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  1. #111
    Rossi Mahr

    Rossi couldn't help noticing Reyth's small stature, her thinness, the signs of dehydration and ill-health. It worried her... but it also seemed pretty clear that this wasn't the moment that Reyth would accept help resolving those issues. Reyth might need food, water, and medical treatment - but first, she needed to feel safe enough to let her guard down a little. That would take patience.

    "I know you like music," Rossi said, talking to Reyth's back, which was all she could see of the other girl. "But you don't want me to sing to you - trust me on that. Singing is not my talent. How about if I read you some poetry? It's kind of like a song, with the meter and all."

    She settled back more comfortably against the wall and pulled up some of her favorite poems on her datapad to read to Reyth. If the other Sith didn't feel like talking, that was fine. Rossi could still demonstrate that she was here and paying attention.

    After she had read for awhile, Rossi set the datapad aside for a moment and said, "I know you don't feel like conversation right now, but I think you're listening. I'm going to tell you something so you can think about it. You don't have to answer right now. And that is: my family is going to care about you. They'll be there to support you. They'll love you, if you want them to - just like they love me. You should know that."

    Then she returned to reading the next poem.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  2. #112
    Pyrran Onyk

    Pyrran hadn't thought first - he had just acted. Emotion had overtaken him. Worry for Vette. Fear of losing her. Anger at his master's many cruelties - not just to Pyrran himself or to Vette, but to so many people who had the misfortune to cross paths with him over the years.

    Challenging a Darth was not wise. Baras was looking at him like he was suicidal, in fact. For just a moment, Pyrran thought he was about to die for Vette. But then he remembered he wasn't alone. Not only was Vette by his side as always. Teizi and Siralai had also drawn their lightsabers. Pyrran had the sudden, comforting realization that there was an excellent chance they would win.

    As the Sith taught, Pyrran fought with feeling and passion. Even with the four of them, it was not an easy fight. Baras was a Darth, an excellent combatant, an older and more experienced Sith - and used to fighting groups. In the end, though, they gained the upper hand. Pyrran's blade crossed with his master's one last time.

    "You worm!" Baras growled, practically spitting. "You're nothing. You'll always be nothing..."

    Pyrran drove his blade home. Baras twitched, and was still.

    "It's... it's finally over..." Pyrran murmured as he exhaled the breath he'd been unknowingly holding.

    Vette put her hand on his shoulder - then hugged him. That hug was worth all the doubt and fear. "Can we talk later?" Vette whispered.

    "Of course," Pyrran whispered back. Then in his normal tone of voice, to the others he said, "Now, to find and free Neva!"

  3. #113
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is online now Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Reyth

    She didn't move in response to Rossi's words, though she silently sent a few choice words Arksynn's way. He had no right to tell them about her. Of course, not only was there anything she could do about it now, she also didn't want to curse her only friend and companion who might be taking his last breath any time now.

    Reyth wasn't prepared to actually be distracted from her thoughts. The Pureblood was right - poetry was a lot like music - and she found herself untucking her head slightlly so she could hear better. The words flowed over her mind and seemed to smother all the other thoughts that typically raced through her head. It was...nice. It was numbness without the throb of a knock to the head or the bile of drugs. It was something she hadn't experienced in a very long time.

    Rossi's side chat likewise drew no visible response from the Sith. She didn't plug up her ears - she didn't even have the energy to mentally combat the ideas presented - they simply washed over her much like the words from the poems. Whether any of it stuck somewhere in her psyche would remain to be seen. Eventually, Reyth's shoulders softened forward and a steady rise and fall suggested she'd fallen asleep.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  4. #114
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is online now Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Lord Anewe

    The Sith's robes flew out behind her as she stalked the halls, her mood black as pitch. How dare they. Those fools on the Dark Council had no idea who they were trifling with. Send to her Balmorra now, when owning Fate itself was within her grasp? What use was a world of factories when she could see the future - stripping any enemy of every shred of power? How could they not see the potential in her experiments? Fools. She'd show them.

    Returning to her chambers, the droid still dutifully activating the machine, she had a thought on how she might be able to finally break her cousin. Even her impatience couldn't derail her from her mindset that a woman with the power of foresight would only be useful if she belonged fully to the Sith - and to Anewe specifically. She had to break through her impossible level of stubbornness to proceed. Said cousin was little more than a rag doll on the table, even with the copious amount of stims running through her blood if the number of emptied syringes were any indication. It was time to try a different tactic.

    Snapping her fingers, she caught the droid's attention and with a single flick, sent it back to its corner. Neva's eyes started at the ceiling, pupils mere pinpricks despite the low lighting, her body still shifting as though the machine were continuing to do its work. Wonderful. Her mood lifting somewhat as she focused on her subject, Anewe allowed herself a small smile of victory. It wouldn't be long now.

    The table slowly shifted into the horizontal plane, the restraints disappearing as it did so. Anewe perched herself on the edge of it, holding a glass of water so cold that beads of condensation ran from it and dropped onto Neva's arm - the sudden unfamiliar contact causing her to twitch and jerkily turn her head towards Anewe. The Sith smiled kindly and moved the glass so that it was centred in the woman's view.

    "There, there. You've had such a hard time. You look thirsty - how about a nice drink?" she kept her voice low, almost a coo. Neva didn't respond - her facial expression didn't change - her breath the same ragged gasps. Anewe dipped her finger into the glass and ran it over the other Zabrak's lips. This time the woman's mouth pursed rapidly as if trying to capture every molecule of moisture before it could evaporate. The Sith's own mouth drew into a wicked grin before she took a mouthful of the water herself and bent down to give it to Neva in an intimate gesture.

    At first, she seemed so accepting - Anewe's pulse raced with excitement that she might finally be getting to the point where she could truly begin her rise to infamy. Those dreams were brought to a screeching halt as Neva's teeth bore down around the Sith's lower lip. The cup shattered - flesh tore - Anewe screamed - a lightsaber ignited. The blade plunged into Neva's left shoulder, making her gasp to effectively release a bloodied Lord Anewe to stagger away from the table, clutching her face. The elder Zabrak managed to turn her head to keep from choking on the Sith's blood that had poured into her mouth along with the water.

    Anewe stood seething, lightsaber still in hand, though extinguished. Impossible. Of all the recalcitrant. Stubborn. Foolish. Compliance be damned. She would have her victory whether or not Neva was ready for it. Ignoring the extra hole in her face, the Sith returned to the console and reactivated the restraints. This time the table didn't move - a new device came down out of the darkness of the rafters and shuddered into place above Neva's chest. An ominous moan began somewhere deep in the machinery and the lights flickered with the new power draw.

    In a few minutes the galaxy would be hers for the taking.

  5. #115
    Siralai Mahr

    "You did well," Siralai told Arksynn after the battle with Baras. "You considered how you would be most useful, and you contributed to the success of the team. Good work."

    She noticed that Pyrran didn't take anything from his late master's office. No trophies, no souvenirs - not even anything potentially useful. It seemed the young Sith lord didn't want to carry anything of his master with him. She couldn't blame him.

    It was fortunate they had brought Arksynn along, when it came to locating where Anewe had taken Neva. Siralai wasn't confident they could have done it without him... at least not without wasting time that they didn't have. Time that Neva didn't have. Entering, they kept a low profile - until they reached a point where that was no longer possible.

    Siralai saw Neva, incapacitated and suffering - and anger and protective instinct rose as one. How could they stop this? How could they help her? Siralai was not the mechanically inclined one in her family. Trystan could have solved such a technical problem easily. Or Rossi. Probably even Shalmus. But Siralai knew one thing about how machines worked: they needed to be connected to power.

    She glanced around, located an electrical box that appeared to be a central supply... and jammed her lightsaber into it, frying the internal workings. Catching on, Vette aimed her blaster at other sources of potential power supply.

    "We're here, Neva!" Siralai called out.

  6. #116
    Rossi Mahr

    Best to let Reyth sleep, Rossi decided. The poor girl was probably exhausted. Maybe it was a good sign that she felt secure enough to sleep here - or maybe she'd just lost the battle with her tiredness. Either way, rest could only help. Rossi wouldn't wake Reyth until there was news from Dromund Kaas.

    She would stay, though. She didn't want Reyth to be alone. Since Reyth was sleeping and couldn't hear her, Rossi said quietly, "I wish I could do more for you. I wish I could make this easier for you. I'm sorry it's so hard. I hope you can be happy someday. I just... I'm sorry I can't do more to help."

    Maybe Rossi couldn't help much, but at least he could be here.

  7. #117
    Shandri

    Shandri was cold, shaking, sweating. The need for spice was becoming almost unbearable. Looking over at Tacia, she saw her friend was in no better shape.

    "We can't let them see," Shandri whispered, wiping her brow with her blanket - but almost immediately, the sweat beaded again. Tacia nodded.

    This was their best chance - probably their only chance - to finally get free of the addiction. But there was a problem. Their rescuers would surely stop helping them if they figured out that the people they had saved were addicted to spice. It immediately made you trash, in people's eyes. Especially if you were a slave. They would probably be thrown out into the street. Then how would they survive? But if they could just hide it, they could get through the withdrawal and try to put together some semblance of a life...

    Visper entered the room, and took in their condition with an appraising glance. Tacia pulled the blanket up over her head - a gesture that was half fear and half shame. Shandri tried to meet Visper's eyes bravely, but she was shivering and her teeth were chattering.

    "Oh, I'm sorry," Visper said gently. "Let me get you some more medicine." Shandri was trying to figure out if she should just take whatever Visper was going to give them or try to find some roundabout explanation for why antibiotics wouldn't cure this particular ailment, when Visper added conversationally, "Withdrawal is a beast, isn't it? But the meds will help. Trust me. From personal experience."

    "You... you knew...?" Shandri asked, dumbfounded.

    "Yes, of course. It was pretty obvious, I'm afraid," Visper admitted sympathetically.

    "And... you helped anyway?" Shandri couldn't even comprehend this. They were just slaves. Spice addicted slaves. Why would anyone...? Why would anyone care?

    "Yes. And we're going to keep helping. I promise." Visper knew that wouldn't be an easy thing for the girls to believe, but she would continue saying it.

  8. #118
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    Arksynn and Lord Anewe

    He had accepted Siralai's praise with a curt nod, though inside he was torn between feeling relieved that she hadn't noticed his fear and preening over having done a good job. Lord Anewe...had never been lavish with praise - at least not with an ulterior, painful motive. Somehow, the inherent suspicion that he'd learned to foster in response to compliments hadn't guarded him this time. It was something he'd have to think on later. Now, there was little time. It was his turn to shine - this was his part of the mission.

    The closer they got, the more knotted Arksynn's stomach became. His palms were sweating and he could hear his heartbeat drumming in his ears. What was he doing? How was he going to succeed? Sure, the people with him were powerful, but were they really going to help him with Lord Anewe - or would they just take their friend and leave? What if...

    The lights flickered and the generators made a low moaning sound. Arksynn was shaken from his internal monologue. This...was bad. "It's the machine. She's started the machine." He whispered, then looked Siralai, realizing that he needed to supply some explanation. "That's bad. We need to hurry." The team didn't need much urging and before long they were racing down the corridor and directly into his master's chambers.

    Electricity crackled around the massive structure built into the ceiling, coils glowing white hot with stored energy. All Force-sensitives present would likely feel a sickening bend as the machine pulled living energy toward it, fuelled by raw power and an raw, throbbing catalyst. Anewe was completely focused on the console - directing the power and feeding the catalyst as much energy as it could take - building it up to where it would spill out and into the Zabrak on the slab.

    The sudden loss of power and the energy discharges associated with it certainly got her attention. The room went black and even the pervasive hum of a working city fell away to absolute silence. Well, almost absolute. A weak cough echoed across the darkened expanse. Arksynn realized with some embarrassment that his breathing was the next loudest thing in the room. The only source of illumination was the golden lightsaber in Siralai's hand and the young Sith found himself drawn to it as to a safe harbour. Soon enough, hers was joined by red, orange and blue lights - all prodding the darkness even as they probed it using the Force to find their quarry.

    "Oh Arksynn. Look at you. Thinking you're a young lord come to slay his Master." A chuckle reverberated off the walls coming from nowhere and everywhere all at once.

    Arksynn's blade ignited too, though the darkness made his shaking hands all the more obvious - drawing full out laughter from Anewe. He took a deep breath and steadied himself. Stepping forward into the familiar room, he reached out with his senses only to have them snapped back at him. He had found his Master - and she hadn't moved away from his probe but instead gripped his mind with an icy hand. Arksynn felt himself falling and he flailed his arms out wildly in an attempt to regain his balance. Images and feelings poured into him unbidden and he cried out in agony as he felt his Master's grip strengthen and push deep into his flesh as she manipulated every strand in him she'd ever touched.

    "Foolish boy. You are mine."

  9. #119
    Siralai Mahr

    Siralai wished she had Visper's shielding ability. It would have come in extremely handy, to protect Arksynn from his master's depredations. Still, she was trained as a Jedi. Her solution might be slipshod and less elegant, but it was worth a try.

    She thought about what she knew of the sort of abilities Anewe was using. Generally, they took concentration. And typically, they required that there be no physical barriers in the way. Of course, there was no way for Siralai to know if Anewe's powers would follow those rules - there were always exceptions - but it seemed a good starting point.

    Siralai couldn't see Anewe in the darkness... but she could see Arksynn nearby by the glow of his lightsaber, and could guess that Anewe must be beyond him somewhere - if the master was between them instead, Siralai would likely have been able to see her. She took a guess, and stepped in front of Arksynn, attempting to make herself into a physical barrier between the two. She concentrated on the Force flowing through her and out of her, letting it grow and expand, feeding on her protective instinct and compassion.

    Not as refined as what Visper could do, but it was something.

    "Stop hurting my people!" Siralai yelled at the hidden, menacing presence that lurked somewhere in the blackness.

    From behind her, Vette shot up a flare, briefly illuminating the space before all went dark again.

  10. #120
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is online now Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Lord Anewe

    Anewe's scarred face and oddly drooping bottom lip were caught in the flare's glow. Her eyes practically glowed with malevolence as her attentions focused on Siralai. Her outstretched hand clenched and unclenched as she sought to reconnect with her former apprentice and the snarl that ground past her teeth when she was unsuccessful would be all the former Jedi needed to know that her efforts won the match. As the light extinguished, the Sith turned away from the light - clearly taking her opportunity to move to a new location. Her lightsaber remaining sheathed as protection from detection, even as the other lit blades closed in as though forming a net. It would be all too obvious that the woman was cornered. The chambers of Sith lords didn't tend to have back exits.

    "Your people?" her voice echoed again, pitched with emotion now, "They were my people first! Mine!" The blade finally ignited, revealing Anewe's position on the other side of the torture table - where the tip of the blade rested on the surface opposite with the length suspended over Neva's neck.

    "And I can do whatever I want with them. I am prepared to cut my losses - leave now and I will spare her life. Touch me and the blade falls."

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