DISCLAIMER: I don’t own the ideas or characters from BTVS or Star Wars and I earn no profit in writing this.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story follows ‘A New Darkness.’ The Jedi begin to learn about demons the hard way.
Maral stiffened when she felt the unfamiliar presence in the Force. It wasn’t simply that it was alien. Whatever was producing the feeling in her was… profoundly wrong. She swiveled on the barstool and surveyed the room. There. Near the exit. A rather pretty human female was talking to a human male.
Glancing around for her master, she rose to her feet. Master Dormas, the Jedi knight she was apprenticed to, was nowhere in sight. She tried reaching out to him in the Force and found him, several levels below, occupied with the smugglers they’d been tracking. Maral glanced at the door. The source of the feeling had already left, but she could still feel it, receding rapidly. I have to act
, she decided. Trying to convey the situation through the Force, she quickly followed the stranger. The man did not feel frightened, he felt excited, as if anticipating something special, most likely his companion’s favors in some rooming house, Maral surmised. The creature that looked like a human woman was excited too, but what it anticipated-. The young Jedi felt a flash of alarm through the Force and increased her speed.
The alley in which she found the pair was dark and strewn with trash, and as she entered she knew it was too late. The body of the young man was casually tossed to the ground as if it were just another piece of litter.
Maral reached for her newly constructed light saber. Dormas had only been drilling her in its use for a few days, but she felt confident enough to deal with one murderer.
“What ‘ave we here?” An oddly accented voice called from the shadows. “Did you bring a candle to light your way in the dark?”
“Who are you?” Maral demanded, igniting her light saber.
“Rude to answer a question wi’ a question,” the voice answered, its owner staying out of the light cast by the blade. “Didn’t your mummy teach you any manners?” Maral reached out with the Force, trying to locate the killer. Her voice echoed oddly in the alley, making it difficult to track her that way. The young Jedi frowned as she discovered that she couldn’t track the killer with the Force either. She could feel the other easily enough, too easily. The sheer evil the killer radiated overwhelmed her senses. Her enemy seemed to be all around her.
“I am Maral, a Jedi knight, and you will surrender or be taken by force to answer for the murder you’ve committed.”
Maral spun in place lashing out with her blade. The stranger had spoken from directly behind her, practically whispering in her ear. Nothing. There was nothing for her swing to connect with.
“Little light bringer, shining bright,” the voice sing-songed. “So much promise, so much hope for the future.” Maral whirled again, trying vainly to focus on the source of the voice or the source of the revolting emanations the creature put out in the Force. Nothing.
“What will you be, little light bringer? Will you be a warrior? A healer? A legendary master? Will you be a beacon to the generations to come or sink in the dark with me? I know the answer.”
“Do you now?” Maral called out, trying to draw the killer out. If she could engage the other, get her to show herself, she could end this game quickly.
“The stars sing of it. They whisper and scream of so many things, like your future. Do you want to know your future?”
“Yes,” Maral answered. She didn’t turn toward the voice. She had pinpointed it this time. To her right, about three meters away was a large container lying on its side. The voice had come from behind it. The killer was fast, but if she could surprise it, she could nullify that advantage. She couldn’t, Maral knew, be as fast as a thrown light saber. She locked the blade on. “Please. Tell me.”
“Of course, little light bringer. You will be-” Maral’s blade left her had, spinning toward and through the container. Maral tried to scream as something sharp pierced her neck. Realizing it was a set of teeth she struggled, panicking as she felt her life being drained away. She lost her grip on the Force and the weapon she desperately wanted to recall.
“Desert,” the killer answered as she discarded her second victim of the evening. “Sort of an anti-climax, innit?” Not very filling, she reflected. Perhaps she should find another.
“She wasn’t ready,” Dormas answered, never raising his eyes, not wanting to see the disappointment he knew would be there. “When I saw how many smugglers there were and how they were armed, I decided she’d be safer staying in the cantina.”
“No one is blaming you, Dormas,” Luke sighed. “This couldn’t have been anticipated.” He turned to Xander. “You spoke just yesterday of beginning our lessons. Perhaps it’s time for the first.”
“Actually, Master Skywalker,” the Watcher answered grimly, “I think you’ve just had it.”