Worthy of Survival
She is sure she had been in heaven. No fear, no doubt. Just warmth and love. She had been happy. Safe. Everything that she isn’t here. Here is hell.Disclaimer:
Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; George Lucas owns "Star Wars" and related characters; I own nothing.Author's Note:
This verse is what happens when I'm on Wookiepedia late at night instead of working on papers. This takes place roughly around the time of Episode I.~*~*~
She is sure she had been in heaven. No fear, no doubt. Just warmth and love. She had been happy. Safe. Everything that she isn’t here. Here is hell.
She perches on top of a branch as she tries to catch her breath, lank blonde hair falling over her face as her green eyes narrow in concentration. Her fingers tighten on her makeshift weapon as she scans the ground below her. They’ve been hunting her ever since she arrived, chasing her until she’s ready to collapse from exhaustion with no choice but to keep going. It’s like they always know where she’s trying to hide, where she’s trying to run to. Only when she’s in the trees is she safe.
Time has no meaning here. She doesn’t know how long she’s been here trying to survive. Days and nights blur together until it just doesn’t matter any more. Sleep is a dangerous luxury, snatched at any opportunity it presents itself. Food is even scarcer. She doesn’t trust the plants and the strange furry lizard that she keeps seeing leaves a strange aftertaste in her mouth when she’s desperate enough to try them. Names, words, they’re all worthless here. All that matters is surviving, no matter what the cost.
She instantly freezes as the pack of creatures comes running down the path searching for her. Hunting her. Their canine heads swing through the air, tails lashing wildly as they search for her. She tries to still her breathing in a vain hope that they won’t hear her. The bark digs into her hands but she doesn’t dare move a muscle despite the cramp in her leg. They might hear her.
Slowly, the creatures move away as they continue their search for her. She waits a few extra minutes before slowly making her way down from the tree and back on to forest floor. Closing her eyes, she tries to calm her breathing and listen. No sounds. Good. She starts running in the direction she just came from, hoping to find a place to rest for a few moments. She’s lucky. After a short time, she finds an old, rusted out building. Walking along carefully, senses extended and wary, she cracks open the door and peers inside. Nobody. She enters and closes the door behind her, the hushed sounds loud in the silent room. Further inspection finds food and water, both useful.
The relative feeling of safety that she gets from finding shelter and having a full stomach causes her to let her guard down when she finally curls up to go to sleep. It’s the only explanation she can think of when she wakes up to find herself surrounded by men and demons.
She fights, but the demons are stronger than her. Faster than her. A sharp pinprick of pain is her only warning before she collapses and the darkness swallows her whole.~*~*~
She is sure she had been in heaven. Because this? This is the hell she vaguely remembers from what she now calls “before”. Before she died. Before she came back. Before she was drugged and sold into slavery to a monster named Krayn who would kill you in a heartbeat if it didn’t mean losing money. It’s easier to think of that as “before” so not to get caught up in wistful thinking that will only get her killed.
Dropping the sack she has slung over her back, she pauses and looks around. They’re working in a warehouse, shifting “spice” for processing on another planet. Humans and aliens--not demons like she had first thought--work under the supervision of killer robots and merciless guards. There is no hope here. Only fear and anger and hatred. She feels them in the back of her mind, whispering softly to her.
“Move it, slave!” one of the overseers barks at her. She stands there for a minute, staring at him before slowly moving in the direction he gestures to, her head held high. She refuses to let them break her.
“Don’t make them mad, Anne,” one of her fellow slaves, a Twi’lek named Maize, whispers as warning.
She shrugs, but doesn’t respond. Her use of “Anne” is deliberate. Names have power, and she’s not about to give her “masters” any more power over her than they already have. But, even though they don’t have her real name, she feels herself slipping further and further away from the girl she used to be, and that name starts to lose its meaning for her. It’s only through desperately clinging to it as a sign of who she was before that prevents it from simply becoming a word like so many others.
“Come on, Anne, they’re starting stare,” Maize urges, tugging at her sleeve. She frowns, but follows Maize’s lead. That’s the way of life here: keep your head low, don’t draw unwanted attention, and you might survive to the end of the day.
She doesn’t know how much longer she can take this without snapping. She can feel the power calling to her, power she’s never had before. Her fingers itch with the desire to unleash it and kill her captors, wring the life from their sorry necks. The girl she used to be would be horrified at these thoughts. The slave she is now waits and bides her time for the right moment.
Before, it would have been different. She would have tried to escape and fight back. But now? Now her sole focus is surviving another day, just as it was on the planet where she was first captured. You can’t fight if you’re dead. She knows she has two things going for her: she’s strong and she’s pretty. It’s those two things that allow her little defiances, to see how far she can push before Krayn and his cronies start pushing back and threatening her.
Later that night, after a meager meal, she curls up in her sleeping bag and looks at her smuggled sheets of plastic with letters scrawled across it. Knowledge is power. Somebody had said that before, but here, it’s true. It’s not hard, learning this new way of reading, but it requires practice. Memorization. She does this every night under the cover of darkness when nobody is watching. Knowledge is power, and power can mean anything from being the one holding the gun to ratting on her to the guards. Slaves aren’t supposed to read, after all. It’s not her only secret. She feels the smooth edge of the stone in her boot and resists the temptation to smile. Her captors should have been more careful about handling that shipment of corusca gems.
Her stomach rumbles but she does her best to ignore it. The overseer had paid her for her earlier defiance with a shortened food ration. The steady ember of anger flares red hot at the thought of what these monsters have done to her. What they have reduced her to. It’s only the anger that keeps her going some days, giving her strength when she feels like she’s ready to collapse. Soon,
she thinks to herself, embracing the anger for a brief moment before banking it up again and storing it for another day. Soon, I’ll have my revenge.
The next morning, she’s roughly woken up and informed with barely contained glee that she’s been sold.~*~*~
Although she’s no longer sure she’s in Hell, she knows she was in Heaven, even though its warmth and certainty becoming harder to remember by the day. But it’s still there and she knows
that they can never take that away from her. It’s hers.
In the palm of her hand, semi-hidden from view, she rubs her fingers along the smoothed edges of her gem. Even more than the fire burning within its shiny green exterior, she holds on to this stone for another reason. The rumors that the slaves spread about the many uses of the gem had been only some of the information that she had found herself in possession of. Knowledge was power, and now she had the power to cut through metal. But she won’t need that. They were almost there.
She feels more than hears the ship land, the engines cutting off. And so, she waits. Waits until the first slaver opens the door, an ugly look on his face.
“Come he-,” he starts to order before he begins choking. Only, there’s nobody holding his throat. From her cot, she watches, her anger giving her the strength to hold his windpipe tight until her sense of him vanishes like a light going out and he goes limp.
She keeps the pressure on for another minute, just in case.
She drags the lifeless body inside, quickly removing any weapons she can find. She doesn’t know where she is, or what she might be facing, so any and all weapons would be helpful. Aside from his blaster, she finds several knifes. She smiles, but there’s no humor. Only grim determination. If she fails, she’s dead at best. She doesn’t want to think about what might happen if she lives. She arms herself, slipping her gem back into her boot for safekeeping. She doesn’t need it right now.
Carefully walking in the hallways of the ship, she quickly finds the exit. Two men are standing on the ramp: one she recognizes as the other man who had retrieved her from Krayn, the second can only be the man who bought her. A fresh surge of anger fills her and she uses it. Gesturing at the two men, she uses her new-found power to shove them off the ramp and onto the ground below. The man who brought her here lands with a sickening thud, his neck broken and his light extinguished. The other man just lays there, looking up at her in fear as she walks down the ramp. His fear feels good. Right. He should be scared.
“Do-don’t hurt me,” he blubbers as he tries to crawl away from her.
“Why not?” she asks, her voice rough with disuse. “You were going to hurt me.”
“Ple-” His voice is cut off as she lifts him off the ground with a simple gesture. He claws at his throat, trying to break free from a grip that isn’t there. Finally, he stills. Dead.
She drops the body on the ground as she turns away and takes in her surroundings. She’s inside a building, with other ships lined up along the walls. A hanger, then. But where?
The voice startles her and she turns around to meet the eyes of yet another man dressed in expensive looking clothes. He’s older, with thinning grey hair and a lined face. His eyes, cool and calculating, study the bodies before turning their attention on her. She meets them as best she can, clamping down on the surge of fear and tries to call back the anger that let her get this far. In that instant, she feels the power surrounding this man, similar to her own. Just stronger. More controlled.
“Who are you?” she asks, trying to sound like her head isn’t starting to pound from truly using her power for the first time. “What do you want?”
“You are strong in the Force, but uncontrolled,” he explained, taking a step closer to her. “You lack the focus that will allow you to unlock your full potential.”
“You’re offering to train me.” It’s not a question, just a statement. He also hasn’t answered her first question, although she doesn’t push it. And what the hell is this “Force” he’s talking about? “Why?”
The man smiles, as if that was the response he wanted. “I am in need of a new apprentice. I can train you in the ways of the Force, teach you to access its power,” he answers. “Become my apprentice and I can help you fulfill your destiny.”
She studies him, instantly wary at the sound of the word “destiny.” Before, that would have been enough to have her turn down the offer. Destiny was a bad word. But that was before. Here, knowledge was power. Power to make sure that she never was at the mercy of others. Power to seek her revenge against Krayn. Power to survive.
“What do I call you then?” she asks, taking a step closer to her new teacher.
“Lord Sidious,” he says. “But what of your name, child?”
She starts to answer, but pauses. She’s no longer who she was before. Before she was Buffy Summers, the Slayer. Now? Now everything is different. She’s changed from that girl she used to be. Her foot encounters the gem in her boot and she smiles. Strong enough to cut through anything. Strong enough to survive.
“Corusca,” she replies, the name rolling off of her tongue. “My name is Corusca.”
“Very well, Corusca.” He turns and walks away from her towards the door in the back of the hanger. “Your training begins now.”
She watches him for an instant before starting to follow. She doesn’t believe in coincidences. She has a suspicion that her new teacher planned all of this. That he arranged for this to happen. She files that suspicion away to examine later. She’ll wait. Bide her time. Learn what he offers to teach her and learn the things he doesn’t on her own. And then? Who knows.
The ultimate goal is survival, after all.