MOTF Book II: Ascension Chapter 16

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MOTF Book II: Ascension Chapter 16

Post by Emperordmb on Sat Aug 15, 2015 3:28 am

Darth Umbravon sat in the medical center of Darth Vanquil’s base on Korriban, only a few kilometers away from the Valley of the Dark Lords. Many Sith refused to live this close to the Valley of the Dark Lords, due to either reverence or fear, and it was because of this, Umbravon surmised, that Vanquil had chosen to erect his base here. The remoteness of the location granted Vanquil solitude, which meant, as Umbravon had learned from two years of living as a Sith, relative safety for Vanquil, and now Umbravon as well. Having bested Darth Solu in combat, Darth Umbravon had indeed been afforded the title of Sith Lord by the Council later that very day, but as far as Umbravon was concerned, he had been a Lord from the moment Solu begged for his own death.

Now, Darth Umbravon was a Sith Lord, apprenticed to a Sith Master by the name of Darth Vanquil, part of an agreement they had made. Vanquil would help him ascend to his potential and in return, he would serve as Vanquil’s advisor, assistant, and assassin. And of course, aside from the training he received, there were also certain perks to being Vanquil’s apprentice, such as access to the medical facility in Vanquil’s base. As an Innamortan, Umbravon was unaccustomed to having battle scars. A direct result of his Innamortan physiology was that almost every wound he received would heal in a short span of time, leaving behind no trace as it closed up. Ironically enough, this made a species that had transformed war into their way of life, relatively unaccustomed to battle scars. Umbravon’s fight with Solu however, that had definitely scarred him.

Darth Umbravon glanced down at his right arm, now partially cybernetic, as the multi-appendaged medical droid finished up its final touches. With all of Umbravon’s bones and some of his ligaments still intact, the droid had grafted the cybernetics around what remained of Umbravon’s arm, rather than replacing it. The cybernetics themselves were made almost exclusively from transparisteel, including the plating, servomotors, and even the wiring. As a result, Umbravon’s skeletal hand and forearm remained completely visible beneath the almost glassy exterior of his cybernetics. Though his flesh appeared to have been replaced with glass, transparisteel was much stronger and far more durable. Indeed, only one part of Umbravon’s arm was truly made of glass. Three curved glass blades protruded from the outside of his forearm, a design inspired by Barre, the Tech Leader in his squad back on Innamorta. It had been part of the designs for an intriguing idea for a droid Barre had, which he referred to as the “Excalibur Combat Droid.” The other aspect of this weapon however had been inspired by Umbravon’s place among the Sith. These blades were not unlike those of shikkars, made of glass, crafted with the use of the force, with a weak point in each of the blades that could be used to snap them off, once embedded in the body of an enemy, to leave them festering beneath their flesh.

“Sir,” the droid began, “Your arm is… complete. Please feel free to grow accustomed to it as I contact Master Vanquil. He would like to speak with you.” With that, the droid went still and silent for a few moments, likely accessing an internal comm system.

With the droid preoccupied, Umbravon raised his now semi-cybernetic arm and began to look it over, staring through the transparent cybernetics into the stark white bone that had remained untouched by Solu’s blazing power. So this is what remains of my arm, Umbravon internally mused. Bone and several pounds of transparent metal. As he moved his arm around in front of him, he realized the weight of the cybernetic arm wasn’t too cumbersome and was in fact rather well proportioned and balanced. Umbravon ran his hand over the arm rest of his chair perceiving the object’s presence through the artificial sensory receptors embedded in the arm. Still, it was not as intimate a feeling as touching something with his own flesh, it was less vibrant, less sensual. “This feels weird…” Umbravon said as he raised his arm in front of his face and began to flex his fingers of bone and transparisteel. As he called the Force through his body, it felt… obstructed, less, incomplete in his right arm, with so much of his living tissue burned away. “This feels wrong…”

“Perhaps if you would’ve allowed me to use a different material, your bones would not be so visible,” the droid chimed in.

“I actually don’t mind that part…” Umbravon replied ominously as he figured how to unleash some of his pent up fury, test his new abilities, observe the strength of his new arm, and learn a bit more about the temperament of his master’s personality at the same time.

Before the droid could respond, Umbravon extended his left arm forwards and channeled his pent up frustration into his hand, feeling the power of the Dark Side pool up along the length of his arm. As a Sith Lord, Umbravon felt different. He felt more purposeful, more powerful, more… in control of his own abilities. Time to test that, Umbravon thought to himself as a single tendril of lightning lashed out from his his fingertips and struck the droid near its head. The droid tried to speak, but all that came out was a nonsensical warble as Umbravon’s lightning tore through its vocal processors. Its many arms began to thrash about as droid staggered around, the single lattice continuing to rob the droid of its ability to speak.

It was then that another bolt forked out from Umbravon’s hand and rooted itself in the droid’s right leg before a third burrowed into its left, locking the droid in place. As an exercise in precision, Umbravon unleashed another bolt of lightning, then another, then another, each carefully aimed at a different system or part within the droid. Then finally, when the droid was almost completely disabled, Umbravon punched the droid’s chassis with his now semi-cybernetic right hand and watched it crack and dent under his fist of bone and transparisteel. Then, he punched the droid from the other side with his completely organic left arm, watching as cracks and dents again appeared in its chassis. This time, the cracks ran a little longer and were slightly more open, and the dents were a bit more profound. The difference was subtle, but definitely noticeable. Darth Umbravon knew that as his powers in the Force increased, he would be able to augment the strength in his arm to far greater heights than it had ever been at before in combat. Still, the strength in his arm would always be a little less than it could’ve been had he never lost so much of it to begin with. Despite the advantages provided by the three blades protruding from his forearm and a certain level of intimidation its skeletal appearance would cause, Darth Umbravon could not help but feel robbed of something. And deep down, the new Sith Lord realized that feeling would stick with him forever, like a splinter in his mind, reflective of a weakness in his own body. It was a frustration that would never be quelled, and that only made it all the more… frustrating. So Umbravon did what he knew to do as a Sith. He took his frustration and channeled it into rage. He then took that rage and used it to make himself strong. He called upon the Dark Side, channeling it through the amalgamation of bone and transparisteel raised next to his head, and with a single command from his mind, it lurched forward, slamming into the droid’s chassis and shattering it to pieces. As the rage subsided, Umbravon felt a gaze upon him. It was a gaze belonging to the presence he had felt approaching right before he began his meticulous assault on the droid.

“One day here and you have already begun to dismantle my equipment?” Umbravon heard in the familiar calm collected voice of Darth Vanquil, his new master. He could hear not disappointment, approval, or anger in his master’s voice, but interest, a very strong interest.

“It was a test,” Umbravon replied in a tone of voice that betrayed little emotion or intention.

“For you? Or for me?” Vanquil asked. “Before that you reply, trust that we both know the true answer to my question.”

Umbravon hesitated for a second before replying, “Both.” He was taken aback by how much Vanquil truly understood the nature of his actions.

“Well then, given that this action was meant partially to experiment with your own powers and emotions and partially to observe my reaction, I must ask you what your observation of me is,” Vanquil replied with utter unwavering confidence.

“I observed that you do not approve of the mindless destruction most Sith acquit themselves with in times of frustration,” Umbravon began. “And… I observed that you are far more intuitive than I first realized.”

“My intuition is my primary asset,” Darth Vanquil replied. “Aside from, of course, the Dark Side. And I do indeed conduct myself in a more controlled and elegant manner than the vast majority of Sith in the Galaxy.”

“Well then,” Darth Umbravon began to ask. “Given the extent of your intuition, I would in turn like to ask you what your impression of me is.”

Vanquil responded with a slight chuckle before speaking. “Your destruction of the droid has shown me two things. First, the nature of the action itself shows me that you possess the savagery of a brutish warrior. The reason behind the action and control you displayed with your lightning on the other hand demonstrate that you also possess the cunning intellect of an inquisitor. Such traits are not often found to coexist so naturally in an individual, with the traits of one usually proving dominant over the other. With you however, they both seem to be very entwined with your personality. Both traits together should prove to be a potent combination as you progress through your training. But as you are standing before me now instead of dead in the sands of that arena, or the bar, or Dathomir for that matter, I suppose such a duality has already proven its use in you. Given the quality and quantity of the questions you’ve asked me, it also stands to reason that you are indeed a very inquisitive person, and a desire for as much knowledge as possible is no bad thing. And given the speed with which you have advanced among the ranks of the Sith, even against the will of the Sith Council itself, it is apparent that you are very ambitious, even for a Sith. Your ambitious and inquisitive nature suggests that you have a natural predisposition towards learning and self improvement.”

As Vanquil spoke, Umbravon listened intently, both basking in what appeared to be praise, and filing away the information in his mind for later, should Vanquil’s assessment of him prove useful at some point, which, given that Vanquil was going into such depth, Umbravon suspected it would.

“You possess an extraordinary potential in the Force, a personality that can diverge along multiple paths, and a predisposition towards learning and self improvement. In short, you are the perfect apprentice for what I have in mind.”

“And what do you have in mind… Master?” Umbravon asked.

“That,” Vanquil replied. “Will have to wait until you have proven yourself worthy of knowing.”

Umbravon didn’t bother hiding the disappointment in his eyes.

“Do not take it personally, sir. My Master’s plans are a bit too important to trust with one who has only been his apprentice for less than a day,” the voice of the medical droid sounded from an overhead speaker.

“Darth Umbravon, I would introduce you to OneOne-FourDee, the AI who runs most of the technological systems here at my base, but I see you have already… acquitted yourself with him,” Vanquil explained.

“That would be an understatement, Master,” 11-4D replied.

“In any case,” the Sith Master continued. “We have other business to attend to.” And with that, Darth Vanquil pulled out the hilt of his weapon and ignited the blade.

Umbravon realized this was the first time he had seen Vanquil’s lightsaber. It was definitely a lightsaber, but it was clearly not a conventional one. The handle appeared to be lightweight and balanced compared to the simple cylindrical shape of most lightsaber hilts. But more than the handle, it was the blade that caught Umbravon’s eye. It was crimson like most Sith blades, but rather than being a blade of equal thickness all the way around, the blade was flattened to an edge and a point, shaped more like the blade of a sword than that of a lightsaber.

“A lightfoil,” Vanquil replied, answering the question Umbravon hadn’t even asked yet. “A weapon more petite, elegant, and precise than the traditional lightsaber. It was originally designed by the Mecrosa Order over six thousand years ago. Rumor has it, a Mandalorian actually stole a black bladed lightfoil from the Jedi Temple during the Sacking of Coruscant, and apparently it resurfaced at some point during the Clone Wars.”

After a moment of hesitation, Umbravon asked, “Is the lightfoil a superior weapon?”

“Yes, and no…” Darth Vanquil replied. “The lightfoil has various advantages and disadvantages when compared with the traditional lightsaber. Whether it is a superior or inferior weapon depends entirely on the duelist’s own style and specialization. I built this weapon when I graduated from the Prime Academy to suit my own personal style. Your style, it seems, would pair up best with a traditional lightsaber.” As Vanquil spoke those words, he plucked a standard lightsaber hilt from within the folds of his cloak and tossed it to Umbravon. “A relic, from an old enemy.”

Umbravon raised his right arm and caught it in his hand, activating its crimson blade as he did so. He had no reason to question the quality of the weapon, and yet… it was not his weapon. He was not attuned to its crystal, he was not familiar with the hilt’s contours. Even the color of the blade, for all of its similarities, seemed different, in some very subtle way that only his subconscious could recognize. To Umbravon, the weapon felt as weird and wrong as the hand clutching it.

“You will have an opportunity very soon to construct another lightsaber for yourself,” Vanquil said, clearly picking up on Umbravon’s discomfort. “But for now, let’s see what you can do…” And with that, Darth Vanquil raised his blade vertically in front of his face, then brought it down to his side in a Makashi salute.

Umbravon’s arm had been lessened and the weapon he wielded was not his own, but his power had increased, his mastery of the Force deepened, and his resolve had never been stronger. On the whole, his fight with Solu had cost him his arm and weapon, but he had emerged from that fight not as the Acolyte he had been when he first crossed blades with the one man army, but as a Sith Lord. Darth Umbravon was more powerful now than he had ever been in his life, and it was time to see just how much more powerful.

Umbravon called upon his fury as he raced forward, unleashing a fast paced and vicious series of randomized slashes and stabs. Vanquil’s blade whipped left and right, meeting each strike in Umbravon’s erratic staccato and flicking it to the side as one would a blaster bolt. Vanquil’s form was perfect, his blade work elegant, moving almost certainly not moving nearly as quickly as he could, but just enough to meet each and every blow Umbravon unleashed without noticeable strain.

Realizing his current strategy wasn’t working, Umbravon instead adopted the strength oriented sequences of Djem So, raining a series of two handed overhead chops down upon his master, his arms fueled by the power of his hatred. His two handed grip was slightly tweaked so while his partially mechanical right arm still controlled the movement of the blade, his entirely organic left arm was in a better position to provide more of the power behind each strike. Between this and his recently heightened power, his strikes were more forceful than they had ever been. Still, no matter what angle, direction, and velocity his strikes came from, Vanquil’s blade was always perfectly positioned and angled to deflect each power blow with minimal effort and energy, his graceful and elegant defense a perfect model of casual efficiency.

Again, Umbravon was frustrated by failure. As a Sith Lord would do, he took that frustration, and pooled it into his mounting rage, unleashing another series of power blows against his master, only to have those be turned aside with barely any more difficulty. As Umbravon swept his blade upwards with all of his might, Vanquil caught the tip of his blade with the flattened edge on the lower half of his blade and flicked it upwards before stabbing his own blade forward and cutting a large gash in Umbravon’s shirt, a move precise enough to not pierce his flesh. Umbravon barely parried the next of Vanquil’s jabs before immediately retaliating with a swipe at Vanquil’s head, but the Sith Master easily ducked under the blow before unleashing three more quick and precise jabs at him in quick succession. Seemingly disdainful of the way their contest had been going with himself on the defensive, Darth Vanquil had now apparently seized the offensive, still likely holding back tremendously however.

As Vanquil’s blade carved curves and lines through the air towards Umbravon, the Sith Lord fell back on Soresu, relying on speed and a tight defense to deflect the onslaught. But as he deflected blow after blow, each of his moves grew more desperate and less even, and Umbravon found himself in a quick retreat through the halls of Vanquil’s fortress. He tried various different defensive sequences, but none fended off Vanquil any more effectively. He tried different strategies, such as changing the speed of his retreat abruptly or trying to circle around him, and even strategies a bit more subtle than that, but Vanquil always seemed to know what he was doing before Umbravon even thought his motions began to betray his intent and was all too quick to stop him. No matter what he tried it was hopeless. What could Darth Umbravon possibly do against one so much more powerful than himself? As if to accentuate that thought, one of Vanquil’s stabs slipped by Umbravon’s defenses and burned a hole through the side of Umbravon’s pants.

Umbravon staggered back and deflected the next blow before the one after that singed through the base of one of his sleeves and much of his armpit hair on the right side of his body, before curving around and flicking a centimeter past his eyes, clouding his vision in red. When Umbravon’s vision cleared an instant later, he swung his blade from left to right at Vanquil in a blind fury, only for Darth Vanquil to leap up and twirl upwards through the air before extending a single palm. Umbravon raised a Force shield, but a wave of force energy rippling towards him wiped it away before slamming him into the wall with a loud smack. After feeling a sharp pain in his back and hearing the stone wall crack behind him, Umbravon fell forward onto his chest, and his face struck the ground no more gracefully.

“Too slow,” Vanquil said in his usual calm demeanor with the slightest hint of regret in his voice as Umbravon rose to his feet. “You are holding yourself back and you don’t even know it.”

With an outcry of fury, Darth Umbravon flew at his master again, unleashing another devastating assault upon him. This time however, he blended both Juyo and Djem so together in the same sequences, randomizing when to use each form in an attempt to catch Vanquil off guard. Despite his attempts to at least surprise Vanquil however, the Sith Master had a constant awareness of what moves Umbravon was using and adjusted the angle of his blade and levied each of his parries accordingly, still casually, but not quite as disdainfully, almost as if he was taking this duel more seriously. Still frustrated by feelings of inadequacy, Umbravon transformed his mounting fury into a blinding hot rage, burying, but not destroying, his feelings of inadequacy beneath it. His moves picked up speed and power, but still Vanquil easily deflected them as he slowly backed up through the hallway.

“More rage? More fury? What good will that do you when you continue to hold yourself back?”

His emotion spurred on further by his master’s taunt, Umbravon extended his free arm and lashed out with the Force, a blast of telekinetic power, a quick but intense burst of lightning, and a powerful wave of Force energy. Each however was deflected with the same ease his lightsaber strikes were. With one last outcry of fury, Umbravon summoned all the rage, hatred, and power to him that he possibly could, and unleashed it in a cackling storm of Force lightning. It as freely from his left hand as it always had, but through his right, Umbravon had to focus on channeling it specifically through his bone marrow, careful to only unleash it through the tips of his fingers, so as not to damage any of his arm's circuitry. As the blue conflagration surged forth to envelope Darth Vanquil, the pallid and lanky Sith Master stepped forward and brought his blade down in a vertical line in front of him, bisecting the storm as he unleashed a surge of power from his other hand to drive it in half. As a result, the storm deflected and dissipated to either side of Vanquil, leaving him completely unscathed.

After the display of Force powers concluded, both master and apprenticed flew at each other, colliding each in their own blend of offense and defense. Umbravon’s blade moved with great speed and raw power, but Vanquil had far greater skill, limiting his speed to noticeably beneath Umbravon’s own, but his skill was enough to allow him to contend as his blade moved just fast enough to block and parry. Vanquil’s blade always seemed to be ready for Umbravon’s own, and always seemed to find the weakest points in his guard, driving Umbravon inexorably back. Darth Vanquil was simply too fast, too skilled, and too powerful. Umbravon was not enough. At one point, Vanquil raised his blade high to the right for an overhead strike, and Umbravon’s blade was less than two feet away from Vanquil’s relatively unprotected side. He considered striking at it, but he  also considered the likely possibility that Vanquil would simply find a way to parry his strike, or worse, catch Umbravon with his overhead strike before Umbravon’s own strike even fell. That brief moment of indecision cost him a fraction of a second as Vanquil’s blade cut a downward arc towards him. Umbravon, fearful of defeat and embarrassment, desperately raised his blade just in time to deflect Vanquil’s strike, only for Vanquil to twirl his blade around in a smooth and elegant motion that brought it between Umbravon’s chin and neck, pulling it to a stop just before it could bite into his flesh. Umbravon desperately swept his blade at Vanquil’s own neck, but the Sith master ducked under his attack and stepped back, deactivating his blade.

Umbravon raced towards him, but Vanquil leapt as high above Umbravon as the ceiling would allow him, just out of reach of Umbravon’s blade. Umbravon tried to leap up as well, but he felt just enough telekinetic force applied upon him from above to keep him firmly grounded. When Vanquil landed, Umbravon spun around to face him just in time to see Vanquil’s palms turned outwards and his fingers splayed out to the side, his wrists clasped together as a massive wave of telekinetic might rippled out from them towards Umbravon, one he was powerless to defend himself against. First he felt his body plucked off of the ground, then slammed hard into the stone wall, then even more pressure before the wall behind him exploded in a shower of stone, hurling him out of Vanquil’s fortress into the desert sands of Korriban.

Umbravon used the pain his entire body was now reeling with to fuel his anger, drawing the dark side into his limbs as he started to leap back onto his feet, but a surge of blue lightning stabbed through his body, bringing him down to his knees before an invisible pressure held him in place. When Umbravon looked up, he saw Darth Vanquil standing a few feet away, casually extending one hand in his direction as he opened his mouth to speak.

“Fear and doubt. Feelings of inadequacy. This is why you fail to provide more of a challenge,” he said. “Those fools at the Prime Academy taught us to bury these feelings with anger, with hate, with fury, but that does not truly allow us to overcome them. You can muster all the anger you will, but your fury will still be muted by doubt, and your will eroded by fear. If you do not deal with these feelings, then your own mind calls a prison around you, limiting your power, and ruining your choices. You saw an opening I left, so why didn’t you exploit it?”

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to do so successfully,” Umbravon responded.

“Wrong,” Vanquil replied. “You only thought you wouldn’t be able to. In truth, if you had devoted yourself to that strike then and there, you could’ve killed me before I could parry or bring my blade down upon you.”

“Why did you leave that opening if you knew I could kill you?” Umbravon asked after a brief pause.

The corner of Darth Vanquil’s mouth curled upwards slightly in a sly smile. “Because I knew you wouldn’t.” With a casual gesture, Vanquil called Umbravon’s temporary lightsaber into his hand. “You have to truly overcome it Umbravon,” Vanquil said as he tossed Umbravon’s lightsaber over the Sith Lord’s head and behind him. “Feelings of inadequacy, doubt… and fear.”

Umbravon heard a high pitched howl from behind him and spun around, and when he saw the hilt of his lightsaber in the mouth of one of three Tuk’ata, his heart skipped a beat, and a chill ran down his spine. He tried to pull the lightsaber back into his hand with the Force, but the jaw of the Tuk’ata wouldn’t budge. And then,  they began to approach him. He felt the grip of fear closing in around him. Here he was, face to face with three Tuk’ata, disarmed of his weapon with only his fists and the Force. He did not believe it would be enough.

“You must confront your fear, overcome it, and let it go…”

The Tuk’ata were vicious, deadly creatures, a match for even some of the best Jedi and Sith in the Galaxy, and Umbravon was without his lightsaber. That is where his fear came from. But then again… did he need his lightsaber? Was he not vicious and deadly as well? Before he had any training, acting upon instinct, he had thrown Lightor guards into walls, shattered the armor of King Barrus himself with his punches, and destroyed Barrus’s body under the might of his fury. After training in the ways of the Force, he thrashed other Jedi and Sith with an invisible grip, and tore Darth Solu from his lofty perch with the Sith Lord’s own power. The Tuk’ata were lightning fast, with similarly quick reflexes. They were immensely physically strong, significantly more so than Umbravon even. And unlike Umbravon who was devoid of his weapon, they were armed with massive claws, savage blood tinged fangs, razor sharp horns, and stingers with a venom meant to immobilize their prey. Yet for all of their advantages, Umbravon had an advantage that was more important. The Dark Side of the Force was certainly with these creatures, as they were bred from Sith alchemy, but Umbravon was a true Sith Lord, and the Dark Side of the Force was not only with him, it was his to command.

And like that, Umbravon had confronted his fears and doubts, realized the truth of his situation, faced those feelings, then let them go, observing and feeling them melt away from his mind and soul. A renewed sense of confidence filled him. His will was unburdened, his power was no longer muted. So here he was, face to face with three Tuk’ata, disarmed of his weapon with only his fists and the Force. He knew it would be more than enough.

Then, the three Tuk’ata charged, the largest and fiercest looking in the front, and the one with his lightsaber right behind it. The Tuk’ata let out another high pitched shriek, but Darth Umbravon held his ground, his resolve unwavering, completely unfazed by their pageantry. He called upon his anger and hatred and let it fuel him, no longer wasting any of it on suppressing a fear that no longer existed. With an unburdened will, he unleashed the power of his passion in a raw swirling vortex of blue lightning unleashed from both hands. The crackling storm caught the first Tuk’ata and stopped it dead in its tracks, bringing it down to a crouch as it shrieked in agony and fury. The other two Tuk’ata circled around the storm and came at Umbravon from either side in an attempt to outflank him, but with a gesture and no small amount of effort, Umbravon hurled the largest Tuk’ata into the air, slamming it into the Tuk’ata with his lightsaber leaping at him from his left and sending both hurtling to the ground.

The third Tuk’ata leaped at him from the right, both claws outstretched for the kill, its red eyes blazing with fury, but Umbravon knew what to do. He quickly threw himself forward, and dropped to his knees, skidding across the sands of Korriban beneath the leaping Tuk’ata, unleashing a blast of Force energy from his palm as he slid under it to keep himself out of claw’s distance. As he rose to his feet and turned around, the Tuk’ata landed and twirled around on all fours to face him. Again it charged at him whipping both stingers at him in a blur of motion. Umbravon leaned back as his arms waved in circular motions at his side, pulling the top half of his body back just quick enough to dodge two strikes from each stinger. Before his momentum had him fall on his back, Umbravon rolled backwards, narrowly evading a swipe from one of the creature’s massive claws that ended up tearing through the sand instead. As Umbravon rolled back onto his feet, the creature swiped its other claw at him in a lightning quick motion, but Umbravon was faster, ducking beneath the claw and dashing to the right of the creature before throwing himself into the air. He twirled through the air over it’s back again narrowly evading its two stingers as they swung wildly at him.

Umbravon’s feet struck the ground on the other side of the third Tuk’ata, just in time to see the first two rising back up. With a gesture and a wave of force energy, Umbravon swept the Tuk’ata behind him off of its feet and sent it sliding several meters behind him as he charged at the other two, calling upon the dark side to transform his body into a streak of motion across the sands of Korriban, propelling him towards the two creatures as they charged at him from opposing angles. Gathering his fury, Umbravon extended his arms and unleashed a crackling torrent of lightning from both hands, each striking a Tuk’ata square in the chest. When he reached them two seconds later, Umbravon twirled around on his left leg and lashed out with his right, catching the largest of the three Tuk’ata in the abdomen with the heel of his boot, the power of his hatred driving his leg as he did so. Already stunned by the power of Umbravon’s lightning, the Tuk’ata staggered, giving Umbravon the opportunity to gather his power for one monumental blast of telekinetic power that sent the creature sprawling back several meters.

Umbravon whirled around to face the Tuk’ata with the lightsaber hilt in its mouth and again tried to call the weapon to his hand with the Force, but still it would not budge. Instead, the Tuk’ata raced towards him, only to be met with a stream of lightning unleashed from Umbravon’s left hand. With Umbravon’s right hand, he did what his conquered fear would’ve otherwise prevented him from doing. He plunged his right arm straight into the Tuk’ata’s mouth, right between both sets of razor sharp fangs, and wrapped his fingers of bone and transparisteel around the hilt of the weapon. When his thumb found the ignition switch, a red blade shot out through the side of the creature’s mouth. Before the Tuk’ata could do anything, Umbravon whipped the blade around in a circle, cleaving through flesh, teeth, skull and brain as it tore through the Tuk’ata’s face, killing it almost instantly and freeing the weapon from its now severed jaws.

He spun around just in time to react to the third Tuk’ata pouncing at him, swinging a massive claw at the side of his head in a swift and vicious motion. Reacting with the inhuman speed of the Dark Side, Umbravon whipped his blade upward and caught the beast in the side of the claw, eliciting a shriek of pain and fury as Umbravon slashed the other way to catch its counterattacking other claw. When the stingers flew at him, Darth Umbravon twirled his blade in a circular pattern, severing both stingers before landing two slashes on the creature’s abdomen sending it staggering a few meters back in a retreat. Not chasing it, Umbravon instead struck it with one last surge of Force lightning before sending his lightsaber pinwheeling towards it. An instant later, the beast fell forward dead, a lightsaber blade skewered through its heart.

Unfortunately for Umbravon, the creature collapsed atop his weapon just as the largest and fiercest of the three Tuk’ata, the last survivor, threw itself at him. Were he in a panic, Umbravon may have turned, exposing his back to the creature as he desperately fumbled amidst a corpse for his weapon, but instead, he chose to face the beast with only his fists. The creature swept its claws at Umbravon in a lightning quick blur of motion, far faster than it had moved previously, for now it was spurred on by the pain, fury, and indignation of being subjected to the Sith Lord’s lightning not once, but twice. Umbravon threw his body, animated with the power of the Dark Side of the Force, to his left, evading the swipe of its left claw before catching its right forearm with a forceful punch from his transparisteel fist, stopping its strike a few centimeters short of tearing his face off, though the impact of the creature’s arm sent shudders through Umbravon’s entire body. Instead of striking again with its claws, the Tuk’ata instead thrust its head forward, lashing at Umbravon with its mouth full of razor sharp teeth. Umbravon responded by uppercutting the creatures jaw with his left arm, though this time the impact of both of their motions threw Umbravon on his back as the Tuk’ata’s jaws snapped shut a few feet above his head. Rather than remain immobile for the beast to kill him, Umbravon rolled back with the motion, rolling onto his upper back and lashing out with both legs at once, striking the Tuk’ata in the abdomen with both feet as it tried to pounce on him, the strength of his legs fueled inexorably by the power of the Force. As the blow struck the Tuk’ata in the chest, Umbravon flipped backwards back onto his feet and struck the Tuk’ata with a hard Force shove, sending it sprawling back. The Tuk’ata slowly but purposefully regained its footing and began to prowl towards Darth Umbravon. Its claws scraped lines through the sand as it drew closer and closer, and there was death in its eyes.

Darth Umbravon regarded the creature in a similar manner, then they both charged at each other again. The Tuk’ata swung at Umbravon again with its left claw, but Umbravon was ready for it. Pooling the Dark Side’s power into his right fist, he forcefully drove it into the palm of the Tuk’ata’s claw before unleashing that power in a telekinetic explosion that completely broke its claw and drove the upper left half of its body up and back. Not hesitating, Umbravon lashed out with his right leg and kicked the beast’s rear right leg out from under it, completely off balancing it before driving his left fist into its neck. One stinger flew at him, but Darth Umbravon confidently caught the appendage beneath its tip in his left hand before slicing right through it with the glass blades on his right forearm that he had neglected to use until now. The Tuk’ata shrieked in fury and swept its right claw at him in a blurring streak. Umbravon twirled to his left and met the Tuk’ata’s single forearm with both of his, bringing it to a dead stop and embedding the glass blades into its flesh. Holding the limb in place with his left arm, he yanked his right arm to the side, tearing the blades free from the Tuk’ata’s forearm after cleaving through its flesh. Moving his left arm in a blur of motion, Umbravon drove his fist into the Tuk’ata’s neck with all of his hatred, staggering it back a few inches before slamming his right forearm square in the creature’s chest, the glass blades digging through its flesh. The Tuk’ata shrieked loudly and tried to crush Umbravon under the full weight of its body, but with Umbravon’s Innamortan physiology granting him a natural strength far beyond that of a human and the power of the Force flowing through his veins, he was able to hold the beast up. Again he yanked his right arm to the side, tearing a large gaping hole through the flesh on the creature’s chest. Before the Tuk’ata even had a chance to react, Umbravon drove his left fist into the hole with all of his passion and power behind it, tearing through even more flesh and breaking bone as he did so.

With the palm of his hand now inside the beast’s body, Darth Umbravon unleashed a deadly surge of Force lightning into its innards bringing the beast closer and closer to the ground in unbearable agony. When the Tuk’ata’s head was low enough to be at the side of Umbravon’s abdomen, Umbravon yanked his left arm out of the beast’s chest cavity, and brought his right fist down upon its head with all of its might, slamming the creature’s head into the ground. Before it could rise again, Umbravon jumped over to the other side of its neck, slapped aside the sole remaining stinger that lashed out at him, and wrapped both arms around the Tuk’ata’s thick neck. Putting his entire body weight behind the motions, Umbravon wrenched the Tuk’ata’s neck up and back, then to the side, then twisting around as he forced it back yet again. His muscles and servos strained with the effort, but there was a loud snap as the beast’s neck broke. It was then that Darth Umbravon relinquished his grasp on the Tuk’ata, letting it fall to the ground. Its tail twitched once, then went still forever. Its once glowing red eyes were now a cold dead black. It was dead.

The battle had taxed both Umbravon’s body and mind, and it was only the resounding feeling of victory that gave him the willpower to carry his body towards another fallen Tuk’ata. While staring at his master, Darth Umbravon casually flicked his right hand, and the Tuk’ata rolled over an instant before the cold metal cylinder that was a lightsaber hilt flew into Darth Umbravon’s semi-cybernetic hand. He activated the blade vertically in front of his face and brought it down to his side in a fluid motion, an imitation of what Darth Vanquil had done to begin their duel.

Instead of drawing his own blade, Darth Vanquil simply laughed and clapped. “Impressive Darth Umbravon! Most impressive! I see I did not make a mistake in choosing you as my apprentice. You have truly learned to overcome your fears and doubts, and for that, you are a much stronger warrior, and a much greater Sith Lord.”

Darth Umbravon basked in his master’s praise and his own feelings of victory as he deactivated the lightsaber in his hand and clipped it to his belt. “Does this mean I am worthy of knowing what grand task you have in store for us?”

“Not yet,” Darth Vanquil replied after a moment of consideration. “But soon. For now I seek to expand my power base, and that includes my list of allies.”

“What did you have in mind?” Darth Umbravon asked curiously.

“Right now, I am seeking a Sith Alchemist, and a few other non-aligned Sith to help us fight our battles,” Vanquil replied. “Once we have those allies, we can expand further from there.”

“I have four Sith Acolytes in mind whom I could persuade to join us,” Darth Umbravon replied.

Vanquil’s mouth once more curled upwards in a smile. “I know you do,” Darth Vanquil replied. “And I can tell you’re looking forward to continuing to work with them.”

High King Droogie

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