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Heart of the Force

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“There is no emotion, there is peace.” Mallory couldn’t help but overhear one of her fellow padawans murmur quietly in the background, a common practise amongst them, a practise Mallory didn’t do enough. The Jedi code.

“Peace is a lie, there is only passion.” Micheal watched another young, lost Jedi who had fled from the order – just like he himself had done years ago – recite the sith code in whispers.

“There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.” It was the young Twi’lek girl, she was an outstanding swordsman. Top of their class. Mallory had always admired her dedication, the way she needed no effort to fulfil the role of the Jedi order, a protector of the peace and light side of the force.

“Through passion, I gain strength.” The young Mandalorian was getting on Michaels nerves, a friction so palpable even some of the mercenaries were steering clear of him, eyes flickering between himself and the boy. Will he lose his temper? Will he strike the boy down?

“There is no passion, there is serenity.” Mallory caught sight of the girl’s master smiling proudly, no not with pride – pride was against the Jedi way – but with the gentle proudness of a teacher for their student.

“Through strength, I gain power.” Michael hardened his gaze on the boy, hoping his force sensitivity would feel the irritation, the displeasure of his overbearing prayers to the all but withering order. Reciting a code did nothing.

“There is no chaos, there is harmony.” But was it true? News travelled far, there was a stir in the cosmos, the shift of a tide. Master Benson had warned Mallory to keep strong and aware, something malice was rising. A remnant from a past not so far ago.

“Through power, I gain victory.” Victory … Michael grimaced in the form of a smile, victory. So black and white, so far from what the real meaning of power is. More than just winning and losing, it’s so much more.

“There is no death, there is the force,” Mallory said alongside the voice of the girl, lips twitching in the hopes of a smile, but it only appeared as that, a twitch of her lips and all was back to quietness.

“Through victory, my chains are broken –”

“-and the force shall free me. Really, the dedication is impressive, but severely unnecessary. Please do be quiet.” Michael couldn’t stop himself, the wavering of a scared boy’s voice should have evoked empathy but it evoked the exact opposite. Just bad memories really. The boy stiffened, mouth shut in a thin line.

A planet in the outer-rim. A signal, reaching out for help. From inside the ship, staring out into the dark vacuum with strands of glares rupturing from the solar systems star, the planet was just a blur of blue and green.

Akin to Naboo, a world Mallory had never visited, but always dreamt of.

Naboo, Michael’s home planet, a memory he wished he never dreamt of.

The signal however was why they were there, many of the Jedi masters believed it would be a good example of what the Jedi order was for -an example for the padawans- to protect and serve all beings, all life. To exist alongside in peace. To help those in need, to be selfless and fearless.

A signal, a broken and ancient one. They knew a party of the Jedi order would travel out to it, with padawans ready to be taught the Jedi way. The perfect opportunity to unveil their existence, their power … Michael devoured the excitement, the thrill of it all.

The bloodshed, the strength from the fear and loss they would experience.

The Sith have been hidden long enough, it was time for the Jedi to end.

~

First expedition without Master Benson. The fact kept unravelling inside Mallory’s head, unfolding into a truth so frightening she could barely concentrate on her every step, from the slick, manmade surface of the boarding ramp to the ground of fleshy soil and silky fields of grass. The lone padawan, scared and out of touch.

She followed the others, made up of mostly Consular Jedi and their apprentices, an odd bunch but a good one. She admired them all, but couldn’t help but long for the guidance of Zoe, her teacher and friend. A familiar face, a familiar aura of courage and strength.

“Keep up padawan, we won’t wait for you,” the only knight on the excursion teased, gesturing for Mallory to speed up, stop looking out into the mass of bright, lively trees surrounding the area they landed ship.

It was hard not to however. Life was everywhere, she could sense it burning in the air, she breathed it in, its power surging in her lungs and giving her the peace and serenity, she desired. The force …

Doe eyes shut for a glimpse of time, envisioning what the material of such a magical power would look like, she imagined it to be little lights dancing in the realm of living, lights she could control in a universe of darkness, like the stars.

The walk was long and the temperature of the planet wasn’t exactly cool, and the breeze wasn’t exactly existent, strange since they were near the coast of the small island. It was all strange.

“No one’s here.”

“But the signal … the transmission, it was recent, it couldn’t be a mistake, there’s supposed to be civilisation here.” One of the Masters wore an expression of pure shock and suspicion. Mallory’s heart sped up, murmured in an uneven pattern, something wasn’t right.

The small fishing village was empty, a skeleton without the organs, without the beating heart. No sign of life. A tension so vivid and thick it suffocated the whole group, the fear and uneasiness was hanging over their shoulders, Mallory could see the other padawans staying close to their masters, while the masters held a hand by their sabers.

Mallory’s hand unconsciously drifted to her own saber that hung from her waist-belt, tunic swaying with the abrupt breeze, as if a lid had been opened and unleashed from the bottle was a storm. Mallory stood frozen, stuck as an outlier, on the outside of the group, cluttered together in the centre of the village.

“Something’s not right, we need to leave and send a transmission to the Jedi counsel-”

A light brighter than the sun, a heat so overbearing it felt like an abrupt sunburn on Mallory’s skin, but only for a brief moment and then it was cold. Face in the ground, dirt in her mouth like grainy sand from the training grounds whenever she tripped while practising swordsmanship. Screaming, cries of pain and death.

Death … No, there is no death. Only the force, no death –

“Run! Get to the ship, someone call for help, I don’t care from where!” One of the masters demanded, voice so rasp it sounded as if his voice had broken, shattered into pieces. Mallory watched as boots trampled by her peripheral vision, soil flicking up into her eyes from the havoc and chaos.

The humming of a lightsabre, no multiple, took away the pain, the attention from those who were running like their life depended on it. Hands supporting her abdomen from falling to the ground in a heap, she finally noticed the village … fire, debris, the Jedi masters with their sabres from blue to yellow, shimmering in daylight … and before them.

It was a trap.

Fear. Darkness. Hatred. Anger and lust for power, it formed a physical hole in her chest, hollowed out. Nothing but numbness. It couldn’t be.

The Sith.

Red, robes of black, masks the faces of the dead, skeleton like in structure, metal and animalistic, blood-lust and murderous intent. Evil, the dark side. It called for her, it called for them all.

Sabres clashed, a Jedi fell … another Jedi and another. Mallory crawled to a ditch, the irrigation system. Water splashing up into her face, vision unfocused and throat burning from the water that she swallowed falling into it. Shouting. The destruction of life, the hatred clouding Mallory’s head like heavy rain. They were so angry, they fed on it, they enjoyed it. The massacre.

She had to get away.

The ship.

Clawing at the wet ground, she pulled herself up and ran. The air traversing through her robes like a warning of the inevitable … they will see you, they will find you, they will kill you. You will die.

No, fear wasn’t the Jedi way, but then why was she running?

Low branches whipped at her face, leaving cuts and bruises, but she ran, followed the path they came from and when hope seemed to be a possible feeling, when life was seeming to be a possible outcome, she saw the ship.

Blown to pieces, padawans lined up on their knees, a man … no, a monster walking alongside them all, one moment they were alive, and the next they were on the ground, head departed from their bodies.

His sabre red, the colour of the blood that didn’t flow, the colour of murder and death.

She had never felt anything like it. The terror, the horridness of him and his energy. It was all darkness, no light to be seen or felt. He was nothing but embodiment of the dark side, half his face hidden beneath a mask, just the bottom half of his face.

No, not all his face like the others.

Cold eyes found her, eyebrows furrowed and sharp like knives … curls of strawberry blonde contrasting the darkness. Pride, the sith were known for their vanity and pride. He was the lust and vanity and pride in the form of a man. Everything a Jedi wasn’t. His selfishness and lust for power and knowledge was for some reason the only thing that pulled her out of the trance, of standing there waiting for her demise. But who would make the first move?

He stood still by the lifeless bodies of her fellow padawans, some not even past adolescence, some just like her and barely an adult. Taken too soon, tears swam down the skin of her face, salty like the sea air, latching onto her tongue.

She could feel him in her head, listening in on every thought. He knew she was to run for the beach in hopes he would let her go. She could feel his nails digging into her conscious like a rabid dog, like the monster he was, wanting and desiring all knowledge the easy way. Sith.

The tilt of his head, a twitch in his free hand and Mallory ran for the trees like an animal herself. She had to survive, she had to find a way to warn the Jedi counsel, the sith were back. There had to be a ship somewhere, there was once civilisation, there had to be something.

She ran and ran, until the sun was setting, the moons unveiling themselves like the Sith had done.

A docking bay … one ship, a starfighter. She had flown only once in her whole life, but there was no other choice.

So close, she’d stop at the closest inhabited -friendly – planet and she would find a way to get help from there. Grand Master Cordelia had to know, they had to know … It was the only hope for the Jedi. The only justice.

~

“Langdon … where’re you going? Aren’t you going to celebrate our victory?” One of the mercenaries snickered, rolling one of the bodies over on its back with his foot. A killer. That’s all he was, didn’t have a reason or motivation. Just did it for fun and money. The man was scum, the worst of the worst, good for not getting your hands dirty but other than that worthless.

“I’ve got something else to take care of, now if you don’t mind,” Michael said, pushing past the low life, the low life that thought himself being made of something stronger, made of real strength, not some mystical force.

Michael made sure to give him a little reality check. The mans chokes could be heard from within the trees, as Michael followed the tracks of the young padawan girl. He was conflicted on whether he should let her live or just strangle away her life force… If she lives, she can tell that counsel of theirs the Sith are back and aren’t ready to be defeated, that they had grown since Korriban. And the other part of him, the darker seed inside him, wanted to watch the life leave her eyes. To watch her wither away until she joined her brothers and sisters in the force, the cosmos.

The light side was strong within her, she was strong with the force, just wasn’t aware of it. It’d be interesting to test her, to see what she had, how well she could keep up with him.

He was at her heels, could feel her panic as if it were the seaside breeze, thick and bitter, but so sweet on his tongue. The scent of her fear empowered him, and satiated his lust, to be feared, to be worshipped. She’d worship him before her demise, begging to live. They all do.

Docking bay. There she stood, smaller than the rest of them, unknowing in her strength. Lightsabre dangling by her waist unused and probably for good reason, untrained and naïve to what she could be. All Jedi were, that was their downfall after all, one of their many faults, alongside their hubris, arrogance and hypocrisy.

He was silent, didn’t want to scare her away too suddenly, he wanted to play for a bit, to dissect what she really was, other than an outcast, he could smell the loneliness and sadness on her before he even saw her pretty doe eyes and nervous energy.

The starfighter, she was going to fly it to the nearest plant, probably Tatooine. Long hair, the colour of wet sand falling loose from is bun, Jedi robes singed at the edges from their little attack at the village. She was hurt, injured but not anything major. She could put up a fight if she wanted to.

Was she more of a defence combatant or an offence one … no, she would be a defence for sure. Too shy to make the first strike, too fragile to want to hurt a living creature. She truly was Jedi, wanted to protect the peace, not fight the chaos.

Her little body was nearly to the ship, using the force to start it up, the lights inside it hooraying in a rainbow of colours. He almost felt pity in crushing it with just a thought, with just a flick of his wrist.

She screamed, arms up to her face, cowering away from the small explosion of sparks and flying debris, he made sure to direct it all away from body, not wanting her to be mangled before their duel.

He’s missed the feeling. The fear, the terror as they ran from him, his blade powerful and without mercy, his every strike with purpose and not just to scare.

“You’re alone padawan, you’ve no hope, you’ve no way of getting back home to your dear Jedi order. Where’s the serenity? Where’s the peace and harmony? You’re Jedi order is an embarrassment.” His mask distorted his voice, deepened it, twisted it into the lilt of a disgusting creature, a hissing snake. Perfect. The way her eyes flew to not his activated sabre, but to his eyes. For his eyes were scarier than any weapon, he adored what she thought of his eyes.

The rushing memories, ideas and thoughts flooding from her, she found his eyes alluring, terrifying, he seduced her. The dark side did that, even to the strongest of light side users.

“What do you want from me?” She whimpered, trembling in her little body, come on girl, put up a fight. Fight me. Ignite your sabre and fight me, let it in.

There was sadness, fear but most unsurprising, an anger. All Jedi when put to the test, had hatred and anger, no matter the teachings against emotion and giving in to the darker side of the sentient psyche.

“I want you to fight. Put your training to the test, see if what you’ve learnt has done anything for your survival. The Jedi don’t care about you, don’t care if you live or die, they only care about their arrogant ideas remaining worshipped. They’re a lie, they say they aren’t like the Sith, but when you tear away their façade of selflessness and peace, we are so much alike.”

“The Jedi are nothing like you. You kill without empathy, without compassion. You enjoy it, feed off the fear. You didn’t even give us a chance-”

“-I’m giving you a chance. A chance to live and prosper, to go back to your little order like a scared little girl. Ignite your sabre, fight me, if you win, well, you’re free to go. I won’t be alive to stop you.”

He was closing in on her the whole time, she had nowhere to flee to, the panic and despair was finally beginning to properly kick in, but he was giving her a chance. Kill him and she would be free, she would be safe. Even a Jedi would take the opportunity.

The hum of his sabre was a comfort for him as he watched her hesitate over and over again, looking to her own lightsabre, then to him. Give in. Let in the hate, the desire for revenge. He had killed innocent lives, beheaded them and shamed them.

“I-I can’t …” She said, tears escaping those big eyes, a creature of light and good, maybe she wasn’t a Jedi. He would have to dig it out of her perhaps.

“Your cowardice is wearing thin. It’s a shame, I thought you’d be different to your other Jedi friends. They just let it happen, let us hurt them, let us cut the life from them, strangle it out from their lungs. One even begged, said they’d give me anything I wanted,” he was cunning and sharp, hand falling to his crotch, she stared as if he had declared his love for her. A mix of disgust, anger and lust, thrill and wanting.

Similar to how he felt when that padawan had offered their body to him. He didn’t accept however, threw his blade over their head in spite of his desires.

From fear and agony churned into a flame, a darkness filled with visions of violence, she wanted to kill him, the change was so abrupt it sent a shiver down his spine. Just like that, she went from a helpless girl to a true Jedi.

There was nothing more to say, the click of her belt, the sabre was in her hand. Simple in design, of course, the Jedi and their fear of vanity and pride. He flourished his sabre, feet pressing into the ground, ready to launch at her with all his might.

Blue light was evoked from the hilt, it suited her. He wouldn’t have it any other way, blue and red, it always looked the prettiest when clashing together. Brown eyes thinning into a glare, teeth grinding together, she couldn’t see it but his grin was wide and genuine.

But then it was all but taken from him.

A growl, a wail so guttural it couldn’t have come from her, her body closing in on his, blue sabre ready to strike as she ran at him with all her strength, the rush of powerful energy erupting from her had him falling back, until he was able to parry her attack, the force of it plying his arm with pain. She kept it up, dodging and parrying were the only two things he could do as he ran from her to make distance, give himself time to understand the mistake he had made.

It was a time before he could take back the upper-hand, her stamina running low from all the strikes and swings at his head and abdomen, her groans of exertion, his growls of anger, the collision of both blades sparking light and thuds of electricity- a music to fight to - a dance of light and darkness.

She was lithe, tiny and could dodge his every attack easily, his flourishes that would scare her back, take her off guard and come back down with all his strength, pushing her down closer to the ground every strike, but she held herself up like a true Jedi, almost like her Grand master. A mere padawan putting up more of a fight than any Master.

He didn’t know how, but they had ended up on the beach of this damned island, sand flicking up in the texture of glass, scratching at his face and hers as he hit her sabre into the ground, he was stronger than her, but she was angrier than him. She was feeding from both the light and dark and it astounded him, impressed him even.

The fight continued into the night, sweat falling down the back of his neck, sweat falling down her face like the tears she had adorned before. She was running from him, she felt trapped, lost and so did he. When would it end?

He chased her back into the trees, she was growing tired, every strike had her crying out, sabre falling to the ground. Something in him didn’t want her to give up, a part of him didn’t want to hurt her, but to empower her, to watch her grow fierce and angry, to strike him down, to hurt him instead.

A final strike, one he knew would be the end of her, she fell to the dirt with a thud, a cry so harsh it sent tremors up his body. She had finally given up, right before the edge of a high cliff that led into the sea. The crashing of waves against rocks a calming sound to the both of them.

“It doesn’t have to end this way. You don’t have to die, join me, I can help you, the Jedi order doesn’t deserve you.”

Michael could barely speak coherently but he knew she understood, her eyes widening, a moment of thought, a moment of perhaps entertaining the idea, excitement flared up in him. She was strong, brave, pure-hearted, she didn’t need to be like the Sith … He wanted her by his side either way.

Sunkissed skin red from all the exertion, the force in her reaching out to him, reaching out for help, she was the light and it reminded him of the past, the goodness of it, although not much was good, there was some fondness to his old life in the Jedi order. The innocence, the desire to be good, to be kind and to protect.

He was in her mind again, and she was in his. He didn’t know why it kept happening, but he could feel her heart as if it were his own.

“Mallory … Join me.” He deactivated his sabre, a gesture of alliance even after their duel, the words he had said, the things he had done to her peers. He wanted her, even though he barely knew her at all.

Mallory’s breath sharpened, her eyes wide with fear, fingers clawing into the dirt and grass, face forever exchanging between despair and uncertainty and then it happened.

“Never.”

And he watched on as she slipped away from his grasp, down into the water … She wasn’t dead, he didn’t feel her death, but he didn’t know if she would live for long down in the freezing cold.

A part of him knew he’d see her again, the padawan named Mallory.

And he didn't if he looked forward to their next meeting or not. All he knew for sure was that his Master would be dissapointed. The light always found a way to seduce him.