Dark Side of the Soul
New Blood Vignettes
By Michael Weyer
Dark Side of the Soul
Yes, do plan to get to “Jedi” soon but tied up in various things. But did hit upon this, inspired by a classic “Star Wars Tales” story and hope it might get some interest. All comments welcomed.
Mustafar hadn’t changed at all in the two decades since Darth Vader had come here. The red and black rocks spread around, the air thick with ash and soot with dark clouds hanging overhead. Most importantly, there were still the rivers of fiery lava pouring around in falls, rivers and lakes.
For one of the few times ever, Vader was grateful for the black armor that covered him completely. Its life support kept him protected from the oppressive heat of the planet as well as the soot and ash. But it could not keep back those memories. Pain and agony at seeing his beloved wife dying. The frantic battle with Obi-Wan. The loss of his limbs. The sheer agony of his body claimed by that lava. And lying there on the rocky hill, his body smoking, kept alive only be his will and his hate as his master claimed him.
If it had been Vader’s choice, Mustafar would have been one of the first targets for the Death Star, to wipe this blight from his mind once and for all. But it was still a key source of fuel for the Empire and thus had to stay open. All Vader could do was stay far away but his Master’s commands were not to be questioned.
A coughing got his attention and he turned his helmet to see Mara Jade holding a hand to her mouth. Her long red hair was already being inundated with ash as she reached to the belt around her waist. She was clad in a black jumpsuit with a short cape, an outfit for comfort while leaving her enough room should battle come. She managed to pull out a small breath mask and affixed it to her face, taking a breath. “I don’t care what those scientists say,” she said in a muffled voice. “There is a Hell and this is it.”
“No, it’s not,” Angelus said in a nonchalant tone. “I’ve been to Hell. It’s a bit colder in some spots.” The vampire appeared less affected by the place as he followed the other two down the ramp of the shuttlecraft at the docking area of the major factory. His black coat flipped behind him to match his black pants and tunic as he glanced around. Not needing to breathe was an advantage in an environment such as this although being so close to massive heat did make him a tad nervous.
Jade glanced around at the facility as they walked on the pad, a quartet of stormtroopers following them. “I don’t understand why all three of us had to come here. So they’ve lost communications with the place. So what? You send in a scouting party or just one of us.”
“Where the Emperor commands, we go,” Vader intoned as they marched across the bridge leading to the factory ahead. “We are to find the reason for the communication loss and ensure the facility is back up to production immediately.”
“So instead of hunting the Rebels or making sure this new Death Star is on schedule, we’re on maintance?” Angelus complained. “Damn, old Palpatine is still pissed we let Skywalker get away.”
“You should be grateful we were not chastised further, Scourge,” Vader snapped. “That we live at all is a sign our Lord needs us.”
Angelus shrugged. “I’d still rather be hunting Summers down. And what the hell are they doing building a new Death Star anyway? The Rebels took out the last one, remember?”
“Those weaknesses have been corrected,” Vader answered as they reached the main door of the first building of the factory. He noted that the keypad lock had been shattered and reached out with the Force to slide the doors open. The group entered and then stopped in place.
Before them were what remained of a trio of workers in protective clothing, heavy bodysuits and helmets meant to shield them from the heat. However, it didn’t help from whatever had ripped them to shreds. Their bodies were cut, blood spraying across the walls, several limbs scattered about and burn marks were visible on their suits.
The stormtroopers were instantly alert, blasters held up as they spread out. Vader took a step forward and then reached out through the Force for any signs of life. He felt…something but not clear, almost as if his senses were being clouded. “Spread out,” he ordered. “Darth Scourge, take the left side of the facility. Jade, you take two troopers and go to the right. The rest of you with me.”
“Rebels?” Jade asked, her lightsaber in her hand.
“Don’t think so,” Angelus said as he gazed at the bodies with a light smile. “But I have to say…I admire their work.”
“Enough talk,” Vader hissed. “Go. Now. And be alert.” He strode forward as the others obeyed his commands.
Vader swept through the main rooms of the facility, finding a few more bodies in the same condition. He could feel that strange presence around, someone watching him but he couldn’t quite pinpoint it. He headed out and to the exterior of the facility. He gazed down at the rivers and falls of lava about. Again, his mood darkened with unwanted memories as he clenched one fist, trying to control the anger within him.
“My Lord,” one trooper intoned. “Should we return to the shuttle?”
“One more sweep, captain,” Vader intoned.
“As you…” The man gasped out suddenly and clutched at his throat, his blaster falling to the ground. Vader stared in confusion as the trooper fell to his knees, clutching at his throat before falling limply to the ground.
The other trooper stared in shock at him, then at Vader, wondering why the Dark Lord would kill the man without warning. “What…why did…” The rest of his words were cut off as he was sent sailing backward, over the side of the cliff and into the lava far below.
Vader had his lightsaber out and ignited as he whirled about. He saw a figure standing nearby in a black robe with a hood covering his face. Shadows covered most of it but Vader could see the flashes of red in the mostly black face with what appeared to be horns in his forehead. The being’s yellow eyes glared at Vader with a cool expression as he stood in place.
“Who are you?” Vader hissed.
“One who knows the Dark Side much better than you.” Vader turned to see a figure appearing to materialize out of the shadows. He was clad in a completely black robe not unlike Palpatine’s, his face almost pure white with a tight smile to it. “Welcome, ‘Lord Vader’…welcome to your test.”
Angelus whistled an old Irish tune from his youth as he stepped over the split halves of a worker’s body. While seeming nonchalant, his senses were on high alert. He knew someone was here watching him, trailing him and waiting to strike. He also knew that they knew he could sense them and were just out of reach of being identified. It was a game and Angelus didn’t like games. At least not ones he didn’t know the rules to and where he was the one going to be played.
He finally stopped in place within a control room, gazing at the bodies strewn about along with the smashed controls. “Okay,” he called out. “Come on out already.” He paused as silence answered him. “Hey, I’m tired of the hiding and following so just come on out so we can settle this. Look, I admire your work, really. Reminds me of me in my prime so let me see who pulled this off.”
“This part was not my work,” a deep and cultured voice rang behind him. Angelus spun as two figures came out of the shadows behind him. One was a short man in robes while the other was an elderly man who still radiated sheer power. His hair and beard were white with a few touches of darkness, his face aged but his eyes shone with intensity. He was dressed in an elegant dark suit with a cape and leather boots, all of which appeared rather expensive. “Such brutality is beneath me.”
Angelus looked the man up and down and sniffed. “So…just who are you and why are you wanting to piss me off?”
“This is Count Dooku, the former Darth Tyranaus,” the robed figure said. “And this, Angelus…is a test of your faith in the Dark Side.”
Mara gratefully removed the breathing mask as she stepped into the large factory building. It was larger than a few of the others, mostly used for storage of the vats of energy created by the facility before being loaded onto container ships. Catwalks lined the walls while cranes and lifts were set about. There were only a few of the large metallic crates around at the moment with only a pair of bodies alongside them. Nonetheless, Mara knew that someone else was close by.
“Keep your eyes open,” she told the two troopers behind her. “Blasters on but watch where you fire.” The two nodded and backed up, each moving to another side of the room, their senses fully alert. Mara had her lightsaber in hand as she padded carefully around the room, circling about to look at all sides. She was annoyed to find that once more, her mind wasn’t able to fully concentrate on her duty.
She’d yet to address with Palpatine the discovery that she was not the only one of his Hands. It jarred her more than she let on, to discover she was not as unique and special as she had believed. She’d given her heart and soul to serving the Empire and the Emperor’s commands because she believed he had chosen her for a special honor. That the honor was shared by others was shaking a lot of her beliefs. That…and Xander.
Despite all her attempts, Mara just couldn’t shake the guy from her thoughts. It wasn’t just that he’d been so good in bed…although that did help. But there was something else about him. The way he’d laughed, his humor, the way he’d just made her so at ease unlike any other time in her life. There was also the fact that while he seemed an idiot so much of the time, in truth he was willing to fight for what he believed in harder than one could guess. He may have been on the wrong side but he was passionate about it. And that mix of passion, humor and true caring was still affecting Mara these months later.
She pushed those thoughts aside as she continued to study the room around her, knowing that someone was watching. “Anything on your side?” she called out. Her brow furrowed as there was no answer. “Trooper, can you hear me?”
She turned and headed over to the crates, totally alert now. “Troopers, report!” she called out. “What is your progress?”
There was a moment’s pause before something sailed out and landed right before Mara’s feet. She jumped back to see it was the head of one of the troopers still encased in its helmet. “I am afraid they are not making much progress at the moment.”
At the icy cold voice, Mara looked up to see two figures standing on a nearby crate. One was a woman with white features and a black robe. The other was also a woman with white skin and eyes without any irises. Her head was round with a long neck and her thin body was clad in a skintight black and white uniform of alien origin. In her hands were a pair of lightsabers of a black and jagged design with a curve to them.
“Who the hell are you?” Mara spat out as she lit her lightsaber up.
“I am Asajj Ventress,” the woman responded. “I am your doom.”
Vader glared at the robed man. “What is your purpose here?” he hissed.
The robed figure showed no fear at Vader’s anger. “We are the Disciples of the Dark Side,” he answered. “The true Dark Side, not the path you follow. We are the holders of the sacred texts and rites created by Darth Bane. The rules that have governed the Sith for a millennia. The rules your Master broke.”
“Only two,” the robed figure told Angelus. “Only two there must be. A master and an apprentice. That is what led us to survive and remain hidden all those centuries.” His face scowled underneath the hood. “But now…now, Darth Sidious has chosen to shatter that rule with his Hands and his apprentices and the various Dark Jedi. That must be corrected.”
“And Van Helsing here is going to be the one to do it?” Angelus snorted at the bearded man.
“Mind your tongue, creature,” Dooku snapped. “You are not even human, you have no right to the glory of the Sith mantle.”
Angelus raised his eyebrows. “Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m reasonably sure I read somewhere you were killed years ago.”
“Ventress is dead,” Mara said in a strong tone.
“Death is not always permanent for those strong in the Force,” the robed woman said. “There are ways to bring back those who deserve such a chance.”
“Cloning,” Mara stated in a disdainful tone.
“It does not concern you how she returned,” the figure said. “What matters is that she is here now. And she is stronger in the Dark Side than you. She is a more proper disciple than you. She deserves to be at the side of Palpatine.”
“I’m his Hand.”
“Only one of them,” Ventress hissed. “And not a true Sith at all. You have a lightness to your heart, Mara Jade. I can sense it. A light that will always prevent you from achieving your true power.” Her lips curled into a dark smile. “A light I do not share.”
“There is no light,” Vader argued. “I am a Lord of the Sith. I am of the Dark Side.”
“You were Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi,” the priest said. “Deep down, you are still he.”
“Anakin Skywalker is dead.”
“Is he?” The priest smiled. “I doubt it. There is the spark of purity deep within you, Lord Vader. And as long as that exists…the Dark Side cannot rule over you.” He turned to the figure beside him. “But Darth Maul does not have that weakness.”
The other figure drew back his black hood to show his face marked with red tattoos in the ancient Sith patterns. He undid and pulled off the black robe to reveal the pure black suit he wore underneath. With a dramatic flourish, he pulled the lightsaber off his belt, spun it about and ignited each end of it, revealing a double-blade of pure red.
“Maul is dead,” Vader intoned. “You are a fraud.”
“It is you who are a fraud, Jedi,” the man returned in his deep and feral voice.
“You were nothing but an untrained tool,” Vader said. “I am the pinnacle of Sith training.”
“I killed a Jedi far greater than you were,” Maul said. “I slew Obi-Wan’s master.”
“Yes,” Vader said as he ignited his blade. “And Obi-Wan slew you.” He lunged forward and their lightsabers clashed.
Angelus showed no fear as he lit his lightsaber up. “So let me get this straight. You want me and grandpa to fight it out for who’s the better Sith.” He laughed. “I was hoping for a challenge.”
He lunged forward toward Dooku who appeared to be unprepared, his lightsaber still on his belt. The man raised a hand and lightning spewed out, striking Angelus in the chest. The vampire yelled out as he was thrown backward and against a wall. He spat out a bit of blood as he rubbed his smoking chest. “Okay….cheating…”
“Merely using all the powers one has to offer,” Dooku said as he unbuckled the curved lightsaber and lit it up. He brought it up before him in a salute before spinning it and moving in to attack.
“So,” the robed woman said. “It comes down to who is the proper holder for the Sith. You, a being with purity within her…or Ventress, a force of dark evil. There may be only one…”
Mara threw out her hand, sending a wave of Force energy that sent both figures flying back. Ventress managed to put on a spin in mid-air and landed on her feet, her two lightsabers already ignited in her hands. Mara’s own was lit as she moved to a defensive stance. “Enough talk. Bring it, bitch.”
With a snarl, Ventress leaped forward and the two women clashed in the center of the room.
As a young man, Vader had heard Obi-Wan talk a few times of the battle with Maul. The Jedi had been reluctant to give details, still affected by the death of his beloved master but he had shared how hard a fight it was. In his youthful pride and arrogance, Anakin Skywalker was convinced he would have little trouble with Maul on his own. That attitude was being tested.
He was the equal of the Sith in skill and power. However, he was still encumbered by the thick metal suit he wore while Maul was far more free. More troubling was that Maul was the same age as when he died, a young man in the prime of his athleticism. Vader remembered Palpatine mentioning Maul a few times and how, while skilled, he had a major flaw: He was content to be Palpatine’s apprentice without any drive to take over as the Master. While that certainly spared Palpatine the worry of looking over his shoulder all the time, it also showed that Maul didn’t seem to have the ambition to truly succeed as a Sith. That, Vader knew, was an advantage for him.
He blocked a strike by one of the blades and managed to dodge the follow-through blow. He moved back along the catwalk, blocking a series of attempted strikes as Maul twirled his dual blade like a deadly whirlwind toward him. The young Sith’s face was in a dark grin as he attacked and Vader sensed that the combat was actually fueling the man’s strength and blood lust.
Vader became aware he was being backed down the catwalk and toward the edge overlooking a river of lava. He was busy keeping back the blows by Maul, hissing as one glanced off his left shoulder. “Pain, Vader?” Maul hissed.
“There is no pain where strength lies,” Vader returned as he swung toward Maul’s head. The Sith ducked the blow and threw out his hand to level a Force blast at Vader. The armored man felt himself being flung back and over the edge. Rather than fight it, Vader added his own Force power to the blow, allowing him to sail over the crevice, flipping backward as he did. He landed on the rocky cliff on the other side feet-first, his saber held up.
Maul sniffed as he leaped over himself, landing before Vader. “You broke your fall,” he said as he swung out. “To break your fall means you expect to fall. To expect to fall is to expect to fail.”
Vader hissed at the Sith lesson as he lunged forward. Maul managed to dodge his thrust and swung back to smash his saber against Vader’s, sparks flowing as they continued their battle. Their boots mashed on the rocky ground which heated below them as they fought, each ignoring the heat growing around them so they could slash away at one another. Vader was building his strength as the battle wore on but could tell Maul was matching him perfectly as the lava seemed to grow even hotter in the shadow of the clash.
Angelus hissed out as he ducked a blow by Dooku and tried to swing his saber up the man’s chest. With a speed that belied his age, Dooku leaped back while slashing at Angelus, almost cutting his wrist. “Not much of a swordsman, I see,” Dooku observed dryly. “Then, you’re not really a man either so that should not be a surprise.”
Angelus grunted as he blocked another strike. “A bit prejudiced, are we?”
Dooku twirled his lightsaber about as he circled the vampire. “I never truly approved of so many aliens belonging to the Order. The Force is much stronger in humans and was meant for us to use properly.” He pulled his sword into a new fighting stance. “That was the reason I went with Lord Sidious’ plans.”
Angelus smiled, feeling a bit more control at the moment. “Oh, you mean the one with you becoming head of an army of human Jedi? Hate to break this to you, Count, but that was never going to happen. It was a pipe dream Palpatine fed you while he prepped Skywalker to take your place. You were never meant to be the next Sith, just to help prep Anakin to be pushed over the side.”
Dooku didn’t appear at all concerned at the talk but simply moved on the attack again. “That was a mistake that he will be forced to rectify when I defeat you.”
Angelus snorted openly. “Gonna have to back up the talk more, old man.”
His smile was cut off when another wave of Force energy threw him back and Dooku moved in. Angelus rolled out of the way of a strike to attack but Dooku easily dodged the blow. “Do not judge me by my age,” he said. “Appearances can deceive.” He blocked a few strikes and smiled. “But as you appear to be a fool, you’d be an exception.”
Angelus snarled as he increased the attacks.
Mara was starting to wish she was facing Summers again. Sure, that Slayer had been a hellion but she’d still been held back by those limitations over the Jedi. Ventress had no such qualms and was striking hard with her two lightsabers. The woman’s face was in a tight scowl as she kept attacking, driving Mara back along the metal catwalk they were fighting on. Mara hissed as one saber strike nearly cut her ear off, dodging and throwing her blade out defensively to drive Ventress back.
“So weak,” the woman hissed out. “Why would the Emperor choose you for his Hand? You have such purity within you.”
Mara sniffed. “Think you’re looking in the wrong place, white-skin.”
“No,” Ventress said as she blocked Mara’s strikes. “I can feel it. You had potential for darkness but something tainted you…” She paused and smirked. “Or perhaps it was someone?”
Mara snarled and struck out, throwing her blade against Ventress’ double ones. She blocked the attack but that left her open for Mara to swing her boot into the woman’s mid-section. She let out a gasp as the redhead moved in and Ventress barely avoided a downward slash. She rolled to her feet and lunged out but Mara leaped over her thrust, somersaulting over Ventress and spinning around. Ventress held up her sabers to block but Mara managed to slice through one, leaving Ventress with only one blade left.
“Impressive,” Ventress admitted.
“That’s why I’m the Hand,” Mara said. “I’m willing to fight dirty.” She lunged forward as their battle continued.
The air was filled with the sounds of ozone clashes as Vader and Maul leaped between rocks to continue their duel. They had gone all the way around the ridge alongside the facility and toward a side entranceway. The battle was still even with Maul attacking with all his ferocity but Vader holding strong to battle him back.
“You…fight well…for a Jedi,” Maul hissed between strikes.
“And you…for a clone,” Vader returned as he suddenly fell backward. Maul was taken by surprise by the sudden move back, falling forward with his lightsaber held sideways. Taking full advantage, Vader swung upward, slicing the saber perfectly along the middle. Maul stared in surprise at the two halves as Vader smiled under his mask and held his own saber up for a killing blow. Maul clenched his fists and hit a secondary button on the saber hilts and suddenly, each end ignited and crisscrossed to block Vader’s attempted strike.
Vader leaped over the swing of one blade while blocking the other, then leaped back, sailing over the crevice and to the catwalk near the large factory building. Maul leaped over to follow, twisting to the side to avoid Vader’s attempt to hurl a piece of machinery at him with the Force.
The two faced each other, each in a tight fighting stance, waiting for the other to give an opening. They were still waiting when another door to the side opened and Angelus rolled backward and up to his feet. His lightsaber was raised as Dooku calmly walked down the steps toward him.
The vampire sensed the figures behind him and turned. “Oh, hey, Vader,” he said in a nonchalant tone. “I see you got a playmate too.”
Vader nodded to him, then started as he saw the figure coming down. “Dooku?!”
“Hello, Skywalker,” the former Darth Tyranus said. “I see you have fared poorly since we last met.”
“You are not Dooku,” Vader said as he took in the two hands the man had. “Do not talk to me as if you are.”
“There is more beyond the veil of death than you suspect, Skywalker,” Dooku intoned.
“You shall learn that yourself,” Maul said, his lightsabers held up.
Angelus and Vader looked at each other and there was the tiniest of nods. Without warning, Vader broke aside to rush at Dooku while Angelus leaped toward Maul. Both the former Sith Lords were taken by surprise at the sudden switch, barely able to get their guard up as the new attack began.
“This was not the plan!” Maul hissed as he went at Angelus.
“We don’t like rules all that much,” the vampire sniffed as he attacked.
“No matter,” Maul hissed as he blocked a strike and attacked with his spare saber. “You will still fall.”
“Haven’t yet,” Angelus smiled. “And won’t be to you horn-head.”
Nearby, Dooku and Vader were dueling. This was going better in Vader’s mind as he remembered Dooku’s style and how to combat it. True, he was alone here instead of with Obi-Wan and hampered by the armor. But he beat Dooku as a young Jedi so he could certainly do it as a full Sith Lord.
The bearded man sniffed as he managed to block a strike. “You are stronger in the dark side, Skywalker…although not as strong as you should be.”
“I was strong enough to defeat you, Dooku,” Vader hissed. “I know how to use the Dark Side now.”
Dooku sniffed as he blocked Vader’s latest strike. “You sound so sure, Skywalker. I was sure I knew my Master’s plan and what he had in store for me. It took his ordering you to execute me to realize how he was using me. He will use you as well, Skywalker. Use you and discard you.”
“The difference between us,” Vader said as he dueled. “Is that I recognize that, Dooku…and I will not allow that to happen.” He thrust out and threw Dooku back, the bearded man gasping as he was sent against a wall. “And I also know where my strength lies.” He lunged in as Dooku found himself on the defensive and experiencing a very bad feeling of déjà vu.
The battle had taken Mara and Ventress to the upper catwalk of the warehouse as they kept battling it out, neither wanting to give an inch. Sweat stained Mara’s brow while Ventress appeared to not even be perspiring. Mara leaped back as Ventress slashed at her mid-section, the lightsaber hitting one of the catwalk’s risers. Mara backed up as the catwalk section shook under them.
Ventress had a wicked grin on her face as she slashed downward and added a wave of Force energy to the blow. The catwalk buckled under Mara’s feet, then gave way completely. Mara felt the grating fall and leaped out and away, her arms outstretched. At her command, some chains hanging from overhead for lifting flew into her hands. Gripping them, she swung back, quickly managing to get a good grip on the links.
She turned to see Ventress leap out and follow her move, her lightsaber swinging. Mara already had her blade out and for several moments they hung overhead, swinging on the chains as their lightsabers struck against each other. Ventress kicked out at Mara’s mid-section, Mara striking back with her blade but unable to properly hit the female Sith.
“Still so weak,” Ventress sneered. “Your heart still calls for that Rebel, Jade. It does not belong to the Dark Side. It will be best when I remove it from your chest.”
She swung her blade out in a wide arc and the saber cut through the chains above. Mara yelled out as she felt herself falling, twisting her body around to try and avoid a fatal fall, doing her best to slow it with the Force. Ventress flipped about, landing on one crate, then leaping forward to land on the ground, her lightsaber up and ready. Mara had landed on her chest, groaning in pain, her lightsaber on the floor. With a simple gesture, Ventress pulled it into her hand and holding it up.
The white-skinned woman stood over the fallen redhead with a smile of triumph on her lips. “A shame, Mara Jade. You had potential but the fire of the Sith does not burn hot enough within you. Too much of your heart belongs to another to let the Dark Side grow.”
She frowned as she watched Mara’s head bowed down and her breathing shallow. “What is the matter, Jade? Nothing to say before your death?”
“Can’t,” she bit out. “I’m…concentrating.”
Ventress frowned as too late she felt the sudden surge in the Force. She turned just in time to see the fallen chains rising off the floor and pierce through her body. She screamed as she was lifted upward, the chains still in her body and wrapping around her legs and wrists and upper chest. She struggled but Mara was kneeling up, her hands held up and a dark smile on her face.
“All your talk on the Dark Side and my heart not belonging to it,” Mara said. “And you’re the one who ends up hanging.” She smirked slowly. “Well…as someone I knew might have put it…think it’s time I make like a banana.” She brought her hands together and then yanked them apart.
Ventress howled out as the chains tugged in opposite directions with a savage strength. A dark tearing sound went out as Ventress was ripped in half, blood spraying out as her upper and lower torsos hung from the chains.
Mara let them drop as she got to her feet, calling her lightsaber to her hand and looked up. To her lack of surprise, that female priest had vanished so she began to walk out of the bloody warehouse.
Vader admitted to being slightly annoyed that he hadn’t killed Dooku yet. There was a reason why the man had been so revered as a Jedi and a powerful Sith as his mastery of the lightsaber and the Force was enough to make him a match for Vader. The armored man attacked with a spinning maneuver but Dooku managed to dodge it and rolled about, his lightsaber striking right at the small of Vader’s shoulder where a small chink in his armor was. Vader gasped in a burst of pain and Dooku took advantage of it to slice him across the chest, the lightsaber striking at the control panel at Vader’s mid-section. The Dark Lord stumbled, clutching at it and barely able to stop Dooku’s follow-through which knocked him back. Dooku struck once more to slice Vader across the chest and the armored Sith yelled again as he fell to his knees.
Dooku moved behind, his face impassive as he twirled the lightsaber around. “And so it ends for you, Skywalker. The great Hero Without Fear fallen to his rightful master as it should have been.” He held his saber high. “A shame no one will know your final fate but that is the way of the Dark Side.”
He lunged forward, ready to bring the lightsaber down upon that black helmet…and then stopped, pain filling his entire body. He stared down at himself, seeing a red blade sticking through his body. His eyes moved over and he realized that Vader had run his lightsaber backward through the side of his own mid-section to impale Dooku.
The black gloves twisted and Dooku let go of his own lightsaber in agony. His body stumbled and the saber cut up through his body and into his heart. “How?” he whispered. “How can…what can you hate…enough…to survive?”
Vader’s mask turned toward him and Dooku knew the answer before that electronic voice whispered.
Maul’s twin blades stuck against Angelus’ single one as they battled by the edge of the crevice leading to the lava bed below. It was a meeting of two men who were more animal than human, two forces of primal hate smashing into each other with wild abandon. The Force was forgotten as each fought bitterly with their lightsabers to seek an advantage of any kind, Maul’s power against Angelus’ speed.
Angelus was confident, arrogant even but, despite all his boasting, his swordsmanship was not the best. Maul saw an opening and plunged his saber full on into the vampire’s chest. The tattooed man threw out a twisted smile as he expected his opponent to fall to the floor in agony.
Instead, Angelus snarled and his features contorted to his vampire mode. “Okay…now I’m mad.” He grabbed the hand still holding the lightsaber and yanked Maul in, his head smashing into the other’s brow. Maul was stunned by the unexpected blow, not to mention that Angelus wasn’t dead. That was the moment Angelus needed to grab the other lightsaber from Maul’s hand and thrust it upward. The Sith howled out as Angelus backed up to stab his own saber through the alien’s chest.
Maul gasped out as he stared at the twisted face before him which was pulled into a hideous smile. “Sorry, pal,” he said. “I admire the ink and the attitude…but when it comes to the Dark Side…I’ve got you beat.” He kicked out and sent Maul’s body hurtling over the edge and to the lava far below.
He turned, his face returning to normal as he saw Vader stumbling up, a hand to his broken control panel. A door opened to the side and they both turned to see Mara limping toward them. “You guys had playmates too?”
Angelus nodded. “Yeah.” He looked around. “Where’s that robed asshole so I can show him what I think of his test?”
“Gone,” Vader hissed as he felt through the Force. “Come…back to the shuttle. The Emperor would know of this immediately.” He began to march off as Angelus looked to Mara. “So how’d you beat yours?” he asked her.
“Showed her my chain skills,” Mara replied. “You?”
“My inner demon,” he said.
Angelus just shrugged. “You’ll have to ask him. Me, I’d say that he may have decided to exercise his own demons a bit.”
Mara frowned but decided she didn’t want to know as they headed back to the shuttle.
The throne room was silent as night had fallen on the capital. Palpatine was faced away from the massive windows behind him, gazing at the three robed figures before him. “So….my current Sith survived despite your expectations.”
The leader of the three priests bowed his head. “We must admit to being surprised, Lord Sidious. We had believed none of them had the right strength in the Sith order to be victorious.”
Palpatine tapped his fingers together. “There was a reason Ventress, Maul and Dooku were discarded by me. I told you that when you approached me for this scheme of yours. All that was accomplished was a great deal of cloning material wasted along with a great strength in the Dark Side.”
“But the results cannot be argued with,” the female priest said. “You know that your current apprentices are strong in the Sith way.”
“Although not as strong as they should be,” the third priest inserted. “There is purity still in Vader and Jade while Angelus may be too strong in his hate and lust for death to properly navigate the Sith ways.”
“That is my concern,” Palpatine said.
The lead priest brought himself up. “We are the keeps of the Bloodline of Bane, Sidious. We are the ones who keep the record of the Sith Order. We are the ones who----“
“I am the Lord of the Sith,” Palpatine interrupted in a dark tone. “I will decide who is able to share in that glory. They have served well and survived this test and so will continue to serve me still.”
The three priests shook their heads. “We must protest,” the lead one said. “If you do this, you are severing the Bloodline of Bane and the rules of the Order of the Sith…”
“I am the one who committed our revenge on the Jedi,” Palpatine hissed. “I am the one who returned us to power. There is no longer need for the Rule of Two. Only the Rule of One, the Sith itself. And I am the Sith. And you…are no longer needed.”
He threw out his hand and a blast of lightning arced out to strike the trio of priests. They all howled in agony as he kept it up, shaking their bodies with agony as smoke poured out of them. Palpatine kept sitting as he increased the power until the three fell and kept going until their robes burst into flames.
He sat back and turned his throne around to face the cityscape. His apprentices had passed this test, true. But he could not shake the feeling that there was still danger in them somehow. It was to be expected of course.
Treachery was the way of the Sith.
Hmm…this ended up longer than I expected. Hope you all like it though and all comments are welcomed.