Art • Gaming • Writing
The Prisoner
A Star Wars Fan Fiction
November 19, 2022

Turns out waking a Sith from carbon-freezing can be hazardous to one's health...


Vette is based on the character of the same name from Star Wars: the Old Republic. In my headcanon, it was Keel'ath who went on to become the Outlander and then Commander of the Eternal Alliance, with Kellaro and Darth Merce/Brant serving under him. So though I kept some details from the SWTOR storylines like the carbonite freezing and Vette's presence, don't confuse this with how Chapters played out in-game. (No spoilers made or intended.)

Author's Note


He felt tingling on the tips of his fingers first. Then all of him was tingling, then hurting, as every nerve stabbed at him as if they had gone a long time without blood. He croaked a scream, trying to move his numb and swollen legs. Something shifted around his feet and his stomach flipped, and then he was falling.

He hit the floor a few seconds later, hard, though he only felt it as a distant impact, separated from his sense of self. Instantly his Force senses snapped out, even as his body remained dull and sluggish. Fragmented memories chased themselves in his mind, speaking of ambushes and a losing battle on his starship. His emotions sang out with a fury through the clouded dark.

I will not submit!

His Force sense seized upon a lifeform at his side, and he instantly moved to attack it. So his arms wouldn't respond but to stab at him -- no matter! He reached out with the Force instead, catching the creature's throat and throttling it, gleeful as his attacker’s life drained away.

That was for humiliating me.

He was about to reach for another, when the stun bolt from a blaster hit him, rippling across his limbs oddly, as he still couldn't clearly register any sensation but nerve-pain. He instead felt his movements deaden more, and his mind with them, and for the longest time he could only seethe in impotent hatred.

I will not submit!

“I have a surprise for you, Vette.”

“Oh? Go on.” She looked up at the twin with easy humor. Kellaro didn't have the same sharp edge to him that Darth Merce had had, but the way his blue eyes glowed, as if he wasn't sure whether to string her along with bad humor or to satisfy his own impatience, was the same, as well as the seamless way he fell into pace beside her, his long strides quiet but powerful. He had certainly inherited their father’s frame, not that of the little Mako.

Kellaro didn't answer her but to steer her towards his ship, still unloading its contents deeper into the Republic frigate it was docked inside. They paused to allow a long line of floating carbonite coffins to pass by.

“Most of them didn't survive the freezing process,” said Kellaro in a grunt. “Some of them did though, and I think Dad will like who we managed to recruit. They were almost all Jedi or Sith. I guess the Emperor wanted to make a collection out of them.”

“Is one of them the surprise?” asked Vette.

“Well, sort of.”

The line ended, and they went up into the starfighter, turning towards its medical bay. Vette was surprised to see a trooper standing on guard there, blaster rifle in hand, and the orange glow coming from the vents in its muzzle told her it was charged and ready.

“Is that really necessary?” she asked, but Kellaro was busy with the guard.

“The tranquilizer hasn't worn off as far as we can tell, sir,” the guard was reporting, “but he keeps growling and snarling like he's awake.”

“No more use of the Force?”

“No, sir. At least he’s too fuzzy-headed for that.”

Now Kellaro turned to Vette, but he looked embarrassed now. “It's him, Vette. Darth Merce. It's really him, but he doesn't recognize, well, anyone. I was hoping maybe he'd calm down if he sensed you were nearby. The transport’s logs indicated they froze him fresh out of a battle.”

“The ambush over Ilum,” Vette murmured.

Kellaro nodded. He keyed into the door a command to open a little window so they could see into the medical bay. The lights were turned to a calming dim grayish light, and she could just make out the silhouette of someone lying on the examination table. The man was on his side, twisted weirdly in the restraints. His teeth were fixed in a snarl, but his eyes were near closed. When she shifted closer to get a better look, the eyelids flickered, but Darth Merce didn't lift his head.

She stood back and looked at Kellaro, reading the same mixed feelings there that she had: excitement, dismay, the pang of old fears and loss.

“Is he safe to talk to?” she asked.

Kellaro shook his head. “I don't know. The only Sith who've attacked me I've always been free to shoot. I don't know how to deal with a, er, live one. I don't think he recognizes me at all.”

“He will,” said Vette, taking his hand. “I recognized you after all, the moment I met you, and he has the Force to back him up. We just have to get him calmed down enough to, er, use it properly.”

“Use it to sense me, not try and kill me,” Kellaro agreed dryly. He looked back at the window. “I'll let you in to try, if you want. Just you; he gets worse with a lot of people around."

“Okay,” Vette murmured, swallowing hard. Kellaro nodded to the door guard, who keyed in the override, and the bay door wooshed open.

Scents of medicine and cleaning chemicals struck Vette’s nostrils, including the burnt-iron smell of carbonite and the tangy sweat of a sick man. She walked in a broad circle -- or as broad a circle as the compact medical bay would allow -- letting the half-conscious Sith get a look at her, if only he opened his eyes.

He didn't, but the eyelids flickered again when she came between him and the brighter light emanating from the hall. Just as the door guard reported, Brant began to growl continuously.

“Hey, big guy,” said Vette lightly, but she couldn't quite keep the fear from her voice. Darth Merce had warmed to her considerably since their first disastrous meeting on Korriban, but he was still a Sith and highly unpredictable.

The growling abruptly ceased, and his eyelids moved as if he were having an intense dream. Something seemed to brush her, touching her shoulder and giving her neck a squeeze as if it would like to choke her out. Vette stiffened, but the squeeze came from the back, not the front, over the old scars of her shock collar.

Vette slapped at the Force-grip and and scowled at Merce. He was smiling, but in a faint, sleepwalker way. “Yes, you know exactly who I am; now stop it!” she told him.

The Force-grip didn't return. She came around to the Darth's head and stroked his thick, black hair. He began twitching all over, like he was trying to sit up but couldn't. His head lolled into her hand and his sightless gaze sought the ceiling. His eyes rolled up, closed, then he went still.

“You're drugged,” Vette told him, “because you've been a very naughty boy, but you're among friends. I promise.”

Darth Merce growled.

“I'd tell you something only I would know to prove it, but I'm not sure you're awake enough to understand,” she said, giving the head another pat. She looked up to Kellaro and beckoned him in.

“That was certainly less explosive than usual,” he quipped.

Merce began to growl again, and Vette was impressed how threatening he could make it sound despite only being half-awake. Some things came naturally to Sith, she supposed.

Kellaro’s hand immediately went to the blaster on his hip, but then he looked guilty and put it away. “Do you think we should wake him up?” he asked.

“I don't know,” said Vette. “He'll always be dangerous. How quickly can you put him out again?”

“With the intravenous, pretty quickly,” said Kellaro, gesturing to Merce’s wrist.

Vette looked. “So just don't let him jerk it out. That should be easy,” she said sardonically.

“Failing that, a stun round,” said Kellaro, gesturing to the door guard.

“Fair enough.”

They looked at each other, sharing trepidation but also a growing hope. Darth Merce still growled between them.

“Pipe down,” Vette told him, and thankfully, he stopped. That was good. He might not be so keen to fly into a murderous rage if only--

She shook the thought away. “Ready when you are,” she told Kellaro.

Kellaro nodded, crossing over to the life support machine and changing the dials on the intravenous. The drip slowed, stopped, then provided the counter-drug. Darth Merce, perhaps in unconscious anticipation, began twitching all over again. Then he lurched onto his other side with a half-roar.

Kellaro was at the restraint controls in an instant, face drawn but determined. Vette struggled not to laugh at him -- she'd have to tell him later he looked like he was facing down a rancor, not his own twin brother.

Yet Merce didn't move again, except to blink awake, grimacing. He squinted and cast around with his eyes, yet despite the medical bay lights having come on in full, his gaze didn't stop on anything.

He began to growl again, but it was mostly to himself, a half-whine of pain and fear and a rallying of impotent fury. He tried to turn over again, but stopped as he met the restraints. He tested them, but his thoughts were clearly elsewhere as it was only half-hearted.

“Loosen those,” Vette told Kellaro.

“Are you sure?”

“Vette?” Merce asked at the same time. His head turned her way, but his eyes never landed on her, despite passing her right by several times. He had been rendered blind by the carbon-freezing, Vette realized with a chill.

“I'm sure,” she told Kellaro, then to Darth Merce, she said, “I'm here. And we’re with friends. It's okay, you wouldn't remember, and frankly it's all a bit complicated politically right now.”

The restraints hissed back into their holders, but Darth Merce didnt move, his limbs slack now they had nothing to fight against. It was then she realized just how truly spent he must have been -- in true Sith fashion, not showing his pain until it was severe.

“Give him some kolto, and a stim,” she told Kellaro. He obeyed.

“This will sting,” he advised soothingly, as he stabbed the injections into Merce's shoulder.

Merce turned his way with a snarl. “Who are you?”

Kellaro paused, not seeming to know what to say.

“Your brother,” Vette said for him. “We found your brother, my lord. You never told me he was your twin.”

Brant slowly lay back as the injection sting was overtaken by a rising sense of energy and wellness. His breath came more easily, and his blood was moving properly again, down into his toes and fingers, washing away any lingering sense of numbness. Yet he still couldn't see, even though Vette had assured him the lights were bright.

“What do you mean? Turn the lights on!”

“They are on, my lord.”

“Then turn them up!”

“They are up…”

He could sense her presence, barely, along with that of another's at his side: another very familiar presence, so much so he was afraid of examining it more closely. It was too good to be true, and he'd had such rewards dangled and then snatched from him before by the Masters. Vette still hadn't told him where they were, so he was disinclined to trust it was anywhere friendly, no matter what she said.

Yet how could his enemies fake a presence so familiar? He almost didn't want to ask.

And the presence -- his brother -- almost didn't seem to want to break the spell either by speaking.

Even Vette remarked on it. “Well, I expected a more exciting reunion than that!”

Brant looked towards Kellaro, even though he still couldn't see him. He heard the man take in an sigh, then he was patting Brant awkwardly on the knee. Brant didn't move -- he couldn't return the pats even if he wanted to while blind -- and soon they stopped.

“Well, at least there's no more need for the tranq,” said Kellaro, and Brant almost thought the voice was his own. It wasn't quite as hoarse, not as weighed with the constant Darkside anger, not as sarcastic, but if he had any more doubts, they fled. It was really, impossibly, him. His brother.

“Where are we?” Brant demanded.

“Among friends--”

“Hush!” Brant snapped at Vette, turning a severe gaze in the direction he was pretty sure he had heard Kellaro from last.

Yet, Kellaro’s voice then came from his other side, as well as a few beeps of buttons and the click of some rotary or lever. An instrument panel? “You are among friends. Yes, even if you did strangle Private Coren. You're not in Imperial space though, and I guess we couldn't technically be called Republic space either, considering… well...”

“Considering what?” Brant growled.

It was a very poignant pause.

“A lot has happened in fifteen years. I became a starship trooper of the Galactic Republic,” Kellaro finally said solemnly.

Whap. Brant slapped himself back on the examination table. Fear was turning into rage, and yet... he couldn't unleash this one. He wanted to. Kellaro deserved it, surely, yet... glimmers of a long distant past, of a brotherhood, restrained him more effectively than the leather that had just been around his wrists and ankles. So instead, he quietly seethed.

“It hardly matters now,” said Kellaro with a note of bitterness.

“You said fifteen years,” said Brant suddenly. “We parted when we were seven. It should be more like thirteen years…”

“You've been under for two or three years, my lord,” said Vette. She had wisely moved out from between him and Kellaro.

“And in that time, the Eternal Empire has made up all the ground they lost when Fa--when the Alliance overthrew the Emperor. That's who I report to now, by the way... It's probably the only thing that saved your skin from us Pubs.”

Brant snarled, but he said nothing, still trying to put the pieces together in his head.

“Inspection muster in ten minutes, sir,” called the door guard. “They just called me over the holo.”

“Get him on his feet. You, er, will have to steer him,” said Kellaro to Vette.

“So you take his orders now?” Brant snapped. That really bothered him for some reason.

“You're blind,” Kellaro said flatly. “It should clear up, but until then, you're more vulnerable than a baby. Let Vette help.”

“I'll try to make it discrete, my lord,” said Vette near his ear.

“I seem to have no choice,” growled Brant.

“You're right. You don't.” Kellaro’s voice sounded hollow, depressed. “Ten minutes, Vette. I need to see to the men.”

“Alright,” said Vette, and Brant sensed her looking at him.

He gave her general direction a sneer, and he sat up. He could feel the floor tile grain through his shoes, and it was true: it was a standard Republic pattern, not an Imperial one. He clenched his fists but said nothing, docilely accepting Vette’s help to stand.

Whatever the others said about friendship, he would act as if he were in enemy territory. He couldn't trust a Republic trooper, especially not when it had turned out to be his brother...


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