Part VI: Atton
Killing him was release. I feel free now, so free. Just one more step, and freedom will be really, truly mine.
Till then, this waiting is torture. Something burns me from the inside, begging me to move, to fight. I wanna start pacing like a kath hound in a cage, but I steel my jaw and stay where I am, a shadow within shadows. I can't move or I might ruin the surprise.
My eyes dart to the dead body across the room. Ah, yes, what a surprise.
A shocker, really. Soon she'll
see it, and if it isn't enough to screw with her little Jedi mind, seeing her precious "fool" will.
Yeah, see this? See what you did to me?
The thought makes me wanna laugh. And it makes me wanna cry. So I don't react. I just keep waiting, and breathing, and letting my mind become one with the darkness of Malachor.
After what feels like an eternity, I sense her presence, and my eyes fly open. She's here.
All of a sudden my heart's pounding. Does she know I'm here? What'll she think when she sees him? Thoughts race through my head, jumbled, panicked. I'm losing control, and it angers me. Gritting my teeth, I close my eyes and let one thought ring through my head.
I hate her.
Three simple words. Yet they're so full of power that they send a shudder through my body. Other thoughts fade away.
I hate her.
Yes. I hate her for what she's done to me, for what the Jedi have done to me. Nothing else matters now.
I just wanna be free.
When I open my eyes, I feel calm again, much to my satisfaction. That's it, Jaq. Pure pazaak.
I creep to the edge of the pillar and look around it. She's spotted him already, and now she's walking toward him with slow, measured steps. I feel my blood heat as I watch her. Her cheeks are flushed from battle, her eyes lined with red, her hair a mess. But she's still so beautiful. Like a doll.
So I'm gonna break her like one.
He'd been shocked by how effortlessly she'd broken into his mind in the polar academy. She'd brushed past his defenses like they were so much space dust, then ripped out his secrets with the same obscene ease—secrets he'd never breathed aloud for fear that they would turn on him and strangle him.
After that, she'd stared knowingly at him with those eerie white eyes, and she'd smiled, her lips curling at the edges.
He'd felt genuine fear then. The kind he hadn't felt since he was a kid.
Now, as Atton lay in a trembling heap on the floor, he tasted that fear again. Only this time it was tinged with a resentment deeper than any he had ever felt before.
She'd broken into his mind again. She'd seen the blackness brewing there, and now she was
laughing. Laughing at his anger and pain.
"So, at last you have seen what was plain to me from the beginning. Good. Hold it close, let it burn you with its truth. The pain will give you strength, and you will need that strength in the days to come."
Then she spoke to him about many things. Pretty Boy. The fate of the Jedi. The part that Atton would play in it.
Her words crawled within his skull, whispering to the darkness inside him, compelling him to give in.
At one point he realized that he'd managed to get back on his feet. But it hardly mattered. In his mind he was still lying prostrate on the floor, as helpless as an ant in the jaws of a spider. He knew that she was using him for some greater purpose, and that he would pay a price if he resisted, just like last time.
This time, however, there was one big difference: he didn't
need to be threatened with punishment. Not really. Not when her words echoed so harmoniously with his deepest desires. He would do what she wanted, without hesitation.
He was sure she knew that, too. And he hated her for it.