The First Lesson
The next day saw Oz wondering what was to happen to him. He had been so thoroughly trapped by Harris (how easily he had found it to not use the Sith Lord’s first name), so easily manipulated into unleashing his feelings of anger and frustration. And now even his guilt and remorse had been anticipated and exploited. Daniel Osbourne had never felt so helpless in his life.
The Initiative guards came in again with breakfast, so Oz assumed it was morning. The only greeting Oz gave the guards was a sullen scowl when they had revealed more sumptuous fare than Oz was willing to accept. And yet he knew that he had to take it and show gratitude for it, else the Sith would trigger the migraine device in his brain. Harris was so in tune with Oz’s inner feelings, so the werewolf knew that the vile figure was listening in with the Force. Yet still, the only show of gratitude he could muster was a humble nod of his head for the spread of hash browns and eggs over easy, with coffee and orange juice to wash it down. An unbidden suggestion urged him to show a little more thanks by digging in with relish rose in his mind; he knew it came from the Sith, so he knew it was a warning. He complied, starting to wolf down the hot breakfast that he knew with no doubt at all was nothing more than a reward for unleashing his fury and giving voice to his turmoil at the mention of Willow’s name. After he finished, he waited for the guard to come in and take away the tray, then once the door closed behind him, he promptly disgorged the contents of his stomach into the integrated toilet…
…and immediately collapsed from the migraine that in the next instant assaulted his entire head and threatened to explode it from within.
Oz was barely aware of the presence of Harris in the cell, so completely had the agony taken him, and it was only after suffering the torments of Hell for what seemed like eternity that the Sith Lord pressed the key fob, ending the excruciation as surely and as suddenly as it had begun. The wrecking ball had only stopped pounding on his concrete-filled head, but the sensation took longer to dissipate into something around which Oz could think.
Harris then kneeled down at the still-curled form of Oz and shook his head sadly.
“Did we forget our lesson from yesterday, Oz?’ queried the Sith Lord. He leaned in closer from his kneeling position so that their faces were barely inches apart. He then said to Oz in the stern fashion of a father lecturing a particularly stubborn child. “I told you that refusal of my generosity would result in this. Don’t you yet get it? The sooner you stop trying to hold onto that overrated sense of honor and dignity, the sooner you will begin to appreciate what I’m trying to do for you. These outbursts do nothing more for you than a temper tantrum does when a child learns he or she’s no longer being paid the attention he or she craves.” Harris then rose quickly to his feet so that he appeared to blur, so fast was he when he drew upon the Force for speed. He turned to the wall where, unbeknownst to Oz, the lone surveillance camera was ensconced in the smallest recesses of a seam between wall panels. Oz’s gaze followed the black-garbed form of the Sith Lord as he took the few steps toward the wall, where he stopped and placed his hands behind his back.
Harris, for his part, had taken a long breath inward. Pausing for a moment, he blew out all his frustration and his disappointment with the werewolf in one single exhalation. He looked then over his shoulder briefly to Oz, then turned his gaze back to the wall.
“You’re going to be here for a long time, Oz. A very
long time, if you keep up this pointless little rebellion of yours. Even now your thoughts betray you to me; I am privy to everything that goes on in your head, from one moment to the next. That is my first lesson to you. The Force tells me everything you think and feel, my dear werewolf, so it would behoove you to let go of everything you once held dear.”
“You’ll find that harder than you think, Harris,” was Oz’s raspy-voiced reply. He had figuratively screamed his head off while under the migraine’s tender mercies, so his throat felt raw from the strain. What Oz wouldn’t give for a sip of water to soothe his tortured throat right now…
Harris walked over to the door, and it raised open at his approach. “Guard,” he commanded in a harsh tone, “our guest gets no water from this point forward until he starts showing some gratitude for what he does
“Yes, my lord,” was the reply from the guard’s disembodied voice.
Just before the door closed on his malevolent host, Oz heard him say to him, “Soon you’ll be seeing things my way, Daniel Osbourne…it’s just a matter of patience and effort for me.”
Then Oz was sealed once again in his cell, wondering if he would be so easily affected again…and just how bleak were his prospects for the future.********
He felt Oz’s despair and guilt like nothing else. But something was different now, an improved sense of caution from the Force-sensitive werewolf that prevented him from denying what would keep the terrible agony of the migraines away for a little while longer. He had absorbed Mortalis’s first lesson well, and the results were satisfactory, at least for now. There was still more work to be done, but for now, Mortalis could turn his attentions to subverting the will of the United States military, through his extensive efforts on the part of his front company, Imperial, Incorporated.
It wasn’t exactly a front company per se; the profits generated from most of its business were legitimate, as was the business itself, and they were more than generous enough to buy off the attentions of those whose curiosity outweighed their greed. No one Mortalis, in his public guise of Sunnydale Mayor and Initiative Director Xander Harris, had encountered thus far in the US military-industrial complex was altruistic enough to reject the gifts of his technology, or to even question its origin. If they only knew where it had come from, they would have been too frightened to be approachable. As it stood now, Imperial, Inc., was paving the way to one medical breakthrough after another, from better treatment of wounded soldiers in combat to earlier detection of a various range of disorders from autism spectrum disorders to heart disease, to detecting and treating cancerous tumors in the brain with new, non-invasive surgical procedures and technologies. New methods of diagnosis and new technologies designed to grow and match stem cells to recipient victims of wartime injuries such as lost limbs or punctured organs would see soldiers that otherwise would have been chaptered out of the service on medical discharges back in the field and back in the fight in record time, thus reducing the need to write sorrowful letters to spouses that would grieve the news of their loved and lost.
And then there were the clones. The new Spaarti cloning technology that Darth Mortalis had revealed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff was touted as an alternative to sending men with families into harm’s way and seeing them lost in combat. This in addition to organ replacement technology virtually eliminated the need to shatter the hopes and dreams of spouses and parents the nation over. An entire community of service members whose sole purpose in life was to prepare for and wage a war on multiple fronts and win every time was a general’s dream come true, thanks to Imperial Incorporated. In less than a year’s time, Mortalis would meet his personal goal of insinuating his own clone troops into individual commands at every level of organization from platoon to corps, thus preparing the United States armed forces for their own personal Order 66, an order he would have programmed into his clones from the moment of inception. This in addition to certain…safeguards…that he would program into the blaster weapons he intended for distribution to the indigenous US forces would ensure that they would be crippled virtually overnight. He had only to select people that would be willing to follow his orders and insert them into key positions in the civilian infrastructure of the federal and state governments, and the country would be his. Then it was on to the rest of the world, and finally….the stars themselves would tremble at the might of Mortalis’s new Empire.
And Oz would be a part of it all as Mortalis’s apprentice.
Xander Harris/Darth Mortalis -- not mine
Oz -- not mine
Imperial, Incorporated -- grd's
Star Wars -- George Lucas's
Stargate -- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's
Joint Chiefs of Staff -- DEFINITELY not mine