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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
718 years before the Battle of Yavin (683BrS:1:22) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Germanicus Rodney's undersea lair).
Raeni Corliss and Baron Germanicus Rodney (Darth Crassus).

The transition from slave life to life as a noble woman wasn't exactly ... *easy*. Raeni Corliss was internalizing much of her shock and worries. Her exterior was confident, because finally she could be. When the night grew late and she was supposed to sleep, it was then that her demons came out to play. She wasn't sleeping well. Memories of her old life seemed to pour into her like an open wound. She wrestled with complex feelings regarding her family, the Hutts, and what she had done. That night, the interior battle seemed greater than ever. With an irritated groan, Raeni rose from her bed. She dressed herself, then quietly escaped from the confinement of her bedroom. As much as she didn't want Germanicus to notice her, her emotional storm was a dead give away.

Standing on the underwater hanger, Raeni was back to training. She had thrown herself into learning about the Force and all of its powers. She had the foundation to become one hell of a pupil. The young woman *worked*. Her eyes were currently closed. Her body moved swiftly this way and that. Internally, she was working on getting much more in touch with her powers. It seemed the best way to keep her demons at her doorstep and out of her head. There was still so much to learn from her new Master. She was so *weak*. Her concentration broke. She lost her footing and stupidly fell over herself onto her rear on the ground. It hurt more than it should have. The pain reverberated through her internally. Her body began to shake. Tears threatened to pour from her eyes. She wasn't as strong as she made herself out to be. She wasn't as good as she wanted to be. Frustrating and growing increasingly more upset, Raeni pounded her fist into the ground a single time before hiding her face behind her hands. She was resentful towards all those people who had hurt her in her village. All she wanted to do was trade them to bring her mother back.

As Raeni occupied herself in the underwater hangar bay, there was suddenly a flash of energy as something connected with the forcefield that kept the lake water from flooding the chamber. It was a sea cow baby, and it was injured. The sea monster was busy feeding on the sea cow's mother while the infant desperately slammed itself against the forcefield in a desperate attempt to find safety. Unfortunately, the creature was in danger of electrocuting itself as it continuously impacted the forcefield. Raeni would soon be faced with a decision as to whether to lower the shield to let herself in to save the creature, but also expose herself to freezing lake water and the sea monster ... or to watch the adorable creature be devoured like the rest of its pod.

Her hands dropped down rapidly the first time something collided with the forefield. She squinted her eyes. It was late. This deep in the water, it was difficult to see what lay beyond the forcefield. The next time it hit, Raeni saw what it was: a sea cow baby. "Oh no!" She recalled spotting the very same baby sea cow and her mother earlier in the day through the viewport. The final screams of the sea cow's mother made her heart ache. The little one was going to kill itself if it continued to seek safety in the hangar. Or...

She tried to reach out to the beast of the lake. Raeni couldn't maintain any kind of connection. The beast was wild while it savagely fed off of the sea cow. The moans from the baby made it that much more difficult to clear her mind. Time was running out, ticking down more quickly than she could handle. In a very rash decision, Raeni made the choice to lower the forcefield. Was she suicidal or compassionate? Maybe stupid? Either way, one second it was there, the next it disappeared. Freezing cold water rushed the hangar. It flooded her in an instant. She held her breath. She could see the little sea cow baby swimming into the hangar. Well, at least it was safe. As for the young Sith apprentice herself...well, she found herself in a massive amount of trouble. She pawed at the water and began swimming towards the surface. It was unlikely that she'd reach the surface of the lake before she ran out of breath. Regardless, she had to keep fighting. She attempted to reach out to *anything* around her and failed miserably.

Germanicus had been watching her from his desk via the camera that recorded all activity within the hangar. Once again her compassion for a lesser creature had risked her own demise. He was tempted to let her drown, but his compassion for her did not allow it. Perhaps one day it would be his undoing. Not being one for dramatic gestures like diving into the water after her, he instead rose from his desk and moved towards the viewport. He could see her now, submerged in the water, desperate, and afraid. He was calm, however, and closed his eyes until he could feel the living force that surrounded the sea monster. In a flash the currents of the lake changed nd the beast moved towards Raeni. It wrapped its tentacles around her, but instead of drawing her into its mouth for a quick meal, it began dragging her towards the surface. After what could only be described as a rough ride it carelessly flung her out onto the shoreline. From below, Germanicus moved to the turbolift that rose him from the structure to a hidden emergency exit in the nearby rocks. He moved towards the soaking Raeni, but did not attempt to help her up. "If you did not want the creature to eat the sea cow then you simply should have told it not to," he said to her, as he shook his head down to her. "It is the fate of all other living things to obey *us*," he declared, using the word for the first time.

Thoughts of death had begun to creep into Raeni's mind. No matter how much she paddled, it felt like she wasn't moving. The surface was no closer to her than it had been seconds ago. To make matters worse, she was already running out of air. Her life would end right here. Her bones would decorate the area beneath Germanicus' home. The sea beast came to her without her calling. It was suddenly upon her. It snatched her up with its huge tentacles. If she thought things had been bad before, everything had just become infinitely worse. Rather than shove her in its mouth, the sea monster raggedly dragged her up to shore. She nearly lost consciousness during the rough ride. It ended with her on the ground in pain, coughing up water, and shivering. She felt terrible.

The citrus on her wounds appeared seemingly from nowhere. Raeni looked at him from where she sat on her knees on the ground. "I *tried* to!" She exclaimed. "There was too much going on. I couldn't reach it!" It had felt like touching a metal wall. She simply hadn't been capable of making the connection happen. She remained on the ground attempting to collect herself. Now she felt miserable and humiliated. There was nowhere to hide with Germanicus. *Nowhere*. She didn't make eye contact with him. She was like a dog with her tail between her legs.

"You *tried* to?" Germanicus said, repeating her words in a mocking tone. He kneeled down on the ground next to her, still looking down at her. "*Do*," he said to her, before raising his the index finger of his right hand to her face and wagging it from side to side. "I don't want to hear the word *try* out of your mouth again," he chastised her, before he offered her hand, raising her up with him as he stood. "These creatures have weak minds compared to humans and other sentient species," he said, as he reached down and picked up a smooth stone. He examined it for a moment, rubbing its smooth features, before tossing it at the surface of the lake. It impacted sharply, skimming over the surface at irregular intervals before finally submerging. The ripples it created would go on for miles before dissipating. "Until you can learn to control them you stand no chance at being able to influence others in the grand scale necessary for what is to come," he said, as almost on cue a herd of nerfs moved in to drink from the lake. He raised his hand, calmly petting one as it drank. He then turned towards the lake, glaring at it, as he new the sea monster was near. He raised his hand, and telekinetically began to manipulate the area around the smallest of the baby nerfs. Without warning it was launched into the air and hurled into the shallows of the lake where it would make a fitting meal for the beast. The ripples it made did much to aid in alerting the monster that a meal was at hand. "If you wish to save this animal without endangering yourself, you must simply command the beast not to eat it," he said to her, as he gave her another chance. "Do. Don't try," he repeated, as he stepped back, folding his arms in front of his chest to watch her.

Her lower lip quivered. He didn't understand, trying was all she could do right now. She needed to keep pushing herself. She needed to train harder. A voice inside of her head had convinced her of these things. Taking his hand, Raeni reluctantly rose back to her feet. She stared at the water like she was attempting to move it with her mind. The girl was silent. His words were soaking into her brain. If she couldn't do this then she'd be of no use to him. A nerf softly brushed against her leg as it moved towards the water. She watched it. Her heart was soft for the animals. She had now demonstrated this on two occasions. Her chest was still healing from her head on collision with a nerf.

He put his next test in motion. A cute, little nerf calf was suddenly thrown into the water. It cried out for the others in the pack to help it. Its legs moved wildly this way and that. Raeni didn't need to see below the surface of the lake to know that the sea creature was on his way. Again, she was pressured to make her powers *work*. She stared out to the water. She couldn't do *this*. She couldn't do any of it. She was ready to turn her tail and go back to Ylesia. Who else would place fresh flowers upon her mother's grave now that she was gone? Her small hands were shaking. She could see a tentacle rising less than five feet away from the baby nerf. She slammed her eyes shut, forced to confront all the voices that were calling out to her. She couldn't shake the image of her mother being beaten to death while she helplessly stood by. Her heart ripped into a million tiny pieces.

And then the sea monster came to a complete stop. It's tentacle as grazing the baby nerf's back. With her eyes still closed, Raeni allowed the beast to wrap a tentacle around one of the nerf's feet then delicately pick it up from the water. Another tentacle supported its backside while it traveled towards the rest of its pack near the edge of the water. Raeni had nearly succeeded, but then other thoughts began to bleed through. The beast, which had been cradling the nerf, suddenly ripped the baby nerf in two. Blood and intestines flooded the water in the immediate area. It did not eat the nerf, it simply continued to tear it and tear it and tear it. Raeni was still inside the creature's head...but so were the demons in her head. She didn't have to open her eyes to know what had happened. Her head shot towards Germanicus. Her eyes were bloodshot and her nose was red. "I *can't!" Raeni screamed. She instantly turned her back on him and began heading in the opposite direction.

Germanicus watched her carefully, silently rooting her on as she attempted to control the sea monster. He thought she had done it, but then things took a terrifically horrible turn as the nerf fell victim to the sea monster. Exasperated, he threw back his head, rolled his eyes, and turned away. His hands curled into fists so violently that his fingers nearly tore apart the palms of his hands. "You can!" he screamed at her, as she began to walk away, channeling all of his rage into his voice. His voice carried over the plains, finally coming to end in the distant mountain ranges. He turned suddenly, and began powerwalking to catch up with her. As he neared her, he reached out with his hand, grabbing her by the shoulder, and turning her around. "Whatever is inside you controlling you ... you *must* learn to use it," he scolded her, before closing his eyes and trying to steady his breath. He was a ball of rage on the verge of losing his temper, but his master had stressed the need for him to harness that power rather than fall victim to it in self defeat. He needed to pass that lesson on to her, but it did not seem to be working, and he was beginning to doubt himself as a teacher. He raised both of his hands to the sides of her head, trying to get her to focus. He closed his eyes, beginning to tremble, as he attempted to sharpen her hard edges. He could have crushed her skull if he wanted to, but fortunately that was the last thing he wanted. "What is inside of there?" he asked her, in frustration, before dramatically pulling his hands away. "You are too tightly wound. Until you let go and unleash the demons inside of you, you will never be anything," he told her, before looking up to the sky, as if seeking guidance.

His scream could have reached her if she was five miles away. It protruded around the land and echoed into eternity. Still, it was obvious that his pupil had withdrawn and was now attempting to forge her own path. He caught up to her too quickly, grasping her by her shoulders. She stared at him. She was both furious and upset. The turmoil inside of her only continued to explode. She dried to shake his grip away from her before he latched his hands onto her face. His anger was in the air all around them. She could have cut through it with a knife. She wondered if he'd crush her skull and end her before her lack of control caused him anymore pain. She closed her eyes tight and clenched her jaw.

He let go, giving her the chance to place distance back between them. She stepped back three times. She was tightly wound. She grabbed a clump of her blonde hair and pulled on it anxiously. "How can I let go of them?! How!?" She yelled. One step forward towards him then three steps back. "You don't get it!" She said. "I spent my whole entire life watching Hutts ruin people's lives. I suffered. My *mother* suffered. Everyone I knew suffered." She snarled, pacing like a caged panther. She was talking with her mouth and with her hands. "Eighteen fucking years later, my powers decide to show themselves. *Eighteen years*?!" She cried out. Her voice carried this time. "I've heard the stories. There are people who have shown their talents as *infants*! Am I broken or just an idiot? Why the hell didn't it happen earlier?! How was there anything worthwhile inside of me, yet it remained dormant for so long!? Even as they beat my mother into a bloody print on the ground, I couldn't do *anything*!" She kicked the ground with her boot causing dirt and grass to uproot itself. "Now there's all this *guilt* inside of me. I could have done more. I *always* could have done more! Instead, I snapped and killed everyone."

"You suffered?" Germanicus asking her, feigning sympathy and empathy. "You suffered?!" he repeated, loudly and dismissively, as he shook his head at her. "Raeni, everyone has suffered. The question is what are you going to do about it," he asked her, as his transfigured yellow eyes glared down at her. "You can let your suffering consume you ... even destroy it ... or you can take all the negative hurtful shit that has been done to you and thrust it back on the galaxy tenfold!" he instructed her, as he took hold of her again. "Stop worrying about everyone else and focus on yourself. That is the only thing that matters," he asked her, as he began to back away from her. "And when you finally snapped ... when you finally killed everyone ... how did it feel?" he asked her, tilting his head to side as he studied her during the reply.

He was adding to her anger. What suffering did *he* know? A noble boy, born with a spoon in his mouth. What did he know?! Raeni spend her life working to the point where her hands bleed...and then still giving more. She didn't feel like revenge could ever be properly handed out for the offenses against her. The Hutts that hurt her were dead. She wanted more people to pay. She wanted the *world* to pay. She snarled, pulling out of his grasp rapidly. Her hands pawed at her hair in an anxious habit. How did it feel? He had to know how it felt. Raeni hadn't killed herself over the guilt. She would have if she actually cared for any of the people she had murdered. Her head lifted. "It felt *liberating*." She answered. "It was like spending years deprived of all water and food...then suddenly having an unlimited supply. It felt *good*. A feeling like that will never come again. Those people are dead. The situation will never repeat itself." She told him. She had dished out her vengeance. The next best thing she could do was work on wiping all Hutts from the galaxy. That wasn't very realistic, was it? The night became colder while they stood outside enraging one another. Raeni wrapped her arms around her chest. She was cold, wet, and emotionally raw.

There was a flash of light in the distance followed by the unmistakable sound of thunder. Dark clouds were moving in from the mountains and a light rain began to fall upon them, scattering the remaining nerfs. "Do you want to feel that way again?" he asked her, as he turned to face her once again and began moving towards her. As the rain intensified it began to press his hair down and cause his clothes to become soaked, clinging to his athletic form. "It was not just those on Ylesia who plagued you and your mother. The Hutt clans have an extensive network. And then there are all the spice addicts who purchased what you mined, giving the Hutts the justification for their cruelty," he explained, listing off the potential for a neverending series of victims through which her hatred could flow. "Don't give up. Don't let them win," he told her, before his arms took hold of her once again. He lowered his head, pressing his lips to hers, as he fiercely kissed her in the raging thunderstorm. Although the wind and rain had cooled him down on the outside, on the inside he was still burning hot.

Transfixed on her emotions, Raeni jumped when lightning struck for the first time. She was reminded that the land didn't stay so lush, green, and beautiful because it received no rainfall. The rain fell on her, dampening her further from her unexpected journey in the lake. Her attention had zapped to Germanicus, who was becoming wetter and wetter by the second. He pointed out to her what she was too riled up to see: there *were* ways to reclaim that feeling. The hate intensified inside of her. She wanted to destroy all of them immediately! With a new place to put her hate, Raeni's body was suddenly less tense. She grasped him as he closed the distance between them. The feelings of passion rode so closely together; hate and love. The kiss made those feelings continue to build and strengthen. She kissed him roughly. Her lips pressed into his hard and she did not stop. Her hands rose up into his hair where she gripped him for dear life. There was a storm surging around them as well as an internal one. Raeni would see revenge again. As the rain fell harder on them, the girl upped the ante by letting her tongue slip into his mouth. Regardless of where this crazy ride took them, she was on it with him now.

As she slid her tongue into his mouth he felt a strange sensation flow through his body. He was developing an attachment for the young woman, which caused a conflict of emotions inside him as intense as the storm that battered them. As the kiss broke he was silent, gasping slightly, as he struggled to catch his breath. He could not focus. He could not think. These feelings for her were unlike any he had ever had for another human being and he was not sure how he felt about them. What he was sure was that it was ridiculous for them to continue this in the storm, so his hands quickly moved to sweep her up into his arms. He moved back towards the turbolift concealed within the nearby rocks, cradling her in his arms as he carried her. As he stepped onto the lift that slowly descended into the depths of the lake he still said nothing. Finally, when he entered the living area of his undersea lair he placed her back upon her feet. "Fetch me a towel," he said simply, as he moved towards his bar to get himself a drink. He took a quick sip of some Alderaan ruge which did a far better job of raising his temperature than the heaters would.

There was nothing to say. Raeni's heart was playing her like a fool. She couldn't begin to understand how this man could arouse such a reaction from her. The temperature outside couldn't bring down how warm the kiss made her feel inside. The girl didn't object to being carried inside in a princess-like fashion. She wrapped her arms around his neck. Her eyes closed. Her ear pressed against his chest. It was all so complicated with him. One minute she felt so far away from him, the next he was the *only* person she wanted to be close to. These feelings would form the reasons why she couldn't betray him.

Once they were *home*, Raeni opened her eyes. She stood up. "Yes, *Master*." It was the most obedience he'd get out of her for today. She disappeared briefly to gather towels for both of them inside the upstairs restroom. When she returned, she was drying her hair with one towel and holding the other away from her damp body. Instead of offering it to him, while he drank, Raeni wrapped it around his shoulder. From the corner of her eye, she saw a sight that did not please her: the baby sea cow. A tentacle was coiled around its midsection. The little sea cow was frightened half to death for a second time. Behind him, Raeni sighed. "Okay. One more time." She approached the viewport with a much clearer mind. The tension inside of her seemed to have eased. She touched the viewport and closed her eyes. The whole process of penetrating the beast's mind was much easier this time. To her, it was no different than opening a door and stepping into an entirely different room. She swayed the beast to let go of the sea cow, then sent it back to its home at the bottom of the lake. Raeni's eyes opened up once the sea monster was out of sight. She *could* do it.

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