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“We cannot allow her to go to the academy, she won’t survive the first month of hazing, even here on Ziost.”

A six year old Melsiu crouched down, hiding in the shadows as she peeked over the edge of the second story loft. Her parents often fought when they thought she was asleep, but their pain and despair would ripple through her, driving away her dreams and leaving her lying in bed staring at the ceiling. Her brow furrowed at her father’s muttered curses, her mother’s pleas bringing tears to her eyes.

“Keeping her hidden is a disgrace to our lineage. Tutors can only do so much, and without interacting with other students in the academies she will be forced to live a life of solitude. Do you want that of her?” he father snarled. “It would have been better to kill her when we first discovered she was so anathema to what we Sith are meant to be.”

“Don’t you dare say that! Neither of us could do that, not since the first time we held her in our arms.”

Hearing the tears in her mother’s voice, Melsiu quietly made her way down the steps, wanting to be close to her parents, wanting to assure them she wasn’t a bad child. She didn’t want to make them unhappy, she didn’t want to see her mother crying.

Other children had called her ztalvtese when she tried to play with them, shouted valthiris when she was out with her parents. Her mother refused to take her on outtings, and her father beat her if she left the confines of their estate. They told her it was for her protection, but she knew it was also so her parents could save what little face they had left.

While her father was from one of the smaller houses on Ziost, her mother had fled with her sisters from Dromund Kaas after their parents were tried and found guilty of treason against the Emperor. Her mother’s house was gone, and her father, Alashar, was on shaky ground for taking and marrying a woman with no known house.

Melsiu’s very existence caused strain on their marriage, and her own grandparents acted as if she didn’t even exist. She truly was a valthiris, an abomination, according to the Sith. Her connection to the force was strong, but she didn’t feel the pull of the dark side like the others. While others her age drew power from their emotions of anger, depression, and the desire to be better than others; Melsiu felt strange when she experienced those emotions. They felt alien to her, yet familiar at the same time. She knew the first time she lashed out in anger, the shelf before her cracking and splintering, the potted plants resting on it crashing to the ground, that something was very wrong with her. She felt pain as she scrambled to save the plants, convinced that if she could just get them in fresh pots they would remain alive, that the pain and fear she was feeling would go away.

Her mother had found her sobbing over a pile of wilted plants, her hands covered in dirt from her desperate attempts to save the fragile plants her mother had tended to so carefully. She was beaten for her crying by her father, and her mother banished her to her room for a month, only allowing her to leave to use the refresher. Food was delivered by servants who ignored her questions and requests.

They had expected the punishment to harden Melsiu. They had expected the punishment to “fix” their child’s defects.

What it did was teach Melsiu to remain silent and to lock herself away from others.

Standing at the base of the stairs, she was about to rush to her mother to beg her to stop crying when words that would haunt her every time she lay down to sleep slipped from her mother’s lips.

“Nuyak berniuk buti jri valthiris, m'tye buti nuyak furs ir irodymas iv nuyak drajunas ai nevizkas.”

Melsiu’s eyes opened with a start as ripples of sound reverberated through the kolto she was floating in. Outside, her feline features shaped in a concerned frown, stood the Cathar she’d befriended on Korriban.

Nagga Zahsa tapped the glass again, her voice coming through the com unit in Melsiu’s ear. “Hey, the medical droid says that you’re all done. You ready to go get something to eat and tell me about your trip to Ilum?”

She knew the Cathar meant well, but all she wanted right now was to be alone. Her mother’s words rung in her ears as the kolto drained from the tank and the medical droids helped her to a private area to dry off. She could have stayed in longer, but she needed something to remind her of her mistakes on Ilum. She needed the scarring on the left side of her face to serve as a reminder of her failure to keep her wits about her.

Running her fingers across the faint electrical burns she allowed the droids to check her over and scan her vitals. If she’d paid better attention the droids wouldn’t have been activated, but she was so fascinated by the prospect of unearthing information on the stealth generator she had become careless. Others had been injured by the droids as well, and acknowledging it was her mistake that caused those injuries filled her with rage.

Clenching her fists, she barely registered the sound of metal crushing and bending. It took Nagga’s shouts to snap her back to reality, her gaze shifting down to the destroyed medical droid at her feet.

“So...let’s get you dressed and out of here before your master blames me for the droid.” muttered Nagga.
“I’m the one who destroyed the droid, why would he blame you?” Melsiu asked, her voice flat as she allowed Nagga to help her dress.

“Hello, Cathar here, remember? When in doubt, blame the lesser being.” Venom filled her voice as she uttered the phrase lesser being.

Melsiu raised a single eyebrow ridge, slipping her robe over her clothes. “I think you’re just being paranoid again.”

Nagga huffed in annoyance, following after Melsiu as she left the medbay. “That paranoia has kept me alive. You know full well I’m not about to leave you alone, so slow down and stop trying to ditch me.”

She hadn’t even realized she’d been trying to leave her one friend behind. Nagga had refused to leave her alone for more than a few hours ever since she’d come back from Ziost, and for good reason. She was slipping. Seeing her homeworld stripped of life was affecting her far more than she’d expected, and she was struggling to understand the emotions fighting for control inside her. It had become frighteningly easy to tap into her anger and her pain to heighten her force abilities, but her other skills were suffering.

It was harder than ever to focus on her work, her mind returning to the dead world and the lifeless dried corpses of Ziost’s population strewn about. She wanted to lose herself in her despair and pain, and it was Nagga who was managing somehow to keep her grounded. The lords and darths of Odacai Saarai had instructed her to focus on her emotions and use them to grow and learn, yet she couldn’t figure out how.

With a sigh, she turned to her friend. “Let’s return to Yavin, I wish to spend time in the archives.” She needed something to focus on, and what better place to find that something than the relics, artifacts, and archives at the Odacai Saarai headquarters?