|Chapter 4 – Day Dreams and Tattooine
The meditation helped, but not as well as a good night’s sleep would have, though she must admit she isn’t as sluggish as those mornings following the drug induced nights. Still, she is off her game, as it were. Her morning meditation was off and as a result she did poorly against the droids. She had the foresight to arm them only with training weapons otherwise Lord Vader would have arrived to her corpse. After her mid day meal she prepares to try and battle the droids again. This time she will arm them with real weapons.
In her chamber she enters her meditative state. Her breathing slows as she concentrates on harnessing her anger. Images slip past her as she struggles to keep hold of her rage and prevent it from turning to despair. Still the memories aren’t easy to block.
The Dark Jedi had killed Quinn outright, but she was still alive. They weren’t sure if she was Jedi or just a companion. Not wanting to deal with another adept, the group boarded a passing slave ship and unloaded her for parts to the slavers there. They figured that she would die there shortly. Why they didn’t kill her outright she didn’t know. The slavers realized that while she was badly wounded she wasn’t mortally wounded. They had kept her in the lower part of the ship with the other scraps, just in case she didn’t make it. Bound most of the time and poorly fed it was just happenstance once more that the glint off of Quinn’s light saber had caught her attention.
Hurt, angry and bitter at the turns her life had taken she thought to give up at one point, just cave into the vastness of the force. The dark side, however, had other plans for her. Days turned into weeks and she regained her strength. The sick bay doctor was a skilled one at least, another happy turn of luck. Between despair and hatred she wavered. Until she found out that her son had died on the decks of the ship that the Dark Jedi had boarded. The tip of the light saber the adept swung just caught her in the bottom of the belly. The wetness she felt on her legs was the amniotic fluid surrounding her child. The shock of the blade and of his exit from his mother would have killed him, but for his strength in the force. Even that couldn’t save him though.
Unable to save her friends, her master, her husband and finally her infant son she finally snapped. Reaching out with the force for the light saber she made quick work of the crew. With them dead she didn’t know what to do. Go to the outer rim. Maybe hide and move on. Or should she travel to Courascant where she knew the Dark Jedi to be. As she sat down in the captain’s chair she knew that she couldn’t let it go.
It wasn’t hard to track them down. She sold the ship and everything in it for an amazingly paltry sum, but for someone who didn’t have any money it was a small fortune. It was enough to buy some clothes and bribe the locals for information on the worst of the adept scum. The first one was easy to kill and his weak mind gave up the other four that had boarded the ship. She ran into trouble trying to kill the second one. She hadn’t expected Lord Vader to be present.
“Shit,” she remembers thinking as she heard his respirator. He had interrupted them as Kendra had gotten the drop on the dark Jedi and was preparing to duel him.
“Leave us!!” The dark lord bellowed to the adept. He bowed slightly and left the room.
Still standing there in a dueling stance, Kendra watches warily as the dark lord moves to the center of the work room. He doesn’t close the distance between them, only looks over at the various droid parts on the bench. Kendra had caught the adept making modifications to his speeder in a remote work area. She thought that she had him cornered and without help. She hadn’t counted on Vader’s appearance.
“It was foolish to come here.” He says to her as he still fumbles with the droid parts.
Not lowering her weapon, Kendra slowly circles to her left to get behind the dark lord. “What have I to lose.” She says in a small voice.
“Sneaking up on an adept. That is not the Jedi way.” He responds.
“I would have fought him fairly.” She tenses as he turns around to look at her directly.
“Why not just kill him and be done with it?” He asks.
“I’m not a Sith.” She says derisively.
“Trust me, neither was he.” Is Vader’s equally cold response.
“I wouldn’t kill a helpless man.”
“So what would you call the crew of the slave ship that you sold? Some were armed I’m sure, but eventually you would have had to hunt the remainder down. Why not maroon them on a planet somewhere? You could have forced them into escape pods? Instead you slaughtered them like cattle.” He says putting his hands over the utility belt that hangs around his waist.
“Stay out of my mind!!” She cries. “They were slavers, they deserved no mercy from me.”
“Also not the Jedi way.” He says.
“I’m no longer a Jedi.” She says still holding her saber in front of her as she readies to strike. “Then again, I haven’t killed any children lately either. Tell me Anakin, have you managed to wash your hands clean of all the blood from the younglings or do you merely live with it.”
“Anakin Skywalker is DEAD!!” He bellows his voice trembling with rage.
“Oh, so now your thoughts betray you. Just because you are living a new life under a new name doesn’t mean that you can just dismiss the old one.” Inwardly she sneers at her clever turn of phrase.
“Perhaps, you are right, but it was still foolish to come here.” He responds.
Emboldened by her winning the argument Kendra grows careless. She drops her guard and lowers her saber to her side, but she does not extinguish it. “Maybe you should look inward towards the light.” She says taking a step closer to him.
“And perhaps you should think twice before lowering your weapon.”
In one deft move he pulls the saber from his belt, ignites it and swings for her head. Caught off guard Kendra only has time to jump back out of reach of the blade. She raises her own, but only manages to block the powerful downward arc of his blade. The blow knocks her down. She holds her weapon in front of her as Vader rains down blow after powerful blow. Quickly she scrambles back trying to gain traction and get to her feet, but the dark lord is just too powerful and quick. He pummels her blade with both hands as he moves forward. Her free hand lands on a small length of pipe. As Vader brings his blade up again, she grabs the pipe and swings at his knee. To her shock the joint is mechanical and doesn’t buckle, but she does hear something crack as Vader stumbles back, nearly falling. As he does she brings her saber around to hack at both legs. He side steps and she misses his first. He moves to block her blade, but is still off balance and her stroke is merely deflected. The deflected stroke doesn’t severe his left leg as she had hoped. Instead it bounces sharply downward catching him low in the calf and severing off his left foot.
Now in trouble, it is Vader who is scrambling for traction. The wound doesn’t hurt him, but it severely hampers his movement and forces him to try and retreat. Seeing her opponent weak Kendra goes on the offensive. Leaping to her feet she bounds after the dark lord. Bringing her blade down as he just did she batters his defenses. He is a better swordsman than she and she just misses having his parry slice at her neck. Undaunted she counters and her stroke just misses the middle of his helmeted head. He stumbles out of the way of the stroke, but not before it catches the bottom lip of his helmet, shearing it off. Blocking and stumbling at the same time Vader swings his blade and catches Kendra’s arm. The blow stings badly, but she manages to block the returning blow, spin and then back kick to Vader’s chest control plate. A spark and buzzing let her know that she has hit the mark.
Inside his helmet a gentle voice warns of suits compromise. The plate has been damaged and the super oxygenated air that he needs to survive is slowly being cut off. The internal components of the suit try and find an alternate route for the power to the small compressors, but it’s flitting off and on with each movement. He can’t keep this up for much longer. Rage engulfs him and he reaches out with the force and knocks her back pinning her to the far wall.
Wheezing he straightens himself up. “You are a worthy opponent, but not because you are a Jedi. No, I can see that like me that time for you has long passed.”
Kendra struggles against the hold that Vader has on her. She force throws a wrench at Vader, but he merely bats it away. He then force throws her against the opposite wall, where she falls to the ground. Then picking her up in a force choke he limps across the room to her.
Vader’s respirator is buzzing badly now. “All this loss, all this torment and yet you still persist. You could have just given up and died, but you didn’t. Your anger and your hatred give you the will to live. To struggle when it is easier to fail, to stand when it is easier to fall, so that you may seek out justice.”
Vader releases her as she loses consciousness. The last thing that she hears is Vader whispering that she will grow strong in the dark side.
Slowly Penance comes out of her meditation, an alert chimes that there is a holo message waiting for her. She strides over to the consul and pressing the receive button asks, “What is it,” in a voice that reflects her irritation at being disturbed in her meditation.
“Lord Vader wishes to speak with you in the Holo-Chamber.” The disconnected voice says.
“Very well, inform Lord Vader that I will be there in moments.” She says and then clicks the channel off.
After pulling a thick soft black robe on over her workout uniform Penance makes her way to the Holo Chamber. Once inside she calibrates the instrument so she is able to receive a clear signal. Once the signal is locked she steps onto the holograph pad and kneels. Minutes later the visage of the Dark Lord appears before her.
“What is your will, my master.” She says calmly from under the soft folds of her robe.
“Stand, my apprentice,” he says. “I am transmitting some information for you to look over. Be prepared for the briefing on your assignment tomorrow.” Is all he says in the transmission.
“As you wish,” she says to empty space as Vader has ended the message.
Stepping down from the pad she goes over the computer system to see what was downloaded.
“Polis Massa?” She asks herself puzzled. “Now why would Vader want me there. It’s nothing but a giant ball of rock.” She pours over the information, but it is scarce to say the least. It is mostly just a brief description of the facility there and the personnel he wants questioned. The information doesn’t say anything about what it is she’s to be doing there.
“Very frustrating.” She thinks as she scans the data. Every door that he opens is just and access to more doors. It’s as if he wants things accomplished, but is too afraid of divulging information that could be used against him. She wonders once more if this is a Sith attribute or a personal one of Vader’s.
After her review of the information Penance eats, then changes and decides to make an early night of it. There isn’t much to do on Vjun anyway. Most of the time it rains a sickly pale green acid rain. Not to mention it is dark most of the time due to the planet’s rotation. It doesn’t seem that even Vader did much here, although it does appear as though this place could be a launching point for an offensive. There are some specialized craft in the tie hangers. Most of the pieces are unique with custom modifications the dark lord made himself. Some were for speed and maneuverability, some for stealth and still others for firepower. There are some other pieces that are fitted with complete medical centers for use if he should ever become disabled or incapacitated. And finally there are those that she can’t understand what would interest a dark lord of the sith, including a beat up old racing pod.
Aside from his more than obsessive interest in all things mechanical there really isn’t anything else in castle Bast with the exception of Vader’s own personal suites. She has never been in there and while Vader has never refused her admittance, she feels that breaching that silent respectful understanding of personal space would probably be the last thing that she did.
Still Penance was bored. She knows she shouldn’t be. She has invested plenty in pursuit of her husbands and childs killers and there is still much she should be practicing with her light saber and her force abilities, but still she feels that there should be more. Perhaps Vader’s arrival and this newest assignment will break the ennui.
Shortly before going to bed she removes all the breakables from her room. She takes only half the dosage of the sedatives she has been taking, hoping that they will give her unfettered sleep while leaving her less sluggish than usual. As she drifts off she keeps thinking back to her training.