Fleeing Coruscant and the nightmare of an operation purging the lab turned out to be, Aska still had not come to terms with what she had experienced nor what she had done. The image was burned into the back of her eyelids, the lifeless twins in her lap appearing every time she closed them. No matter how hard she tried, there was no escaping it. The only silver lining she could find was that they had all escaped with their lives, despite how close a call it had been for Poffo, and that they had successfully recovered Trench. The doctor had been confined to the cargo bay with stun cuffs keeping him restrained to a thick pipe that ran the length of the room at Klied’s request. While she would have much preferred to simply throw him off the tower as they emerged from the depths of the ecumonopolis, he had been granted a short reprieve from his inevitable execution by the Onderonian. His time, however, was running short.
Emerging from her quarters, a cigarra in her mouth, Aska threw her jacket on as she made her way to the cargo bay. Had she not still been so emotionally drained, a walking zombie as it were, she would have likely given Ali a great deal of praise in returning the garment in pristine condition. That was the least of her concerns however. She was on a mission and with Klied preoccupied with his wounded brother, no one was going to stand in her way.
The door slid open revealing the still very badly beaten doctor. Finally, Aska came back to life as she saw what she done to the man. Both eyes were swollen, one totally shut. His lips were essentially one big open wound and the blood from his broken nose had only just finally ceased to flow. While she felt a great deal of pride in his injuries, it was partnered with an unbridled anger that needed release.
”Get up, you sack of bantha shit!” Aska barked as she approached him. Pulling her right foot back, she delivered a devastating kick to his ribs that caused him to react quite accordingly. ”What? You think that because Klied stopped me from infecting your sorry ass back there that you were gonna get off easy?! Not a damn chance!” Kneeling down, Aska proceeded to wrap her hand tightly around the Doctor’s jaw and forcefully turned him to face her before spitting in his face. She followed this with drawing the very same dagger she had ben forced to use against her sisters and placed it firmly against his throat, the edge of the blade cutting through the surface skin. Moving her lips near the man’s ear, she began to whisper maliciously. ”By the time I’m done with you, there isn’t going to be anything left for anyone to find. But first… You’re going to answer some questions,”
Alisaah was in the process of completing her daily workout routine when she saw her mistress leave her quarters, cigarra between her lips. The Togruta was laying on the floor of the common area doing some crunches, dressed in a pair of shorts and a crop top given to her as a present by Meela so that she could exercise without getting her regular clothes sweaty. Sitting up when she saw Aska, the slave did not immediately say anything, just watched to see what the clone would do.
Coruscant had been a terrible ordeal for everybody involved, not least for Aska, who had been absolutely distraught when they left the laboratory. They had rescued the head scientist, Doctor Ryun, from his office having fought against a horde of AMS infected zombies to get to him. In that way, the mission had been a total success, only it felt like it had been a catastrophic failure by all concerned. The Doctor had received a thrashing from Aska after he had completed a lengthy surgery on Poffo Sauvage's rear end; a feature he had lost in unceremonious circumstances to save himself from AMS infection. The reason for this brutality remained a mystery to Ali and questions continued to swirl within her mind about who this doctor really was and what had he done that made her mistress so upset? Now the scientist was restrained in the Cargo Bay - a fact known to all aboard the freighter.
Instead of walking into the common area, Aska had turned right and head towards the back of the ship, towards the Cargo Bay. This was not good. Ali knew Klied was preoccupied, taking care of Poffo elsewhere on board. Meela was keeping Kayto company in the cockpit as they traveled through hyperspace and Teela was back in Ali's quarters recharging her batteries. A bad feeling in the pit of the Togruta's stomach told her that Aska was going to find the doctor and attempt to finish what she started on Coruscant. Jumping to her feet, the slave ran bare foot behind her mistress, following her into the Cargo Bay. Unfortunately it appeared the girl's hunch was correct.
Doctor Ryun already looked in a terrible state when Aska got to him, but the clone seemed determined to make his condition much, much worse. Ali winced as she saw her mistress strike the older man in the chest with a kick. At the point the clone spat at him and held a blade to his jugular, Ali was forced to pipe up.
"M-mistress? What are you doing?" she asked timidly, "W-wouldn't it be better for the doctor to answer your questions if he wasn't... half dead...?"
At this time, Ali did not know who Doctor Ryun really was and what he had done. Nobody had told her, and all she had pieced together on her own was that the scientist may possibly be Aska's father. She thought that was why they had rescued him from the lab. The Togruta did not want or intend to anger her mistress, but Ali was not a girl who was fond of or quick to violence and she did not want Aska to do anything she may later regret.
Turning her head to look over her shoulder as Ali made her presence known, Aska simply growled under her breath and looked back to the doctor. The fire in her eyes had not subsided, nor would it until she watched the light of his own fade away. Even so, the Togrutan did have a point. Inflicting further pain on their prisoner would only prolong the interrogation and while she was eager to cause him pain, the sooner she got the answers she sought then the sooner she could kill him.
”He deserves nothing more than what he’s received, kid,” Aska allowed herself to reply. It was only now, however, that it dawned on the clone that Ali was entirely still in the dark on what had taken place. While Klied was present during the recovery of Trench, he was not one to run his lips on matters that weren’t his business. It was one of the things she respected most of the Onderonian but it also meant that it was up to her to finally let her friend in on the truth. Taking a deep breath, Aska pulled the knife away from Trench’s neck and stepped back from him before turning to face Ali fully.
”I owe you an explanation, Ali,” she began. With her free hand, Aska brushed her fingers through her bangs as she searched for the words. ”This sorry excuse of a man… He’s a cloning expert. He created me years ago, others like me as well. I was always told that I was created to serve a crime lord on Teth as an elite enforcer but recently, I’ve come to doubt that explanation,” As she spoke, Aska reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out the prism shaped holocron, holding it out for Ali to see and then turning her body slightly to allow Trench an opportunity to see the object as well. Had it not been for his injuries, Aska was fairly certain his eyes would have shot open in bewildered enthusiasm.
”Remember this?” Aska asked of her friend. ”From Nal Hutta? It’s called a holocron. I found it on Onderon a couple years ago. It belonged to an ancient Sith. One who looks,” The clone then turned and stared down at the doctor with a wild ferocity. ”Just like me. Isn’t that right, sleemo?”
Though her anger did not subside, Aska did appear to hold off, at least for a moment after she realised Ali was in the room. The Togruta was worried that she would draw the ire of her mistress for even following her into the Cargo Bay, but to her surprise, the clone took a moment to begin explaining what was going on. It appeared Ali's presumptions about Aska's relationship with the doctor had been wrong. Though they shared the same family name, her mistress was not the man's daughter. She was in fact a clone of someone else, whose purpose was allegedly to serve a crime lord.
The purpose of her mistress was not a surprise for the slave. Their introduction to each other had come when Aska arrived, uninvited, to an executive lounge in an auction house, where she proceeded to slaughter the guards of Ali's former master and take the slave in an attempt to free her. Every adventure they had been on since had demonstrated the clone's prowess and this news only gave Ali a better understanding of who her mistress was and how she came to be so effective as a mercenary.
Aska being a clone, whilst a more unexpected turn of events, also did not phase the slave. Some may have made a bigger deal out of learning this news, but as far as Alisaah was concerned, Aska was Aska, an individual in her own right. She was Ali's mistress and someone the Togruta had come to care for very much on their journeys together. To her mind, if it were possible for a slave and their master to be friends, Ali considered them to be so.
She did not speak, allowing her mistress to continue her explanation. That was when her level of fear grew exponentially. Though she was generally anxious about Aska's current level of anger and did not want it directed towards her, seeing her mistress produce the pyramid-shaped artifact that the Togruta had once touched caused her heart to race. Yes, she did remember the holocron. It haunted her every day, ever since she had seen the vision of her mistress laying dead in a puddle on a jungle planet. Aska clearly did not know that the Togruta had seen the artifact more recently than their brief visit to Nal Hutta and Ali was determined to keep it that way. If the clone found out she had touched her personal belongings without permission, the slave believed she would meet the same fate as Doctor Ryun.
Ali kept her mouth firmly shut and simply nodded along to show she was listening. According to Aska this item was a Sith Holocron - two words that made no sense to Ali - but the part about it belonging to a woman that looked like Aska was something she knew all too well from the vision she had. To avoid raising suspicion as to why she was so quiet, Ali determined that she should probably say something in response, so opted to ask questions about what Aska had told her so far.
"What is a Sith mistress?" she queried, "I've heard the word but I don't know what it is..."
She did not ask about the ancient Sith that looked just like Aska. Given that she had just explained she is a clone, it was obvious even to Ali that her mistress was a clone of a woman who lived thousands of years before, and one which Ali had met already when she had her vision.
Aska paused as Ali asked her question, unsure of what answer to give her. Much like the Togrutan woman, a vast majority of her life had been sheltered away from the galaxy at large. To say she had a limited knowledge on both the Jedi and the Sith was an understatement. She had met both a Jedi and a Sith since she had ventured off on her own, the latter providing her with the lightsaber sitting in her chamber, but she never took the time to ask either of the warriors about their organizations. Trench, however, was far more versed on the matter.
”A Sith is a religious warrior that has tapped into a mystical ability known as the Force,” the doctor piped up as he pushed himself back onto his knees. ”The galaxy has been thrown into war as the Sith have returned and are seeking to claim the galaxy for themselves once more,” he continued, directing his final statement to Aska. The clone turned to face the doctor once again and tossed the holocron before him. The object hit the ground with a metallic impact but was immediately picked up and inspected by Trench.
”You recognize this then, I take it?” she asked of the man coldly. Even with his injuries, Aska could recognize the thrill Trench felt as he rolled the holocron around in his hands.
”I do. This insignia here, at the peak… It is my family crest. Our family crest,” As he pointed out the symbol, Aska paid no attention to it’s detail. It was a crest that held little meaning to her. ”And you found this on Onderon, you say? Has it been opened? Have you been able to access it?”
”Not personally, no. I found myself hunting a thief in the jungles of Onderon. She had stolen it from her employer and hid herself away in a cave system. With the help of a Jedi, I tracked her down and captured her but not before she discovered a way to open it and speak with…. Aska, I guess. That’s where I start to fall behind,” Aska sheathed her dagger and crossed her arms as she recalled pursuing Kiriena Buli through the tunnels with Fiach. The undead warriors she had risen from the afterlife, the whispers she heard through out the night and finally, the monument deep within the cavern. ”She had made herself at home in the caves but there was something else. It was almost like… a burial mound or something,”
Ali listened as Doctor Ryun spoke. She honestly expected the man not to ever talk again. He looked in such a rough state that Aska probably would have killed him simply for not physically being able to answer her questions. There was still more life in Trench than the two perhaps realised. The way the scientist so calmly answered Ali's question in the face of Aska's hatred was quite unnerving and still a little confusing. The man did seem to be cooperative and he had saved Poffo back on Coruscant, but if these Sith were intent on war, galactic domination and his family had ties to it, clearly this was bad and Ali started to understand that whilst the scientist seemed to be amiable enough in conversation, he kept dark secrets, though the full extent of which the Togruta could not comprehend. Furthermore, she felt that she could sympathise with her mistress' frustrations. If Aska disagreed with who the Sith were and what they did, finding out that she was a clone of one was always going to harbor resentment. It was not a life she chose for herself, but Ali, knowing that her mistress had been forging her own path felt a great deal of admiration for her in that moment. She would remember to tell her that at a more appropriate time.
Ali did not take her eyes off the holocron as Aska tossed it to the captive. He was able to pick it up and examine it. Trench asked whether the clone had been able to open it, to which the answer was no and Ali's eyes widened a little. Thinking back to the night she had touched the holocron and hearing Aska's voice whispering to her. It had been sat on the table as Aska slept in the common area. She must have been examining it to see if she could access it but given up before dozing off, but somehow it had reacted to Ali touching it. Why? The answer to that question could not be given, because to ask it would reveal that she had interfered with her mistress' possessions.
Ali started to nervously preen her fingernails whilst Aska spoke to her creator. The tale of Onderon was not one she had heard before. It sounded frightening, but again, elements of what her mistress said tied in with the experiences Ali had when she interacted with the holocron. The more the Togruta thought about the holocron the more nervous she got. She was even starting to worry that the Sith Aska might try talking to her again right then and there. The only small comfort came in knowing exactly who she had met in that vision and what she was. Fighting your fears was always easier when you knew what the problem was.
Trench continued to prattle on about the Sith organization and the functions of a holocron but Aska only absently listened to his words. She knew enough of what the device was capable of. It had been in her possession for some time and continuously haunted her dreams, showing her visions of the ancient Sith and the life she had lived. It was one of exponential sadness and greatly reflected much of her own life in that sense. The holocron terrified her. Much as it did Ali, it seemed. Glancing back to the Togrutan, Aska recognized the traits she often exhibited when she was nervous. Playing with her fingernails, avoiding eye contact… What was it that Ali knew? She was hiding something, that much Aska could tell. Whatever it was, however, would wait.
”I didn’t go back to that lab for a history lesson, Trench,” Aska finally interrupted. Had he been allowed, the doctor would go on for hours about subjects he found interesting. What intrigued Aska, however, was his captivation for the Sith Order. ”Before I left we had a conversation. You told me that my creation was spawned by New Republic funds but eventually the project was cut short. That a Hutt crime lord had instead financed your research in exchange for an elite mercenary. Do you remember?” Aska’s voice reverted back to a cold and matter-of-fact tone as she knelt down before the doctor. His only response was a short and single nod. Aska could see it in his eyes. He knew what was coming. Pulling the holocron from his hands, the clone looked it over carefully before returning her attention to the prisoner, waiting for him to inevitably crack.
”It speaks to you… Doesn’t it?” was all he managed to say.
”It does,” Trench hung his head at her words. The secret was out. ”You’ve lied to me from the very beginning. You and your little cult. The Republic never funded your research. A Hutt, maybe. But the Republic would never finance the rebirth of a Sith warrior,” Setting the holocron down at her feet, Aska took her hand and grabbed Trench by the chin once more. ”You’ve failed. Not once. Not even twice. But six times. Isn’t that right? Those two girls… My sisters… That you made me kill to fix your mistake… Five and Six, weren’t they?”
Ali noticed Aska's glance over to her. The pair knew each other well enough now that Ali's nervous fidgeting would give away that she had something to hide. The girl was normally so open and honest about things that for her to keep a secret from her mistress would be very unusual. To try and diffuse any heat on her, she stopped preening her fingernails and folded her arms tightly to try and suppress any visible signs of guilt.
As the conversation between Aska and her creator continued, a new piece of information came to light that seemed to answer just why her mistress had been covered in blood and so distraught when she reappeared in the Medical Facility on Coruscant. Not only that, but why the clone remained at such a high level of rage to this point. Two girls - sisters, Aska had called them - Doctor Ryun had forced her mistress to kill them.
This time, Ali walked over to the pair of them. She did not interfere with what Aska was doing, but crouched down to look at Trench. Her green eyes stared at the man who had given her mistress life, but forced her to also take it away.
"How could you do something so heartless?" she asked. Her voice was eerily soft for the weighty question she had asked. Turning to look at the clone, the Togruta placed a sympathetic hand on Aska's back, only for a moment before saying "Mistress I'm so sorry... I had no idea..."
The slave then stood up again and returned to her original position so as not to get in Aska's way. Alisaah was not an advocate of violence at all. She was not going to willingly strike Trench and certainly not since she was a slave, but given what she had learned and knowing who Aska was, it was time to let her mistress deal with her creator as she saw fit, without any interference from her. As a servant, she knew her place and her allegiance was to Aska, not the monster chained up in front of her. When the time was right, she would console her mistress - her friend - over the horrible ordeal she had endured in the lab.
Upon hearing Trench’s confirmation, the image of the two dead children laying in Aska’s lap returned to her mind. She didn’t know them during their short lives and yet she knew everything about them. What would have happened to them had the virus not been released in the lab? They would have been raised just the same as she was, born and bred to kill. But for who? Surely no Hutt could contain a Sith.
As Ali retreated back to her position, now fully aware of what had taken place below the glittering spires of Coruscant, Aska allowed herself a short moment of relief at the Togrutan’s touch. While she wasn’t one for affection or sympathy, she couldn’t deny that her slave companion did have a way of soothing her, even in times like these.
”It’s time for the truth, Doc,” Aska finally spoke. ”And don’t forget… I know more than you think. If you try lying to me again, I’ll strangle you with your own intestines,” For a moment, Aska could have swore she saw true fear behind Trench’s eyes but they were too swollen to really tell. As he licked his lips nervously, the man shuffled to a more comfortable position and drew in a deep breath.
”Very well… For thousands of years, my family has sought to return ourselves to a seat of influence in the galaxy. We’ve been lost to time, struck from records and cast aside as though we never existed. But at one time, we were a controlling force in the mid rim,” Aska nodded, tapping the tip of the holocron that laid between the cowering prisoner and her own kneeling position before him.
”Because of her?”
”Yes, because of her. Mistress Aska Ryun was a Sith in control of a small section of the galaxy, reporting directly to the Sith Emperor of a bygone era. She was assassinated by members of the Jedi Order on a campaign in the Unknown Regions before being returned to Onderon, the world she made her home after the death of her husband,”
”So why the cloning? Why not just put in the work to make something of yourselves?” Aska queried. None of this made any sense.
”Because we did not hold the power she did. The power of the Force. No one did. Not even you or any of the other clones. Not until-”
Ali found a cargo crate to pop herself onto as she watched the exchange. She had learned a surprising amount about both her mistress and Doctor Ryun in this fateful meeting and perhaps most remarkable of all was that despite her anger towards Trench, Aska had not turned on Ali or asked her to leave. It seemed the clone trusted Ali a great deal and the slave would do whatever she had to, to uphold that trust.
The Togruta now knew about her mistress' origins and her creator's background and motives. The questions she had about the events on Coruscant had now also been answered. Now the conversation turned towards questions that Aska seemingly wanted to know answers to. Her mistress wanted the truth about everything from the man who had orchestrated her life. Trench gave another one of his history lessons. As shady as he was, Ali couldn't deny he was excellent at explaining things. It was just a shame that the man was a monster.
According to Doctor Ryun, the Sith Aska had powerful influence over part of the galaxy, but her descendants did not possess the power that she did and instead funneled their efforts into reproducing it artificially. This power must be what Sith Aska had been tempting Ali to claim in the vision. The Togruta's mind wandered to the holocron again. If Sith Aska thought she had potential, did this mean she was like her? A Sith? That couldn't be true. Ali had never knowingly displayed any power. She was physically strong, she kept in good shape, but she wasn't a fighter - not yet at least. All her training was designed for her to look good when she was dancing - not take over the galaxy. The more concerned she got over the holocron the more her nervous traits would start to flare up again and to stop them, this time she placed her hands under her thighs as she sat there, to prevent herself toying with her fingernails again.
The one thing that stopped her thinking about the holocron was something Trench said. He had a daughter. The Togruta looked at him puzzled. Before finding out Aska was a clone she had assumed the mercenary had been his daughter. From what she knew of her mistress' past, she knew she had grown up in that lab, so the doctor would have had a large part in her upbringing. Or did he? Did the scientist just leave Aska to be raised by his advisers and aides? The thought seemed so clinical - cruel even. Did her mistress even know that Trench had, for lack of a better phrase, a real family? Furthermore, Doctor Ryun's claim that the descendants of Sith Aska lacked the power she had once again proved to be a false one. Not only did he have a daughter, she had her ancient ancestor's power. Ali looked at Aska - she was now behind her mistress so they weren't likely to meet eyes unless she glanced over - but all the same, the Togruta was unsure how her mistress would react to this news.
”Your… daughter?” Aska queried, shocked at the revelation. She had never taken any consideration to the fact that the Doctor may have had a life outside of the lab; he never left when she was a resident. When Ali and herself had spied on the lab, he had mentioned that he wanted Rahmier to tell his children he loved them over the intercepted transmission but she only had assumed that he was speaking of her and other possible clones. How did he ever find the time to find a wife? Raise a child? ”How… Where is she now?” she asked. The only rational reasoning she could think of is that he was either a dead beat father, which wasn’t that much of a stretch in her eyes, or that she is very young. Trench only offered a weak smile in response. Was he spending what he could recognize as his last moments thinking of his children?
”Both my son and daughter had taken to the galaxy a few years prior to your own departure, I’m afraid. The last I had heard, they were on Teth,” The Doctor raised his eyes to meet Aska’s, awaiting her response. He had told her once that Teth was where the original host had been born and raised and it was clear that she recalled it.
”The jungle world in Hutt space? Searching for more Sith artifacts?” Aska responded with exhaustion. She had been to Teth once before with Klied and Poffo hunting down Brag Tyllon. There, she felt more alive than she ever felt before. The world spoke to her, much as the holocron did. It was clear that there was a bond there.
”She’s been searching for this,” Tapping the holocron, Trench moved towards Aska slightly. ”She’s been searching for this holocron. Yet you found it first. Perhaps it was meant to be this way. If anyone can give you answers on what it can do, what it represents, it’s Sahra and Tren,”
As it turned out, Ali would never fully observe how her mistress responded to the news of Doctor Ryun's children. The Togruta did not hear the parts about Trench also having a son and where they were located, because to her dismay, the one thing she had been dreading more than anything - even more than Aska finding out that she had touched the holocron - started to happen. The voice of her mistress and the scientist started to fade into the background, almost muffled, and was replaced by the more mature, more cold voice of her mistress' ancestor. The whispering echoed around the Cargo Bay as if they were standing in a cavern. Sith Aska was talking to the slave again.
"Take the power that she cannot..."
Ali's eyes widened and she began looking around the room to see where the voice was coming from. For a second she thought she was going to be pulled into another vision, but when she wasn't, the Togruta's eyes wandered to the holocron that was still being held by her mistress.
"It appears that my likeness is nothing more than a worthless imitation, incapable of harnessing the true power that I possess. It no longer matters whether she chooses to take this gift. She has refused to commune with me, blocked me out, and now it is clear she never had the right to claim it from the start..." came the disparaging voice of Sith Aska. Ali was uncertain whether she could communicate with the voice without physically speaking and drawing attention to herself, so she said nothing. Her heart was pounding and her nerves had reached the point where she couldn't help but withdraw her hands from under her thighs and start wringing them in her lap again.
"But you... you possess the natural gift, you are worthy of wielding my power. Your potential remains as yet unrealised and I can show you the way. She has disappointed me for the last time and now you... Alisaah... will inherit everything my counterfeit no longer has the right to claim..."
The Togruta's face went pale at the sound of her own name. This was the first time Sith Aska had ever used it. Ali hadn't ever introduced herself to her, how could she possibly know? Was the holocron able to read her mind? Her thoughts? Or if Aska had been speaking to the holocron, had she told her ancestor about her? Either way, this was the second time Sith Aska had reached out to the slave and now, more than the first, the dark mistress was attempting to sway the Togruta. She spoke to the slave more personally, even flattered her, despite Ali's confusion over what this 'natural gift' was.
Aska, entirely unaware of what was going on in the mind of the Togrutan slave girl behind her, maintained a steely glare on her prisoner. He had revealed enough for her to go on, to find out what this device had meant with it’s incessant whisperings and nightmares. But was she truly that woman? She didn’t care nor want what the device had offered. She wanted her own life, one of her choosing. Perhaps the time away from the lab had allowed her to consider all possible paths but her return home had reaffirmed that some pages are better left unread.
”Hm, well… That answers that then…” Aska said solemnly, tossing the ever warming holocron into the air only to catch it as it descended back to her hand in the artificial gravity. Looking to the Doctor, they both knew what came next. ”I can’t forgive you, Tristen. Not after what you’ve done, what you had me do,” Her voice was devoid of any emotion but for the first and last time, she had used the Doctor’s name. It didn’t go unnoticed. Trench looked up to the clone through his swollen eyes and smiled softly.
”I understand, my dear. Had I been in your shoes right now, I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same. I only have one request if you’d at least do me as much,” Aska never broke her stare from Trench, not even for a moment. Setting the holocron down on the ground, the clone drew in a long breathe before pushing it outward in a heavy sigh. She owed this man nothing and everything all at once. How she hated him for what he had done and what he intended to do. But without him, she would not be here. She would never have found Ali, Klied, Poffo. Deskar and Quinri would still be alive but she would have never known the joy of having a family of her own for the short time she had known them. Despite all her hatred and misgivings for Tristen Ryun, she owed him at least this much.
”Make your request,”
”If you do find my children… If you find Sahra and Tren… Please tell them that I loved them more than I could ever hope to describe. And please know that I loved you. Just as I loved them. You were like a daughter to me and I will die with the regret of never showing you the compassion you deserved,” His words stung far more than Aska could have ever anticipated. Had Trench treated her as such, both their lives would have played out differently. Perhaps she would have never left the lab in search of her own life. Perhaps she would have truly had a father.
”You have my word,” the clone spoke softly, preparing herself for what she needed to do. Pulling the blade back up and placing it’s razor sharp edge along the same incision she had made upon arriving in the cargo bay, Aska rested her gaze on Trench’s once more. For the very first time since she had been born, she could feel a mutual understanding partnered with her burning hatred and as she leaned her weight into the blade, dragging it deeply through his esophagus and arteries, she watched the light of life in his eyes begin to dim away. It was done. As she knelt in the growing pool of his blood, the images of her infected sisters burned brightly in her mind. She had had her revenge, but much like Klied had said back in the lab, she didn’t feel any better. Taking his life wouldn't bring them back. It wouldn't bring them peace. How could it? Still, she knew she could find solace in the fact that his diabolical experiments and schemes would no longer plague the galaxy. And this was enough.
The internal monologue between Sith Aska and Ali continued at the conversation between the Togruta's mistress and her creator continued. If the woman inside the holocron knew her name, perhaps she could hear Ali's thoughts. There was only one way to test this hypothesis. Being sure not to actually say anything aloud, Ali thought "How do you know my name? Why must you keep tormenting me?" Despite the fact she had only interacted with the ancient Sith once before, it felt that she had been plagued by her and the vision ever since. That vision of her mistress laying dead on a jungle planet imprinted in her mind, a constant anxiety. To her surprise, she received a response.
"Because you are chosen..."
The echoing whisper disappeared as quickly as it came. As it did so the conversation between her mistress and Doctor Ryun started to fade back in and become more audible again. Ali still had so many questions to ask the woman invading her mind but though she tried to ask them internally, there was no longer a response. Alisaah was chosen, yet she did not understand why.
The only thing that caused Ali to stop fixating on what just occurred inside her head was the sound of an unfamiliar name. Tristen. Her heart still racing and breath still short, Ali looked over at Aska and the doctor, her green eyes still open wide. For the first and last time, her mistress had addressed her creator by his name. From the tones in their voices and the words uttered, Ali was able to make out that things were drawing to a close. In only a few short moments, Aska would end his life, but as tended to be the case with both these individuals, there was one last surprise in store. The clone actually granted Trench one final request - to tell his children that he loved them. But not just that, the man even admitted to caring for Aska in the same way, only his words were tinged with regret for never showing it in his actions.
To Ali, even as an onlooker, there was something gut wrenching about his words. The Togruta had been with Aska through some very difficult times in her life already; the murder of her friends Quinri and Deskar, now the ordeal with her two sisters. Though on the outside Aska might not show it, Ali knew first hand how much these events had hurt her. Doctor Ryun's words, in this moment, would have been painful to hear. The last words that Doctor Tristen Ryun would ever hear, were his creation's reassurance that she would tell his children he loved them, before the clone slit his throat.
Blood splattered everywhere. It was not a sight that Ali had gotten any more used to seeing and it caused her to wince. Her mistress stood there in the pool of blood with a neutral look on her face - a feeling of numbness radiating from her. Killing the doctor would not return things to the way they had once been. Jumping to her feet and without saying a word, Ali ran to Aska and embraced her in a hug. It was perhaps not what she should have done as a slave, but as a friend, she could not let the clone deal with times like this alone.