Star Wars: Aberrant Cause

Epilogue

Near an ancient ruin on an ancient planet, a black ship sat lifelessly in the overgrown plant life. The passage of time had not been kind to it. Its hull had diminished and its components sparked against the darkness of the jungle. Accumulated damage had taken away its ferocity and its ammunition batteries were bare. The jungle was slowly devouring the ship.

It did not seem to care.

In the distance, sounds of rustling were drawing near. Small beasts scurried into the underbrush and the howling of distant animals echoed through the trees. Out from the jungle came a hooded figure, moving gracefully and with purpose. It halted next to the ship, showing its reverence, then slowly laid an affectionate hand across its hull.

"How are you holding up, N4?" asked a soft voice.

"Voice print print, identified-ied. Command code seven-four-two, sub-line eight-nine-nine. Command code seven-four-five-five, access priority level level one. Command code..." the ship stuttered, the voice echoing from a comlink in the figure's robes. The ship continued to stutter and the figure let a sigh escape her lips.

Rolling back the hood, Aveyla looked up at the ship with sad eyes.

If only Saz were here...

A tremor rippled through the air. The Force was once again strong in her senses and she looked to the distant ruins, sensing it completely. The woman slipped her hand from the ship and darted back into the jungle, following her senses.

Soon she was walking through the crumbling arches of the ruin, finding a narrow pathway into an inner courtyard, where ancient relics and fallen columns littered the ground, all swallowed by centuries of plant growth. The sensations were growing stronger and the sound of stone grinding on stone approached, making the woman outstretch her hand to her side, where a red-bladed shoto lifted to it from the inside of her robes.

A shadow lumbered from the bowels of the ruin. Then another. Another. They were stone guardians, as ancient as the ruin itself, and moving by some unknown force. They carried ancient stone weapons that glowed with strange crystals at their end, which one used to fire an energy bolt at the her. Aveyla countered effortlessly, sending the bolt into the sky with her shoto.

Each of the guardians then raised a glowing weapon. They all began to fire on her at once.

From the inside of her robes two objects darted out and erupted into four glowing blades, deflecting the bolts just proficiently as she was with her shoto. They circled her in a torrent of colored flashes, intercepting any shot that might harm their master. In the midst of the assault, one of the satellites swing widely in an arc to slice one of the guardians in two, then curved back to continue the defense. A moment later, the other followed suit and dispatched two more. As more guardians fell, the quicker she moved to defeat the rest and the last was silenced by a large column being toppled onto it, even as the woman was walking further into the ruins.

Entering another room, where the ceiling had partially collapsed and let the sunlight in, Aveyla stopped. The two satellite modules of her lightsaber orbited her silently and her shoto was in hand, but inactive. She stared up at a large stone golem, carved by an unknown species and looming as yet another guardian of a dead ruin.

As if reacting to her, the golem lurched, then moved from its dusty alcove. In its massive hand was a long, stone cylinder, with a crystal at its end similar to the smaller guardians. The golem took a lumbering step forward, then paused as a large, blue blade erupted from the weapon.

Aveyla was calm. Holding her shoto out, the two satellite modules whipped around and aligned themselves to it, then slowly moved in place at its end. The completed lightsaber then burst a beautiful, golden blade from its end, and the Twi'lek moved gracefully into a Makashi stance.

As if it had waited for her, the golem then struck first, bringing around its massive blade to her. The golden lightsaber blocked the strike with extreme resiliency. The golem moved to strike again, its blows powerful and with a speed that defied its size. Aveyla once more defended, then parried with a strike of her own, but was denied.

The duel was quick and fierce, but void of any flashy acrobatics and unnecessary movements. The golem was strong and quick, but Aveyla was graceful and agile, avoiding its strikes with prowess and skill.

A wide strike from the golem cleaved a solid stone column in two, but its reach was extended and Aveyla thrust forward, impaling her blade through the very heart of the automaton. But the blow was not fatal and the golem simply swung its blade back and forced her to retreat.

As she leapt back, she realized her lightsaber had been claimed by the stone. It rested in its heart, trapped by an unknown force. The golem did not hesitate. Its weapon raised high, it brought the full force of its strength down on her in a perfectly formed strike. Even with her weapon, such a blow might have shattered her defense, but Aveyla did not move and the blade came crashing down on her. The force of the blow sent a shockwave of dust from the center of the room, thrashing her robes violently, but she remained defiant of it, standing tall before its might.

A breath away from her head, the blade was stopped.

The golem struggled against the power of the Force and its arms were completely frozen. Aveyla closed her eyes and raised out her hand. Her lightsaber slowly retracted from its stone prison, and floated away from the golem and into her waiting palm. The stone giant then lifted from the ground in front of her, awkwardly trying to gain traction, and began to buckle at the weak points in its construction. Using the Force, Aveyla crushed the golem, where it fell before her as a heap of stone, resembling what much of the ruin had become in the centuries of reclamation.

Aveyla opened her eyes and exhaled, looking to the defeated giant.

Then, she moved on.

In the inner sanctum of the ruin, she found a glowing cube suspended over a markedly clean alter. The sight made Aveyla hesitate, for something was prickling her senses and breaking her calm.

From behind the alter, a small shadow emerged and Aveyla was instantly on the defense, her lightsaber raised and her eyes flashing. The power she sensed from the shadow was greater than any and all of the stone guardians combined, or anything she had every encountered.

For the first time in a long while, she felt unbridled fear.

"Your weapon, you will not need it," said a croaking voice.

The small shadow raised up a calm hand, and the blade of her lightsaber suddenly burst into an explosion of light, and was gone. Aveyla was taken aback and her arm fell to her side, her lightsaber silent and useless. She had never heard of such an ability and felt that her intuition about the shadow had been frighteningly accurate.

"Who are you?" she asked, her voice almost failing.

An amused laughter filled the ancient air, sending chills down her back and tremors through her knees. It was not fear, exactly, that she felt so thoroughly, but rather intimidation and uncertainty, for she felt no malevolent will from the other. A few rays of light crept through the broken structure and revealed a glimpse of the shadow to her, and she was surprised by it, though it casually presented itself with all of the prominence of a deity and greeted her as though it had known her for more than ten lifetimes.

"Who you are...the question is."

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