Ask Reminiscence and Recovery

Aska Ryun

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Under normal circumstances, travelling through hyper space brought Aska an odd sense of ease. She never really understood why but jumping between worlds proved to her that life was far simpler than it was when she was on the business end of a blaster, which was proving to be far too often. Now, with the horrors of Nar Shaddaa behind them, the clone found no such serenity. Instead, she was haunted by the memory of her now dead friends. The sight of life leaving Quinri’s eyes. Her whimpers of pain as she knelt in a pool of what only could have been her own blood. The lost opportunity to ensure they had reconciled their misgivings with each other. As well as both Deskar, the father she never truly had as well as Boola, a woman she once considered to be her greatest enemy. Everyone she knew, gone in mere moments.

Sitting on the bed in the darkness of the captain’s quarters, Aska gazed at the holographic image that the Besalisk had given her hours before his execution. All of them save the Rodian, smiling to the heavens as they had not a care in the world. Tears fell down her cheeks so frequently now that the collar of her white shirt had developed two large wet stains directly below her chin. What she would give to turn back time and to bring them with her, even Boola… None of them deserved death and yet death is what they were given. All because Aska’s eagerness to make a name for herself was larger than her capability to make it happen.

”I’m so sorry…” she whispered to no one, though she couldn’t help but feel the three spirits could still hear her words. Those three words, it was all she had been capable of saying out loud since departing the Smuggler’s Moon. In truth, even her mind was numb. Unable to process the events that had taken place. Unable to grasp what had occurred during the momentary black out she experienced upon Quinri’s murder. Unable to understand what came next.

Placing the hologram on the bed beside her, Aska crawled under the blanket and rested her head on the pillow as she pulled the blanket tight to her chin. Still gazing at the hologram, she remained silent, living in the memories…

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Alisaah Tila

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The past few days had been extreme. First having to come to terms with serving a new master. One more violent and murderous at first sight than she was when finally alone with Alisaah. Then being thrust into chaos when her mistress took her along to seek fortune in an ill-judged raid of a secret facility on Nal Hutta. It was there that things took an even worse turn. Since that day, the slave had not been able to sleep. She had the deaths of not just one person, but many others on her hands after being made to detonate a series of bombs as they made a desperate escape. Ali did not know if she could ever really live with herself after that. She was not violent, it was not her nature, but here she was and all this besides the men she killed being directly employed by her former master, Hota Zugg.

Now aboard the very same freighter they had stolen to run from Nal Hutta, Ali wandered the corridors aimlessly, unsure what she should do with herself. Aska had been distant ever since they had picked her up from the apartment. Ever since her Togruta friend had been murdered. Ali had seen the girl's lifeless body and her mistress weeping as she and Kayto had arrived on the scene, having narrowly avoided being captured and possibly killed themselves. It had sent chills down her spine to see someone of her own kind like that. Ali suspected that her mistress did not want to see much of her for fear of reminding Aska too much of her friend. The slave could not blame her.

Ali walked up to the door behind which she knew her mistress would be resting. Given everything that had happened, perhaps it was best that someone, even a slave, let her know she wasn't alone.

"Mistress? Are you awake?" she asked timidly, "... Do you want some company?"

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Laying in the bed of the chamber, blankets tightly covering her as she wept, Aska faintly heard the soft rapping of Alisaah's hand on the door as she stared at the hologram. The slave girl had been distant since they escaped Nar Shaddaa, though Aska had dismissed it as her simply trying to learn how to cope with everything that had transpired, which suited her fine as she too needed space. She knew she needed to remind herself that it wasn't only her that was suffering. Aska had lost everything she had known but so had the Togrutan when the hunter stormed into her life and tore her away from the familiar; albeit Ali's life was destined for change regardless of Aska's intervention. The change that came, however, was likely not even remotely similar to the life that she had been expecting.

"Uh, sure..." Aska replied, her voice soft and cracking as she spoke. "Come in," Forcing herself up slightly, she reached over to deactivate the hologram but as her hand hovered over the device she found herself unable. Again, she stared emptily at the image wishing that she could dive into it and relive those moments for one last time.

As Alisaah entered the room, Aska never took her eyes off the image. Not until the Togrutan had approached did she turn her attention to the woman.

"That was a wild ride, huh?" the clone said, doing her best to hide the pain and discomfort in her voice, wiping more tears from her eyes while forcing a smirk. She didn't feel like she should show the pain she felt to Alisaah, or anyone really.

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Alisaah Tila

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Upon hearing confirmation she was allowed entry, Ali opened the door and entered her mistress' chambers. The ship, although perhaps not new was at least new to them, and as Aska had chosen this place to rest, Ali had already mentally labelled it as her mistress' room. As for herself, she could claim nothing unless her master allowed it and as a slave processed by the Zygerrian's, she was not about to ask for anything. For now, Ali would simply stay out in the common areas until Aska told her she could do any different.

Walking into the room, the only sound of her movement came from the golden tassels of her dancer outfit. Her footsteps made little to no noise, being barefoot, and as a dancer she was graceful and light on her feet as things were. Her green eyes, though beautiful, looked visibly tired from the lack of sleep. She curtseyed to Aska on entering, both out of habit and out of respect to her mistress. The Togruta could tell immediately that her mistress was not in a good way. Her gaze was fixed on the hologram of her lost friends and tears still welled in the corner of her eyes. Despite trying to put on a brave face in front of Ali, the slave knew she was upset and the Togruta was overcome with sympathy for her. Even if the pair had only barely escaped with their lives twice in the space of a couple of days, Aska's motives for taking her from Zugg had been honorable and in their brief time together, she had shown more compassion to the slave than any of her former masters. Not since Meela had she known anyone to have thoughts about her well-being.

"It certainly was mistress. Are you feeling okay?" she asked, approaching Aska and kneeling on the floor before the foot of her bed. She did this for two reasons; first, because a slave shouldn't be seen to stand over their owner and second, because in reality it was easier to speak eye to eye if they were at a similar height. "It appears you have been hurt physically and emotionally by the events of the last few days. Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?" offered the Togruta in a soft, caring tone. She was quite genuine in her concern. Despite her sultry and exotic appearance, it was clear that Ali was a sweet and kind soul at heart.

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Two women from two very different walks of life, yet the similarities between them could not be ignored. Alisaah, who had known nothing more than an existence of obedience, had spent what was essentially her entire life in chains and forced to serve those would be her Master. Aska was hardly any different. She was born and raised to hunt and kill for a Master, or at least from what she had been told despite past events pointing her in a new direction to explain her making. Her chains were not of the physical variety but rather that of her subconscious and yet here the Togrutan was offering sympathy to her Mistress despite the weight of her own imposed obligations and indeed, her own suffering. To say that Aska was the only who had experienced such ravenous pain in the past few days was ignorance and when she considered both women’s full past, her laying here in a pool of self-pity seemed… Pathetic.

”I’ll be okay, kid but… thanks,” she allowed herself to reply sheepishly, pushing herself further upright as she spoke. She wasn’t convinced she really would be okay though. At least, not right away. For years, she had nothing but the white jumpsuits that the team of scientists allowed her to wear to call her own and within a year, she changed it all. From nothing to friends, a home, credits… And now, most of it was torn away. Sure, she had this ship and more money than she really knew what to do with but it was all so empty without her hand picked family there to enjoy it with her. And yet looking to the slave girl at her side, genuine empathy and concern displayed in her eyes, Aska wondered how could someone who had never even had the same pleasures in life as she had could care as much as Alisaah seemed too.

”Actually, I have a question for you,” Aska continued. She needed a distraction and odds were Alisaah could use one as well when she considered just what she had put the young slave through, what she had forced her to do. ”Back before the auction at the embassy, before… that slug… Where did you come from?” Turning to face Alisaah more fully now, Aska pulled her legs back and crossed them under the blanket then motioned for the slave girl to sit beside her. She knew next to nothing about Alisaah and now, she was all she had. ”Please, tell me. I need to focus my mind on something… else. Anything else,”

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The Togruta watched as her mistress gestured for the slave to join her on the bed. Without any further prompting, she rose from her kneeling position and positioned herself on the bed next to Aska. The covers felt soft and warm against Ali's skin, of which much was revealed, having chosen to remain in her dancer's garb. Being allowed to sit with Aska in this moment was the best thing that had happened to the slave for the last few days. It was cozy and comforting to be with someone who she could share the emotions of the last few days with, even if they were triggered by different events.

Ali was a little taken aback when Aska asked her question. Her former owners had never known or cared to know about where she came from, besides to ensure that she was good stock. The Togruta understood her mistress' need to take her mind off things and obliged her with answers.

"Well mistress, Master Zugg purchased me from the Zygerrian's" she said matter-of-factly, "My first master, Master Fligorra, sold me to them when I was 10 years old and I was... trained by them for three years before Master Zugg bought me to do menial tasks around his palace. I didn't become a dancer until a few years later."

It was clear from what Ali had said so far that there was quite a complex history, stretching back both before Zugg and the Zygerrian's, but that the slave tended to think of her life as a series of ownerships. It was also evident that Ali did not particularly like to discuss her time on Zygerria based on the pause before saying the word "training". Training was sugar coating the awful truth that the girl had been abused and tortured whilst she was processed as a slave by the Zygerrian slavers.

"But to answer your question, I don't really know where I come from. I mean... where I really come from" said the slave, looking to her mistress, "The first place I remember being is with Master Fligorra and Meela."

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Listening carefully as Alisaah spoke, forcing the painful memories of the past few days from her mind, Aska felt a moment of reprieve. But only for a moment. Zygerrians, it was a name she had never heard before though as the slave girl spoke it was evident that the recollection was a painful one for her. Aska couldn’t help but wonder just who these people were, what this ‘training’ had included. She easily surmised it was nothing even remotely like the training she herself had received in her youth. After all, Alisaah was clearly a stranger to violence.

”So you’ve been a slave… all your life?” Aska allowed herself to respond. It should have been obvious to her that Alisaah had known no other life than one of servitude; Kayto even mentioned the possibility as the three of them escaped the auction when Aska had attempted to secure the Togrutan’s freedom. Still, knowing it as a fact was almost painful. ”I… That’s horrible, Ali…” And she believed that whole heartedly. To give you life to a stranger, someone you didn’t choose to serve but rather one who purchased you like cattle… To do whatever they bid of you, no questions asked? It was a life Aska feared above all else and one that her now long gone best friend had warned her of.

But soon, Alisaah continued and she mentioned another name, one of which that caused Aska to raise an eyebrow in curiosity. Not once had she heard the slave refer to someone by only their name. It was always Master, Mistress, Mister with Alisaah… But now, Meela. Just Meela.

”Who was Meela? Was she important to you once?” Aska queried as she reached down to the bottom of the bed, pulling up the discarded pack of cigarras.

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It seemed to take Aska by surprise that Alisaah had been a slave since childhood. Not knowing anything other than enslavement, it did not seem all that odd to the Togruta. It was her place and all she knew. There were free people, like Aska, who were fortunate and worthy of their independence and there were slaves, like Ali, who were unworthy and must be grateful for the kindness and pity of their owners. This was her lot in life and she had no want or desire for anything else because the Togruta had been raised to serve.

"Yes mistress" nodded Ali, her turquoise earrings jingling ever to slightly as she did so. It was clear that the clone felt pity for the Togruta, but it would not have registered much with her. All she was doing was living the life that was given to her - she had no reason to question it and had been conditioned not to by all of her previous owners, not least the Zygerrians.

The subject of the conversation turned to Meela. It had been a long while since Ali had last thought about the Twi'lek.

"Meela is... was... well, I'm not really sure what has become of her because I was 10 the last time I saw her, but she was a slave dancer like me that belonged to Master Fligorra" she explained, starting to look into the middle distance as she remembered the Twi'lek, seeing her face in her mind's eye, "She was the closest thing I ever had to a mother."

There was a hint of fondness in Ali's voice as she spoke about Meela which was also tinged with a bittersweet sense of loss. It would have been obvious to Aska that the 10 year old Alisaah would certainly not want to have been separated from the Twi'lek, but being so long ago, the Togruta would have long learned to deal with the memories of parting with her - or lack thereof. The day Alisaah had been sold to the Zygerrian's, Meela had not been there. Being a slave herself she'd have never been consulted on the matter and the two never even got the courtesy of saying goodbye.

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Aska’s heart hurt for her as Alisaah spoke about the woman from her past. She herself didn’t have parents in a literal sense but it wasn’t a requirement to understand that being separated from one brought an indescribable pain not easily shaken by anything other time, and even then, it wasn’t a guarantee.

”I can’t even imagine what that must feel like,” Aska said softly as she rolled the unlit cigarra in her fingers while staring at her feet that remained covered by the blanket on the bed. ”I never had parents, though I suppose Deskar was something of a father figure for me,” The words stung as she spoke them. How she would miss that giant bulk of a man…

As the two women sat there, discussing Alisaah’s past, every passing comment cemented the fact that maybe they were meant to find one another. They seemed like opposite sides of the same coin at this point, minted together though facing different circumstances that inevitably led them to each other. Aska couldn’t keep herself from a soft chuckle as the young Jedi Fiach from Onderon surfaced in her thoughts, her words of how the Force ‘guided’ her to Aska’s side in the pursuit of the Mirialan woman that would bring them to discovering the burial chamber of her ancestor. Perhaps this was all the work of that same Force? She held doubts but still, she couldn’t ignore it. In the past year, she had seen a great deal of seemingly impossible events and maybe, just maybe, they all were serving as catalysts to a future Aska had yet to understand.

”Alisaah,” Aska stated as she finally returned her attention to the Togrutan woman. ”I should apologize for everything I’ve put you through these last few days. It’s been a lot for me even… I can’t imagine it’s been easy for you either…” With the cigarra in one hand, Aska reached out with her other to grab Ali’s own, a small smile finally surfacing. ”But I’m glad you’re here with me, everything considered. Maybe it would have all played out differently if I left you with Zugg, maybe not… But I don’t know if I’d be able to cope with everything alone,”

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Alisaah silently acknowledged Aska's thoughts on her separation from Meela. Surprisingly, it appeared that the two women had more in common than they perhaps realised. The Togruta felt a further pang of empathy toward her mistress when she spoke about Deskar. Though she had only met him the once, he had been an incredibly kind and friendly man, even to a slave like Ali. It was rather unusual to find people like that in the galaxy, particularly in the places that Ali had been kept her whole life. Though she could not fully relate, the slave could tell he was a grave loss.

Shortly the conversation turned back to Alisaah. Aska was apologising to her. The Togruta looked to her mistress as they sat with each other on the bed with a confused look in her eyes. Never had any master of hers apologised to her for anything. It wasn't conventional - slaves were slaves, they got treated however their owner felt fit, but that usually implied that there was no need to seek the forgiveness of someone beneath them. The confusion was soon replaced by a strong sense of fondness for Aska as the clone took her slave's hand to express some genuine, heartfelt appreciation for her Togrutan slave.

Ali's hand trembled a little. She was taken aback by how kind her mistress could truly be and after all that had already happened to the pair of them and the lack of sleep, some small crystal tears elegantly trickled down her red cheeks.

"It's my only purpose to follow and serve you mistress. You won't ever go through anything alone as long as I'm with you" she whimpered, "but thank you for your kindness... I don't deserve it."

With these words, Aska would have been able to feel Ali's hand squeeze hers a little more tightly; not through aggression but more clutching on to her for comfort.

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Aska watched as Alisaah expressed bewilderment from her comment. At first, she felt as though maybe she should have chosen to keep such words to herself. After all, she was speaking from a pretty dark place at the moment and while she fully meant what she said, perhaps the time was not right? However, the slave girl soon responded and the clone was reminded that her companion had always held herself in such a demeaning regard. She was no more than a servant in her own eyes and despite any past effort she had put forward, Aska was never able to convince the woman that she could have her own freedom if she so chose.

”You deserve more than you give yourself credit for, Ali,” Aska responded as she felt Alisaah’s grip tighten slightly on her own hand. It felt reassuring, to say the least, but she needed to make the point clear. ”I wasn’t joking when I found you. I didn’t take you just to keep you in chains. If you wa-“

Aska was soon interrupted as a loud bang came from the engine bay of the freighter, alarms following partnered with a violent shaking of the ship as it hurdled through hyperspace.

”What the hell?!” Aska hollered, throwing the blanket from her body and bringing herself to her feet as she braced herself against the wall. The turbulence made walking difficult but she needed to discover what was happening. ”Kayto! What the hell did you do?!” she yelled down the corridor to the cockpit.

”It was not my doing, Mistress,” the droid responded from the pilot’s chair. ”It seems the engine you repaired back on Nar Shaddaa has suffered a critical failure. If I do not drop from hyperspace, the ship is liable to be torn apart,”

Kayto’s statement caused Aska to cringe. Maybe this was her fault after all…

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Alisaah's sniffling was cut short when the freighter started to violently shake. Aska had jumped to action immediately, flinging the blanket away and tearing down the ship's corridor to find Kayto. The Togruta did not immediately follow. Though she was disturbed by whatever could be making the ship vibrate, Ali took her time getting up and as best she could, fold her mistress' blanket back up and place it on her bed. The slave felt a little sad that their talk had ended so soon but happy because she had a chance to bond with her owner. It was always difficult for slaves to acclimatize to new owners, learning what each of them expected, what they liked, what they did not, but now at least she felt like they were making progress.

She finally caught up to Aska when she arrived in the cockpit. The droid, Kayto, was protesting his innocence on the subject of what had happened to the ship. According to Kayto, the freighter had been damaged and without swift action, they would all be doomed.

"We cannot allow our mistress to be harmed Kayto" she said assertively, "Please do what is necessary to keep her safe. Then maybe we can figure out what to do next."

Ali looked to Aska hoping that she had not overstepped the mark. As a slave, she saw herself being only equal to droids at best and her actions weren't intended to make it appear otherwise. She was simply concerned for her mistress whom she fully relied upon. Aska may have been in a weakened state following the death of her friends, but Ali was determined to help her recover.

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As the ship continued to hurtle through hyperspace, the strength of the vibrations coming from the damaged thruster growing with each passing moment, Aska spun the co-pilot's chair and threw herself into it before reaching across the dash panel and cutting power to the hyperdrive while the droid manned the controls for the ship's abrupt emergence that was about to occur.

"I recommend your primary concern be securing yourself, madam. 'Our' mistresses fate is tied with our own," Kayto responded to Alisaah with a curt tone. Aska noticed the emphasis of sarcasm when he mentioned that Alisaah believed them both to belong to the clone but said nothing, knowing that even a droid could feel lost after losing a master and the void of Boola's passing had likely affected him just as her own losses were impacting her own decision making.

Soon, the blue tunnel of hyper travel began to streak back into the stars of the universe as the freighter decelerated, leaving them in the emptiness of space. Turning her attention to the scanners, Aska searched for... well, anything. A planet, space station, even a passing ship. The dangers of being in deep space were not one to be taken lightly. Pirates and smugglers alike often operated in areas that were off the scopes of both the New Republic and the Free World Alliance and that was exactly the situation they found themselves in as she saw nothing come up on the display.

"Kayto, can you lock down our location?" Aska queried as she turned to face the Togrutan woman to ensure she was safe from the abrupt drop of hyperspace.

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The response from Kayto was lost on Alisaah. She detected no sense of curtness from him and simply did as he advised by taking a seat in the cockpit behind the pair. Looking out the window, the peculiar streaks of blue that had surrounded them suddenly vanished, revealing a vast starscape before them.

It had been very rare for Alisaah to see glimpses of space. Her first master had never taken her off-planet, choosing to keep all of his slaves in one place as if part of a treasure hoard. Aside from transport to Zygerria, the Zygerrian slavers kept their slaves oppressed planetside until they were purchased at one of their many markets and auctions. The first time she had seen space was on the infrequent trips Hota Zugg took around the Outer Rim, usually to bargain with other crime lords. She would be asked to accompany him on his yachts to keep him, his crew and any guests entertained.

When she first saw the sprawling expanse through the ship's windows it had struck her as the most beautiful sight she had ever seen, having previously been accustomed to just dark, dank, dungeon-like dwellings. It had inspired her to dance and to this day, she still drew upon memories of it's beauty and incorporated it into her performances. She was glad she had a chance to see it again.

Looking between Kayto and Aska, she could tell that her mistress at least was less comfortable. The clone had turned to look at her, perhaps to check that she had seated herself. The Togruta became somewhat bashful as she clearly had done as Kayto suggested and wasn't sure what else she should be doing whilst the droid calculated their position.

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Smiling upon seeing that Alisaah had indeed found herself secured in a seat for the emergence, Aska turned back to Kayto as the droid began calling up the co-ordinates of their current setting.

"According to my readings, we are not far off from the Trellen Trade Route. A few worlds are nestled along this pathway that could provide us an opportunity to land and make any of the necessary repairs to continue on towards the galactic core," the droid stated. Nodding, Aska stood from the co-pilot's chair and walked around in behind Kayto to get a glance at the screen for herself.

"What such worlds? First one we come across and we bring it in there," the clone stated as she surveyed the display. A few worlds stood out to her but before Kayto had the chance to reply she soon spotted the most likely candidate. "Zeltros? I've never heard of this world before... Have either of you?" she queried of her partners.

"Indeed I have, mistress," Kayto responded. "It is a tropical world inhabited by the Zeltron people. Judging by what I know of you and you're... tendencies... It will likely be a world very much to your liking," Aska could hear the exasperation in the droid's tone but his words still perked her up slightly.

"And just what is that supposed to mean?"

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It seemed then that they would be taking a detour. Kayto announced that the nearest planet was a place named Zeltros. Ali could not comment on it. She had absolutely no knowledge of the galaxy. Even if Zugg had taken her to a handful of places on his yacht, she would never have known or been told about the places they went and whilst there, she'd have gone to only a few places determined by her master's itinerary. It was a good thing that Kayto seemed to know more about it.

Aska seemed put out by the way the droid had said she would like Zeltros. From what little Ali had known of her mistress in the short time she knew her before their lives had both been turned totally upside-down, she knew that Aska enjoyed a party. They had both attended Deskar's on Boonta Eve. It was the first place, other than the apartment on Nar Shaddaa, that the pair had gone together and Aska had even insisted that Ali drink alcohol to loosen up. Thinking about it, the Togruta turned to Kayto in the gap left after Aska questioned the droid.

"Do you mean that we're going to a party planet?" she asked, somewhat timidly, not wishing to annoy Aska with this question, "I mean... mistress seemed very at home when we attended the Boonta Eve party."

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