Zaryk parried a slash, only to find that it was only a feint as Fecilia lunged for his head, going in for the kill.
Zaryk barely moved his head in time, and as he felt the searing burn of a lightsaber he was certain that he hadn’t moved in time at all. For a brief second, the world went red and the only sound to be heard was the Master Knight’s scream of pain and anguish.
Just as quickly, it was gone. The pain remained, but the sound was virtually gone. His screams had ceased, in the abrupt way that they do on the battlefield. His throat was hoarse, as though he had been screaming for hours.
As Zaryk looked backed to Fecilia- in time to bat away another attempt at his head- he could see that they were suddenly alone. His scream of anguish had blown away the unsuspecting for about 12 meters- they were alone on this section of the roof. He didn’t have a chance to see if any of the troops that he had selected for survival remained- after all, his own chances of survival were getting slimmer by the moment.
If my mission is too important to reveal to Fecilia, then it’s definitely too kriffing important to die during as well! Zaryk thought, giving in to his pain and the Dark Side as he began to beat down Fecilia’s advances. Her grunts and screams only fueled his battle rage, as he allowed his anger at losing his ear to overtake the confusion he felt at battling a comrade, a lover and a friend.
The duel went back and forth for several minutes, both combatants drawing heavily on their emotions and the Dark Side of the Force. Two master duelists disregarded their normal classical finesse for the advantage of allowing their pain to hurt someone who should be their ally.
Zaryk remembered talking to Malady about the sacrifices every Sith must make to truly become a Sith Lord. At the time, he had played it off as a mixture of dogma and propoganda- he had heard stories of how the Sith willingly tortured themselves and slaughtered their loved ones to gain the fabled power of the Sith. He had been certain they were merely psychopaths, justifying their actions.
Now, he wasn’t so sure.
Darth Helos, Sith Lord.
Zaryk Thyrsus, Imperial Knight Master.
Which true, and which was the lie? And would he find out… before it was too late? And would this sacrifice be worth it? Could it ever be worth it?
After what seemed like an eternity, the intensity of the duel began to lessen. The clashing of lightsabers had taken its toll on both of the Knights, and the two began to circle one another, their sabers held at a middle guard with neither really ready to step forward and continue the offensive. Slowly, even this circling came to a stop, and the two stood, with their sabers pointed at each other.
It was then that Zaryk finally noticed the tears streaming down his former pupil’s face.
She looked up at him, and it was then that he was able to remember her as the young girl, fresh out of the Academy, that he had first met. She had been crying then, too, although for more innocent reasons in that more innocent time. It had been Roan Fel, of all people, who comforted her then.
Fecilia looked up at Zaryk, and in the back of his mind he thought that her locks of black hair looked more beautiful than ever. It was then, he knew, that she was going to speak to him- to acknowledge his presence, for the first and last time that day. She said one word, one pleading, tearful word.
There was only one answer that Zaryk could give- only one thing he could do that would make her understand, without ending his mission then and there. It would take almost no physical effort, on his part.
With a twist of his wrist, Zaryk switched lightsaber crystals. The laser slid almost instantaneously from the crimson crystal of the Sith, the one that produced the regular length red blade, to the triad of silver crystals he had earned from the Empire.
The one and a half meter blade doubled as it switched colors, and Fecilia’s eyes widened as she saw the silver blade extend toward her. Recognition began to dawn in the muscles of her face shortly after the blade pierced her left eye, cutting through her brain and killing her instantly.
Zaryk unleashed himself in a whirlwind of fury. He threw his conscious mind aside as he abdicated conscious thought and placed himself into his first true battle rage. His feel in the Force changed and expanded as he began cutting things off of any being who came too close. He traveled through the building, cutting through floors when nothing alive was in range, until he came through an area that had already been damaged by an explosion.
He began to fall, down several floors, until he came to a room where Alpha Squad, a group of mercenaries, and the two Sith were. Using the Force to control his descent, he landed on his feet, using one hand for support, and with his lightsaber hand trailing in the air above him.
He struggled to control the rage that had welled up within him, as he tested the Force signatures of those around him for enemies and possible targets. He looked at them with his eyes: eyes that were filled with fire. They were the eyes of a Sith Lord.
He found the room lacking in legitimate targets, but was not too concerned. His entry had been abrupt- his past encounters with the Sith, abrasive. Someone would wish to strike him. That someone would die.
The thought of his lightsaber committing shiak on Fecilia told him yes.
The thought of why she died told him no.
A weight hit his chest when he shifted position, and he instinctively grabbed it. A Sith amulet, one that had been given to him by Darth Malady as a relatively useless item that could be used to prove his status. He had embraced it, glad to have a symbol of his position as a Sith Lord for this mission.
Zaryk squeezed, wishing that the crystal within the amulet would crack under his pressure. It held firm, and he considered focusing the power of the Force on it.
At the touch of the Force, he was overcome with rage and anguish once more.
Oh, yes, he would kill.
They had done what he was supposed to be trying to do: Getting a squad of defectors off the planet. Sure, the squad was themselves, but they were still more effective than he had been- save only those soldiers whom he had incapacitated and still had a chance of being killed in the aftermath of the battle.
Instead, he had joined in the wholesale slaughter of those who shared his true loyalties. Why? Because he was upset. Because an Imperial Knight had given her life so that his mission could continue. He honored her loss how? By abandoning his mission?
Zaryk glanced in the direction of Darth Necro, who was engrossed in combat. Somehow, we would find a way today to honor Fecilia’s sacrifice. Even if it cost him his life, and his mission- he owed that much to Fecilia’s memory.
Was this the strength of the Sith? Was rage their spice? Were the natural reactions to extreme anger powerful enough to build an entire society- to win wars and destroy the galaxy several times- with?
Darth Helos drew on this anger. Bringing his hand in a sweeping gesture around him and bringing it to him as a closed fist, he lifted every heartbeat he could feel and drew them toward him. Beings flew toward him, and he soon found himself controlling a small vortex of bodies in the air above him- certainly as many as he could fit onto his ship, which he had summoned with a small transponder he carried with him.
He didn’t care at this point if the mercenaries saw what he was doing. He could feel them looking at him, wondering what he was doing. He looked back at them.
He looked back at them with the orange-yellow eyes of a Sith Lord.
They wouldn’t say anything. They were in this for the money. Besides, what did they care what a Sith Lord did with his conquests after a battle?
Jiinta stared glassy-eyed at the scene in front of her. She thought she was dead.
A man stood, surrounded by a cyclone of wind, carrying bodies of the wounded or dead. Some of them, she heard groan, and from a few there were even screams.
It was a nightmare. She just wanted it to end, but it wouldn’t. Soon, she was sure, she would join them, groaning because she was too hurt to scream, crying silent tears and bleeding onto the ground beneath her.
But it never came, and the anticipation was more terrifying than if it had actually happened. It was as if a threshold had been reached- a certain number of victims needed, and Jiinta fell just outside of that amount. She was in too much pain to wonder what they could be for, but she had an epiphany which cleared her mind:
This man was a former Imperial Knight!
She remembered facing him with her Commander, Fecilia Taryn, a Knight. Celia had fought with a ferocity that Jiinta had never seen in her, and she knew that Celia and this man… Zaryk Thyrsus, she was sure- had some sort of deeper relationship than “merely” having been members of the same corps. His appearance here had come as a personal betrayal to her. And he had killed her.
Jiinta hadn’t seen that, but she was as certain of that much. Celia was was nowhere to be seen, and this Sith was still standing. He didn’t even look injured.
Rage began to fill her. This man had murdered her commander, had betrayed the Emperor, had massacred her comrades.
She couldn’t even move right now, but one day, she would see Zaryk Thyrsus die. So swore Jiinta Veyra.
Zaryk began to board his ship. He had a lot of patients, and a lot of work to do.
He had an Emperor to report to.
As he began to key in the coordinates for Chiss space, he thought about the massacre that had just happened. Everyone had killed a lot of defectors, but there was one event that really stood out in his mind: the collapse of the building.
The being was truly a monster. He had to be put to sleep for his own good, and that of those around him.
I’ll do it.