My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 6

It was the same dream she had so often, the same room. The same bed. The same man. The same scene. It managed to be so much more vibrant and real than her memories could hope to be. Always, she woke up in an immense bed, swathed in crimson silks, next to a man she never saw. She would stand up, nude as the day she had been born, to walk across the gleaming black floor to the doors hanging ajar onto a balcony. She never went out, but leaned against the windows, half hidden in the lushly patterned drapes, and stared out at home.

It was a majestic, if ominous sight, a great city hidden amongst the trees, filling a gaping wound in the ground. Only the highest buildings rose above the line of the horizon, the rest of it was protected, obscured in the depths. The sky was roiling, turbulent, dark clouds lit by fitful flashes of lightning, but there was no wind. It was as if the very sky itself refused to settle, to calm. It was hot. Humid. She knew that even though her chamber was perfectly the temperature she preferred. Everything here was exactly as she preferred, because she was just that powerful. Even the man... he bowed to her will, if not her whims. He was hers. She dominated him, he was allowed here only because it pleased her to have him like this. Once, it had been different. Once, they'd been close. But in the dream, she wasn't even certain if he was willing or not, and it honestly did not matter. He was her lover of choice, and he got the job done...while his eyes simmered dark resentment the whole time.

It's not real.

The thought, as always, jarred her out of sleep...putting her back into a bed, with a man sleeping next to her. But the differences between here, and where she belonged, were legion. Here made much more sense. She knew where she was, Taris. She knew who she was in a bed with, Carth Onasi. She knew who she was, and who she wasn't. She wasn't naked, her sheets were not crimson silk. And she didn't own the man with her, which was rather a pity, but was also a challenge. And she adored challenges. But her major challenges right now were to find Bastila, and a way off of Taris. Soon. It had to be soon. "Carth." She raised herself up on her elbow and stared down into his face. Even asleep, he still had those persistent two strands of reddish brown hair falling over his brow, and she quelled the urge to brush them back. He opened his eyes, staring at her in confusion for a moment.

"Ah. Good morning, Sarah." He offered with a lopsided grin, and she nodded.

"Up and at 'em, Captain. Let's go get Bastila." The sooner, the better. Taris was beginning to feel a little more oppressive than it should, and she didn't like it. Running out of time...

She just had to figure out a way to get down below the civilized, gilded, and Sith controlled upper city of Taris...because Bastila probably wasn't up here.

He sat up, running his fingers through his hair and yawning. "Right." He stood, stretched, and then sat to put his boots on. "What did you get last night?"

She grunted in disgust. "The only way down is by elevator. And the Sith guard the elevators. We need to get by them." The pazaak players had been more than willing, after awhile, to point her in the direction of the next nearest table and a new set of unwitting targets... which was exactly what she'd been aiming for. The money would be useful, of course, but her true motivation had been to push them to the point where they'd want to get rid of her, but not far enough for an open confrontation. To be just annoying enough in her behavior and skills to be sent on her way, but not enough to gain true enemies to get in her way. "Means we need to take out a patrol." This early in an occupation, the Sith should not have had time to set up an adequate security net, especially if they were busy trying to maintain a planet wide lock down. They had to be pushed to the limits, and she needed to use that to her advantage. Keeping a couple of displaced space rats upstairs instead of down, where they would actually belong, couldn't be high on their priority list. But she'd still have to get past the guards. "Tell me about Bastila."

"Eh?" He gave her a distinctly odd look, as if that was the strangest question she could ask him.

"Bastila. The Jedi we're looking for...it would be helpful if I knew what she looks like. It might just make finding her easier..."

Somehow, that question truly unnerved him. "Bastila? But...you should know what she looks like. You were part of her detail."

I should know what she looks like. I was part of her detail. That was news to Sarah. "I was told that the Spire was under-crewed, that I was a last minute filler for her compliment."

"Uh...no." He folded his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall, staring at her. "When the Spire was assigned to Bastila, the Jedi Council added you as part of the compliment. It was one of their demands when they took control of my ship. They made it very clear that you were part of the package, that you went with Bastila."

"I've never met Bastila Shan. I've never seen her..."

The young woman leaning over her was beautiful, her hand very warm as she clenched Sarah's fingers in her own. "You have to hold on." She breathed, as if she could will that into the very syllables. "You have to stay with me. Look at me! Stay with me!"

"Really?" It was obvious that his trust was warring with his cynicism. "What does Bastila look like? Er... she's very pretty, I would say. Young, just a little taller than you." He made a vaguely embarrassed motion over his chest down to his hips, suggesting a more bounteous figure than Sarah happened to possess. "Brown hair, gray eyes. Wears her hair in two little tails. Kind of a snotty voice."

Yes, that definitely matched the woman that Sarah didn't remember, but did. She'd know her when she saw her...again.



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