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His master was not happy.
“Again. Focus. Do not let your own vitality turn against you,” he crackled from behind the shadows. The apprentice bowed, his eyebrows twitching in frustration. Why couldn't this old Muun ever speak in straight lines?
He reset the droid with a quick push on the control panel on his wrist and held his unignited lightsaber aloft. The droid stirred to life, ignited its own lightsaber and the two combatants locked blades. The apprentice was familiar with this training module: he had beaten it dozens of times, twice in a row if his latest attempts could be taken into consideration. Swipe, swipe, parry, strike, block, re-direct and strike once more. The droid gained a new scar on its left collarbone. He kept sparring with the droid, fluidly transitioning from one sequence to another. His mind, trained to be open to the Force, warned him of . . . something. He altered his step, swathing his lightsaber through the droid’s large clamp-like fingers, causing the severed joints and weapons to fall. Using the Force, the apprentice grabbed the lightsaber and performed a double strike, bifurcating the droid.
Something still felt off and a small smile creeping on his master’s lips confirmed his suspicion. A slight whirring behind him made the apprentice spin, both lightsabers at the ready. Three turrets aimed each of their double barrels at him and let out a stream of laser.
“Battle awareness,” croaked the master. He would harp upon this concept day after day, training session after training session. His master had described it as a form of active battle meditation: having complete awareness and control over all aspects of the battlefield. His master had stressed that he must use all means to gain the upper hand and survive. And that meant being victorious.
The apprentice used both lightsabers to block the laser from the turrets. He was on open ground, with no cover from the fire. Had he not gained a second lightsaber, increasing his defenses, he would have been overwhelmed. He covered himself, twirling the blades to shield his body and allowed himself to listen. The whole process only lasted a few seconds but the apprentice grasped the timing of the turrets. Abruptly he threw both lightsabers at the turrets on his sides, impaling the constructs. At the same time he channelled the Force, increasing his speed and ran toward the turret directly in front of him. He zigzagged widely avoiding the laser and when he was close enough he used the Force to grip and crush the control matrix on the turret. With a smug attitude he walked to towards his master, Force pulling both lighsabers and tossing the droid’s weapons back at what was left of it. He knelt in front of his master.
“Good, good. An impressive use of the basic repertoire of the Force.” It was a rare praise from his master, but it was heartfelt. The apprentice smiled, happy to have pleased his mentor.
“But maybe it’s time you faced a real challenge. One that stakes your life.” Before the apprentice could react, his lightsaber was yanked from his side and into his master’s awaiting hand. From the nearby stream of running water, a gush of water surged towards his face. The water engulfed his head, threatening to drown him. Panic coursed through him and his mind was tethering on the edge, soon to plunge into panic. He needed to breath but ha could never break his master’s Force powers. He focused all his power on creating a small bubble of air covering his mouth and nostrils, allowing him to breathe dregs of foul, stale air. But air nonetheless.
“You can’t resist me forever. You must take action,” said the master. The apprentice agreed. Action was needed, and immediately. But he couldn’t attack. Not against his master; not against someone with such vast power. With his air supply at an end, he tried to remember some sort of power, Force or otherwise, that could help him in this situation. But his master had only taught him the basics. He hadn’t even shown him how to operate the droid or open the holocrons.
The answer was now clear. He needn’t fight his master’s Force powers: not with the technique he had in mind. He took one last breath and released his hold. Water invaded every orifice of his face. The apprentice committed himself to the Force and then let go. He released all hold he had on the Force coursing through his body, the very life in his body. Slowly his body began to slow down, shutting down and ceasing function. The apprentice soon fell unconscious, but left a small portion of the Force, warning him if anyone approached him.
The Master felt the Force leave his apprentice and released his hold on the water. His apprentice fell unconscious on the ground, his skin paler than usual. The master sensed no life in his student. Should he attempt to heal or even resurrect him? He needed the boy after all. The aged Muun approached the fallen apprentice cautiously.
As the master approached, slowly closing the distance, the apprentice’s eyes snapped open and abruptly sat up. The master halted his step, puzzled. The Force surged once more through the apprentice, who got to is feet and pulled his lightsaber from is master’s grasp. Anger clouded his mind, bolstered by the fear of nearly dying. His entire life, he had been taught that anger and hate are what give power, and that is how he must use the Force. He relished in the power and lit his lightsaber, angrily bringing the blade down on his mentor.
But the plasma sword never connected with the aged Muun. Having used the Force to block the swing and push away his apprentice, the master let out a bellicose laugh which echoed throughout the cave.
“Morichro. I see you wasted no time in examining the holocrons I got from the Jedi Temple. It takes quite some skill to use such a technique. However you’re far from mastering it. Seeing as you’re still half-dead.” The apprentice got to one knee and still clutched his lightsaber.
“Consider this is your graduation,” said the master. “It is our way to slay our own mentors. But it is also our way to learn all our masters have to offer before slaying them.” The master extracted his own lightsaber and hovered the blade over the apprentice’s head.
“This is the Sith way. Rise now. You are the Sith apprentice to Darth Mortris.” The apprentice rose to face his master and gave a court bow. Mortris spun and began walking away.
“Come now, my apprentice. I have a mission for you.”