“It was all false.”
“It- it wasn’t, ” he snaps, straining against his restraints again. The Grand Inquisitor only chuckles, shaking his head and flicking a finger. He catches the movement and tries to prepare himself, but it’s useless as shocks wrack his body again and he screams. They break off abruptly as he trails off into a whimper, swallowing and trying to regain his defiant posture from before.
“It was, boy, and the sooner you can accept that, the easier this will be for you. The easier it will be to accept your new role in serving your Emperor.”
“I kn- know there’s others who want your position, you’re just tryi- trying to stay ahead of them—” Another scream rips from his throat as electricity cuts him off, and even for several minutes afterward he finds himself sagging forward and panting.
“Look at yourself. Cut off from the Force, from that excuse of a Padawan you so adoringly refer to as ‘Master,’ from even the fever dreams you need to cope. Tell me, boy, if you were so powerful in your dreams, ” the man spits the word acidly, and it makes his stomach curdle, “then where is that power now?”
Ezra doesn’t answer, only breathing heavily and shaking as he slowly raises his head. The Inquisitor moves slightly and he quickly flinches backward, eyes closed as he braces for more pain.
It doesn’t come.
He opens his eyes carefully, blinking and eyeing the man warily.
“It seems that you are learning, boy. There might be hope for you yet.”
“I- I’m not lear- learning anything from you. ”
The shock comes instantly and he screams, back arching even when it ends. Panting, he closes his eyes and allows himself to sag forward again.
“Hmm. Maybe I was wrong. I’ll leave you to think on my previous offer.”
The Inquisitor leaves, and he allows himself another small whimper.
When they let him down from the table for the first time in several days, he collapses, or at least he would have had the ‘troopers’ grips on his arms not been tight enough to bruise.
They half-drag him up the stairs leading out, and then down the corridor. He can’t bring himself to care, not even raising his head as they drag him into a lift.
He doesn’t react, even when they shove him onto his knees and his breath catches, hands flying out in time to stop himself from slamming face-first into the durasteel. Breathing hard, Ezra glances up.
The Grand Inquisitor stands above him, a smirk half-formed as he studies him. Ezra swallows, dropping his head again.
“Chin up, boy.” An invisible hand pushes his face up but he doesn’t object, merely blinking and fixing his gaze on something beyond the man’s shoulder.
“Are you aware of where we are?”
He shakes his head, even the simple motion causing pain in his neck. Whimpering, Ezra closes his eyes.
“We are on the bridge of the Star Destroyer Executrix, ” he announces, pausing as if the knowledge will make Ezra react. He doesn’t.
The hold on his face vanishes and he opens his eyes, head dropping again. “Tell me, boy,” the Inquisitor continues, “how are you?”
He raises his head enough to eye the man warily. I hate you.
“Dead,” he mutters mutinously. The Inquisitor merely chuckles.
“I see you retain some of that fire you were so known for once upon a time. But have you had time enough to reconsider my offer?”
Oh, he has.
“I’ve been told my stormtroopers can be very... persuasive in matters such as these.” They are, if one counts endless beatings as persuasive. He supposes that they are, in a way.
“Of course, if you’re still resistant, there are some...colleagues of mine that would delight in breaking you.” The image of the Seventh Sister that surges easily over his shattered shields is no mistake, and he shudders, her hissed threats from years before— no, from dreams, he reminds himself—echoing in his ears once more.
“So what’s your decision?”
White plastoid boots digging into his side before flipping him onto his back and not waiting as he gasps as they drag him up by his already-scorched collar and steadying him just enough as a fist cracks into his nose, injections constant enough that he can’t even feel the drugs beginning to wear off before more are pumping through his system and keeping him compliant enough to be unreactive as someone tilts his chin up and studies him before trailing two fingers—
“No,” he whispers hoarsely.
At a nod from the Inquisitor, the ‘troopers grips return, pulling his arms back sharply until he cries out. Still he shakes his head.
“I- I won’t betray—“
“He left you, boy,” the Inquisitor painfully reminds him as the ‘troopers pull his arms tighter. “The sooner you remember that, the better.” Extending a hand, the man’s gaze narrows as Ezra’s windpipe constricts. He coughs, still managing a glare.
“I...won’t... betr— “
He’s jerked out of the ‘troopers grips and slammed into the far wall, held frozen and spread eagle as the Inquisitor stalks toward him slowly.
“By the end of today, boy, you will regret everything you have ever said or done that has displeased me. Do you understand? ”
He’s still gasping, trying to glare at the Inquisitor even as his vision wavers. He struggles to swallow before answering in the form of spitting at the Grand Inquisitor.
His air cuts off completely, and the last thing he knows is being pulled forward and then slammed against the wall once more.
He wakes strapped to the table once again, this time completely immobile.
His breathing grows harsh and fast as he pulls against the restraints, eyes flitting around the room.
A sound from behind makes him stiffen, trying to shift even slightly to see behind him. A deep chuckle echoes around the cell in response to his struggles and he freezes, closing his eyes and praying silently to whatever remnant of the Force that hasn’t left him yet in hopes that something, anything will happen to stop...whatever will happen.
The invisible grip on his throat that he’s grown used to by now returns, and Ezra only lowers his head fractionally in defeat, even as he chokes.
If this is how it ends….
The hold abruptly releases and he glares at the Grand Inquisitor before him as his vision comes back into focus.
“I hate you,” he spits. The man chuckles.
“I only think it’s a pity that you have not yet realized that your hate would be better served elsewhere. So much potential….” The man runs the back of his hand along Ezra’s cheek in a manner that causes him to shudder in revulsion. “Though there are always ways around obstacles. If one knows where to look.”
Ezra swallows, gaze following the Inquisitor warily as the man finally removes his hand from the teen’s cheek and places it on Ezra’s forehead. He flinches back as far as he can against the durasteel, eyes narrowing further.
“I do wish this wasn’t necessary, but with the way you’ve been acting recently I believe this is the only way.” There’s an odd tone in his voice that only puts Ezra on edge further as the man’s grip tightens. “The irony of it will make Jarrus’s reaction so interesting… ” he trails off, closing his eyes.
Ezra doesn’t feel a change at first.
And then he feels everything.
He gasps, feeling Kanan’s ‘saber in his hands again and looking up in confusion as the man asks him about it. And then he’s running, firing shots at Kallus’s stormtroopers with his ‘saber-blaster hybrid. Ducking down from a probe droid with Sabine and Kanan. Reaching out as Kanan shuts the door behind him. Begging Hera to go back for him. Speaking into the comm as he feels the tower explode behind him.
Crying out as he falls from the catwalk. Screaming as he wakes to the Inquisitor telling him that the Kanan he knew— who’s Kanan?— is false and a lie he made up to cope with his new reality. And every struggle against the stormtroopers, against the droid that comes in to inject him every day to keep him drugged and compliant and as high as Lothal’s moons themselves, every harsh word toward the Inquisitor.
It's all gone.
He wakes, blinking in the darkness as his vision finally focuses on the man ahead of him.
“Are you ready to take vengeance for yourself?”
“On who?” he asks, voice hoarse. He’s not sure why, but his throat hurts, almost as if he’s been screaming nonstop for the past several hours. If he has, he has no memory of it.
A flicker of something passes across the face of the man ahead of him, but it’s gone before he can place it. He shifts, realizing he’s restrained. Why?
“Kanan Jarrus, of course.”
“Who’s Kanan Jarrus?”