This can't last forever;
Time won't make things better!
I feel so alone…
Can't help myself…
And no one knows-
If this is worthless-
Tell me!!

Pain. Searing pain.

That was all Ventress felt when she woke up. But still, she couldn't concentrate on that; she couldn't afford to let her mind wander. That idiot Skywalker-where was he? She was going to cut that shit to pieces, she really was! He needed to learn to respect a lady, or at least defeat her graciously! Now, Ventress didn't really consider herself a hypocrite for thinking like so: women were to be respected more so than men, because they deserved it. Hell, they did all the work, and men got all the credit. Like having children. Yikes…Ventress couldn't even think about that right now. She had considered having children, settling down with someone who knew how to treat a lady right, but then decided not to. Way too much pain for her deal with, both physical, emotionally, and mentally. She just couldn't take the pressure.

Ha. Pain. Pressure. Without it. Ha-ha. Good one.

Here she was-well, where was she, actually? Ventress slowly opened her eyes, looking around her, both to get her bearings and to see who had awoken her. It must be someone powerful, to have woken her from her trance, for the reason she had awoken was because of a shiver she felt in the Force-a shiver unbearably close, and unbearably light. Well, she was almost healed, anyway: for all she knew, it could be some lost droid a Jedi touched. She was a bit hypersensitive to light anyway. But, upon looking around, Ventress saw no one. Well, she could hardly see at all through the thick wall of bacta-

Thick wall of bacta? Oh, come, on!!

Well, at least she was alive. Ventress would grudgingly consent to that. She would also admit to being happy about still being alive. But seriously, as if being tied up in electrical cords wasn't bad enough. Next he just had to throw her down an elevator shaft, huh?! The boy couldn't just wait a minute, or leave her, or something? Argh, couldn't even end it mercifully. Had to leave her bleeding and two-thirds dead at the bottom of a ten-story elevator shaft. Freak was gonna pay for that one…

Ventress could feel her wounds healing, though. Her flesh had closed up; most of the muscle filled in. Still, the tissue was damaged, and she needed to remain in the bacta, she knew. Still, getting out and moving a little wouldn't hurt, would it? She was feeling a little weak. She needed something to eat, and she needed to maybe take a shower. She felt filthy, even though her body was relatively clean. She hadn't showered in a while, and, although the bacta cleaned the most of her body off, there was no substitute for soap. And she needed a shave. Ew, her legs were probably disgusting…

Ventress pushed herself to the top of the bacta tank as if swimming up through water, catching the edge of the tank at the top and pulling herself up and onto the platform next to it. She hauled herself up using only her arms (the least damaged part of her body, she knew) and sat down, feet still dangling into the bacta, and pulled the oxygen mask off her face. Ventress set the mask down next to her on the platform, leaned over, and switched it off on the generator next to the platform. The Sith woman then slowly stood up, trying to test her limits and see where her weak points lay. Obviously, the places where the electrical cords had shocked her were going to be looking nasty-and the burned, charred stripes across her skin denoted exactly where-but, other than a few twinges in the muscle and possibly skeletal damage, she was going to be fine.

"Feeling better?"

Ventress almost fell over. That voice…Obi-Wan Kenobi! He was on her hit list, too, and he was second only to Anakin Skywalker. They were both dead men when she got her hands on them! "You," Ventress hissed, hands balling into fists at her sides. Her eyes narrowed with anger, and she felt her chest swelling up with rage-more so even than usual. "You are so dead!!"

"Watch," Obi-Wan said casually, gesturing to the edge of the platform. "Long way down."

Ventress ignored him, leaping off the end of the platform and landing cat-footed in front of Kenobi. She seized the front of his shirt and swung him around-a full one hundred and eighty degrees-so she was in a position above his. "Where is my master?" she hissed softly, her voice barely above a whisper. "Where is Count Dooku?" He couldn't have left her-she was his best apprentice! He had to still be here-if he cared about her enough to rescue her, to put her in bacta, then there was no way he was going to leave her! Still, Ventress had to know where he was: just for the record books. She wanted to get there as fast as possible, and searching for him through the Force was going to prove troublesome in her condition.

"On a ship," Obi-Wan replied, pointing to the door out of the room, "With Grievous. Poor thing got chopped to pieces. Really messed him up. I believe they had the engines running when I last-"

"Jedi scum!" Ventress shoved Obi-Wan to the floor, sudden fury coursing through her veins. He lied! He had to lie! Ventress started for the door, but paused, given her near-clothes-less state. They had stripped her of any and all clothing she had worn before, and put her in the bacta nearly naked. Ventress was horrified to discover that both her underwear and her bra were slipping. She hurriedly righted the garments, and then seized her clothes and dressed quickly, trying her best to ignore the slightly amused gaze of Obi-Wan. He almost looked like he pitied her, but was too amused by her antics to say what he wanted to say. "If I had a lightsaber, I would kill you!!" Ventress hissed, buckling her double-strapped belt around her hips. Obi-Wan shrugged. She wasn't looking too threatening at this point. Ventress settled her bandages around her waist, tying them in place and then charging out the door. She couldn't find her lightsabers, anyway. Obi-Wan looked like he had finally decided to say something, but then stopped again. She was gone before he could get in another word.

OOOOOOOOOOO

Ventress bolted from the room, searching desperately for her lightsabers through the Force. She had a much stronger bond with them through the life-energies around her, given that her own energy was the only energy that had ever laid hands upon it. And, if any other energy had been in contact with it, it was dead soon after, anyway. Ventress did manage to find her lightsabers, but they were far out of reach-in the hangar bay. They must be on the ship Dooku's on with Grievous, she thought, desperately trying to rectify her master's actions towards her. Ventress increased her speed, trying to reach the landing platform in time. She couldn't slow Dooku down-he would be angry with her, she knew. And so, she ran. Her wounds fought her viciously: her legs burned where the cables had cut into them. Her skin seared where the electrical currents had been delivered. Ventress shut out the roaring in her ears and the throbbing of her heartbeat, trying not to focus on the growing pain. Her muscles screamed at her to get back in the bacta, if only for another few hours-it would enable her body to heal to the fullest, and Force knew she would need to after pushing herself like this. Ventress felt her body begin to sweat, realizing its own over exertion. Her lungs begged her to stop; her rational mind told her to go back, she had been abandoned. But still, Ventress still blindly held onto hope, unable to accept that she would be left behind. As she neared the hangar bay, the roar of engines could be heard, blotting out the pounding of her own heart and steady draw of breath in and out of her lungs. Ventress continued to focus on one step at a time, gathering her skirts into her hands and moving faster. She could hear the sound of footsteps, running as well, as well as the metallic clang of droid's feet. As Ventress drew closer, she could see Dooku fleeing up a loading ramp to a ship, two of Grievous's IG-101 Magnaguards not far behind him. She bolted out the door, finding herself on the main hangar dock. And there, right in front of her, walking up the landing ramp of a ship, was Dooku.

Ventress slowed, raising her arm to shield her eyes from the sudden light. She could make out Dooku, seemingly running all the faster now, and figured he didn't know she was there, chasing after him.

"Wait!" Ventress cried, taking off after the Sith. Dooku turned around once, and then simply continued up the landing ramp. Ventress could hear him say something to the guard on his right, but she couldn't make it out. She increased her speed still, feeling her muscles begin to tear from the extreme overworking they were being given. He knows I'm here, now, Ventress thought. He awakened me through the Force, and Kenobi just happened to be there-he was waiting. But, no matter how many times she said it to herself, she couldn't make it come true. Dooku was drawing away, and one of Grievous's IG-101 Magnaguards was appearing at the top of the ramp, blaster in hand-

"Ventress, don't! He's going to kill you!" she could hear behind her. Kenobi? Who was he to tell her not to pursue her master?! Still, she didn't have time for him. She couldn't even turn around, or tell him to shut his mouth. She would be wasting valuable breath. She bolted for the ship, just as the Magnaguard turned around and aimed. Ventress's heart jumped-the muzzle of the blaster was aimed right at her! But then, she realized that Kenobi was behind her, and thought that the guard was aiming for him. Ventress continued to run, and she could have reached out and touched the ramp when the Magnaguard pulled the trigger on the rifle-

Ventress ran herself right into the bullet.

The force of the impact stopped her in her tracks. For a moment, Ventress stood, fighting tears, suddenly knowing that now, she couldn't kid herself anymore. Dooku had taken off-just like the ship. Ventress vaguely remembered collapsing to her knees, reaching out fruitlessly to stop them, but to no avail-

Ventress could feel blood beginning to leak out over her hands as she clutched at the wound, unable to comprehend in her pain-drunken state the severity of her wound. She could focus on nothing bout the betrayal-how much Dooku had strung her along, when all he ever wanted was a tool in his hand, someone to do his dirty work for him-

"Ventress?"

He was close. She could feel his presence, and almost feel his breathing down her neck. Although he was still several feet away, she could hear his heartbeat, feel his emotions: she drew his breath, he screamed her rage, she thought his thoughts, he felt her wound as if it were his own-

Ventress vaguely remembered bolting to her feet and, in her blind rage, she buried her fist in Obi-Wan's stomach. He allowed her some measure of dignity by allowing her to land glancing blows throughout their brief fist-fight, Ventress being without a weapon and in great distress, but eventually, he decided to put her out of her misery. Her weak blows were doing little more than accenting the occasional twinge of pain from stretching a limb too far when one wakes up in the morning. Obi-Wan decided to simply put Ventress out of her misery, moving to wrestle her to ground and knock her unconscious. But, Anakin moved first. Obi-Wan shouted to Anakin something like, "No, don't!" but Ventress's muddled mind couldn't comprehend it. She could only feel the stabbing pain of the blue saber suddenly protruding from her chest.

And then, her memory failed her. But, she knew that there was still time before the world was veiled with black.

OOOOOOOOOO

Obi-Wan knew he was too late when he reached her.

He felt awful for her, but still, he knew he couldn't help her. The second he had her in his arms, trying to reach her without a saber-he knew it! There was a part of her Dooku hadn't corrupted! Deep down inside, she was still a fragile little girl, suddenly forced to grow up too fast, too young, when her parents were killed by the vicious warlords of her planet. Everything she had ever known and loved was gradually stripped away, until, now, on this landing platform, she truly had nothing.

"You are no Jedi, girl," he recited, hearing the words of Jedi master Fay coming back to him. He knelt by Ventress's dying body, placing a hand on the side of her face and trying to find a pulse of life within the energies surrounding her. "You are simply hatred and bile given form." He shook his head, feeling nothing to signify the life within her. Anakin walked up next to him, frowning. He deactivated his saber, clipping it to his belt as he asked,

"Dead?"

Obi-wan nodded. "Poor girl," he said. "Dooku abandoned her at the last minute. I woke her up by accident-it was supposed to be a clean break." He shook his head again, trying to tear Ventress from his line of vision. But still, all he could see was her tear-stained face, for once, not enraged, but instead fearful, naïve, innocent, unprepared for the betrayal ahead, so blindly devoted to her master, she couldn't see it coming, not if it was spelled out for her in neon letters.

"I almost feel bad," Anakin said slowly, watching his master pick up the lifeless body. "But what are you doing?"

"We're taking her corpse back to the Temple," he said shortly. "If she can cry at betrayal, she deserves at least a decent burial."

Anakin couldn't say he approved, but he knew, deep down, that it was right.

A/N: Three-part fic planned out. What happens to Ventress after Dooku betrays her. Kind of a heart-breaker, but hey, everybody loves angst! : ) I can't believe I'm doing another Star Wars fic-I have never been on this much of a roll. But, it wouldn't leave me alone, so, yeah…review, please. Feed the endangered banthas of Tattooine.