As promised yesterday, here is another part of my Star Wars shortie. The next one will most probably go up on Sunday.
Reminiscence of a Blade
The autopilot indicated a few light-years of distance, and even with the jump to hyperspace, the remaining parsecs would require a good number of hours. That was well and good with Darth Wraith: his project required time.
By sheer coincidence, or maybe it was will of the Force, he had commandeered a supply ship full of droids parts. This was probably a maintenance ship and a supply of materials was exactly what Wraith needed. The knowledge of how to construct a lightsaber had never left him, not after all those days of research and labour General Grievous had allowed him to keep his synthetic crystals; a grave mistake on the cyborg’s part. Now was to time to see whether the meditation Wraith spent on them paid off or not. They were so in tune with the Force inside Wraith that they could now be considered a part of him, his life force.
The first thing he did on the ship, right after the Hyperspace jump, was disable all monitoring devices and security droids. He tampered with two astromechs, setting them on a scavenger hunt for the parts he needed and monitoring the bridge. Wraith had things to do: he sat cross-legged in a large open room, littered with workbenches and storage closets. A pile of junk sat in front of his lap, still untouched from when the droid dumped them there. Wraith closed his eyes and the room buzzed to life. Machines whirred to life and components flew to different machines, being cut, formed and shaped to Wraith’s mental designs. It took a couple of hours but the lightsaber components began taking shape, until floating around the room, orbiting one man, were two identical deconstructed lightsabers. It was nearly done: Wraith brought them hovering in front of his face and peeled his eyes open. The workman ship seemed solid enough, especially for his design. These would be a different pair from the plain old ones he’d used before. Still maintaining the sleek black design, the skeletal hilts had hints of chrome at decorative intervals. A thin filament of transparent casing ran from top to bottom on two sides, showing the inner workings of the crystal inside. This also showed energy when he channelled the Force through his weapon. It was a purely aesthetic design, similar to the intimidating and flamboyant designs of the Sith Inquisitors during the days of the Old Republic. In addition, a small chrome emitter guard now prevented his weapon from being disabled again.
He levitated the four crystals and inserted them inside their chambers, enfolding them inside the components. The crystals hummed with power when touched by Wraith’s Force, and soon the constructed weapons buzzed alive, yet still unignited. He attached both hilts together into a saberstaff and settled the weapon into his hands. It felt oddly familiar, as if the final piece of the puzzle had been put in its place and he ignited the weapon. He felt warmth inside him as he gazed at the crimson blade. It was still red, albeit a slightly different hue than he remembered. He ran the Force through the weapon, a slight effort on his part given that this weapon was already an intimate part of him, and saw power running through the weapon from the transparent strips on the hilt. He smiled. His weapon was ready; it was now time to remember his training.
He centred himself and meditated with the lit blade. Eight months of prison, with not so much as a fork available, would have certainly eroded his sword skills. He was going to challenge a master swordsman, a Sith with the title “Bringer of Death”. Mortris had razed entire cities and cut swathes of warriors, men, women, children and elderly. In his prime he was a lightsaber-wielding Grim Reaper. In his later years, he had enlightened himself to the Force, devolving into obscure rituals and powers. Whilst he had reduced the amount of bloodshed he created with his lightsaber, he still led entire campaigns and conquered with both sword and sorcery. At one point he had completely eradicated a moon. He was a beast, an ace up the Sith Empire’s sleeve.
Wraith had decided to destroy that ace, he was going to make some really unpleasant enemies. He pushed those thoughts from his mind. He had to survive the duel first.
He felt the Centre of Being meditation take effect. He could clearly see the movements: what’s more, he could feel them, his muscles remembering the strain for each move. He allowed his thoughts to wander, slowly reliving the memories of his training. He had found the first form, Chii-Sho, easy enough to master, until his master begin sparring with him, always setting the bar a little higher. He was also exposed to other styles, in hopes of creating his own fighting style. He remembered the delicate steps of Makashi and how he hated that second form. The sequences were too complicated and limited: how could such a linear form have so many twists and shifts? His master liked this form and tried, in vain, to pass on this enthusiasm on to his apprentice. His master’s large build was enough to turn the usually weak strikes of Makashi into moderately powerful blows in their own right. During their sparring session the apprentice had favoured Soresu, the third and most defensive of forms, against his master’s blade work. Wraith remembered the fourth form, Ataru; he had particularly enjoyed performing the acrobatics and wild strikes of the form, relishing in the power as most young apprentices do. Mortris like this form too; swooping down on opponents after cornering them. The master had been keen on instructing this form and its successor, the fifth form Shien. This was Mortris’s main form of combat. He employed the Djem So subset, bringing this blade down with crushing force. The apprentice did not have the physique for this form, yet still employed Shien, alternating between the orthodox and unorthodox grip to confuse the opponent, whilst raining blows. Later on, he would go on the study the tactics of Sith Shien. The sixth form, Niman, was difficult to learn. The integration of force powers with lightsaber tactics was something Wraith had struggled with for a very long time. Aside from the very basics, he hadn't progressed much. But all this changed when he expressed an interest in the double bladed lightsaber. His master had made him practice Jar’Kai, the art of wielding dual blades, until Wraith’s body developed the flexibility necessary to always employ an offence and counter offence. But it was the seventh form, Juyo, which peaked Wraith’s interest most. His master had instructed him in the basic philosophy of Juyo but refused to delve deeper in his tuition of the form. According to him, Juyo practitioners relished in the baser emotions of the Dark Side and it was easy to lose one’s reason and awareness in the midst of battle. And, despite common perception of the Sith, Mortris had emphasized that reason was the only way to truly grasp the philosophy of the Sith and unlock their secrets. Mortris had made his dislike for the Juyo clear and berated Wraith every time he used it during their sparring sessions. But like every other young rebel, Wraith still kept practising in secret, hiding the swift, short brutal strikes inside other forms, namely Shien and Ataru.
He had always felt that he had never been allowed to fight at his full potential; he had thought that he could give his former master a run for his money if he had been allowed to fully delve in his own style. But he knew now, enlightened and wiser, that it was nothing but hubris. He also knew that memory alone was not going to win any battles. He had nearly a year’s erosion to restore in the matter of a few hours.
The ship emerged from Hyperspace and the world of Korriban came into full view. Wraith switched off the engines and went back for a final sparring session with the assassin droid he had found on-board This time he would fight to his full ability, and if the droid ceased to function, he would use another until he ran out of droids. As he faced his opponent, he saw every flaw in the technique and how to exploit it. He was also aware of his limitations, and used the Force to overcome them. He rushed in and the droid’s stun baton clashed against his lightsaber, which was set on its lowest possible setting, enough to give it a proper shape. The weapons clashed and the proper rehabilitation began.