Title: Dance with the Devil
Pairing: Theron Shan/f!Jedi Knight
Genre: Angst, Action, H/C
Warnings: Implied/Referenced Torture
Author's Note: Takes place between KotFE and KOTET. The title is owed to a line from the song "Ocean Drive" by Duke Dumont, which is probably the reason this went from a lighthearted 3000 word H/C fic to, uh, something decidedly not lighthearted and much much longer. Oops?
Growing up under the tutelage of Jedi Master Nagani Zho, Theron Shan had been taught an enumerable number of lessons so that he could one day continue the family tradition with a lightsaber of his own. Things hadn't quite worked out that way, because apparently when it came to him, the Force had a sense of humor. However, the lessons didn't go to waste, and Theron wound up using most of them throughout his career with the SIS. Sadly, these days the lesson that got employed the most was one adapted from a Jedi healing ritual. It didn't heal his wounds, but the series of mental exercises usually helped dull the pain until he could get proper medical attention. Unfortunately, even that trick was starting to get played out at the moment.
He closed his eyes, concentrating on acknowledging the ragged, burning fire in his side so that he could accept the pain and move beyond it so he could try and focus back on his current predicament. He didn't normally have this much trouble with such a simple exercise, but the combination of possibly broken ribs, numerous bruises and contusions, and the giant hole in his side that was still bleeding sluggishly was testing the limits of his childhood training. Not to mention that the drugs they kept injecting him with to try and make him a bit more talkative weren't helping matters. His implants were dealing with the worst of it, but it was still affecting his overall concentration. Concentration that he really needed if he was ever going to get out of here.
He flexed his arms against his bonds, but he was no closer to escaping now than he had when he'd first woken up in this dingy warehouse three days ago. The stale air and lingering stench of pollution had let him know that he was still on Skeressa, but that was about the most positive thing about the entire situation.
He'd arrived on the planet almost a week ago to follow up on a supposed sighting of Arcann and Senya, one of the many the Alliance's intelligence network had been sorting through since the Battle of Odessen. Theron had taken this one on personally, not because he thought this particular lead would pan out, but more because of some interesting whispers he had heard about a cloister of fanatics that had holed up here. The sighting had turned out to be another false lead, but there had still been some viability into this splinter cell of Sith led by Lord Dirai, who specialized in Force spirits.
Not that he had told anyone back on Odessen about the particulars of his little side trip, just that he was looking into one final lead before wrapping everything up. The investigation into Force spirits and possessions was a pet project of his, and he hadn't brought anyone else from the Alliance in on it yet. If he had his way he probably wouldn't unless he absolutely had to. There were a lot of very personal reasons for that, but to tell half of them would betray the confidence of probably the most important person in Theron's life, and the one he was doing this all for in the first place. There was no amount of torture in the galaxy that would get him to do that.
And really that was part of his current predicament. By all intents and purposes he should have been killed several days ago, but he had decided to spy on a cult so crazy the Empire had kicked them out of its territory completely. That probably should have been his first clue to leave it alone, but common sense and good judgement weren't tools he always employed, especially when it came to the commander of the Alliance. So he had ignored that warning sign, and had probably failed to do his due diligence on investigating the plausibility of this lead. The possibility of finding any scrap of information that could help him find a way to pry that Sith parasite out of his girlfriend's head was just too tempting to ignore.
Which was how three days ago he had found himself shackled to an interrogation table and staring down an increasingly unhinged Sith raving about the Force and getting progressively more violent.
"It flows," Dirai had started at a whisper, "around everything. Even a Force blind fool such as yourself."
Maybe a few years ago a comment like that would have been like rubbing salt into an open wound, but the sting of Theron's shattered childhood ambitions had eased considerably after the formation of the Alliance. Still, there was a part of him that bristled at the insult, although there was no way the Sith could have known it was a sore subject.
"Usually it's soft, hardly noticeable to anything but my trained eye," the cultist continued to stalk around his bound prey, balancing a vibroblade on his palm delicately, "but you… someone's left their mark on you."
Theron's training had helped him keep a passive face even as a cold feeling of dread had wound its way around his spine at the words. "Don't know what you're talking about."
"The Force doesn't flow through you like a Sith or Jedi," the man continued as if he didn't hear the denial, "but it wraps around you, almost blinding in its light."
Dirai spat at the last word, as if it were some impurity to be cleansed.
"You haven't been cavorting about with some mere Jedi, though, have you?" Theron just glared as the Sith pacing quickened, his actions becoming more frenetic. "There's darkness there, tendrils weaving through the cracks in the light, like a snake slowly coiling around its prey."
It was hard to tell if Dirai actually had the talent he spoke of, or if he was that drunk on his own madness. Either way, Theron tried to keep his face impassive, even as the words conjured an all-too-familiar freckled face and the malevolent specter that haunted her every step. The frenetic pacing had given way to practically a drunken trample, each footfall echoing loudly across the filthy duracrete flooring.
"I've felt that dark presence before." The Sith's fingers curled around the hilt of the vibroblade as he speared Theron with an almost predatory look. "He consumes everything, just as he's slowly consuming your… hmm, exactly who is this to you?"
"An invention of your mad ravings."
"More than a mere acquaintance, I can tell that much." Dirai idly traced the tip of the vibroblade across his captive's cheek. "Friend? Family? Lover?"
The nerve in Theron's jaw twitched as the electricity bouncing off the vibroblade touched his skin and sent a light jolt down his spine.
"I suppose it does not matter really. Clearly you are of some importance to whoever this new vessel is. Otherwise you wouldn't stink of them as you do."
Blood pounded in Theron's ears, but he did his best to not let the red tinge of anger sweep over him. He didn't want to give any leverage to the other man, but the image of Valkorion consuming his host whole caused a knot of cold dread to settle in the pit of Theron's stomach. It was difficult to keep a neutral expression while imagining that nightmare scenario, but he thought he had done an admirable job of that.
That was until the Sith leaned in close, fetid breath assaulting his senses, voice barely a whisper in his ear. "I would so love to meet this person. Perhaps you can arrange something."
"I'm not doing anything for you."
"Oh, that's cute. You think you have a choice in the matter." A gloved hand came up to caress Theron's face, fingers tracing a path along his implants. "This connection you share with the host, how deep does it run? Are they even aware of it?"
He tried to jerk his head away at that point, but Dirai grabbed a handful of his hair, holding him in place. The man was too close for Theron to see his smile, but he could feel as the lips hovering millimeters from his ear twisted into a sadistic grin.
"And if they are, I wonder… can they feel your pain?"
And before Theron had any time to react, the vibroblade had plunged into his side sending any and all thoughts into a white hot blaze of agony.
The rest of his time with his host had been mostly a repeat of that theme. Demands for the identity of Vitiate's new host (he apparently hadn't gotten the memo about the name change). When talking didn't work, Dirai would try and loosen Theron's tongue with drugs, or more often just good old fashioned violence. Every now and then he would demand for Theron to just make her appear, as if he had the ability to summon her to his side if he just wanted it enough (a super power that would definitely have come in handy on more than one occasion over the past six years). All this was usually followed by half hearted attempts at healing in between sessions when anger at Theron's stubborn refusal to say or acknowledge anything nearly pushed things too far.
He had never quite gotten used to the strange, cold sensation he associated with the healing arts from the Dark Side of the Force. Even when Lana, an actual friend, performed the techniques he was usually covered in a cold sweat and slightly nauseated by the time she was done. Dirai had neither caution nor care to spare for his captive, his only goal to keep him alive long enough to locate his former Emperor, which left Theron fighting vertigo and bile from an empty stomach.
Thankfully the last "healing" attempt had been a few hours ago, and Theron had been left to his own devices for what was probably the longest stretch of time so far. Maybe Dirai was taking a nap or something. Torture was hard work after all.
Theron continued to try and find some way to disable the cuffs shackling him into place. His extended time in the Sith's questionable care had drained him, but he wasn't ready to roll over and die yet. He was already long overdue back on Odessen, and crazy or not, Dirai was right about one thing. It wouldn't be long before someone came looking for their wayward intelligence officer.
A few years ago that thought wouldn't have occurred to him, and it certainly wouldn't have filled him with a numb sense of panic. It was one thing for Theron to get himself into these perilous situations, it was a far different one for him to be the cause of someone else having to go through this. A therapist would probably have a field day with him, but he shoved that thought aside too. The damn drugs were definitely affecting him, as his long rambling monologue proved he was having a hard time focusing on his task.
Which was escaping. He shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs. He had freed himself from a Revanite compound with less than he was currently working with, this shouldn't be that difficult. He just needed to concentrate.
There was nothing tucked in his glove that he could use to pick the lock. Dislocating his wrist wouldn't work; he'd already tried that but the cuffs were too tight. There was an electronic component to them, but his slicer spike had been tossed unceremoniously on his jacket, which was collecting grime and dirt a few meters away. That only left him with a belt he couldn't reach, as well as his boots, and… his bracers.
The idiots hadn't thought to pull those off him. If he just contorted his wrists enough, perhaps he could aim the firing mechanism at the release for the cuffs. There wouldn't be enough brute force behind the shot to jimmy it open, but there was a chance the electrodart could scramble the lock enough to release.
He twisted as best he could, the movement sending a fresh flare of pain up his side. He breathed through it, willing himself to focus on the singular task at hand. He contorted his neck painfully, trying to get a good vantage point. The inventory in his bracers was limited, so he needed to make the shot count.
Focusing past all of the distractions, he carefully took aim and muttered, "Toxicity seven."
The tiny dart shot out, hitting the locking mechanism dead on. Electricity arced across the dart through the metal of the cuffs. Thankfully his gloves insulated him from the jolt, as he'd had enough of that over the course of this week courtesy of Dirai. The electronics on the lock audibly sizzled before the pressure around his wrist loosened and the cuff popped open.
Theron flexed his fingers, trying to get the digits working again after being cramped for so many days in a row. He reached over to the lock on his other wrist, fingers tracing the seam as he weighed the chances of being able to repeat his brilliant maneuver when the ground shuddered, and his thoughts were drowned out by an explosion ripping through some other part of the building.
"Oh hell," he muttered to himself, fingers scrabbling across the lock.
If there was one thing the past few days had taught Theron, it was that his host wasn't exactly fond of visitors and even worse at controlling his anger. If that explosion wasn't the start of a very bombastic rescue operation, things were about to turn very ugly. His fingers continued to clumsily try and find some seam to work the lock, but weren't finding any purchase on the smooth metal.
Another explosion rocked the building. This time the table Theron was cuffed to lurched and wobbled unsteadily, and flung his free arm around loosely. If he hadn't been strapped in he would likely have been thrown to the ground. Perhaps he had been on the receiving end of Force lightning too many times this week, but he could have sworn he heard a whoop of triumph in the rumbling echoes of the explosion.
The door leading out of the warehouse was flung open, and Dirai stalked in, anger practically radiating off him in waves. The Sith's entire attention focused on the captive currently trying to escape, which caused his face to twist in fury. He crossed the room in a few short strides, yellow eyes narrowing in murderous intent.
As Dirai closed the distance between them, it was apparent there was no way Theron could finish his escape — but he didn't let little details like reality stop him. As soon as Dirai was in range, he let his fist fly. Even if he were at his full-strength and on even footing there was no way it was going to do any real damage to the Sith Lord, but that was no reason not try.
Dirai caught the incoming fist easily, lips twisting up into a sadistic grin as he slowly and painfully twisted Theron's wrist. He refused to give the Sith the satisfaction of crying out.
"So much energy wasted on bravado," malice dripped from Dirai's voice, "and in the end what does it get you?"
"Well, it pisses you off," Theron gritted out, "which is at least something."
"Something unwise," the Sith growled.
There was a hiss of a lightsaber being activated, hot red light shooting up and forming the thin searing blade a few inches from Theron's face. He could feel the heat radiating from the plasma beam, and tried to lean back as far as he could.
The red light from the saber lit up Dirai's face, highlighting every crack, scar, and blister from a lifetime of violence and corruption from the Dark Side of the Force. "You've outlived your usefulness, worm."