It had been over a ten-day since he had arrived. Hope fled as the days drudged on. The constant dehumanising activities, such as 'Wig-making for Dummies,' 'Learning Safety Words in 50 Different Languages,' 'Rehabilitative Brainwashing,' 'Achieving the Perfect Clean with a Fire Hose and Soap-On-A-Rope,' and 'It's Not a Sweat-Shop if you're Imprisoned,' were meant to break his spirit. However, he was a man of Darkness. He had known, first hand, the incredible usefulness of torture. He knew that one whose soul had been crushed was easier to manipulate. As he was forced into participation of these pathetic acts, his most comforting thought was that of the terror he would reek the moment his Force inhibitor collar came off. He dreamt of Sith lightning arcing through victims, cooking them from the inside. He imagined the cool weight of his lightsabre in his palm, and the hum as it hissed through soft bodies with ease. Were he free, he would rewrite the mind of the psycho-hypno-therapist, leaving her in a drooling, babbling stupor. These thoughts brought a smile to his face during the worst of the tasks.
However, when he returned to his cell, reality crashed down on him. The tiny mirror above his foul sink showed the truth of his state. The vibrant orange jump-suit, smeared with stains that he endured as the other inmates harassed him at the group lunch, glared loudly in his reflected gaze. Large dark rings hung under his glossy, red eyes, yet this was the least of the effects of the accumulating lack of sleep. Years back, he had developed a mild tremor, easily calmed by the Force, but here, the shake was distracting. He wondered if it were simply his fear manifesting outward. His hair was greasy, as it had been far too long since he had been able to clean it properly.
He sighed and sat heavily on the edge of his cot. Waking nightmares played in his head. He saw that of weeks turning to years, and a fuzzy vague image of an ancient and crude implement called a Guillotine. Hands and head gone. Life a lie.
His mind reeling, his eyes slipped closed. A light tinny tapping sound broke him free of the terror which gripped him. A smile crossed his sweaty face as he stepped over to the metallic box on the floor.
"Thank you for getting my attention, Padawan," he said, letting two fingers rest on the cold metal lid. The tapping sound had weakened in days past. Dooku worried that the small enclosure prohibited Qui-Gon his powerful connection with the Force. Being that he was a Force Ghost, this could not have been a good thing.
Dooku sat there, deep in a lack of thought, for an indeterminate amount of time.
He was startled awake by the harsh crack of wood on metal.
"Wake up, you maggot!" a squat guard called, standing directly outside of the cell. He was dressed in the flowing blue robes of the Senate guards, however, his were ill-fitting, his large belly made the fabric tight. The centurion face-guard was pushed up, revealing a pock-mark covered scowl.
Dooku blinked up at the man. He could not hide his revulsion and his face wrinkled in disgust.
"What're you lookin' at, Jedi scum?"
"I am Sith, my good man," the Count said, with his usual air of grace, "And, simply, I am looking at a pathetic little creature that will never achieve his dreams of being the Human Cannonball at the Bumbling Brothers Circus." He grazed his finger tips over the metal container, his lips quirking up into a smirk.
With a grunt of rage, the diminutive guard keyed the lock and threw the door open, stalking in and grabbing the front of Dooku's shirt, hauling him to his feet. "Big laughs, old man. If you didn't have the be upstairs right now, I'd bust up your head!"
The elder stifled a laugh. "'Bust up my head'? Dear me, you didn't pass the Coruscanti Police test, did you, Prison Guard, sir?"
The strike was fast and hard, knocking Dooku to his knees. Blazing white pain arced up the right side of his face, robbing him of his breath and sight. He held the back of hand to his mouth, tasting the metallic tang of blood.
"Do you..." Dooku cleared his throat, rising, slowly to his feet. "Do you feel big, hitting an unarmed man?"
The guard smiled, shaking his head. "Naw," he said, "I feel big when I'm taking home my pay cheque for it." He grabbed the edge to the metal box, and dragged it toward him, scraping it along the floor.
"What are you doing?" Dooku said, absently reaching out for the container.
The guard scowled. "Never you mind, Jedi freak. Just follow me and shut up."
Dooku was uncomfortable with the lout holding the box. He wondered for a moment if Qui-Gon could feel the motions inside.
With a tug of Dooku's chains, the two started down the hallway. Both men were silent, only the sound of the footfalls echoed through the durasteel cavern of cages.
The elder thought long and hard on the situation and where he and Qui-Gon were going. Fear came in waves as his mind jumped to a vision of an electric chair warmed up and waiting for him.
He dared to speak. "Where are we going?"
The guard's baton butted Dooku in the gut, making him gasp in pain. The small man said nothing, keeping up his pace.
Finally, the two reached the showers. The guard removed soap, a short stained towel, and a clean orange jump-suit from a large locker. He forced the items into Dooku's arms. "Shower and git dressed. You got 10 minutes of hot water." He turned away, pulling a folded magazine from his pocket. He sat on one of the cold metal benches and began to read, ignoring Dooku.
This was the first shower that the elder had the pleasure of taking alone since his arrival. This was also the first with the exquisite sin of hot water. He showered quickly, though spending extra time to wash his hair. Within 15 minutes, he was clean, dried and dressed.
From there, the two went to an elevator and travelled upward 12 floors.
The guard elbowed the elder in the arm. "Don't say nothin'."
When the doors hissed open, bright flashing lights blinded Dooku. He held his chained hands up, covering his eyes. With a sharp tug, he was lead forward into a crowd.
When his eyes focussed, he saw a sea of news reporters. The cacophony of shouted questions bombarded his ears, unable to make out a single word. He was pulled through, mutely. The guard lead him into a grand courtroom, with marble floors and sturdy wood benches. Dozens of people filled the seats, all turned to gaze at him. The jury section held ten. There were several armed Senate Guards posted at the doorways.
Dooku was paraded in front of the court and before the judge. He sat tall, looking down on the elder, contempt clear in his eyes. His face was old and wrinkled, but lacked the lines of mirth, but instead was craggy with the sharp cuts of disgust. He wore a white curled wig, as all of the local judges did.
The guard dropped the container down, on the table before the judge, hard, the harsh echoing clang ricocheted through the noisy room.
All of this had been happening too fast for Dooku. A lost look was on his still face as he gazed down at the box.
"Order," the Judge said, his huge voice booming.
"You," he pointed out a twisted bony finger at Dooku, "Do you know why you are here?" He spoke with an accent much like that of Dooku himself, but the voice lacked compassion. It was as cold as his ice blue eyes.
He touched the corner of the box. "Yes, your honour."
"Where is your counsel?"
Dooku froze as his hope sank. As he knew of nothing, he assumed that Frick and Frack had failed. He was not prepared in the least. He shook his head. "We haven't a barrister, your honour."
The judge scoffed. "Haven't a barrister?" He slipped on a pair of tiny reading spectacles he wore around his neck on a chain. Leafing through papers, his thin lips curled in a wicked smile. "Well, 'Count,'" he said, mockingly, "we will provide you with a Solicitor. Free of charge." He waved his emaciated hand. "Send in the Solicitor."
A guard bowed and disappeared into a connecting hall.
Moments later he returned, with the barrister in tow.
The Count's jaw dropped. He blinked in disbelief.
"Since one of your party is also dead, I felt that this gentleman would understand your needs and serve you best."
The words of the Judge were soundless to Dooku. He was in shock.
"We will reconvene tomorrow morning at zero eight hundred sharp to allow the counsel to commune with his clients. Dismissed!"
The barrister turned to the elder, smiling. "How ya' doin' bwauth?"