((Written from the point of view of Kyriaki, Elpsis' clone)).

As a Disciples of the Vader, I have a variety of privileges. Some of them useful, others plain pointless beyond being a way to stroke the Disciple's ego. Every Non-Force-User must without fail address me as 'my lord'. I am entitled to a slave I can strike, resell or kill at a whim. Moreover, no Non-Force-User may overtake my vehicle in public traffic. The last of the three is superfluous because the highway is all but deserted. The Ministry of Propaganda never fails to heap praise upon the Supreme Leader for connecting the Imperium through a network of highways.

But few civilians have ever used them. They are encouraged to buy vouchers for their People's Groundcar or their People's Speeder, but it almost never arrives. Sometimes it can be picked up ten years later and then construction errors – pardon, sabotage – mean that you rarely get to enjoy it for long. I am told the money goes to building new tanks, palaces or yachts for the elite. Regardless, the only traffic I see is military in nature. Trucks filled with soldiers are going to and fro. Doubtless some bear wounded who are going to receive a brief respite, while the other ferries fresh soldiers into the meat grinder. “I wonder what their destination is. To fight the Dominion? The Traitor Dark Lords?”

The Grand Marshal and
Supreme Leader is, after all, not uncontested. Other Disciples dispute his claim to the throne. I am stuck with him by circumstance and common sense. He is the least insane. He can even be pleasant and congenial. Then he will casually give an order that condemns thousands to death, before going back to drool over his art.
“The newsreel s say the war goes well, Master,” my chauffeur comments. Her name is Shakka. She is a Twi’lek and my slave. It is what it is. The collar is a permanent reminder. Many Disciples would beat her for even speaking without being ordered to. Or cut out her tongue.
I do not strike her. I am not a beast. She knows that if she disobeys me, plays me false or brings me into disrepute, she will be sold to someone cruel. In the Imperium, a xenos’ place is to serve or die. The history books say that it was they who caused the Great Plague. I once visited one of the ghettos they are held in. They were filthy, thin and scared. The guide said that this was their natural state and they were atoning for their sins.

It is right and proper that they should be deferential to their betters. That is the way of the world...and yet when staring into the eyes of these wretched beings, I could not help but wonder: what did they do to deserve this? Even if a few xenos banded together and plotted to annihilate mankind, why must their descendants still pay for it? The answer for this is simple: people need a scapegoat. The human rabble is, in the end, meaningless. Every Sith is above a Force-Blind. But give them someone to fear, revile, exploit and feel superior to and they will goose-step happily.
“So they said months ago,” I respond a bit distractedly. “And now we have shortages – labour, soldiers, machines.”
“The comms are poor,” she remarks frankly.
“That Destiny Engineering factory I worked in – it produced faulty comms. They cut many corners.” I do not punish this heretical statement. I file it away. The head of Destiny Engineering is now in charge of armaments production. He is not a man you want to offend. We leave the highway. Our path takes us past a vast forest. All of it is the Supreme Leader’s personal game preserve.

While she continues, my chest flares up in pain. My breath is short. I wheez, trying to force air into my lungs. Wordlessly, I take the inhaler out of its hiding place, gripping it with my right hand – the one of metal and servos. I shake the inhaler, then bring it to my mouth, activate it and breathe in deeply. To her credit, Shakka has the sense to keep her eyes on the roads and not to say anything. The Force flows through me, keeping the pain at bay. My body is frail, but my will must be strong. Just like my twin's was.

I was told at the Academy that I am a ‘useless eater’ for my defective genes. I should do mankind a favour by submitting to euthanasia. I managed to survive. Some of those who scorned me – with their perfect genes and elaborate bloodlines – are dead now.
Elpsis is not flawed like I am. The Jedi tried to control her, but she cast them down. Her fire and fury destroyed her oppressors. I am not like my template. I must use other weapons to survive. Sometimes, when I watch the stars at night, I wonder whether she might be on one of them. My breathing stabilises .
“We’re nearing Sophiahall, Master,” she says helpfully. “Would you like me to accompany you or remain in the groundcar?”
I put the inhaler away. “Stay. You’ll be safe there.”

“Yes, Master.” She doesn’t sound too convinced. Some Disciples make a sport out of stealing the slaves of those they hold a grudge against. Especially if they know the Disciple has a soft spot for their serf.
“You’re my property.” My tone is firm. “That places you under my protection.” I don’t know why the Supreme Leader summoned me. He can be mercurial. But when you receive a summons from him, you drop whatever you are doing and hasten to him. I don’t think my life is in danger. Not directly anyway. I’m not important enough and, in any event, the Supreme Leader prefers to leave punishing subordinates to others.
Perhaps Shakka reads my thoughts. If they are so plain, I must get better at hiding them. “Do you believe you’ll be sent to the frontlines, Master?” It is a valid point. Is she afraid of being left behind, at risk of being seized by someone else? Or does she hope it might present an opportunity to flee – with all the risk that entails?
“You will come with me if I do.”
She is quiet for a moment. “When you tell the truth you look different, Master. Your eyes change.”
“Thanks for the warning.” I must remember not to do that again.

The estate of the Supreme Leader draws close. Sophiahall is massive, to say the least. Here, Darth Eisen, Dark Lord, Supreme Leader and Grand Marshal of the Greater Sith Imperium, holds court right in the heart of the Great Heath. It is miles away from Adlerberg, but ministers and field marshals flock here to eat up any scraps of power he may toss them. High walls surround the palatial estate. Armour-clad soldiers – the Life Guard – and Sithspawn are on patrol. Shakka steers my transport towards the imposing gates. The guards check our IDs and scan the vehicle. There is a brief lull while the sergeant on duty communicates with his superiors. Then we are let in.
The courtyard awaits us. A great avenue of trees leads to the enormous villa. There are flower beds, lily ponds, a fountain and statues. One shows an enormous Darth Vader, towering over us all. Soldiers from the Life Guard and Harrowers stand sentinel.
Shakka halts the door and opens the door for me, stepping aside as I get out. A Disciple – a Knight by my reckoning – in a blue uniform approaches us. The slave bows obediently, averting her eyes. He does not bother to spare her a look. Instead he looks at me, and stretches out his right arm. “Praise Vader!”
I return the Humanist Greeting. “Praise Vader!” Shakka says nothing. Only humans may give the Humanist Greeting. A xenos who performed it would be punished for ‘offending the feelings of the human species’.

He shoots her a disdainful look. “You let a worm head drive you around, Lady Kyriaki? They are a devious and inscrutable. You never know what they’re plotting. Houk are more reliable.”
“And stupid. I’d have to micromanage one to make sure the dumb oaf does not ram something,” I say in my haughtiest tone. “And is it not a greater show of skill to bend a wilful creature to your will than one that cannot think beyond eating, punching and mating? She is perfectly house-broken.”
“I live to serve Master,” Shakka says quietly. Her tone and indeed her whole stance has changed. She always has to be obedient, but now she is meek.
“Just as long as that thing doesn’t cause any trouble. A whipping every once in a while never goes amiss. Keeps them from getting uppity.”
“I have my methods to ensure discipline,” I say just a bit tersely. “Now if there is nothing else, I have to answer a summons from our Leader.”
“Of course, you should not keep the Leader waiting.” I would not if you were not holding me up, fool.
Regardless, I snap my fingers. “Slave, fetch me the gift. You will remain with the vehicle.”
“Yes, Master.”
“A gift?” the officer raises a questioning eyebrow while Shakka opens the door and removes the package, handing it to me. She averts eye contact.
“A token of appreciation from a humble Disciple. The Supreme Leader has many cares. So many burdens on his shoulders, you see. The fatherland depends on him. I wish to make him smile.” Oh, this sounds ridiculous. “You can scan it, of course.” And so he does.

“Come with me,” he orders imperiously. I do not fall in line, but make sure to be a bit ahead of him. Status must be conveyed. An enormous, black marble statue of Darth Vader looms over us on the way to the equally grandiose mansion. Before passing I make obeisance before it, as is the law. The Old One stares down upon us. He is clad from head to toe in his dark armour. I wonder what he really looked like before being put into a suit. The man has vanished beneath the myth. Harrowers let us pass through the imposing doors. The entrance hall is huge. Massive golden chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The floor is made of marble. Sunlight gleams in from the panoramic glasteel window, bathing the hall in bright light. The walls are covered in expensive tapestries and artworks. I recognise a few from the Scarlet Citadel, my former prison.

Like Achilles, my old and now very dead captor, Supreme Leader Eisen likes to show off his trophies. But unlike Achilles, he is not a creep who puts heads on spikes on display or personally torture people. He compartmentalises that part of his reign and leaves it to underlings, while his bejewelled fingers remain clean. We pass through corridor after corridor, each grander than the last. The Supreme Leader awaits. Even from afar, I sense the sheer power radiating from him.