Buffy IX - Anchorhead
Buffy stared at her hand, turning it over and examining every tiny line in her palm and each little swirl on the tips of her fingers.
“Dalen,” she said distractedly, “do I look off-color to you?”
“What do you mean?” he asked from beside the holoprojector.
“Do I look any paler than usual? Any less healthy?”
“You look perfect,” Thriss put in before Dalen could respond.
Buffy grinned at the Chiss’s obvious idolization of her. One part of her thought that she should set Thriss right, but another part of her enjoyed being looked up to in such a way. Maybe it was Sith psychology at work.
“I’m sure what Thriss means,” Dalen said wryly, “is that you look as hale and healthy as ever, Summers.”
“I don’t look pale? My skin isn’t shriveling and clammy, is it?”
“Not at all,” Thriss said delightedly. “Your skin is its same shade of brownish pink, and it looks just as smooth as ever.”
Buffy laughed out loud at Thriss’s chosen metonym of ‘tan.’ “Thank you, Thriss.”
“My pleasure, Lord Summers,” the Chiss cooed seductively.
“Please, Thriss,” Dalen said impatiently. “Hold your libido in check for a short while. We must contact Dromund Kaas and report to Darth Arctis, and I believe we should keep your existence a secret. You should wait in your quarters quietly.”
“I thought that the Dark Council was already aware of me,” Thriss said. “Was it not my effect on the ruin that brought you to me in the first place?”
“It was,” Dalen acknowledged. “However, we were told that you were not all that strong in the Force, which was clearly either a mistaken assumption or else willful ignorance of your clear potential.”
“I will strive to prove them all wrong.”
“Good,” Buffy said. “For now, though, please skedaddle. We don’t want to give you away to Darth Arctis. He is one nasty bastard.”
Thriss arched a curious eyebrow when Buffy said ‘skedaddle,’ but she did not object and silently went off to her berth on the Bronze
Dalen was inputting commands into the holoprojector when Buffy walked up to him. “Do you think Thriss’s lust is going to be a problem?”
“On the contrary,” Dalen said. “I think it could be a great advantage. She has a great deal of passion. Entice her further and then teach her how to channel that passion into all of her pursuits. She has the makings of a great Sith if she can learn to make her feelings work for her. Ah, here we are.”
The holoprojector hummed as the translucent blue visage of Darth Arctis flickered into being. “Ah, Lord Dalen. Your timing is impeccable. Do update me on your trip to Csilla.”
“Yes, my Lord,” Dalen said deferentially. “The ruin did not simply open at the mere touch of a Force-user, but it did respond excellently to a raw display of the power of the Dark Side. By channeling the passions of my apprentice and myself, I was able to muster a howl that put quite a scare into the Chiss archaeological team. The ruin, however, revealed its secrets to me.”
“This is excellent news,” Arctis said, and he did seem quite impressed. Buffy couldn’t help but notice that Dalen claimed her display of power as his own, but she admired the move as a tactic of misdirection. “You have done well, Lord Dalen. Now tell me what you found inside.”
Dalen cleared his throat. “There was another door, my Lord, but it appeared to be more decorative, or else it served as a form of symbolism I’m not familiar with. It opened with a tug of the Force upon it. Inside, we found a droid that provided us with a map along with a set of instructions.”
“What sort of instructions did this droid have for you? Who or what was its master?”
“It claimed that the ‘Builders’ of an ‘Infinite Empire’ wanted us to carry out their will, which was to find and activate something it called the ‘Purge Engine.’”
“`The’ Purge Engine?” Arctis asked. “Not ‘A’ Purge Engine?”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Remarkable. There are whispers in the archaeological community about an ‘Infinite Empire’ that supposedly predates the existence of both Jedi and Sith. Rumors in the upper echelons of the Empire also say that the Emperor has personal knowledge of such a faction, but I wouldn’t dare trouble him until I have more proof, and perhaps not even then. Did the map reveal a path to follow? Did it tell you where the Purge Engine is?”
“Yes, it did show us a path, but I couldn’t say whether this is the location of the Purge Engine or if it is merely another step in the journey. We also don’t know what the Purge Engine is, but I would hazard a guess that it is a weapon of some sort. More than that, I would not care to speculate.”
“All very reasonable,” Arctis pondered. “Where does this map point to?”
“Tatooine, my Lord. It’s a desert world in the Outer Rim with little to recommend it. There is an Imperial presence there, I believe, but it is a minor commitment of our forces.”
“Then you should have minimal interference with finding whatever is down there. Proceed to Tatooine immediately, Lord Dalen. Before you depart, however, did you meet the Force-sensitive Chiss on Csilla?”
“I did, my Lord,” Dalen said without blinking. “She seemed quite competent and able, and her research and findings gave us a solid lead towards opening the ruin.”
Arctis waved a dismissive hand. “Menial workers are of no concern to me. I was told that her attunement to the Force was weak, but I wanted your direct insights, Lord Dalen.”
Dalen cleared his throat again. “Excavator Mitth’ris’sintar definitely stood out among the throngs of mundane Chiss on the planet, but I doubt she would last long in even the preliminary stages of training prior to arriving on Korriban for the trials.”
“I see,” Arctis said thoughtfully. “It is probable that no more Chiss will ascend to the ranks of the Sith. It would have been good to solidify relations with the Ascendancy, but things are solid enough as they are that it should not be a problem. No matter. Set a course to Tatooine and take all necessary measures to uncover the secrets of the Purge Engine.”
The communication cut out abruptly.
“You can come out now, Thriss,” Buffy called down the corridor.
“I can see why you kept my abilities a secret,” Thriss said as she emerged from her quarters. “Darth Arctis clearly sought to use me as a tool to manipulate my people.”
“Perhaps,” Dalen said cautiously. “Whatever his thoughts, better that he underestimate you and focus his attention elsewhere. If we are to make way, then I suggest, Thriss, that you ready yourself for a climate opposite to that of Csilla.”
“I’ve never been offworld before,” Thriss said. “I have only heard of deserts of ice. This is a different kind of desert?”
“The hot kind,” Dalen said as he moved to the cockpit. “Tatooine is a world of sand and stone with two suns beating down upon it.”
“Think of it as a chance to expand your archaeological horizons,” Buffy said. “Maybe we should get you a fedora and a bullwhip while we’re at it.”
Thriss scowled quietly.
Buffy pulled her newly-bought brown robe around her chest, hoping to hide her lightsaber from view. Against her better judgment, she had agreed with Dalen and Thriss to land in the distinctly non-Imperial port of Anchorhead. While the Republic didn’t have any official presence there, enough people from the Republic passed through. Mostly, the city was a haven for offworld criminals looking to escape justice, or else pilots looking to smuggle people and cargo to wherever they needed to go.
The sticking point that got Buffy to agree to Anchorhead instead of the Empire-controlled port of Mos Ila was that the latter had been built by a native species, only to be driven out by the Empire. Given the barren nature of Tatooine, it made more sense to trust someone who traveled the dunes and the wastes regularly rather than an offworlder who cared nothing for the planet, and the natives were less likely to be accommodating to Sith from Mos Ila.
Dalen and Thriss wore similar robes to the one that Buffy had just put on, although Thriss was wearing hers under mild duress. The outdoor market where they had bought the garments was far warmer than anything the Chiss archaeologist was accustomed to, but to her credit, she offered up only minimal complaint.
The robe merchant had been kind enough – after a small donation of credits – to recommend a nearby native merchant to them. A clan of Jawas had parked something called a ‘sandcrawler’ just outside the settlement. The Jawas themselves had been described as ‘yappy little rodents,’ but Buffy was more worried about the sandcrawler. It sounded like some gigantic insect demon that preyed on yappy little rodents that lived in the desert rather than a domesticated mount.
Buffy’s concern had been met with a knowing smirk from Dalen, so she assumed that there was some nasty surprise in store for her. She was so glad that she didn’t have to even pretend to suck up to him anymore. Shar Dalen was a good man, but he had an evil sense of humor.
Anchorhead might have been the largest settlement on Tatooine, but it was still tiny compared to most cities. The place was more like a town than a proper city, and not a big town either. The walk to the Jawa camp was not a long one.
Buffy sensed a group of beings up ahead that she had a feeling were the Jawas: They were short beings that were probably humanoid, but under their brown hooded cloaks were pairs of glowing yellow eyes against a black face. They looked to have little black, furry hands. Their language certainly sounded ‘yappy’ to Buffy’s ear.
“Are you expecting trouble, Lord Summers?” Thriss asked.
Buffy kept looking around for the sandcrawler to reveal itself, but she couldn’t sense anything. “Maybe,” she said idly.
The Jawas had a number of small booths with scrap metal on display. They were presumably non-violent merchants who spent their lives scavenging in the deserts for anything that might be useful to someone else. For a brief moment while not worrying about a giant insect-like demon, Buffy wondered how the tiny Jawas managed to prosper in this unforgiving climate.
“There are a great many machines built in the image of sentient beings,” Thriss observed as they passed a Jawa peddling droids.
“Now that I think about it,” Dalen said, “I don’t recall seeing any droids on Csilla outside of the ruin.”
“I have heard you both use that word,” Thriss said. “What does it mean?”
“A droid is a mechanical servant,” Buffy explained. “A machine with at least a little intelligence meant to do a job that its builders can’t or don’t want to do.”
“A curious concept,” Thriss noted. “It seems flawed and vulnerable to cyber-warfare. How numerous are droids in the Empire?”
“They exist nearly everywhere in some capacity,” Dalen explained. “Sometimes, in both the Empire and the Republic, people will use mass-produced droids as an armed force. These are usually built with several countermeasures to prevent slicing. While they are generally less efficient than a trained soldier, they can go into battle in climates where organic beings cannot, and they can fight without risking a single life.”
“Fascinating,” Thriss said breathlessly. “The galaxy outside of the Ascendancy has much to teach the Chiss, it seems. It is a shame that more of my kind do not venture outside of our borders.”
“Here we are,” Dalen said. They’d been directed to the second-to-last Jawa in the row of kiosks they were walking down.
There was a small table with gemstones and crystals and stone tablets that Buffy couldn’t make head or tail of.
The diminutive cloaked being came around to meet them and began gesticulating with its tiny arms as it began jabbering at them in its yappy dialect.
“I’m so sorry,” Dalen said politely. “Do you speak Basic?”
The Jawa sagged its shoulders for a moment before turning around and shouting, “Utinni!”
A dull gray protocol droid walked over to the stand from a large rust-red building that looked like it had been placed on giant treads.
“Ah, yes! I am here, Master,” the droid said in Basic.
The Jawa didn’t seem to care that the droid wasn’t speaking its Master’s language. Turning to the three Sith, the Jawa yapped a series of words that Buffy could hardly keep up with, let alone understand.
The droid turned to look at the three Force-users. “My Master, Siket, bids you greetings and welcomes you to his market. He wonders if you would like to hear about the bargains he has to offer, or if you had something more specific in mind.”
Buffy looked to Dalen and gave him a nod of her head. She didn’t want to wound his pride any further by taking the lead in fields she was ignorant of. After she and her friends back on Earth had reorganized the Watcher’s Council, they had set up a branch to handle the acquisition of artifacts and relics, but Buffy had been more concerned with slaying than with bargaining.
Dalen stepped forward and looked directly at the Jawa instead of the droid. “It is a pleasure to view your market, Mister Siket. I am Shar Dalen, and these are my companions, Buffy Summers and Thriss. We have heard tell of a long-buried ruin here on Tatooine, and we are hoping you might have knowledge of its location.”
The droid didn’t translate Dalen’s words, so Buffy assumed that the Jawa understood Basic even if he couldn’t speak it himself. Siket threw up his arms and jabbered away in what might have been an angry tone.
“My Master understands that you are not aware of Jawa ways, but he insists that you do not attempt to move in on any territory that would be of value to my Master or his clan,” the droid translated.
“I promise you, Mister Siket,” Dalen said, “that I meant no disrespect, and that I have no intention of taking what rightfully belongs to you or any other of the Jawa clans. We believe that there is knowledge within this ruin that shares its origin with a ruin we found on another world. Thriss, the pad, please?”
Thriss fished a datapad out of her robe that Buffy knew held a record of her findings of the ruin on Csilla and handed it to Dalen.
The Sith Lord tapped a few buttons and brought up the symbol that had been on the double doors of the Csillan ruin. He showed the elongated diamond-like shape to the Jawa. “The ruin we seek would likely have this symbol etched upon its doors.”
Siket looked closely at the picture before recoiling with another cry of “Utinni!” This was followed by more rapid jabbering.
“Master Siket says,” the droid translated, “that he recognizes the place you speak of, but that he fears to go there. It is a dark place that he only recognizes because other clans have told him to avoid it. He asks to know what you hope to find there.”
“We would be willing to share what we hope to find there. We have some idea based on the other ruin that led us here.” Buffy tapped the picture on the pad. “However, that exchange would be part of the overall bargain.”
Siket let out a brief cry before jabbering some more.
“My Master compliments you on your business acumen, Miss Summers,” the droid translated. “Master Siket is willing to barter the location of the ruin under the condition that you do not ask him or any of his clan to take you there.”
“Perhaps,” Thriss said carefully, “an arrangement could be reached to guide us part of the way and set us on a path from there?”
Siket looked at Thriss and seemed to be studying her. Buffy guessed that he had never seen a Chiss before.
After another bout of jabbering, the droid said, “My Master agrees that this is an acceptable arrangement, provided that you bargain accordingly.”
A harsh beeping sound alerted the group to the approach of a blue and brown astromech droid wheeling towards the kiosk on its three feet.
Siket turned to the droid and tried to shoo it away, but the astromech droid kept beeping in what Buffy had to assume was a language of some sort.
After a brief back-and-forth between the droid and the Jawa, Siket turned to Dalen and began yapping at him sharply.
“My Master says that he has been alerted by another of his clan that you are not who you claim to be, and that he should not trust you,” the protocol droid said.
“What?!” Buffy shouted. This was beyond stupid. “Either you’re trying to pull a fast one on us, or some stranger is trying to pick a fight where he doesn’t know anything. We haven’t lied about anything to you!”
Siket jabbered again, and the droid said, “I do apologize, but the claimant is a valued patron of my Master’s clan, and he claims to know who you truly are.”
Dalen shook his head calmly, but Buffy sensed his rage building. “None of us has ever visited Tatooine before today, Mister Siket. This man cannot possibly have any knowledge of us if he is indeed a longtime resident of these parts. Who does he believe we are? And who does he say we are pretending to be?”
Siket barked an order of some sort at the astromech droid, and after another bout of beeping, Siket spoke again to Dalen.
“My Master says that the venerable Jedi Master Roland Skoan believes you to be Sith Lords passing yourselves off as Jedi Knights.”
Dalen breathed what Buffy guessed was a sigh of relief. “Then Master Skoan’s claim is only partially true. We never pretended to be Jedi Knights, but I am a Lord of the Sith. Buffy Summers and Thriss are my apprentices, and I can assure you that we have only come to trade for the location of this ruin, just as we have said.”
Siket threw up his hands again and began jabbering very quickly and excitedly.
“My Master says,” the protocol droid translated, “that Sith usually land in the neighboring settlement of Mos Ila, which the Empire wrongfully stole from the Jawa Clans. He asks: Why have you come to Anchorhead instead of dealing with your own kind?”
Buffy stepped forward before Dalen could answer. “We came here because while we are from the Empire, we don’t always agree with everything our fellow Sith do. I don’t know how Jawa clans work, but one clan isn’t held responsible if another clan does something wrong, is it? Each Sith is responsible for his or her own actions, and we haven’t visited Tatooine at all before today. We came to Anchorhead because it was common sense to negotiate with you, who know this land, rather than to rely on outsiders who don’t know anything about Tatooine.”
“Don’t listen to her!”
Buffy, Dalen, and Thriss all turned to their left and saw a middle-aged human man with a light-brown beard approaching. He was dressed in the plain brown-and-white robes that were typical of Jedi Knights, and Buffy thought she saw a lightsaber under his outer robe. She thought he might be bald, but it was impossible to tell with his hood up.
Buffy had never met a Jedi before, and was unsure of what to think. If this was a Jedi Master, she didn’t want to press her luck in a fight against him.
“My friend, Siket,” the Jedi said, “this man and these women are Sith. They model their lives around deception and cruelty. I warn you that whatever they say they want, they will take more from you than you can ever hope to regain if you let them.”
“These women and this man are standing right here,” Buffy said angrily. “You really do have a pair, you know that? You’ve never seen us before, you don’t know us. I didn’t think Jedi picked fights where there didn’t need to be any.”
Siket jabbered at the group hastily.
“Master Siket pleads that you do not make a violent scene in front of his establishment,” the protocol droid said urgently.
“Surely you can’t be thinking of dealing with them?” the Jedi said. “Surely you remember that Mos Ila was once a Jawa settlement before the Empire took it from you.”
Siket turned to the Jedi and waved a hand at him and yapped at him loudly.
“Master Siket reminds you, Master Skoan, that while you are a friend of the Tkon Clan, that does not give you the right to insult a clansman by challenging his knowledge of his own history.”
“I beg your pardon, Siket,” Roland Skoan said softly, “but the evil of the Sith knows no bounds!”
“You are a peculiar sort,” Thriss observed.
Skoan wheeled around to look at Thriss properly for the first time, and his eyes widened. “You’re not a Red Sith or a human,” he said with confusion.
“That fact has not escaped my notice,” Thriss said dryly. “From all that I have heard from non-Imperial sources, the Jedi Order is devoted to peace, compromise, and the pursuit of knowledge. Yet here you stand, seeking out conflict rather than attempting to resolve or avoid it. It is most strange, unless the Jedi are more arrogant and aggressive than I have been led to believe.”
“And besides,” Buffy said, “we came here to trade with Siket, not to hurt him or any of his kind. If we were as vicious as you seem to think we are, we would have taken what we wanted by force. We’re just talking here, in case your great Jedi insights aren’t working.”
“What about you?” Skoan asked of Dalen. “Are you just going to stand there silently? You’re not going to even try to obfuscate the truth?”
“I have no need to obfuscate anything,” Dalen said smoothly. “My apprentices and I were merely conducting polite business before your interruption. Master Siket, I do apologize for neglecting to mention our affiliation at the outset. I confess that I saw no need to mention it, and that was short-sighted of me. I would, however, request that we resume our business without Master Skoan’s interference.”
Siket said something quietly and more slowly than was typical for him. Buffy guessed he was giving his words careful thought.
“My Master admits that his guests have behaved with the utmost respect and diplomacy, and have given no indications that they seek anything other than what they claim. He respectfully asks you, Master Skoan, to leave him to his business.”
“This is all wrong!” Skoan shrieked as he held his head with both hands. “I lost so many friends and two Masters to the Sith! I came here to seek enlightenment and calm away from the ravages of war. I will not stand idly by while you ruin the lives of more innocents!”
Buffy was about to protest, but before she could speak, Roland Skoan extended both hands and summoned a lightsaber to each of them. Twin blades of green light ignited, and the Jedi Master lunged at the trio of Sith.
Buffy and Dalen had their lightsabers out just in time to each block a blow from one of Skoan’s lightsabers. Buffy felt Thriss retreat to a safe distance out of the range of the melee.
“Your apprentice is smart to avoid this fight,” Skoan said almost tauntingly. “She would live a far better life as a Jedi than you can ever give her as a Sith,” he snarled before striking again with both blades.
Dalen and Buffy retreated against the Jedi’s onslaught, tuning out the protestations of the Jawas as they hastened to clean up their market stalls.
“The Dark Side,” Skoan said as he struck, “is only a shadow cast by the Light. You cannot win!”
“So you created us, huh?” Buffy mocked as she ducked under the Jedi’s slash. “Gotta say, that doesn’t sound all that smart to me,” she said as she rolled under another strike and came up behind Skoan.
The Jedi pivoted on his feet and tried to get both Sith on one side of him again, but Buffy and Dalen disengaged on opposite sides of Skoan.
“You’re outnumbered, Jedi,” Dalen taunted. “Engage one of us and leave yourself open to the other.”
Skoan chuckled. “I am not some green young Padawan, Sith! I am a Master of the Force, and you will not win this day!”
With a yank of his arm, Skoan pulled Dalen into the air with the Force and leaped at Buffy while her former Master disappeared into a back row of Jawa stalls.
Buffy brought up her red blade and parried Skoan’s strikes as she tried to find an opening to attack him. The Jedi was all offense, and any opening he gave her was immediately closed by another incoming blow that Buffy had to block or parry.
“You have no chance, Sith!” Skoan yelled as he struck at Buffy again. “Surrender now and live.”
“Hm, I’ve had bad guys feed me that line before,” Buffy quipped. “It was never true then, and I doubt you’re any different.”
“I am not
the villain here!” Skoan brought his lightsabers together as if to cut Buffy in half with a pair of scissors.
Buffy leaped over Skoan’s head and kicked him in the butt on her way down, somersaulting to her feet as she hit the dirt.
Skoan wheeled about to face Buffy again, his face a mask of snarling rage.
“You sure you’re not the bad guy?” Buffy asked sarcastically. “From where I’m standing, you’ve got a pretty big holier-than-thou complex, and those usually end in tears.”
“Don’t you dare mock me, Sith!” Skoan shouted as he raised his right arm.
Buffy wondered what he hoped to do at the distance between them, only to have to put up her guard as he tossed one green blade at her. It spun around like a boomerang aiming for her head.
A flash of blue light struck the hilt of the lightsaber in midair, and it fell to the ground in a molten heap.
“It’s over, Jedi,” Buffy said, holding her blade in a defensive position just in case. “If you press the attack, you’re gonna end up dead. You can’t fight both me and my apprentice.”
“Your apprentice?!” Skoan asked with a harsh laugh. “You travel with your Master and your apprentice, do you? You must be so caught up in all your deceptions that you can’t think straight.”
Buffy pretended to ponder the notion for a moment. “Nope. Still thinking straight. We’ve got you beat, so don’t push this and throw your life away.”
“You’re the one who has thrown her life away! The moment you cast your lot with the Sith, your fate was sealed!”
Skoan started to run at Buffy before stopping and bringing up his lightsaber casually in what Buffy guessed was a gesture to deflect Thriss’s charric bolt.
The blue blast passed through Skoan’s green blade and hit him in the chest. He fell to the ground and dropped his remaining lightsaber. The green blade disengaged as the hilt landed on the ground a few meters away from its owner.
Buffy followed the path of the blast to a nearby building. Buffy sensed Thriss’s presence on the rooftop and waved in her general direction.
A moment later, Buffy felt a reciprocated gesture of emotion in the Force.
Turning off her lightsaber, Buffy tucked it into her robes and sought out Dalen. There was a cluster of Jawas surrounding him, and what looked like a medical droid was tending to him.
“Buffy!” he gasped. “Thank the Emperor! I would have rejoined you, but I believe I broke an arm in the fall. I would have been a burden rather than an aid.”
“Don’t apologize, Shar,” Buffy said. A swell of happiness and relief filled her to see her friend alive and well, if a bit rough around the edges. “You should thank Thriss. The Jedi probably didn’t know that his lightsaber wouldn’t work against Chiss weapons.”
A Jawa began speaking to Buffy, and she sensed that it was Siket.
A different protocol droid was there to translate. “My Master apologizes on behalf of the Tkon Clan for the attack you suffered at the hands of one he called friend. By attacking a legitimate trader without provocation, Jedi Master Skoan has forfeited all standing with the Tkon Clan, and as compensation, you will be given guidance to the ruin you seek free of charge.”
Buffy was caught off guard, but she recovered quickly. “Thank you, Master Siket. We greatly appreciate your generosity, and we promise to cooperate fully with you and the Tkon Clan in any way you want while we seek out the ruin.”
Siket spoke at some length to Buffy, and the droid translated. “Master Siket expresses his gratitude for your cooperation, and humbly asks what will become of Jedi Master Skoan. By the customs of the Tkon Clan, his fate is in your hands.”
Dalen got to his feet at that. “Then I suppose we should finish that loose end before we continue our bargaining any further, Master Siket.”
The Jawa merchant yapped something, and the droid translated, “My Master will wait for your return.”
“Very well, then. Come, Summers. Let’s finish this,” Dalen said as he got to his feet and strode quickly towards the site of the melee.
Buffy followed after Dalen, unsure if she was comfortable with ending a man’s life after he’d been defeated already.
Thriss was waiting by Skoan’s prone body with her charric trained on him. “I am glad to see you both,” she said. “Are you injured, Lord Dalen?”
“It’s nothing that won’t easily recover,” he assured her. “How is he?”
“He is defiant and stubborn and arrogant,” Thriss said with obvious disgust. “He has made it clear that I have doomed myself by casting my lot in with you. He is obviously a zealot with no regard for the hypocrisy of his actions.”
“A typical Jedi, then,” Dalen mused. “Most Jedi I’ve fought have had no compunctions about surrendering to their darker emotions in the heat of battle against a Sith. Granted, this is only my third fight against a full-fledged Jedi Knight, and my first against a Master. Most of my experience comes from fighting fellow Sith, or else captured Padawans.”
Skoan barked out a wheezing cough from the ground. “You’ll never win, Sith!” he spat angrily. “The Dark Side brings death wherever it goes! It will consume you all in the end!”
Buffy looked down at the injured Jedi and felt a hot wave of rage flow through her. This man had the audacity to tell her how evil she was, how her passions would be her undoing, and here was the Jedi, undone by his own blind hatred.
It made her sick.
“You will never defeat the Light!” Skoan spat. “I will never let the Sith win!”
The Jedi’s arrogance was too much for Buffy to handle any longer, and she had her red blade ignited a second later.
“Too bad, buster. You just did.”
A moment later, Jedi Master Roland Skoan was dead from a terminal case of severed head.
Buffy took a deep breath and disengaged her lightsaber. “That felt good.”
“It felt good to shoot him as well,” Thriss said. “It feels even better in hindsight.”
“You have done very well, Lord Summers,” Dalen said slowly, emphasizing her title.
Buffy shrugged. “I did what had to be done.”
“More than that,” Dalen said. “For someone with as little lightsaber experience as you, defeating a Jedi Master is no small feat.”
“We all defeated him,” Buffy said. “I don’t think any one of us could have taken him alone. But we did it together.”
“Another argument in favor of cooperation over competition,” Thriss noted.
Dalen shook his head. “We can save the philosophical debate for another time. Right now, we need to arrange a trip to the ruin. We’ll likely be taking the Jawas’ sandcrawler, and I have questions about the temperature inside of it.”
“Inside?!” Buffy shivered. “We’re going to be traveling inside of a giant desert bug demon?”
“Of course not, Summers,” Dalen said with a smirk as he pointed to the large rust-red building on its giant treads. “What did you think that was if not a sandcrawler?”
Buffy stared at the vehicle for a moment before smacking Dalen on the arm.
He winced in pain. “My arm is already broken, Summers. Do you truly wish to prevent it from healing?”
“Jerk me around like that again, and your arm will be the least of your problems,” Buffy warned.
“Do not be discouraged, Lord Dalen,” Thriss said seriously. “I believe Lord Summers is jesting with you.”
“I am shocked that you would say such a thing, Thriss,” Buffy said with mock-horror. “I never jest!”
Dalen hung his head and muttered under his breath about the strangeness of his former apprentice.
I'm back! I had a bit of writer's block, but I seem to have gotten past it. I will try to update more frequently in the coming weeks and months. I can't promise anything, but I hope that I will have a few more chapters posted before long.
As usual, I don't own Star Wars or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Specifically...
Tatooine: not mine
Anchorhead: not mine
Mos Ila: not mine
Jawas: not mine
Sandcrawler: not mine
Roland Skoan: original
Tkon Clan: original
Darth Arctis: not mine
Special Thanks go out to Sithspit for beta-reading this chapter.
Every time you leave a review, an angel gets its wings. True story.
Thank you all for reading, and I hope you enjoy this latest addition to the story!