Prisoner in My Head

What I would do, that I do not; but what I hate, that I do.

"I don't know Barriss, I think we should stay together."

I glanced towards Ahsoka, as we both made our way through the ventilation tracts towards the forward maintenance juncture. Her voice was uncertain, her feelings unclear. I had just advised her that we part ways, she continuing on to the bridge to try to make contact with command, while I should make my way towards the propulsion chamber and disable the sublight thrusters.

"As do I," I spoke softly, "But unfortunately that's not a luxury we have right now." Our situation was dire. The normally trustworthy crew of our Pelta transport frigate had been infected with some horrible mind altering creature. We no longer knew who to trust aboard our own ship. Whatever it was that was controlling their minds was obviously intent on spreading this terrible plague - and if we were to dock with the medical station as planned, there was no telling what havoc they could wreak. As an aspiring Healer, the weight of that possibility was especially cruel.

"One of us must be successful," I continued. "If necessary, you'll do what must be done. I know it." I tried to assure her. Neither of us knew exactly what might need to be done. If I couldn't disable the thrusters, or Ahsoka contact the station or our Masters, I could envision few options. This may not end well, I thought to myself.

We had reached the juncture. "Okay," she answered, slightly uneasily. "Then I'll see you soon."

I nodded. Oh, how I wish could say yes. I hoped that Ahsoka's task would be somewhat safer, as she could remain in the relative security of the vent the entire way to the rear of the bridge. I on the other hand would have to enter the main service corridor, and make my way on foot. I don't feel this will be good.

I turned towards the auxiliary tract, crawling towards the nearest ventilation hatch. Slowly raising it inside, I inspected the corridor. Empty. So far, at least. I lightly lowered myself through the opening, unhooking my lightsaber from my belt, holding it tightly, my arm ready to swing into a Soresu opening stance.

I rarely went on missions alone. On the few times I had gone without my Master, I was always accompanied by another Jedi, at least a fellow Padawan. I felt ever so slightly unsure of my skills alone; yet I also knew that I must overcome that fear, however slight, if I was to become a Knight, and a Healer. I walked softly through the deserted hallway, my body tensed, my ears alert for the slightest disturbance. I reached out through the Force to try and discern who or what may be ahead of me.

As I arrived at the entrance to the propulsion chamber, I nearly let out a sigh of relief. I've made it, I thought to myself. Still moving slowly, but more relaxed, I activated door and stepped through.

Pain. Helplessness. Every nerve in my body cried out as the intense heat coursed through my veins. My muscles twitched, my hands spread wide as I writhed under the energy shield.

Suddenly, it ended. I collapsed to the ground, my muscles still throbbing from the pain. My lightsaber rolled away, disappearing from sight. I heard the familiar, once comforting voice of a clone behind me. "If there's one thing we clones know, it's how to stop a Jedi!" His voice was cruel, heartless. Two more clones came beside me, roughly raising me to my feet. A hundred terrible possibilities ran through my mind. A single, helpless young woman, surrounded by strong, aggressive male soldiers.

None of the horrors I envisioned could compare with what I saw in front of me.

A single clone was walking towards me, with a writhing, squirming worm-like creature wrapped around his hand. It was stretching, reaching...

For me.

"No!" I cried out, desperately. But I knew it was hopeless - I was still too weak, my mind too disturbed to use the Force. I was pinned to the wall by my comrades-turned-captors. The disgusting creature eagerly wrapped itself around my neck, gliding swiftly up my head, entering my ear canal. I screamed in pain.

Then I felt it.

It reached my brain, supplanting my conscious self with it's own twisted will. I felt myself detaching from everything I had thought was me. My body, my memory, my skills with a lightsaber, my abilities with the Force; all of it was now the property of this disgusting intruder. I was becoming a captive audience, forced to watch as my faculties fell under the control of this miserable, wretched beast.

I'm sorry, Ahsoka. I failed.

It was horrible - I was watching myself from within my own body. I still saw, felt, comprehended everything around me, but I was powerless to do anything about it. The new me stood ramrod straight, in perfect, perverted harmony with the infected clones around me. We didn't speak to each other - we all shared the same mind, speach was unnecessary. In horror I felt the goal of this new, twisted hive mind permeat my brain.

Spread. Reproduce. Grow. Get to the medical station. Raise the rest of the children. Devour. Consume. Grow.

Then to me specifically. Kill her. Kill her. Kill the Jedi. The clone who had spoken handed me my lightsaber. I never thought I would be so horrified to have my weapon returned.

Kill her. Kill her.

No! I screamed to myself. Stop it! I, you- I no longer knew who was me and who was the intruder - can't kill Ahsoka!

Kill her. Kill her.

I would have been weeping had I had any control over my tears. Instead, I followed the clones out of the chamber, making my way down the corridor again.

Stay away from the bridge! Don't go near the bridge. I pleaded with myself.

Kill her. Kill her. The bridge. Go to the bridge. Kill her.

Fool! Why did I let myself think that? I desperately tried to control what little mind I had left. I couldn't make any effective connection with any of my faculties. But I could try to hinder, to obstruct, to somehow slow down this terrible being that had supplanted me.

Kill her. Kill her.

I turned and stiffly walked towards the maintenance exit, heading for the nearest turbolift. Each step of the way I fought myself, clawing at my physical capabilities. I knew what the new me was going to do. I had never sparred with Ahsoka, but I knew that her reverse-grip form of Shien would likely not outlast my carefully practiced Soreso. I had noted her weaknesses while on Geonosis, and I had meant to give her some advice, perhaps a practice duel on this journey. I shut those thoughts out - I could not afford to give myself any advice regarding Ahsoka's technique. Then I realized to my horror that I already knew it. All my observations were under the control of my new being. This can't be happening.

Kill her. Kill her.

I knew at once there was only one thing I could do. I would try to weaken my own defense, try to cause a slip-up, an opening for Ahsoka to strike. She was the only hope for stopping this horrific plague. I had failed, my time was finished. I needed her to end this, and to complete her mission - if she failed, the results could be catastrophic.

Kill her. Kill her.

The turbolift pinged - the door slid open. I made my way towards the bridge, walking around the side of the pilots chamber, coming to a stop at the large duraglasss view port that separated the communications center from the rest of the upper level. Ahsoka was sitting at the central console. I desperately hoped she had made contact in time.

Kill her. Kill her.

Ahsoka brightened visibly when she saw me. "Barriss! You're back! Were you successful?" she asked innocently.

Kill her. Kill her.

I wanted to scream at her, to tell her to run me through now while she had the chance. I knew it was impossible. I only hoped she would recover from the shock in time to block me.

Kill her. Kill her.

"Barriss?" she asked, a little more nervous this time. "What's wrong?"

Kill her. Kill her.

"Barriss! No!" I watched in horror as I forced pushed the duraglass into the room. It shattered, covering Ahsoka with the sharp shards. She winced. "Barriss! I'm your friend!" she cried. "Barriss! Snap out of it!"

Kill her. Kill her. Avenge your Queen. Kill her!

With deadly speed I drew my lightsaber and charged her. To my relief she put enough space between us to ignite her blade and block mine. Parry. Block. Stab. She gained a bladelock, looking into my eyes pleadingly. "Barriss! It's not you! It's the creatures!" her voice strained. "Fight them!" She was skilled, but she never had battled a Soreso user with the intent to kill. My own Master's words haunted me: "A true master of Form Three is invincible." For so long I had trained to be such a true master. Now I desperately hoped that I had failed there, as well. As much as I could I struggled to weaken my defense, to throw off my timing, to leave openings whenever I could.

With a sinking feeling I realized she wasn't going to try to kill me. She didn't know what to do - her technique was becoming haphazard, as she struggled to avoid the openings I created. Her speed and agility was the only thing keeping me from cutting her down.

But her speed and agility could only last so long. My Soreso could hold indefinitely.

She reluctantly brought her foot to my chest, Force pushing me the ground. She broke off, running towards the central corridor aft of the bridge. I followed her.

When I rounded the corner, she was gone.

I allowed myself a small measure of relief. But I knew that her surviving would not ensure that this cargo of horror wouldn't arrive at the medical station as planned. I only hoped she could find another way. I stalked through the corridors, hunting her.

I don't remember how long I wandered. But at some point I felt myself reaching out into the Force, the way I always had. I realized with dread that I was searching out Ahsoka's hiding place. She was headed back to the bridge - the main piloting chamber this time. I retraced my steps, taking another turbolift to the upper level.

When I arrived, she was sitting at the engine control panel, speaking to someone. The room was growing cold, and it bothered me for some mysterious reason. I didn't understand it, but it appeared that the cold made me more desperate to kill Ahsoka.

I watched in misery as I approached her from behind. She'll have no warning! I must speak! Painfully I begged myself to raise my voice. I played along with my new self, trying to convince it to insult, taunt, anything to give Ahsoka warning.

"There you are," I heard myself say in an evil voice. "You can't hide from me!" She got the warning, ducking as my lightsaber plowed into the seat she was sitting in. She curled herself around my blade, coming dangerously close to it, before vaulting across the room. I pressed my attack. She hasn't even ignited her lightsaber! What am I going to do?

Suddenly she wrenched a large climate-control tube from the ceiling and aimed it at me.

Pain. The supercooled air flooded my lungs, nearly choking me. My lightsaber again fell from my hands and rolled away. Now! This is her chance! Please, Ahsoka, end this!

She continued to pour the frigid gas over me. Suddenly, I realized I was regaining control! Ever so slightly, and it was so painful. The cold burning against my tender skin, combined with an excruciating, searing pain that could only be coming from the creature inside my head. I wilted under the combined weight of pain, barely making contact with my voice. I looked up at Ahsoka, my eyes pleading. "Kill me. Please!" I begged pathetically. I would have done it myself then if I had my weapon.

She looked distraught, torn. "I...," her voice cracked, "I can't," she said, painfully.

You must! I tried to scream at her. But it was too late. She had lowered the tube to make her way towards the control panel again. The medical station was in view - we were on a collision course. The creature took possession again. Grow. Devour. Consume. Grow. Kill her. Kill her.

I rose up and approached her from behind again, hands outstretched, grabbing for her throat. She was barely resisting. She's losing strength - the cold is slowing her down!

Pain. Desire. Consume. Spread. Grow. My vision became hazy. Vaguely I could feel the creature unwrapping itself from my brain, sliding it's head out of my mouth and reaching for Ahsoka. I gagged, choked, then fell to the ground. I heard myself screaming - I was screaming too. It was as though I was being split in two, with two separate voices wailing desperately. I dimly saw Ahsoka above me, standing unsteadily, this time with her saber raised. Please Ahsoka! End this! Please!

I saw a flash of green, but it didn't touch me. Yet the pain. It was too much. I cried out one more time, collapsing, writhing on the ground like a worm. Suddenly I felt release. Freedom. I was becoming myself again. My body began to respond to my will again. Terrified, I waited for the creature to reassert control of me. It didn't. I felt the warmth of a small hand pulling me up by my shoulder. My head lay on Ahsoka's chest, her shivering arms wrapped protectively around my neck. I wanted to speak, to assure her everything was alright, but it was too much. I reached out weakly with the Force, and sent a simple message to her.

Thank you.

I was free.

The End

Disclaimer: I mean, is anyone actually wondering? I don't own Star Wars. Or anything related to it. I'm just poking around.

A/N: I'm a bit unsure of how to rate this one - I'm sticking with K+ for now, but if that seems too low, just let me know. This is another dark one, although for a first-person POV of mind-control, I doubt it could be much happier. I am indebted to -X-Deyoxis-X- for the idea of being 'semi-conscious' while under control of the worm. In my imagination, a strong Force-user would have at least limited awareness of what was happening, while a weaker mind (such as a clone) would be completely taken over. Of course, it's all speculation.

I tried to write this in a "Barriss-like" style - if you compare this to my piece "Buried Alive" (Ahsoka POV) I think you'll see the difference in writing. Let me know if you think it did or didn't cut it.

Please review this and my other stories - I love feedback!