Dash chuckled as she watched his reaction, taking her own notes over them.

“The special thing about those books is not their special scenes—for there are some great ones—its how they mock books some Jedi seem to worship. Fools, worshipping books. The altars of flesh are so much more pleasurable.”

"You're talking to a half-Zeltron, that's first hand facts right there. Life isn't fun without a little close contact," she clearly enjoyed the topic. Her figure walked closer and leaned into the counter, taking weight off her feet.

He rubbed his cheeks, looking at her more intently. “Anything in particular you’re interested in?”

She thought for a moment, "Considering the rumors were a let down and I got money to burn, do you have any weapons? My vibro-rapier is getting along in years."

“Well…” he said as the small light switched from yellow to blue, “I may happen to have one or two that might interest you.” He bent his knees to reach down below the counter, his eyes blatantly locked on her ample cleavage as he gently lifted a long box up onto the counter.

From around his neck he pulled out a small necklace with some sort of key on it, placing it at the front of the box, between it and his finger. A small bleep could be heard as the lock disengaged and he lifted the lid. He drew out a long object. “There is this… Said to be Mandalorian in origin.” he held up a wide-bladed angular weapon with a leather-wrapped hilt. The blade was dark gray metal, polished smooth. He looked up from her cleavage into her face, seeing if it was of interest to her.

"May I examine it?" Dashara asked, gesturing to hold it.

She hid the fact she knew nothing about this thing’s worth. Having the merchant know this might give him the impression she was easily swindled out of her money. She could afford a lot, but even she had limits.

"You would be surprised how many people pass off junk as valuable." Dash explained, waiting for his answer.

“Of course,” he said, not quite having caught her lack of knowledge. He knew it was valuable, but not exactly how valuable. So many of the special goods he acquired were like that. Besides, even if it were worth a fortune, he would have had to find a buyer willing to pay that much for it.

He knew that she knew he had security measures in place to keep customers from stealing his goods. He doubted she knew exactly what measures he had, but all those in the business had various such measures. He held the blade out for her inspection, the soft protective fabric partially wrapped around it.

She took it from his grip and immediately she noted the weight. A moment of righting her grip, she finally managed to hold it upright and examine it. Dash could easily tell it was not a finesse weapon. It required more of a bashing movement than she wanted to adapt to.

"It is an excellent weapon, but I'm more into finesse weapons. The lighter, the better," she explained, giving no input over the weapon's authenticity.

She passed it back carefully, "Do you have anything that will fit my preference?"

He placed it carefully back into the box, wrapping the cloth back over it. “Do you consider yourself a risk-taker? Do you plan on staying long in the Empire?” he asked pointedly.

"Risk is apart of my job, there's no gain without it. And no, I do not. I tend to never enter it unless something grabs my interest. I never linger longer than is important." she noted the serious tone and felt her suspicions weren't completely wrong.

“Then this object may be of interest. It came in just a short while ago.” He took out a second object, not unlike the hilt of a sword. Anyone with even a shred of knowledge would recognize the signature weapon of a Jedi or Sith. “It is most unusual in being a Jedi’s weapon, but it has a pure, crimson blade. One of my associates dug it up in the ruins of their former praxeum here. I am sure it has an interesting past.”

He held it up for viewing, but not out towards the prospective customer. He wasn’t foolish enough to hand over such a lethal weapon without being paid in advance. Even then he would give it over boxed up where it could not be used against him.

Dashara stood upright a bit, adjusting her posture. Her eyes watched him as he revealed the lightsaber. While her mask didn't slip, her breath caught in her throat at the sight of it. It was exactly as Neith described one.

She made a note about the red blade. From what she knew, only Sith use red crystals to create the blade and affect their color. The bad part, the handle was distinctly Jedi. It confused her some about which it belonged to. She wanted to take it apart, but without Neith around disassembling it was a bad idea.

"How do I know it still works?"

The merchant saw her concern at the unusual combination of traits. “I won’t say I understand all the differences between the two groups, but believe it is mostly philosophy.” he paused for a moment. “The color surprised me too when I first saw it. Still... My associate found it in one of their tombs over by the praxeum, so it can’t have belonged to anything but a Jedi.”

For a moment further he was silent. “As for whether it works? I could give you all sorts of guarantees. You probably wouldn’t accept them. I certainly wouldn’t have in your position. So…” he thumbed the lightsaber on. The crimson blade appeared in a flash, perfectly focused and formed. He left it on for long enough to show it worked well, gently shifting it about, then turned it back off.

“It works.” he said, succinctly.

Or someone sold you a fake... Dashara thought, but didn't say it out loud.

She wasn't a fan of deceit or false appearances. Enough time in the Exchange had taught her when things look out of place, it was never for a good reason. Unless you were in on the changes.

She listened intently to his explanations. Her doubts countered them with hard and cold opposition, but one truth struck hard. The odds of finding another working weapon like this was very slim, if not impossible.

"Fair enough point. I am concerned about the price on it and if you're willing to negotiate it down to a reasonable one."

Dash decided to deal with her paranoia later.

“Ten thousand credits is a perfectly reasonable price for a rare artifact like this.” the merchant said, lying through his teeth.

Dashara looked at him. She was not pleased with the price and her figure stood upright. Any view of her assets became blocked by her arms recrossing over her chest.

"Now that is unreasonable. You have little information behind the origins of the thing. It's mixture of heritage immediately flags it as a risk, especially if the thing stop working.

"Most the parts are about a fraction of the cost. I would say, one thousand at best considering the fact you dug it up."

“I? Dug it up? No. I don’t get my hands dirty. I leave that to professionals.” He smiled as the real game had started. “Six thousand five hundred.”

"Of course, my mistake. Still, I only have your word that your 'associate ' found it in some ruins. So he could've just gotten lucky or stumbled across it with a story to up its value. I say three thousand." She didn't want to pay anymore she honestly had to, but she didn't want him to become frustrated.

Nothing killed a deal easier than a stubborn customer.

The merchant found his eyes being drawn to her cleavage again and again. He was oblivious to the fact that her species’ exuded natural pheromones. “My reputation should speak for itself as to my sources for goods. I can’t go about revealing them though. Business secrets, you know.” He couldn’t really hide his interest in what lay beneath her clothes. It being covered up was not at all desirable. He decided to lower the price a bit to hopefully get a better look. “Five thousand.”

Pheromones were a wonderful things, Dash mused when she spotted his attention drift. Her lips rose into a smile when the price was lowered into a more acceptable range. She leaned back into the counter causing herself to relax, her hand idly fiddled with her buttons. The diamond shape window widened a bit when she pushed it in and out of the the top hole.

"It's better, but I feel it's still pricey. I can go as high as three thousand and five hundred. I'm sure we can work with that, right? Unless you have other ideas?"

“Well…” he said, swallowing as she fiddled with the buttons. “I have other ideas… but they’re far more… Entertaining.” he chuckled a little, quite overwhelmed by her pheromones. “We have a deal. Three thousand, five hundred.” He put the lightsaber into a transport case and locked up his special goods box, while she transferred the credits.

Dash continued to widen her smile as she enjoyed her victory, "Something told me it would be fun working with you."

~| Considerable time later |~


The merchant smiled as his customer departed with her newly purchased lightsaber. It had been a far more enjoyable day than he expected. She had proven herself so much more than a good customer. So much more...

~| Meanwhile, some distance away |~


Kurin smiled. His bait had been taken. He had sensed the untrained Force-sensitive pass by, but couldn’t be certain she was hooked until after his wrist computer notified him that the tracker was moving from its original position at the same time as he could see her departing from the store through the macrobinoculars. The game was on.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Ellri
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Ellri Lord of Eat / Relic

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That same evening, Teya IV.
Dashara Horizon, Kurin Tonaal.




From his chair on his ship’s bridge Kurin had seen how his quarry moved across the planet surface below. It wasn’t exactly hard to track her. Other than to deviate around geographical obstructions her path was fairly straightforward.
watched his quarry’s movement across the planet surface below. She appeared to have settled in for the night in a small village. That simply would not do for testing her mettle. It was time to flush her out.

Kurin rotated his chair around, to where his female specialist was currently standing. “Kira. Contact the garrison commander, Captain Luthin.”

“It will be done at once, Inquisitor.” she answered, her hands moving quickly across one of the consoles.

Moments after the chair turned back around the captain’s image appeared on the viewscreen built into his bridge’s viewport.

“Milord Sith, to what do I owe this pleasure?” the captain asked.

“I have a task for two of your squads, captain.”

He looked confused. “A task? What sort of task? My men are at your disposal of course.” He added the last bit after a few seconds.

“I need you to send some men to these coordinates. There is a village there. Have them ask the locals about a pink-skinned humanoid. She is hiding somewhere in the village. I want her flushed out, but not yet captured. I will inform you when that changes. Do not let harm come to her.”

“O-of c-course, m-milord Sith.” the captain stuttered, a bit confused.

“That will be all.” Kurin said. Kira ended the transmission at exactly the right time, knowing from experience when he wanted it over.

~|~


Dash had walked into the village. She left her speeder bike on the outskirts of a small field and covered up, hidden to anyone who wasn't looking hard. She didn't think there was much crime in the more rural areas, but she'd been wrong before. The last thing she needed was someone pilfering when she wasn't looking.

Her eyes took in the village preparing for the night. It was a bigger village than the one she came from. About a good fifty thatched or wooden huts were within walking distance. Pretty close to the center, where she headed, were a few stone ones. She assumed they were more communal in nature than the individual homes. They had a purpose, either for worship or other function.

From outside the village to the inside, she saw corrals for the people's livestock. Green equine beasts with segments lining and fused into the neck snorted in compliance. Stone covered hooves carried them into fenced-in areas where simple ropes tied the gates.

She felt a spark of pity for them but quickly pushed it away. Not everything could appreciate freedom over survival.

Her designation took her into the more clustered part of the village as she stepped into the inn. A male Strak smiled when he looked up from his book, likely records over who had lodged for the night.

Dash put on her charm as she spoke. This time she put her pheromones away while she negotiated prices. The Strak was pretty reasonable and she even tipped him for his kindness before he led her to her room.

The Inn itself was pretty basic. On the outside it was a stone building with a wooden roof, the center being a square shape. This was where most of the foot traffic happened. Each rented room was circular and attached to the center. On the end, nearest her own bedroom, was the kitchen. A brief glance inside made clear it was pretty modest in its meal preparations.

She nodded her understanding when the inn manager explained the rules. Impatience and excitement stirred in her when he finally left her to own devices.

Immediately, she pulled her new lightsaber and examined it. Emotions of awe washed over her. It was very light when compared to her vibro-rapier with excellent balance. Dash twirled her fingers, letting the hilt dance between them. She flipped it between her dominant and the other hand, seeing how well she could wield it.

Even if Neith didn't want it, she would make sure to use it well.

For her, it was easy to ignore the fact it had a red blade when she didn't turn it on. Deciding she risk enough to satisfy her, Dash shoved it into her bag and turned in for the night.

Her peace was short-lived when her ears caught distant sounds. Sounds of someone banging on doors and talking. She got up from her bed and moved to the window. Her eyes glanced outside to next door.

Several Strak in pale black uniforms appears to be searching for the area. They talked with locals and many started to point in the direction she had taken to the inn.

Dash couldn't be completely sure who they were looking for, but part of her didn't want to stick around to find out. She had to leave now.

With extreme caution and paranoia, she exited her room. She silently slipped into the kitchen after the inn owner walked to the front door and open it. Thankfully the banging distracted him enough not to spot her.

A fire crackled at the center, warming the building when she entered. The individual watching it had slumped over and fast asleep. Lucky break, she thought as she continued to move. She spotted a back exit that wouldn't be covered until they confirmed her presence here.

She managed to slip out when the group passed the kitchen's open entrance, the owner leading them to her room.

The cold air shrouded on her bare skin causing her to shiver. Her eyes strained against the darkness. Torches fastened to poles gave off dim light and lined the dirt paths. Thanks to these, she could note the direction each shadowy figure was moving.

Her heart pounded when she found a storage shed to take refuge in. She decided that having the lightsaber on her person was too risky. If she was caught, she would never see the light of day again.

Dash glance around. When she realized the floor was made from mortar and stone, she smiled. Her hand took out her dagger and began to dig out some of the mortar around a cornerstone. She had managed, somehow, to remove the stacks of wheat and feed before she started. When the stone was loose enough, she pulled it out then dug a hole. She set the lightsaber, wrapped in some cloth, inside. After she buried it, she replaced the stone then left.

She would be back for it later.

With the buildings so close to each other, it was easy to make it out of the center and toward her vehicle. The village outskirts were where she ran into trouble.

After she entered it, she crouched down near the corral fence to hide. Mud covered some of her exposed flesh, dulling the bright pink of her skin. The beasts nearby snorted and milled around, but otherwise ignored her presence.

She saw several lights wander through the fields. They had to be looking for her speeder bike or hoping to prevent her escape. As she thought about how to remove the challenge to her freedom, her eyes caught movement. One of the Strak had managed to wander far too close to her current hiding spot. His torchlight drawing closer with each step.

Dash's eyes looked up and found the rope tying the gate. An idea sprang into her head. She once more took out her dagger and stood high enough to reach the gate's crude 'lock'.

She began to cut at the rope while eyeing the authority closing in. Her arm jerked and pulled, desperate to speed up the process. The rough material gave away bit by bit to the sharp edge. The light rose to fill her vision, blinding her for a moment.

The young Strak turned his horned head and shouted at his companions.

"I found her!"

At that exact same time, the rope gave. Dash shoved the gate to the side as she rushed in, her blade still in her hand. In her need for distraction, she let her empathy spread. The animal's eyeless head shook and their flanks quivered, her fear pounded into them.

They screamed and snorted, a few rearing in reaction. Dash smacked the old stallion causing him to rush out. The others followed as the more Strak began to move in on her position.

As the few in the back began to take off, her hand gripped one’s neck protrusions and swung her leg upward. She clanged to the side as the animal's flesh bounced against her, threatening to toss her off.

After a short distance, she felt her grip numb and release. She wasn't trained to hold on as she did. Dash hit the dirt hard, flipping across the ground. When her world stopped spinning, she lifted herself then rushed for her speeder bike.

The escape worked better than she hoped. It scattered the Strak and created chaos. They were too busy not getting trampled by the equine creatures to notice her take off into the night.

~|~


Specialist Kira looked over her shoulder towards Kurin. “Inquisitor? The tracker is stationary.”

He chuckled to himself. “Smart girl… Contact the captain.”

~|~

“Captain. Do you need time to prepare if the starport needs locking down? My quarry decided to leave the tracker I provided her with behind.”

“What? Locked down? Why?” the captain sounded flustered.

“My quarry is a Force-sensitive who has not reported herself for transport to the academy. If necessary, I will need to search every departing ship personally.” Kurin smiled at seeing the shock on the captain’s face. He clearly wasn’t experienced at dealing with Sith. “I thought it reasonable to give you advance warning, just in case it proves necessary.”

“My troops are in place already, milord Sith. There’s hardly any traffic to or from this place. Locking it down will be easy. I thank you for the warning in any case.”

“Good. Do not initiate a lockdown until I tell you to.” The transmission ended without allowing the captain time to reply. “Kira. Do you have a location on our target?”

“I-I…” she stammered a bit, her fingers flying over the controls. “I lost her, Inquisitor. She let out a herd of the local wildlife. I am sorry.”

“Not optimal. We can assume she will head for the starport, to get away. Especially now that she’s been flushed out. That will take her several hours at a minimum. We have time to retrieve the lightsaber from where she hid it. Iris. Take us down to the village.”

~|~

Kurin looked at the half-protesting local as he walked past it into the large building near the center of town. “The fugitive left contraband inside your building. For your own safety, I will remove it from the premises.” He had been tempted to search manually, but with limited time he decided to cheat, using the tracker. With his mask on to provide a semblance of bright light, he easily saw that the girl had disturbed some of the goods. A small pile of dirt had been hidden between two bags and one of the floor tiles had clearly been lifted up.

“Sloppy.” he muttered to himself. “Rushed.” He grabbed hold of the offending tile with the Force, lifting it up and away, revealing a cloth-wrapped bundle underneath. He yanked that up with his other hand, putting the tile back into place. Then he left, clearly holding the bundle.

“Your cooperation has been noted and you will be commended to the garrison commander. Any inconvenience will be well-compensated.” The empire did not need anyone getting insurgency-ideas now. Rewarding cooperative locals was an excellent tactic to avoid just that. He returned to his ship, which took off the moment the boarding ramp had risen.

~| high above the spaceport, pre-dawn |~

“Search for any speeder bikes approaching the spaceport.” he said as he came up to the bridge. From the hold he heard some grumbling from the other prisoner, who apparently did not enjoy their quick maneuvering. He did not care.

“We have… seven, Inquisitor.” Kira replied.

“Scan them. Identify possible candidates.”

Several minutes passed for each speeder with the bridge silent but for the occasional negative mutter from the signals specialist. One by one, the speeders were eliminated. Some went to the wrong places, others had the wrong number of lifesigns.

“Erek. Send a message to the captain. Order him to put all departures on hold for inspection.”

~|~


Dash felt stiff muscles and bone ache fill her core. It wasn't the pleasant warmth after a one night stand, but she held onto some comfort. At least she was free. She rose up from her laying position into an upright one.

Her eyes glanced toward the cave's entrance, a shelter from the elements. Woods filled the air with their various scents and spores, giving her an isolated feeling. Creatures squawked in the canopy then rushed from branch to branch.

She stretched once more then began to pick herself up. After Dashara dusted herself off, she grabbed the purify canteen from her bag and walked out. It took a bit of navigation, but she reached the nearest source of water. A small brook bubbled across the landscape adding to its small appeal.

Dash crouched down and leaned close to the edge. She dunked the bottle into the moving water, letting it fill up. When it reached the last line, she corked it and tilted it. The water splashed through some filters which had purified it.

She curled up her lip at the chemical aftertaste, but still drank it. Her stomach growled as she returned back to camp. Dash rummaged through the meager selection of snacks she brought along. She had one bag left. Careless due to her over indulgence.

It was put back as she pushed the bike out of its hiding spot and continued forward to her final destination.

~|~


Dash's hand twisted the starter causing the speeder bike to sputter to a halt. Her figured leaned back and her hands popped off her helmet, her lips frowning at the situation. She expected the worst. A total and complete lock down at the starport.

Since her escape from the last village, Dashara questioned how things went downhill.

The bounty wouldn't have been enough to cause this much fuss and the Exchange had no influence here. As much as she rattled her brain for answers, no simple ones came.

Not wanting to drive herself nuts, Dash dismounted and once more hid her speeder bike.

After she finished up, she stepped back. Her eyes harden and she frowned. She cocked her head to one side in hopes that another angle made the flaws more obvious to fix. It didn't.

Dash sighed. She dusted off her hands and decided it was good enough, unable to spend more time on getting it perfect. Hopefully, no one would look too closely for it.

She hunched down and moved into the village. For a bit, she did well hiding by the personnel as she darted from one hiding spot to another. A few meters from the starport, she scanned how thick security was. Distracted by her intent to find a weakness, she heard someone's foot step in behind her.

Hairs on the back of her neck rose as she became still, the male voice spoke.

"Hey, you're not supposed to be-"

Dash reacted fast. She stood upright and kicked backwards. It hit him square into the knee, the Strak crewman's leg snapped to the side and crumbled from the attack. As he began to cry out, she slipped behind him. Her left arm positioned across the throat as she crossed her left into a sleeper hold. Dash was mindful not to hit the horns on her way to subdue the alien and silence him.

Some distance away Kurin observed the subject skirting about, clearly trying to be sneaky, but failing utterly to hide from him on account of her near-constant channeling of the Force for some purpose of which he was not entirely sure. Commendable to be sneaky, but ineffective towards its goal.

He did not yet feel any need to step in, though her incapacitation of a member of a ship’s crew was a bit excessive. Efficient, but excessive.

As the crewman began to struggle, Dash attempted to silence him. She cut off any sound at the throat by tightening her grip. His movements began to slow and finally ceased. Dashara removed her arms, ready to resume her choking if needed, then lowered him down. She checked his vitals.

Still alive.

She gave a breath of relief and glanced around. No one else seemed to have heard the scuffle causing her to relax more. There was little time to deal with the body and everyone would've noticed her trying to stash it. In her haste, she used the baggage to obscure line of vision to the body. It wouldn't be long before they found it.

With a deep inhale, she began to realize a hard truth. She had to wait until nightfall and use her ship to get out of here. Having done enough recon, she began to fall back to the way she came.

A premonition of sorts struck Kurin, giving him the feel that his prey had abandoned its attempts to sneak onto some ship. “Empire 1 - Opposition 0” he muttered to himself. He let her depart for now, moving between the ships making quick inspections and seeing each ship take off, making sure that she was far away when it happened. After less than half an hour, only one ship remained in the starport. It did not take a genius to figure out that it had to be hers. He called over one of the squads of troopers. “Impound this vessel. Until I say otherwise, this ship will remain here.”

“At once, inquisitor.” the trooper said, gesturing to some of the non-combat personnel to come over. “Clamp it.”

Kurin did not wait to see them do it. He headed away, straight for where his prey had gone to ground.


Dash had taken a longer route to arrive back to her 'camp'. She doubted she was followed, but the extra time allowed her to think.

When she reached her bike, she leaned against the speeder's seat and she thoughtfully bit her lip. Frustration rolled off her in waves, but she didn't react to it. She didn't stomp or kick anything. In fact, she just stood perfectly normally. Deep down, she had learned it rarely helped to let her emotions control her. And it never made the situation better.

The day had such promise too. She found herself regretful that she left the lightsaber back in the last village. It would've been useful now.

Initially, Kurin watched the camp from a considerable distance away, using a pair of macrobinoculars. His ship now hovered above the camp and he had, for now, transferred the inspection role to the local garrison.

His target did not appear to be happy. He made a note on that for his report. He really did not have time to wait forever on her to move. It was time to end this. With a measured gait he headed straight for her camp.

Dash heard footsteps approach causing her to look from her thoughts. Her eyes narrowed on the black robe figure, recognizing him from the starport. The one checking the ships. She made her frustration vanish. Gone like a ghost in the imagination of children.

Her lips curled into a smile, It was difficult to note if it was real or fake as she addressed him.

"Well, hello there. Didn’t expect to see anyone out here.”

“I know. I have been watching you.” he said to her, stopping a short distance away. “It has been interesting.”

He looked at her, checking for tell-tale signs of her preparing to flee. He made no aggressive moves. “You have potential, young one. Potential that if properly trained will see you rise far.” He wondered how she would respond.

"I'm glad you enjoyed the show." She giggled, revealing nothing of what she was actually feeling.

Her hands had been on the seat as she braced them flat, pulling her ass onto the seat. She ensured she was still facing him so not to give away her intentions. Her figure appeared to settle for a moment, her hands moved where he could see and completely relaxed.

"You look like a Sith, am I correct on that?"

“Thank you.” he answered, not at all being sarcastic about being tagged as a Sith. She appeared to use her emotions as a defense, hiding her true self beneath that shell. He could work with that. He got a sense that she was casing the area, even as her eyes appeared locked on him. It did not take a genius to figure out that she had plans to flee.

He would, for now, let her continue to think that was an option.

"You're jumping to praise far too quickly. I've not heard too many good things about you guys. I was once told you and I quote: ‘Sith are nothing but vicious and heartless monsters.’ Nothing too flirting, I'm sad to say."

Her right left shifted to mount the bike, but she retained her relaxed posture. She reached her right hand to grab her snacks with a casual movement. Though her head had moved to see where she sat them, she kept tabs on his location and kept playing stupid.

The only thing left was to start it up and take off. She doubted he would let it be that easy. For now, she kept him talking while she figured the rest out.

“No doubt from a Jedi.” he retorted. “I will show you the difference between a Sith and a vicious and heartless monster. It is quite marked.” With a virtually imperceptible gesture he disconnected a power coupling on the speeder bike, effectively disabling it.

"Would I still be here if it was a Jedi?" Dash lied as she returned her attention to him, placing her food to the side.

"In neutral space, you're not exactly popular. So there has to be some truth to it, right?"

Her attention, through her eyes stilled rested on him, flipped to the scenery and looked for a way out. A clearing just to her left was perfect for a straight shot to leave this monster behind.

“The Jedi are notoriously dense, so probably. Which is part of the reason they’re not exactly popular either.” He casually ignored her obvious plans to escape. “People are afraid of that which they do not understand and cannot control. You appear intelligent enough to overcome such flaws.”

Dash chuckled a little more.

"I'm also smart enough to see when a phrase is nothing but a tool. Even if you believe it yourself."

Her hands reached for the bars and clicked it on. The engine roared for a moment then sputtered and died. She sighed. That figured it couldn't be as easy as that.

"I had suspected you wouldn't make this easy..."

“Oh, they are far more than tools…” he said, not caring whether she was willing to accept it or not.

When she quite expectedly tried to fire up the speeder, his small alteration made its dysfunctionality obvious. “With proper training, you would perhaps have noticed the speeder being disabled. I will see to it that you receive that training.”

Dash inhaled, biting her lip. Her attention returned to him, still pretty far out from her position. He was clearly in no hurry.

"And if I decline your generous offer?" Dash asked, suspecting the answer was not in her favor.

“It wasn’t an offer.” he answered. “You are Force-sensitive. This is imperial territory. Imperial law demands that you get trained.” He took a single step closer.

"Sounds like another cage to me... I don't do well when someone steals my freedom." With that, she shot off the bike and did the only thing she could: run.

Beneath his mask, he smiled. She was quite predictable. “There is no need to run from your destiny.” With those words, he reached out with the Force, freezing her mid-step. He didn’t even have to put in much effort. Her defenses were woefully inadequate.

He walked closer to her, looking her in the eyes. He could see her struggle against his stasis. He could feel her cold fury. It was strong, very strong. She had great potential. He started speaking, just barely louder than a whisper, "Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, you gain strength. Through strength, you gain power. Through power, you gain victory. Through victory, your chains are broken. The Force shall free you." He relaxed the stasis after a few seconds, freeing her head.

Dash felt her body tense. Her feet stopped in mid-step and she couldn't move. This was not something she expected to happen. She was so fucked right now. Fear should've been coursing through her, but instead fury took its place. The bastard took her freedom.

"Fair bit of advice... Don't lecture a Zeltron about passion and emotions. Now, what the fuck did you do?"

For a couple of seconds he didn’t answer, recalling what little he knew about that particular species. From her looks, she was clearly not full-blooded. “Yes, you would be familiar with passion. Then you know what a powerful source of strength it can be. I can see you fitting in well at the academy.”

He walked slowly around her, feeling her frustration at being trapped, somehow she was tapping into his emotions, trying to distract him so that she could escape. Unfortunately for her, he had been trained long and hard to maintain control over others in this manner, so her efforts would not come to fruition at this time. “I am holding you in place. A simple technique you may one day learn for yourself. I imagine you can find some creative uses for that, given your species’ predilections.”

While where she could see him, he flipped open the armored lid on his wrist computer, pressing a few buttons inside it. “Soon the ship will land, and I will take you to the academy, where the overseers will train you to use the Force far better than anyone else can.” He could feel the frustration turn back into fury directed at him. It was a good thing she had no training in using the Dark Side yet, or this could have been very painful for him.

"Yeah, familiar words. A world that will kill the weak and spit out the strong. It wouldn't be the first 'cage' I've been in." Dash spat, venom for the thought.

It wouldn't be the first time she escaped it, but she wouldn't let him know that.

That she spoke of having been caged before was interesting. He would have to investigate that at some point. Or at least, have someone investigate it and provide him with the report. “If you put suitable effort into it, you will not need to fear dying on Korriban. You have more than enough potential to thrive there.”

For a moment he was silent before continuing, “The initial training will be limited in freedom, but it will not involve any cages. You will be free to move about the relevant areas of the academy. Unlike the Jedi, we seek to free you from your chains and limitations, not hammer you into a single standardized mold. The reduced freedom is an unfortunate sacrifice, but necessary to guide you down the path to reach your true potential.”

“In time, you will find that you can study what your heart may desire, for example holotomes on the fleshy arts long thought lost in the Republic. You might find them educational, should you find yourself with access to them.”

"A cage or leash isn't always physical. It's all about control over someone's life. Your statement, your actions are all I need to know this." Was Dash's simple answer.

How often had Ikle dangled a false freedom in front of her? The question was easy enough to answer and she realize it after a year of true freedom. Dangerous her life might've been, but she had full control of her own action and risks. This Sith's words were depressing because they were familiar.

"I was free... and that's all I want to be."

“You are free… To follow imperial law.”

Dash just shook her head. She wasn’t aiming to be around long enough to exercise that ‘freedom’ if she could help it. Her eyes noticed the ship moving in and descending into a landing nearby. Her mind was still trying to puzzle her way out of this, but until she was freed there nothing she could do.

The moment the ship landed he activated his comlink. “Lieutenant Angavel, please come down with a stunner. This one is moderately feisty.”

A second later a female voice replied, “At once, inquisitor.”

"I get a sense you enjoyed saying that..." She made a sarcastic comment.

“We both know you have a variety of plans for mischief. It will waste my time and might lead to you being harmed. Both unfortunate and undesirable results, would you not agree?”

"Yes," Dash stated firmly, her breath exhaled.

Her anger dissipated to a smaller degree, but didn't completely vanish.

Kurin saw no reason to give his new recruit any extra opportunities for mischief. He had no doubt that the girl had plenty of pheromones in the air, though these were naturally filtered away by his mask. He would have to observe their effect upon his pilot. If they incapacitated her, then it would be inconvenient but no true problem. He was more than capable of plotting out the course back home without her. He just preferred to leave the flying to her, so that he could focus on his own business. He really hoped he wouldn’t need to provide them all with breathing masks for the entire journey.

Lieutenant Iris approached, carrying the stunner ready, already pointing it at the half-zeltron.

Dash hadn't realized it, but her pheromones had filled the air. It created a thick atmosphere like an intense high on anyone approaching them. Her eyes shifted to the Sith, noting why he wasn't affected from the very start. That mask. It filtered the air and prevented the chemicals from affecting him.

She couldn't be sure how the Imperial woman would react, but she decided to chance it. Her head tilted away from him and seemed to try to glance around the horizon. She moved her lips to silently mouth 'help me' to see the woman's reaction.

The closer she got, the more the lieutenant shook her head, trying to clear the fuzz that was creeping in. The influence wasn’t mental. She had been trained to handle that well. It was different. A part of her wanted to help the prisoner. She knew she shouldn’t. It wasn’t her job. She struggled with the dilemma for several seconds longer than normal, even having to work hard to press the trigger on the stunner. The moment the blast hit, the young woman’s head sagged down and the fuzziness started to clear, though it still left her quite muddled.

Kurin watched the effect upon his pilot, noting that the pheromones were definitely affecting her. When the stunner knocked his recruit out, he slowly relaxed the stasis, catching her before she fell. “Carry her on board. Put her safely in the second containment unit.”

His pilot nodded, accepting the burden without question, carrying her up the boarding ramp and into the cargo hold, where a small section had been repurposed into a set of containment cells. She would be searched, but the energy fields of the cells could not easily be manipulated from within, so there was no need to disarm her for now.

Conveniently enough, the other prisoner was currently asleep, so when she next woke, she would find herself with a fellow captive. The ship took off soon after all three had gotten on board and Kurin sent a short message to the garrison commander telling him about the speeder bike, to lift the inspection routine and to do with the impounded ship as he saw fit, on account of its owner now being on the way to Korriban and therefore no longer needing it.

A hyperspace course was plotted, and the ship departed moments after leaving the atmosphere of Teya IV. It would take over a week to get to korriban, just shy of seven days.
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Aboard the Serith, en route to Korriban
Kurin Tonaal, Mahree Mis-Ede, Dashara Horizon




How many days had it been? Mahree had lost count. They all seemed to blend together - space travel didn’t really give good hints as to when the sun had risen or set, and being cooped up in a cell the entire time gave no possible way for one to see the sun set and the moon rise. It gave very little in the way of the meaning of life, too.
Stolen from her home, her mother slaughtered and their farms destroyed, Mahree was now a captive on her way to who knows where. The only indication she had received in the ways of travel were a prisoner transfer to a ship commanded by a Sith Inquisitor by the name of Kurin Tonaal. She could feel the ship move back and forth, indicating they were moving somewhere.

She didn’t speak to anyone. Sometimes it couldn’t be helped, for the Force had the ability to make one reveal their thoughts and speak words they did not wish. She ate, and slept, and ate, and grieved some. The cell didn’t leave much room for lying down and stretching out; so Mahree sat in a sort of fetal position, her face buried in her knees as arms pulled her legs to her chest.

She had hardly slept recently, the young girl too distraught and grieving to even try. Her mind finally caved though as she was under a light form of sleep when the doors to the cargo bay opened. Eyes opened at the sound of the doors, snapping her out of her dozing state. From her cell she saw one of the crew members carrying a smaller form in their arms. Not a moment was wasted before said form was placed into an adjacent cell, the energy field immediately forming a wall to prevent escape. Nothing was said between Mahree and the crew member before the doors were closed and darkness swept through the hold once more.

~|~


Dash's sleeping posture reflected her state of mind state. It was a habit developed from Nar Shaddaa, often to protect herself or look smaller. She curled into a ball as the woman dropped her off, sealing the prison.

Several minutes passed before she began to wake. Dash's mind began to take stock of her surroundings before she opened her eyes. They placed her on something hard and metal, the discomfort obvious to her. She checked to ensure where weight pressed into her figure. The vibro-rapier and her dagger were still there. Their weight gave her heart some comfort that she wasn't completely defenseless.

Hope was all she needed.

Her mind began to digest the information she had collected. From the last encounter to the merchant, it all filled her mind. Details began to slip through her fingers and fall into possible places.

Then the emotions hit her like a rock in the face. Her eyes snapped open and her figure began to sit upright. She flinched at the ache creeping through her muscles.

"Stunners are a foreplay I will never get use to..." She joked then turned to the source of what distracted her.

A young girl, no older than sixteen, sat in a huddled in her own identical cell. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness before she spoke again.

"You know, your mixed emotions are very distracting for me."

Hearing the girl speak, Mahree glanced over in her direction. She hadn't expected her to wake so quickly, nor to address her almost immediately. Mahree didn't say anything back, however, not yet.

The young girl felt it almost useless to do anything besides keep to herself.

Ever since her capture, Mahree's 'fighting spirit', as some would say, grew weaker and weaker the longer she was captive. She had tried fighting back, tried escaping from her first captor - the one that had killed her mother and had their farm, everything Mahree loved, destroyed. It was obvious that the young girl's attempt to escape had failed, both by her presence on Kurin's ship and by the visible and healing scar that ran down the right side of her head. From the crown of her head to her jawline - it wasn't the mark of a lightsaber, but rather a very sharp, claw-like wound that had pierced deep into her skin and was drug all the way from top to bottom.

So Mahree turned away from the girl, speaking nothing. Her eyes closed again in an attempt to doze back off as she had been.

You're going to be tons of help.

Dash's mind dripped with annoyance before she decided to ignore the girl. If she needed information, she could get it pretty easily and at a later time. She bit her lower lip in thought as she rose onto her feet.

She tapped the floor. It gave a sound, metal thunk. Solid and she suspected, from the lack of scuffle marks, installed recently. There was little chance of any weakness in the structure there. Still she spend a good few minutes tapping on the entire ground to see if anything was loose. She had been wrong before.

Her attention turned to the top next. It looked exactly the same. Ignoring that fact, she decided to estimate how tall the cell was and reached for the top. It was about a foot or two taller than herself. Impossible to reach even on her tiptoes.

That won't work.

When her fingers approached the top, she had been watching it. It surged and released. That indicated it was drawing energy from a power cell. If she could short it out, it might allow her to exit. The main issue was how.

Dash once more glanced over to Mahree.

"How did you wind up here? Are you force sensitive too?" Her voice was gentle and kind, having a cheery feel to it.

It was a few, long, silent moments before Mahree even moved. She looked back over her shoulder, watching Dash for a moment before simply nodding.

Mahree spoke nothing as she turned back and rested her head on her knees again. Due to the nature of Dash's questions, it was clear that the nod indicated a 'yes' towards her being Force-sensitive.

"They really knocked the wind out of you, didn't they?" Dash commented as she resumed her examination.

Her hands rested on her hips and she twisted about to see if she could make out the cargo hold's contents. The light of the bars provided some illumination, but not much.

As she looked, she suspected the usual. Rations, fuel, and other small necessities for space travel to parts and tools. Her attention noted which box could’ve easily open while she debated on her options.

"You know, when I get out of here... do you want to come with me?"

"If you get out." Mahree replied, not moving at all. "If they catch you, they might not seem so kind. I thought I could escape too, I almost got away. But I was mistaken." She spoke quietly, eyes closed as that memory of her captor came back. She gently ran fingertips over her scar, taking a deep breath as she tried to calm herself.

"You realize, with an attitude like that it only gives him power." Dash pointed out.

"Our... warden, isn't a monster. That much I can tell, but he's a challenge to my freedom. I refuse to give it up again." She smiled at the girl, then inhaled.

"Do you know how to mediate? It might help clear your head."

Mahree sighed, pushing her face further into her knees. "No, I don't." She said, her voice muffled by her clothing and legs. The girl knew very little about the Force. All she had managed was some simple telekinesis. Pushing and pulling, lifting and putting down. She didn't openly practice it, for being a Force-sensitive in Imperial territory was not always a welcome thing, depending on who you were talking to.

Dash's guilt jabbed at her. No, it did worse. Her guilt didn’t just poke, it stabbed her then it twisted about and sliced at her compassion. It was enough of a sympathy pain that she took a moment from her observations to address the girl. Gradually she crossed her legs and lower herself down, mindful of her weapon. She gestured for Mahree to face her.

"Get yourself comfortable as possible first. Next thing, my name is Dashara. What's yours? Just the first one will do."

Mahree spent a few long moments deciding if she wanted to listen or not. She just wanted peace, silence. She wanted to be left alone to wallow in her thoughts.

Finally the younger girl turned, eyes opening and legs pulling away from her chest as she looked to this other girl, to Dash.
Mahr took in a deep breath as she watched Dash, matching her sitting position.
"I'm Mahree." She said quietly, trying her best as she put a weak smile on her face.

"That was a good first step and pretty name too. All right, let's see if I can remember how to do this. Usually I hate sitting in this stiff posture, but there's nothing I can do about it."

Dash would just be laying on her stomach and letting her emotions swirl her into her comfort zone. She couldn't do this with Mahree. The girl was an obvious wreck and it would likely come out more negative then positive.

For a split second, Dashara hoped their little mediate might poke the Sith. Enough to create some discomfort. With how he reacted to her emotions, there was more likely evidence that it wouldn't bother him at all.

She inhaled then relaxed. "My friend told me to inhale then exhale. Focus on your breathing. The movement of your chest, how your lower stomach moves and the pace. Don't let your mind drift from those things."

Dash watched Mahree. She wanted to make sure the younger girl followed the instruction and not fall asleep. She admitted it had happened a few times and she earned a giggle from Neith over it.

Mahree chose not to say much as she listened to Dash's instruction. She listened instead, focusing on her breathing as instructed, trying not to let her mind wander.

Trying not to think of her slaughtered mother, of the farm she grew up loving - in flames and destroyed in a few more minutes. Running to evade her captor, the fight that ensued. Forced onto the ship, held captive for days on end. Her wrists bonded, the wound on the side of her head stinging and aching.

Mahree's face contorted, accurately reflecting her discomfort and fear as her mind ran through those memories on repeat. Tears started to run down her face as she felt stuck, drowning in her thoughts.

Dashara instinctively flinched at the rising emotions pounding away at her. Great, she thought bitterly, girl experienced some trauma. She gritted her teeth against the rush. This would require a little help from her.

"All right, let's stop that in its tracks." Dash stated as she countered the raging storm with her own dose of positivity.

Mahree would feel a tingling start to crawl across her churning mind. It was warm, soft and pleasant. It spread like water into parched earth, flowing down into her core. Dash regretted it was a slow effect, but it was a balm over a burn wound. A temporary relief until Mahree could find her own.

The girl took a deep breath as she heard Dash's instruction. Her eyes opened, she could feel a cold sweat on her forehead in mere moments. Her mind tingled suddenly as feelings of calmness and peace surged through her body. Mahree took another deep breath before closing her eyes again.

"Okay… what next then." she asked, her voice wavering as her emotions danced around in her head.

"Do you have any happy memories? We're going to try another method, my favorite one." Dash asked, still retaining her empathy.

"Um, yea… yea I have a couple." Mahree replied, nodding her head, mostly as an affirmation to herself before the young girl's eyes closed again.

“Focus on how they made you feel. Not the actual memory, but the positive emotion that came from it.”

So Mahree did just that.
The young girl, eyes closed, recalled the first time many years ago she had learned she was Force-sensitive. Despite living near Imperial territory, and knowing very well where Force-sensitives went if the Jedi or Sith picked them up. Her mother had been so happy, had encouraged Mahree to keep working at it. Her mother had wanted Mahree to grow strong, the young girl was talented and her mother wanted nothing but the best.

Soon, fond memories filled Mahree's mind, effectively calming the girls nerves and helping her mind and body to calm down and reflect more positivity… and hope.

"Can you hold onto it? That feeling? Let it fill you to the core and be your center?" Dash hoped the girl could, it would allow her to feel less anxious about letting go of her empathy.

"Yea… I- I think I can." Mahr said, her eyes closed tight as she thought long and hard on the memory, trying her hardest not to let a find memory of her mother turn into something of negativity and grief by thinking about her death.

"Now what do I do?"

“Keep it, and slowly relax. If the memory became hard to keep focus on, turn your attention to the emotion. This can be anything from love of a parent to your first sensual experience. Just focus on that sensation. I’m going to pull away my empathy and let you take the reins. Ready?”

"I think so…" Mahree said quietly, nodding both to herself and to Dash. She focused hard on the emotion the good memories brought, pulling them closer to her core and holding them steady.
She started to feel happier, hopeful. The fear and dread and grief that had overcome her ever since her capture was slowly being drowned out by positive emotions.

Dash withdrew her empathy. The positive emotions were a much needed relief compared to the toxic ones.

"Isn't that so much better?" Dash chuckled.

A soft, gurgling interrupted her thoughts and caused her peer down at her middle. She was hungry. It was no surprise since the sith's pursuit forced her to skip a few stops, including meals. What she wouldn't give for some nerf jerky right now.

"A little bit, I think." Mahree said, smiling a little as she held onto the good memories and the emotions that followed. She heard the sounds of a hungry stomach coming from Dash's cell, one eye opened to look her way before her head and the other eye followed.

"They might be bringing another meal soon… I don't remember the last one. I haven't really been hungry lately…"

"They might be bringing another meal soon… I don't remember the last one. I haven't really been hungry lately…"

"I hope so. I haven't eaten decently since three days ago. It's hard to replenish your rations when you're being chased." Dash glared at the security camera, considering her next goal.

She inhaled then continued, hoping to distract herself.

"Since being brought, what have you learned?"

~|~


Kurin sat in the conference room on the opposite side of the ship, watching several of the security feeds now that his cargo were both awake. He would let them speak for a while first. It might provide him additional information.

It seemed the last prisoner was trying to teach the first about meditation. Useful, if it had not been for the problem that it was the weaker Jedi variant. A user of that variant would suffer hard at the Academy. Unnecessary suffering. He heard one of them mention not having eaten properly in several days. That would not do. He had no plans on releasing them, but he would not starve them.

He had a few suitable meals prepared then carried them into the cargo hold. No doubt the feisty one was up to some sort of mischief, if her previous words were anything to go by.

~|~


"Nothing really," Mahree began, adjusting her position on the floor as she leaned back against the side of her cot. "The first Sith who took me mentioned Korriban - but that's all of what I've heard. I know it's not much, I'm sorry." Mahree said, looking up to Dash apologetically, one of her hands subconsciously tracing the healing wound along the side of her head.

Dash nodded, but she wasn't pleased by the information given. It wasn't very useful. She needed to teach the girl some quick and dirty tips about intelligence collection. Dash adjusted her legs, stretching them out as she spoke.

"Alright, I'm going to ask some specific questions. I need to remember as much detail as you can. I'll try to narrow down the details I need, but it's all right if you don't recall. We'll figure it out later."

She waited a moment, then began.

"Did you see the ship when you were brought onboard? Can you describe it? From your statement, I can easily conclude this guy didn't catch you like me. That means you were transferred which means I can get a better idea of the ship's make and model."

Dash’s voice was low and quiet when she spoke, her eyes aware of the camera now.

"Mm, I don't remember much. The wings make up most of the length, but I know it's not a very big ship. The main hold isn't very large either. I saw it before we turned and they brought me here." Mahree said, trying her best to describe the shape as she thought about what she had seen.

Dash leaned in, listening intently to the specs. She frowned, not enjoying hearing they were on what she assumed was an Imperial warship. She exhaled her frustration then focused on Mahree again.

"That doesn't sound promising. What can you tell me about the individuals on the ship? How many crew, gender ratio, and if there appeared to be more?" She needed more information.

"There was one taking a corridor to the bridge that I saw. And one brought me to the cargo hold. That makes two, I'm not sure how many more. I think it was a woman walking to the bridge. And another woman who brought me to the cargo hold." the young girl explained, keeping her voice quiet as she tried her best to recall what she had seen.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Aboard the Serith, en route to Korriban
Kurin Tonaal, Mahree Mis-Ede, Dashara Horizon




"That's better than fi-" Dash stopped in the middle of her sentence.

Her expression hardened. She had spotted a man enter the cargo bay, a familiar mask and black robes betrayed his origins. The Sith. He was carrying two trays with food causing her hunger pains to rattled once more.

Without wasting much time, she moved her legs underneath her and pushed upright. Her figure turned to face him with a defensive posture. Instinctively her hand rested near her blade, ready to draw it if needed.

When he saw her prepare to draw her weapon Kurin smiled underneath his mask. “Go ahead. Draw that blade. Attack the energy field.” he said before pausing for a second. “Or you can attack this food. One will hurt for you, the other will relieve pain.” He put down one of the trays on a crate, then passed the other through to one cell, shutting the hatch afterwards, before proceeding to take up the first tray again and send that into the other cell.

Mahree's attention turned to the entrance to the hold once Dash suddenly stopped speaking. The younger girl felt herself closing up again. Fear setting in just at the sight of the Sith. She pulled her knees back towards her chest and wrapped her arms around them, burying half of her face once more.

“Had I wished you harm then you would not have been standing where you are. In fact, I have a small challenge for you.” He pulled a crate over, then sat down on it, right before both cells. There was no need to make any threats. He was fairly certain that the cell kept the second girl’s pheromones firmly in check, should she be trying to release them. But even if that were the case, he had instructed his crew to wear breathing masks on going into the hold, just in case.

Dash kept her eyes on Kurin. She looked unfazed by his small taunt and facts, but it was easy to tell she wanted to retort. When Kurin moved from the cell and sat, her stiffness fell away. Her blade hand reached for the tray before she walked back to the uncomfortable cot.

She paused to look at Mahree causing her expression to soften into sympathy briefly.

It was pretty basic food fare. Re-hydrated rations with a single utensil and crackers, obviously prepackaged. At least the quality was better than some cases she had suffered through. Deciding not to be picky, she lowered herself onto the mattress.

Her empathy reached out to the younger girl, once more trying to calm and comfort her fear.

"Challenge, uh? And why should we rise to it?" She addressed Kurin, picking through the food and eating a bit.

“Why not? Is sitting here bemoaning your current circumstances more entertaining? There are several days left on our journey yet, and you’re not getting out of those cells until it is over.” He let them eat a little before he continued. “The challenge is simple, really. All you need to do is stack these crates.” he pointed to the haphazardly scattered crates behind him. “None of the small crates are mag-locked to the deck.”

He pointed first to Mahree, then to Dashara. “You can take the blue crates, and you can take the red ones.”

Mahree raised her head from her knees, glancing to the fold before looking at Kurin. "And what game is this? she asked, glaring at him before glancing over at Dash, wondering what she thought of his 'challenge'.

Dash's lips pressed tighter, pausing from her second bit. She caught Mahree's look and nodded, a soft gesture to approve the question. Her stomach had already eased its pain to a more tolerable level now.

She set the tray aside for the moment, part of her meal gone. Her interest was sparked and she scrutinized Kurin before she relaxed.

"Fair enough point, but I suspect you'll be disappointed. Those crates are a bit too heavy for me."

“Not if you use the Force.” he retorted succinctly.

With a purposeful and half-hearted attempt, Dash's hand reached out toward the red crates. The top one jiggled but it never lifted far. Instead, it slid off the other crate onto the floor. Much to her disappointment, it never busted open.

"What else would I be lifting it with? You already stated we’re not getting out of these cells." Dash shoved the facts right back at him, even using the same words he did.

He watched her clearly half-hearted attempt. Even a child half her age could do better given basic knowledge of how to do it. “Do it again, only this time you don’t hold back in a paltry attempt to look weak. Such antics will no avail you at the academy.” He frowned at her attempt to be sarcastic. “I suggest thinking your words through before you make statements in the future. Especially when you know they are statements that a child can see the blatant faults in.”

Another spike of hate reared before she pushed it down.

"And you wonder why people think you're monsters," she muttered, loud enough for him to hear.

She adjusted her posture, working out the tingling sensation. Her hand brushed her long bangs away while she continued.

"I'm not really sure why you're bothering."

After a moment, she inhaled and exhaled again. She held her hand out again, but she hesitated and just dropped her arm.

"The weight hadn't changed so it's not going to change the result."

“Weight,” he told the girl “is irrelevant.” He pointed behind him, lifting the largest crate up, then dropped it sharply down to the deck from a few centimeters up. He estimated that it weighed several metric tons, so the sharp thunk as it impacted was not what anyone would call inaudible.

“If hating me pleases you, then feel free to do so. I do not mind.”

“But if you are to hate me, use your hatred. Do not let it use you. That is where the Jedi fail. They are afraid of their emotions, so they run from them, push them down, when they should be in command. Think about those who have hurt you. Truly hurt you. Imagine what you would do to them if you had them at your mercy. Channel the feelings that gives you and you will have power at your disposal. Power unlike any other.”

Dash held her hand up to stop him speaking farther, "I don't hate you, just the fact you stole my freedom. It's really hard to want to listen to a captor. Especially when it doesn't change anything."

She inhaled, "Jedi aren't weak, they are just liars. Sort of like Sith. And don't lecture me about emotions. One of the phrases grilled into my head was: You should never be ruled by your emotions."

“You claim that Sith are liars, but when have I lied to you, hmm?” He shifted a little on his crate. “Someone told you Sith lie, and condemn all of them as liars, not even having met one.” He continued, “The Jedi are afraid of us Sith. How do I know this? Time and again, they have tried to wipe us out. Last time, they almost succeeded. Yet do you hear stories about that in the republic? No.”

“As for that lesson you have been drilled with? It will serve you well in the academy. It lead you down the path to greatness.”

Dash glared at the red crate. "I don't want power, I want freedom. And say my emotions will set me free, I will counter that they haven't managed to do that here."

He looked straight at her, though the effect was somewhat limited by his mask. “I did not steal your freedom. Your greed did. I merely brought you to justice.” as he said that, he pulled out a lightsaber, one that would be very familiar to her. “I put considerable effort into this one. I could not simply leave it behind.”

"I trust her better than you, though we'll likely never cross paths again." Dash defended her friend, even if she was wrong. Her body was facing him now and slouched over, assertive in her posture. Her legs folded under her while she watched the Sith.

“The fact that this woman you speak of did not turn you over to the Jedi implies that she is no longer part of them herself. A wise choice. As for your paths never crossing again. How can you be sure? Even the Emperor cannot predict the future with utter certainty. Perhaps I will have your past looked into so that this woman can be brought into the fold if she is willing?”

“You leave her out of this,” Dash growled.

Her skin reddened slightly as she glared at him.

When she spotted the lightsaber, she cursed. Her head lowered as she spoke, realization was clear in her voice.

"I knew something was wrong with it. The hilt was Jedi, but it had a red blade. Jedi don’t use red crystals. You put out bait and I fell for it."

“To the contrary young feisty one, Jedi do use red crystals. It is rare, but it happens. Foolish of them, considering the simple fact that red crystals are innately more powerful. But then they are Jedi. Proof enough of them being foolish. We Sith do not use them due to tradition. We use them because they are more powerful. Why use anything less than the best tool for the job?”

Mahree sat in her cell silently while Dash and the Sith shot at each other, back and forth, each one trying to outweigh the other with their words and justifications. The girl’s head buried deeper into the space between her chest and her legs, eyes shut tightly as she tried to tune both of them out. She didn’t want to play their captor’s little game, but in the end, did she have a choice? Would he do anything if they both blatantly refused?

Mahree was hesitant to play along. What if she could lift the crates as well as he expected? What kind of label would that put on her?

She couldn’t help but wonder just how well she could move the crates, however. Could she use on as a weapon? If she could throw it fast enough, maybe it would strike their captor before he noticed. There would be no telling how well it would work though, until Mahree could get a feel for the crates.

One arm moved slowly as she rested that hand next to her, on the floor of the cell. She reached out then, and tried to make it as inconspicuous as possible, as she focused the Force, feeling for one of the crates at the opposite side of the room.

She was still for now, playing around with what she could feel, barely moving the crate as she tested out her abilities while the other two bickered amongst themselves.

Kurin turned to look at the other detainee. He felt her struggling attempt to use the Force. “Focus on the one who hurt you. Who killed your family. Imagine your revenge. Use that to fuel your telekinesis. It will help.” Some would no doubt imagine him lying about that, but he was completely honest. He did wonder what they would do next. Probably something foolish.

Mahree took a deep breath as she listened to Kurin’s words. It felt ironic to her. Here he was, a Sith, trying to teach her how to focus her telekinesis in order to move an object - telling her to use revenge as a source of power. When in fact it was a Sith who took her and made her a captive.

“Why do you think I would listen to anything you have to say?” Mahree began, her hands tightening as the girl stood up suddenly, keeping focus on the crate she sensed as she eyed Kurin. “It was a Sith who put me here in the first place, why would I listen to anything you have to say?!” The girl screamed, her arm swinging around hard as her telekinetic grip on the crate sent it flying towards Kurin.

“You know as well as I do that is a lie. Slavers killed your family, took you captive to sell on the hutt markets. A Sith associate of mine had unfinished business with those slavers. After they died for their sins they set the slavers’ cargo free. You, being a Force-sensitive orphan with nowhere to return to, he decided to send to me so that I could bring you to Korriban for training.” He casually caught the crate moments before impact, holding it in place while feeling her push against his strength. “Good. Use that anger.” He pushed the crate back to test her strength of will.

Dash’s head jerked at the crate’s flight. Her teeth gritted as she watched Mahree lose her temper, the meek and dispirited girl showing she had bite. The only bad thing, Dash didn’t have much time to appreciate it before a wall of hatred slammed into her emotions. Her calm shattered like glass from a thrown rock.

Every muscle in Dash’s body tensed at the alien emotions flooding her own. Her breathing increased, trying to retain some bit of control and failing quickly. In the back of her mind, she regretted forgetting to shut off her empathy.

Kurin smiled as Mahree fought back against his test of strength. It was clear that she wanted to challenge him, that she would fight back for as long as it took. While this was not the exact test he had originally intended, it was a good test nonetheless of her strength and determination. He was, in many ways, proud of her for using the anger. “Yes! Continue pushing... Draw on that strength! Feel its power!”

From the side he sensed how her anger seemed to be bleeding over into the mind of the empath. Or at least, that was the most probable source, given that he sensed sudden growing anger from her too. Turning to look at the empath, he saw how she struggled to rein herself in. Futilely.

He spoke to her specifically. “Use that anger! Don’t run from it. Do not let it go to waste! Channel it into something useful!” He thought for a fraction of a second on where she might channel it effectively. “Crush the box I am sitting on!” he said to challenge her.

Dash gritted her teeth harder before she forced herself to speak, ”You might get crushed instead…”

The moment the words slipped out, her own anger shot up another level. She needed to get this under control and fast.

Hearing the Inquisitor challenge them put Mahree further on edge. She maintained her focus on the crate that was suspended next to Kurin, pushing back as hard as she could while her anger only grew.

The sweet girl that seemed to have lost her way, ever since she had been in the hands of Sith, seemed to disappear. Instead Mahree felt everything between anger and grief, threatening to overtake her as the Sith in front of her challenged she and Dash.

The girl pushed harder on the suspended crate while her free hand reached out. She took the man's challenge and began to shatter the crate herself. Slowly it started to crack and twist under her influence. Mahree couldn't help as her anger grew. She had so many emotions built up inside and this was the first time she was able to express them.

“Mahree… calm down a bit.” Dash nearly pled, but knew her words wouldn’t reach the girl.

There was too much pain there, piled on from the sense of loss and suffering linked to dead parents. A pain she had felt herself once. She had to get rid of this anger as bottling it up would only lead to more chaos in her heart, something that never ended well.

Dash held out her hand toward the crate the Sith sat on. Her fingers curled and her mind drifted to memories she wished she didn’t have, fueling the fire already spreading through her. While she had a notion she could’ve controlled and determined what was crushed, she didn’t. For a split second, Kurin’s face wasn’t his own. In her mind, it represented far more and a man at the root of it all. A representation of her entrapment.

Pressure began to push on the crate. The outside began to crumble against the raw power surrounding it. It started with with dents and grew in strength. Truthfully, she rarely used anger in her force manipulations. Neith had warned how it would corrupt her if she did.

Dash wondered if it even mattered now. Tears of hot anger pooled at her eyes and trickled down her cheeks, but she didn’t seem to notice.

Slowly Kurin began to feel the crate vibrate as the two detainees pushed on it, trying to crush it. At first, nothing more happened, but eventually it would give in, crumble under their combined efforts. The durable design of it was designed specifically to protect anything within, so it took time. He shifted his weight back onto his legs, know that while it might be amusing to them if he fell over, it would not be be comfortable, let alone beneficial to the lesson he was teaching them.

He felt the momentary efforts from the empathy to also crush him, but while it had a certain amount of raw strength it was unrefined and imprecise due to her incomplete training. Not nearly enough to break through his defenses. It had potential, though. What sort of foolish jedi lesson had that woman she spoke of imprinted upon her?

Mahree didn’t hold back. She both heard and saw the crate starting to deform, so she kept pushing. Mahree didn’t hear Dash’s words at all. All of her rage and fury was focused on Kurin and the crate he sat upon. After a few more moments, the crate suddenly shattered. Mahree released her telekinetic influence on it and instead focused solely on the crate she was attempting to hit Kurin with.

Dash's eyes were burning through the haze of tears and bitterness, anger filled her mind. She continued to focus on the crate even after it cracked, bent and twisted through the girls' efforts. Kurin had moved by now, but she didn't care. An inanimate object was better than a living target right now.

Desperation filled her as she did the last thing she wanted: pled for it to stop.

"S-s-stop her... please."

It was a sign of weakness and she knew it. At this point she couldn't stop Mahree on her own or shut off the empathy. Every time she tied, more rage just plowed into her thoughts and distracted her. She didn't know how much more she could stand at this rate.

It was not hard at all for Kurin to see that the rage had begun to consume the non-empath. She had raw power aplenty, but she still lacked control of it. He actually had to put a bit more into holding the crate back out, though he suspect if this went on much longer, that too would crumple. The empath was equally out of control, though for other reasons. For her, the non-empath’s rage was too overwhelming. She didn’t know enough about the technique to block it all out.

They both needed training. Considerable training. All of this proved to him again that their being transported to Korriban was right. He reached out with his other hand, pushing hard on her, forcing her backwards to the energy field behind her. The cells were not configured to cause much pain currently but the shock should jolt her out of her rage. It was either that or something more harmful. Not at all a difficult choice. If necessary, he would do the same to the Empath.

Mahree, still blinded by her rage and grief, fought back against Kurin’s telekinetic push. She was forced back into the field of the cage, a sudden electric shock overtaking her body as his push momentarily held her there.

Her fury pushed on though.

The young girl pushed back against Kurin’s influence while still being shocked by the cell’s electric field. One hand held out, she pushed hard, trying with all the strength of will she could muster - trying knock Kurin down, to make him pay. Trying to achieve some sort of revenge for the grief the slavers and the Sith had caused.

It was quickly clear that the energy field did not jolt her out of her full-blown rage. “Sit down, Acolyte.” he said firmly, turning his push into full stasis. He then pulled her over and down onto the bed in a seated position. It would no doubt anger her somewhat to be controlled like that, but at this point it was necessary if he wished to avoid harming her significantly. With her body restrained like that, the force on the hovering crate broke and he let it fall down. “You have let your anger consume you. You need to rule it, not let it rule you.” His voice at this point was clearly one of authority, of command, rather than the more casual tone from earlier. Once he had her seated, he altered the stasis to allow speech.

When Mahree's rage stopped, Dash's figure drifted to the cot's side and fell off. She hit the cell's floor hard. Her arms wrapped about her head as her legs tucked in, curled up into a pitiful ball. Her lungs were breathing hard while her mind seemed locked up in its own maelstrom.

An unfortunate and familiar one.

Anger still wafted off her, but it was merely empathy flowing and no force direction at all. She couldn't tell which emotion was hers or Mah, a fact that left her struggling.

He did not have time to deal with calming down the empath at the same time. He quickly pressed a command into his wrist unit, releasing a particularly effective form of knockout gas into her cell. It would leave her with a headache when she eventually woke back up, but otherwise unharmed.

As the gas filled the cell, Dash's body felt heavy. Her muscles slacked and her eyes drooped, feeling sleep replace the confusion.

The sudden stasis caught Mahree off guard as he body was forced into a sitting position on the cot. Her influence on the Force was diminished, as was her blindness by rage and grief. Her mind quickly wound down from the enraged young girl to something more of exhaustion and confusion. Mahree took deep breaths in and out in quick succession as her thoughts became her own again.

Mahree watched silently as Dash crumpled to the ground suddenly, the girl taking note of the gas that filled the cell, though barely visible.

“You’re the cause of this,” she began, her voice wavering as Mahree addressed Kurin. “If Sith minded their own business, none of this would be happening.” She mumbled. Her focus shifted to her breathing then, listening to her lungs breathe in an in an attempt to calm her mind.

“Blame the Jedi, not the Sith.” He answered, no longer as commanding in his tone. “If they had left us Sith alone instead of fanatically hunting us, then none of this would have happened.”

He gently pulled another crate over, sitting down right outside the force cage. “Now focus. Take deep, regular breaths… in… out… in… out… A rage will always take more out of you than you expect it to. But it is nothing to be afraid of. In time, you will learn to control better than you did this first time.” He spoke softly now.

"What happened to the Sith in the past is not the fault of those in the present." Mahree retorted, head down. She was caught off guard when Kurin's voice changed - it was calm, almost soothing as he sounded like he was honestly trying to help the situation. It frustrated the girl a little, but she said nothing for the time being and reluctantly listened to his instruction.

While she slowly gained control over her breathing, he pressed a command into his wrist unit, activating the venting system on the other cell, extracting the remaining knockout gas. The prisoner within would remain unconscious for a while more. In just over half a minute the gas was gone and he sent a silent message to temporarily disable the force cage, so that he could tuck Dashara into the bed. He removed the rapier and its sheath, placing it on the floor beside her. Then he left the cell, which was remotely reactivated once he was outside its coverage. He would have to arrange some more food for her later.

Feeling the stasis had been dropped, Mahree watched as the Sith Inquisitor put Dash into the cot, tucking her in like a parent would their child. Of course the bond wasn't as close, but seeing the action still reminded Mahree of such.

In the other cell he could see that the detainee there had recovered somewhat, no longer looking quite so stressed out. “I suggest you eat something. It will help.”

The actions this Sith varied greatly from the last, which Mahree found odd and very surprising. Her first captor did not supply food for a few days, her cell had been much smaller and the treatment harsher. Yet this Sith seemed to… care?

The young girl watched Kurin closely after he suggested she eat. At first it seemed that she would refuse again, but after a few long moments of hesitation, Mahree stood slowly from the cot and took a few steps towards where the tray of food sat after the Sith had deposited it before. She did not take the whole tray with her, instead she grabbed a few different food items and returned to the cot, snacking as soon as she sat down.

He let her earlier statement go unanswered. It would do no good to start another heated discussion. Letting her eat, he sat there watching silently. “If there is anything you might want to know, don’t be afraid to ask.” he said when she was mostly done eating.

“I would appreciate in knowing the name of my gracious host.” Mahree began, eyes glancing up at Kurin for a moment before her gaze returned to the floor. She placed one final cracker in her mouth and decided she was done eating for now.

“That is something I naturally can answer. My name is Kurin Tonaal, though most simply call me Inquisitor, occasionally followed by one of my names.” He paused for a moment. “I know your first name is Mahree, but I do not know the rest of your name. Is that something you are willing to share?”

The exchanging of names was not something Mahree had foreseen while in this Kurin’s hold. She listened to his question, asking for her last name. The young girl glanced up to the other cage, watching a sleeping Dash for a moment before her gaze returned to the ground. “No, I don’t think I am willing.” she mumbled, wiping some crumbs from her face as her gaze remained down, away from Kurin.

“Very well. I will not force you to reveal it.” He was a bit disappointed, but not overly surprised. Earning their trust, if he ever did it, would take time. Had he had more than one cargo hold available he could have considered having one of them moved, but that was not an option at the present. “I will leave you alone for now, though someone will come by with more food later for you both.”
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Aboard the Serith, en route to Korriban
Kurin Tonaal, Mahree Mis-Ede, Dashara Horizon




Dashara let the numbness take her. Emotions faded from her weary mind leaving her emotions clear for once. Through the numbness, a throbbing began to spread across her brain and into her attention. It broke her attempt to sleep with its continued pounding. Part of her wanted to twist over and go back to sleep, but her pain wouldn't allow it.

She expected to feel the cold and hard surface of the cell floor. Instead, covers rubbed at her skin. Gradually she began to sit upright. Her left leg bent as she leaned forward, her right hand rubbed her temple.

It was hard to focus when her head just didn’t cooperate. She glanced about. The first thing she could note was that she was lying on the cot and her rapier was laying on the floor beside her. Second was a plate of food and the Sith was nowhere around.

Dash laid back into the cot, feeling the blood rush to her head. She couldn't deal with the dizziness right now.

"I feel like shit...Why did I pass out?" she asked out loud.

Mahree had found herself in the middle of her cell, seated in a meditative position on the floor. Her hands rested on her knees, eyes closed, breathing steady. She heard Dash move around on the cot, assuming the girl was waking, but Mahree didn’t move at all. Food eaten, the girl had opted to meditate on what had happened. Losing all control of yourself by drowning in your rage and grief was not something Mahree was accustomed to. The anger and hate had boiled up from within her heart. Things she wished to change but couldn’t. All she could do now was focus on what was now, and what might be. And how to stop it.

Hearing Dash’s question, the younger girl took a deep breath before answering, “He put some sort of gas into your cell.” she said quietly.

“That explains why I passed out. For a moment, I thought your rage was going to last forever.” Dash stated as she pressed her palms into her temple. The pressure neither helped nor hurt her aching head.

“Anything else happened when I was out?” She asked, suspecting someone had placed her into the cot.

“Not really… We talked. His name is Kurin Tonaal, Sith Inquisitor. I wasn’t sure if you knew.” Mahree explained, glancing over at Dash before returning to her previous position. “He talked to me a little. Told me his name,” Mahree moved her head to indicate what she had explained before, “then he asked me for mine, but I wouldn’t tell it in full. I don’t have any reason to trust him, so why would I?”

Dash actually laughed at the name. She couldn’t help it as she suspected something harder to pronounce and monstrous. Not something normal. The sudden outburst caused her to flinch at the pain bubbling up. She didn’t regret it as she began to slowly roll over onto her belly.

“I… I honestly don’t know. I do know for sure, your rage packs a punch and I need to keep far away from it.”

She let her words sink in before she continued.

“What I don’t understand is why he’s wasting his time. It’s not like he’ll keep in touch after he drops us off at Korriban or make any investments. It doesn’t benefit him in any way that I can think of. I keep thinking there’s a catch somewhere, but I don’t know what it is.”

“I didn’t hurt you while I was out of it… did I?” Mahree asked, looking to Dash with hints of confusion written on her face.

“Oh yes you did, but that was mostly my fault. My species are very sensitive to emotions. We thrive on positive ones and shun negative ones. According to my friend, I can use empathy too. Which magnifies the effects.” Dash explained as she felt the headache shimmer down.

“Ah… I’m sorry.” Mahree said quietly, breaking from her meditative position and slouching over a little as she rested her elbows on her knees. The girl watched Dash for a short while, feeling a little guilty for what she had done.

“If I would’ve known I- maybe it would’ve helped me to not…” the girl sighed, bringing a hand up as she rested her head on it. She hadn’t noticed at all, what her outburst had done to Dash. All she remembered was watching the girl crumple to the ground, and then gas had filled her cell.

"Sympathy aside, why apologize? You didn't know," Dash pointed out as she spotted the food not far from her.

She twisted about and reached out her hand. The tray didn't wiggle for a few seconds and then it began to float toward her. It was wobbly as she struggled to steady it. Her head began to throb, but she pushed through it. She had been through much worse. At least, she told herself this.

When it came to the end of her bed, she moved about and caught it right when she dropped it. Dash managed to barely save her meal and water.

"This would be so much easier if I didn't have a headache. Neith always said I should work on this, but I didn't feel confident in it. Especially with the bigger stuff."

Dash settled back and began to eat a bit, her eyes steadied Mahree for a moment. Between bites, she decided to address the Ronto in the room.

"Rage, depression and other emotions like it aren't a bad thing. They help you realize why positive emotions are precious and loved. They can also fuel your actions when your determination isn't enough."

“But they can also influence you in ways you can’t imagine.” Mahree mumbled, sighing as she tried to forget what had happened previously. “I’ve never felt so angry, Dash. The things I was able to do, the crate, challenging him. But I also couldn’t think straight, I don’t feel I was myself… I don’t want that kind of power if it means I use my anger to fuel my influence. Especially if I can’t control myself.”

Dash looked at her. Her lips tightened and her right eyebrow raised, her hand paused in the middle of another bite.

"Losing your parents brings a whole new depth to your emotions. I remember that rather well. The emotions you've displayed are natural and I can't tell you they get better. They never do."

She sighed a moment, then continued.

"You can control it. I do it all the time when I'm fighting back, but it's not easy or quick."

“I’m gonna have to learn how to then.” Mahree said amidst a sigh. She raised her head again and looked back over to Dash. “I can help you with your telekinesis… if you’d like. I ended up using it around the farm, after I discovered I could use the Force. It’s not too hard, at least to maintain it once you’ve started.”

Dash shook her head a bit, but didn't say what was on her mind.

"Sounds like a deal, but I suggest you don't expect much. Neith was trying for a year to improve it. As you can see, we didn't get very far."

She took another bite before she swallowed then set the tray to the side. Her headache had started to fade as she pushed her feet onto the ground and followed it with her body. Her figure slid back to rest against the bed frame while she gestured for Mahree to do the same.

"I'll teach you to control your anger. At least, to think clearly through it. Thing is... I need to be more aggressive with my empathy. I need to make you angry so I need your permission and for you to trust me during the lesson. Can you do that?"

Dash paused, waiting for an answer.

It was an odd question, to say the least. What did it feel like to have someone else influence your emotions? Mahree wasn’t against it, however. For she trusted Dash, for the other girl was the only person left who she’d consider a friend - that, and Mahree felt she had nothing more to lose.

The girl nodded then, watching Dash for a moment. “Deal.”

~|~


While he could have entered the room with the two Force-sensitives, Kurin would—for now—watch from the surveillance feeds. They might not be learning the way he might have taught, but they were learning. He knew better than to think that his way was the only appropriate way.

It would be interesting to see where they took it. Their fear of their anger was not inappropriate, but at least they had not kept with that foolish idea of suppressing it entirely. For now, he would not interfere. He would give them time to absorb the previous lesson first.

~|~


"All right, this also means you can't hate me or blame yourself for whatever happens. You do, I'm going to smack you upside the head when I get out of here."

Dash inhaled then continued.

"The first lesson is thinking while you're mad. I want you to think of a phrase and repeat it back to me. Over and over, until I say stop. Understand?"

Mahree took in a deep breath when Dash explained the terms. The girl didn’t quite know what to expect, but considering Dash offered to help her see through her anger, Mahree was prepared to deal with anything.
The young girl didn’t wait for Dash to tell her to begin, she just went.

“You’re gonna do great things…” the girl began. It was a phrase her mother had told her every day, for the older woman never stopped believing her daughter would grow to be a great influence.

“You’re gonna do great things,” she repeated again, eyes closed as she focused on the phrase.

"All right, keep focusing on saying that. When you feel you can't take it anymore or start to mess it up, slam your hand on the cell floor. I'll stop and let you regain control."

Dash once more inhaled then exhaled, bracing herself for the anger she was about to bring. It wouldn't be pretty, but this was the first step in something bigger.

"Remember, there's no shame in stopping early. This will take a while to master, maybe even a lifetime. Here we go."

As Mahree continued to say her phrase, Dash began to think of her life. Memories of punishments, hardships and being someone's puppet rang through her thoughts. Anger began to spark to life. It filled her from head to toe, pounding down its familiar heat.

Through the red tint, she narrowed her focus on Mahree. Gradually the young girl began to feel the effects. Slow, but steadily increasing.

Mahree listened to Dash’s instructions, repeating the phrase over and over. She focused on it and only it, tuning out the rest of her surroundings. Her hands began to tighten around her knees as the anger from Dash’s empathy started to affect her. She kept saying the phrase however, her eyes shut tight as she tried to keep her focus.

Minutes went by and Mahree began to lose focus. Her hands were clenched tightly, eyes still shut, the phrase still being repeated but at a much slower rate. She started to mix words around in the phrase as the focus she had started to dissipate. The younger girl struggled but finally found herself slamming her hand down on the floor of her cell, the anger almost blinding.

Dash's focus shifted. The anger began to fade as her voice began to guide Mahree into calming herself down.

"All right, breathe. In and out. Refocus your attention to something more positive and let the anger leave. You're in control and can stop this. Remember that." Dash encouraged, protecting herself with a wall to prevent backlash from her companion’s aggression.

It wouldn’t do them any good if the destructive loop started all over again.

Mahree took a deep breath as she heard Dash speak. Mahree’s mind immediately began to think back on her mother, the times when she was younger, the happy times they enjoyed together playing on the farm, sitting inside during harsh storms. All the positive times.

“I’m good…” Mahree said quietly, eyes opening slowly as she looked at Dash. “I’m alright.”

"That's good. I didn't want to have to force the calm. The first time you overwhelmed my defenses was enough for me." Dash chuckled, visibly relaxing at the girl's assurance.

Dash twisted toward the bed and reached for the tray. Her fingers gripped it as she dragged it back to her, intending to finish her meal.

"We're taking a small break so I can finish this up. I'm still fighting that headache, but the food and water seems to be helping."

She took a bite, not waiting for a comment on the decision. Between bites, Dashara continued.

"We'll keep practicing for a while. Gradually, we'll move onto something more thought involved. I'll ask you to pick objects in the room and describe them to me. All completely at random."

She paused long enough to take a draft of water.

"It will allow you to practice thinking through your anger, which will lead you to control it. Cause when you're aware of your anger levels, you can decide how to apply and when."

~|~


There was no denying it. The empath acolyte—Dashara—had potential as a teacher. Kurin was rather pleased. Making them focus and channel their anger, their fury was just one step. An important step, but still just one step. Controlling it would come next. He did not want them to merely use their anger. That would limit them far too much.

While starting their education about the imperial cause was an option, it was not one he considered himself particularly suited for. He quite simply knew that he did not have enough knowledge to draw on to counter any counter-arguments. It would have to be enough to teach them about wielding the Force and the Dark Side. The Overseers would deal with the rest. Lucky them.

~|~


It had been roughly an hour - as Mahree would guess - since the very start of the lesson. Mahree didn’t try to hide her exhaustion, and slight frustration, at the lesson as she tried to grasp what Dash was saying. She took a deep breath, the previous trial had gone better than the very first, but Mahree was still being influenced by her emotions as her mind reflected over recent events.

The young girl sighed and relaxed from her meditative position on the floor. “I need a break, Dash. I think I’ve hit my breaking point.” the young girl admitted, looking over to her friend to see what she thought.

Dash nodded, sympathy crossed her expression.

"No need to rush. Rather it was done right and not develop some nasty habits."

She thoughtfully looked at the holocam for a moment. Wheels seemed to grind in her head as she pressed her thumb to her top teeth, finally breaking eye contact with it. Her head leaned closer to the force field barrier and whispered to Mahree.

"You do have enough energy to use some telekinesis? We can focus on that crate," her eyes shifted to indicate the one she knocked over earlier, "and bash that holocam."

Mahree watched Dash and leaned in as the other girl did. She eyed the camera for a minute before looking to the crate.

“Of course,” she whispered, nodding to Dash, “as long as I can concentrate, it’s not that difficult,” she added.

The younger girl turned her body to face the crate before one hand went out as Mahree looked over at Dash again. “Ready?”

Dash nodded as she rose upright. She took a place as close as possible to Mahree, her hand at her side and ready.

"Ready, count it down. We do it on the go. If the asshole wants information, he can come down here and get it in person."

Mahree watched Dash as the girl positioned herself closer. The girl looked back towards the crate and began to focus on it, feeling as she sensed it using the Force and took hold of it.

“Three… two… one…” She began, counting down slowly, feeling most of the weight of the crate through her influence with the Force.

“Go,” Mahree said, eyes closed as she focused on the crate for a brief moment. “Lift it, slowly,” she instructed, eyes still closed as she focused.

Dash's teeth gritted, her breath became faintly heavier as she focused on lifting the crate. Her force gripped it but struggled to pull it upright. The crate wobbled slowly then increased as they tried to find a balance between the two.

Mahree kept her eyes closed as her focus remained on the crate, but she could hear Dash’s breathing change. Mahree could feel as the crate wobbled, obviously off-balance as they both attempted to lift it through the Force.

“Close your eyes, Dash. Imagine the crate. Feel it through the Force. The entire thing.”

"I'm trying." She replied, her teeth still gritted.

Her eyes closed as she tried to feel it through the force. The crate wobbled less, but it still continued to fall down.

"This is harder than it looks when I can't think clearly." Dash continued to struggle.

“Relax your body. Keep your arm up.” Mahree began as she kept her focus on the crate while talking to Dash.
Feel the Force going through you. Feel it from your body to the crate. Focus just on that. Reach out and feel the crate, imagine it in your head.”

Mahree was trying her best to explain what she was doing to Dash. She had never had someone else to teach before, let alone someone who was also Force-sensitive and needed guidance. It was natural to Mahree, to be able to lift things and move them through her influence of the Force. She tried to think of other ways she could explain it to Dash.

"I'm trying, but... the weight should be hindering it. It doesn't just vanish." Dash explained.

As she spoke those words, her force grip on the crate began to slip. The weight Mahree was holding began to become heavier, pushing against her force. Dash held out both hands to attempt to strengthen her grip on the crate.
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Ellri Lord of Eat / Relic

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Aboard the Serith, en route to Korriban
Kurin Tonaal, Mahree Mis-Ede, Dashara Horizon




At that point, Kurin walked in. He had transferred the audio component of the surveillance to his helmet, so as to catch what they might say on the short walk over. He really couldn’t have them breaking stuff like that. It was bothersome to replace cameras. “Don’t listen to her talk about weight. To the Force, mass is irrelevant. The Force is in everything. It is everywhere.” He stopped midway down the hold in plain sight of the two.

"It's not about the weight Dash-" Mahree began, before another voice interrupted what she was going to say. Looking at the entrance to the cargo hold, Kurin. The younger girl frowned as she slowly began to drop the crate, hoping Dash noticed her arm lower as to indicate her actions.

It was a little irritating, Mahree had hoped they would have been left alone for a longer time. Not only to be able to practice what they wanted, but to talk, just themselves, without any outside influence at all.

The younger girl sighed in frustration as the crate returned to the ground. Hands returned to rest on her knees as she eyed Kurin where he stood..

Dash shot a look at Kurin when he spoke. Her jawline tightened, but she didn’t speak right away. Instead, she noticed Mahree’s force start to drift the crate downwards and followed her lead. Dash fought the impulse to just kick the refresher’s metal side in a fit of anger. She began to lower herself back to the cot, but remained eyeing the man.

Her voice was calm as she began to speak to both of them, “It doesn’t stop my brain from trying to explain it. Repeated phrase start to lose meaning until a solution is found. At least with other abilities I’ve seen, I can ‘explain’ it away to where I don’t think about it.”

Dash continued to look at Kurin, biting back her sarcastic replies, she continued.

“From your sudden arrival, I assume you’re not leaving. So how would you suggest I resolve that issue?”

“Meditate upon it. Learn to feel the Force in everything. Then learn to master it, make it serve you. When commanded appropriately, the Force obeys.” He sat down in a meditative pose, his eyes open and focused. “Once your attention is sufficiently widespread, you will learn that all is the same to the Force. It is yours to command, not to merely obey.” With mind he reached out to sense his surroundings. Feel the nuances of his ship, his crew and his two passengers. He spread his attention wide, reaching out to seize the power the Force had at its disposal here, so as to show the two what to do.

"I already tried that. The results you saw, speak for themselves. The sense the force part isn’t the hard part, it’s the part that comes afterwards.” Dash countered, knowing fully what he meant.

“An easy victory does not challenge you. It does not require strength. It requires no passion.” He had no direct advice to give her beyond that. Guiding her through every step would make the victory hollow and weak. “Embrace the challenge. Use that which is at your disposal, no matter if it is anger, passion, frustration or something else entirely.”

Dash sighed. The desire to smack the Sith's cryptic words were there, but instead she controlled her temper. She inhaled as she moved to the end of the bed then stretched across it. Her eyes stared up at the cell's roof before she closed them.

It took a few moments, but gradually her mind began to reach out. In the normal fashion taught to her, small dots appeared. They scattered across the air flowing through her cell, to Mahree, and across the cargo bay. It spread from the air into the crates, into Kurin, Mahree and even herself.

For the moment, her mind was still. Calm and floating. Yes, nothing changed. The 'lights' flowed from source to another, an endless river that continually moved. No set amount settled in one item more than another.

"As I said, this isn't the hard part." Dash commented.

"This is...."

Her hand reached out to touch a crate and began to lift it. Anxiety and thoughts began to fill the back of her mind, getting the better of her focus. The crate stopped rising immediately and began to fall back down.

Kurin could sense her thoughts straying how she was anxious when she had no need to be. “Clear your mind. Do not focus on your worries. You are in no danger here.”

“Think about it like this: We are deep inside Imperial space now. The Exchange do not have power to speak of here and they have no power on Korriban.”

At the mention of The Exchange, Dashara's fear spiked. Her force grip over the crate promptly dropped and crashed into the floor. It took a moment for her to try to control her terror as she inhaled and exhaled, forcing her breath into a steady pace once more. She hadn't realized she had jerked upright now. Her arms crossed over to her chest and her fingers were digging into her skin.

The sound of the crate crashing onto the floor startled Mahree. She had been in a very focused, meditative mindset while Kurin and Dash talked. The Sith interrupting their time alone and teaching had irked her slightly. It seemed they wouldn’t find anytime to be themselves while on their way to Korriban. And upon arriving, who knows how little freedoms they would have.

Mahree opened her eyes and looked from Dash to Kurin, then back to Dash. She was worried for her friend; but the cells prevented much from being done, especially while Kurin was standing there.

The effect of mentioning the exchange had a more marked reaction than Kurin had expected. It had not taken Kira long at all to find the bounty on her. Clearly, someone in that group desired her deeply. Too bad for them that they would not get her. While momentarily tempting to inform them she had been removed from their reach, it would be foolish to goad them.

He would have to notify the overseers about this trait. Fear of this level would have to be trained away. He let his satisfaction radiate out, knowing he had a tool that could be used to assist her in truly embracing the Dark Side. Now all that remained was to find something similar for the other acolyte.

As Dash began to manage her fear, her empathy caught Kurin's more positive emotion. It brought a temporary relief as her concern built up. Her eyes opened, finished with the lesson for now. Her body curled against itself as her arms wrapped about her leg risen against her body. A pitiful shield for comfort.

She tried to swallow her earlier terror before she addressed him, "What are you so pleased about?"

He smiled knowingly. “You revealed what is most likely your greatest weakness at the moment. The thing that you first need to vanquish to gain strength. We are making progress on helping you.”

"Not to be a pain, but I don't remember asking for help." Dash stated as she tried to hide the worry.

Her attention darted to the side of her vision and found Mahree. She was checking that her emotions hadn't spilled out without her permission.

“What makes you think you’re helping us?” Mahree asked suddenly, eyes opened as she broke her meditative position and began to stand. “Nothing was wrong with us before we came to you. We were two girls living out their lives as best we could. Nothing about making us captive and taking us to Korriban helps.” Mahree continued as she stood completely and walked towards Kurin.

She noticed Dash’s glance for a moment, but her focus was on Kurin now.

“Why do the Sith think taking someone from their life and forcing them to become someone they’re not is helping?”

“One of you was well on her way to becoming a slave, her family slain by slaving pirate scum. Last time I checked, being a young female slave is not an enviable or glorious fate.” He looked at Mahree as he said this. “The other has a rather sizeable bounty on her head, placed there by a major criminal cartel.” he paused for a second before adding while glancing over at Dashara, “They really seem to want you back, by the way.”

Dash's arms tightened about her leg at this fact, still trying to ignore her fear. She remained silent for now.

“The fact that you seem to think that being on the run from a criminal cartel is ‘nothing wrong’ is curious at best, worrying at worst. When you add in the situation of being on the way to a slave market in the hold of a pirate vessel to the same condition of ‘nothing wrong’, then I would question your wisdom and sanity.”

“However, your questionable sanity aside, you can both take solace in a few simple facts. Neither the Exchange nor any other criminals will get hold of either of you. Not now, nor after I get you to Korriban. You will both receive training as Sith as imperial law dictates. That training will empower you to control your own destiny with the power of the Empire at your back, rather than leaving you at the mercy of criminal scum.”

Dash let Kurin finish talking. Her attention never left the Sith as he pointed out fact after fact, all cold and undeniable. Save for one.

Her next words seemed to ice over as she spoke. Her eyes fixed, unblinkingly on Kurin, over her knees. They held a determined edge inside. One born from years of living in fear and anger.

"If we survive it..."

She let the words linger, penetrating the air and tossing back a fact she observed.

"In my experience, the best 'cages' are the ones you find yourself creating excuses to never leaving. They don't use physical restraints. Instead, they push toward a certain way of thinking or how you feel about certain topics."

She took a breath in her pause.

"But you know this, don't you? From the conversations, it’s easy to make my own assumptions about the academy. It’s designed to make someone like us follow the Sith ways and align with the Empire. Or die if we fail." Her tone and words subtly accused him of not being fully forward with all information.

It was easy to see that she wanted to put the Sith Academy in poor light. Probably a result of whatever presumably runaway Jedi she had befriended at one point. He guessed it had to be no more than a padawan if her limited training was any indication. “All who train others, whether they be academies or individuals seek to mold their students. There is nothing unique to the Sith Academy in that aspect. Nothing is ever completely without a cost.”

"And what about the Jedi?" Mahree butted in, challenging Kurin again, "I don't believe that if you train under them, you die. Should I fail they only seek to help you improve, am I right?" She argued. "Why does pain and death make the Sith better than the Jedi? What about that makes them stronger?" She added.

“Those who do not have what it takes to raise themselves up die. We Sith are simply more honest about it than the Jedi. The Jedi have a tendency to banish those who do not meet their exacting standards. That is how the first Sith came into being.” He thought for a moment before continuing, “These days, they are more fond of locking up those who do not take well to indoctrination or who are too weak for their ranks. Some they press into the so-called ‘service corps’, the others they put in prison. Neither give them the rights and freedoms they deserve. Mind you, they have a habit of executing those who stray too far from their precious codes.”

"At least they have a chance, who are the Sith to decide who lives and who dies because someone didn't want to conform to their cause." Mahree retorted, throwing up her hands in anger. "The ones who stray too far sound like the Sith, who deserve what they get for forcing others to conform to their ideals."

“We are the ones who have been subjected to a genocide by the narrowmindedness of the Republic and the Jedi. They tried to wipe us all out after defeating us in the previous war. We have never tried to wipe out an entire species after defeating them in battle.” Kurin retorted. He couldn’t say for sure that no Sith had ever wiped out a defeated species, but he knew that a Sith with such an extreme goal in mind would not have failed.

“And now, the Sith and Empire are going to be subjecting us to their own ideas. The imprisonment or Jedi corps aren’t much different than the situation we’re in and going to.” Dash argued quietly, confirming Kurin was telling at least two truths she knew of.

“It’s the biggest reason I avoided both the Sith and Jedi. If I learn about my force abilities, I want the freedom to do for myself. Not because someone is forcing it on me.”

“Yes. What I am teaching you here will prepare you for it, make it more likely that you will survive, perhaps even come out on top. Imperial law dictates that you must be trained and I am ever a servant of the law.” he had said it before and suspected he would have to say that last bit again. “As for not being much different? There is a world of difference. When the Jedi find someone above a certain age, usually no more than the equivalent of eight standard years, they refuse them any training as a Jedi.” He took a breath. “Members of the so-called ‘service corps’ are denied the title of Jedi, so as to prove to them that they are lesser. We Sith allow all the chance to gain power and become Sith, no matter their age or natural ability.”

"In exchange for service or death if they fail. A rather heavy price to me. Especially when the Jedi Corps and imprisonment doesn't have the risk of death. So we can agree, there's a notable difference."

“Service corps. Not Jedi Corps. As I mentioned, they are denied the title of Jedi. ” When she spoke of no risk of dying, he laughed. “No risk of death? You are not that naïve, are you?”

“It’s the last option unless a Jedi becomes a Sith and danger to others. Jedi are more pacifists than aggressors.” Dashara moved on with what else she was told, her body slowly unfurling from its curled up state.

“‘Danger to others’ is a wide definition that encompasses any who disagree with them and who will not let the Jedi put them in a cell.” He shifted his weight from one leg to the other. “As for pacifists? Hah. I suggest you ask the survivors of Malachor V. The planet isn’t the same after the Jedi fired a superweapon on it.”

"I don't know much about that. I do know, everyone's truth has holes. Jedi or Sith, Republic or Empire. Even those aligned with the Hutts or the Exchange. Even myself because of what I know."

Dash moved her leg over the bed edge as she swung it back and forth. The movement more soothing than the conversation itself.

"So I'm sure there's 'holes' in yours that you're not filling in."

“This is pointless.” Mahree muttered, her gaze aimed at Kurin as a hard glare before she turned and took a seat on the edge of her cot. “No matter what we say, the Sith are always better, is that it? We were lucky enough to be plucked from our terrible lives and taken to Korriban for training. Psh.” Mahree snarked, folding her arms and looking to Dash. “It doesn’t matter what we say. We can’t change our situation here. He’s too hellbent on his cause to change his mind.”

Dash silently agreed with Mahree after the girl’s small outburst. Her head turned to look at the girl, catching her look and giving a small understanding nod. Her attention shifted back to Kurin when the Sith began to speak again.

“I seek to stick to the facts in what I tell you, but the possibility is always there that there are things I do not know enough about and therefore cause incorrect statements, just as there are things you do not know enough about, which makes you state things as truth when it is inaccurate.” He knew well that there were many things he did not know much about, though he had made sure to at least learn general facts about things like what the Jedi Order did and did not do before starting this particular project.

“As for the situation you find yourself in? No, you cannot change that. You will find that it is with Sith as it is with everyone else. Some are good, others are evil. The fact that some Jedi learn to shake off the indoctrination of their Codes is evidence enough that not all are evil through and through.” It was almost fascinating how anti-Sith these two acolytes were currently. He did not want to be them when they came face to face with the harsher overseers of the Academy. “I like to think that I am among the better Sith, but that is naturally my own opinion that is not shared by all. I know I have done my share of fighting, but I have never launched any weapons of mass destruction, nor particularly do I want to. They are far too indiscriminate.”

"At least I can agree with another thing. Everyone is capable of both good and bad actions." Dash exhaled as she let her mind absorb what had been discussed.

The attachment to Neith's stories seemed less firm than before. Dash wasn't sure if it was because the Sith failed to represent the stories or he gave her more reason to avoid the Jedi. She knew good lies always held a grain of truth somewhere. It was just a matter of separating the two.

"It's pretty clear neither one of us want to be here. If we weren't fighting back in some way, it means we became too passive. I doubt that would help us to survive the academy at all."

She looked at Kurin expecting him to correct, agree or something in the middle at her statement.

“Passive resignation will not serve you well at the Academy. You will find that there are many paths available there, of which only a few lead to you having to first and foremost fight on the front lines of the coming war. I suspect that is not the preferred option for either of you, as you do not strike me as typical warrior material.”

"That's what I thought. As for warrior material, it's impossible to tell when I'm locked up. You didn't even give me a chance to fight back." Dash struggled to keep the bitterness to a low level.

"The options aren't really there. Even you stated that our freedom will be heavily limited at first. I suspect, it will only be truly given on two conditions. We become loyal to the Empire and our willingness to follow the Sith way."

Dash guessed the two most logical reasons. She wasn't sure if they are right, but it couldn't have been far off.

"Unless you want to correct me?"

“With an unexpected second passenger on my ship, I did not have time to test your combat acumen prior to bringing you onboard, Dashara Horizon. I would have preferred to test it, but that was not to be. As for sparring now? This ship is not equipped with facilities and equipment for it. Thus your first opportunity will be after your arrival on Korriban.”

He walked a few steps closer. “Do not worry. You will have plenty of time to learn all that you need to know. Though I do hope you will use some of your other skills in creative ways once there. It never hurts the Overseers to be surprised by new acolytes.”

Dash's frown continued. Her eyes watched him step closer to the cage she was in, but she didn't waver from her position. She couldn’t help the tension that rose in her posture when he came closer.

From listening to her, he had a fairly good idea that she would attempt to flee fairly quickly after arrival on Korriban. Had he kept anything around in the hold that might have worked to disrupt the cells, it was blatant she would have tried to use it to break them. He was less certain about the other guest’s initiative for such, but suspected she would not stay behind if given an opportunity. Of course, getting out of the academy on Korriban wasn’t too hard. Getting off the planet? Not nearly so easy. All departing ships were checked carefully and landing required authorization that very few non-Sith ever got. Getting away from the system would be even more difficult.

The amount of defenses on Dromund Kaas might be greater, but the defenses on Korriban were all of newer make and higher quality. And that did not even begin to take into mind the orbital defense grids and fleets. He broke out of his musing thoughts. “If you want better options for your futures, then I would recommend this: Make yourself useful to the Overseers and any Sith that might decide to evaluate you. Use the system that is in place to benefit you, rather than trying to fight it. Get yourself some powerful patrons. They will provide you with greater opportunities for the future.”

Mahree refused to listen to Kurin any longer. She didn’t want to hear anymore about Korriban, about the great opportunities the Sith would lay in front of them. The young girl took a seat back on the floor, sighing in frustration as her eyes closed tight and she took a meditative position while she sat. She let the two continue on with their conversation, and instead turned her focus to her emotions, preparing herself for what would eventually be their arrival in Korriban.

Dash felt a bitter, angry flood her heart at Kurin's recommendation. Her eyes hardened from her earlier softness, proving she had began to relax during the conversation. She had her hands on the cot’s surface. Her fingers curled, gripping the cover before she exhaled. She released her fists and a small, forced chuckle escaped her lips. She could already tell Mahree was done with the conversation and she couldn't blame the girl.

"That's seriously funny. Especially when your advice is the same type I got on Nar Shaddaa. I'm curious... how much research did you bother to do on me?" She expected that he didn't look beyond the bounty.

“I? None.” he really hadn’t done the research. That had been taken care of by one of his crew. He decided not to tell her anything more right then. He certainly did not plan to reveal everything he knew.

Dash digested the information, suspected she should've selected her words more carefully. A year's worth of freedom and indulgence was the price she paid for letting her skills become rusty.

"At least that's one more thing I learned today. At this point, I suspect we are keeping you from focusing on better things. Or do you just enjoy our presence?" Dash thought better than to comment on Mahree’s obvious desire for his absence, instead attempting politeness to send him away.

The snarky attitude was poorly hidden, but at least the girl made an attempt to hide it. She would need more training to succeed at it, but that wasn’t his problem. “There is only so much that can be done during an extended hyperspace journey. If coming in here keeps you from useless attempts at destroying things that do not belong to you? Then I will keep coming in here.”

While he didn’t say it, he did think again on how they would eventually come to see the opportunities they threw away with their contumacious attitudes. Their loss, not his. He would simply keep monitoring them.

Dash sighed. She knew she did a poor job of hiding her dislike at him being here, but she didn’t see the point. With Ikle, she did to avoid abuse. Kurin didn’t do much save be a smartass back to her. Truthfully, the reaction just encouraged her attitude and she knew it.

“As you pointed out, there’s only so much that we can do. Not much space to move in here and I get restless. Especially when I have no options.”

She bit her lip before she continued, “If I promise not to break anything, would you not feel the need to come in here all the time?”

“Potentially.” he replied enigmatically. Chances were high that he would come in again over the next few days. They were also high that these two would not keep from considering to break things. Next time he had to transport prisoners, he would definitely transport them in an artificially induced coma... Or cryogenically frozen.

“I guess that’s something." The lack of a definite yes or no disappointed Dash slightly, showing in her statement.

It was fairly clear to Kurin that it would not be productive to stay around right then, but he did not depart immediately, watching the two silently for a bit first, just to make it clear they couldn’t force him to leave.
Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Ellri
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Aboard the Serith, en route to Korriban
Kurin Tonaal




While the past couple of days had seen some progress with the two new acolytes, Kurin was not satisfied. Particularly with not with the human. She locked herself down far too easily, ignoring lessons. In hindsight, it might have worked better to have them isolated from each other, but it was not as if he had actually planned to have two of them on board.

It wasn’t easy to admit it, but he was clearly out of his depth here. There was only one viable choice at this point if he were to deliver two primed acolytes to the academy instead of two without any real preparation. He would have to contact his master.

He closed the door to his quarters before sending the request through a private, encrypted channel. While they were far too loyal to listen in, his crew were not the only ones who might listen in to an unencrypted channel. It took a good half-hour before a response came in. Fairly rapid response, he had to admit.

As the image of his master appeared on the holoprojector, he knelt down on the floor, not looking up at the hologram. “Master. I seek your guidance.”

“Kurin…” Darth Theya Katherion whispered as she shook her head. “Always so formal...” She liked to see him squirm. “What do you seek my guidance with?”

Kurin didn’t know how to respond to that. He never did with his master. One moment, she was informal like this, the next she might demand every ceremonial protocol he had ever learned. Some small part of him was certain she was toying with him, but he had learned never to take a chance with her. The lesson for not meeting her standards could be… painful. It was always better to be overly formal than not to be so. She could crush him without even straining herself and they both knew it. “Master. I have a pair of Force-sensitives locked up in my hold now. They are proving difficult to prime for the academy.”

Darth Theya looked at her apprentice, choosing to show mild irritation. “And you have had them for several days. Without contacting me before.”

“Yes, my master.” He stated, swallowing in fear that she would punish him. He had not expected her to know about his passengers, though in hindsight he should have known that she kept track of his movements and actions. He didn’t know who, if any, of his crew reported to her, but it mattered little. He had no intentions of betraying her, and it was better they report to her than to one of their rivals.

She chuckled softly, “You need to keep better control over your emotions, my young apprentice. You are still far too easily jostled.” she spared no opportunity to educate him or any of her other apprentices. “Describe your passengers to me.”

“As you wish, my master.” he replied by rote, collecting his thoughts. “One is a human girl, roughly fourteen to sixteen years old. She has shown some talent for telekinesis, but appears to lock herself down easily and has limited self-confidence.” he paused, thinking about how to describe Dashara.

“And the other, Kurin?” the Darth queried.

“The other is a half-human, half-Zeltron hybrid with criminal roots of a similar age. Apparently someone within the Exchange has put a bounty on her head. I intend to see them go to sleep unsatisfied. She is more talented and has some training from a rogue Jedi. I suspect a runaway padawan, given the limited knowledge she has expressed so far. This Jedi poisoned her mind against us Sith.”

Darth Theya listened to the descriptions, but did not immediately respond. She shifted in her seat, taking up a more comfortable position before doing so. The pause would also unnerve her apprentice, which was always satisfying on a primitive level. After letting him mentally squirm uncomfortably for a little over a minute, she gave her response, planned out in advance. “I will arrange to have suitable material and instructions transmitted to your vessel, apprentice Tonaal.”

“Thank you, master.” he said, pleased to have gotten what he desired. Before he could even think about asking any other questions, the transmission was terminated from the other end. Not surprising. His master was no doubt busy.

He had barely risen to his feet before his terminal lit up with the notification about an ongoing transmission. He quickly read the attached message from his master before unsealing his quarters. This was a suitable task for Erek to deal with. Fortunately the ship had the suitable components in storage for setting up a pair of vidscreens before the cages and the appropriate monodirectional speakers.

At first the prisoners would be permitted to watch what they wanted from the recordings Darth Theya had provided him, but if they refused then he would definitely ensure that they had no choice about it. Stubbornness would only get them so far at this point.

Considering their previously destructive tendencies, he also decided that it would be wise to lock the crates in the hold down. Crates and surveillance cameras were all cheap things. Vidscreens like the pair to be set up were considerably more valuable and he did not have replacements on hand.

The haphazard stacking of the crates had been intentional from his end, to see whether his two passengers showed much in the way of initiative and talent. It was good for them that the ship was not going to have to fight its way through anything with the cargo not stowed properly, considering how heavy some of the crates were. It did not matter how powerful or weak someone was with the force. Crushed underneath several tons of metal is dead either way.
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Aboard the Serith, en route to Korriban
Kurin Tonaal, Mahree Mis-Ede, Dashara Horizon




Dash’s eyes snapped open. Sweat poured down her skin and drenched her tank top, her figure forced upright from the chill rushing down her spine. This was the fifth time she woke up from her demons pounding at her head. Her breath inhaled while she tossed her legs over the edge, moving toward the refresher. It had a sink over the toilet where she made her best effort to remain presentable. For the first time in a long time, she wished for an actual shower.

She stripped off her shirt to dunk and wiped away the physical evidence. After a few rounds, she made one last purge in the water and wring it off. Removing the sweat it collected, Dash left it to dry on the edge. She tried to determine the day, but her internal clock had stopped long ago. The days and nights melted into lengthy hours without any sort of routine. It all completely vanished when the nightmares began. Despite that, she recalled a lot had happened.

Her telekinesis, while still developing, had improved thanks to Mahree’s lessons. The girl had figured out she was overthinking and distracted her enough to accomplish something. In exchange, Dash showed her how to control and tame her own emotional storm. They still fell short of their desired goals. In the spare time, they learned about each other. While Mahree was completely honest, Dash danced around on certain subjects. Her history with the Exchange being the primary touchy topic for her.

Her figure lowered to the floor. After a few moments, her attention turned to the vidscreens. She wondered how long before hers turned from sleep mode into active. She had watched constantly for the last several days, but due to Mahree’s resistance, the off button had been disabled. Not that it mattered, watching the same vid beat nightmares or fear any day.

Mahree heard Dash as she woke up, no doubt about what she was feeling and what caused her to wake. Should Dash look over, she’d see Mahree sitting in the center of her cell, meditating as she had been doing on and off during their time aboard Kurin’s ship. The younger girl tried to stay calm for Dash, as there were many times Mahree feared the worst, for she wasn’t naive. She knew that wherever they were headed, the experience would not be a pleasant one. She had tried her hardest to distract herself from the subject.

Many times she found herself talking with Dash for hours on end. Sharing each other's past, interests, and various other things. It helped Mahree, in a way. She didn’t feel completely alone anymore. Dash was the one thing in her world that she cared about now.

The younger girl attempted to tune out the recording that played on the video system in her cell. It annoyed her as of late, for there was no way to turn it off, and she even found herself dreaming about the damned thing while she slept. It seemed to play constantly, as long as Mahree didn’t make it play herself.

“You alright Dash?” the girl asked. She knew it was a silly question, neither of them was “all right” in their current situation. But she wanted to comfort her one and only friend, the only one she cared about; the only beacon of light that Mahree could turn to in their dark situation.

Dash’s mind pulled from the holovid debate. She blinked then turned to the next cell, catching the girl looking at her. Her eyes shifted down to hide the guilt she felt. For a moment, she stayed quiet and inwardly seemed to debate something. She broke the silence with a smile.

“Yeah, I am. Just a nightmare is all. How are you holding up?” She made sure her voice was soft but reassuring. Even if the slight wavering betrayed her. Her leg stretched out as far it could while her other curled underneath her thigh.

“It would be so much better if we could move around instead of sitting here all day.”

"Well, if I told you I was fine, I'd be lying." Mahree admitted, retaining her meditative posture while she spoke with Dash. Mahree returned her head forward as she closed her eyes again. Her nostrils flared as a long sigh left the girl.

"I'm trying to stay hopeful." She continued, her eyes kept closed as she focused hard on what she felt. A slight smile formed with her lips as Dash nipped at their inability to move very much. "I agree. But it's also given me some direction on meditating since this is one of the few things we can do in here."

“I’m still trying to form an escape, but I ran out of ideas to try. I’ve poked the cage a few times. All I got for my trouble was being shocked so direct attacks against it were is a no go.” Dash forced herself to chuckle at the thought. In truth, it was anything but fun.

She bit her lip as she leaned against the bed in thought.

“I figured it was a good idea to learn about where we were heading. It seems our ‘host’ isn’t against that.” She thumbed at the holovids.

“Some of it is interesting, other pieces are propaganda. It’s not easy telling which is which, but if you pay attention, then you can feel it out.”

"Our host can tell me whatever he wants. The Sith have their faults, as do the Jedi… I'm not taking anyone's side." Mahree muttered, attempting to ignore the holovid that continued to play in her cell. "I don't want to play their game… I won't." The girl continued, finally breaking her meditative pose and looking back over at Dash. Mahree relaxed a little, her body starting to feel stiff and sore at the constant meditation she had put herself in.

The younger girl was trying to be strong. It was quite a difference between the first day she had been captive, to now. Mahree was afraid of returning to that first day of feeling helpless and with nowhere to go. Dash was the only reason Mahr acted to strong now. If they were going to get through this, they'd have to get through it together.

“I am pretty sure, he’s not saying the Sith are perfect. According to him, Sith are more open about their flaws than the Jedi. He’s even pointed out some are cruel or worse.” Dash stated calmly, eyeing the screens from her peripheral vision. She was relieved when it remained silent.

“You do realize these things are on a time cycle right? We’re given about 8 hours of rest per day, which you can use to determine when to avoid it while it plays. I can’t promise something won’t stick while you sleep through.”

Her figure bounced a bit against the bed before she continued.

“The bad part about our situation, we might not have a choice. The vids show the Academy overseers won’t care if we resist or don’t follow the lessons they teach. Their main goal is to make Sith or kill the weaklings. I’m not going to give them that chance. Are you?” Her tone sounded hard, but warm enough to not sound demanding.

“I’m not going to be someone’s pawn.”

Mahree didn’t say anything further on the subject, but she also did not directly confirm nor deny what Dash asked. Mahree had no rhyme or reason to her meditation. At the moment she preferred to meditate when she was feeling strung or frustrated, feelings that came and went as she sat in the cell and thought about her future.

“Mahree. One thing I learned on Nar Shaddaa, following the flow allows you to live long enough to break away. Those who failed at it were often dead in the lower levels. I don’t want to see you become another corpse.” Dash attempted to pour more reason, in a different way. She couldn’t say purely what was on her mind. Saying the truth put them in a far more dangerous situation than now.

“And I don’t want to see you become a Sith killing machine.” Mahree retorted, although quietly and not as harsh as she thought she sounded. “What happens if we just give in and follow the flow? How do you know you’re not going to lose yourself in their influence? How do you know they won’t do something to you to make you think being a Sith is your purpose in life?”

It was probably apparent by now that Mahree was frightened. She didn’t know what to expect, she didn’t know what the Sith would do to her or Dash. Would they even see each other after they left the ship? Was there some sort of mind tricks or scare tactics they’d use to persuade her or Dash to obey?

Dash inhaled, her head leaned down onto her chest as she considered her words.

“First, you’re speaking out of fear. Fear of the unknown. We don’t know what they do at the Academy, but we have an idea for their motivations. At least, the ones they want us to know.”

She pointed to the vidscreens. As if on cue, it came on. Her hand reached out and she inhaled, her hand clawed as if gripping the knob. With a quick twist, it turned to the vids over the Academy.

“Second, knowledge is power. The more you know, the better chance you have to keep your wits. When you know what to expect, it’s easier to see the lies and manipulations.”

Dash adjusted herself up onto the bed, feeling pain edging into her body from her posture. She let her leg dangle down as she continued.

“Finally, they aren’t the first to try to change me. I survived the first time and I will survive this time. Have faith in me.” She gave Mahree a small, reassuring smile.

Mahree didn’t respond to Dash for a few long moments, listening to her friend as she explained her thoughts. It was true, fear was edging it’s way back into Mahree’s heart. Fingers traced the scar that was healing well on the side of her head, most of her short hair hiding what was slowly healing.

Mahree had told herself she wasn’t going to become close to Dash, which is why it had taken the younger girl so long to open up to begin with. She was afraid of losing someone else she cared for. There was a difference between losing her mother and the thought of losing Dash, for this time, Dash really was the last person in the universe she cared for.

The silence didn’t reassure Dash very well. She frowned, biting her lip in thought and looked about the cell for ideas. Nothing came to mind at first causing her to wing it.

“Look, things look hopeless right now. I wish they were better, but they aren’t. The best we can do is prepare ourselves and work together. If we’re smart about this, things will work out.” She sounded confident, though inside she wavered and questioned it herself.

Mahree didn’t say anything further to Dash. She nodded, showing her friend that she was listening, but trying to show confidence in the face of the unknown was proving more and more difficult the longer Mahree sat in the cell.

The fear of the unknown was strong and unavoidable.

Kurin had observed the two prisoners, primarily from other sections of the ship through the surveillance systems. They were unfortunately still refusing to accept their destiny, but at least the criminal was properly perusing the vidscreen. They lacked a lot in motivation, unfortunately. He had no doubts they would seek to escape Korriban, so he would have to notify the Overseers to keep an eye out for just that.

The odds of success were not high, but there was no need to be cocky about their limited chances. Thankfully he would be able to pass them off soon, so that he could get back to his more usual business. There were still revanites to hunt. They spread like the vermin they are. Which reminded him of a lesson his master had taught him: ‘Never let your guard down.’

He always kept to that rule. Too often people suffered for not following it. With that in mind, he thought about the future of his cargo. They clearly did not want to remain at the academy. Perhaps he should suggest to the overseers that they keep them apart, that they find ways to play them up against each other? It would be better for them to experience such at the academy than to do it afterwards. At least it was organized at the academy and rarely led to deaths. If they survive the trials ahead, he could say for certain that they will not find the rest of the galaxy nearly as forgiving.

There were many ways of making things difficult for them should they somehow either manage to flee the academy or simply try to do so. Tattoos marking them as Sith acolytes. Implanted tracking beacons. Shock collars. Those were just some of the means. Each overseer had his or her own favorite means. He had also heard that sometimes some were released to give the Republic or Jedi false intel, but that was a rare thing, only done with the approval of powerful Sith, if not a member of the Dark Council itself. He rather liked thinking about these things.

Dash scratched her nose. She stood onto her feet then checked the sink, her shirt still pretty wet. She shot it a disapproving look before she crawled back into her cot. Her head turned to her rapier. It leaned against her bed and unused. What she wouldn’t give for a stress reliever right now. She regretted her last one had been with the black market merchant who eyed her up like a nerf steak.

She exhaled then looked to Mahree. Her lips opened to say something when a loud clunk caught her attention. Dash’s eyes snapped to the metal vents, her horror flooded her face at seeing the slots open and thick yellow gas pouring in. Immediately she was on her feet with wide eyes. Frantically she tried to think of what they did to trigger a reaction, but nothing came. They simply talked.

Her attention turned to Mahree’s cage to see the same thing happening to her.

“Fuck! What the hell did we do?!?” Dash snapped as she went for her shirt.

Sitting in the center of her cell, meditation was one of the few things Mahree spent her time with now. That, and talking with Dash.

Eyes closed, breathing slow and controlled, the girl didn't really know what she was doing, but the act of meditating helped to calm her nerves.

Mahree heard the vents start to hiss, eyes opened to see the thick yellow gas pouring out from the system. The young girl started to feel the effects almost immediately.

"Dash!" Mahree yelled, standing quickly and looking to her friend. Moments later the girl dropped to her knees, a hand over her mouth as she started to cough. Her vision quickly started to darken, tears filling her eyes as darkness took her, her body falling to the side and hitting the ground, motionless.

In her haste, Dash’s arm slapped the force field. A warming hum happened before energy surged into her. She crumbled onto her hands and knees. During her fall, she managed to grab the wet shirt. She pressed it to her lower face and hoped it might buy her time. It wouldn’t. Already she felt the familiar weight of the gas’ effect pin her down.

Her eyes turned to Mahree. The girl crumpled into a heap, defenseless and succumbed to the gas. Dashara’s heart pounded. It thumped harshly in her chest and the familiar heat rushed through her. Gradually her vision flickered into a red tunnel. She shoved herself up with all her fading might. An enraged scream rippled through her chest. It spilled out into the air, followed by all her force power possible. She shoved it right onto the floor underneath her. She hoped to make a dent.

Even with her rage, it didn’t seem to work.

It even failed to burn the heaviness in her limbs away. She wanted to lash out and fight, but she couldn’t. Her body began to lower onto her side. She managed to see the other cage filled by the gas as her thoughts apologized.

Sorry, Mahree.

The world went black.

The hiss of the gas was not audible outside the cells, nor could the sound as the two acolytes collapsed to the floor be heard over the natural sounds of the ship operating. However, Kurin could see it all on the cameras and turned off and vented the gas the moment he confirmed that it had taken effect.

“It is time,” he said to Iris and Kira, waving for them to enter. Kurin turned away from the cameras as the two female crew members quickly stripped the two acolytes of their clothes and belongings, having been told to search the two thoroughly to ensure that nothing would be smuggled into the academy. Afterward, they were to dress them in standard acolyte clothes consisting of black pants and tunics. Until they were delivered to the academy where fabricators could manufacture correctly sized boots, they would have to remain barefoot. As they would be delivered in their current unconscious state, that was of no import.

Only when that had all been taken care of and each had been fitted with a basic stun collar did his two crew members return. The collars would be removed on arrival at the academy but would keep them from waking up early. About twenty minutes later the ship emerged from hyperspace and the complex process for gaining safe entry into Korriban space began.

Ideally, he would have let the two remain conscious a bit longer, but with recent security concerns, the Second Defense Fleet had instituted stricter regulations, requiring him to have his entire crew on station for the process. Thankfully, with everything and everyone prepared for this, there were no hiccups in the processing of their landing approval.

On the way down to the planet’s surface, he sent the standardized message to the academy to notify them that he had two older acolytes for transfer. He could transport them over to the academy himself, but he seemed to recall that the Overseers preferred to take care of that themselves. Their few belongings were packed in a crate that would be sent along with them, as would the data cylinders with his reports on the two.
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