Here we are again. Jailer, torturer, victim, saviour. I hate Diona. I don't hate her. Somehow I keep coming back to her cell and we find ourselves here. Trapped. Her quarters are nicer than mine were. She is not locked into a tiny, squalid cell infested with rats. Or chained and shackled. It is pretty civilised. She seems to be meditating when I enter the room. The collar around her neck is a reminder of her prisoner status. The one I wore collar gave me electrical shocks any time I used the Force. I need to use the Force to see. Hers just blocks her from using it. No pain necessary.
"Hello," she says.
"Hey." I feel lame. "Heard you've been enjoying the amenities of modern technology."
"Your cogitators are a lot faster than ours," she remarks. "Though I find the - what do you call them again? - pop-up windows vexing. They keep spreading propaganda for frivolous products whose value is on lost me."
It's called advertisements. Needless to say her net access is strictly censored. "Welcome to First World problem." The reference seems to be lost on her.
For a moment, there is silence. "Anyone else come here?"
"The Sith came here to glare in a manner she considered threatening and to make various threats before departing." I hate the way she sounds so serene. Maybe she is trying to provoke me.
"That Sith has a name. Start using it." My tone is sharp.
She does not budge. "So do I. She has yet to address me with it."
"Her name is Nyssa Vykaris and she's my friend. A truer one than any Jedi I have met."
"Do you make a habit of befriending Sith?" Her aura shows something like...regret. "I am sorry. That was uncalled for. I do not have a right to judge you."
"Damn right it was. You want to know my feelings on Sith? My father was one. He was a monster and tortured me because he wanted me to be like him. That cell he put me in was like the one you did. Even frakked with my mind. He was just more into pain than anything like rewriting my mind. Only he failed. And when I met him in hell again I broke him." Only now do I realise how much I have raised my voice. I clench and unclench my hands, taking a breath. "When you and your friends locked me up, Nyssa came for me."
"You have endured many horrible things and prevailed over many foes."
"Yeah, whatever. So don't act like you know, or can judge me."
There is silence. "I have been reading up on the Jedi of this Galaxy. It is all...very different from what I imagined."
"Well, they don't turn an entire planet into a slave state and torture people into being brainwashed drones."
"No, but they do not fight evil either. The Sith hold dominion over most of the Galaxy. The Jedi are scattered, weak and focused on debate rather than action."
I actually...agree, despite wanting not to. Not out of any love for Jedi. Damn them all to hell. But simply because I do not want to be on the same page. "Yes, they do. There's two categories of Jedi: ineffectual hippies and self-righteous tyrants."
"I thought learning about the Jedi would show me how to be a true one. That I could unburden myself and atone. But perhaps there is no point in labelling myself as such. I can only make my own beliefs and forge my own path."
"What do you want? Forgiveness?" There is a part of me that wants her to beg for my forgiveness. Go down on her knees and plead. So that I can deny it.
I am disappointed, but also respect her more. Grudgingly. "Good. The moment you do something good because you want your victims to forgive you, you're not trying to atone. All you want to do is for someone else to take the burden off your shoulder and make you feel better about yourself. You cheapen their suffering, and your own struggle."
"I don't want your forgiveness. You have no right to it. If you offered it, I would say no. I want Tephrike to be free and at peace. I want for my sisters not to be pawns in power plays. I want something right before I meet my end, be it at your hands of my victim or in battle. What do you want?"
What do I want?
I waver. I am angry with myself for hesitating. I am Elpsis Kerrigan-Alcori, daughter of Tegaea and Siobhan. A Kerrigan-Alcori does not show weakness.
I want to punish her. I should.
I want to...understand her.
Be with my family. Burn those who tormented me and the other prisoners - and who continue to do so to the people still on the planet.
And who made her...this. I should forget about Tephrike. Cut the bonds tying me to it. But I cannot. It is a part of me now.
I look away. My emotions are put on a leash. My face is a mask. "I will not turn my back on the people you helped torture," I say coldly. Ice encases my heart.
"If you were to fight for blade would be yours."
I turn my gaze back to her. "I don't want you. I don't need you." Then I leave.