Jedi Destiny I: Hate of the Jedi

Chapter 19

DETENTION BLOCK; DUSK SPACE STATION

Zak watched the Sith carefully, sealing off his mind in an instant when the man entered the cellblock.

It might have been just Zak’s wishful thinking, but he thought that Brakiss looked almost exhausted, even depleted. They themselves had felt the tremors of the station not too long before, but neither had been able to come up with a logical reason as to why it had happened, and none of the Imperials had seen a good enough reason to tell them.

He and Jaina glanced sideways at each other quizzically—she had noticed it too—each of them trying to determine for themselves what could possibly have caused such a dishevelled appearance in their captor.

It had been nearly five hours since both of them had felt the unholy sickness in the pits of their stomachs and the clenching in their chests, which had coincided with the station’s tremors. Zak had never felt space- or motion-sickness before, but he couldn’t help from hanging his head over the sink in the corner of the cell and vomiting violently until the sensation passed, and then collapsing against the wall to recover.

By the time that Brakiss had made his appearance, both Zak had forgotten about it; unable to explain it he had simply let it be for the moment. Jaina had become depressed, despondent, unresponsive to him entirely.

Seeing their eyes upon him, Brakiss straightened up and drew his cape around his left side haughtily. He stopped before their cell, eyeing each of them carefully with darkened eyes, before he spoke.

“I have such wonderful news,” he said with the barest trace of genuine glee. Contrary to his apparent condition, whatever it was, he seemed positively uplifted, and there was no trace of any pain or discomfort in his tone.

Zak highly doubted that it was what they were going to consider good news, and sensed that Jaina thought along the same lines, and that, perhaps, she suspected what it was already.

“It looks like the two of you are going to be guests of this facility for just a little while longer than you expected,” he continued. He grimaced suddenly, as if smiling hurt, and because he was outside of their connection to the Force, Zak could not do more than guess that he was in some measure of pain. “The Jedi’s attempt to rescue you has failed.”

“What have you done?” Jaina demanded at once. It was the first thing she had said in hours. Zak’s gaze whipped around, and he looked at her curiously.

Jedi? There are Jedi here? Zak thought across his link to Jaina.

She ignored him.

“What have you done?” she repeated angrily when Brakiss did not reply.

“We discovered a spy on board the station”—Zak couldn’t exactly tell, but Jaina didn’t look too surprised to hear that—“and I dealt with her accordingly,” Brakiss said with a nasty grin. “Kylia is dead. She fought extraordinarily well. But her defeat was inevitable the moment she chose to challenge me rather than trying to escape with her life.”

Jaina lost it.

Before Zak could react to stop her, she rushed forward at the ray shield separating them from Brakiss and started banging furiously on the shimmering wall with both fists, ignoring the singeing shocks it rewarded her with Jaina!

Brakiss frowned first at Jaina, and then at Zak. “She died quickly, but I think that if Jaina continues to act in this manner to such uplifting news, I shall put her to a slow and most painful death by comparison,” Brakiss replied calmly, looking down his crooked nose at Zak as Jaina continued to beat on the shield.

Zak reached out with his mind to touch hers. It was something he had openly avoided until now due to the intimacy of such an act. But he needed to calm her somehow, and if he tried to do it physically at this moment, she might well turn her rage onto him and start beating upon him. He could take it, he just didn’t necessarily want to.

His eyes were glued to Brakiss’s. “That’s not the reason you have come here,” he pointed out, continuing to feel his way through Jaina’s mind, looking for something in her memories to distract her from the rage and anger and desire for vengeance. He found something and dragged it to the surface. It was a happier thought, a memory that definitely suited his purposes.

“You’re a very astute young man. There is much promise in you, as I expected,” Brakiss praised. “I wanted to let you know that your training in these past months has progressed far better than I had expected, considering your … handicap.”

“What handicap?” Zak’s efforts had paid off by now. Jaina had zoned out, and Zak continued to gently probe and caress her thoughts to calm her as she dropped to the deck, leaning heavily against the ray shield. She was breathing heavily through her teeth, somewhere between rage and nostalgia.

“Let’s see …” Brakiss started, putting up the fingers of his left hand. “Being subservient to Skywalker, having had no formal training—or, in Jaina’s case: unacceptable training—being fed the propaganda and lies of the Jedi and the Republic. Need I go on?”

“Get to the point,” Zak snapped testily.

“You are both being assigned to assist the station technicians on the operations decks. From examining several of your attempts at escape, I have noticed that the two of you both favour mechanical workings as a sort of hobby. I am interested in reports of the extent of your knowledge and practical applications of that knowledge and I believe that the current situation has provided an ample opportunity for that.”

“Explain,” Zak said.

“Are you giving me orders, young man?” Brakiss snapped.

Zak smiled at his own continuing defiant behaviour and drawing out the older man’s anger even for a second. The Sith muttered something he missed.

“Several station operations have been suffering from malfunctions of late, and I would like them repaired. While I could always get my own technicians to do it, technicians that can be trusted, as I said I am interested in seeing what the two of you can do with your culminated knowledge base, as it will one day serve me.”

“And what do we get in return?” Zak demanded. Jaina was still leaning against the ray shield, her rage almost non-existent now.

“I wasn’t aware that I opened the topic for negotiating terms,” Brakiss replied, an eyebrow cocked in mock amusement. He caught the exasperated look on Zak’s face and continued. “Although, if you do insist—”

“Oh I do,” Zak interjected.

“Then name your terms.”

“Jaina goes free,” Zak said simply. Jaina looked up at him from the floor at once, pleadingly, awareness sparking in wet eyes that quickly narrowed in obvious disapproval. He pointedly ignored her gaze.

“Excuse me?” Brakiss said.

“My condition for cooperating with you is that you give Jaina a ship with an auto-piloted flight plan for the nearest Republic world and make sure that there’s no way she can tamper with it to come back,” Zak restated. Then, considering, added: “Short of her death!”

“Do you honestly believe that I’ll agree to such outrageous terms?” Brakiss chuckled.

“No,” Zak replied. “Did you honestly think you could just come in here, fresh from killing a Jedi, and ask us to do something for you—a favour?”

“I wasn’t giving it to you as an option.”

“I took it as one, anyway. What if we refuse?”

Don’t! Jaina’s voice screamed at him across their silent bond. He ignored it and waited for their captor to answer him instead.

Brakiss stepped forward into the small pocket in front of the cell that could be touched by the Force, and held his hand up to display the small arcs of electricity dancing from finger to finger. “You will not enjoy the alternative,” he said softly.

Zak, agree to it! AGREE!

Zak and the Sith stood there in silence for a moment, glaring into each other’s eyes with the hatred they shared for one another. Zak knew that Jaina was right. He would have to agree. Her life was at risk if he didn’t, and it mattered to him very much that she continued to live. But there were other considerations, concessions that he was going to hold out for.

“Tell you what,” Brakiss said, apparently thinking along the same lines. “I’ll give you my word that neither Jaina nor yourself will be harmed by me. Does that sound fair and persuasive enough to get the two to do as you have been instructed?”

“We haven’t been seriously harmed by you yet,” Zak pointed out. “And when we have been harmed at all, you’ve always had medical aid administered.”

“That can change very, very easily, you know?” Brakiss smirked.

Zak! Jaina screamed at him, glaring at him. She didn’t know what his intentions were. DO IT! He’s giving us virtually unlimited control of the station’s systems!

Zak took her words under advisement, and made his decision appropriately. He already knew he would have agreed. He needed Jaina around for the company. Imperial or Sith company just would not do. He needed someone to keep him sane through this whole ordeal. He looked down at Jaina, taking in her dishevelled appearance; her hair mussed and dirty and knotted, her eyes glistening with tears she refused to let spill, the determined look on her face and the state of the clothes she was wearing.

His weren’t in any better condition, he noted.

And since the Sith was absolutely refusing to make the concession, Zak demanded it; “You’ve got us living in what barely passes for acceptable conditions,” he started, hands on hips. “Give us daily access to the ’freshers and some clothes that aren’t Imperial uniforms and we might consider your request.

“Agreed,” Brakiss said quickly.

Zak held up an open hand, feeling Jaina slip slowly back towards that mindless void she had been in moments earlier. “And I expect your word sealed by blood,” he added.


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