Silvra lay quietly observing him through hooded eyes. He seemed absorbed in dark thoughts, an idea that almost made her laugh aloud. How much more appropriate for a Dark Lord? Tears stung her eyes. By all that was holy, how could she feel this way about him? Surely he would kill her now. She had seen into the depths of his mind as he had seen into hers. A cold, hard creature he was, given to creating fear and hatred. Not at all like her betrothed on Reesta. So kind, so gentle, ever respectful, barely touching her hand. Not like this animal that called to the untamed in her. A sob must have escaped her.
"Awake? And unhappy." Muscles flexed in his jaw as he scowled at her. Certainly he would finish her now. She braced herself, trying not to flinch as he reached for her.
Instead of punishing blows to end her life, he treated her to caresses. It was more than she could stand. With a sob, she curled against him, torn between fear he would comfort her before he murdered her and hope that his actions meant he truly wanted her.
"You know my soul's a black one, Silvra. But I will not harm you. I cannot promise you we will be together, for that would be dangerous." He ran a finger over her cheek, wiping away the salty tears. "All I can promise is your safety to the best of my ability. Will you come with me?"
"Yes, my Lord," she whispered.
He gave an exasperated sigh. "By the Force, after all we've shared you'd think you would at least give me my name." An old pain tinged his voice.
"I...I am sorry, Khameir. It's a hard habit to break."
"We must not linger any longer. Frahba's toady's most likely looking for us. I told the slug we'd be gone by midday. I fear it is much past that." He gave her a brief hug, then pushed away to rise.
Stiff and sore, Silvra moved more slowly. He helped her up, then both finished their baths...separately this time. She wasn't certain if he didn't trust her or himself if they touched again.
"Gather your things and meet me in the main hall. We must play this thing to the end. If anyone sees us it must seem you are my slave now. No one must suspect otherwise. Once we leave here the pretense will end." He reached out to lift her chin. "Can you do this?"
"I can...my Lord," she murmured, a lopsided smile ghosting across her face at his grimace.
"Ah, Lord Maul. I take it the girl pleases you?" Frahba's voice boomed over the rowdy din. His slitted eyes lingered on Silvra, making her flesh crawl. How much easier for her to play cowed slave with the scum.
"Indeed, Frahba. As per our prior agreement I will... dispose of her elsewhere to prevent any... unpleasantness." Maul gave a terrifying grin to his host, then shrugged. "After all... we may have business to conduct in the future."
Silvra shrank closer to the door, her pretense of fear not that much a falsehood. All around her other dancing girls entertained the motley group of Frahba's hangers-on. Bounty hunters, mercenaries, gamblers, pimps, assassins...the cream of the earth Frahba called them. To be skimmed off at his
pleasure. Not long ago she would have never thought to leave this way... trading one kind of fear for another. At last Frahba bid his guest farewell and spared his former slave one last piece of advice.
"Va'he, you were always trouble. Now it ends, eh? Just don't struggle too much?? I forget, that is much more entertaining." The Hutt began laughing and soon the others around him joined in. Silvra fled as Maul took her wrist, allowing the others to think the Sith Lord towed her along unwillingly.
His ship sat on the landing pad, as sleek and dangerous as its owner. Inside the lights glowed red, a comfort to Maul's sensitive eyes he told her. He directed her to a small cabin off the bridge, then left her alone.
"Insanity. Surely I must be mad to go with him, but what choice did I have?" she asked the nearly bare room.
Did he stay here or somewhere else? Her stomach rumbled again, protesting its emptiness. In the frantic events earlier she'd neglected to get food again. Her head throbbed miserably and she felt queasy. As she pulled out her few things her hands trembled. Oh, why hadn't she thought to stuff some *gobu* fruit in her bag? Chilled, hungry, and fearing she might have made the worst mistake of her life, Silvra curled up on the bed and tried to sleep.
On the Infiltrator's bridge, Maul set the coordinates for a little known system. Despite his master's greed to control the whole galaxy there were plenty of out of the way systems Maul could hide Silvra on. Before he had gone to Sidious he had his ties through his friends and family. But that wouldn't be safe either. It wasn't easy to hide things from Sidious, with all his connections through the Republic's Senate. But even though he had his ways of finding out a great deal, he wasn't all knowing. Else why would he have
allowed his apprentice to come to this forsaken place to find someone like Silvra?
The ship lifted off, swiftly coursing toward its programmed destination. Before they reached the hyperspace entry point he would need to check on his passenger. Just the thought of her brought warmth to his cold heart. A heart he thought would never have such feelings again. Carefully he had cultivated hate, anger, jealousy, and lust...turning aside all tender emotions that might weaken him.
Or so his master claimed. Now Maul wondered if Sidious had his own plans for his apprentice. Perhaps he wished to leave his pupil alone except for himself as a measure of safety. From what Maul had studied of Sith history, masters and apprentices often vied for position and this jockeying had led to the Sith's downfall. Both greed and ambition could turn against itself, consuming those it mastered. Though he felt his master would not openly betray him...or he, his master, Maul anticipated the day he would become the master. But first, Sidious would make certain he could claim the galaxy as his own. That was fine with Maul, he would act as his agent and give him his loyalty...in all but this one matter...Silvra.
Speeding away from the planet, Maul set the autopilot and went to see how Silvra fared. He found her huddled on the spare cabin's bunk, shivering.
"Do you wish to sleep? If so my cabin is more comfortable."
With a shake of her head, she groaned, "No."
"Are you ill?" Was she merely space sick or had she some sort of disease?
"Just hungry. My head and stomach hurts... and it's so cold in here."
Maul cursed softly. He doubted she had eaten this morning... He had because he had risen much earlier. With a mind to her chill, he wrapped her in a warm blanket, then scooped her up and took her into the main compartment. There, facilities for food preparation as well as entertainment to while away time clustered around a large round table.
First, he brought her a mug of chocfee, steaming hot and sweet, to wrap her hands around and warm her inside and out. Then he brought out the meals his droids had prepared. At her amazed "Oh, my!" he grinned.
"Did you think I lived on space rations? I like my creature comforts when I travel."
He joined her, then began to tell her what he planned. She listened in silence, eating as he spoke with an occasional nod to let him know he had her attention. Between the food, drink, and his smooth voice, Silvra became drowsy, her eyes heavy with fatigue and the effects of stress.
Surely she must be dreaming. Her eyes flew open. Wasn't it just moments ago they sat at the table? How had she gotten here? They lay on his bunk, in his room, covered with the same *musta* fur she had seen in Frahba's palace. Her head rested on his shoulder and her body had curled around his intimately. Had he said that or....no, he would never...
"Silvra...are you better now?"
With a soft cry, Silvra clasped him even closer. "Ever so much better. When will we arrive?"
"In two days. The autopilot will warn us when we get near." He placed a kiss on her forehead, then drew a sharp breath when she slid her foot up his leg.
"Mmmm...good. Plenty of time to get to know each other better." She grinned up at him and he couldn't help himself. He smiled back and shouted triumphantly.
Time passed too quickly for Silvra. Though they had shared even more during the journey to Urbax, she feared she might never see him again. A silent grief settled in her heart. He might promise to visit, but something told her his master would keep him busy. A woman provided distraction...an unwelcome one from his duty.
He stayed with her only long enough to ensure she would be well cared for and safe. The people who greeted her did not seem afraid of him, just the opposite. Silvra wondered if perhaps they had known him before he had become Sith. All idle speculation, she realized as he gave her a quick kiss and boarded his ship. He had given her much...freedom, ecstasy, a new life. She knew she would never return to Reesta. That world was lost to her forever, mind wipe or no. What remained were memories. Memories of a dark passion she was unlikely to feel again. Deep within her soul, she knew he had truly gifted her... with trust, with his body, and with a child as he had promised. And as she had promised, she would never reveal what she knew of him in return for all he had given her.
Six months later...
Silvra felt it, the terrible rending in her soul when he was gone. The child in her womb kicked and turned, disturbed by her heart-wrenching sorrow.
"Oh, little one. You'll never know your father. I vowed I would tell no one what I learned from him. But I must break my promise to him... for you will know." Tears coursed down her cheeks as she watched the blood red sun set over the fields. "Khameir, beloved, what you feared has come to pass. I will miss you. I will miss your dark passion. Thank you, my love, for sharing it with me."
A wild bird soared overhead, a symphony of black and red, heading toward the sanguinous sunset. Its mournful cry echoed in Silvra's heart, for her lover had followed his destiny to its conclusion. Now she must follow hers.