Fire on Malachor
“It looks like at one time, thousands of years ago, Jedi Knights attacked the temple.”
“And the Jedi won, right?”
“From what I can tell, nobody won...”
- Ahsoka Tano and Ezra Bridger in the Sith Temple on Malachor, a few years before the Battle of Yavin IV.
The vision was same. He had experienced it so many times he memorized it by heart, and yet, every time, he still played it out as if it was brand new.
He stood dry in a field of swaying grass and bristling trees. His eyes watched from under his dry hood, unaware of the darkened clouds and distant thunder overhead.
Before him was the slender visage of a woman. Her back faced him as she knelt over a small mound, water drops falling and sinking into the dirt.
Like every other time, he saw the woman stand from the mound. Her hands over her eyes, but water seeped between the fingers. However, as she removed her hands, fear coursed through his body when he saw the liquid leaking from her eyes. The color was not clear.
It was red.
And like every time before, he ran forward as the woman slowly faded into the distance. Hand reaching out, he called out to her, begging her to stay.
This time, as he ran, a voice called for him.
“... Master, wake up!”
He responded to the high-pitched, worried voice with a low groan as he stirred. The first thing his eyes saw was a girl staring down at him. Her brown, freckled face, framed by the long braids of her hanging dark hair, made her half his age, perhaps in her twenties.
“Master Jast?” she asked again, the expression on it was what he could describe as relief at his own well-being.
Jedi Knight Cor Jast stared up at his Padawan with a hand pressed to his brow, his fingers brushing against his dark curls. “Li’ana, what happened?” he asked, his deep voice weighed by age.
“There’s no time,” Li’ana told him with great urgency. “We need to go now!”
Cor wordlessly let a pair of hands heave him up on his feet. The legs of the noble Jedi Knight wobbled and his feet staggered on some hard and rocky. His green eyes faded in and out, only catching glimpses of shadowy rock and distant flashes of multiple colors sparkling everywhere. “Hold on, master,” Liana’s voice cut through his clouded senses.
Cor focused on it, and he found her. His Padawan stood there, trying to help him stand. There was also something else. A flash of red loomed behind, as a figure in black drew itself closer.
The Jedi’s mind blared with warning, and he called on the Force. One hand shoved the Padawan aside, and a familiar metal cylinder flew into his other hand. On instinct, Cor thumbed the button, and a bright green glow filled his vision. As the dark figure ran and brought down his red glow, Cor sprinted forward, and letting the Force guide him, swung.
The sickening sound of searing flesh filled Cor’s ears, and a flash enveloped his vision. The red glow faded and figure in black collapsed on the ground.
As Cor stood to his full height, the green glow cleared into the blade of a lightsaber. His hand grasped the golden hilt, and his fingertips brushed the metal of the lateral vents, from which two smaller blades formed the crossguard. He lowered his weapon, casting its light over the dark cloth of a Sith at his feet and revealing the shocked face of a young man, no older than Li’ana.
There was more. Cor could hear them all around him. Screams of the dying, the distorted crash of lightsabers upon one another, and rocks exploded or were crushed by the hiss of a lightsaber blade or the deep purr of the Force. Wanting to find more, he blinked the weariness from his eyes.
Bodies were the first thing he saw. Many were sprawled over the rocky ground, or the obsidian stone of obelisks and other monuments, some in a Jedi’s brown tunic, or a Temple guard’s white uniform, and others in dark Sith cloth. Further down were more similarly dressed bodies, very much alive and fighting each other. Several lightsabers-red, green, blue, and others-clashed, lighting up the underground dwelling like bright stars in space.
Cor’s gaze gaze trailed up the long walls and the hole-littered ceiling until it fell on the gigantic pyramid lying in the background. It stood over the battle like a watching colossus, and the red tip shone under the large ray of light coming from the hole above. A dark presence burned from inside the pyramid, stirring Cor’s memories.
Malachor, Cor remembered. This planet was Malachor. The Sith had been held up under its surface, building a superweapon that could destroy life in the galaxy. And he and Li’ana, like the other Jedi, were here to put a stop to it.
Looking over his shoulder, Cor asked, “Are you alright?” His Padawan nodded. “Where are the others? Did they go on without us?”
Li’ana hesitated, then answered somberly, “We were shot down when we tried to land... we’re all that’s left.”
Cor tried to suppress the sadness welling inside of him, and the faces of his fellow Jedi quickly came to him. Many of them were his comrades and others, the Padawans anxious for battle, were smiling at him, so sure they would survive the battle. And now, there were all gone.
′There is no death, there is the Force,′ Cor echoed the last line of the Jedi Code, pushing away the sadness.
Glancing back at Li’ana, he said, “Stick close to me, and we can survive this.”
The Jedi rushed into battle with Li’ana in tow. Sparks of clashing lightsabers flooded in every direction, and more corpses became evident with every step that brought them closer were more.
Already, there was a conflict in front of them, a white-clad Jedi Temple Guard barely blocking blows from two red lightsaber-wielding foes. Within moments of coming close, the Temple Guard was cut down and his yellow saber died with him, leaving the Sith pair stand victorious.
The element of surprise on his side, Cor charged at the two Sith, the green lightsaber blurred over the flaps of his Jedi tunic. He swung and the green blade slashed through one of the unsuspecting Sith. Under the hood was a look of surprise before the Sith’s two halves fell to the ground.
One Sith down, Cor swung at the other. A spark lit up, one of many, and the black mask of the Sith met Cor’s gaze. The intersecting red and green blades reflected off the T-shaped visor, and behind it were a pair of yellow eyes glowing with hate. Cor pushed his blade against the Sith’s with a little grimace.
The Sith replied back with a loud growl and a sudden surge of great strength that shoved the Jedi back. Cor staggered and swung widely, blocking a red slash. When he caught his footing, he stepped back and the red blade struck the ground his feet once stood on. A swell of dark anger from the Sith pushed against Cor’s mind, and he tried to duck another wide slash.
Cor saw the Sith struck. The red saber collided with a blue blade, not green, specifically one of the smaller crossguard blades. The blue lightsaber, held in Li’ana’s hand, trapped the red between the crossguard extensions and the main blade. With a twirl, Li’ana sent the red weapon out of the Sith’s grasp.
Cor saw the opportunity and threw his saber past his pupil. The green shaft ran the Sith through the chest before it return into the Knight’s hand. As the Sith fell with the other corpses, Li’ana joined her master’s side. “Are you alright?!” she shouted over the sounds of battle.
Fatigue gnawed at Cor’s mind, and an inaudible curse left his lips. “I’m fine,” he tried to assure Li’ana.
It was a lie, Cor knew. He was not at full strength, not after surviving that ship crash. He had to pretend, though, just for a little while longer.
“Master, more Sith!” Cor heard his Padawan.
As Li’ana said, the lights of red sabers, ten of them, rushed towards their position to encircle the two Jedi. Cor quickly stood straight and tightened his grip on his saber. “Li’ana, get ready,” he told his pupil, who positioned behind him.
Cor sensed a wave of confidence from Li’ana, and that alone made his fatigue bearable. Taking in a deep breath, he allowed the Force to course through his senses and prepare for the incoming attacks. He stood side-by-side with his pupil, both holding their sabers defensively against oncoming Sith.
In a split second, the hums of red sabers grew louder and buzzed through the air. The ten warriors in black came in close, readying for what they thought would be an easy kill. Cor had other plans in mind.
“Now!” Cor shouted to his student.
Li’ana reacted instantly with a swift charge. Cor leapt high over her blade, which struck low. Instead of his own feet, Li’ana sliced through the ankles of a surprised Sith, who fell on his own saber. Cor fell atop another Sith like a bird of prey, running through the dark warrior as he landed back on the ground. Caught off guard by the flashy maneuver, the remaining Sith second-guessed themselves and tumbled out of formation.
Cor and Li’ana took advantage of their confusion. Cor nodded to his Padawan and used the Force to launch her to a Sith removed from the rest. Li’ana twirled her lightsaber as she floated past the Sith, slicing their neck open. The dark clad foe fell to the ground, placing a hand over their glowing hot wound on their way to the ground.
After Cor saw Li’ana land on her two feet, he regrouped with her. “Seven left...” Li’ana remarked.
Cor eyed the Sith warriors, still in disarray. “Keep up the pressure,” Cor said, and feeling another surge courage from his student, added, “And don’t get cocky.”
Li’ana nodded, her grin fading. “Right!”
The seven remaining Sith charged right towards Cor and Li’ana, lightsabers swinging in a maddeningly beautiful display of crimson. “Form III,” Cor instructed, as he had in many sparring sessions.
Taking positions, master and padawan executed their knowledge of the defensive lightsaber form. As Cor blocked high and right, Li’ana block low and left. Together, they parried and blocked one brutal swing after another in a wall of green and blue.
One of the Sith aggressors slammed his saber against Li’ana’s. The attack broke through that once-impenetrable wall, and Cor found himself separated from his apprentice and at the mercy of four red blades. He moved his blade all over to protect himself from the wild blows, not trying to lose any more ground than he already had. Li’ana herself was doing the best she could, dodging and backing away the wide swings of the three Sith.
After slapping away another strike to his shoulder, Cor noticed Li’ana backing away from her opponents. Her eyes met with his briefly, and Cor saw her freehand go to her saber arm. Li’ana’s two fingers and thumb tapped her forearm, and Cor quickly caught on.
He went from defense to offense. Dodging a quick swipe at his head, Cor summoned enough Force energy and pushed with both hands. His four assailants were pushed back, enough to make some space between them.
As Cor ran towards his pupil, Li’ana had kept a hand behind her back and oriented her blade for a counterattack. Her blue blade blurred forward and sniped at the crossguard blades of one Sith’s saber, hitting a lateral vent. The poor Sith holding the saber had sparks fly into his face, searing through his mask and into his flesh.
His two comrades, taken aback, left were open as one of them were impaled upon Li’ana’s blade. The other, Cor had beheaded with a swift stroke. Now, there were only the five chasing him, the sixth was left writhing on the ground, too incapacitated to fight. Cor turned back around and readied his saber for the oncoming Sith.
Cor parried and batted away a few strikes before he heard Li’ana shout, “Master, the obelisk!”
Cor almost grinned at his student’s quick thinking. The nearby obsidian obelisk, covered in Sith inscriptions, began to fall as Li’ana severed it at its base. Stepping in with her, Cor pulled at the obelisk, while Li’ana pushed with the Force, and the two hurled it at the Sith.
Only one out of five managed to dodge. The obelisk crushed the rest, cracking bones and silencing cries. The one Sith had come back up, but Cor swiftly cut down the foe.
With the battle seemingly over, he welcomed the sight of Li’ana, as well as her swell of pride, by his side. But before either could celebrate their victory, they noticed the cry of the Sith. It was the very same Sith whose lightsaber Li’ana destroyed. He laid in front of the Jedi, writhing in pain as trails of smoke came off his face. The Sith’s hood was removed, and Cor and Li’ana were shocked to see black scorch marks eating away at what had once been a man’s face.
The two Jedi stood watched the Sith roll on the ground. He crawled toward them slowly and raised a pleading hand to Li’ana. “H-help... me...” the Sith croaked the through the hissing and crackling of his own skin.
Li’ana’s face showed uncertainty, and Cor sensed her urge to help the poor Sith. From the Sith, he sensed only malevolence. “Li’ana, don’t!” Cor warned, yet she had already taken a step towards the dying man.
What happened next went by quickly. Within one step, the Sith grabbed Li’ana by the ankle, catching her by surprise. Before she had a chance to scream, the Sith raised his damaged saber in his other. Cor held his lightsaber to strike, but a yellow shaft of plasma skewered the Sith’s chest.
The Sith wailed as death claimed him. Li’ana quickly freed her ankle and backed away to her master. Cor placed a hand on her shoulder. “Li’ana... are you okay?”
Li’ana simply swallowed and nodded, still staring at the dead Sith who assaulted her. Standing over the corpse, was another Jedi Temple Guard, masked and garbed in white. He removed his yellow saberstaff from the Sith and asked Cor, “Are you alright?”
“We are,” answered Cor, who momentarily glanced at his pupil then to the Temple Guard. “I am Master Jast, and this is my Padawan, Li’ana. And you?”
More Jedi, less than a dozen Temple Guards, Knights, and even Padawans, gathered around. As they did, the Temple Guard whom Cor addressed proudly answered, “I am Master Ikir, and this is my division. We’ve managed to break through the Sith’s lines. Already, our knights are reaching the top of the pyramid.”
Cor held in a sigh of relief. “How many?”
Another Jedi, a woman with a blindfold over her scarred eyes, replied, “At least a dozen or so. Many more are on their way now.”
“This is too easy!” proclaimed the boy by Ikir, a blond Padawan with a toothy face. “We’ll win this in no time!”
Li’ana had beaten Cor to scolding the young Jedi. “The battle’s not over yet,” she snapped with a glare that silenced the boy.
“She’s right. We’re far from done,” Ikir cautioned his young ward and the others around him. “Our other brothers and sisters will reach the pyramid. It is time we join them. Together, we shall bring this scourge to end! Together, we will-!”
Ikir unexpectedly stopped, and everyone, Cor and Li’ana included, stepped back when they saw a red beam pierce the Jedi’s chest. As he watched Ikir cry in pain, Cor felt it. Anger, grief... sadness. Not from Ikir. From someone else.
The red blade slid out, allowing Ikir to pass onto the Force. Any living Jedi near the thing stepped aside and watched, Cor especially, as it flew past them and into the waiting dark glove of a Sith. This one strode in, flanked on either side by a dozen or so more of her allies bearing red blades and black hoods. She, everyone saw from the outline of her dark tunic, held her saber forward, showing herself to be the leader of the small group.
Cor was shocked to see red lines ran on either side of the Sith’s dull grey mask, like tears of blood, as the Sith herself kept her dark visor on the Jedi crowd. Her red blade pointed at every Jedi, choosing which one to kill next. Like a moving pinwheel, it moved until it finally came to a stop...
... right at Cor.
The Sith woman spoke, loud for her minions and everyone else to hear. Her voice was modulated by her mask and came out in a distorted, gravelly echo. “Kill the others. That Jedi is mine.”
The Sith underlings obeyed their mistress’ command and charged at the other Jedi. Cor had barely enough time process what was going on before he blocked a wild slash. The force of the blow sent Cor reeling back. He caught himself and locked blades with the Sith woman, who had her eyes on him. Cor’s knees buckled under the Sith’s might, and breaking the lock, he dodged a blow that would have sliced off his shoulder.
“Master!” Cor heard Li’ana as she was about to run to him.
“Stay out of this!” Cor shouted.
As Li’ana stopped in her tracks, Cor kept his eyes on the Sith. She stood a few paces away, blade held to her side, and behind her mask came out a sickly cackle. She said, “‘Master?’ Already, you have another apprentice?!”
The Sith lady struck upon the last word. Cor was better prepared, and he parried the swing and the rest that came after. Sparks showered everywhere as Cor fended off the Sith’s strikes. Cor shifted his feet around to gain some space. His opponent come in closer, keeping the Jedi on the defense.
“Don’t worry,” the Sith hissed sarcastically as she continued her attack, “my men will take good care of her.”
In spite of being in a fight, Cor looked out of the corner of his eye. Li’ana was still standing there, watching, and ignorant of a red blade coming towards her. “Li’ana, watch out!” Cor shouted.
Liana turned and caught the red blade with her own. Sparks flashes as she fended off her opponent. Cor was tempted to help his pupil when he crossed blades with the Sith woman again. “Eyes on me. I don’t want to keep you lonely,” she purred as she pushed on their locked sabers.
Cor grimaced and leaned back to keep his head from the intersecting blades. The heat of the plasma stung against his skin. To make matters worse, the gnawing fatigue came back. Cor knew he couldn’t keep up for long.
In a daring move, Cor switched off his saber. The main blade and two smaller ones retracted into the hilt, and the Sith fell forward in surprise while Cor sidestepped his enemy. As the Sith caught herself, Cor retreated again and used the Force to fling nearby stones at his Sith. One rock hit her in the shoulder, and the rest were quickly cut down by her red saber.
Now, Cor went on the attack. He aimed for the shoulder, the legs, and the right arm in swift, broad strokes. The Sith dodged the first and blocked the rest with ease, just like he predicted. Cor kept his eyes peeled as he barraged the dark woman with strike after strike, cut after cut. Every attack, the Sith had blocked and parried without taking a step back.
Cor had his assessment. The Sith’s style had not changed, not by much. She used aggressive attacks, powering through her opponent, and would lash out, if provoked enough. To prove his theory, Cor stepped up his offense. He arced his saber down on the Sith’s blade protecting her head. He twirled his wrist to redirect the next blow at his foe’s leg. Again, she blocked it, with weaker force, and Cor took the advantage in delivering a well-placed kick to the Sith’s side.
Just as he predicted, the Sith retaliated with with a ferocious lunge. Cor held his ground and caught the attack on one of his crossguard blades. He redirected the red blade off to his right, far away from himself, then he swung. When the Sith ducked, Cor spun on his heel as he kicked her in the stomach.
The Sith’s efforts to block it sent her back. Her feet skidded on the ground as she came to a stop, and she would have fallen if she had not catch herself. The Sith stood and glared, her saber hand still attached to her body.
Falling back on his previous tactic, Cor flung more rocks, heavier ones, at the Sith. Though grazed, she still raised her hands, and the Force rumbled like a bell as the rocks came to a stop. The rocks were held in mid-air, the telekinetic powers pushing against one another.
Like two similarly magnetic poles pushed together, Cor and his Sith’s power were at a standstill, and neither could overpower the other. “Is this the best you can do?!” The Sith cried out as she tried to overwhelm Cor. “I thought after all these years, you would have improved!”
Cor gritted his teeth against the Sith’s command of the Force. “Funny... I was about to say the same to you!” he quipped, the first thing he had ever said to the Sith since she attacked him.
While holding his ground, Cor kept his senses keen around him. Off to the side, he had seen two Jedi of Ikir’s group fall, joining a Sith who had been previously killed. He felt other Jedi holding their own and even striking a few Sith themselves. While doing so, Cor caught a familiar flash and a Sith lackey in his peripheral vision.
Cor disengaged his push and quickly move to side as the rocks flew back towards his direction. The Sith lackey about to attack Cor could not dodge them and was pummeled by the rocks. Any rocks that missed struck the ground instead and made clouds of dust. The Sith lackey was too busy to notice anything until Cor dismembered his would-be killer’s sword arm.
Sensing a flare of irritation, Cor took a few steps back the lackey. A red lightsaber came out of the smoke and swung, only to miss the Jedi completely. The blade, following the same path, arced across the maimed Sith’s chest. The man barely screamed before he fell, revealing the Sith woman.
“I said he’s mine,” Cor’s real opponent spat at the corpse as she came through the smoke.
Cor stood there, shocked. He was not sure if the strike was for him, the Sith acolyte, or both. He was certain of the rage rolling off the Sith lady, and he knew he needed some space.
Li’ana, Cor recalled. She had to be somewhere. Cor sensed her presence and focused in on it. As he did, he saw Li’ana off to the side, pulling herself away from a duel with a Sith, an acolyte, judging from his clumsy strokes. Wasting no time, Cor rushed to his pupil, and he felt his Sith follow shortly behind, which was what he foresaw.
While some part of him regretted using Li’ana as bait, Cor leaped over the Sith fighting his Padawan and landed on his two feet. He quickly turned to see Li’ana dispatching her Sith with a telekinetic shove. The poor Sith fell in the way of Cor’s Sith, who backhanded him and ignored Li’ana. Cor readied his saber in time for a swipe at his legs.
A sense of deja vu fell over Cor, when he saw Li’ana standing there, watching him defending himself. He eyed her, and somehow, while blocking a stab, shouted, “Li’ana, your left!”
Li’ana reacted like he had taught her, swiftly sidestepping a swing of a Sith and returning with a stab through her enemy’s heart. Withdrawing her saber, Li’ana opened her mouth to speak. Cor cut her off. “Don’t dawdle! Keep them off your back as long as you can!”
“What about you, master?” Liana shouted from her spot.
“I can handle it! Just focus on yourself!” Cor, dodging a swipe at his head, saw Li’ana still staring. “That’s an order, Li’ana!”
Thankfully, Li’ana listened to her master and went her own way, far the wrath of the Sith woman. Cor’s relief was cut short when said Sith woman kicked him in the gut. After stumbling back a bit, Cor stood straight and held his blade with two hands.
The Sith woman stood there, her visor on not Cor for once. “She’s held up her own. Impressive,” she mused as she watched Li’ana retreating over the Sith warriors who fell to the Padawan’s blade.
“I’ve trained her well,” Cor retorted confidently, keeping his own saber steady.
The Sith regarded Cor with her blackened glare. “Yes, but she’s not the first, is she? You’ll probably pass her off like all the others.”
The insult ran deep, but Cor did not show it. He was not that kind of man, though that mattered little to the Sith in front of him. Her only interest was to finish off Cor, which she tried with a quick strike. Cor parried it and quickly fell back into his previous stance. The Sith tried again with multiple strikes, and Cor either parried or blocked them away before resuming the same stance. Cor could not expect the next attack, though.
The Sith woman’s visor stared intently at Cor. “Tell me... do you still dream of that moment?” Cor froze. His silence was all the Sith needed as she continued, “So you do. Well... do you feel anything, now?!”
Cor unfroze and sidestepped a stab. A telekinetic push from the Sith interrupted his attempted blunt strike and sent the Jedi Knight back. Cor was back on the defensive. With the Sith quickly attacking, he only had enough time to dodge and duck. Each attempt to dodge had him take steps back, until his back hit another obelisk.
The Sith charged, and Cor dove to the side. As he watched obelisk, and another Jedi who was in the way, split into two smoldering halves, Cor rose to his feet and locked sabers with the Sith yet again. He half-squinted from the light coming off their intersected blades and somehow managed to hold his own against the Sith’s oppressive strength. He had to keep calm. He had to think clearly, if he was going to survive this.
′There’s no emotion, there is peace,′ Cor told himself, and unintentionally broadcasting it outwards
By the time he realized it, the Sith’s eyes flashed under her dark visor and burned into Cor. “No,” she snarled, “you’re still the same as then. Still, the same, sniveling coward who would let anyone die!”
Something snapped inside of Cor. He twisted his grip and spun his saber’s crossguard blades, grazing his foe’s left arm. The Sith reacted by backing away with a slight hiss.
Their positions had switched again. Cor followed his surprise maneuver with a barrage of wild swings. His Sith counterpart barely blocked his strikes, quickly raising her saber high and low for every attack sent her way. The power behind Cor’s attacks kept the Sith back and on the defensive. She did not seemed to be bothered by it.
“Hah! So you’re not as useless as back then!” the Sith barked after parrying another slash. “Maybe you can save someone, for once!”
By now, the Sith’s words had spread its poison and brought out a fury inside of Cor. As he attacked, the memory he constantly dreamed of replayed itself in his mind. Every single detail. The moving grass. The darkened clouds.
The lone grave.
As the rage swelled in Cor, so did the power in his attacks. He struck on all sides, going in high and low, left, then right. The emotions from that dream, that memory blurred everything, as Cor stabbed brought his saber around for another wide swing. The clash staggered the Sith back, but Cor used the Force to drag her back to him. He brought his blade back around, carrying the momentum of the swing and enhancing it with the Force-
BAM! Green struck red, and the power, the hatred, behind Cor’s attack was enough to knock the red crossguard lightsaber from the Sith’s grasp.
The Sith herself had no time to react. With the Force, Cor sent her hurdling through the air, far from the rest of her underlings and the other Jedi. After the Sith crashed and rolled onto the ground, Cor slowly approached his enemy. His eyes burned with the same intensity as the green saber he held in both his hands.
Raising herself on her arms, the Sith looked up at Cor. “Yes. That’s more like it... And here I thought you didn’t feel anything...” she drawled in a low tone.
Cor continued to walk until he stood over her, his rage brimming to its peak. He switched his saber into a reverse grip and with both hands. “Master!” Li’ana shouted from a distance, and there was a short burst in the Force that powered the emotions-the shock, the kindness-behind her words.
Cor barely heard it. His hands holding his lightsaber shook in anger, as readied himself. Nothing would stop him. Not Li’ana. And not the Jedi Code.
“This ends,” Cor whispered and raised his saber for a final stab.
“Yes, it does,” the Sith snarled as she got on her knees. “Show me true self, Jedi. Show me how you truly care.”
Again, the Sith’s words had infuriated Cor. He was ready to bring his blade down. He was ready to end this threat once and for all, so he brought his saber down...
A second later, Cor stopped.
For that brief second, he did not see the underground cavern of Malachor. None of the obelisks or totems or the Temple. He saw the grassy fields and the cloudy sky. Instead of a lightsaber, an unmoving bundle laid on the ground.
And right in front of him was the woman from his dreams. Her hands and dress, usually stainless were covered in dirt. Cor saw her eyes red with tears as she had placed the bundle into a hole and covered it with more dirt. When she looked up with those tearful eyes, her lips quivered as her voice came out in a small whisper.
“Please... help me...”
Cor gasped as he took a step back and pulled away his saber. His eyes, no longer blazing with anger, were wide with absolute horror of what he was about to do.
Before he realized it, he was back. Back in Malachor. The grass field and the grave were all gone. The woman too was gone, and the Sith sat in her place.
The same Sith who held out her hands and unleashed a powerful blast.
Cor flew off the ground, and his back hit a fallen obelisk. He shook of the weariness to look at the Sith woman, who stood tall and proud. She summoned her saber back into her hand and reignited the fiery blade. “Pathetic,” she hissed, “I thought things would have been different by now.”
Cor did not answer as he sat on one knee. He looked up at the Sith, who signed in faux disappointment and continued, “A shame... Then again, I guess a Jedi can’t ever change. No emotion, after all...”
With that, she approached. Cor held one hand on his saber, ready to fight another bout of flurries and stabs, relaxing his grip this time. He sat there, one knee in the ground, while the Sith approached him like a hunter about to pounce on its prey.
Cor’s sorrowful gaze watched her, and he blurted out, “They’re still the same.”
The Sith stopped in her tracks. “What?” she asked, a hint of surprise betraying her mask of anger.
“You asked if my feelings were the same as back then... Yes, they’re the same. The same regret, and loss. I feel them every time I relive that memory,” Cor admitted. “But I know you have the same dream. You see it, and you feel the same, too.
The Sith froze in place, her blade held off to the side. Seeing how she had not attacked yet, Cor stood on his feet and continued. “I wish I could have done better for you. I wish I was there to help you when...” He closed his eyes to hold in the pain of the memory. “... when our daughter died.”
Silence only answered the Jedi. Cor opened his sad eyes and looked back at the Sith. “It’s not too late. Come back with me. Leave all of this behind. We can start again-”
The Sith swung, cutting Cor off. He blocked her attack and backed away from another wild swing. A wave of heat bristled Cor’s face while the Jedi regained his footing and eyed the Sith.
She stood there, saber at her side. Her entire body shook and trembled in rage, and the Dark Side came off her in waves so powerful Cor was taken aback. “You...” the Sith snarled with the utmost hatred, “... have no right to say that!”
The Sith lunged, and Cor saw a whirlwind of strikes and slashes coming at him. These attacks had no coordination to them, no cohesion. One wild slash after the other hammered at the Jedi, who did his best to bob and weave around the Sith’s onslaught. The air surrounding Cor grew hotter from the saber, as well as the Sith’s wrath.
In the midst of a frantic stab, Sith screeched, “What right do you have?! Did you suffer as I did?!”
The red saber tore through Cor’s defenses and through the cloth of his Jedi tunic. Continuing her offensive, the Sith also continued to wail like a banshee on Cor.
“... Did you feel any anger?!”
Cor ducked under a slash for his head.
Cor let out a gasp as a crossguard blade grazed his right cheek.
Cor winced feeling the Sith’s blade knock his lightsaber out of his hands.
A gloved hand grabbed Cor by his throat, and he was staring at the wild, red eyes beneath the Sith’s black visor. “No!” she seethed. “You felt nothing! And you did nothing!”
Cor gasped for air as the Sith’s grip tightened. He grabbed at the Sith’s arm with one hand, trying to wrench it off his constricting throat, and his other grabbed the Sith lady’s sword arm to stop her from killing him. Struggling, Cor rasped, “Rin... please-”
A kick hit Cor’s right leg, which forced him on his knee. His grip loosened, and the Sith stabbed her saber through Cor’s other knee, wrangling out a yell from him. Pain rippled all over his leg, and Cor, unable to stand any longer, fell on one side.
Cor grasped his hands on his scorching knee. He used the Force to numb the pain the best he could. The Sith looming over him, he could nothing about.
As Cor glanced up, the Sith glared down at him and declared, “My name is Darth Asara... and this is the end for you, Jedi!”
The newly identified Sith as she brought her blade down. However, a familiar blue saber arced in the path of Asara’s attack, and Cor’s eyes widened at his savior.
“Master, are you alright?!” Li’ana shouted, while pushing back the Sith’s strength.
Cor ignored his pain and shouted, “Li’ana, get away! You’re no match for her!”
Li’ana had no time to answer. Asara had broken the saber lock and forced the young Padawan off to the side using a powerful clash. The Sith’s sheer strength pushed Li’ana further away from her wounded master.
Cor got up to help his Padawan, but the sharp pain in his cauterized knee made him collapse. He crawled on the ground as quickly as he could to get to Li’ana. His eyes kept a close eye on her while she was attacked by the Sith Asara.
Her rage venting through her attacks, Asara assailed Li’ana, hacking away at the prim swings and swift cuts. Each strike made Li’ana visibly wince, and her defenses only weakened under constant duress.
Cor crawled faster seeing her defenses weaken. He dug his fingers in the dirt and kicked off with his good leg. “LI’ANA, RUN!” he shouted at the top of his lungs.
It fell on deaf ears. Li’ana evaded and tried to land a hit on the Sith woman. She might have seen an opening, but her thrust was swatted away effortlessly by Asara, who then swung her saber. Cor could see Asara bringing her saber back around, ready to slice Li’ana into pieces. Being so close and open, Li’ana could not evade or block in time. She was defenseless.
Cor reached out with the Force, and when he felt the heat of Asara’s lightsaber, he pushed. Cor had hoped he could misdirect the saber’s path to save his Padawan.
It was not enough.
The red blade cut through flesh, and Liana screamed. Cor barely heard a clink as Li’ana’s deactivated lightsaber hit the ground along with her severed forearm.
From afar, Cor froze, his eyes widened in horror and swarm of other emotions. He saw the Padawan he had trained for years cry out her tears as she grasped at the stump that was once her right arm. Cor wanted to reach out to Liana, to comfort and help her, yet his pain scarred knee prevented him.
Cor was brought back to reality as the black boots of Darth Asara stepped into view. “You should have listened to your master, girl,” Asara growled at the maimed Li’ana.
The fear in Cor’s heart rose. He made an effort to crawl, make some attempt to get closer...
“Wait there,” Asara ordered harshly as she turned and raised her free hand.
A pressure washed over Cor’s body, and the Jedi felt himself frozen. He fought with every ounce to move himself, even if his wound screamed. His attempts were in vain, and he only heard Asara taunting him.
“Don’t worry, I’ll give you what you deserve,” Asara spoke, turning her masked face back to Li’ana, “... but first...”
Cor felt his heart pound with terror as Asara approached the maimed Padawan. And he could not move. He could not anything, save for watch.
Fortunately, his eyes did catch something. A small glint next coming off Li’ana’s saber. Cor saw his own too, lying just a short few steps away from himself. Cor closed his eyes and fell into the Force until he could feel the ridges of Li’ana’s lightsaber.
The weapon jittered on the ground when Cor tried to move it. When moving it some more, the lightsaber rattled on the rocky floor. Never did it even lift off the ground, and Cor would have gritted his teeth at his results if he could. It was not enough
It was Asara, Cor heard. He could feel her standing over Li’ana, hear the sizzle of the red saber while it rose above the Sith’s head. “... you’ll really know what loss is like,” Asara’s voice hissed like a slithering snake.
For what happened next, there was no plan. No rational thought. Only the desire to save Li’ana. His Padawan.
Cor snapped his eyes open, and at last, the blue blade flared to life.
Perhaps for the first time, Asara was taken completely off guard. She clumsily stepped away from Li’ana as the Jedi weapon struck. Asara flailed her strikes at the floating saber, trying to keep it away. Cor, still lying where he was, flicked his free hand, and his saber leapt into the air.
Cor watched his lightsaber twirl while the blade activated. A buzz followed behind a trail of green light that arced towards its target. Li’ana’s blue saber assaulted Asara, turning her focus away from her impending attack. She barely had enough time to turn and see the attack coming at her.
Watching from behind, Cor saw his blade strike Asara. Like a buzzsaw, it cut into her waist and sliced upwards. Li’ana’s saber, still controlled by Cor, struck from her shoulder. Green and blue carved into Asara and emerged from opposite ends in bright flashes.
Cor blinked as he watched his green saber slice up Asara’s face. Sparks flew, and the mask she had worn came off in two smoldering halves. Her hood came down to reveal a long sheet of blond hair that billowed before Asara and her lightsaber collapsed. For a long while, Cor eyed the unmoving form of Asara. The spark of rage lighting the saber seeped out, as did the Sith’s life essence, fading...
... fading into nothingness...
Cor blinked once more, and his gaze fell on Li’ana, who was injured but still alive. He crawled towards his Padawan, chafing his sleeves on the rocks, until he loomed over her. “Li’ana? Li’ana, stay with me!” Cor said, shaking her.
Li’ana, thank the Force, looked back at Cor with her teary eyes. “Master!” she cried. “I-It hurts!”
“I know, I know,” Cor said soothingly, trying to ignore his own wound. “Can you-”
A deep bellow made Cor whirl to a Sith who dropped dead nearby. The young Jedi from Master Ikir’s group, the boy with the toothy grin stepped over the black garbed corpse. “That nearly did me in,” he said in low huffs before noticing Cor. “Master Jast!”
“Help with me her!” Cor called.
The boy came over. His freckled face paled upon seeing Li’ana. “Force... Is she going to be alright?”
Cor did not answer that. “What’s the situation?”
“I... I don’t know. Everyone else was advancing on the temple. I stayed behind to help anyone... That is, if there was anyone else left to-”
Ikir’s Padawan stopped talking, and Cor learned why. Vibrations rocked the ground underneath Cor’s knee, making it ache even more. The worst of it made the Jedi Knight turned his attention from his wound towards the top of the Sith Temple, which was starting to glow brightly.
“Master Jast...” the boy spoke as his eyes were glued to the pyramid.
Cor did not need to answer. He sensed the dark power as well. It came from the Sith Temple like a sudden earthquake. It felt too abrupt to be the precise control of a Sith Mistress. Otherwise, the weapon inside would have been fired by now. Something else was happening-a malfunction, maybe, or an inevitable Sith victory momentarily delayed. Whatever it was, Cor knew none of them, especially Li’ana, should stick around for much longer.
“We need to get out of here. Help me with-gyah!” Cor began, but he rose too quickly on his legs and the pain forced him back on his bad knee.
“Force, your leg!” the boy gasped.
“Don’t worry about me. Get Li’ana!” Cor ordered before the boy could rush to his side.
The boy’s freckled face briefly morphed into hesitation before he obeyed and went over to scoop Li’ana in his arms. Meanwhile, Cor clenched his jaw and slowly rose on his feet. That was when he saw another Sith heading in their direction.
Irritated by his wound and everything else, Cor flicked his wrist. His and Li’ana’s lightsabers soared through the air, attacking the Sith on either side and cutting him into three pieces. The use of the Force while trying to stand was too much. Cor fell on his knees again and seethed. He barely noticed the boy nearby, carrying Li’ana. “Master, we have leave,” said the boy.
“Do you have a ship?” Cor said in his pain.
“There’s one my master uses... I mean used,” the boy explained, pained to remind himself of his master’s demise. “It’s still functional. We can use it to get out of here.”
Cor inhaled to process his thoughts. “No,” he decided. “No, you have to go. Carry Li’ana out of here.”
“Wait! What about you?!”
“My wound’s too great. I can barely move, and I doubt you can carry both my Padawan and myself out.”
That brought an end to the discussion. Cor saw the conflict on the lad’s face, as if debating whether or not to let another person die. He looked to Li’ana in the boy’s arms. After everything that happened, the poor girl’s breathing was faint, and her wound was causing her to fade in and out of consciousness.
“Master...” she uttered faintly.
Cor thinned his lips. “What’s your name, boy?”
“... It’s Ri-an, master,” the boy answered.
“Ri-an,” and Cor looked the boy–Ri-an–in the eye, “promise me you’ll get Li’ana out of here. Keep her safe.”
“I...” Ri-an glanced at Li’ana then back. “I promise.”
A small smile spread across Cor’s face. “Go. More will be coming.”
Ri-an spared a final glance before he left. Cor watched him and Li’ana retreat away from the battlegrounds. He barely saw Ri-an hop atop the jutting rocks on his off before he turned. He could not look at Li’ana again. It would only weaken him.
Cor did spare a glance over to Asara’s fallen form. It hurt to, but he looked. Her limbs were sprawled all over; and her blond hair, once a perfect golden color, dulled at its roots. He only could not see her face, and he was thankful for that. He had already seen enough. He could bare to see the true face, the once unblemished face, of the woman he taught and loved, corrupted by the Dark Side.
He returned his attention back to his wound, the gift from Asara. For all of Cor could do to numb it with the Force, the damage was still fresh, and the pain only eased slightly when he kept still. With only one good leg, it left Cor with very limited movement. It did not help that the Jedi felt exhausted after all that fighting.
′It will be enough,′ and Cor recalled his saber into his hands.
As his saber’s hum filled his ears, Cor laughed in his mind. This was not how he imagined his end would be. During his youth, he saw it at the glorious frontal charge against the Sith, not so far away from the main action. Now, that mattered very little. There were so many regrets, so many emotions that swelled inside of him.
′There is no emotion. There is peace,′ Cor recited.
The hiss of sabers returned Cor to reality. Just as he predicted, there were more Sith, five, coming at him. Their darker emotions-fear, aggression, and rage-alerted the Jedi Knight and almost drowned him. Cor breathed in, exhaled, and waited.
At first, the Sith forces were twenty steps away. Then, fifteen. Ten, eight, six. At five, all the Sith lunged at once, but Cor attacked first.
Cor reached out and pulled with the Force. The incoming Sith, expected to tackle the Jedi, instead collided each other, barring any injuries in the process. In their confusion, Cor arced his blade. A Sith acolyte’s wrist had been severed, and another had his torso sliced in two.
The effect was short-lived, with no bearing on the other three who quickly recovered and went for the lone Jedi. Cor pushed his free hand off the ground and roll. The heat of a Sith blade washed over Cor’s back and hit the ground. As Cor came back up on his good knee, he cut through his throbbing scar.
′No ignorance. There is knowledge,′ he breathed and focused on his defenses.
Three red blades simultaneously flew at him. Cor raised his lonesome saber above his head, blocking two, and the third Cor shoved using the Force. He grimaced, feeling the weight and power of the acolytes strain his scarred knee. In desperation, he summoned the saber of the Sith acolyte whose hand he just severed and ran it through the Sith on the right. Cor turned away from the expression of shock as he forced away the other Sith to join with his ally.
Cor studied the two in front of him. Compared to Asara, the rage he felt from the two Sith was like a meager bolt in a storm. It was effective in trying to penetrate his mind and turning his focus elsewhere. When the two Sith launched themselves, Cor cut through the thin fog of the Dark Side and waited.
Both sabers in hand, Cor readied himself. ′There’s no passion. There’s serenity,′
Suddenly, the ground shuddered, interrupting the battle. The two Sith staggered, and Cor’s wounded knee ached worse than before. Without letting go of either saber, Cor looked up to the Sith Temple again. It was redder than before, and the color was only growing brighter and fiercer. The power inside of the Temple grew, Cor sensed.
He watched and studied the three with him. Agony erupted from the Sith whose hand Cor severed, as the man laid writhing in pain. Of the other two, one looked on, confused of what was happening. He probably said something to his comrade, but there was no answer. Despair lurched from that third Sith, who realized their impending doom.
They all had dreams, no doubt, ambitions their mistress promised to realize. Cor himself had his dreams, once. Now, all of it would all turn to dust. With nothing else left, he centered himself in the Force.
′No chaos. Harmony.′
At last, a bright flaming light erupted from the Sith Temple. It expanded, covering everything and everyone in its path. Oddly enough, Cor thought it was strangely beautiful, so much that he did not notice one of his Sith attackers dashed towards him in hysteria.
Before the red blade came down, Cor closed his eyes. Finding his center in the Force, a feeling of calm washed over him. Without fear or pain, the Jedi Knight relaxed as the bright light engulfed the nearby Sith and himself.
′There is no death. There is-′
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Wannabe_Scholar2Write a Review