NOTE: This story contains scenes of torture.
Darana rose from the lunch table and asked Janin to follow her in the turbolift.
Beside them the floors of the house dropped away upwards. She and Darana descended together to the detention level and exited. Janin followed her from the turbolift wondering why they'd come but didnt ask. An unscheduled exercise but what kind? There'd been many in her six years of Sith training.
She showed no outward reaction as they entered an interrogation room and Darana turned to her, "You have proven yourself quite skilled in your abilitie in this room. On both sides... resisting and inducing."
Janin smiled. It was true and she was proud of herself for it.
Darana continued, "But you have one more thing to overcome in here...." Darana motioned and the other door opened, a prisoner, an older man was brought in by guards, still clad in the uniform of a rebel Intell officer.
Janin blinked in surprise, then smoothed her face out even as Darana looked at her. She quashed a mild sinking feeling at the back of her head before it had time to spread. She understood the exercise, the test now, and knew there was no alternative at this point. After all these years it was much, much too late to reconsider. She squared her shoulders looking at the officer.
Darana turned to Janin, "You are committed to your path, there will be times when this is necessary..... He is an operative who was about to lead an attack on one of our outposts... We must know what the Alliance is planning and how they are going to attack, what was their fall back plan... also..." Darana pauses.
Janin listened alertly. She watched the officer also, her eye moving back to Darana at the pause.
"He possesses knowledge about the Alliance's attempt to kill me and destroy this house... You will find this."
Janin's eyes widened. Without Darana to teach her... that had been a bad time not knowing if Darana was lost. She didn't care to experience it again.
Darana turned to leave.
Janin nodded quickly, "Yes Maam." Her hesitation vanished.
Shortly the officer was stripped and attached to the examination table allowing Janin to check her equipment while the enhancer drugs were being processed into his system.
She looked up briefly as the drugs reached saturation, recognizing his awareness that he was in for it. Good. "You heard what she said. As an officer you know what is about to happen. I don't expect you to tell me right now but when you feel like it just scream a bit."
The prisoner looked up at her, he didn't say anything as she began attaching electrodes to needles and inserting them into his nerve clusters, or testing each on an automatic cycle while she skimmed his medical file. Naturally he was allergic to narcotics and several varieties of hallucinogen. She'd have to make do with something else then.
Janin felt him relaxing on the table and closed the file. The sooner begun sooner it was over and she could leave.
Unfortunately he wasn't reacting as desired, even when she increased the amount of pain and varied locations. He was embracing it and she scowled. She hated masochists. At least he wasn't a Force user too.
She could feel the pain welling up in him, and suddenly realized she was wrong. She slammed her barriers to full strength a second too late. The mental blast caught her unprepared and raw pain surged through her mind from his.
Shock, she screamed stumbling and nearly crashing to the floor before she could block the flow and channel as much of it as she could. 'Embrace it. Absorb it.' she reminded herself on a wave of adrenaline, and threw her rage at his shields. He didn't have any, none that she touched anyway. They gave way 'bending' mentally with her attack so that it passed harmlessly.
She recovered her footing and slapped the controls to full so that he was physically spasming on the grid. Mentally she altered her attack, projecting it as a wall of fire. Where it touched it burned with the force of her malice.
He screamed out very loud for the first time his body wracked in pain and spasms. She smiled and seemed to enjoy hearing it. Her fingernails dug into his shoulders and her palms began smoldering with heat.
He felt her enter his mind and tried not to resist, making it worse... he tried to remain calm, but he couldn't his own anger and fear rose up to meet her, slammed against her. A hell of a lot of fear was in there too.
The fire image she used was fluid and evaded moving toward his center 'rapidly'. He sensed her strong determination to destroy him utterly as her mind moved through his leaving scorched paths behind her. Casual memories of childhood and parents... She flashed them to life and burned through them meaning to hurt him.
He screamed out and then relaxed once again becoming pliant so that the memories begin to 'dance' around her.
Janin went to ground ignoring the ones he chose and going for latent ones. Childhood embarressment and shame, holding those and burning down a few others with difficulty. He was strong. Stronger than she was and hard to catch.
She gritted her teeth. "Are those IMPORTANT to you? Theyd better be because soon you won't have any others. Only the knowledge *I* want from you, and allow you to have..."
He didn't respond... he only relaxed into her attack. Accepting her threats.......
She narrowed her eyes and her hands burst into very real flames to leave severe, deep burns on his arms and shoulders and abdomen.
He is not aware of the physical surroundings because they have had a mental battle.... he will scream in intense pain and come close to passing out, wavered and succumbed in pain his defenses down.
Janin laughed in triumph and slapped him across the face to wake him, stepping back in reality to tell the med techs "Keep him alive."
He woke..... groggily... and retreated again mentally as she gathered her forces and went looking for Alliance memories sorting them ruthlessly. Nothing she wanted to know appeared. She felt a surge of rage and drug her fingernails hard through a scorched patch of flesh on his chest.
He groaned but Janin noticed he wasn't reacting as strongly as he should. The medtech moved in to assist her hesitation, "His vitals are dropping. Nothing's wrong but they are."
Janin frowned and stopped long enough to look up and down his body for an explanation. There was damage but nothing that should cause this general failure unless...
She drove back into his mind and Looked at HIM for the first time. He wasn't going into a Force Trance. He was killing himself and the memories were going with him. Sinking away into a void that she was only beginning to realize was there.
She darted forward after him, the information still locked in him she had to retrieve it but he was falling into emptiness too fast. She wouldn't have time she realized and tried to pull him back but he resisted strongly and she let go.
She assembled her mind and Called out a warning. 'Darana Im losing him.' And shifted back to his world struggling to grasp him, to pull him out of his decline. For a hold somewhere...
Suddenly, like a demon, he rose up to engulf her completely then immediately began sinking, falling faster...
Janin fell with him, at first unwillingly then diving on purpose. Her hands sliding into his mass as she tumbled with him. Memory after memory flashing through her mind as she searched grimly for the ones she needed.
She felt her hair whip around her and knew they were swirling, spinning out of control and she lost Darana. Lost everything outside the two of them falling endlessly...
* * *
Her body collapsed to the floor.
Chaos broke out in the small interrogation room as the medtechs lifted her to a table and patched her into a second monitor. The flat whine of his joined by hers.
* * *
Janin focused her Self as tightly as she could ignoring the dizziness to scan through his memories, melding her mind to his while she had time. She felt him surround her more tightly, not fighting her search as he reinforced his hold on her. She felt it as their minds continued to merge, he intended to take her with him into nothing and she knew why. The desperation of a man who believed in his cause and was willing to die for it, but it wasn't what she needed to know and she kept looking desperately afraid to fail.
Janin began to find parts of the mission Darana mentioned as the officer around her solidified, it was warm and she had him, for the first time in a long time she was not alone. She continued to search. She had to. His name was Marlon Shrecke. Wife. Three children. A brother. A sister. Images of the Alliance, orders and officers names and dates. She gathered it all in becoming closer to him all the time no longer burning. She glowed hazily.
He relaxed... attempting to assimilate her and the glowing. If he was lost he did not care so long as he was taking her with him.
Parts of herself that were not her Self touched him like motes of light splashing fading dying gently. Leaving her Family behind. Cutting off all contacts. The hard road she'd walked under Darana's guidance and the midnight regrets for what might have been. She was going with him. Not fighting it either until she found the last, and then she turned on him. Destroying rending everything she touched struggling to rise up and find the surface.
There WAS no surface.
She felt her surroundings now, the void of space surrounded them. Empty of all but them and so cold...
Shock raced through her and panic. Janin changed imagery gunning for home. For Coruscant. Like a comet only fire, twisting churning seeking to escape and bolt. Move!
He lost his hold in surprise at the suddenness of her change and wound up plummeting after her. Janin held his hands tightly spiralling through the stars in the bone numbing cold, fire for heat and protection. She screamed but noone heard except him...
He threw his will and all of his years experience at her to hold her there frozen.
Janin was operating purely on emotion, particularly survival instinct right now. Pure will against his raw self. She screamed again feeling her hands freeze to his. She burned them off struggling to free herself of him, letting him drift and fall towards nothing. Tears froze her eyes closed. Movement. Movement blind and screaming. Trying to shake him off no longer trying to take him along. She was too young to die and too scared to fail now. "HELP ME!"
Paralysis numbness....... nothing... holding on for not his life but for those of his family..... he wills them to meld and blend their hands become one.
Janin felt his cold throughout her body, fought to generate heat against it. Flames would not survive in space she knew and felt the cold numbing her. "Let me go.....! Let me.... g....." Her breath catches, she kicks at him hoping he shatters but her struggles only made him stronger.
She began shaking. She started to lose hold of the panic bubbling under the remnants of her surface and desperately channeled it into attacking him. Like a lightsaber blade attacking his hold on her. To stay was to die and she forced them ever nearer to Coruscant.
Darana had reached the interrogation room by now and saw her student's body in cardiac arrest surrounded by medics trying to stabilize her. Janin felt a familiar mental presence and Darana on the plane behind her, her form shimmered and dissolved into primordial ooze with electrical impulses moving through it.
Janin felt a surge of hope and burned brighter. She changed direction, lunging through the ooze into Darana dragging the officer with her. Another appeared behind Darana, entirely alien rearing its head.
The alien energy blended with Janin's infusing her, then erupted suddenly. Janin's world splintered, shattered and she screamed as the three minds were 'blown' apart and thrust back into their bodies. The force damper came on.
Ragged breathing choked off her gurgling scream. Janin didn't recognize the room at first then felt heat and memory crashing back in on her raw unshielded mind. She heard ragged breathing next to her and then ragged screams.
Darana was over her, "Are you alright?" Concerned.
After Janin caught her breath she tried helplessly to sit up or turn her head. "G... Got... i ...t..." Swallow. "Im ok. I got... " She tried again to sit up. To reassure Darana that she got the information. It was desperately important, she hadn't failed and the wonder of it was too much to absorb after so much.
Darana however was more concerned about Janin, "Shhh just rest...relax."
Janin caught her breath nodding and doing what she was told. She always did what she was told to do. She was scared.
The prisoner was being removed and the medics stabilized her. Soon the force damper went down and Janin put herself back together. Tried to be professional. To be Sith. To be on top. Her mind was too blasted to achieve a controlled state and she gazed up at Darana hurting. So cold....
Darana lent her strength and support... showed her how to draw on the energies around her.
She didn't speak yet, she just looked at Darana, saw Darana, followed Darana's guidance. The energy was strange but she sucked it in hungrily with Darana's help.
Janin quieted as her strength returned. She calmed down and slowly sat up with Darana's help, turning to her teacher in surprise and some admiration as she realized what the energy was, and did not care.
She smiled, checking to see how strong she felt and if she could risk moving further then slipped off the table to kneel deeply before Darana, her head bowed low.
Darana looked down at her, mildly confused as the girl's emotions filtered through their link. Janin didnt know what to say. She'd seen Sith kneel to the Emperor before and felt superior to them. But now she understood and it was the only symbol she could think of that expressed her feelings.
The act is not lost on Darana. She put a hand down on Janin's shoulder.
Janin looked up slowly, only after bowing her head further.
"Rise up Janin."
She rose with the help of Darana, waiting. She would forever right now.
Darana assisted her, "Lets get you to med bay then back to your quarters."
Darana walked with her, giving her the support she needed to med bay for a check up, just to be sure. Then she took Janin down to her quarters.
Janin walked alongside accepting the help without feeling it a weakness for once. By the time they got to her room she was mostly intact and grateful for Darana's quiet assistance but they weren't done yet. Darana helped her to her bed. "Can I get you anything?"
Janin shook her head quickly, pleading. "I got the information. I did. Take it before I forget anything."
Darana smiles, "You will not forget.... we can deal with it tomorrow, once you have rested."
Janin offered a quick smile, almost her usual smile. "Yes maam. Thank you."
Darana flashed her a genuine smile, "Sleep well."
Janin slept in, something she had never done unless sick, got showered and dressed and a quick breakfast before she went to Darana's offices. She needed the food for energy.
Janin knocks. She'd spent her waking time listing everything she had done wrong the day before and ways to make it up now. Beginning now.
Darana looks up, then smiles, Janin come in... how are you feeling?"
"Better. Much better." Janin comes in and stands, the door closed behind her. She even smiles a bit.
Darana returns the smile, "Please sit."
Janin sits and smiles. She waits expectantly.
"So what do you wish to discuss?"
"I have my report ready."
"So soon?" Darana's eyebrows go up, "Very well...." She closes down what she is working on then turns to Janin. "Please proceed."
Janin did so, relaying in as much detail as she could remember the Officers memories. What she missed Darana helped guide her through to remember and transfer them to herself.
Darana made thorough notes on her system of all the info needed and people involved before she told Janin to prepare a task force to meet the Alliance Intell team. "Now then what would you do differently next time?"
Janin sat up straight. "Test his defenses. Determine if he was a Force User. Force Damp him."
Darana nods, "Very good. Anything else?"
"Ignore him. Break him further before engaging him."
Darana nods, "Yes. Do you have any questions?"
Janin did. "How do you stop a man who knows how to die."
Darana shook her head, "That one is difficult... if they are completely dedicated to this then they will die..... you have to break their concentration."
Janin didn't care for that answer. "What would you suggest?"
"Part of testing his force ability to start with will help as will testing him and his reactions. Someone that strong mentally is very hard to break when they are determined to die."
Janin had to agree. "Yes, he was strong." Very strong.
Darana nods, "Well you will be more prepared next time."
Janin nodded in agreement. "I appreciate that you trusted me to find the information and yes. I will be."
Darana nods, "You were ready."
"Will there ever be an end to the learning process?"
Darana chuckles, "No we are always learning. I am always learning."
Janin forms a smile. "This will not happen again. I swear."
Darana smiles, "Janin you did fine.... Even the best of us come up against surprises from time to time." She looks at Janin, "DO you wish to speak with the prisoner again?"
Janin hadnt thought about it. "He may still be useful. It will depend what shape he is in. He failed. He knows he failed. He may try again but that can be stopped perhaps. He will have other information."
Darana smiles, "He is yours... a gift."
Janin wasn't sure how to take that but accepted gracefully. An interrogation was one thing. Living with him, seeing him more than once would be a test all its own.
* * *
Janin kept him sedated while she did some research and came up with a plan. Darana helped her set up a block to keep him from suiciding. Marlon's records showed the wife she knew about, three children a sister and surprisingly a brother in the Empire, as well as another younger brother she'd missed. Parents deceased. They'd be of no use as coercion.
For two weeks Janin virtually disappeared from the Household to practice her interrogation skills against the officer. He was given little sleep and often drugged, and she began to fall into a routine and relax her guard slightly.
By now she knew him well. His history and family. She couldn't talk to the medtechs, but she could talk to him and did. Small things at first that could do no harm while the day's interrogation was being set up. Minor news and sports. She wasn't a fan but she knew that he was.
He responded to some of the personal overtures, sports more than others then the interrogation would begin and so they continued until a month had passed.
There wasn't much left to learn from him and she knew it. Janin ended the session early and sent the techs out, then sat down across from him. "Did you have a pet? Dog or something?"
This was new, but he answered. "Uhm yeah family dog."
Janin smiled. She'd never had a pet until she built herself one. A little robot, very fast that zipped around the corridors of her family's space stations. She paused in her story to savor the old memory then realized she was thinking old style and stopped.
Marlon half smiles and mutters something about a robot never replacing true living companionship.
Janin huffed. "You never miss what you never had."
He smiles weakly, "Not true.... even you a Sith can miss or long for companionship." His words are not entirely that coherent.
She plays with some device from the tray. She's tired and knows she's tired. Regular interrogations had taken alot out of both of them. "Maybe. But sometimes they dont have a choice." She looked up at him and let her shields go for a moment. 'Im sorry.'
A little Homesickness. A lot of Exhaustion. Deeply tired. She started to put away her things even though its early yet.
"What...what are you sorry for?"
She doesnt stop. Doesnt look at him. Moves steadily carefully and slowly. "I should have let you die long ago. You did very well that day."
"Yes" he rasps out... "You should have... What do you intend to do with me now?"
She sits down. "I dont know." She gets up, releases him from the upper straps so that he can lower his arms, regain a little circulation then sits back down.
He rubs his arms and is appreciative.
She smiled a little and figured she may as well, and holds a cup of water for him to drink from.
He watches her. Hestitates but then drinks since it has been a while and it was an intense session. He is very thirty and his voice is hoarse.
She pictures all the ways to kill a man that she knows. What she needs to do this time to succeed. Too tired to follow through she rubs her neck. His fear was evident at some of them but also resignation. Sadnesss too.
Janin drank too, and rolled the cup between her hands. "I've been here a long time. I don't think that you are a threat to me. But you are the first Alliance officer that Ive...." She twitches a hand slightly.
He looks at her, "How old are you?"
She pauses to think. "22."
He snorts... It hurts, "You're the same age as my youngest."
She looks offended. "I am NOT young."
He chuckles, "You are to me my dear... Forgive an old man his biases. But life experience will explain them in time."
She ducks her head. "I dont suppose you'd stay around if I..."
"If you what?"
"Didnt kill you?"
"Ahh my poor naive tormentor... No I will not bargain with you for my life."
She nods. "I didnt really think that you would."
"No, I will return to my family if at all possible... you have no reason to keep me here... I failed... you have the information you wanted."
"You failed, but you have value to them and know a bit about us. I don't forsee your return soon."
He smirks a little, resigned to his fate.
"Do I have anything left to learn from you?" She glanced up.
"I don't know do you?" He asks back, "My answer is no of course not."
"I dont think so, no. I cant think of any use for you at all." She stands up and walks towards the door.
He sighs quietly.
She turns back at the door. "You wont help me. Did you expect anything else from me?"
"How am I suppose to help you?"
"You know a great deal. You could work for us. Darana can always find a use for talent."
He shakes his head sadly, "And would you come to work for me in the Alliance?"
She does laugh then she stops. "I did work for the Alliance. Counter Intell Division."
"Then you are a traitor or a spy."
"I knew you were intelligent." She smiles sarcastically.
He shakes his head "Why did you leave them... and become.... this."
"What about her caused you to turn and betray your people... people you gave an oath to.... How could darana cause you to break that oath of loyalty?"
"She is my family."
"So? I have a brother who is an Imperial officer.. that does not mean I will become an Imperial."
"Why not. He had a reason. Do you wonder what it was?"
"I know his reason."
"Power. Pure and simple ability to control others. Why are you here... your turn."
"Power. The ability to control others. Obviously I should get to know him."
He stares at her, "You're not like that."
"Really." She doesnt bother hiding her anger at that. "How am I different."
He smiles at her, "You're not one of them."
"I am. And if Im not I WILL be."
"Why do you try SO hard....You will never make it...you still care, you still have compassion. You going to stamp out your compassion too?"
"For you? I was tired. I don't need it. Don't want it. If I tried to save you it was because you might be useful."
He laughs, glances down at his wrists, the circulation now returning, "I doubt it...will you torture every alliance officer then?"
"If Darana wishes it."
"Yes and what will you do if another commands you? You won't be hiding behind your aunt forever."
"No. I plan to take her place. Become Emperor's Hand maybe."
He can't help laughing at loud at the absurd thought.
She crosses the room and backhands him. Growling. "Dont you EVER laugh at me. At what I do."
He's taken by surprise, he's tired, worn out, so she hits him, his head bobs back against the table. his body slumps down into the remaining restraints, lucky for him they were still there or he would have crumpled to the floor.
He brings his hand up to the area of his face where she backhanded him. He looks up at her.
"When you die, you'll have changed nothing. I will." She glares.
"You will not manage to change the corrptness of the Empire by becoming corrupt yourself. Greed begets greed."
"You outweigh me. Youre a better force user. You're further along in training and experience. But you WASTED your potential. I'm not going to waste mine."
He shakes his head wearily, "I will die satisfied that I lived up to my morals and beliefs. I will die with a clear conscience. Can you say that?"
"I regret nothing."
He laughs again, "I know better." He snarls back at her, "I know you regret the path you have chosen."
"You wont anger me into killing you."
"I'm not trying to."
"Aren't you? Then what are you doing?"
He shakes his head, but does not answer.
"Stay if you choose. Die if you don't." She turns and walks out.
* * *
She was tired but he was exhausted. Some way, he could still be of use. He didn't have to die but it was rapidly becoming the only forseeable end to this encounter. There was only so much more to be learned from torturing him and she didn't want to.
She leaned her head into her hands, fingers running through her hair. There was something else but she couldn't think what it was she should do. Darana would do.
Her head came up.
* * *
Darana nods "He can't accept. He is sad, he will struggle and fight but he can't and won't accept.
Janin sighed. "It's admirable. Unfortunately we have no prisoner exchanges coming up."
Darana smiled. "No no we don't... Have you considered brain washing him and making him work for us as a spy as you said the Alliance still sees him as useful."
Janin looked up. She never was subtle before. Mindgames weren't her strength.
Darana continued. "You don't have to be subtle, but it is a possibility. It is your decision in the end."
Janin smiled. "I think we should. Will you help me?"
Darana nods, "I will show you how to break him completely."
She brightens at that. "Yes please!"
Darana smiles, "Certainly."
She smiles. Breaking him at last would be nice after all these weeks.
Darana chuckles internally, pleased at the sincerity of emotion behind her words. Outwardly she nods, "Continuing keeping him drugged, Keep him on irregular sleep... keep up the interrogations, but ask about inane things as well as important things, vary the temperature in his cell from very cold to hot and in between vary the noises... low rumblings to drippings and screechings in his cell."
"Don't let him build up his defenses and strength against one thing by varying everything."
Darana nods, "Exactly. You understand perfectly."
"What will he remember of this after he is sent back?"
"He will remember very little of the actual process. What matters is he will be yours."
She thinks about it. It would work. "I'll get started then."
Darana nods, "Keep up that process for another month... this is going to take time... we will not rely upon the force...it may assist us in time... but you will do this the traditional way and take our time... it will last longer and be less detectable."
Janin makes an expression of disgust, A month! But the end is worth it. The end is always worth it. She nods. "Better that way."
Darana smiles again, "A month is only the beginning this process will take far longer than that."
Mild dismay. "Patience will do me good. If I rush things please tell me so."
"Yes patience is a virtue... especially if you wish to truly break him and rebuild him."
Janin nodded again. "I do. I wish they weren't going to be able to use him, but there's no way around that."
Darana looks at Janin "Why do you say that? DO you wish to kill him?"
Janin stiffened. "Dead he serves noone. Brainwashed he will at least serve us, but he IS an asset to them."
Darana nods, "Yes he is and if he was not an asset to them, he would not be an asset to us."
Darana "If we had to control him to work for us, if we could not return him to the Alliance... he is not an asset then either."
Janin "I understand. Im just annoyed at them right now."
"He said that I could never be a Hand. Or a Sith even. He doesn't know ANYthing about this."
Darana smiles, "You are right he is naive, he does not know or understand... he has bought the Alliance's rhetoric, hook, line, and sinker. This is why you will take your time to break him."
Janin frowns slightly. "I'm not naive Darana. I've always known what I'm doing. Somehow I thought he would understand. I thought he was smarter than that."
Darana shakes her head, "I said *he* was naive.... That is why he does not understand."
"Someday he will see." Janin looks up to Darana. "I will get the orders started."
Darana nods, "Very good."
Janin bows her head and departs.
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