Bastila did not enjoy being alone. She had grown up relatively isolated by her peers, but there were always people around the Enclave. Hidden away in a dank cell on a planet she had never seen before, Bastila was completely alone. Jade was thousands of light years away, the distance between them severely weakening their bond. Whatever mental connection that was left was drowned out by the dark side that was wrapped around her prison like a shroud. After months of having the constant trickle of Jade's mind in her own brain, the silence was unnerving.
Malak had thrown her into a cell and apparently ordered everyone to forget about her; Bastila had gone for days without food and water, and it was beginning to take its toll on her. Focusing and holding out hope were becoming harder and harder for her to manage, and she often found herself curled up in a corner shaking and trying her best to meditate. When that didn't work, she imagined Jade bursting in and rescuing her, scoffing a little at the thought. Their first real interaction had been an argument about whether or not Jade had saved her, and now that was exactly what Bastila was hoping for.
She lost track of time soon after being imprisoned, but knew Malak would not let her die in isolation; he'd tracked her too far and too relentlessly to give her up that easily. The Sith proved her right just as her body was beginning to give out; Dark Jedi came and forced her out of her cell, leading her into a long, echoing chamber. Her heart dropped as they rounded a corner and came toward a large slab of rock with obvious restraints for her wrists and ankles.
Bastila didn't have the energy to fight as she was cuffed to the slab, unable to do anything but listen as the Dark Jedi left and the echoes of their footsteps faded into nothing. She tried to distract herself from the fear building inside her by testing her restraints, cringing when the cold metal bit into her skin.
The silence around her was only making her fear grow more quickly, and Bastila wondered, not for the first time, how Jade was taking the news of her true past. She ached to be with the soldier and explain what she knew to ease Jade's inevitable confusion, but before she could envision the quiet, pensive look the soldier was sure to be wearing, Malak entered the room.
His footsteps rang out through the room, getting louder as he approached. The mere sound caused Bastila's pulse to skyrocket and she tried to swallow and find something pleasant to focus on.
The Sith came toward her, his eyes narrowing in a cold sneer as he leaned over her to inspect her. "I see you haven't let your surroundings break you yet, Bastila. Good. I was hoping to have that honor for myself."
Bastila chose not to say anything, not giving him the satisfaction of a response.
Malak didn't seem to mind, delivering a rough backhand to her jaw. "Yes, my dear Bastila. Soon, I will have you begging for mercy. I alone will break you and bend you to my will." A twisted delight flashed in the Sith Lord's eyes and he laughed. "You're strong, for a Jedi. You'll make a fine apprentice, don't you think?"
This time, Bastila's lack of a response irritated the man and he raised his hand, lightning shooting from his fingertips into the Knight.
Her body lurched against the pain, the cuffs around her wrists cutting into her skin. She fought against the reflex to cry out, proud of herself for remaining silent when the torture finally ended. Her head fell back against the stone and she tried to catch her breath before Malak started in on her again.
"You may think your silence will let you hold out against me, but it won't." Malak leaned in close, his face looming inches from hers. "I will break you."
Bastila stared back at him defiantly, despite her insides quaking with fear. Her heart sank when the Sith straightened up and laughed.
"I can taste your fear, Bastila. Let it give you strength," he goaded, growling in frustration when Bastila said nothing. "I see you intend to make this a game. Very well," he said with a chuckle, stepping back and lifting his hands into the air. "My move." Electricity crackled from his hands and he laughed before turning the attack on Bastila, taking great pleasure in pushing her to the brink of unconsciousness before easing his torture.
Bastila refused to listen to his taunts, doing what she could to steel herself against the next onslaught before it arrived. Her body was exhausted, and she felt so weak... The next attack sapped what little of her energy remained with a searing ache in her chest, and then everything went mercifully dark.
The Knight woke slowly, unsurprised to be back in her cell. Her entire body was aching and her muscles felt limp and sore. Bastila laid there on the cool stone floor and tried to go back to sleep, but found she was in too much pain to do so. Grudgingly, she tested her muscles and sat up shakily, leaning heavily on her hands. Her elbows shook under her weight, and Bastila moaned softly.
When she finally got the strength to look around the room, she noticed something new by the door. A small plate filled with some grayish gruel and a clay cup were there on the floor. She crawled toward it and examined it carefully, trying to detect any sort of poison, but the gruel on the plate and the water in the cup seemed fine. She lifted the cup to her lips and hesitated long enough to hope the meager meal wasn't a trap.
Bastila hadn't realized how dry her throat was until she swallowed her first mouthful of water and she nearly choked on it, trying to swallow more. The cup was small, though, and she knew better than to waste it just yet. Instead she picked at the gruel and took a careful taste, finding it bland and thick, but edible. The portion size was hardly enough to satisfy the ache in her stomach, but anything would help, so she ate and drank what she'd been given before retreating back to her corner.
Her thoughts went to Jade once again, focusing on all the details she loved about the soldier but hadn't ever really admitted to herself. Thoughts of the crooked grin and the strong, rough hands helped her bide the time until she was able to fall asleep once more.
The pattern continued, settling into a torture session where Malak tried his best to break her will. Each time, she could feel her body breaking down further, and idly wondered how much longer she would survive. She refused to give into his taunts about the dark side, but had finally been unable to keep the moans of agony silenced. Malak took great joy in ripping them from her throat, pushing her beyond her limits until she was sure she was on the brink of death.
Bastila always woke up back in her chamber, though, sometimes with small portions of gruel and water if Malak was feeling generous. Her hunger was never satisfied, and every time she woke up, she felt weaker and the cell seemed colder. Her hopes for survival were growing dim and she wished she could have Jade's warm arms around her.
Malak's servants came and retrieved her one day, but when she was brought to the long room with the slab, she wasn't restrained against it.
The Sith Lord was there waiting for her, motioning for his guards to leave as soon as Bastila was deposited in front of him. She dragged herself to her feet unsteadily, having landed hard on her knees, and gave the hulking Sith as defiant a look as she could muster.
"I have a test for you, dear Bastila," Malak announced, swishing his cloak as he stepped aside and revealed a handcuffed initiate on his knees.
Bastila looked at the hollow-eyed young man, somewhat disheartened at the sight. He looked deranged, his breath coming in quick pants and his eyes flicking around the room quickly.
"I know you are weak," Malak told her, gesturing toward the initiate. "But this... This can be your strength."
The initiate jerked and twisted away from the words, only to be shocked with Malak's Force Lightning. He sagged slightly, gasping for breath as he studied Bastila uneasily.
"This whelp is of no use to anyone," Malak murmured, lifting a hand to hold the initiate still. "Use his energy for yourself. Let his life's end be your strength."
Bastila had a refusal on the tip of her tongue, but the exhaustion gnawing at her made her pause. The Council had never described what it was like, siphoning energy from someone else, only preached against it. If she was honest with herself, she'd always been morbidly curious about how it would feel. Besides, part of her reasoned, if she did what Malak wanted, just this once, maybe he wouldn't hurt her today.
Bastila reached out with the Force, feeling for the edges of the initiate's aura. The initiate panted before her, a wild look in his eyes. She ignored him, gently caressing his aura with her own, well aware of how vulnerable he was and how easy it would be to drink up his energy.
Malak said nothing, merely holding the initiate in place with the Force and watching Bastila.
Just once would be forgivable, Bastila reasoned with herself, to keep up my strength until Jade can find the Star Forge. Even though part of her mind was already arguing with that logic, she could feel the weakness of her body. If she had to endure much more of Malak's abuse, her body was going to give out and she would die. A vague thought of her bond with Jade crossed her mind; if she were to die, would Jade die as well? Their whole mission would have been for nothing, and Malak would decimate everyone in his path. She couldn't allow that to happen.
Just once, she promised, closing her eyes and hesitantly drawing his energy toward her. It was bright and powerful where her own was dull and nearly lifeless, and Bastila carefully sapped the initiate's power. A surge of warmth flooded her mind, startling her so much that she stopped drawing energy from the initiate. The warmth lingered for a moment before fading, and Bastila tested the gentle siphoning again, pleased to feel the same rush. She opened her senses, pulling more and more of the initiate's energy into herself, nearly overwhelmed by the rush of life back into her veins.
The initiate gurgled in front of her, and she heard a distant thud as he collapsed to the ground lifelessly. Her body felt somewhat like it was buzzing, warmth and energy spreading to the tips of her fingers. When she opened her eyes, she felt more steady on her feet and couldn't stop a contented sigh from escaping her.
The sight of the corpse before her made her pause, and she studied the body and compared it to the rush of energy in her body, trying to sense the remains of the initiate within her. There was a flicker of anger, which faded a moment later, leaving Bastila feeling stronger and more alive than she had in days.
Malak was studying her, his eyes glinting with something akin to victory. "Well done," he commended her, nodding a few times. "You could make a worthy apprentice after all."
Bastila scoffed inwardly, but watched her captor for any sign of an attack. Malak didn't say anything, waving at the guards to take her away again.
Back in her cell, she studied the deeply revitalizing sensation of the new energy within her. A small part of her was horrified at what she had done, but the rest of her was already resigned to the situation. Survival was key, primal as it was, and only giving in once would be enough to wait out Jade's inevitable victory over Darth Malak.
Malak let her go without food and water for days, and didn't bring her out to the torture chamber. Bastila refused to beg, though she was sure no one would hear her anyway. Her stomach felt like it might collapse in on itself and her limbs felt like dead weight. Part of her craved the rush of life she'd gotten from draining the initiate, wishing to feel alive. It seemed like an eternity since she had been free and traveling across the galaxy on the Ebon Hawk. Trapped in her cell and wasting away, Bastila felt like she was simply waiting to die.
The thought was depressing, and she tried to meditate and ignore the workings of her mind, but the darkness around her was so strong she couldn't allow herself to relax for fear of it swallowing her up.
Two stony-faced Dark Jedi came and woke her just as she had started to doze off, cuffing her hands behind her back and shoving a neural disruptor on her head. The prison block went fuzzy and her thoughts were scrambled as they hauled her to the torture chamber.
When they arrived, Malak was already waiting impatiently. The neural disruptor was pulled off of her and the cuffs removed. Bastila swayed slightly but managed to stay on her feet, giving the Sith a cold stare.
Malak chuckled at the look on her face and shook his head. "Are you hungry?" he taunted, watching for a reaction. "Have you tired of your cell yet?"
The Knight lifted her chin slightly, trying to ignore him.
Malak moved closer to her, circling around her and studying her quietly. "You are weak," he spat, his eyes narrowing at her. "And you only grow weaker. But..." The man glanced behind Bastila pointedly, where the initiates stood waiting to return Bastila to confinement. "You don't have to be."
Bastila was quiet, pretending she hadn't heard, but the initiates did. There was a burst of fear from them, sharp and cold in the still air of the chamber. The initiates tried to escape, but Malak extended his hand and the door slammed shut. The terror from the trapped initiates spiked and Malak's eyes gleamed.
"Use them," he coaxed, his bionic voice hissing in her ear. "Let their fear make you stronger."
Bastila ignored him, sent reeling a moment later when Malak flung her into the air with the Force. She collided with the wall and fell to the floor in a heap, trying to maintain consciousness. A split second later, Malak's power swarmed around her once again, lifting her into the air and crushing her slowly.
"Break free," Malak ordered, watching as Bastila moaned and struggled weakly. When she didn't respond, he shocked her with Force Lightning. "Break free or I will kill you, and your precious Revan will be left to find your corpse waiting for her on the Star Forge!"
The intense pressure on her skull nearly made her cry out, and she could feel herself suffocating as the air was squeezed out of her lungs. The mention of Jade and the image of the soldier finding her body only added to the pain she felt.
The initiates were cheering in the background, egging Malak on, and anger burst in Bastila's chest. She was not Malak's plaything, not a spectacle to be observed. Her body was weak, too weak to fight, but she struggled against the invisible bonds anyway.
Malak snarled and clenched his fists, squeezing tighter against her. The pain only worsened, and Bastila gave in to her instincts before the attack could kill her.
The auras of the initiates were still tinged with fear, which made them easy to pick out in the large room. Bastila latched onto their energies, extending her senses and wresting their power from them. She was vaguely aware of snarling as the initiates put up a fight, but they were weak and there was raw need behind Bastila's actions.
With a forceful yell, she ripped their energy from their bodies, pulling it into her own. Once again, a rush of warmth and power flowed through her, and Bastila sent out a burst of Force energy, disrupting Malak's hold on her. She fell to the ground, landing on her feet as gracefully as she could, well aware of the searing heat of life in her veins.
She stood and faced Malak furiously, the anger of the initiates pumping within her and only magnifying her own rage. Anger toward Malak for forcing her to attack the initiates just to survive flooded her mind, and she barely held onto her common sense. Rather than attack him like she wanted to, Bastila stayed still, trying to balance her own anger with that of the people she'd just drained. After a moment, it was obvious that fighting the emotions in her body was futile, and she remembered Jade's advice and allowed herself to feel.
Bastila hated the Sith before her and wanted to kill him with her bare hands, even though she knew she didn't stand a chance. Her hands were shaking and she curled them into fists, watching as Malak started laughing.
"Congratulations, Bastila," the man said, applauding her and gesturing to the corpses behind her. "Perhaps you are not so weak, after all. The dark side has many strengths, and tapping into them is the only way to survive."
Bastila didn't listen as he continued preaching the benefits of the dark side, wondering instead how best to get her revenge. It occurred to her with startling clarity a moment later: by acting as his apprentice, she could learn his weaknesses and use what she found against him. If she timed it right, she could wait until Jade was ready to attack Malak as well, and they could take him down together.
Her plan was perfect, and Bastila took a deep breath, ready to play her part. She drew from the dark energy swirling around her, finding strength in it, and waited for Malak to pause before bowing. "I will serve you, Lord Malak," she swore, dipping her head respectfully.
The hiss of a lightsaber startled her but she didn't move, hearing the blade humming just above her head.
Malak studied her for a moment, seeming pleased at her self-control. "Very good. You have much to learn, my apprentice."
They left the torture chamber, stepping over the bodies of the initiates carelessly as Malak led her off through the temple.