Mother shoves me into the doorway, my body still smoking. She shouts into it, “Motina! You take the boy! I expect him better off in his training when I get back…”
She storms a way before Senelie can come to us, and give my Motina a piece of her mind. Every time I came over to Senelie’s place for food and drink, or to stay the weekend, Motina would always make the demand I become stronger in my training. Senelie of course would have none of it, especially when I came there smoking, or with a new black eye, or if she handled me roughly.
This time, though, I did not really have room for Senelie’s pity. I was 12, you see, and old enough to know that my Motina and Jaarvek didn’t need to be abusive to ensure I grew into a Sith Lord. After all, Senelie didn’t have to do that to me to ensure I left stronger than before. Aunt and Uncle Teisybe and Lausk did not treat Ratsoi in such a way either. So why did they have to treat me so? For that matter, why did my aunt and uncle not do anything?! Why did Senelie not do anything?!
That is why when she came in and looked at me, I just frowned at her and ran past with my things, and shut the door to the room I usually stayed in. I could not stand looking at sympathetic eyes that did nothing. You heard me right: I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with Senelie, my grandmother, while she did nothing! Sure, she yelled at mother and protected me from their beatings at family reunions, and while at her house I had not a care in the universe. Yet, I still had to go back to Motina and Jaarvek’s. Why? Why?!
I couldn’t understand. In my frustration and anger, I threw my clothing around the room with a new technique I learned while at the academy on Dromund Kaas. Soon, my room at her house on Ziost was a mess. Well messier than it was when I stormed inside- Her small house on Ziost was in the process of being packed and moved to Korriban now that the planet has more or less settled. She’s not the first pureblood Sith to move back to the ancestral home, and she will not be the last.
So many boxes and one bed were in my room. A room who’s door was opening slowly. She looked around at the disarray and then looks at me. Before she can say anything, I just cross my arms and turn so my back and facing her. “Why not just torture me for doing this now? It’s not like you’re going to keep me, and ensure Motina doesn’t hurt me later.”
Senelie is silent. Very silent. As the minutes pass, I begin to cringe inwardly and pull my arms closer against my chest. The silence usually comes before I get a shock, so why should now be any different?
“Come to the kitchen, Yunoks Doeti, we are going to a feast later. And I need to prepare something,” I hear behind me and the door opening and closing.
I slowly glance behind me to make sure this isn’t a trick. Nope- She left, and my body isn’t smoking anymore. I gulp and exit out of the room. I head down the hall and I see her at the kitchen. “Wash your hands, Crimsên, and then start cutting these tukata brisket and put them in the pot, please.”
I am already washing my hands as she speaks. First rule of the kitchen is simple: Dirty hands don’t cook. Usually this was true if hands were dirty because of playing in the mud, or dirty because we talked back to Senelie. Not today for me: Why? Is there a punishment coming soon?
I cannot say. In fact, I do not know what she wants to do with this: Tukata brisk, 2 cups of boma blood, root vegetables from Korriban, potatoes from Alderaan, and more herbs fresh from Korriban. She added some bloodwine to add to taste. When we are done, I smile: “When will we eat this?”
She shakes her head. “We are not eating this, Yunoks Doeti. We are taking it to people who will eat it.”
“Why, Senelie?” I look at her confused. “Shouldn’t we eat it all?”
She is removing her apron and putting on her more formal cloak. “We have plenty of food to eat, Yunoks Doeti, or do you not remember? No, we are going to a place to learn what the Empire is really like.”
Silently, I get ready for this outing. Naturally, she does not let us go until I clean up the room. We hop in her private speeder and drive away from where the Sith live to a new area of Ziost. Something was wrong with it- The houses and apartments were run down, a couple of red Sith were at the side of the road with signs saying “No Force, no job, no funds. Anything will help…”, and noticed some were pale. I turn to her and whisper as the speeder is parked next to a more put together building: “What is this place?”
“Officially, Crimsên, it is called Lausk Nuo Tave Irtijemi, which in basic means «Hope for the Root». For you, it is called Satlvamseya. I know this does not explain why I cannot keep you away from my daughter, and son-in-law, but I hope it re-shapes how you see the current situation.”
I frown. So instead of fighting to free me, I get sent to this smell place? Wonderful. I don’t need to be with the weak, I thought to myself and later was shocked. I can’t believe I just said that. But I could believe it and I was starting to believe it: Why are we getting out and giving our food away to the people who were too weak to get it themselves?
I was an ass back then, I see that now. But it made sense to me given what I was taught: The poor are there because they are weak! Not my fault, nor problem because I am strong, right? I was wrong.
I set the pot down in the kitchen, and quickly went to wash my hands. On comes the apron, and my hair was cut short days before so no need for hair clips or hair nets. Instead I just moved to get the food out by the front counter, and start to serve the people. The first thing that hit me was I was serving my own people! There were red sith, orange sith, deep red sith, tall sith, young sith, old sith, sith that looked sith, sith that fidgeted, and other sith. Shouldn’t they be off in an Academy somewhere? Why are they all here, and getting the free food? Where are all those nesvanis uzsien that are scattered across Dromund Kaas’ slums?
I did not know. Yet as I served the people, and listened to the conversations, their tales started to become clearer: “It seems a good Force user isn’t enough when I was found to be a woman. They said to channel my dysphoria into fueling the Force, not lessen it.”
The woman, or was she a man, was tall and had much make up on. Her hair was long, black, and braided. But her face looked more male, and her arms looked like they were built by testosterone instead of muscle. Her companion was a man with short hair, but had a woman’s voice. Or was she a tomboy? She answers back, “How long ago was this?”
“A month ago,” the woman answers. “I had troopers bow before me, and now I am eating in a soup kitchen! I- a tsis?! How…”
Another man in a nearby table mumbled, “If I switch to soresu form during this part of the spar, I could trick my opponent. Then move to shien to ensure the one from behind cannot get an opening. If I move my saber this way, they won’t be…”
One of the other volunteers sees him and then looks down to shake his head: “Poor soul, he hasn’t had a chance to saber duel. He has no Force awareness, yet he sees like he does.”
My ears turn to focus on a boy my height, with my eye colour, and very pale orange skin. He coughs a few times, “The tukata-blood stew was good. Could I have seconds?”
I was going to apologise and say there was none, but Senelie put another big pot in front of me. She whispers, “You can go eat, Yunoks Doeti. I think you and Vine Wo should chat.”
When we are sitting across the table, I eat the tukata blood stew. This was the first time I had tried it, and it was delicious. I ate a few large gulps, while noticing Vine Wo was eating slowly. Too slowly. I reach over and ask, “Are you alright?”
He nods slowly, and coughs again. “Sorry, Yunoks, yes I am alright. I’m just not used to such a dish.”
“Neither am I,” I answer calmly, “or I do not remember. Would you like the recipe?”
“No thank you. I couldn’t get the food to eat it anyway.”
“Why not? Tukata are still on Ziost, and could have the food imported…”
“I do not have money,” he answers simply. “Not since I was kicked out of my house after father caught me kissing… Never mind.”
Nice work, Crimsên, forgetting where you were working and who was sitting across from you! He isn’t here because this is a luxury restaurant. Though why kicked out after being caught kissing…
“Are tsis not allowed to kiss anymore? Don’t tell m uncle, if so! They kiss every hour on the hour, practically.”
Vine smiles a little. “I would like to hop not, but hard to tell in the Empire.”
We eat in silence, and Vine continues to eat slowly. I eat my bowl, seeing the way his hands shake. They were handsome hands- His face was handsome too. And his voice was pleasant to listen to, in spite of the coughing. I brought him another stew. “So, Vine, are you sure you’re okay? You’re still coughing…”
“I am fine, yes, I just wasn’t able to find medical attention in time. It was when I was kicked out…”
I nod and have a few small bites. This stew was really good! Nice, comforting, and felt like home. “Why were you kicked out? You don’t have to tell me…”
Vine looks at me and then looks down. “I never shared it before. It is rather shameful for me to admit, since I know the last thing our species needs is a man like me.”
“Now why would we not need a man like you? You’re handsome and could become an awesome Sith.” Was I always flirty? Even as an innocent twelve year-old? Good thing Motina and Jaarvek are far away from here.
“Well, see, I was kicked out because I kissed another boy. It was to see what it felt like! Well, I kissed him and we both got caught. His jaarvek taught him to channel that passion toward becoming a great sith. My jaarvek simply poured a burning substance down my throat and kicked me out with just the clothing on my back. I’ve been on the streets ever since. That was when I was twelve- Through this place I managed to stick around for three years.”
I widen my eyes. He was a kitegós? The first kitegós I had ever met? Motina likes to yell at them, and blame them for our people’s not expanding population. She called them a waste of DNA and a waste of air when they spoke. Well, I knew the latter was not true- His voice was warm and full of goodness!
He pushes away his bowl, and I pick it up. He reaches out and his fingers rest on the back of my hand. “Are you okay? Do you need help?”
I look down to those hands- They were smooth. They should have had a home at my age, not gotten kicked out. I look into his eyes and shake my head. “No, no. Really, it is not much trouble. We didn’t use up too many dishes…”
He leans down and kisses the back of my hand. “Thank you, Yunoks.”
I remember walking away into the crowd, and cleaning up the dishes. I then needed to sit down and process what I learned: He got kicked out at twelve for being a kitegós? After having… burning liquid? Who would pour that down their child’s throat? Motina and Jaarvek never did that to me. On the way home, that was all I could talk about. My anger at Senelie forgotten, and my last punishment forgotten. I never understood what I was supposed to gain from going there, but it seemed I earned it for she just kept smiling.
They would do that to me of course. They would do worse as soon as they realised I was a kitegós, and they had to stop me from learning I was a kitegós. Yet it failed. They failed: I’m still a kitegós and I’m married to a man! He isn’t Vine… Vine is all I can really remember about this place besides grandma, and tukata bloodstew. I wonder what happened to him… Did he suffer the fate of everyone else on Ziost, or is he out there somewhere?
Yunoks Doeti «Little Cook»
yunoks zeon «little lady»
nesvanis uzsien «filthy aliens»
yunoks mekn «little man»