Chapter 1 -- On Balmorra
Vette followed along behind her Sith – and when did she start thinking of the Sith as hers, anyway – emerging from the confines of the spaceport into the muggy heat of the battle-torn planet called Balmorra. She sniffed delicately, eyeing the towering artillery guns with horrible trepidation, mumbling morosely, "I hope they don't have to shoot those things while we're here." Lusiel glanced at her, offering a small twisted smile, before turning once again to continue striding forward.
Vette sighed, utterly certain she would never understand the Sith. She'd seen Lusiel perform disgusting acts, even been on the receiving end of them, frowning briefly as she rubbed her neck where the shocks from the collar still stung her memory. Yet the Sith continued to confound her, providing brief glimpses of decency and honor, too, enough Vette was utterly confounded what Lusiel was really all about. Vette had thought several times Lusiel acted as she did only to confuse her poor twi-lek sensibilities, to keep her on her toes. Maybe the Sith was determined to keep everyone wondering, Vette thought.
Lusiel didn't stop long enough to soothe Vette's confusion, either. Within the hour of arriving at Balmorra, she had a turncoat tortured by Imperials and then framed rebels for the killing of a Chiss delegate, only to turn and ask Vette, with pure and unfettered pleasure, "How about a drink, since we're already in the cantina? What would you like, Vette?" The twi-lek grinned at the utter incongruity, before cheerfully ordering her favorite beverage, knowing the Sith could afford the expensive liquor and glancing around with interest at the busy cantina. Beside her, Lusiel sipped a fruity concoction, sighing with some degree of happiness.
"I just don't get you at all," Vette said, finally. Vette never was one to keep her commentary to herself, at least. Which is how she justified it, mind you. The Sith did remove the shock collar from her neck, at least. So she should be prepared for whatever inanity sprouted from Vette’s freed mouth, right?
"What do you mean?" Lusiel was genuinely confused by the remark. She had long thought herself to be very honest in her dealings, even blunt. Yet here was Vette, making a remark she'd heard countless times, enough she was prepared to stomp a foot in disgust. What was there to “get” that she wasn't demonstrating in every action she took?
"Well, you have to admit you're hard to really understand sometimes."
"I am not! Why does everyone say such things? I'm the easily the simplest person in the world to understand!"
"Are we talking about the same Sith, here? Lord Lusiel, apprentice to Darth Baras? The same Lord Lusiel who can swipe her saber against some poor sod and then turn right around and pat a sad guard who cries over the body of a dead apprentice? That Lord Lusiel?"
Lusiel frowned thoughtfully. "You mean Vemrin? He wasn't worthy of the name Sith. He failed. Failure can't be tolerated. If the failed are allowed to succeed, it weakens the Empire as a whole. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't sorrow or mourn them when they’re destroyed. I endured many such encounters during my years on Korriban, as I did when Vemrin attacked." She shrugged, “I proved I was stronger, that’s all.”
Vette sat back against the wall, slightly stunned. It occurred to her Lusiel took great strides in every choice she made to make the absolute right choice. By whatever measure she used to gauge right and wrong, of course. Vette was pretty certain Lusiel's concept of right and proper behavior was a far cry from her own, anyway. But she wasn't like so many Sith Vette had considered over the past several months, those who insanely delighted in using their power against others without regard for the consequence. This wasn’t about pleasure or even satisfaction. No, Lusiel was determined, she was focused, rather. She knew exactly what she was doing and where she was headed, even if she didn't share such knowledge with her twi-lek companion.
Vette thought of the first words Lusiel had ever said to her, the cold and dispassionate tone she used as she pressed the button that activated the shock collar around Vette's neck. She had thought her a typical Sith in that moment. But it occurred to her the smelly jailor had thought the same thing, certainly. When Lusiel later removed the collar, she reminded Vette of that place, told her that the role of slave was one that provided her some protection and safety in the Empire and that Lusiel holding the controls to the collar kept such men as the jailer from misusing her. Lusiel told her, “Be careful, Vette. The next one holding this controller won’t be so understanding.” Vette wondered how often Lusiel acted to provide that blanket of security, portrayed herself a typical Sith only to keep those around them in their own typical place. There was some security in the "typical", after all.
"Yea, I think I do get it. I mean …What would that Imperial officer have thought if you just trusted the turncoat," Vette wondered aloud.
"She would have thought me weak, a Sith to be manipulated or used. She may have made mention of my supposed weakness to other Sith, so that word reached the ears of my Master. Weakness, even if only in appearance, can be acted upon. It is essential no one ever believe me weak, else I spend the whole of my life fighting to prove otherwise. Even I can't fight everyone."
"Wow. Haven't you ever wanted to just be normal?"
"Vette, that will never happen. So, no, I've never wanted it. Why desire something impossible?"
"So what do you want?"
Lusiel chuckled. "Right now, I want to finish this delightful drink, before getting back to the task at hand. I can't imagine there's anything on this sorry rock of a world I could ever really want, anyway."
Vette laughed along with her, as they gathered up their things and headed back into the madness of a Sith's life. She was still thinking of the conversation as they entered the military compound in search of Baras' contact on Balmorra, the Imperial officer he called Quinn. And she thought how incredibly ironic it was as she watched Lusiel's face during that first meeting between them. She would joke later, how funny it was -- as if some old Gods had laughed themselves silly at Lusiel's expense after she'd made such remarks. Because Vette would always say, it was obvious from the start Lusiel wanted Quinn more than she ever desired some fruit cocktail.