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Vanessa Sallin

Necessary Reprieve

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Taral V

Kelona 21, 3629 BBY


Life within the confines of Taral V had been far more restrictive than Vanessa could have anticipated, even surrounded by the comforting touch of the dark side. Backwater was hardly an adequate term to describe the civilisation here, which was antiquated with long-lost technology of the past, held together with some tape and a little bit of willpower. This almost-lost planet seemed to have almost separated itself from mainstream society, despite the fact that the Sith Empire had once hosted a small military facility here within the last decade. Moss and grass covered what hadn't been torn down by the locals and butchered to make their ancient technologies function, the very bricks and mortar re-purposed into makeshift houses.


 The fences that surrounded the complex had been ripped apart in places, with exposed and active electrical wires that had once been contained, now hanging freely. In places it had been cut, with active ends sparking endlessly into puddles of now electrified water, or dirt. It wasn't hard to find a safe access point, since Vanessa had been here many times over the last few months, and had established a fairly safe path through the destruction. Most of anything that was of use here, had been taken or destroyed in the years since the Empire, with only a few hard-to-reach generators still operating.


Entering one of the buildings, over the top of a military-grade durasteel door which had been ripped from its hinges and torn apart for scrap metal, Vanessa was met with the familiar sight of broken glass, half-demolished or missing walls, with large sections of roofing laying on the ground. Passing by computer terminals which had been ransacked and stolen, past overturned desks with rotting paper laying in piles wherever the wind had since blown it. She walked deliberately past these scenes of wanton destruction - familiar scenes of home - seeking something else. Within this ruin, an oasis.


The citizens of Taral V were not familiar with Imperial architecture, it seemed. Walking into another room, she took a code cylinder that she had lifted from the body of a deceased Imperial Officer against a small indentation in the wall. With a snap hiss, a section of wall that had been ignored slid open, revealing a small but accommodating turbo-lift. She stepped inside, pressing her code cylinder against the panel again, letting the door snap shut. With a whizz of energy, the lift sprung into action, one of the geothermal energy generators thousands of metres in the rock beneath her feet, giving her the power she required.


Within seconds, the lift arrived at its destination. The facility was relatively empty, consisting of two rooms in all. One room filled with computers, a backup catalogue of information and relays to the few security feeds still active on the planet, and a relatively modest sleeping quarters consisting of a bunk bed, a wardrobe and an enclosed sonic shower. She gave a modest sigh as she threw her long black robe on the back of an office chair. She flexed her fingers instinctively through her hair, which was long and matted simply out of lack of conditioning agents out here, and threw another cursory glance at the pair of scissors on the end of the table. Would today be the day that she cut it all off? It was modestly unmanageable now, and no amount of shampoo or conditioner would probably bring it back. 


Dismissing it for today, she disrobed from the Imperial uniform she had stolen, and took a lengthy sonic, before getting into a second uniform. She washed the first in the sonic shower, before hanging it up on a coat hanger to dry. The only thing she hadn't run out of here was rations, which while unappetising and repetitive, were in great supply. On her most conservative estimates there was enough to last her five months - three if she got hungry. And the water reservoir here was apparently limitless, which at least accounted for one of her bodily requirements. 


Flipping a switch, and laying down in the bunk bed, Vanessa closed her eyes. Sleep didn't come naturally, as thoughts returned to home, to the promises she had made, and to the life she lived now. To the father she had never wanted, and to the choices he had forced on her without even knowing it. Taral V was her home for now - tomorrow she would venture back to the Temple, and begin her daily routine anew. Until then, she would lay in the darkness and listen to the distant sound of creaking and groaning, silently hoping that the roof would cave in and end it all.

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