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S 05

14. 1. 2014

She woke up.
Her head was lightly spinning, her hands terribly aching…
She hated waking up like that.
Then she opened her eyes.
And she saw Ben.
She closed them again.
She hated, hated waking up like that.
“Good morning.”
She offered him a nondescript growl.
“Does it hurt?”
She decided to ignore him.
“You didn’t bite off your tongue when you hit the wall, did you?”
Yes. Silent ignoration, a weapon that used to win wars.
Ben sighed. “You’re an exemplary woman. You got mad and you’re sulky.”
I am not sulking!
“That’s childish, Vestara, you know?”
I know. But I’m not going to talk, Jedi boy.
Jedi man.
She just couldn’t get used to it.
“And don’t pretend to sleep. I know you’re awake.”
I just don’t want to see your ugly face, Skywalker.
But he wasn’t ugly. At least he didn’t seem ugly to Vestara. At all.
Where the times when seducing him came into question were?
She suppressed a sigh.
“Okay,” he said. She heard a sound of something being unstuck, then she heard – and felt – Ben walking up to her. “Don’t startle.”
Me? Not anymore.
Something terribly cold slipped under the neck of her garments. Her eyes snapped open and she almost yelled.
You stupid, dirty-tricking, sickening Jedi scum!
She felt the ice cubes melting on her chest and the icy water dropping on her belly.
Ben was smirking.
I’m going to neuter you with a spoon, you… you… low grade swashbuckler! You childish scoundrel!
As if he heard her, he offered her a very much Han Solo-ish lopsided grin what make her wonder if Mara Jade was completely devoted to her husband.
“Are you going to talk to me now?” Ben asked.
No way, you epicene by-blow!
He sighed. “Vestara. You are just making it harder.”
I’m trying, Skywalker. I’m trying.
He looked around. “I have plenty of things here.” He looked back at her. “And they are all much worse than ice.”
I thought you’re a Jedi…
But, after all, if he was slipping to the dark side…
Just keep on doing this, Ben. See you on the other side of the barricade.
He looked pensive. “Do you know what Embrace of Pain is?”
She frowned. No, but I will soon know, right?
He sighed again. “I can just assure you that it’s kriffing, kriffing painful.”
Who taught you to speak like that? The ugly Jedi Wandaq?
Then he flashed her a quick, dark, cruel smile that wasn’t Ben Skywalker.
“And that I know well how to be worse than it.”
Where did you get that darkness, Ben? And why didn’t you show me all those years ago? I could exploit it, and then… I could turn you. We wouldn’t have to be separated anymore.
She missed him. Did he miss her?
“Instruments of torture are bad,” Ben continued with a strange glare in his eyes. “But words can hurt much more. And worse.”
Who taught you to use words for torture?
She ached for answers.
Was this her torture?
She unwittingly squeezed her lower lip between her teeth.
Mistake.
Ben visibly tensed.
“Are you thirsty?” he asked suddenly, turning his back on her.
When you mention it, terribly.
He drew a small white bottle from a big bag on the table in front of her. He unscrewed it and took a quaff. Then he motioned it to her. “Want some?”
No.
When she didn’t answer, he shrugged. “Your loss.”
He laid it next to the bag.
She could use the Force to float it to her.
But not when he was there.
Don’t you want to pee, Skywalker?
She considered using some kind of Force-influence, but she knew he would detect it.
Ben leant against the table. “Vestara,” he began. He had the endlessly patient, calm voice of a disappointed father. “There are two ways we can solve this. I need information. And you, if I’m not terribly mistaken – want to stay alive and unharmed.”
Brilliant deduction, Ben.
“There is the nice, clean way of solving this. I will tell something to you, you will tell something to me. That had already worked once, right? And everyone is happy.”
You mean the last time? Yeah, that worked. For me, of course.
“And there is the nasty, dirty way. The one that contains durasteel things and injections. And lots and lots of questions.”
He tapped the table edge.
She felt the annoyance and impatience growing in him.
Wait, he felt bad?
I am the one supposed to suffer here!
Ben, seemingly randomwise, raised a shock baton from the table.
“Ves, don’t make me do this.”
I will.
He wasn’t looking at her now. “Please.”
No. Hit me.
He stiffened. “Vestara, talk.”
Is that an order? What do you think about yourself?
He squared his shoulders and looked back up at her. “So you chose the hard way.”
I did. I really want to see how you Jedi torment. What are you going to do? Tickle me?
Without another speech, he unattached something from his backpack. When he raised it on his palm, Vestara recognized a little disk-shaped thing just a little smaller than Ben’s palm.
It was a little droid, obviously. It had plenty of tiny legs and a single, pale green visual sensor adorned its thin bodypart.
Ben took few steps to her and squatted. He placed his palm with the droid to her knee.
Oh, I forgot to say in which humiliating pose Vestara just was.
She was pinned to the wall by some kind of shackles that somehow managed to enlace her wrists and ankles perfectly. She was outstretched to a big Y, with her ankles bind by one big shackle.
She wondered if she could use the Force to free herself. But she, honestly, had no idea how those shackles worked.
“H-7,” Ben said to the droid.
Droid clinked in acknowledge.
“Code Aurek.”
The light of droids sensor turned from its pale green to malevolent crimson and he tweeted.
The droid climbed onto her trouser-leg and started to scamper up. He found a way to get under her tunic and now he was scurrying over her body.
It was pretty unpleasant.
Ben stood up and clasped his hands behind his back. “I’m asking you last time, Vestara Khai. Will you cooperate?”
No. I’m a Sith. I have my honor.
He nodded sorrowfully.
She knew he just played it.
“Okay. As you wish. Aitch seven, code Cre-“
The droid was hovering on her cheek.
Her mind was unusually bright, ice-cold and calculating.
Hey, now it’s about my face. I like my face. Don’t want to lose it.
But she didn’t want to talk, either.
Will stalling help?
She doubted. Ben was beginning to be impatient.
When did he become so fidgety?
Wait – was this him?
She made up her mind in split of a second.
“If this is another illusion, Skywalker, I’m going to kill you for this.”
He stopped in middle of a word. “The prison or the droid?” he asked then.
“You.”
He shook his head. “I’m not an illusion.”
“And are you sure about that?”
“I learnt not to be sure about anything.”
“Did I help?”
“Maybe a bit.”
“Glad to be of help.”
“You can be again.”
She shook her head. The droid on her face gripped her skin more tightly to keep himself on place. “I’m not telling you anything.”
“I thought so. I just hoped”
“That someone will finish me on the way out? Not this time.”
He smiled. “I just hoped that Aitch-seven will not be used for torture.”
“Why?”
“It was a gift. Gifts are not to be misused.”
“Gift from your girlfriend?”
Ben raised a brow. “It’s from Allana. I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“How so? Did you still hope I will change my mind and return to you?”
He grimaced. “No. But girls don’t like disfigured men.”
Now she raised her brows. “You are disfigured?”
He nodded. “All those fight left some scars even bacta cannot deal with. Not that I wanted to erase them. I want to keep them. As a reminder.”
“That it’s not wise to underestimate Abeloth?”
He frowned. “I have never underestimated her. I just want to remember.”
It were Sith who underestimated her. And Tahv paid. My mother paid. Father paid.
He studied her. “Bad memories?”
She looked away. “You make me sick,” she snapped.
“And you make me sad, Ves. It’s a pity that your talent is wasted on Sith.”
“It’s a pity that man with your potential is so blind to power.”
Ben backed away and sat on the table. “I’m not blind to power,” he objected. “I see it. I just don’t want it. At least I don’t want to gain it that way.”
“Why?”
“I saw a great man – maybe the most selfless man in the galaxy – who decided to sacrifice his life for the welfare of others. And he decided to do anything to ensure that they will live in peace and serenity. And he had the power to do it. He accepted even greater power, all in the name of good. But his power corrupted him. He chose a painful way to walk, and became dependent on this power to keep him up when the pain was too much. He couldn’t give up on it. He fell… and he died.” He sighed. “That’s why I try to avoid great power.”
“Jacen Solo.”
He nodded. His eyes were watery. “Jacen.”
“Masters said that he was a weakling. Tiny, whining man.”
“They didn’t know him.”
“Is there anyone who did?”
Ben blinked, staring at a blue-tiled floor. “I thought I do.”
She became silent. She knew how it feels like. She had lost her father the same way. She thought she knew him, but the man she knew was gone. And there was no way for her to change it.
“I’m sorry about him.”
Ben chuckled, but it was a bitter chuckle indicating he wasn’t amused at all. “You aren’t.”
“I am. I know how it feels to lose someone.”
He nodded. “I know. But I’m sure you don’t care about how I feel.”
“Why do you say that?”
“No one ever really cared.”
Oh, so you are filtrating your old afflictions. Why now?
“Ben, are you really so dull or are you playing me?”
Ben’s answer was blank and distant. “Why should I play you? It doesn’t matter if I make you speak; it doesn’t matter if I force you to sympathize with me. It doesn’t matter if you loved me.”
She started to waver. She didn’t want to see him breaking. “Life’s hard, Skywalker. Don’t cry here.”
He glanced at her. “Why shouldn’t I? I have a plenty reasons to cry. I don’t cry often, you know? Almost never.”
“Did you cry when I left?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“Why not?”
“I was angry and felt betrayed. Not sad. And I was confused.”
“Confused?”
“You killed a tsil to save me and Dad. And then you just left us.”
“I had to.”
“No. You could stay.”
“And become a Jedi? Not even if I wanted. There had to come a time when we would be forced to separate. That way, it was not as painful as it would be later.”
He nodded. “I understand.”
Her brows shot up. “You do?”
“Yes.” He walked up to her and laid the edge of his palm to her stomach. “Aitch-seven, code Dorn.”
H-7 let go of her face and started running down her clothes to Ben’s hand.
Ben pocketed the little droid. “H-7, code Zerek. Switch off.”
Droid tweeted from inside his trousers.
Ben looked up at Vestara. “Don’t play tricks on my friends, okay? Be so nice.”
He turned, tossed his backpack over his shoulder and went for the door.
Ending so soon?
“Ben,” she said.
He stopped, but didn’t look back. “Yes?”
“Stay. Please.”
He shook his head. “No. I am of no use here.”
“Please, stay. And tell me about Jacen.”
“There’s nothing I can tell you.”
“I want to know it.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re interested in him.”
She considered it. Then nodded. “Yes.”
“You’re not the first woman.”
“I think you’re the best one to tell me about him.”
Ben’s shoulders slumped. “I said there’s nothing to tell. Goodbye, Vestara. Maybe we’ll meet again.”
“You doubt it.”
“No. I’ll try to avoid it.”
“Ah. Goodbye then, Ben Skywalker.”
He straightened up again and slapped the controls. Doors slid to the side.
Ben stopped in the doorway.
He said nothing, but Vestara saw his core jump.
Then he left.
Silvery door slid shut.
She relaxed.
Fine. Time to plan my escape.
Anything not to think about this conversation.
All the time she spent with Skywalkers she tried to make Ben open with her, to make him share information. And she was failing all the time.
And now, when she didn’t want him to speak, he talked too much.
She wondered if it was simply his nature.
She tried to jerk her left hand out of the shackle. It squeezed her hand even more.
Ouch.
She attempted to use the Force to push it off her wrist.
Mild electro shock ran though her arms, leaving them numb and itching.
Ouch.
They certainly knew how to keep Sith in check.
She used a while in which her arms were becoming sensitive again to dream of locking up Ben in this sort of chains.
He would be at her mercy.
She sneered.
Just wait, Skywalker.
Just wait.

 

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