CHAIN

saphsaq

 


Rating: NC-17  No minors please.
Warnings: very little. No sex, one *word*, some dark nastiness
Disclaimer:
This is written for fun, not for making money. Therefore the appearance of famous Star Wars characters should not cause uproar amongst George Lucas lawyers. Also I hope of the generosity of Vladimir Colin when I requesting not only Scov av Dal su Sef’s violet eyes to follow me through this bunch of pages. Same rules for me and what is child of my brain in the story. Nevertheless, I would be grateful for a notification at saphsaq@lycos.com if you wish to spread the text elsewhere.
Summary:
The story belongs to the Pledge to the Darkness series of the Darth Men Estrogen Brigade as another approach about the magic inherent chains: Just five standard years before TPM the invisible chain of tradition revealed its ambiguity in being supporting connection and strangling shackle at the same time.
Thankyous:
I am much obliged to Redone for her encouraging interest, helpful advice and extensive beta-reading. And I should not forget to praise your patience with my slow working pace.
Dedication: This story dedicated to my tandyr, because a thing will happen that should not be: my stove will be destroyed. And I dedicated it to Dark Lady - you see, I took the challenge of your Chain.
Feedback to: saphsaq@lycos.com


Motif

The blade moved with no more noise than a night hunter’s wing. After a little moment of nothing there was the twin thud of two beheaded bodies touched down. The audience said approval in muffled voices.

In the hesitantly dispersing crowd mixed a group of uniformed adolescents. The executioner’s assistants hustling for their duty, the cleaning of the place from the residuals of the matutinal official act. He, the executioner stood aside and wiped his sword dry. A young man. Not tall, rather smaller than the average of the persons present. The dark-coloured working dress he wore – knee-breeches, a short-sleeved shirt and broad puttees like wickerwork on his forearms and lower legs - didn’t hide the powerful yet agile attitude of a well trained fighter. Unlike the outweighing number of people around him, he did not cover his horn-crowned head. It was bent over his sword. Bronzed, hairless - a remembrance of the reptilian ancestors of his race - and the face dominated by a pair of deep violet eyes. Proceeding in the weapons maintenance with dabbing the emery-filled cloth at the blade, he spent his task undivided attention.

”I would like to express my congratulation for this rare masterpiece.”

A tilted gaze seized up the stranger. Paused on the blue formal robes of the man. Keeping his eyes on the figure in front of him, the executioner rose slowly.

”Now, I don’t want to intrude, but this is the first time I made acquaintance with the Zabrak execution procedure. And right away with such a special performance. I am amazed. I must reiterate my admiration. But I will retreat and not keep you from your duties any longer.” The speaker, traces of early grey in the red hair, but with the healthy rose-coloured face and the clear eyes of a man in his prime, lifted his hands to bid farewell.

The executioner shook slightly his head. ”You’re welcome.” His deep, husky voice conveyed formal politeness.

Yet the visitor took it as a permission for another question: ”Then, would you do me the honour of letting me know your name, young master of the blades?”

”Khameir Sarin. And may I ask to whom I have the pleasure of speaking?”

”Palpatine.” He opened his lips slightly for smile. ”I am representative of Naboo in the Galactic Senate.”
 


Exposition

The man in the core of the praying crowd stirred. There it is. Finally. He craned his neck as if listening to a distant sound. A well-shaped mouth over a resolute chin appeared. Noble features, yet their softness another expression of annoyed surfeit. The rest of the face was shadowed in the hood of the praying cloak he wore like any other of the numerous faceless, shapeless figures in the hall.

A quick swaying of his shoulders and he held in his hands a finger-sized pendant that had hung down his back on a long chain. Chain and pendant - a Moebius eight - were almost dark with oxidation, only few spots still showed the silvery metal they were made of.

Carefully he detached himself from the stream of the living Force and sneaked through the worshipping group for the door.

He needed space.

And solitude.

To submerge into the Force with the other people, but at the same time shielding himself from being detected as the powerful contributor to the flow of Force he really was, didn’t allow the concentration necessary to clarify his vision. Such a strong vision! He had to hold back his feet from hurrying down the stairs while his fingers and arms impatiently worked to free him of the heavy cloak. Reaching the end of the stairway he had stored away the chain in a sleeve-pocket and folded the cloak neatly to carry it over his arm. A final gesture - he ran his fingers through his hair - then he had kept himself in check: Senator Palpatine entered the streets of Theed after taking part in a Force-worshipping ritual during a visit to his home-world Naboo.

Well, actually Palpatine wasn’t a senator. But there were favourable auspices he would soon become one. It had been probably the best start for his political career to move from his home-world early. Now his long years in the vicinity of the Galactic centre let him appear as brave voice for his small home-world in the choir of all those important republics and kingdoms: seasoned in Coruscant’s games, yet still devoted to Naboo’s needs. He considered it as negligible vanity to accept the wrong label without contradicting every time it did occur to him.

”Taria!”

”Yes, Sir.” A member of his entourage rose hasty from the stairs. ”The praying ceremony of the royal court isn’t over, is it?”

”For me it is. You know, I have to work. And I need... about an hour to retire,” The terse tone of his voice made any further insisting futile. Palpatine didn’t look back as he headed down the street, knowing the subordinate would trail behind him. Knowing also about the thoughts in his aide’s head, using terms like ”tasteless affairs” and ”not again”. This was good for publicity: to confess at least to one character trait of imperfection.

”Ah, Senator! What a luck to meet you.”

The addressed stopped, responded politely. Palpatine almost enjoyed these encounters, these performances amongst his compatriots, as a part of his political live not to be underestimated. Every stop - and there were many - followed the same pattern: a Nubian drinking in the excitement to be elevated out of the masses, because of recognizing ”our man in the Galactic Senate” and being in turn recognized by the busy politician, produced a concentrated charge of insignificance. After the tenth supplicant or so Palpatine cut the procedure short. ”Please feel free to tell all your requests to my aide. We two will later meet in my quarters, so your problem won’t get lost. Taria?” A barely visible wink and a dismissing nod. ”I have to work through the preparations for the election.” Then he blended into the crowd like an animal vanishing into its herd.

The traffic became scarcer when he passed the city-limits. Now the briskly walking man chose small paths to avoid the attention a solitary pedestrian would stir. Once submerged in the green twilight of the wood at the feet of Theed rocks, he slowed down to tune in to the contemplation. After a while the wood cleared - the wanderer stood still under a high canopy of dark green trees on a small tongue of land opposite the main waterfall. He was alone. Again he put on the praying cloak and the chain. This time to make sure he would stay isolated - no accidental witness should dare to disturb a prayer.

Palpatine bent his neck like the mighty trees on the left and right and behind him bent their branches down to the lake. A small but sufficient gesture of gratefulness toward his predecessors on the path of darkness for their spiritual guidance. After a few moments he lifted the head and fixated his gaze at the restless water-surface, hands shoved in his sleeves. He concentrated on the view of the tiny spot-like reflections dancing on small waves. Glared at them until they began to detach and hover free in the air. Then there was only the distant thunder of the falling water.

...

The shock let him jerking and furiously turn. Too late! Too late to see who had thrown a handful of berries at him. He only  heard some children’s voices laugh and a rustle in the bushes as they ran away.

With a thin smile he removed the residues of crushed fruits from his cloak. No, there was no need for a rash reaction. In a few years, as young adults these little rascals would join the army. One day there would be left nothing more of them than stains like those of juice his fingers rubbed off his cloak. A red dash on the wall. Just some more who didn’t care for the old and only religion of the living Force. There will be a time, when there is no-one left, except the Jedi... And him. He grabbed the pendant and followed the double pattern with his thumb. A couple of interconnected levels: the Force and the Symbionts. The steady exchange between these two poles had fallen from the equilibrium - the decrease of the Symbionts was the increase of the Force. His fingertip rested at the crossing point of the metal eight while he repeated spontaneous in mind: Now it is up to me, to gain mastery over this growing source of power.

”How appropriate.” He chuckled. The sentence when overcoming a Sith-master in the final trial of apprenticeship. But not yet and not him! Any vision is a maybe – there was no do-or-die when the Force granted a revelation. The Sith community of the spiritual world transmitted the oracle. He, as their governor of the material world, had all right to survey this suggestion painstakingly. And discard it, in case it proved non-satisfactory.

Abruptly he bit back his laughter. The rational part of his mind told him to restrain such train of thoughts. A lonely Sith-master was nothing. A head without hand to execute its will, a spirit without vessel, or a field marshal in a battle without army. Like the brain pervades the hand with nerves, his spirit has to fill the vessel, to allow the transfer of the marshal baton by chance. Isn’t it elating to know the line will be continued, the row filled, the chain will not longer be broken?

He ascribed the passing overreaction to the shock from the abort of the meditation. Despite the interruption the evaluation of his vision made it clear: he would have a new apprentice. And it would be a very strong and unique one. Perhaps not just unique - Palpatine took a deep breath and let reason calm down his elated moods again - no, it can’t be the promised One. Too early. Maybe. At least, any new apprentice was another push for him into the direction of his goal: the ultimate goal of the Sith. Partial the pressure he had been exposed to was resolved now... Which left, for the moment, only political questions, foremost the senatorial election. When he thought about it, there was even a quick and easy way to connect the taking of the apprentice – interestingly this time someone from an Outer Rim planet – with the high politics.

Palpatine produced his intercom from a pocket.

”Sir?” The voice of his aide was worried. ”Where are you? It has been more than an hour since you retired...”

”Did I say I would leave you for exactly one hour?” The sound of the answer conveyed the image of brows lifted in false amazement over a pair of not so amused grey eyes – but Palpatine smiled. Sei Taria with the sore heart. Aloud he continued: ”Indeed. Someone might have asked for me in the meantime. Now, in this case you surely remembered my orders to tell them I dearly regret not to be able to meet unannounced visitors because I am sitting over issues regarding the election, didn’t you?”

”Yes, Sir. Of course, Sir.”

”Has there someone asked yet?”

”Not really, Sir.”

Interpreting the evasive answer of his aide, Palpatine barked in response: ”Tell me the names.” He listened and was mute for a moment, repeating the information in mind to file it for further usage. Then - unexpected for the dutifully waiting subordinate - Palpatine switched to affability: ”Ever been to Iridonia? I thought, before we must go through this toilsome procedure of the Senate election, a diversion would be nice. Now, I’ll be back in half an standard hour, then we’ll confer the details.”
 



 

”Watch out!” The solid leather ball almost hit his head. A short movement of his arm and he caught the stray bullet with his left hand before it passed him. ”You’d better watch out. I am sure, no-one of you did an appropriate warm-up before the game to prevent broken bones.” This sounded serious, but not unfriendly. Throwing the ball back into the flock of giggling adolescents he entered the hall.

Inside the house was dimly lit although it had high windows - in the cold time of the year the sun didn’t rise that high at noon and there was no snow yet that could provide its soft reflections. After the entrance he stood and waited to be acknowledged by the aged Zabrak who was forging a small object by the fireplace in the foreground of the huge room.

”Ah, young Sarin!” A friendly gaze was shoot at him over the rim of a sword’s guard as the old man lifted the metal work to eye-level to survey it. ”Immaculate.” Satisfied, he submerged the red-hot disk into the chilling-vat. For a short moment it looked as if the complex pattern of the piece of metal would unwind to become alive in hissing flames, then their obstinacy went off in fumes. Oily mould covered the quenching detergent’s surface.

”You called me, Master Sarin.”

Sarin the elder responded this observation only with a grunting noise, again concentrated on his work. With great interest, the younger male watched mute the next steps, even though he could perform their succession blindfolded like any other armourer: first the adjusting of the blade, the hilt and the handle to form the sword. Followed by the precision work of the vacuum-lancet to evacuate the junction point. After that, the rolling of the masking plate’s weld - which required quite an amount of physical power.

Eventually the anti-grav clips opened with a sharp click. The master laid the now complete weapon carefully out on the desk, put the gloves away and encouraged his apprentice: ”Don’t be shy, take a closer look,” while rubbing sweat and ritual blue spots off his forehead and chest with coarse fabric.

”Hmm, the sword of Huy Chosro. A precious thing. Didn’t know he had broken it in a sparring recently.”

”Chosro? A sparring? Certainly not!” Rumbled the answer. ”He will be our next bailiff. I cleaned it for his resplendation - err, I mean: inauguration in the office.” The master sent his apprentice a conspiring grin, which was left unanswered to his disappointment. With a slow sigh he wiped some imaginary dust off the desk and then threw the bunch of fabric into the fire-box. ”However, what this guy lacks in bravery doesn’t matter at the moment. You know why I’ve called you?”

A small but firm nod.

”Fine, Khameir. Did you sleep sufficiently last night? And eat the prescribed items too? No extraordinary dreams? Bring all that you need for today with you?” The questions were uttered with the same friendly seriousness children are inquired before they are praised for good behaviour, and answered one by one with an unblinking stare and a wordless nod. ”Fine, fine.” Closed master Sarin, distracted by a laughter outside the window. The young-folk getting louder in their ball-game. For a while the two men watched contemplatively the kids kicking agilely the ball with hip, shoulder and knee in a dusky yard, never letting it fall on the ground or touching it with hand or foot. The cold air together with the fast motion coloured their faces, made their breath visible – little white puffs.

Eventually the old Zabrak continued his questioning: ”Which one of them do you have in mind for becoming your apprentice?”

This issue required more than a yes or no. ”Rafikha or Gen. I’m not sure at the moment which of the two is the right one.”

”I thought so. Good choice. Take your time, things develop by themselves,” agreed Master Sarin . And added with a chuckle, ”I bet you’d made some reproach about playing ball without proper warm-up as you entered the yard.”

This time the young Zabrak nodded without looking in his master’s face. The old man answered this expected discovery softly: ”You will be a good master for them.” Then he turned abruptly and went off in the depth of the room. ”So, now I have to make myself ready. I’ll be back in an instant.”

How old he has become, crossed Khameir’s mind in sudden realisation as his eyes followed the figure. The skin on the horn crowned head and over the protruding scapular bones seemed to be thin and yellowish like the pages of ancient scripts. Why didn’t he allow himself sooner to recognize the slowness in the start of movements, contradicting the usual versatility in his master actions? The young man begun absently to order the tools on the workbench, to close boxes, store things away and to tidy up. His very personal duty for over ten standard years as the executioner’s apprentice.

”The fire will welcome you, when you’re back.” The master’s voice awakened him from his musings. He waited at the door, now uniformed in dark blue clothes like Khameir. The two men left the hall.

”Master Sarin, what is it?” Abruptly stopped the ball game in the yard and the adolescents clustered around master and apprentice.

”Time to bid farewell.”

”Today?” The smallest boy of the group, eyes wide open, snatched his older sister’s hand.

The old Zabrak chided him in a friendly voice: ”We’ve spoken about the issue, Ascharie.” And added with a wink: ”When you wake up tomorrow there will still be a master Sarin here.” Then he cleared his throat and ordered ”Gen, Rafikha, you’ll warden the fire in the hall. And now we shouldn’t elongate this farewell any longer.” Under his requesting gaze, ”Adieu, Master Sarin.” was uttered in a thin chorus.

After this pragmatic rather than ceremonial parting, Sarin the elder directed his briskly steps toward a hill in a middle distance. Khameir frowned as if disagreeing, then he caught up and both men walked side by side down a winding way though fields and three nurseries.

From the top of the hill the executioner’s hall seemed a toy swimming in the bluish haze over the fields and forests. The master gestured his attendant to sit down beside a man-sized heap of stones. Then he produced a hand-brush to clean a spot of the same floor space of all debris. The so purged area got a cover of ground ultramarine. Finally he took his seat on the smaller side of the blue patch, shoved his hands in the sleeves and closed his eyes. Khameir crawled nearer and centred also his mind on the things to perform.

...

”Khameir?” The voice was oddly mismatching after this silent walk and work. ”Khameir, there is some unsettled, isn’t there?”

”I never was your first choice for handing over the title of master executioner, mas... Naneta.”

The old master didn’t bother with opening the eyes as he responded his successor’s accusation plainly: ”No, you aren’t.” Still with shut eyes but with more fire he continued after a short pause: ”As your mother gave you to me, I had no idea what to do with the precocious teenager. Although I was amazed to find traces of intelligence and dignity in this family. No,” a hand rose to stop the protesting stirring of the listener. ”Don’t try to argue about the band of my foster-brother. You are a Sarin now. And as good as any other member of the clan to be my pupil.” The face of Sarin the elder was softened by a smile. ”A good executioner. In fact, you’re an easy learner. Exact, dependable... yet...” His hands flared, unsure.

”I am sorry if I disappointed you somehow.”

”Damn, you did not.” Snorted Naneta. ”If someone has to apologize I am in charge. Even today. Yours was the right to order the fire-wardens as the new master of the blades. Not mine.” He shut up, his mouth a sharp line. Eventually he opened his eyes to focus on Khameir ”The duty of a master of the blades means a lot of tradition. Tradition in rites - like not shedding blood in this ceremony here, traditions in supporting the society - in serving the bailiff, traditions in teaching... I took you against all traditions. Late in my life, as I was alone already. But I hoped - no - I thought the meaning of continuity is deeper than blindly performing the ancestor’s rites when the times are changing.” His gaze grew even more intense. ”You’re the successor of a long chain of masters named Sarin. I should resign in peace after transmitting knowledge and attitude to you, instead of doubting in your power to bear this burden. Because this is doubting in my power.” Naneta turned his eyes to the heap of stones beside the young man while he added a slow afterthought: ”You really should have met my wife. She was a good blade. I am nothing compared with her.”

Khameir reached out to touch a hand of his former master. ”I never knew a better master than you, Naneta. Neither could I imagine what should stop me from continuing the lineage of masters in the Sarin-Clan. My clan.”

Gratefully the old man caught and pressed Khameir’s hand between his palms. ”Do you have the Great Tool?” he muttered.

The younger man produced a long, double-edged knife from his boot’s leg with his free hand: ”I do.”

”I place myself in your hands.”

After a moment of contemplation, Khameir took Naneta like a baby in his arms, the right palm closed the man’s mouth, thumb and index pinched the nose. Then a fast trust stopped the steady beating heart. A small amount of blood flowed out from under the hilt of Khameir’s knife and smeared his hand. He embraced the old Zabrak closer, rested his head on Naneta’s. Tears filled his eyes, but only few escaped from under his tightly shut eyelids. He held the lifeless body close, oblivious of the elapsing time. As his eventually opened eyes noticed the dark, pasted up blot in the ultramarine dust right before him, he felt again his tears welling.
 


Completion

Palpatine stretched slightly his naked body to overcome the pleasant laziness after the various courses of swimming, steam-bath and massage. He peered to the other divan where his host with the deep, husky voice was laying. The voice that had told him much about the object of his studies, but much more the easily readable thoughts under crown of horns did. Not to forget the body! Khameir Sarin’s physical state was excellent, satisfying both his sithly reason and his aesthetic sense. Satisfying? Palpatine’s lips parted with a smile. The action he had seen yesterday had been promising. Today, the undressing in the thermal baths had revealed the source for this perfect performance, a stark muscled body. Yet it was not too much; fewer than expected for a hard working executioner in his mid-twenties. But it fits best this not so tall frame. In fact, together with the unstudied nimbleness of his movements, it gave the adult Khameir Sarin an incredibly youthful touch.

The young man stirred under his guests thirsty gaze. A pair of deep violet eyes responded straight a pair of cloudy grey-blue ones. How keen his senses are... Suddenly Palpatine envisioned the moment as he had been spotting the Iridonian executioner scanning the passing-by people in the atrium of the thermal baths for him. He had felt joy welling up and covering his cheeks with treacherous red in this moment. Proceed mindfully with embracing what could be your designed successor! He gathered himself. It was his decision, the ancient masters only had uttered a suggestion.

A bath-maiden, a fragile Zabrakian female with too curious eyes and breasts to Palpatines taste, appeared in the restroom. He eyed her unintentionally. As fast as she came in she went out. ”Her original intention was to ask us if we wish to continue the steam-bath or if we are finished. Instead she will bring towels. Twice.” hissed Palpatine with slow voice.

The maiden stopped in the middle of her second lap. The bunch of fabric hovered over its predecessor, all curiosity was wiped from her face, replaced by dumbness.

”You want to ask if we have finished?” suggested Palpatine.

”Y... yes.”

”We have, my child. Allow us just few moments more of undisturbed rest.”

Clutching with both arms the useless towels the woman retired meekly and closed the door of the restroom with her back.

Palpatine seized the young executioner for his reaction. ”You’re not impressed by this little Jedi-jugglery... You have the straight mind of countryside-people plus the maturity coming from having been early in life responsible for other people and a task.”

Khameir lowered his head to thank for this strange praise - one amongst a number he got today from his new acquaintance - with admitting ”I am not.” But added as if wishing not to offend this playful foreigner, his guest, ”I’ve seen such things before. The Force is all-around. Force-users too.”

”Are they?”

”What should I say? To be honest,” here the young male tried an apologetic grin, ”I’d rather care for my duties on my home-world than for the big issues of the outer world. I’d like to see the effect of my acts - speculation is not my business.”

”And if the outer world’s big issues affect your home-world?”

”Destruction you mean? The contacts between Iridonia and the other worlds date back even before the Galactic Republic. Many things have changed due to these connections, but the essence of Iridonia is preserved. And will be.” A sparkle of tribal pride heated his voice. ”Because it’s part of my responsibilities as member of my clan and guild.”

”Following your early leaving master in the chain of tradition, hm? Professionalism, wisdom and active part-taking in the local political life - this could be a call for someone.”

”Naneta Sarin has been the last master of the honourable guild of Iridonian executioners who earn this title rightfully! He left life as his circle was complete, I am not orphaned - if this is what you suggest.”

Both men had been forced up with the rising temper of the conversation. Now Palpatine relaxed and leaned back again. ”I am sorry. It seems I did not follow your accounts about your apprenticeship with the appropriate attention. However, judging solely by your appearance, young master of the blades, Sarin the elder must have been an extraordinary man.”

”He was open-minded...” agreed the Zabrak suspicious and kept his sitting position.

”What I wanted to suggest,” Palpatine folded his arms under his head and continued lightly toward the ceiling, ”is: from all what I know about you, you seemed to be more gifted than it is necessary for an - excuse me - ordinary executioner. I thought, you must feel like starving in such a position.”

”First I have to fit into place and position of an Iridonian executioner. This is a big chunk for a new master like me; later, much later, could I look if there is left any hunger for more.”

Still with relaxed attitude Palpatine pursued hard. ”You might have the will to fit into the position your former master appointed you, but if you’re not called for this place, what had been a challenge before will decay into an endless struggling against your fate. You could use up your power in more honourable combats.”

”As far as my master’s knowledge and my experiences tell me, I am called for succeeding my master. Here.”

Tense like a spring, Palpatine lay on his divan, not daring to cast a gaze over the gap between the two beds. ”You’re a fool, Sarin! What call? After me, others will see how special you are. But contrary to me they’ll fear and oppose you. One, and another one, again and again. And you’ll not even be able to respond to them in dignity if you stay with your current job. Don’t waste your time in this small world, follow me into the centre of the galaxy. I could provide you with the challenges and the power appropriate for your talents! If you’re out for traditions, I too could offer a kind of apprenticeship.”

”I thank you for your trust in my abilities. But I belong to Iridonia. These are my people, in good or bad. I am used to goodwill as well as envy,” was the answer.

”I see.” With true regret in his voice Palpatine spoke up after a painful break, ”I’ll stay until the day after tomorrow on your hospitable planet. If you change your mind, you’ll find my ship at the eastern spaceport.” It is my decision.
 



 

The first thing Khameir saw after entering the office of his employer, was Huy Chosro’s sword pinned to the wall. Broken up and neatly sorted like an study in anatomy. The bailiff behind his huge desk caught his gaze and felt compelled to explain: ”Uh, don’t suppose I underestimate the work of you teacher Sarin the elder. It was his last piece, wasn’t it? Yeah, I think in this way its structural beauty is more present.” Chosro was a well-nourished man of indeterminable age and his dignified features where only marred by his light-coloured, soft horns forming rather a halo than a crown. Warily he eyed the visitor standing in the middle of the room.

”I greet you, my Lord. It is an ancient weapon. Beautiful anyway.” responded the young execution-master with expressionless face.

”Oh! I am most impolite... I greet you too, my master Sarin... yeah, it is ancient and beautiful.” absently Huy checked the order of the few items of his desk - his bailiff’s head, two or three data-pads, an intercom. ”Well, but we’re not here for a good talk about old swords - which is pity by the way.” A fast glance up to the upright figure before him, ”We have a scheduling question.” He had finally selected one of the data-pads and started to fiddle with it. ”This Shakyp-priestess shall face her fate and the face of her fate shall be yours.”

After some mute calculations Khameir suggested: ”Tomorrow would be possible. The next day with all necessary attributes for an execution according to the rites will be in a month.”

The data-pad made a elegant gesture: ”One month? Too long. Better be tomorrow... although” the data-pad held back and Huy cast again a probing gaze up to his visitor, ”you might need some time for preparation.”

”I am prepared. A night is usually sufficient for what is left to do.”

”True,” the data-pad scraped slowly over the desk ”but, she is a virgin and has to be deflowered before the execution.”

”This is not necessary.”

”It is!” bang! the data-pad hit the desk. ”This is part of our rites, part of our tradition!”

With annoyance Khameir watched the bailiff surveying fearfully the data-pad for traces of damage probably resulting by his eruption while he replied: ”It is part of our tradition. But a superfluous one and a ritual not practised for ages. There is no use of it.”

”No use?!” a refusing wave of the still alive data-pad ”Such an answer fits only you, Khameir Sarin. Only folks without true rooting in our traditions could say so. Originally we did this with every sentenced!”

”In mythic times, indeed.”

”I could hear your master speak with your mouth! There was always this preferring of the teachings of the left-wing school instead of taking care for supporting the wholeness of traditions.”

 ”I see. You doubt the reputation of my teacher. Or even in the word of the honourable guild of executioners who gave my former master dispensation to train me. Do you regret, now, after you accepted me for servicing?”

”Of course I accept you completely.” The bailiff batted his eyes and placed the data-pad accurately on the desk, in a short distance of his front. ”Your apprenticeship for master Naneta Sarin was what it was. There is no better executioner around than you, after he’s gone.” Chosro’s hands lay flat and motionless on the table as he continued in a low voice: ”Khameir, you said it yourself: the deflowering is part of the execution-tradition. Transmitted through the ages by the right-wing school. And we’re not authorised to pick from the Iridonian traditions what suits our contemporary taste, especially after the schism is turned down. You know as I do: even Naneta accepted the wholeness of rites. There was this man and this little girl. Listen, Khameir: even your teacher did it. How do you think a continuity is built through the times, if not with people following the steps of their predecessors and marking them for their successors? You are one in a long chain of masters named Sarin...” the entreaty faded in a begging gaze.

”Yes, he did,” conceded Khameir soundlessly. But unshakeably he opposed in the next moment: ”Nevertheless, it is not necessary. It is just an torture which adds not to the amount of punishment but robs the sentenced of dignity.”

This statement earned nothing but an unappreciative blink. ”I see.” The bailiff behind his desk rose to his full grave length. ”Master Sarin the eleventh, it is sentenced with high and irrevocable order that the Ninth Shakyp priestess shall face her fate and the face of her fate shall be yours. Yours in deflowering her, yours in executing her. The day of the fate is tomorrow.”

”Yes, my Lord.” Khameir sketched a greeting and left without further preparations.

The bailiff sat back into his chair and scratched thoughtfully the base of his right temple-horn. This was more tickling than I thought. However this weird senator has lost his bet about traditions  falling apart in modern times: we will have the complete rite of an Iridonian execution.
 



 

The dimly lit duct of the underground prison – as if his duty turned to stone, pre-historic and stealthy. He gathered himself in front of the cell’s door, wondering if the convict would perceive the omen the way he did. What kind of capital crime, of spiritual defilement  had thrown her from the inner circle of the priesthood into this poor chamber? He could not remember, did not even want it to.

No, no presentiment had occurred to her. Only amazement about the untimely visit of the executioner lit up in the eyes of the priestess while she kept her seat as the senior person. Senior as bearer of a singular number, senior as a woman twice his age - in fatal similarity to his mother, his mind didn’t forget to note. Usually this standing should have been preserved beyond death... He felt no urge to follow this chain of reasoning further, but neither did he fear to do so. He was very present, emotionless, a man standing on a ground of stone, next to him his... task. At the same time a shrewd, anxious sentinel took stock of every turn of the situation from outside. But he and the watcher were just one. He. Khameir Sarin. He heard his voice inform her in a few plain terms about the sentence.

The sound of his words faded away and alleviation overcame him. Khameir would not have been amazed, if he have found himself outside the door a blink of an eye later, because everything that had to be done was.

Then - fog-slow seemed it his supervising mind - the true meaning of this duty moved back into his awareness. What provoked the technical question: should she do the first step or he...? Where tenderness was unthinkable, brute force was unmannerly. I am indecisive like my bailiff, he thought cynically. He was relieved of the decision. As it was proper for her rank, the Shakyp-priestess had decided to keep her dignity during the whole procedure of death penalty, but realising finally the extension of the sentence she jumped up and made an averting gesture. The strong attraction of this reaction urged him to respond instinctively.

”Undress!”

The two met into the middle of the room for a wrestling mute and grim. The longer it lasted, the more he was annoyed by this awkward situation. Eventually he found it easier to convince her to surrender with calculated blows into face and soft parts. She let out a sob, the first sound since he had entered the cell, as he directed her to the bed. Fixating her with his weight - he avoided to stare in her eyes to keep her in check - he undressed himself sufficiently for the task. He could feel his sex hard and heavy for arousal and wasn’t able to suppress a sudden relief: it would be over fast. At the same time he hated his body for its inopportune lust. Although her tights and abdomen was marked by asceticism - sinewy, the skin flabby and dark veined - his muscles worked like he had caught the freshest and longest hunted game ever. Was it really because of his subordination under an unwanted duty or rather because of her virginal snugness - what was perhaps just lack of wetness resulting from her age, so far his rationally mind - that made him moan?

With a suffocated sob he fastened the rhythm of his hips. Pain, he felt pain. Her pain about having been degraded to a piece of meat, a penalty far beyond what should originally have been her fate. His pain about being here, in the place of her executioner. A hammer pounded behind his temple, down where his horns based. Hate it pounded. Hate for the bailiff who did not grasp what his orders caused, hate for Naneta who could not prevent him anymore of such things, hate for the Shakyp-priestess, for her nameless crime that had placed her under his body. And hate for Khameir Sarin... Waves of self-pity washed mercifully blinding over him.

As he turned somewhen his gaze down on his victim he saw her half-naked belly red-smeared. Stale-metal smell of blood rose in his nose. The longer he focused on it the mere this red patch seemed to grow and like a haze fill the room. At the verge of his perception he also saw she had completely surrendered. With her body only moved by his trusts and the head turned aside, eyes wet and mouth contort in a whimper, it looked like she was melting, losing her form. She did not even try to endure the humiliating procedure! Angrily he slapped her face. Yes! This was what she must do: try to endure his hate, his power...

...

What by the will of the Force I am doing here?!

Abruptly he broke away and rushed out of the cell. Outside the cool, dark hallway embraced him - he clawed his fingers at the wall. It took several moments until he was composed enough to turn into the direction from where he had come and jam the door. With the guidance of the consolingly solid wall he rounded the next corner, where he put his clothes in order to conceal the clammy traces. He felt empty and cold. Only his hate still stood firm. He hated himself for every signal his alert mind received: the shivering muscles, the smell of sweat and semen. He went home. Hasty.

Arrived, he stood still for a while - all senses open - in the dark executioner’s house. He felt strange, alienated in his familiar surroundings. If there would be a possibility to shift shape he would have used it to forestall what seemed inevitable: exclusation. He wanted to get rid of his whole appearance, up to the colour of skin and eyes, rid of all of it. As he noticed he shuddered, he sat down by the fireplace, rubbing his sore finger-joints absently. But his images-replaying mind didn’t had the patience to wait until the waves of chill would stop running over him and allow a reasonable evaluation of what had happened. Restless he rose, took a handy axe as well as two buckets and went out of the door again. He would prepare himself a hot bath in the old bath-house. Yes, he would. With water carried and wood chopped before. The carrying of the water over the stairs slippery from ice and the cutting of logs in the pale moonlight would require his full attention. Indeed, it would. And then, after the bath, he would tidy up the hall. There were lots of things to put in order, lots of attention-drawing work for him!
 


Reprise

”There is a visitor, Sir. The man you’ve been waiting for.”

The addressed didn’t bother to turn his head from watching the evening mood on the Iridonian spaceport. ”My souvenir you mean, don’t you?” The answer was a sharp intake of breath and the sound of feet leaving the room. Before they reached the door, a conciliatory ”Sei? I am truly grateful for your empathy. Please let the young Zabrak in.” stopped the steps for the glimpse of a moment. Then the aide walked out of the cabin with a more composed attitude.

Amazed by the austere charm of the room and the black silhouette of its owner against the sunset behind the huge window in the space ship’s hull, Khameir Sarin let his keen eyes wander around as he took his seat on a small stool.

”I have been expecting you.”

The executioner’s eyes narrowed. He seemed to taste this sentence a while before he broke the silence. ”Yes, you did expect me. As if there were any doubt.” A small, bleak laughter. ”I lied to myself I could visit you today and just ask you to help out with your senatorial power - you aren’t one, but you will be soon, this is what I do expect - help out with breaking the bailiff’s power. Yet I prepared home and grave, even drew up farewell letters for my apprentices, as if to leave this life.” His fists clenched. ”You’re right, there will be another one and after this one another one and so on in this unbearable monotone path of time till I lose the battle. This can’t be my fate! I am here to offer myself as your apprentice instead of begging a simple service of you.”

”Of course there is no doubt. I saw you clad with the cloak of lordship.” Came from the dark figure. ”From now on what used to be Khameir Sarin, member of the honourable guild of Iridonian executioners, is effaced. From now on I am your master. You will execute my orders, wear what I give to you, eat when I consider it as appropriate, speak not without my permission. You have to obey. But you are an apprentice, not a servant. I will give you a name and name your goal. I will teach you how to master the Force, I will take care for you until the last step you need for succeeding me. You’ve found your place amongst the true symbionts of the Force, the unbreakable chain of Sith. You are a Lord.” A ripple in the dark patch before the window and Palpatine appeared in front of the young Zabrak who immediately rose from his seat. ”Take this as sign for our covenant.” He picked in a casual miracle one of the chain-links from his praying-chain which left completely unchanged by this detaching-operation. ”Wear it.” As Palpatine saw how hesitantly this ring was taken, he added ironically ”I wouldn’t recommend to swallow it. It is again mine when you’re dead.” His features switched back to the stony seriousness they wore before. ”This too is part of our covenant: to fail me is your death. As it is mine to fail you.”

”Yes, my master.”

The so saluted didn’t miss the tranquillity of relief, the will of allegiance conveyed by this little sentence. And he did reward it: ”Your first order is to tell the ship's captain we’re ready to take off. I engaged you as my private secretary.”

It’s a pity, thought Palpatine keeping his eyes on the broad back of the leaving Sith Lord, he is the very picture of a dark master, but too weak. Has my taste coarsened during the time of loneliness, that I could accept an apprentice with imperfect skill-set? He’d removed a tear. However, he will serve well.

Feedback to the author

END