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Alisaah Tila

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Seated around a table in the bright sunlight, the ragtag group comprised of Alisaah, Meela, Teela the T7 astromech and Kayto the KX Series security droid found themselves in Bespin's Cloud City, a mining colony located within the planet's Life Zone, enabling the lifeforms that lived and visited the colony to breathe freely without the need for airlocks or life support systems. Whilst the primary function of the city was to enable the mining of Tibanna gas, the floating metropolis was also set up for tourism and the crew of the Matriarch's Revenge were currently situated in one of the resorts in the upper levels of the city.

The four of them had not planned on being there at all. In fact, the only reason they found themselves in one of the resorts was not because they were taking a holiday or because they had the money to be there, but Meela had managed to bargain her way in by convincing some of the door staff that the more attractive women they let in to the casinos, the more likely they would be to attract and retain customers. The Twi'lek really had no intention of taking Ali and their droid companions gambling, so once inside the group wandered off and found somewhere they could sit and take a load off.

Meela had been the one orchestrating their activities today for various reasons. The first and most pressing of which was that Aska was absent. Following their adventures on Coruscant, the clone had agreed to accompany her acquaintances, Poffo and Klied, on an expedition to Mataou. She had not explained the reason why she was going, but had taken the crew to Bespin and dropped them off at the Cloud City before heading there with the two hunters. Bespin and Mataou were in the same sector, so the conclusion Meela had come to was that Aska would simply attend to her business and come back to pick them up when she was done. Alisaah did not view things in the same way.

Unlike Meela who had been freed from her life of slavery, the Togruta still remained indentured to Aska and she was uneasy about being left in an unfamiliar place whilst her mistress left in the Matriarch's Revenge without her. The freighter had essentially become their home after Aska, Ali and Kayto had fled Nar Shaddaa on Boonta Eve. All the slave's former masters had always kept Ali and other slaves in some form of headquarters which meant that they would usually return there eventually if her masters did venture out. This time things were different and not only because Aska had left with the only place the slave could call home anymore.

After seeing the vision of her mistress laying dead on a jungle planet after touching the Sith holocron in Aska's possession, Ali had been suffering from a heightened sense of anxiety. She had not wanted to be parted from the clone because she felt she owed it to Aska to try and protect her from whatever might try to harm her. The irony of a slave dancer trying to protect a highly skilled mercenary was not lost on Ali, but based on what the holocron had shown her and the pain she experienced it was not something she could shrug off or ignore, particularly when Aska had done so much for her in their time together. Not knowing why her mistress had left and feeling helpless had caused Ali's mood to deteriorate rapidly after Aska had left for Mataou and an increasing fear of abandonment was starting to creep in.

The second reason Meela had been making decisions was because she was the only free person among the party that was not a droid. Though she was not Alisaah's owner, the Twi'lek was in effect the Togruta's parental figure from her childhood and whilst the slave was no longer a child, Meela had noticed the change in Ali's mood and decided to take her to the resort levels in an attempt to cheer her up. The two organic members of the party sat at the table, taking in the sunshine, Meela leaning back in her chair looking very much at ease with life in that moment and a stark contrast to Alisaah, who was more tense and had her arms folded. Teela was stationed next to Ali. The astromech had seemingly grown attached to her ever since she had discovered the droid in a crate in what was now the quarters Ali and Meela shared aboard the Matriarch's Revenge. Kayto meanwhile was standing in a more shaded space, determined to keep his operating temperature consistent.
 

Alisaah Tila

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"You need to relax sweetheart" Meela said calmly, looking over at Ali and assessing her body language, "You're in a fascinating part of the galaxy right now you know. Not many slaves can say they're lucky enough to have been to a resort in Cloud City."

Alisaah was not looking at the Twi'lek as she spoke. They were both looking out into the swirling clouds that gave the mining colony it's name. It really was a beautiful sight but the Togruta simply felt unable to enjoy it. Her mind kept telling her she was not meant to be there. A slave must attend to the whims of their master, not lounge around and enjoy a life of leisure. Ali thought that as a former slave herself, Meela would understand, but in truth, the Twi'lek never really could comprehend where her surrogate daughter's mind was at. The older woman had never suffered at the hands of Zygerrian slavers, never experienced their torture in the way that Ali had. It meant that the younger woman struggled to grasp the concept of looking out for herself as quickly as any free person. She had been made to believe she was fit for nothing more than to serve others most of her life. That changed though when Aska became her mistress.

"I can't relax, it's not right. I shouldn't be here" was Ali's abrupt response.

"Don't be silly Ali. You're meant to be here because Pixie brought us here" said Meela. Her voice remained calm but was admittedly a little more stern than it had been to begin with. Though they had been separated for a good number of years, the Twi'lek still retained a maternal instinct towards Alisaah, the baby that she had raised since she was less than a year old.

"But Mistress Aska left with Mr. Klied, Mr. Poffo and the ship and never said where they were going..." said Ali, clearly contemplating why this might be, "The last time we were separated, Master Zugg's men tried to kill her. Kayto and I narrowly escaped with our lives too..." This was true. Upon returning to Nar Shaddaa from their adventure on Nal Hutta, Aska had gone to visit her friends alone, leaving Ali and Kayto with the ship they now called the Matriarch's Revenge after they successfully hijacked it in their escape from the Hutt homeworld. Alisaah's former master had found out that they had foiled his plans to frame a rival crime boss and exacted his revenge by executing Aska's friends. They would have done the same to Aska and Ali too, if it weren't for the fact they had managed to escape.

"Ali... you saw that HoloNet News report. Pixie showed it to you. Zugg is probably dead, the Hutts were driven off Nar Shaddaa, you don't need to worry about him anymore..." said Meela with a sigh. She could tell that it was going to be a tough job trying to convince Ali to chill out, but perhaps if she got the Togruta to open up a little and speak her own mind for once, she may eventually come around.

Hanging her head, Ali also sighed. Aska had indeed shown her the news report which included the live execution of a Hutt prisoner. It seemed likely that her former master was dead and although the Togruta's allegiance was now with Aska, the idea that a former master of hers may have died was confusing. Ali did not know how to feel about it. On the one hand, she had been the Hutt's favourite slave. He trusted her with things he did not trust any of his other dancers with. In his way, Ali thought he had treated her well, but that was before Aska arrived. Since transferring to her ownership, Ali's life had been filled with peril and danger like it never had been before but with that, the clone had shown compassion towards the Togruta like no previous owners had ever done. She treated her like a person, not an object. At times, she even felt as though Aska was the first person to truly care about her since Meela and as she considered this, the memory of the hug Aska had given her in the laboratory on Coruscant flooded her mind. It was a happy thought tainted by the feeling of loss.

"You don't understand Mimi..." croaked Ali, curling her hands into balled fists, "Even if Master Zugg is gone, there is trouble out there worse even than he..."

For a moment, Ali's mind wandered off. In truth she did not know exactly who or what was a greater threat to Aska than Hota Zugg, but she had seen what would happen to the clone if Ali was not there to help her, to warn her. An untimely death in the middle of dense jungle. The image from the Sith holocron that had plagued her mind ever since the night she held it returned once more.

Before Meela could reply, Kayto decided to join the conversation.

"You should listen to Miss Meela and worry less about your mistress" came his robotic voice from the shady area he was standing in, "Besides, anybody that manages to finally rid us of her influence would be doing us a great service."

The Twi'lek turned to look at Kayto, annoyed. The droid was not helping her calm Ali down, but if Meela had an angry look, it was nothing compared to the look on the Togruta's face. Unfolding her arms, fists remaining tightly balled, she rose to her feet.

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" she screamed at the droid.
 
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Alisaah Tila

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"Alisaah! What has gotten into you?" interjected Meela in a raised voice. She was taken aback by the sudden outburst from the Togruta as it was most unlike her. The girl had always been so gentle in nature and not one to shout and scream at anybody. Rising to her feet the Twi'lek moved towards Alisaah with the intention of calming her down. Kayto on the other hand continued talking, which was not helping the slave's flared temper.

"I believe I was loud enough for you to hear, Miss Alisaah. I am unsure why you are so agitated about some brief respite from Mistress Ryun" said the security droid, "Mistress Ryun appears to have the same regard for you as she does myself. We are both given tasks outside of our capabilities. By my calculations, the atmosphere here is much better suited to your delicate nature than accompanying your mistress on another misadventure. You are a slave dancer, not a mercenary, or is my assessment wrong?"

Before Meela had gotten around the table to comfort Ali, the Togruta had already leapt over the surface of the table and made a lunge for the security droid. Looking around in shock, Meela pleaded with Ali to calm down but the younger woman was too worked up now for words to have much effect. On seeing the Togruta charging at him, Kayto stood to his full height and initiated a sub-program for hand-to-hand combat. Now within striking range, Ali leapt at the droid, taking a wild swing at him with her right hand. Kayto simply bent his knees slightly and after allowing her punch to make contact with his broad chest paneling, grabbed Alisaah by the waist and lifted her up before spinning and pinning her up against the wall he had been standing in front of.

"LET. ME. GO!" shouted Ali as she wriggled and squirmed in an attempt to break free of the security droid's grasp. Now mortified, Meela had come sprinting over and was attempting to break the two of them up. "Stop it both of you! This is insane! Put her down Kayto!" she shouted.

"Negative. Miss Alisaah will be unrestrained once she has calmed down" said Kayto, whose robotic face was now looking directly into Ali's. Though his mechanical arms had a firm grip around her waist, this meant the Togruta's upper body, including her arms remained free. Her red fists collided with Kayto's red chest plate continuously. Why Ali was attempting to hurt something made out of metal was perplexing, but she was angry and upset.

Kayto's words were not wholly untrue. Ali was a dancer, not a fighter and in her time with Aska she had been plunged into situations far beyond her depth. The change from entertaining people in a Hutt's palace to taking lives and fearing for her own had been a traumatic experience and things had never really slowed down enough for the slave to recover and take stock of the things that had happened to her since that day in the auction house on Nar Shaddaa. The difference was that unlike Kayto, who appeared to resent having to call Aska his mistress since Boola's murder, Ali cared about the clone. That realisation was abundantly clear, having reflected on the way she reacted to seeing her laying dead in a puddle in the holocron's vision.

Despite all the peril they had been in, Ali trusted Aska to keep her safe, even if some of her methods were questionable. The clone looked out for her and since Zugg's massacre on Nar Shaddaa, the pair only had each other until dumb luck brought Meela back into the slave's life. The Twi'leks freedom itself was owed to Aska. The fact was, as time went by, Ali had increasingly become indebted to her mistress for everything she had done for her - a complete nobody that the clone owed absolutely nothing to.

All of these thoughts and feelings swirled in the Togruta's mind. The anxiety induced by the vision in the holocron had been accompanied by a determination to repay Aska for everything, to avoid burdening her and to do whatever she could to prevent the scene that had played out in the illusion. Being left on Bespin meant she could not achieve this goal and not understanding why she was left behind made her feel like she was useless. The idea that Aska may have gone somewhere she may never return from was also too much to bare.

As she kept thumping away at the droid's chest piece, a tear rolled down Alisaah's cheek. Kayto's grip remained in place and as his optical sensors remained transfixed on her face, she grit her teeth and growled, "You won't stop me you bastard! You hear me?!"
 

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Meela, who had given up trying to convince the security droid to put Ali down was now frantically looking around to see if their commotion had drawn any unwanted attention. They had chosen to rest in a fairly secluded area to begin with as they weren't really meant to be in the resort complex anyway, but the Twi'lek knew that the people who ran this place would have cameras and security everywhere. A fight would get picked up pretty quickly and it wouldn't look good for Ali if her attack on Kayto had been picked up by a security feed. For the time being they appeared to be okay but this spat had to end now. It was only a matter of time before they were caught.

"You both need to stop this! If you don't security certainly will!" shouted Meela.

"Your language and behaviour do not indicate that you have calmed down Miss Alisaah" said Kayto, standing resolute in his attempts to restrain the Togruta who was still fighting for her freedom. The security droid would however come to regret not holding down the slave's arms. Whilst her punching, slapping and scratching at his metal plating had no real effect on him, what happened next caught Kayto - and everyone else - by surprise.

Alisaah screamed at the droid to let her go once more. She raised both hands above her head to shove Kayto in pure frustration but upon impact with his chest plate, the droid was pushed with an almighty force. It was strong enough for the droid to lose his grip on Alisaah who came toppling to the floor in a crumpled heap and shoot into one of the chairs at the nearby table. The droid tumbled over backwards with a gigantic clatter and just like that, the altercation was over.

"Alisaah!" cried Meela, running over to the Togruta concerned due to the fall she had taken, "Ali are you okay? What in the wide galaxy was that?!"

The Twi'lek tried to help the slave up but Ali wasn't having any of it. She refused Meela's assistance. A few tears still stained her red cheeks and she looked angrily over at the mess of furniture and machinery. Meanwhile, Teela who had also been startled by what just happened rolled over to Kayto laying flat on the floor. When the astromech got to him she screeched loudly. It wasn't the normal happy chirping that she usually did. This one was more alarmed.

Giving Ali a concerned glance, Meela stood up. "Teela? What's wrong?" she asked as she too, strode over to Kayto. It didn't take very long for her to find out. Bending down amongst the mess, the Twi'lek scooped something up before turning to face Ali.

"Oh Ali... you've got some explaining to do..." was all Meela said before producing Kayto's decapitated head. It seemed that whatever the Togruta had done, the collision it caused had done it's damage.
 

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"He... he should have let me go..." whimpered Alisaah, picking herself up slowly, rubbing her lower back where she had landed awkwardly on the ground. It was clear that the Togruta was shaken by what had just happened. Her fury had been replaced by a multitude of emotions, including shock, confusion, shame and guilt but Meela rounded on the slave almost immediately. "This is not the time for that, Ali" the Twi'lek said firmly, looking around once more to see who might be in the area, "You need to help me pick him up - now - before security arrive. They have cameras all over the place here and we're bound to have been seen."

Anxiety gripped Alisaah once more as she came to help Meela lift Kayto's headless body up. Each woman draped one of his arms over their shoulders to bare the dead weight and Meela thrust the droid's head into Ali's hands. "You can carry that, seeing as this is your mess, ma chérie" said Meela. Ali couldn't tell if the Twi'lek was angry with her or if she was just stressed by this turn of events. Either way it just made the Togruta feel worse about herself.

"Teela, take us to the nearest empty room. We need to find somewhere we can hunker down for a little while, give you time to work on fixing Kayto whilst I speak to Ali about what just happened" instructed Meela to the astromech. The smaller droid immediately obliged, whistling as it moved away, the two women hauling Kayto's metal body along with them. Carrying the security droid's dead weight slowed them down significantly and the fact that he was headless was sure to draw some unwanted attention. As they navigated their way through the resort, Teela would occasionally stop before a doorway to indicate that they should pause whilst the astromech checked to see if the way was clear. At one point they came across a restaurant. Leaving Ali with Kayto momentarily, Meela commandeered a table cloth and draped it over the droid's neck and shoulders before helping lift him up once more, "If nobody can see he's headless we'll draw less attention. We'll pretend that we're escorting our drunk friend back to his room if anybody asks... spent too long in the casino, so the light hurts his eyes..." It was amazing just how Meela was able to think on her feet like that. Ali admired her for it, but continued to feel worse than useless. If her worries about being a burden on Aska weren't bad enough, she was now a burden to Meela.

Eventually the group came across an empty room. Teela had led them through to a spa, where the group managed to sneak inside an unoccupied massage lounge when the receptionist left her desk for a bathroom break. Once inside, the two women set Kayto down on the floor, on his back so that Teela could fuse his head back on. Meela ensured that they locked the door from the inside of the room so that it showed as occupied to anyone on the outside. As the T7 astromech set about repairs, Ali and Meela sat next to each other on the massage table.

"Are you mad at me, Mimi?..." asked Ali. The Togruta felt as though she had returned to being 10 years old again.

"No, Ali, I'm not" sighed the Twi'lek, picking up the slave's left hand and clutching it between both of hers, "This" she gestured to Kayto with a nod, "Is a bad situation to be in when we're away from Pixie and our only home, but... I can't blame you for this. You've been through a lot lately from what I hear."
 

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The Togruta nodded. In that moment she could feel an overwhelming sense of exhaustion coming over her. The events of the day were now only adding to her general stress level.

"You can talk to me about whats on your mind Ali, you don't need to bottle things up" said Meela, now stroking the back of Ali's hand with one of her own, "It's obvious that being away from Pixie is bothering you, but what I don't understand is why it's affecting you so much. That girl offers you a substantial amount of freedom, why aren't you embracing it?"

For a moment, Ali considered what Meela had said. It had never really dawned on her that she did bottle things up. This was the result of the abuse she received at the hands of the Zygerrian slavers and former masters. When you are beaten, shocked or starved for being too slow or for speaking out of turn, it becomes natural. She had always been conditioned never to express her own thoughts or opinions. That was why she loved dancing and had done ever since Meela showed her how as a child. It was the one way she could express herself. Though Aska certainly was not anything like any previous master she had, Ali was still not used to opening up due to years of oppression. She was also somewhat scared to if only because she believed she would be punished for doing so.

"This... this isn't about my freedom Mimi" said Ali after a few seconds, "It's about loyalty."

The Twi'lek raised an eyebrow before asking, "What do you mean? Loyalty?"

"Mistress saved me from being sold by Master Zugg. Anybody could have bought me at that auction but she went out of her way to find me... she didn't even know who I was..." explained the slave, "She did it because she wanted to free me..."

"You aren't making any sense Ali. If you've been given the chance at your own freedom why haven't you taken it? Why are you saddling yourself with Pixie?" asked Meela with disbelief in her voice. She could not believe what she had heard.

"Being a slave is all I know... I'm not like you Mimi, I never lived part of my life as a free person. If mistress freed me, I might even have been worse off than staying in her service. I don't know anything about surviving on my own, I would have had nothing and nobody to turn to for help..." replied the Togruta.

"Ali don't you think Pixie would have helped you anyway? If she went out of her way to rescue you from Zugg she clearly has a good heart."

"What reason would mistress have had to help me? She owes me nothing and I owe her everything. If it weren't for her and Kayto I would be dead. Master Zugg would have killed me like he did mistress' friends..." The Twi'lek would feel the younger woman's hand shaking between her own as Ali's eyes began to well up, "Even if I had accepted freedom I would still owe her my life."

Meela furrowed her brow in thought. Seeing how emotional Ali was getting talking about this, she decided not to push the subject of freedom too much further. It was clear from what the girl said she was not ready for it - at least not yet. That did not mean to say that Meela agreed with her remaining a slave, but considering the circumstances Ali could have been much worse off and there was always a chance 'Pixie' could provide the opportunity again.

"Mistress is in danger..." sniffed Ali, interrupting the Twi'leks train of thought. The statement was a sharp change in direction from the topic they had just been discussing.

"Danger? How do you know that?" questioned Meela, whose mind was now drawn to the other issue of the day, "Don't tell me. You saw it in a dream?"

 

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"It can't be a dream if I was awake the whole time" sniffed Ali. She rested her head on Meela's shoulder for comfort. The Twi'lek had not expected this answer. She had just been being facetious, taking a wild guess to humor the younger woman.

"What?" she asked, letting go of the slave's hand and putting her arm around her. It had been over a decade the last time the pair had a true heart to heart like this. It brought back memories, but Meela got the distinct feeling that they were about to delve into a topic of conversation that she had no knowledge of or much reference for. "Have you been hallucinating?"

"I don't really know what it was Mimi. I... I shouldn't even say anything..." responded Ali, shutting her eyes, causing a couple of tears to run down her red cheeks.

"No, Ali, you can't keep bottling things up" was the reply from Meela. She knew that if the Togruta stopped talking, they wouldn't get to the bottom of what was really going on with her. Although it wasn't ideal to be camped out in this room, hoping nobody found them, it was the closest thing to a safe space they had and for the girl's own mental health, she needed to get things off her chest whether she knew it or not.

"I can't tell you. If mistress ever found out I, I don't know what she would do..." Meela could feel Ali's body quiver a little as she leaned on her. It was clear she genuinely believed Aska would severely punish her for whatever it was she had done.

"Listen, sweetheart..." the Twi'lek said, giving Ali a kiss on top of her head, "Whatever it is you've done, you can tell me. If Pixie really took it badly I promise you I will stand up for you." Meela lifted Ali off her shoulder and embraced her in a big hug. "You're the closest thing I have to family, the closest thing I have to a daughter. I would stand by you until the day I die. You can trust me, whatever trouble you might get in, I guarantee you it won't be anywhere near as bad as the trouble I give Pixie if she hurts you."

Alisaah clutched tightly to Meela for a few moments, not saying anything, just letting what she said linger and sink in.

"One night, when we were traveling to Coruscant, I got woken up by someone speaking to me" Ali started to explain. Clearly she trusted the Twi'lek immensely. It was hard for her to break down the mental barriers that had been built up over the years, to fight the fear of defying a master, or even just doing something that might displease them. "I thought it might have been mistress waking me up, the whispering was so close to me and it sounded just like her. But she wasn't there and you were sleeping... I got up to get some water and saw mistress sleeping in the common room. I got her a blanket and made sure she was comfy, but I heard the voice again. It was much louder, it was calling to me..."

"Calling to you?" asked Meela, concerned about where this story was heading.

"The artifact... the one mistress has. I helped her get it back on Nal Hutta after we got caught... it talked to me and I picked it up" sniffed Ali, shaking again as she remembered. She felt bad about having touched Aska's belongings without permission, especially knowing what she now knew. "From then on, I wasn't in the ship anymore... I don't know where I was..."
 

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This conversation truly had gone beyond Meela's understanding. She had no reason to believe the slave wasn't being honest about this story, Ali wasn't the sort to lie about something like this, but artifacts that spoke to people? She had never heard of such a thing. The Twi'lek made no further comments at this time, allowing Ali to continue.

"I was in a place where the sky was red and the clouds were black but there was nothing else. No ground, no buildings or trees, I was just floating and then I saw... mistress. But it wasn't mistress, she was older, she had scars. She didn't dress like her at all but they sounded exactly the same. She kept telling me I had potential, that I had power, that I needed to take it because mistress refused to..." explained the Togruta. The more she spoke the more nervous she seemed to be getting. It was evident in the tone of her voice and her body language. There was only one thing that started to become clearer to Meela as the girl spoke. The Twi'lek had heard stories of beings which had powers beyond that of regular people - the Jedi - individuals who had the ability to harness mysterious energy. Meela's mind was racing, putting this story and the events of the day together, was little Ali one of those people too? The older woman had never knowingly met a Jedi but this strange artifact and the vision Ali was talking about combined with what she saw happen to Kayto were all leading towards the same conclusion.

What Ali said next seemed to explain everything about the way she had been acting since Aska had left Bespin without them.

"Mimi... she showed me mistress - the real one - and she was... she was dead..." and at that, the floodgates opened, Ali started sobbing into Meela's shoulder as they hugged, "I saw her laying in a puddle, alone in the mud, I can't stop thinking about the life gone from her eyes... I wasn't there to save her, she doesn't deserve to die..."

Meela gently patted the Togruta on the back trying to comfort her. She was a little lost for words at all this new information. The Twi'lek had no idea of the weight Ali had been carrying around on her shoulders and by the sound of things, the Togruta had absolutely no idea what any of this meant. That wasn't to say Meela knew either, but a maternal instinct kicked in, she knew she had to help Ali make sense of all this somehow. She could not let the girl be consumed by her anxiety.

"I don't want to be anywhere without her Mimi. When I saw her there, something happened to me, I was so angry, I was so scared... I wanted to kill whoever did it..." she continued to cry, "I care about her... I don't want her to go somewhere and never come back. I don't want to be abandoned..."
 

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Holding the weeping Togruta tightly, Meela placed a hand gently on the back of her head, stroking it to comfort Alisaah. There was a lot of new information to digest but their conversation had at least revealed a great deal about what was bothering her. What was also clear was that Ali needed help. Whatever she had experienced in her life between leaving Dontigo Fligorra's service and becoming reunited with Meela, was forcing her into severe self-controlling behaviours that did not benefit her; only the masters that she so faithfully served. But now adding to that issue was the revelation that this girl was exhibiting signs of power unlike Meela had ever seen or known to be real. The Twi'lek sympathised with her, she did not blame Ali for her distress, it must have been overwhelmingly confusing.

"Oh Ali, I had no idea how much you were dealing with..." said Meela in a soft voice, "I'm sorry that you had to go through that experience and that you feel the way you do right now, but you have more strength than you give yourself credit for. You have survived many threats to your life already that no slave dancing girl is likely to have done before. Judging from what I've seen today, whoever or whatever spoke to you in that vision is not wrong; you have a power inside you greater than I think either of us understand, but we will find a way to help you make sense of it, I promise."

Ali did not say anything in response. She simply listened as the maternal figure in her life spoke.

"And you should be happy, you know. Caring about someone is a wonderful thing. Yes, at times like this it can hurt, but its only a testament to how strong the bonds of family, friendship and love can be. I know you have it in you to overcome this fear. I believe you can do anything you set your mind to and if saving Pixie from an untimely death is your goal, you have the inner strength to achieve it" continued the Twi'lek, giving Ali another gentle kiss on top of her head, "If the worst should happen, it would never be because you did not do everything you could, but we will see Pixie again soon. I have faith in her not to abandon you..."

The Togruta was too choked up to respond. Ali simply gave Meela a squeeze and the Twi'lek cracked a small smile.
 

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13
The touching moment between Ali and Meela was interrupted only by the happy chirping of Teela. The astromech's head spun 360 degrees as the red plated body of Kayto rose from the floor, stiff and mechanical.

"What happened? Where am I?" asked the droid. Ali and Meela let go of their embrace and, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes, the Togruta timidly said, "H-hello, Kayto..." The droid's head snapped around 90 degrees to look at who was talking. "You! You decapitated me!" cried Kayto, who now clambered to his feet and rose to his full height. For a moment, Ali got very scared, thinking the droid was going to attack her. Her eyes widened and she lifted her arms up to protect herself.

"Kayto!" snapped Meela, "Now is not the time! I know you're not programmed to be compassionate but just... back off, leave her be."

"Leave her be? She attacked me! My neck joints have never felt so stiff!" complained the droid, sounding almost apoplectic.

"Your neck joints will be the least of your worries if you don't drop it bolts for brains!" growled the Twi'lek, rising to her feet, one hand on her hip and the other wagging a finger angrily at Kayto. The security droid looked at the green-skinned woman and seemingly decided that he had better not continue down this line for fear she may do something equally as bad, if not worse.

"K-Kayto...?" sniffed Ali, lowering her arms, now wringing her hands nervously in her lap, "I... I'm really sorry for what I did... please forgive me..."

The security droid looked at the Togruta, as if it were considering her request, before responding "We will see. I shall not be forgetting this any time soon, Miss Alisaah." It was about as good as the slave could probably hoped for. Kayto could be difficult at the best of times, let alone when he'd been slighted.

"Well then, now that's over with, we had better get out of here. We've been inside this massage suite for far too long, they're bound to suspect something" announced Meela, "I don't know about you Ali, but I could definitely go for some food after today's excitement - shall we see if we can find something to eat?"

Still choked up from the unloading of emotions, Ali could only nod. Meela reached out and took her hand, praised Teela for the work she had done fixing Kayto and the group departed their hiding place in search of a good meal.

[THE END]
 
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