SW: TOR: TRIALS OF A SITH THRALL: COMPLICITY
Part Five of an Old Republic Tale by MsFicwriter
Even through the near-total sedation that I was under as I slept, I could hear them, and they made me writhe upon my cot in the infirmary. The screams were those of men, women, and children--humans and aliens of all species. I assumed they were slaves like me, instead of proper hopefuls like the exiled Jedi Tamara Malthisen. Even at this Force-forsaken hour, what were the Sith doing to cause such unrelenting agony? I suddenly remembered Tamara telling me what would happen to her if she failed her third trial. Were these people being drawn,
gutted like bantha before they became steaks? Shivering, I pulled my thick blanket up around my chest. I didn't care if my feet got uncovered; what needed warming was my heart...
KORRIBAN, DRESHDAE SPACE PORT, INFIRMARY, 0200 HOURS
A soft voice floated toward me, slithering its way into the room like a snake:
"Infirmary Unit S-213A? Initiate Pfon Urazhai requests your presence."
The medical droid beeped and wheedled, sounding curious and a bit annoyed at first. What did Pfon want with it (him?) at two o'clock in the morning? Opening my eyes, I fought a haze of tears to focus upon the person who had spoken. Tamara.
Of course! I hadn't forgotten about her, and hoped that the little information I had gleaned from the medical droid would be enough to help her through tomorrow's ordeal. If not, then I feared for both our lives. What if we got caught talking and trying to spy on our Sith masters? Attempting to remain calm, I took a deep breath and smiled at her. As for the medical droid, it gave a wary dwuuhh?
and went to see Pfon.
"I told the truth," my former rival said, sitting down near where my feet were.
I dared not sit up. "What are the Sith doing out there, Tamara? The screams!"
You tell me what you know first, and then I tell you what I know. Intel for intel: there's always an exchange. So, what'd you find out?"
"I lay here on this cot all day, fighting the sedation and trying to listen to the droid. What did you call him--S-213A? Anyway, I didn't hear anything except footsteps and mumbled conversations until about 2200 hours. This time, our metallic ally's reception came in clearly, and I was able to recognize Pfon's voice." Licking my lips, I realized that they remained as parched as the desert sand on this barren planet! "He was talking about you and your final trial."
"Did he say I was weak? Strong? Unworthy? One of the finest he'd seen?"
I couldn't understand the other Sith to whom Pfon was speaking, but that's because that particular Sith sounded like an alien underling. Rodian." I paused for a moment. "As a pureblood, Pfon Urazhai hates aliens more than humans. I witnessed that when--" I started to say when he started hurling us slaves off a cliff,
but I stopped myself--"when I met him." My suffering was irrelevant to her situation, and if she knew how powerless I still was at this moment, she might decide to kill me after all! "If that underling is a Rodian, Pfon will likely make him do the dirty work: the superior administers the test, and the inferior gets to gut you." The thought made my blood turn to ice, but I found it terribly hard not to dwell upon.
Rodians," Tamara hissed under her breath. "Scaly and sneaky!"
Deciding not to reply to this, I continued: "Anyway, I heard Pfon Urazhai mention that your trial will be not of the body, but the mind--a series of questions. Does she understand the Sith philosophy in her heart,
he said, and not just in her head? Is this one still infected by the lies and weakness-promoting teachings of the Jedi Order? If so, she'll be drawn! If not, however--if she is ready to live the truth of the Sith Code in deed as well as in word--then I shall select her as an apprentice. MY apprentice, that is."
I smiled. "Apparently Pfon considers you either of immense worth, or none at all. How would you truly feel about that, becoming his own Sith student?"
Tamara was silent. "So how do I answer the questions?" she asked at last.
Somehow, I felt a bit confused. "You can't just parrot back the Sith Code," I informed her. "You have to explain what the teachings mean to you. Don't lie, or if you do, make sure all of your responses are half-truths. Pfon will never be able to accuse you of hiding the full truth from him, because after all, Sith lie. If you're good at it, then how can that sorry excuse for a being who calls himself 'pureblood' punish you for lying? The longer you keep him talking, the longer you'll stay alive. That's not the Force speaking; that's my instincts."
The exiled Jedi gave me a small smile. "Aren't they one and the same?"
I sat up a little and gave a shrug. "Depends upon whom you ask..."
I thought I heard Tamara giggle a little. Then she paused and spoke again:
"'The exchange', right? Intel for intel? It's time for me to fulfill my half of our little bargain." Through the infirmary's dim lights, I could see her close her eyes and open them again after a long, drawn-out breath. "The screams. Throughout the past several hours, our Sith superiors have been performing experiments
upon your fellow slaves. Your turn is coming tomorrow."
I froze. "What sort of experiments? You mentioned this before. Specifics?"
"There's something called the Essence
that they're trying to perfect. I don't know what it is, or what it does, but needless to say it is derived from blood! Throughout the day I've been sneaking around the spaceport, trying to discover anything about this Essence
or its process of production. What I found out is that the Sith bind up a slave, and then subject him or her to a process of injections and extractions. From what I've--heard--it's incredibly painful. I suppose the Sith are trying to manipulate the blood samples of as many slaves as they can to compose this Essence,
but why slaves? Why don't they take blood samples from Pfon, and more powerful Sith?"
"That's confusing to me, too," I said. Suddenly, I gasped: "What if that's why they've been subjecting us, the captives, to all these tests of destruction? Of course! The Sith want to know which slaves are strong enough to endure the Essence
experiments, and which are not. They want to use us first, so those such as Pfon won't die before the formula is perfected. That would make sense, but why..." I looked Tamara straight in the eye. "Why didn't Pfon Urazhai leave me chained to the side of that cliff to die? I certainly would have in a matter of a few days. You're a very strong Jedi warrior, Tamara. Why did he spare me?"
Tamara smiled: "You always defeated me in sparring matches..."
I squeezed her right hand so hard that she cried out. "Listen. We need a plan."
"You almost broke my hand!"
She yanked it away, cradling it tenderly.
"I'm sorry! I just want to know: what do you suppose we do to stay alive?"
"There's only one thing we can do, Per'dra: attempt to kill Pfon Urazhai ourselves..."
I blinked. "Come again?"
heard me. That pureblood is only going to keep on tormenting us until we either become Sith or perish! I say we become more proactive in our actions toward Pfon, meaning we strike tomorrow before either one of us faces our trial. If we lose, we die; if we win, we escape this spaceport."
"I didn't come here in chains, Padawan. I arrived at Dreshdae on a ship, a spare that the mechanics on Tython proffered me as a means of getting off-planet. It's not much--only a courier vessel with room for three--but at least I still own it. As soon as we kill our intended target, we head for Hangar J: J for 'justice'! Neither of us should try to play hero too hard. We're not here to slaughter as many Sith as we can, unless it's necessary. We're here to survive and escape. The only one I want is Pfon; to Chaos with all the rest!"
Half of me certainly agreed, but the other half: "How will we kill him?"
"Did you hear about what time the trials are, for either one of us?"
"No. Only that they're both tomorrow--er, today, since it's two o'clock in the morning."
"All right. Then we'll do it immediately. How strong are you feeling right now?"
Tamara grunted in exasperation. "Fine! I'll sneak out of here, exchanging my training saber for a real one in the process of 'recalibrating weapons in the armory', and make the hit on Pfon while he's torturing more slaves. You're coming with me to watch my back. Even though you can't fight, you can at least serve as a distraction. I'll slice off his head, and then we'll run for it!"
I shook my head. "Tamara, there's no way this'll work..."
She sat me up and shook me. "With the Force, all things are possible!"
My former fellow Padawan shrieked bloody murder. Her "target" was here in the room with us, the medical droid at his side. S-213A beeped accusingly.
"Assassination is a bold plan, hopeful Tamara, but an incredibly stupid one. You're facing your trial right now. Sleep or no sleep, I would love to see how you fare..."
Tamara started pointing at me wildly. "What about her? What about HER?!"
"The slave will be spared for at least one day more, since she realizes that a plot against me is...unwise." Pfon Urazhai suddenly grabbed a hold of Tamara by the arms, and she began to kick and scream. Leaping up from the cot, I tried to wrestle her free from his hold, but failed.
"Sleep a little longer, little one,"
Pfon said. "Your 'friend' is dead already..."
Before blackness hit me, and I hit the floor, I realized that the pureblood Sith was propelling me into unconsciousness through his magnificent power. Unfortunately, the last thought that tumbled through my brain was this:
I thought you said you'd never betray me, Tamara...!
At last, I knew: in the world of the Sith, and a galaxy controlled by the Sith, it was truly every man for himself.