This is a continuation of the original idea and is set before the RotS ending in Possessed. I do have ideas for this, a vague adventure for the two that will explore the struggles of two minds trying to live in one body. So this will be a series of one-shots.
Two Minds, One Host
The head rolled across the gravel covered terrain and into the pit of the quarry. The hok'taur's body fell forward at his feet, her green energy blade fading into nothingness like her life just had and clattered against the ground loudly.
Brown eyes flashed white and a predatory grin formed on his lips as he stared down at the corpse. Another hok'taur Jedi had fallen to his power. He had chosen his host wisely. He truly was a god in this body!
"Ignorant parasite! We needed her alive!" snarled Dooku once he had regained control of his body again. It disturbed him greatly that Marutuk was so eager to use his power and skills, as if the being wanted to prove that he was superior to everything. It also disturbed him that the parasite could take control at any moment like that as well.
She is unimportant, the Goa'uld replied snidely and shifted irritably around Dooku's spine. The Sith Lord shivered at the sensation, something he still had yet to get use to even though it has only been three months since the forced blending.
"And where do you think we are going to find another Jedi with her unique abilities?" The parasite had so much to learn about the Force and the two Orders that served it. Dooku had tried to teach it the philosophies of the Jedi and the Sith but Marutuk seemed more inclined to do what he wanted and how he wanted, Sith and Jedi Codes be damned!
A god does not need... Marutuk began but Dooku cut him off by snapping angrily.
"You are not a god! You are a parasite that has forced itself on me!" His eyes flashed but not the expected white from the symbiote taking over. Had he a reflective surface nearby he would have seen his brown irises have changed to a crimson ringed yellow. That was something Dooku had noticed happening more often since the blending. He lost his temper frequently and he had become more ruthless than before. Where he would have negotiated with enemies or colleagues, he simply beheaded them if they did not conform to his way of thinking the first time.
His way of thinking. What was it anymore? Ever since the blending he had done things he normally, or so he believed, would not have done. He was a Jedi at heart and a Sith in mind, was he not?
Your self doubts grow annoying, the parasite intruded and the Count gripped the hilt of his lightsaber tighter. You are neither Sith or Jedi. You are my host and I am allowing you this freedom because it is in my best interest.
That caught his attention and a fear he had never felt before coursed through his body faster than he could identify and think on it. Although they had an agreement, it was not mutual like Dooku had been led to believe. Was he truly in control of his own body? How much of Marutuk's emotions and desires bled through the bond they shared?
Suddenly, he knew he was afraid of the parasite.
Now you understand.
"You can control me all along, why haven't you?" Dooku inquired and doing his best to hide his fear from his voice.
You would resist and I do not have the strength to hold you back forever. Our first battle of wills had proven that. Marutuk was still annoyed that he had failed to suppress the host. His plans for galactic domination in his home galaxy were on hold until he dealt with Dooku's own plans. Though he wondered if he could exert his will long enough to force his host through the Chappa'ai.
Marutuk savored the burst of fear and adrenaline that suddenly erupted from the hok'taur at the thought of being forced into a different galaxy to serve him for all of eternity. The old man had been a fool into thinking that he would continue this relationship forever. In time, Marutuk would have complete control over the host body and the hok'taur's mind would cease to exist.
"Do not delude yourself," Dooku hissed. "Do not forget I would sooner kill myself before allowing you to claim my body." He heard the parasite laugh inside his mind. To be mocked and not taken seriously annoyed the Sith.
You cherish your life far too much, Dooku. You would not do it. The confidence that dripped from the Goa'uld chipped another piece of Dooku's will from the indomitable wall the former Jedi had erected around himself to hold back the parasite.
Anger flashed in Dooku's eyes and he brought his unlit lightsaber to his chin, not caring who might be witnessing this one sided argument with himself. "I can and will end it!"
No, you won't.
Uncertainty hesitated Dooku's fingers over the activation switch. How could the Goa'uld be so confident that he would not kill them both right here and now? All he had to do was press the switch and his own crimson blade would end their lives. His suicide would protect the galaxy and another from this evil he held within himself and he would not be the face and name of that evil.
You are a warrior, reminded Marutuk in a very understanding tone. Of course the Goa'uld would understand a warrior's honor. He ruled over thousands who gave their lives for beings they thought were gods. Suicide is dishonorable. You are not a coward.
"Sometimes it takes more courage to slay one-self for the greater good," he retorted defiantly but the bite of his anger had deflated enough that his words held no real conviction behind them. The parasite was right. He was too much of a warrior to dishonor himself like this even though he knew it was the easiest and most righteous thing to do. The Jedi in him understood sacrifice but the Sith abhorred the very thought.
Or was that the parasite influencing his more sinister side? Again what were his thoughts and those of Marutuk?
Against his will, the curved lightsaber lowered from his chin and hung limply in his hand at his side. He was a prisoner in his own body, struggling every day to try and figure out what were his choices or Marutuk's. A pawn in a game of wills. His freedom was but an illusion that Marutuk allowed him to have while he whittled away at his strength.
"Count Dooku, sir," a mechanized voice intruded from behind him and Dooku was grateful for the distraction. The Sith Lord turned to face the yellow marked B-1 battledroid just before it produced a communicator in it's tri-fingered hand. "An urgent communique for you, sir."
He preferred to not deal with whoever it was but he needed the distraction after his unsettling argument with the Goa'uld. He had his freedom for now but the revelations he had just learned told it was only a matter of time before he lost that freedom and swept a darker curtain across the galaxy as the parasite enslaved everything, and he could only watch in horror from within his own prison.
With a nod the battledroid thumbed the communicator and a tiny blue hologram of a cloaked figure appeared in the machine's palm. A flicker of surprise crossed his features before he inclined his head in a bow of respect to the being. Dooku could sense Marutuk's unease at the presence of the Sith Lord and he wondered how much the symbiote feared Sidious.
"Master," Dooku greeted neutrally and resisted the urge to shiver as the parasite became more unsettled and tightened his grip on Dooku's spine.
Make this quick, demanded the parasite uneasily. Dooku mentally grinned sinisterly.
I shall enjoy your discomfort, Marutuk.
"How fairs the attempt to capture the Jedi woman?" the Dark Lord inquired in a curious but cold tone. Dooku's temper flared briefly at the ineptitude of Marutuk and did not look forward to his Master's wrath because of him.
"She is, regrettably, dead, my master." There was silence. Long silence.
"You have failed." Disappointment and contempt dripped off of the cowled Sith and Dooku noticeably winced.
"She would not surrender, my master," Dooku tried to explain. He tried to salvage the situation with an excuse that could explain why the girl had been slain without revealing Marutuk. He knew that if Sidious found out about the parasite, his life was forfeit. "She left me with no choice..."
"I wanted her alive!" Sidious did not quite shout but his presence and tone of voice might as well have made it sound like he had. "Your failure has set back our plans."
"My master, I..." The possessed Sith apprentice inclined his head again in penitence for his, no, Marutuk's error. He did not like to fail and he hated failing because of someone else's stupidity even more.
"No matter, Lord Tyranus," the Sith continued in a lighter, more thoughtful tone. "We can still salvage those plans. The Force will provide as it always has."
The Count kept silent. He would not beg for forgiveness when he knew he would not receive it. He only wished that whatever punishment Sidious had in mind for his failure would be swift and as painless as possible.
"You will go to Valahari," his master said finally. "There you will recruit the services of their starfighter engineering. Their expertise will provide the Confederacy the edge that Jedi Selan could have given with her unique talents had you not slain her."
Valahari. It had been too long since he had set foot on that world. Did Sidious know about his relations with House Vane? With the Viscountess and Tofen?
"The Republic will not sit still and allow the Valahari to sell it's technology to us," Dooku dared to point out.
"Indeed. When the Senate discovers Valahari's war profiteering they will demand for blockades of that region. You will arrange it so that Valahari becomes embroiled in the war. This should further destabilize the Republic where Jedi Selan would have done had she lived." The Sith Lord did not wait for his apprentice to answer if he understood. He knew Dooku well enough to accomplish his task. The hologram faded from sight and the battledroid lowered his arm and waited for orders.
Perhaps you will not be punished after all? He had to give the parasite credit. The being may like to torment him and make things difficult, but the Goa'uld did not like to be on the receiving end of torture either. The memories of his host having suffered his Master's wrath before was enough to deter the symbiote from openly inviting it. Now if he could just teach the wanna-be god some restraint, they could come out of this war alive.
"That has yet to be seen. I know my master, his punishments will be painful and cut to the quick." Dooku spoke aloud, forgetting that the battledroid commander was still present until it spoke.
A flash of a crimson blade quickly decapitated the machine before it could react. Dooku stood over the crumpled remains of the droid and sighed heavily. He would need to be more careful about talking to his symbiote when others were present. He could not afford Sidious finding out and deeming him unworthy of another breath of air.
Ha. You seem to go through more of those machines than that living abomination does, stabbed the parasite and Dooku scowled irritably. He did not need to be reminded of his outbursts as of late.
"No thanks to you," the Sith replied snidely and stepped around the ruined machine. "Besides I'd rather vent my frustrations on a droid than any of my commanders. Droids I can replace, the living? Not so much."
Another failing of this galaxy and apparently you as well, commented the Goa'uld in amusement,knowing perfectly well how much it annoyed his host. At least I can resurrect the dead.
He ignored Marutuk after that, having argued that point one too many times already and no longer in the mood to debate the finer points of their respective galaxies. Dooku hurried past squads of battledroids as he came closer to the field of battle. His mission here was a failure and his presence was no longer required to win the star system for the Confederacy nor did he care if they won it or not. The planet was not vital to the war or his Master's plans.
However Valahari apparently was and that concerned the former Jedi Master.
Why would this system concern you over any other? asked the parasite. Dooku could feel it trying to probe his memories for the answer and immediately he erected mental shields around those memories. He did not need the alien to know about his relationship with the Vanes. Something important to you is there, isn't it?
"Can you for once leave me in peace?" Dooku growled.
As he entered a cavern where he had housed his solar sailor, the Sith wondered if he could use a suggestion on the symbiote. Putting the thing to sleep would give him a moments respite, perhaps long enough to get some meditation in and think about how he could drag Valahari into the war without alienating House Vane. He figured it could not hurt to make the attempt and if it succeeded he might even be able to rid himself of the creature.
It won't work. He heard humor in the Goa'uld's mental voice.
The Count boarded the elegant looking vessel and gave the droid pilot it's destinations before he settled down in the cockpit. It would be several hours before he would arrive at Valahari and he looked forward to some peace and quiet until then.
Once he was safely in hyperspace, he quietly cleared his mind and focused on the life signature of the symbiote, ignoring the barbs and taunts and warnings Marutuk was giving him about trying. With the Force he focused on the alien mind and poured his will into the single mental command.
Sleep. His brow furrowed when the suggestion was not obeyed and he tried again, but stronger. He winced at the strain of trying to force a mind trick on another being but that time he felt Marutuk give a little. The third time he tried he succeeded in finally achieving some peace and quiet but not in the way he had been expecting to get it.
The droid pilot blinked at it's master as light snores pervaded the cockpit.
"It will be done, Master," mewled the Rattataki witch as her hologram gracefully bowed in the palm of his hand. "The Valahari will come to hate the Republic and Skywalker before the days end."
"Do not fail me in this, my apprentice," replied what sounded like Count Dooku. Marutuk grinned sinisterly. He could feel his host struggling to resurface to stop the order from being carried out but he did not have the strength to overpower the Goa'uld. The parasite had promised the hok'taur swift retribution for his mind trick despite the fact that he had found it amusing that the host ended up tricking himself instead.
Unknown to Dooku that day, while he slept, Marutuk had torn down the barriers that hid the memories of his relationship with House Vane and had discovered the Sith's feelings for the royal matriarch and her son. He could not have been given a more beautiful gift to break his host with.
Once the transmission had ended, the parasite retreated and allowed his host control of the body again. Immediately, and predictably, the Count contacted his assassin again and her crimson hologram reappeared once more in his palm.
"Master?" she inquired, a wary look crossing her beautiful features. He did not normally call back after giving instructions to his acolytes, so it did not surprise him at the reaction he got. Nor would it surprise him at her next reaction when he countermanded what had appeared to be his own order.
Think carefully, hok'taur, the parasite began coldly. Not only will this go against what your master wants, you will also cause your subordinates to question your mental faculties every time you change your mind. He heard the mental laugh as the Goa'uld found his own pun amusing.
Dooku certainly had not.
However the arrogant worm had a point. If he rescinded every order Marutuk made in his name, he would be quickly deemed unfit to lead and word would reach his master. Second guessing himself was a fast way to an early grave.
His hatred for the parasite burned hot as he forced the next words through gritted teeth, "I do not want the Viscountess to discover your deed. See to it you cover your tracks, Ventress."
"You shall have nothing to worry about, my master," replied the pale skinned assassin. "I shall be like a ghost."
You will be a ghost if you fail me, Dooku did not add and he felt the amusement roiling off his symbiote in waves. "I need not remind you the consequences of failure."
He cut the transmission and stuffed the hand-held holocom into a pouch on his belt. "You will suffer for this, parasite."
It laughed at him cruelly. They both knew there was nothing Dooku could do in retaliation. The more he fought back and tried to gain the upper hand, the stronger the symbiote grew. He was, thus far, stalemated in the war against the being and he wondered how much more he could take before the scales tipped in Marutuk's favor and the snake claimed victory.
"Yan?" he heard his name called and reluctantly turned to face the man he, no, Marutuk had condemned to death. Harko Vane approached and clapped a hand on his friend's shoulder and the Sith winced inwardly at the familiar camaraderie being displayed by the Valahari royal. "There you are. I was wondering where you had gotten off to."
"Merely needed a bit of fresh air," the Count lied though after what had happened and knowing what will happen, fresh air did not sound like a bad idea. He must have worn the guilt he was feeling or Harko knew him well enough still to pick up on what was bothering the former Jedi.
"Everything alright?" the Viscount asked and Dooku wished the man had not squeezed his shoulder as a silent offer to listen to him.
He shrugged the hand from him and stepped away. He did not need Harko's friendship right now, not while he knew that the man was not going to live to see his grandchild born. "It is nothing that which I cannot handle," he said a little too coldly.
Tell him, Marutuk goaded and the hok'taur closed his eyes in an attempt to drown out the symbiote's voice. Tell him how much you covet his wife and that you are going to murder him. You will feel better.
Shut up, he demanded angrily. Harko stepped into his field of vision, concern reflecting back at the Serenni Count. He couldn't meet the man's gaze.
"Tell me, old friend," Harko prodded gently. "And don't give me that speech about the pride of the Counts of Serenno."
Dooku scowled at him darkly. If you don't tell him, I will. He could feel the parasite's will pushing against the mental barriers and a fear shot through him at the thought of Harko learning the truth. He was already going to lose this man, he did not want to lose his friendship as well!
"No," he let slip in the form of a half frustrated, half panicked growl and forced himself to step away from the Viscount so he could regain his composure and just in case Marutuk managed to briefly surface. He clinched his fists in frustration as he struggled with the symbiote.
You agreed, he tried to remind the Goa'uld of their deal. I am to remain in...
Except when I demand to be, Marutuk answered. Satisfied at the feeling of fear and panic in his host, he reined back and let him regain his composure. Do not forget this.
No, I will not. His hate laced his mental words and Dooku took a heavy breath. He sensed the concern from Harko and knew the man would not give up so easily and let him walk away without an answer. He had to give something or divert his attention to something else.
Perhaps he could even prevent what Marutuk set into motion?
"I am sorry, my friend," Dooku started as he turned to face the Valahari royal again. "I have not been well these last few weeks."
That is the understatement of the millennium, quipped Marutuk.
"I can see that," Harko gestured toward the gardens of his estate and Dooku gladly accepted the offer for a walk, only because it would keep unwanted ears from overhearing them. He walked alongside his friend, the very thought of still considering him one painful.
Friends do not murder friends.
Tell that to Syfo-Dias.
He is not dead, Dooku growled silently.
Might as well be.
"What troubles you, Yan? I have not seen you this... lost since the civil war." Dooku schooled his features, disliking being so easily read by the viscount.
"I..." What could he say to warn Harko from partaking in the blockade run? He closed his eyes and tried his best to ignore Marutuk's mocking tone as the alien predicted that he would fail in persuading the man, short of actually telling him the truth. "You must not run the blockade, Harko."
The younger viscount stopped to look at his companion curiously. "Why? Have you seen something?" Dooku allowed himself to have a little hope, that Harko may heed him this time and not run foolishly and headlong into the danger.
"I sense danger," he lied smoothly, facing the man. Dooku added to the charade by placing his hands on either of the viscount's arms. "I fear that if you do this yourself, you will not come back, Harko. Let your steward make the run, stay with Elodore and Tofen."
What little hope he had allowed himself soon evaporated when Harko shook his head in reply. "I cannot and will not allow someone else to do what I should. You know me better than that, Yan."
The Count gave an exasperated sigh. "All too well." He forced himself to meet his friend's gaze. "Please reconsider..."
"No," the viscount said with conviction, shaking his head firmly. "It has to be done. The Republic has gone too far and would destroy my world's economy with their illegal blockade. Someone has to do it and I intend that someone to be me. Besides, I do not believe that Obi-wan will give the order to open fire."
No, but Ventress will detonate the bomb and you will still die, he did not say aloud. Instead, he said, "This war has changed those who you call friends, Viscount. Do not rely on old faiths to come through at the last minute."
Harko placed his hands on the Count's shoulders, "I have faith in my friends to do the right thing. Obi-wan won't attack my ship. He is too noble and good to kill senselessly."
Dooku pulled away from his friend and gave him a cold glare, "Your faith in your friends blind you, Harko. I warned you and I pray that Elodore does not suffer from your foolishness."
The viscount blinked in astonishment at the coldness from the former Jedi. "You are correct about the war changing people. You have changed."
The Sith stared at him silently before replying in a tired and quiet voice, his shoulders dropping minutely. "You have no idea."
You could always tell him about me. He'll end up taking the secret to his grave anyway. Dooku ignored the parasite. He knew the suggestion was a false reassurance, meant only to hurt him and make the viscount either fear or pity him, something which he did not want.
"What has happened to you?" the Valahari asked softly.
The Serenni shook his head lightly. "What is done is done and cannot be undone. I will always have to deal with the burden and only in death will I find peace." His tone was quiet and he seemed to be talking to himself more than to Harko, as if he was trying to convince himself to accept the fate that the Force had dealt him.
There will be no death, Marutuk reminded. I can heal most injuries and if you try to commit suicide, I can and will stop you. Peace shall never find you, hok'taur. Dooku noticeably winced at the cruelty of the parasite's words.
"I hope you find it before you pass on, my friend." The Count heard the sincerity in his friend's words and allowed a small smile to grace his lips for a moment.
"Be it the Will of the Force," Dooku recited one of the familiar idioms of the Jedi, but he did not feel the confidence that he once had felt whenever he had uttered the phrase.
He would never know peace again.
Marutuk inwardly smiled menacingly.
Count Dooku clinched his fists at either side of him as his master walked away, his head bowed and eyes closed as the Sith's words echoed in his mind. 'A distraction, an attachment, you can ill afford...'
The words had been spoken with a cold cruelty that reminded him of the parasite he carried. Thinking of the symbiote angered him and he lashed out with the Force, knocking over crates with a hate-filled shove. The loss of his relationship with the Vanes had been Marutuk's fault. If the blasted creature had not set into motion the death of Harko Vane, Elodore would not have come to hate him and banish him from Valahari and her life.
You cannot entirely blame me for what had happened, the symbiote defended haughtily.
"I can and I will." The Sith Lord glared at nothing before spinning on a heel and marching for the hanger where his solar sailor rested. "Your attempts to break me will only enrage me instead."
I have all the centuries in the Universe to break you, hok'taur.
And that truth frightened Dooku.