Monday, November 15, 2010

A Harvest Of Force

Master Ellud Sor paused as he stepped from the clothier. The streets of Coruscant swirled with movement, but that was not why he hesitated. The streets were always busy here, to a greater or lesser degree. Such things were to be expected on a world covered entirely in towering cities, and over the years he had grown used to it.

No, he paused because the street had suddenly seemed darker as he crossed the threshold. It was as if some great shadow had passed overhead, but of all the people here, only he seemed to notice. A stirring in the Force. He knew it, and despite his years of experience, his strength in the Force, and his skills with the lightsaber, he feared what it might portend.

So he waited, until a Bothan begged pardon to squeeze past him through the doorway. No further premonitions came to him, and nothing seemed out of place. He stepped out into the crowd. His transport was not far, held in a garage bay two buildings down. Once he was in the air, anyone pursuing him would have to reveal their presence - or lose track of him entirely. He could be back at the Jedi Temple in a matter of minutes.

He moved through the crowd, his pace dignified, alert but calm in the way of a Jedi. He trusted in the Force to guide his way.

The garage bay was a massive open space, with one whole wall open to the air in order to offer access for even the largest transports. The passages that opened onto the street were smaller, different sizes and shapes accommodating the wide variety of races that mingled here. As the political center of the Republic, Coruscant was metropolitan as nowhere else in the Galaxy was. He passed through a doorway that suited his proportions, and continued down the short hall to the bay.

It was only as Master Ellud stepped into the bay that he became aware of the danger. He rolled to his right, and the bright length of a lightsaber passed above him. His own saber came into his hand as he regained his feet, and he turned in time to intercept a thrust that would have speared through his eye. He started to push forward, and the enemy dropped his hilt, raising his blade and bringing them into a bind.

Master Ellud regarded the assassin across their locked blades. He did not recognize the race: humanoid, with silver-blue skin and green eyes. His opponent was hairless and sleek, and the fingers that held the lightsaber were webbed. His clothing was a black second skin, crossed with belt and bandolier.

"You're the one who's been hunting Jedi," Ellud said calmly.

The strange gray figure nodded, and the narrow mouth pursed - an expression that could mean anything.

Ellud felt certain that it conveyed amusement.

"You've made a mistake," he said, and shoved back with all of his strength. It was not the strength of his arms that hurled his opponent back, but rather a powerful movement of the Force. Halfway across the garage bay, the Sith Lord - for what else could this be? - arrested his movement and settled gently to the floor.

Ellud Sor was not impressed. Any Jedi should be able to do the same. "Today you cross blades with a master," he called. "What name shall I give the rest of the council when I tell them of your fall?"

His enemy exhaled a soft, hissing laugh. "No mistake," it said, in a gentle, breathy voice. "Hunting you. Take your strength."

The Sith Lord launched himself forward with the barest movement of his feet, and Ellud lifted his blade to guard. He stepped aside and cut, but the Sith Lord matched his movement and their blades clashed and slid away. It was only then that Ellud became aware of the second lightsaber, propelled through the air just behind the Sith. It flared to life as if of its own accord, and the extending blade buried itself in the Jedi Master's chest.

The Sith Lord stepped in as Ellud staggered back, pushing the Jedi's lightsaber away with the saber in his right hand and placing his left hand on the hilt of the second lightsaber. For a moment their eyes met, and then the Sith Lord spoke: "Darth Noctus will have your midichlorians."

Master Ellud Sor's eyes widened as understanding dawned in his mind. The Council knew that Jedi were dying, but they did not know how or why. They felt the deaths within the Force, but found no remains of those slain. If this Sith Lord were somehow harvesting their midichlorians for his own use... I must escape. I must warn them.

Then Darth Noctus wrenched his second saber free, cutting up through the Jedi Master's shoulder. Master Ellud fell back, and his lightsaber spun from his hand. Darkness was closing in around the edges of his vision, but he could see his enemy's blades deactivate. A moment later the Sith was holding Ellud's own light saber, and then hanging it on his belt with the others.

He reached out with the Force, trying to send a warning, but all he could shape was a wordless cry for help. The Sith Lord was speaking into some sort of communicator, and now a pair of droids floated over. Their arms extended to lift his damaged body.

"Take him to the extractor," said Darth Noctus, in his soft, breathy voice. The droids floated away, and Darth Noctus followed them to his waiting ship. By the time the Jedi arrived, he would be far away... and the machines in his ship would have rendered the Jedi Master's body down, extracted his midichlorians, and injected them into Darth Noctus' bloodstream. Already he had become stronger than his Master, but he was not yet ready to challenge the Sith. Let the Jedi fall first, and then he would feast on his own. Before long there would be neither Jedi nor Sith. There would only be Noctus.

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