On an outer deck of a vast battle cruiser called the Shriwirr
, Dev Sibwarra rested his slim brown hand on a pioneer's left shoulder. "It'll be all right," he said softly. The other human's fear beat at his mind like a three-tailed lash. "There's no pain. You have a wonderful surprise ahead of you." Wonderful indeed, a life without hunger, cold, or selfish desire.
The prisoner, an Imperial of much lighter complexion than Dev, slumped in the entechment chair. He'd given up protesting, and his breath came in gasps. Pliable bands secured his forelimbs, neck, and knees--but only for balance. With his nervous system deionized at the shoulders, he couldn't struggle. A slender intravenous tube dripped pale blue magnetizing solution into each of his carotid arteries while tiny servopumps hummed. It only took a few mils of magsol to attune the tiny, fluctuating electromagnetic fields of human brain waves to the Ssi-ruuvi entechment apparatus.
Behind Dev, Master Filwirrung trilled a question in Ssi-ruuvi. "Is it calmed yet?"
Dev sketched a bow to his master and switched from human speech to Ssi-ruuvi. "Calm enough," he sang back. "He's almost ready."
Sleek, russet scales protected Firwirrung's two-meter length from beaked muzzle to muscular tail tip, and a prominent black V crest marked his forehead. Not large for a Ssi-ruu, he was still growing, with only a few age-scores where scales had begun to separate on his handsome chest. Firwirrung swung a broad, glowing white metal catchment arc down to cover the prisoner from midchest to nose. Dev could just peer over it and watch the man's pupils dilate. At any moment . . .
"Now," Dev announced.
Firwirrung touched a control. His muscular tail twitched with pleasure. The fleet's capture had been good today. Alongside his master, Dev would work far into the night. Before entechment, prisoners were noisy and dangerous. Afterward, their life energies powered droids of Ssi-ruuvi choosing.
The catchment arc hummed up to pitch Dev backed away. Inside that round human skull, a magsol-drugged brain was losing control. Though Master Firwirrung assured him that the transfer of incorporeal energy was pxunless, every prisoner screamed.
As did this one, when Firwirrung threw the catchment arc switch. The arc boomed out a sympathetic vibration, as brain energy leaped to an electromagnet perfectly attuned to magsol. Through the Force rippled an ululation of indescribable anguish.
Dev staggered and clung to the knowledge his masters had given him: The prisoners only thought they felt pain. He
only thought he sensed their pain. By the time the body screamed, all of a subject's energies had jumped to the catchment arc. The screaming body already was dead.
Excerpted from The Truce at Bakura: Star Wars by Kathy Tyers. Copyright © 1994 by Kathleen Tyers. Excerpted by permission of Spectra, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.