I think I'm done writing further back in the timeline. An introduction. From here, we move forward.
Adiira kicked at the base of the shuttle ramp twice, sharply, knocking the fine red dust of Korriban from her boots. She resettled her lightened pack, empty of anything but her clothing and weapons now that the last artifacts she’d retrieved from the tombs had been properly turned in and registered at the shuttleport. All the pieces were in place. All of the lessons had been learned. So much had changed.
Everything from her hair to her newly-armored boots had been transformed in the crucible of the Academy. She ran her fingers quickly through the short, practical crop that was all that remained of a waist-length fall of brown hair; it had red highlights now, courtesy of the hot sun of Korriban. Never pale, she was deeply tanned from a summer spent living rough in the canyons, scouring the tombs for relics. Only her eyes hadn’t changed, their gold irises flattered by the new tattoo surrounding one eye, a clan mark that would surely horrify her mother. Her father would be proud, though, she thought.
Adiira had come off this very shuttle with a friend, brave Rhemi, she remembered with a stab of pain. She was leaving with a slave. She glanced sidelong at Vette, who was eyeing the shuttle with eager approval.
“Shaking the dust off your boots, eh?” Vette asked cheerily, “Good idea! Good riddance!” She stomped around with enthusiasm, raising more dust than she shed.
Adiira smiled, watching her slave turn dust removal into a war dance. How strange those words sounded: ‘her slave’. On the small estate where she was born they hadn’t kept slaves. Slaves were a luxury, too expensive for what was really a squire’s farmhold, for all her mother’s airs in speaking of ‘the manor’ as if it were some great lord’s house. Once in a while a noble visiting for the hunting would bring one along, and she’d seen them at the Academy, of course.
She considered what little she knew of owning slaves and grimaced. Constantly having to guard against indiscretion, always having another person around yet never being able to fully trust them? The thought wasn’t pleasant. But then, that was life among the Sith, writ small. No wonder so many high lords kept slaves; the mindset was ingrained in them.
It was still a conscious effort for her. She used to think that excellence would be enough. That’s what her father had always said. And perhaps it was true, for a military career. Being Sith demanded more; more skill, more cunning, hiding her weaknesses so that there was nothing an enemy could use against her. But she had survived, she had learned to be guarded; there were fewer chinks in her armor now.
Fewer chinks, and no friends. The Academy had taken the last, best one from her old life; her bitter lessons in survival kept her from making more. The boy who’d come to warn her of ambush had been slaughtered at her feet for his friendship. It was small comfort that she’d exacted his vengeance.
She wasn’t sure if this new life allowed for friends. And it was ironic to realize that Vette could have been one, in other circumstances. Adiira had taken the measure of her blue-skinned Twi’lek in the tombs and liked what she saw; bravado and occasional childish glee paired oddly with a marksman’s eye and the cunning fingers of a thief.
Adiira thought she’d earned a little respect in return, though any relationship linked by a slave collar couldn’t hope for honesty. She hadn’t needed to shock the Twi’lek; open admiration of Vette’s nimble skill with traps had garnered enough goodwill for the work. And a few times when the smart move would have been to break and run and report her master dead in the tombs (like so many others Adiira had left dead in the tombs) Vette had held her ground, clearly scared, and won the day for them both.
“Victory dance, Vette?” she asked with a grin.
“Ha! Better! Getting-off-this-rock dance!” Vette cried. Kicking out and landing with a final flourish, she raced up the ramp to the shuttle. Adiira followed more sedately, if no less gladly.