"Force Absorption is a simple process at the basic levels, but difficult to teach; the student must find their own path to it," Max began. "Close your eyes and imagine a wall within your mind. The wall is made of the toughest substance you can imagine. Now behind that wall, deeper in your mind, there is another wall, even tougher. Impossible to break.
"Focus on yourself, Ozri, and let the Force flow through you. Visualise an attack coming towards you, say a lightning bolt for simplicity's sake."
As Max spoke to Ozri, another Jedi walked into the training arena: a human woman with tied-up brown hair and an expression that could best be described as serious bordering on severe. She wore the simple robes of a Jedi Knight, a double-bladed lightsaber attached to her belt.
"Oriek Firat? My name is Basten Thail, your Master requested that I teach you to use Force barriers to protect yourself," she introduced herself, her tone matching her facial expression. "We will begin immediately. Ordinary personal shields require a power cell to maintain their integrity and dissipate the force of a blow. The Force Shield follows a similar pattern, although its power source is your connection to the Force, rather than a technological source."
Basten drew her lightsaber, activating one of its orange blades. "Producing your shield is a simple task. While it will normally maintain itself until you choose to dissipate it, maintaining a shield under stress is not. Concentrate, imagine a personal energy barrier about yourself and will it into existence. It may take a few attempts, but I am sure you will get it eventually.
"I will be testing your willpower by attacking you. Specifically, light blows to your shield when you create it. You will not be harmed."
Master Voshyl lead apprentices Jason and Pyson into the training center. As they entered the she activated the overhead lights. Once illuminated the training center was revealed to be a large circular room. A few droids were lined up along the outer wall. In the middle of the room a large circle was marked on the floor. Two additional circles of increasing size were marked with distance indicators, one mark for every twelve inches, across their entire circumference. The room was designed to be an arena.
"Pyson." Cyran pointed to the center of the ring as she addressed her apprentice. "Head toward the center ring and begin practicing your lightsaber techniques. Start with the basic strike. There are training sabers next to the droids if you wish to use one." She turned toward Jason next. "There is something I need to ask you." she told the young human.
"Of course master, what is it?" Jason asked, turning to look at Master Voshyl, while also keeping his eyes moving around the room so that he could try and memorize were everything was so that he didn't appear to be a fool if he was asked to do something and he didn't know were it was.
Ozri closed his eyes, he felt the force flow throw him. He breathed slow, calm breathes. He began constructing the wall in his minds eye, strongest material I can think of... In the frame he had outlined, dark stone begin to fill it in. It was the kind of stone that he found on his home planet where great boulders lined the bottom of cliffs. The wall was complete, Ozri imagined all sorts of beasts that populated Shili ramming against it and being turned away. He then began work on the second wall, even stronger than the first one, Ozri took a second to try and imagine something even stronger, soon he could see a metal wall, several feet thick of smooth dull gray alloy.
When he was confident he braced himself for the lightening, he imagined Darth Voidus, before he had defected, back when he was Master Agdra and had used his lightening against Gnost that first day. Ozri imagined the lightening arcing from Agdra's hands, and instead of Gnost, Ozri was the target. Ozri felt the lightening hit the first wall, it held, for a while, but soon the lightening began melting the stone. It's alright the second wall will hold, it will hold. He told himself again and again. Somehow Ozri knew this lightening wasn't just his thoughts, he could feel the electrified air in his montrals, as the force worked to make it more than just thought while still not being real. The was a flash as the lightening pierced through the stone. The second wall will hold he told himself again, but a small weight of doubt in the pit of his stomach. He suddenly recalled Gnost's yelp of pain, or was that his own, he remembered the smell of burnt flesh, and the weight in his stomach grew heavier. The lightening hit the second wall, it will hold, he said, but knowing it could never. In that moment the metal turned to air, the lightening shot through and struck Ozri in the chest.
He gasped, for less than an instant there was intense pain burning, and then Ozri's meditation broke. He opened his eyes, he was panting, there was no pain, just the faint memory of it. Ozri was confused, what had happened? He had failed hadn't he?
"I couldn't hold the walls, the lightening shot right throw." He muttered, saying it more for his benefit than Archer's. Ozri had a feeling the Archer already knew what happened better than he did.
Litai looked up at her master after some thinking and spoke. "If I may I'd like to learn Force Persuasion Master." she said softly. She was too afraid to expand Force Lighting due to what had just happened but knew she should save it for later when she knew more light side powers.
Pyson bowed to his master and took his place at the innermost circle. He elected not to take a training saber, wishing to use the one he'd made himself. Taking the weapon off his belt, he glanced down at it and rolled it in his palm until the ignition switch rested under his thumb. With a sharp hiss the weapon came to life, Pyson taking his eyes off it and directing them to the training droid approaching him.
The machine activated it's own lightsaber, taking a defensive stance. Pyson did the same for a moment, unsure of whether to trust it outright. When it make no move to attack, the gand went for a basic strike. The droid blocked it easily, but made no move to counter-attack. Returning to his basic stance, Pyson watched the droid do the same before taking another swing.
From there he repeated over and over a few different strikes at the droid while his master dealt with the other apprentice.
Master Voshyl watched her apprentice begin his training and nodded in satisfaction. Then she turned toward the human apprentice. Jason. She spoke quietly in a tone that was very matter-of-fact.
"Telaran Takak, your master, has gone missing. He has not been seen since the attack and betrayal of the former Master Adgra and his apprentice. Until Master Takak returns or his status has been verified I will be taking over your training." Cyran swept her hand out to the side to indicate where Pyson was training with the practice droid. "We will begin with basic combat and defense lessons. Do you have any questions?" she asked.
"None Master, and I thank you for taking over my training Master Voshyl. I will try not to disappoint you." Jason said with a smile, bowing slightly towards Master Voshyl. Jason waited for her next orders before doing anything, not wanting to do something wrong, and not wanting to seem impatient either.
"Of course," Oriek nods lightly taking up a stance similar to praying in order to focus her connection to the Force.
Slowly she begins to picture a set of armour, albeit thin armour due to Oriek still having to connect to the Force in depth. Each piece of the armour manifests itself in her mind, placing itself upon the corresponding part of her body.
She snaps from the prayer position, dropping her hands to her side in an open stance.
"I think...I am ready for the first try, Basten," she says quietly, hoping that the armour may hold slightly against the lightsaber blow.
Master Voshyl nodded in approval at her new apprentice. She would need to access his skills first hand before entrusting him to train against a droid by himself. Unfortunately this would delay her errand. But it could not be helped. 'He will be need to be taught many things in a short span.' she thought. Her attention would have to be divided between the two apprentices until their skills were more evenly matched. 'And we must all be diligent.'
"As you do not yet have a lightsaber of your own or the skills necessary to obtain one, you will be using one of the practice sabers." Cyran told Jason. "When you become proficient enough with the practice weapon and I decide you are ready, you will be provided with some of the materials necessary to construct your own lightsaber of choice. Come with me." She began walking along the outer circle toward a particular deactivated droid. It was standing up straight, though dormant, with both of its arms at its side and its head was slightly lowered. As she walked along an improvised path additional lights embedded in the ceiling responded to her movement. One such light shone directly down upon the droid.
Jason nodded, walking slowly behind Master Voshyl, while keeping his eyes on the droid. It didn't look like much, but he knew better then to underestimate an opponent. Jason wondered when he would be able to receive his practice saber for this exercise, but he knew better then to ask and annoy his temporary master.
"Not all Jedi have the capacity to defend themselves so easily. It takes time, patience and understanding; I did not expect a perfect attempt the first time," Max answered Ozri, not unkindly. He had been watching Ozri through the Force, determining the strength of the imagined assault. True to the Togruta's suspicions, he had picked up flashes of what Ozri had seen. His sights were set too high; a simpler attack would better suit the basic level of Absorption.
"I saw the attack you had attempted to resist. It's not one I had expected you to use, given the nature of the Sith who had used it. Adgra, or Voidus as he calls himself, is far more powerful than you or Oriek; a Force attack from him would have a high probability of crippling you. But I digress. Try again, but with a weaker attack coming at you. Say, for example, a Force-assisted Push which would knock you down or unbalance you," Max suggested, shooting a glance at Oriek before returning his gaze to Ozri and resuming his subtle connection to the student's mind.
Basten's vision flickered at the corners of her eyes as she tapped into the Force. Oriek's shielding became clear to her within a few seconds; a suit of armour with a faint green aura to it.
"An interesting choice of design, although I do not doubt that there will be some points weaker than others," she stated, walking around Oriek to fully examine the defense mechanism. "Such is the way of most physical armour. As you train, your Master may teach you to expose these weak spots and take advantage of them if he deems it necessary. But that is not relevant at this time. Brace yourself."
Without a second thought, the Jedi Knight raised her lightsaber and began a series of light taps against Oriek's defenses with the blade. Some, such as those targeting the hands, lower legs and small of her back, passed through the shield, whereas those at Oriek's front were slowed partially but still pierced her defenses.
"I see what you are attempting. It may be that you think you will fight your opponents face to face. This is not the case a fair portion of the time. You must learn to guard your entire body with equal care. Reinforce your shield and we will continue."
"I will master." Ozri said as he resumed his meditation. He began taking a few slow breaths as he established his connection to the force. He rebuilt his mental defense, first a stone wall then a metal one. Soon he was prepared, he examined ever inch of the two walls until he was satisfied and got ready. On the opposite side of the wall he imagined Oriek, in a stance, preparing for her attack. Ozri took in a deep breath and prepared for the attack, relaxed significantly by knowing that this time it would be much less severe. Ozri then imagined Oriek moving forward and pushing her hands out, a wave of energy flew forth at the walls. The wave struck the first wall, and pushed through, though weakened, and was stopped by the second wall. After the push was stopped Ozri felt and different kind of warm energy seep through to him. It began to surround him and he could feel his connection to the force reinvigorated. When it was done Ozri opened his eyes and looked at Archer, " Did, I succeed?" He asked, not entirely sure of what he had done."
"Right," Oriek nods lightly, shaking off the mild burning sensation from the sabers touches.
Of course! Gnost is a sith, he gives not a damn about fairness, he'll stab me in the back if he gets a chance, she thinks to herself, removing the force armour in order to redo it.
"Focus!" she mutters quietly to herself, tapping into the Force once more, pulling as much Force energy as she can around herself.
This time Oriek focuses the armour over her entire body rather than just her front, this time forsaking her helmet, in order to try and reinforce the other parts. She quickly flicks her sight over each part, making sure it looks better than the first attempt.
After a further few minutes of checking she turns to Basten once more.
"I believe this one if slightly better, what do you think Basten?" she asks, hoping this may be slightly better by her standards.
Master Voshyl walked around to the back of the droid and pushed a small hidden button on the base of its metal skull. There was a quiet click as the button depressed followed by a low hum. The droid's arms jerked slightly as it began to warm up. Cyran spoke quietly to the machine. Her words were careful, precise, and did not carry any farther than the droid.
When she was finished with her commands Cyran took a step away from the trainer. The droid continued to slowly activate. Its dark eyes flashed white then green. A metallic whirring sound accompanied the motion of its head rising. Master Voshyl took an additional step backwards. She watched the droid until she was confident that it would activate successfully. Master Voshyl glanced at Jason before holding out her hand toward the entrance of the room.
Next to the door a small drawer embedded in the wall shook. Metallic rattling indicated that it was shaking within its confined space. Cyran tilted her head slightly. The drawer popped open. Metallic rattling again sounded, indicating that the contents of the drawer were also metal. Master Voshyl made a slight pulling motion with her hand. From the drawer a training saber flew across the room. Its speed did not decrease until it landed in her hand. Master Voshyl closed her fingers around the handle and inspected the saber while she waited for the droid to finish.
Straightening itself into a stiff upright posture the droid made an abrupt turn toward Jason. Its eyes flashed to white again as it scanned the human male. When its eyes were once again standard green a small tinny voice sounded from the droid's concealed voice box.
'Training droid activated by Jedi Master Voshyl. Jedi Apprentice Cole registered. Jedi Apprentice Cole selected. Lightsaber combat mode selected. Form six, Niman selected. Novice skill level selected.'
The droid sketched a short bow at the apprentice and withdrew a saber almost identical to the one held by Master Voshyl. The droid didn't active the blade but remained still with the blade at its side.
Master Voshyl spoke quietly to Jason as she held out the training saber.
"I am not aware of your current skill level with a blade. Therefore we are starting at the Novice level. Once you have shown that you are competent at this level we will upgrade the difficulty."
Cyran paused for a few seconds as she considered something. It would save a lot of time if the young man was already trained. To any degree. "Have you been instructed in the art of lightsaber combat?" she asked.
"To a short degree, which is to say my old Master had me duel him once. My fellow apprentice and I managed to bring him down with little to no injury, but apart from that I've had no training." Jason replied, taking the saber from Master Voshyl's hand and eying the droid across the room who wielded a similar blade. He remembered using these types of saber's before, and he remembered the burn marks he had received while training with his old Master.
Several Months Later
The Jedi trained and their apprentices trained harder; each chose to learn Force abilities as they saw fit. Master Archer oversaw the reparations to the Academy's vaults and personally applied additional layers of protection to the Sith archives, which he alone knew how to bypass. Not that he had any intention of entering the archives and consulting holocrons created by the Dark Lords of the Sith.
Upon this particular day, he was going through the regular motions of consulting recent updates from the New Republic and selecting matters to be attended to by a Jedi. Max had given his apprentices challenges to test their core abilities once more; the tasks were more advanced than those he had subjected them to upon being apprenticed to him.
Many of the requests were simple things such as gathering information, which could be done easily by a covert Republic agent, or overseeing military training, which did not require the presence of a Jedi either. Max dismissed these, focusing on events that could possess a greater danger to the stability of the galaxy.
The Sith, too, were training, though not for the same purpose as their weakling counterparts who shut themselves off from the true power of the Force. They trained for war, as they always did; many of the ranks of the Black Sabers died at the hands of a better fighter, and thus the Sith cult rooted out the weak and became ever stronger.
Over the past few days, Darth Malus had spent his time planning the battle to capture the Telos Holocron, occasionally accepting input from Noctis. Voidus and Sade, however, could not be trusted, and were therefore confined to observed quarters, though he had noted that every single camera had been destroyed soon after the two outsiders had been locked in their chambers.
No others would know of the way he would go about his assault until the time came to strike. With knowledge came the means to undermine him, and he would have none of it. Of course, if Noctis were to make an attempt on his life he would crush her in a heartbeat. Malus was fully confident in the underlying weaknesses of his apprentice. They were there, even if she did not know them.
Darth Sade had changed greatly in the months he had been aboard Darth Malus' ship, his body not only becoming increasingly scarred, but a darker changed had affected him too. His skin had gotten tighter and was now leathery to the touch, his hand was more akin to a Rancors claw and his already dark skin had darkened further, leaving the young Sith a fright to look upon.
The young Kel'dor practically radiated darkness, for unlike his Master, he wasn't a void and besides, he would not hide what he was, even if he could.
Sade cared little for his appearance however, for in the months his body had been changing, the Sith had been honing his technique, sometimes spending days at a time practicing a single move, slash or power. The times he didn't spend training, he spent active meditating, usually pondering the very nature of the Sith whilst performing hand-stand push-ups.
One day, after a particularly difficult session of upside down sit ups on a bar he had fixed to a doorway in their quarters, Sade had finally had enough of waiting and the young Sith went on a search for his Master, the Kel'dor stalking through their quarters until he came upon Darth Voidus.
"Master, when are we leaving? When are we destroying these scum and taking the fight to the Jedi!? We have been waiting for months, it is an insult to be contained like this!"
As others of the Dark Side would have seen themselves corrupted by the Dark Side of the Force, Darth Voidus looked as he always looked and radiated nothing, but in his containment he had planned, oh he had planned so much to take the heads of both organizations. If there was any doubt of his prowess of the Dark Side, it would have been crushed as he had crushed anything he trained against; of course, had he not destroyed the cameras that watched him, the Sabres might have been a little less naive about it.
Voidus looked over as he apprentice approached him. How Sade had grown both impressed him and made his proud that he had trained such a powerful asset, the Sith were lucky to have him; just as he had been lucky Voidus had selected him, though he still lacked patience. Voidus could feel the hatred pour off him, the malice, the pure rage, he would be able to use that, he was sure of it, but not now, "Patience my apprentice, we will have our chance, do realize that I have stayed in hiding longer than this before and look where it got us, we still have some of the most valuable Holocrons from the Academy and we're about to obtain the most powerful Sith Artifact we will ever see, trust me my apprentice, it is worth the wait."
He knew that the Dark Sabres were planning behind him, but he had his own plans made, the Black Sabres would not simply take the Telos Holocron, not while Darth Voidus still channeled the Force.
Lod Had been pushing his apprentices harder than most, if any of the other masters, in between missions he was preparing them for the coming storm. He knew the sith would rise, as they always did, and he would make sure his apprentices were fully prepared. There was never a full day of rest for his students, he constantly pushed them on every subject from lightsaber skills, to physical training, to both core and specialized force abilities. He did leave them plenty of time to take on outside tasks however, but training was every day and was constantly made harder.
His apprentices were performing better than expected, constantly rising to meet his challenges, and in many cases exceeding them. In return he would constantly raise the bar and difficulty of their training, eventually forcing them to both work together and push their abilities as far as possible to complete the courses he set up. He was proud of his students, and he made that clear after each test, he would inform them of what they did well as well as what each needed to improve on and both needed to improve on as a whole.
The team had just finished a mixture of physical, team building, and force exercises with some non-lethal droids firing upon them to test their saber ability. At the end of the course was a simulated lightsaber fight with two well known sith apprentices when they were at about his student's level of expertise to make it fair. Both had passed fairly easily but there was always room for improvement.
"Maris, your lightsaber skills have improved and your force abilities are coming along perfectly, it is obvious you have devoted much time to training outside of these courses. Your timing and perceptiveness still need some work though, as a few times the non-lethal blaster fire had nearly hit you. Litai, your physical capacity has greatly improved and your core abilities are progressing nicely. However, you almost seem distracted on the course as if something is troubling your mind. If you wish to discuss it, my door is always open.
Both of you are performing better everyday, but you both still need to work on functioning as a unit. You are doing well, but it can always be improved upon and will need to be if we face the sith. Their weakness is their lack of trust in each other, we must exploit this weakness if we are to win."
Oriek deactivates her new lightsaber, panting lightly after her session with a sparring droid.
I'm still not fast enough, but I'm taking less hits, she thinks to herself, bowing to the droid, before remembering it was not an actual partner.
Over the few months, very little had changed within Oriek, she had became more confident in her ability to defend herself and fight, but her inner turmoil had not ceased, the holocron still called out to her at night, yet she was too scared to hand it back to Max, the fear of a reprimand being greater than the calling of its power.
It had only being activated once and quickly deactivated after she felt the power that it held.
The wound left by Gnost had healed well in the months, but had left behind a messy scar across her mid-section. During her time healing, she had become accustomed to the Jedi robes and began wearing them more often than her usual attire since they hadn't been replaced for a while.
As the droid retreated to its station, Oriek affixed the hilt to her belt and left the training room in order to search for Max, wondering when their next mission would be.
"I feel the pretenders out there, constantly training, all that death! All that pain!-"
Sade stopped, as the feeling to just lash out and start killing things had over-taken him once more, like it had many times before in the past month, though they had been growing much stronger of late and a part of Sade feared he would not be able to contain himself for much longer.
The quaking Sith forced himself into a meditating position, where he sat, silently shaking from all the hate and power that was flowing through his veins, making them feel as if they were alight.
After a minute of two, Sade opened his eyes and rose, his rage contained for the moment, but still bubbling just below the surface.
"I shall wait Master, but not for much longer... I sense a change is coming"
And with that, the Sith stalked off to his quarters, where he began training once more, hoping that drills would rid him of his overbearing malice.
Ozri was stalking with through the forest near the academy grounds. The forests of Yavin 4 were filled with wild creatures, Ozri had taken to hunting them when ever he was feeling particularly homesick for Shili, which was starting to be more and more as time went on. Little on Shili had prepared him for this life, not for the training, not for the sudden shock when one of his fellow students suddenly turned on them all and became a Sith.
Ozri spotted a Tybis through the brush. It was a large, shaggy, four-legged creature, it's hide would go a long way to making his apartment feel more like home. He moved quietly through the brush, his hood pulled over his head to hide the bright colors of his skin. As he got close he reached for his light-saber, but didn't ignite it just yet. He kept inching. Closer and closer. Suddenly the Tybis sensed him and was startled, Ozri jumped at it igniting his saber and swinging at it, slicing clear through it's neck. The head and body separated and it was dead before it hit the ground. Ozri looked around and made sure no other scavengers were around, he was sure none would bother showing up for a minutes, just encase he took a small gadget from his belt, a high-pitched noise emitter that repelled most animals. He set it and placed it with the body, before leaving to find his speeder and return. He then tied the body to the speeder and headed back to the Academy to clean the body for it's skin meat and bones.
Lita looked at her master and nodded. "Thank you Master and I'm just worried about the coming fight between we Jedi and the Sith." Lita said putting away her lightsaber after training. "I still thank you for the offer master." she said taking a bow.
Ozri arrived at a spot by the front entrance where he had set a tarp down before hand. He put the carcass on the tarp and got to work. He used a metal hunting knife to clean the body, separating the hide, meat, organs, and bones, with a practiced hand. He would dry the hide, and eventually place it in his room, some meat he would prepare to be cooked soon, the rest he would preserve, he'd also keep the edible organs to eat, and find uses for the rest. When he sealed all the raw parts in containers Ozri took them to storage and washed his arms and legs of blood, before going upstairs for a proper shower.
The shining silver blade of Maris's lightsaber extinguished with a hiss and retreated back into the hilt. She clipped the inactive weapon on her belt and straightened out her sweat-stained undershirt. A trip to the refresher would be necessary, and very soon. The thought of a quick, cold shower was quite appealing.
Maris stood with her arms crossed behind her back as Master Oulat gave his constructive criticism that was the norm after her and Litai's training exercises.
"Maris, your lightsaber skills have improved and your force abilities are coming along perfectly, it is obvious you have devoted much time to training outside of these courses".
It was encouraging that Master Oulat was beginning to notice the extra effort she had been putting into perfecting her talents. After Padawan Gnost and his newly-revealed Sith Master left several Jedi injured and one dead in their escape from the Academy, she had decided to further pursue her healing powers, both for herself and her allies. After a while, her healing skill progressed to the point where meditation was no longer required to repair minor wounds. More severe injuries still required time and concentration, but she was able to mend more than her fair share of stun blaster burns on both herself and fellow Jedi.
In addition, Maris had spent a great deal of time into improving her lightsaber technique. After a while studying the many different forms, she eventually settled on Form III: Soresu, also known as the Way of the Mynock. As a Chiss, she was raised from birth to be calm, collected, analytical, and never to strike first. An active defense was one of the core values of Chiss society, which was why the more defensive nature of Soresu appealed to her.
Soresu's strengths lay in its ability to completely protect the user from harm. Its tight movements and short, subdued, and efficient sweeps excelled in providing defensive coverage against blaster bolts and similar projectiles. When employed in lightsaber combat, Soresu was utilized to wear down an aggressive opponent by dodging, blocking, and parrying their strikes. A skilled practitioner of Soresu was the calm in the center of a raging storm, allowing the Force to guide their blade and deflect any attacks that came their way. Due to these properties, however, Soresu was sorely lacking as an offensive style when it came to dueling. A Soresu user used their opponent's aggression against them, allowing them to tire themselves and create openings in their defenses.
Maris had picked up on the technique of Soresu relatively well. The subtle movements came naturally to her as she practiced her form. When she wasn't working on her Force Heal techniques, she was working endlessly on perfecting her Soresu routine. Despite her excellent progress thus far...
"Your timing and perceptiveness still need some work though, as a few times the non-lethal blaster fire had nearly hit you".
...she wasn't perfect. Maris still had difficulty becoming the "eye of the storm" when she practiced her form. In spite of all of her practice, she still struggled to completely allow the Force to guide her actions in combat. She still had to focus on her movements as she performed them, which took a toll on her situational awareness. In fact, she had almost paid the price for that loss in awareness when a blaster bolt came within inches of giving her face a painful burn during the previous exercise. If Maris truly wanted to become a skilled duelist, she would have to learn how to not think when fighting and how to surrender herself to the will of the Force.
"Thank you for your advice as always, Master Oulat," Maris said to her Master with a bow. "I very much appreciate knowing what I must improve on".
Lod made a small bow to the both of them before speaking so as not to be rude to the bow he had received.
"We are all concerned for the upcoming battle, but we shall be ready, and we will keep order in the galaxy. Try to take some amount of comfort in that, we will do as we have always done, and it has served us well for longer than any of us. As for your thanks, my door is always open to both of you, as master or friend. In terms of your training, I think the best style is to acknowledge both what you have done well in and where you can both improve. For while it is important to constantly look to what has been done better, it is also important to remember what is working or going well."
Master Voshyl cleared the datapad screen she was looking at. Then she loaded it again. The report was the same. It said very little save that her former apprentice Pyson was still alive and still on assignment. Which told her nothing of his well-being or that of the Knights that accompanied him. Still, if they were well enough to send their monthly report, they must be in acceptable condition.
It had been a busy series of months. Pyson had honed his abilities and skills quickly under her careful but precise instruction. His skills with a lightsaber increased to the point that Cyran stopped reprogramming practice droids and started sparring with the Gand herself. This allowed him to practice integrating his Force abilities with his lightsaber combat at a mcuh higher level. But as she had two apprentice at differing skill levels, there were times when Pyson was left to his own devices. In his spare time he worked on upgrading his breathing apparatus. Cyran found this out after the fact when he began to arrive for his lessons with an altered device. After receiving the apparatus Cyran commissioned for him he apparently began integrating his own designs. The device went through two complete redesigns by the time Master Voshyl decided Pyson was ready for a solo mission. Well, perhaps solo was an inaccurate word. It was the first mission that would not be done with master and both apprentices in attendance.
Cyran cleared the data screen a final time. It would tell her no more until the next report. She checked the time and noted that she had a few minutes before needing to head to the next lesson with her remaining apprentice.
Jason had also gained in skill. But due to the brief stall in his early training he required a review in some of the basics before he was able to work on the more advanced skills. These advanced skills included the learning of new Force abilities. Cyran had been a bit wary of her second apprentice's choices. Being that she herself was only knowledgeable in the Light sided Force abilities she'd been required to find another Knight to instruct Jason in his requested Dark side powers. She allowed the instruction but was careful to monitor her student for any sign of the abilities affecting him in a negative manner.
And one could only monitor efficiently if they were punctual about their lessons. Cyran finishing gathering her materials then exited her room. She secured the door before beginning to walk at a brisk pace through the main hall.
Jason was sitting in the training room, waiting for his master as he reflected on what had happened since his apprenticeship switched over into Master Voshyl's hands. No matter how many times he had pleaded with other knights though, nobody would tell him what had happened to his old master, Master Teleran. The thought awoke something that Jason had become only too accustomed to. It was a feeling Jason got whenever he used the powers he had gained from studying the Dark Side of the force. A crackle of lightning rippled from one are to the other, reminding Jason to control his feelings otherwise they would get the better of him. After a few moments of concentration, the lightning was gone and Jason appeared normal again, well as normal as he could be. Jason had changed much in the time that had passed since his apprenticeship had been passed onto Master Voshyl.
Jason now had longer hair and his eyes were an even darker crimson color then they had been before. He wore a black hooded cloak, with fur around the hood so it appeared the only practical use for the cloak would be in arctic conditions, and all black clothing underneath. He wore dark black gloves, that were meant to aid him in discharging the electricity and flames, since he was still not very proficient with fire yet. Underneath his cloak he wore dark clothing, a pair of dark boots and a shirt with no sleeves but very tight to the skin. On his left side was his lightsaber, clipped to his belt. A large spiraling tattoo now ran down his right arm from the shoulder, to his hand.
Looking over at the cloak, Jason noticed that his master was to arrive anytime, so he figured it would only be a few more moments until his master arrived to begin his training session. Jason sighed and pulled out his personal holo-pad, checking the libraries data to the data he had gathered from some of the knights. Yet, despite his attempts, Jason could still find no evidence to the whereabouts of his old master.
Darth Voidus had seen the shake and felt the presence of pure rage within his apprentice. It appeared to be close to that of a caged animal, lashing at those whose whips struck its flesh. Sade would be unstoppable when he was finally unchained, it was just whether he could be controlled that remained to be seen.
Vodius closed his eyes and began his meditation; this act was important to one of the Void, the lack of a movement in the force, neither Light nor Dark, he simply just existed to those who could sense such things. He swallowed the Force around him and channeled it, feeling the familiar grip of power surround him. It was there, ripe for the taking; yet he avoided grasping it completely, as if he had handicapped himself to its powers, rejecting the temptation to go farther; that was what ensured others would not know his intent. That was what made him Darth Voidus.
"If I may, Master, I ask for permission to leave," Maris inquired. With each second that passed, that cold shower became more and more of a good idea. She needed some form of break to rest her battered and weary body; Even ten minutes would help at this point. The accelerated training regimen that Master Oulat had set for herself and her fellow Padawan Litai had helped them improve beyond what Maris thought was possible, but it was an extremely taxing routine.
With the majority of the requests filtered out and set aside, Max turned his attention to the audio-logs, where there was another list of requests from people across the galaxy who wanted help from the Jedi. Mere seconds after he opened the comlink built into the station at which he sat, a new call came in. Recognising the caller instantly, he answered. "Master Skywalker, this is a rarity," he began, his voice warm and welcoming.
"Maximilian, my old friend and student, your timing is perfect. I need assistance immediately. Paired with a fresh disturbance in the Force, I have seen a new vision, and a troubling one at that. If what I saw is to come to pass, it means terrible things for the Jedi, the New Republic and the galaxy itself." The words were spoken plainly and with utmost calm, the way Luke Skywalker had always spoken even in times of distress.
Taken aback by Skywalker's words, Max quickly reasserted his composure. He was always surprised by the way his old Master knew the exact words to put him off balance. "Then tell me, what did you see, Master? Perhaps I can help," he stated. It could be nothing - the older Jedi always felt changes in the Force, and had once described these fluctuations to Max as a pool of water that rippled from points all across its surface - or it could be a lead on the Black Sabers... or Adgra and Gnost, the newest Sith to make their presence known to the universe.
"It was brief, but vivid. In this vision, I see my temple." This was nothing new to Max: it was common knowledge that Skywalker lived in a small building in the mountains of Chandrila where he meditated and reflected upon the workings of the universe.
"Then a mask, unfamiliar, but illuminated by what could only be a red lightsaber. A figure in black, standing on the bridge of an Imperial Dreadnought." In the mind of the Academy Master, the logical conclusion was simple. A Sith of some description. The traitor Voidus had not donned a mask before his escape from the Academy, but it mattered not if the Sith and Skywalker's temple were connected somehow.
"The familiar clash of two warring sides, viewed from afar." With that, Max had a pretty good picture of the events his old Master had seen. Skywalker's interpretation of the vision sealed the deal.
"I believe this to be some sort of assault on Chandrila, perhaps an assassination attempt to be made in the future."
"Then the last segment is clearly intended to be someone preventing an attack. But the future is never set in stone. You taught me that."
"This is true. Nonetheless, the intensity of what I saw leads me to believe that it will come to pass. Whoever may attack me, they will not do so with ease... though I fear they may succeed. A capital ship of the Imperial Remnant could hold untold numbers of soldiers and Sith. Not even I could hold the temple alone against a hundred men, let alone a thousand."
"You won't be alone, Master. I'll lead the Academy to Chandrila and we can organise defenses there - " Max began, though he was quickly interrupted.
"As ever, Maximilian, you are too quick to act," Skywalker chided.
"Do not bring the entire Academy with you. Just those who are capable of fighting. Leave enough behind so that the ways of the Jedi can continue should we all perish in battle."
"Of - of course, Master," Max conceded, trusting in Skywalker's wisdom. "We will be there as soon as we can. May the Force be with you."
"And with you," Skywalker replied before the two ended the call almost simultaneously. Filled with determination and the need to act quickly, he opened a communications channel to every room in the Academy so that everyone would get his message at the same time.
"This is Master Archer. We have a mission that requires the attention of every Jedi who can fight. My master Luke Skywalker, trusting in the Force to guide him, believes he may be the subject of an attack by hostile forces. We have reason to believe that the Sith are among them. Whether those who infiltrated our ranks are with them or not is unknown, but the threat is still clear. Get yourselves ready and meet in the hangars; we leave for Chandrila as soon as we are ready and able."
His message sent, Max got up and left his quarters, robes swirling about his person as he made his way to his destination. He had no need to get ready to leave, of course: he was always prepared for any eventuality from the moment he rose from sleep and meditation.
The three starships of the Black Sabers cult moved through the void in perfect formation. On board two of the mighty dreadnoughts, innumerable Stormtroopers, TIE pilots and Imperial officers waited for the inevitable instructions from their dark masters. The third was reserved for the Sith themselves.
"The time is now, my Lord, we must act soon," Darth Noctis persisted, trying to pester her master for the order to land on the planet below. "If we are to do battle, then let us go immediately. The underlings grow tired of waiting." The Miraluka woman was fidgeting slightly, anticipating the coming fight. For there would be one, she knew. She had knowledge of Lord Malus's plans, but just enough to keep her hungry for more while she waited.
"Of course they do. But that is their problem," was the Sith Lord's unequivocal response. The armoured and masked Sith stood facing the viewscreen on the bridge of the Sith vessel. "But we are nearing Chandrila. The moment we are within range, the entire planet's defenses will be torn apart. And then nothing will stand in our way." Though he did not visibly show it, Malus was exuding a powerful Dark Side aura, letting his power wash over the entire bridge. Noctis basked in the power her master projected, feeding on it as she stood by his side.
"Go now. Inform our... guests that the preliminary strikes will begin soon," Malus ordered, not looking around from his standing point. Noctis bowed her head in response and hurried away. She could easily pinpoint the two aboard the starship who were not of the Black Sabers: specifically, the younger one who wore his hatred and rage like a cloak about his person. The older, the Zabrak, she could not detect through her Force-based sight. He was an oddity; she had to be careful of him.
Once Darth Noctis arrived at the room in which the Zabrak and his Kel Dor apprentice had been accommodated, she twitched a finger and the door shot open, disregarding the automated systems that were normally used. Knowing the typical reaction of an interrupted Sith, she spun around and moved out of sight in case a bolt of lightning or burst of flames were headed her way.