Chapter 2

Carth's hearing was the first sense to return, hearing the high-level energy field before he could bear to open his eyes. When he did, he found the room to be pleasantly dark, lit by red piping on the walls. He was confined to a small cell, cylindrical in shape, about a meter and a third in circumference. The humming, crackling power field that enclosed it stretched from floor to ceiling. Reaching out, he got a nasty shock from the energy "walls," confirming what he already suspected.

He was in a torture cage. Clinical and clean for those who wanted to avoid cleaning up blood or other bodily fluids spilled by more "classic" methods, these were a high-tech way of satisfying even the most depraved sadist. Carth had heard of them - they were a Sith invention the Mandalorians developed a taste for.

Stirring. In the dim light, he could make out another…. two of them. He was in the chamber on the far right of the room. In the torture cage at the center wall, Bastila stood with her eyes closed and hands behind her back. As he squinted, he could see her lips moving, possibly repeating some Jedi mantra. On the left side of the room, directly across the room from him...

"'re awake." Kairi's voice. He was relived to know she was alive - less than relieved to see her in one of these cages.

They'd been stripped to the underclothing - no doubt to add humiliation to the list of cruelties. Carth couldn't help a sarcastic thought about the circumstances which he would rather see Kairi half-naked.

Your timing stinks, Saul.

"Kairi, I know this isn't..." He wanted to touch her, just one last time. "But you're going to have to block us out if you can. Keep to your own mind."

"What are you going to do?" she asked.


The door pulled open, allowing uncomfortably bright light to spill into the dark room. It took Carth's eyes a moment to adjust to the sudden brightness, but when he did...

Saul Karath was there. Carth had always remembered him wearing the orange, yellow, and red of the Republic, or the green and orange uniform of higher rank, brown hair under a cap. Now, he was gray and black all over - the crisp Sith uniform hanging from his somewhat gaunt frame, his face deeply lined and his hair almost white. He was backed up by two armed guards in silver armor that he set by the open door as he walked to the control panel at the center of the room.

Saul examined Bastila with a leer then turned to Kairi. Carth knew Saul too well not to see the flash of amazement cross his former mentor's face. Turning from the women, he put his hands behind his back and walked to Carth's cage.

"Carth, it has been far too long since we last spoke. I see the recent months have not been kind in your case, I barely recognized you."

"But I recognize you, Saul." Carth struggled to speak, even though the dark anger had fashioned itself into an icy calm. "I see your face every night even as a promise myself that I would kill you for what you did to my home world."

Saul seemed disappointed. "Have you learned nothing in your time spent under me? As a soldier, you should know by now that casualties are unavoidable. It was an act of war..."

"It was a cowardly act of betrayal! Your fleet bombed a civilian target into oblivion without warning or provocation, and the blood of those innocent people is on your hands!" Even without the power field in his cage, Carth could feel his nerves vibrate, every fiber of himself wanting to strike out and make that treasonous blackguard feel the same kind of pain.

"In war, even the innocent must die. The Sith would not accept me until I had truly proved that I turned my back on the Republic by bombing the planet." Saul finished with a shrug, as if he had done nothing more than announce the winning times of a swoop race.

"My wife died in that attack, Saul. And for that, I swear I'll kill you."

"You used to be a man of action, not of empty words. Cling to your lust for revenge if you must, but spare me your tired threats. I've heard them all before." He sighed and paced back to the control panel in the room's center. "Besides, you are an insignificant part of these events anyway Lord Malak is far more interested in your Jedi companions. He has great plans for them."

Bastila was not to be intimidated. "We will never serve Malak, or the Dark Side. The Sith will be destroyed, Admiral Karath. As will you if you do not turn away from this path."

"Your words are brave, Bastila, but the lure of the Dark Side is hard to resist - or so I've been told." His face twisted into a smile that made Carth seethe. "I wonder if your companion is as devoted to the Light as you are?"

Kairi narrowed her eyes. "I know my loyalties."

"Oh, really?" Saul laughed. "I'm sure Lord Malak will find your loyalty to the Jedi...amusing. The Dark Lord would probably reward me if I just killed you once and for all. But, he may want to question you, given the trouble you've caused him...and the history between you."

Carth shuddered. Anything was possible when it came to Kairi, though. But if Saul knew about her amnesia, it could be just another sick game of his. Looking back, Carth knew he got off on shattering a prisoner's mind before a single drop of blood was shed.

"History?" Kairi's voice wavered slightly.

Carth shouted to her. "He's pulling something, Kairi. Don't fall for it."

Saul whipped around. "I don't recall saying anything to you, Onasi!" He seemed to search Kairi's face for a moment before stepping away from her cage. "You mean...oh, this can't be true, can it? Oh, you really don't know, do you? You have no idea what's going on here, do you?"

Carth could see the terror on Kairi's face, and feel it mirrored in his own heart.

The Sith Admiral shrugged. "Well, I won't be the one to deprive Malak of the pleasure of telling you himself. The Dark Lord will no doubt torture you for information and his own twisted pleasure. Eventually, you will tell him everything. The Sith can be very persuasive," Saul said casually. "However, Lord Malak is in another sector. It may be some time before he arrives, so I suppose I'll have to fill in until then. Activate the torture cells."

The energy field came to life, and a scream was ripped from their throats as the jolts of power coursed through them, pure and cruel. The first wave cut down his back like a vibroblade and the aftershocks stung and burned as if saltwater had been poured on an open wound. Carth struggled to keep his footing, even as his muscles trembled. That Hutt-spawn traitor would not see him on his knees.

"I don't want you passing out before I've had the chance to interrogate them," Saul said firmly. "Malak would appreciate any information you can give him when he arrives."

The power was cut and the pain stopped, leaving its echoes on his raw nerves. Bastila was shaking a little. Kairi was weaving like a drunk. The rage pushed the pain from his mind for a moment and gave Carth the strength to speak.

"Don't waste your breath, Saul! We won't answer any of your questions."

"I'm sure you won't, Carth. I know you too well for that," He once again walked over to Kairi's cage. She was looking glassy-eyed and shaken, but still attempting to put on a brave front. "However, we both know your friend's loyalties in the past to be somewhat...flexible."

"What?" she asked. Her voice was steady to anyone who did not know her well, but Carth could see it in her eyes, the struggle brought on by the intense pain. He wondered if he could send strength to her, the same way he had hurled his anger at her on Dantooine.

"I am the one interrogating you - not the other way around. You will answer questions. I will ask them," Saul said sharply.

He activated her cage and her shriek of pain hit Carth like a physical blow. He would not cry out. He would not beg Saul...he would not betray her...

Saul cut the power. Kairi was huddled on the floor, shaking a little, her voice raspy as she looked up.

"My loyalty is a true as Carth's," she said quietly.

You tell him, beautiful.

Saul raised an eyebrow, glancing between Carth's cage and Kairi's. "Well, then it's time to put that loyalty to the test. I doubt torturing you will gain me your full cooperation. Your will is far too strong to be broken that way." His eyes fixed on Carth's cage, a predatory grin lighting his smug face. "However, even the strongest of heroes has trouble watching those they care about in pain. The interrogation begins now. Each time you refuse to answer or give me a false answer, Carth will suffer..."

He saw her black eyes open wide, and her face pale. Worse was how damned serene Bastila looked right now. No pain...if Saul threatened to torture Bastila, they'd know he wouldn't attempt killing her. Malak wanted her battle meditation. Her Jedi abilities would offer a modicum of protection, as well. If it was Bastila being threatened with watching either of them being hit...Carth doubted she'd really care, aside from some guilt about failing to protect her charges.

As awful as the prospect was, he was somewhat relieved not to be in Kairi's position right now. He was just sorry Kairi hadn't heeded Bastila's warning...sorry that he let her get close enough to develop feelings for him rather than doing the sane thing and running. Hell, he was dead anyway...had been dead for years.

Bring it on, Saul, Carth thought. The worst you can do to me is let me join my wife without bashing your smug face in first. Taking a breath to steel himself, and forcing his rage down, he looked over at Kairi's cell. "My pain is meaningless. Tell him nothing."

Saul's genteel voice belied the cold anger beneath. "I tire of these games. Now, I want answers. On what planet is the Jedi Academy at which you were trained?"

Kairi squeezed her eyes close and shook her head.

"Very well. And here is the price for your resistance..."

The pain blasted through him, like being shot in every body part at once. It dropped him to his knees, blinding him, every cell and nerve in his body exploding, his heart pounding like it was going to burst, his throat no longer able to take in air. He didn't know if he screamed. If he did, he wasn't able to hear it...

Just as suddenly as it began the pain stopped. Carth was on his knees, retching. Keffing bloody hell! He was furious at himself for letting Saul reduce him to this. He forced open his eyes, at least, trying to rebuild his strength.

"Enough! Do you see what happens when you try to defy me? That first question was a test. Lord Malak already knew the Academy was on Dantooine. It has since been destroyed by our fleet. Dantooine is an empty graveyard now. Nothing remains but a smoking ruin and the charred remains of your former masters."

The body language, the calm poise, the knowing smile, the steady walk...Carth's blood boiled at seeing that…man. All the things he would do to Saul if this damn field weren't standing in the way played in his imagination as fury started to build…

"It doesn't matter if you believe me or not, little Jedi. The fact remains that the hideout on Dantooine has been eradicated, along with any hope of someone coming to rescue you. Now, tell me your mission. How were the Jedi planning on using you to stop Lord Malak and our Sith armada?"

Kairi swallowed hard, whispering an apology to him before looking up at Saul. "No. I….No!"

Again, Saul turned to Carth's cage and smiled. "Perhaps you need a reminder of the consequences of refusing to cooperate."

Good job, Kari! Carth thought, but then another blast of pain shuddered through him, worse than the last one. He felt like his organs were being fried. He wanted to black out...couldn't black out! The pain - the PAIN!

Again, a sudden end to the induction process, but the residual effects were still making his muscles cramped, and still reducing him to a huddled lump on the cell floor. Fury gave way to shame. He was weak, too weak to be anything other than a punching bag. He was too weak to be any help when needed, and that traitor was probably laughing…laughing at him.

"Listen, can you not hear him suffering? You can spare him further agony by simply answering my questions."

"We...we were..."


"We've been sent to assassinate Lord Malak," she blurted out.

Saul was pissed off now. "Do you take me for a fool? The Jedi are not assassins. They would never devise such a plan." His hand went for the controls on Carth's cage.

Now Kairi had reached her edge. Her voice shook with emotion as she all but spat out her words, "You...sick and evil man."

Saul was still icy. "Perhaps another lesson is in order?"

Oh, Great Stars...the PAIN! No words for it, just agony...Was that his voice babbling? Begging for mercy? It just kept building and building. In that moment, he felt rage...rage for the Republic, rage at Kairi...rage at Saul. Damn it, MAKE IT STOP!

He couldn't tell if it had stopped or not, but he heard Saul well enough. "I am surprised he did not pass out sooner. Rarely have I seen someone withstand such punishment and remain conscious."

Saul's frustration was hidden by decorum. Bastila stayed all prim silence and formal poise. Kairi's posture was still and steady, but she was weeping openly now, tears running down her cheeks in rivers.

"I can tell that I'm wasting my time here," Saul said. "When Malak arrives, you will learn my interrogation techniques are considered merciful among the Sith. I will leave you here in your cells with a small taste of the horrors you will suffer..."

Mercifully, Carth blacked out from the pain a second after the field was activated again.

He dreamed...

It was Taris, and they were fleeing. The city was in ruins the screaming and shrieking around them. The smell of burning synthetics and the choking smoke surrounded them.

The Leviathan...the damn Leviathan again.

The Republic fighters were in the air, but it was too late, nothing they could do. The ground beneath him bucked and he struggled to get to his feet. He had to get back to the hideout. Had to get...

"Commander, you can't go in there. The residential sector is a total loss."

Canderous stood over him as he regained his footing. But those were Arneth's words...back on Telos...back when...

"I don't care. They're still in there! Get the others to evacuation point. Tell them to go on without me." The words...the same words...

"We've evacuated who we could back to the checkpoint. This way!"

He raced into the twisted maze of ruined buildings. It was the Upper City slum where they had been together for the first time. The skies were black with smoke, and it was choking him as he stumbled forward, climbing over bodies...but this wasn' was same and different. Gandon Thek's sightless eyes were staring into nothing. Shen and Rahasia were wrapped in a final embrace, the young couple crushed by fallen debris...Rukil sprawled the same way, only with an oddly peaceful smile on his wizened face...

He knew how this ended.

"Daddy!" The voice had been Dustil's...the last time Carth had heard his son's voice. Now, the voice was that of an adolescent girl.


A huge explosion wracked the air behind him, and Carth was thrown to the ground, the wind knocked out of him as the evacuation ship set down a couple meters away. Canderous hopped out and dragged him aboard the evacuation ship, just as Arneth had. The tiny ship wove through the debris and the shots from Sith orbital cannons just as a gigantic bomb hit their last position, turning the place they had been standing into fire and dust.

"They ran out of medical supplies fifteen minutes ago," Canderous said. "Anyone we pulled out of there wouldn't have a chance anyway." The radio came on and spouted a cluster of gibberish. Carth could have deciphered it easily, but he was numb...dying..."It's the evacuation point. They found her, Carth...she's not going to make it..."

"Wake up, Onasi. We both know you're too stubborn to die."

Carth found himself in a small cell - not the torture cages. It at least had a sleep bunk bolted to the wall. He had been treated with surprising care when it was all over. He was still groggy and it too much pain to fight right now. Blearily, he sat up and looked across the forcefield.

Saul was alone.

"What do you want?"

"Not what I want, Carth," said Saul. "I'm prepared to give you everything you want."

"Not unless you can rebuild Telos and pull Morgana from the dead," he hissed.

"Well, some things are beyond me, but not all of it." Saul punctuated it with a shrug, the leaned in a little closer. "I can give you the galaxy if you'd let me."

Carth broke eye contact, jerking his head away. Even with the damn field, Saul was too close. "Go to hell."

"The Republic is dying, Carth. You know it, even if you're too damn stubborn to admit it. And look where loyalty to it has left you?" Saul argued, punctuating with a wave of his hand. "I truly am sorry about Morgana, by the way. She was a fine woman...but you seem to have forgotten her well enough."

Carth didn't dignify that with an answer. How could Saul be doing this. Frack, just haul him into that cage again - enough with these head games. One would have thought Saul would grow a sack and not resort to this bantha pile.

Of course, Saul was oblivious as he continued to try and make his sale. "Malak will want the Jedi, of course - Bastila and your lady friend. What did you call her...Kairi?" Saul put his hands behind his back. "But you are unimportant to him, which is why I've convinced Lord Malak not to kill you, but to hand you over to me to do as I see fit. And what I see fit to do is offer you what I did before - a place at my side."

A repeat of this? What did Saul think he was, stupid? What other kind of dirty deals was Saul going to put in the side deck this time? Fool me once… "Saul, forget it. What makes you think that -?"

"The practice of apprentice killing mentor is not limited to Dark Jedi." Saul shrugged casually. "I fully expect you to kill me once you are settled in, but I'll have the comfort of knowing I have a competent officer running things - which is more than I can say for my current crop of groveling idiots."

"Wait a minute, you...oh, this is rich."

Saul smiled sadly. It was almost like old times, times after they'd had a skirmish with the Mandalorians and hadn't come away with much other than their shirts. "I've never found your equal, Onasi. Not in the Republic ranks or the Sith. Men would respect my rank and my orders, but you were the one they would give their lives for. Did you know you inspired such loyalty?"

Carth was not inclined to give a response to that, even if his torture-fogged brain could think of one. What was the point to this?

Saul laughed. "Of course you didn't. It was part of your appeal. I will tell you that I have only seen one other person inspire that kind of loyalty, and that would be Dark Lady Revan herself."

" mean..."

"It wasn't a secret in the higher ranks, but you knew those Mandalorian cavemen as much as I did. They would never accept defeat at a woman's hands. Oh, yes, Revan was a woman. Wore a mask and full robes into battle, and must have looked like a demon to them." Saul shook his head. "Rather too bad the Jedi appear to have destroyed her."

"Hooray for our side," Carth said.

"You don't know the half of it. The Senators would sooner chain you, and you'd just as soon let them." Saul seemed almost wistful as he thought about it. "I pictured it, you know, and it would be glorious for the Sith. I take you under my wing; you would murder me, and take command of the fleet. You and Lady Revan would have been unstoppable!"

"Uh, huh. And just what makes you think I'd STAY loyal to a Sith?"

Saul laughed. "Well, I would suppose that Revan would take you as her consort. I remember Sith officers and Dark Jedi alike groveling at her feet for the honor. Malak himself wished for it. I would guess that was why she removed his jaw. Still, she never did take a least not during the Mandalorian Wars or her reign." He gave Carth a knowing leer that made him inclined to reach up – forcefield or no – and knock it from his face. "But I happen to know she would have found your company pleasing indeed."

"You think I'd go and sleep with a Dark Lord?" Carth laughed, and waved it off like it was some kind of joke, which was the only thing it could have been. "Saul, you're delusional."

"I'm certain you've heard of Dustil's fate by now. He writes me often. I was the one who found him and brought him before a few friends...Did you hear that he's been awarded his lightsaber, Carth?"

His son. That knocked Carth like a bucket of cold water. Figured Saul would be behind it. He gripped the edge of the cot hard enough to hurt. "You bastard..." Carth whispered.

Saul threw up his hands in frustration. "Carth Onasi, listen to me, you fool! Loyalty to the Sith would mean everything. The Republic is going to die. You could come out of this with a fleet to command, planets under your rule, answerable only to Lord Malak. Better, you could be reunited with your boy and have a good chance to plunge your knife in my back at the closest opportunity."

Carth gritted his teeth and tightened his grip on the bedrail. No, he wasn't going to fall for more of Saul's bait. Saul continued to pace the spot outside of Carth's cell and continue his rants.

"The Republic is not loyal to you, and neither are the Jedi. Did you forget how they turned their backs during the Mandalorian War? How the Senators did not care that the raids were damaging our forces even before they decided to get bold and invade? And they turn their backs on a damn fine officer..." He stopped short of reaching into Carth's cell, setting for jabbing the air violently as he spoke. "You should be commanding warships, Onasi, not running about in a smuggler's junk with the flotsam of the universe."

"I prefer their company to yours." Carth said softly.

Giving up, Saul crossed his arms and stared him down. "They're not fit company anymore, I'm afraid. The Mandalorian is dead. We've just placed him in the morgue. We'll do an autopsy, of course, and then throw his carcass out an airlock. It's what his kind has earned anyway."

His gut felt like someone had punched it, and he slumped. Canderous was dead. He never thought...

"The droids are being taken apart for scrap. The Wookiee will be sold, of course, and we can put the old man into space with the Mandalorian. As for that Twi'lek girl you have, I've handed her over to my guards as a plaything. You and I both know the only thing a Twi'lek female is good for..."


"You son of a -" In his rage, Carth hurled himself against the forcefield, which sent hicrashing back onto the bed. He blacked out once more.

Alone...truly alone.

She tried to reach out, tried to hear their presence, and nothing answered. It was the first time she truly had been without them.

There is no emotion, there is peace...Strange the bitter comfort of the Jedi's words. Peace was not what she wanted. Perhaps in another life, this silence would be soothing.

Kairi was in a strange room, oddly clinical and sterile - metal and ceramic and glass, all with dull finishes. There was no one else in the room with her. Between that, and the fact she could not sense them...

There is no death; there is the Force. Alive or dead, they were still with her.

Unfortunately, so was Master Vrook's warning.

"Despite what you have heard, anyone can be broken...anyone. Double the threat of leaking vital information with the ever-present Dark Side, and a Jedi has much to fear indeed. The only recourse is to lie so often and with such clarity that they cannot tell truth when they hear it. Even with the Force abilities and mental exercises we train in you, Apprentices, it cannot stave off the inevitable...resist, but..." his voice dropped, the gravely timbre of it thickening. "Do not attempt to survive. Better to join with the Force than to fall to its Darker Side."

There was a collar on her neck, and she was lashed to a metal bunk, unable to move as the coldness of it seeped onto her back and her naked thighs. Her ankles were cuffed apart and her arms, cuffed above her head. It left her entire body open and vulnerable. She shivered and concentrated, but the collar was no doubt neutralizing her Force abilities.

Glancing over, she could see a monitor in the far corner. Its grainy image showed Bastila in another room, being made the toy of Dark Jedi. One of them hit her with Force Lightening, the evil-looking sparks flying from their hands and jolting through her. Another laughed. Pulling back the lightening, the man walked up to her and cupped her breast, whispering something in her ear...

Kairi did not need her empathic abilities to become ill at the sight. Forcing her eyes shut, she tried to find center, tried to will herself into oblivion. The collar's influence felt like thick ice. No matter how hard she pushed against it, trying to reach the oblivion beneath it, it would not give.

The door slid open and three Dark Jedi walked in - two apprentices and a master from the looks of them.

"It isn't often we get a live Jedi to practice on, my students," he said clinically. "So, it is important that you learn these techniques as I demonstrate them. Proper application of the correct devices you see behind you..." He gestured to the wall behind Kairi, a wall she was rather glad she could not see. There was also the small blessing that the collar prevented her from feeling the emotions of her tormentors.

There is no emotion; there is peace. There is no passion...there is serenity. There is no chaos: there is harmony. There is no death: there is –

The cool edge of a knife brushed against her cheek, not cutting yet, but close enough to let her know the blade was sharp. She heard the Dark Jedi whisper to her.

"Do you know how many of us wanted the honor of this, m'lady?"

My Lady...the same term of address that the Sith Master on Manaan used. Kairi struggled to stay silent, bracing for the cuts she knew would come. The cool edge traced down her neck, down past the curve of her breast as the "interrogator" laughed. Kairi could taste blood, She was biting her cheek so hard to keep from shouting.

Lower the blade went, lazily tracing her abdomen, lower, and Kairi could feel the knife-edge between her legs. An involuntary whimper escaped her, and her eyes squeezed shut. An evil chuckle from him... The blade slashed her inner thigh and she cried out.

"We are not teaching expediency here. We are teaching you an art. Just as weapons can range from crude stone tools to the finely-crafted lightsaber, so can the methods for causing and prolonging pain."

Over the next eternity, the instructor employed a variety of tools, and allowed his students to take their shots with the same implements. Force pikes were like Vulkar shock sticks on stims - concentrated jolts of painful energy. Neural whips had five settings, each exponentially more painful than the last. There were no less than twenty pressure points on the humanoid body, and proper application of pain to any of them would magnify the effect tenfold.

She screamed. She screamed at them, swore at them like a mercenary. She whispered codes and mantras through her gritted teeth. Her voice was hoarse, her throat raw and painful, but she could not stop the screams...

And in her pain, she called for them. Called for her Masters, now dead at Malak's hands; called out the names of her friends on the Hawk who were probably dead or undergoing the same terrible fate. She cried out from emotions Jedi were told should not be part of them...

To her shame, she found herself crying out for Carth.

By the time the Force was merciful and allowed Kairi to fall unconscious, the instructor was still giving his lesson.

Carth was marched into the torture cylinder again, feeling little but broken resignation. Numb...again...that's how he felt. But he had to bide his time, wait for his opportunity. Maybe he should take Saul's offer. Why not? It wasn't like he had to live past assassinating Saul. And what did he have to live for?

Bastila was already there. She looked like hell, her underclothing torn, and red marks on her arms and legs from restraints and hard fingers. She was curled in on herself, her blue eyes lifeless as she watched him. Carth shuddered as he remembered stories he had heard from other survivors of Mandalorian and Sith prisons, the violations that had no translation in Basic, and some that did. Of course, she was attempting to show the classic Jedi stoicism, but Carth had more than a small idea about what happened.

"The others..." Bastila whispered. "Have you heard about them...?"

"Dead," Carth could hardly bring himself to say it. "Dead or worse. This...this is my fault. I should have had the Hawk on...should have seen this..."

"It is not your fault, Carth," Bastila said, her voice quiet and soothing. "You are a skilled pilot, and this...I'm amazed we have even lived to see this at all. How far we've come..."

"The price is as it always is - too damn high."

The door opened again, and they hauled in Kairi, dumping her in the cage. She was still unconscious, and both of them felt their hearts skip when they saw her. Several shallow (but painful) cuts were clotting, she was bruised all over, and several spots on her body were blistered and burnt. Carth let out a strangled cry of pain, and Bastila looked from Kairi's crumpled body to Carth. She nodded with sad understanding.

"Yes, I should have seen it in you, as well. I should have realized it when she mentioned she could not block either of us out of her mind. Gods, if I could have stopped you both, but by the time I came into this it was too late."

"Bastila?" Maybe it was the torture talking. Interrogation drugs had a way of disconnecting one's sense from one's mouth, and despite being a Jedi, Saul's bully-boys probably gave her a nasty reminder she was a human being, capable of feeling, capable of pain.

Her voice was the same in most ways, but there was a distance from it. Again, it must have been the drugs and pain overriding that damn smug Jedi control of hers. If they survived this hell, he resolved to get both women and himself blind drunk.

Kairi stirred on the cell floor.

"Don't try to move too quickly," Bastila warned. "Admiral Karath had his guards continue to torture you even after you passed out."'

Kairi moved slowly, hugging her knees as she sat, shifting to mitigate the pain as much as possible.

"They tortured all of us, though you got the worst of it by far," Carth said. "Saul wanted them to make us suffer. He's become some kind of sadistic monster."

"That…isn't true, Carth," she said weakly. "And he...he would have done that to us anyway. I couldn't sense...but I saw it in his eyes. He liked watching us suffer," her voice was barely past a whisper, and rough from her cries of pain.

"I've known 'Admiral' Karath a long time and I think you're right," Carth reluctantly admitted. "The interrogation was a sham. Saul was toying with us. He didn't care what we told him. I think it was just an excuse to torture us before Malak arrived."

Bastila seemed to slowly return to her old self. "The Dark Side has perverted him, Carth. Once you start down the tainted path, it leads you ever further into the depths of evil. I fear he is forever lost."

Bastila, I don't think now is the time for another sermon...

No one is past redemption, Bastila," Kairi said. Wincing in pain, she gently eased herself into a different position. "But some come very close..."

"I suppose you are correct. Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of that hope in the face of such unbridled cruelty, but you speak the truth," she shuddered and hung her head. "I suppose I am taking the news of Dantooine's destruction quite hard. First Taris, now the academy. Is there no end to the killing?"

"Perhaps he was lying. I couldn't sense him during the interrogation."

Bastila shook her head. "I would like to believe that he was lying to us, but I was better able to sense his thoughts. Even as he said the words, I knew they were true. The Academy is gone. We should have felt a disturbance in the Force when the attack came. The fact that we did not is a bad sign. I fear the Dark Side is growing stronger, casting shadows our vision cannot pierce. I can only hope that some of the Jedi escaped - Vrook, Vandar, Zhar...I cannot imagine all of them being gone. In any case, we have lost our one place of refuge in the galaxy."

"And we've failed two worlds now..." Kairi said hollowly. "There are no noble acts - only futile ones."

"None of this will matter if we don't get out of this prison before Saul gets back," Carth interjected. "He mentioned Lord Malak was on his way. I think Saul left to prepare for his arrival...and to report the results of our interrogation."

"It was fortunate you were able to resist the admiral's questioning, Kairi. The fate of the galaxy could be changed by revealing the slightest piece of vital information."

Kairi was past hearing it, apparently. She didn't so much as move position.

Bastila gasped. "Did you feel that, Kairi? A disturbance in the Force. The admiral has sent his message. Malak is coming. The Dark Lord knows we are here now."

"I guess it's time to hope for a miracle, then," Carth said.