Mala’s childhood was, by all accounts, one surrounded by poverty and despair. Her parents, who toiled endlessly in the infamous slave pits of Kessel, were hardly able to make ends meet to support themselves. More partners of convenience than anything, they had settled down to pool their meager resources and take comfort in each other’s company. The impending arrival of a child, let alone the challenges of raising an infant beneath the harsh yoke of their slave masters, made a long term relationship seem more like a prison sentence. While they weren’t married, their relationship was a strained one for the duration of Mala’s time with her parents, and she generally looks back on her childhood with a great deal of contempt. Her parents bickered and argued frequently over even the mundane things, and she was given the distinct impression that they were reluctant to admit they had a daughter.
Though they were not physically abusive, their neglect fostered mistrust and encouraged Mala to become a social introvert.As wretched as her home life was, she would soon find herself yearning for a return to the chaotic dysfunction of her youth. Shortly after her eleventh birthday, her family was visited by a Dark Jedi named Azahd, who sensed the girl’s latent bond with the Force and promptly set about bartering for her life. Offering her parents a decent sum of credits in exchange, he promised their daughter the chance for a better life far from the suffocating misery of their home world. In truth, Mala’s parents needed little convincing to pawn their burden, and eagerly agreed to the terms.Although hardly a surprise, their betrayal still cut deep and would fester for years. Distraught and seething with resentment at having been so callously discarded by her own family, Mala grew into a stubborn and ill-tempered teenager with a taste for violence.
Though she showed a great deal of potential with the Force, her training in such pursuits often took a back seat to her interest in the methods of combat, finding the raw, chaotic style of the Juyo form to be the perfect outlet for her anger and frustrations. Having spent a great deal of her developmental years toiling in the gloom of the slave pits, Mala had not been fortunate enough to be given a formal education, nor had she even learned how to speak Basic; having been forbidden to do so with the threat of execution. She was practically illiterate, and without the knowledge of Basic to openly express herself in any easy way, she was mocked and ridiculed by her peers. That was all except for one: a sympathetic young Echani named Cham.
The two quickly developed a close mutual friendship, if at first for no greater purpose than the necessity of survival. Life in the secretive Imperial program was paltry and cruel, and they quickly discovered that two heads were better than one. For her part, Cham taught Mala how to read and write, and with time even how to speak Basic. The experience gradually opened the young Twi’lek’s eyes and gave her access to the world in ways she scarcely even dreamed of. She became more outspoken and developed a certain fondness for obscenities, finding such language allowed her to convey herself with little effort.Even so, the pair knew they were playing with fire. Azahd was known for being extremely possessive of his students, and upon learning of their burgeoning friendship, flew into a violent rage.
Both pupils were lucky to have escaped with their lives, but Mala certainly bore the brunt of her master’s ire. She was severely beaten and subjected to sadism only someone on the dark side could dream up. For hours she was tormented before her Master finally, mercifully, left her for dead in harsh wilderness.
Through a miracle of perseverance though, fueled by her intense and growing hatred for Azahd, she found the strength to cling to life, even if just barely. Hours would turn to days, and days to weeks before she finally managed to claw her way back to civilization, a girl apart from the one who had been given up for dead by those closest to her. Feeling betrayed that Cham had made no effort to search for her, Mala’s animosity knew no bounds. For Mala and the other students, coming of age under the thumb of those who walk the dark side was an experience unlike any other. At a time in life when most adolescents would be taking their first awkward steps into adulthood with the gentle guidance and comforting advice of their parents, Mala had found herself thrust into the midst of a blood fueled orgy with little more than her own wits for protection.
Though, life with her parents, and her apprenticeship to Azahd, had mostly desensitized her to the degrading life of a slave.