Light and Darkness: Mirror Image
Posts: 18
  • Posted On: Feb 28 2009 11:54pm
Heavy winds blew through the empty wasteland, trees turned to ghastly wraiths as flashes of lightning pierced the night. Torrential rain raked across the sandy plains and the distant mountains, saturated the ceremonial robes and ran down the droid's iron shell. The last Iron Knight walked calmly through the storm, his every step a perfectly executed mirror of the last.

At length, Luxum reached the entrance to Master Aqinos' cloister, the long-abandoned praxeum of the Iron Knights. It was as he had feared: the great door had been torn from its hinges, broken locks and jagged steel ringing the stone entrance. Luxum descended into the relative peace of the dark cave, the rains outside flowing down the stone steps and covering the floor.

His footsteps splashed lightly as he made his way into the dark depths of this subterranean Force Academy, photoreceptors glowing with a dim light just strong enough to show the way. He passed a splintered wooden door, a broken access panel, an overturned work bench. At length, he arrived at the door to the one room he had not been permitted entry during his brief tutelage under Jedi Master Aqinos. The blast door stood as an imposing barrier, one pierced by some great power, a rounded arc tracing partway around the door's center.

A lightsaber had done this deed.

Luxum reached out, the soaked sleeve of his robe sticking to his metal forearm, and his fingertips came into contact with the partly-melted door. At length he withdrew his hand and turned down the side corridor, entering the nearest room . . . where some great force had shattered the stone wall shared by that fortified vault. He stepped over the wall's intact base, surveying the contents of Master Aqinos' personal library.

Books―real, solid, paper books―were strewn everywhere, several stray pages littering the floor, the only books still on shelves apparently having been thrown there to get them out of the way. Bindings were torn, covers missing; however Master Aqinos had organized his life's work, it had been totally undone.

He had a lot of work to do.

“I'll be back in two weeks; it would be best if you were ready by then.”

Luxum nodded solemnly to his Shard patron, the freighter owner who had been so kind as to transport the aspiring Jedi to this abandoned world. “You will return with what I have requested?”

“I'll do my best,” The captain answered, retreating into his ship.

“May the Force be with you, my good friend.”

“And with you, Jedi. I hope you find what you're looking for.”

As the hatch closed between them, Luxum turned and began the trek back to Master Aqinos' ransacked home, leaving the Shard captain to run his preflight checks and then blast off toward the stars. For the time being, however, Luxum had been given a less adventurous task.

With the praxeum's power generator now on-line, Luxum paced the lit hallways of the Iron Knighs' one-time home, righting what damage he could until only one room remained. The task was a tedious one, but Luxum was determined: book by book, at times page by page, he reassembled Master Aqinos' library. There was not nearly time enough to read every word, but Luxum gleaned what information he could as he sought to repair and recatalog the Sunesi Jedi Master's writings.

And finally he was finished. The shelves once more lined with Master Aqinos' written knowledge, there was but one book missing, one empty space that filled Luxum with dread. Aqinos' had made a point of referencing his other works within each of his books, to a point that Luxum believed the Jedi Master had planned every one of these tomes completely before beginning the task of actually recording his knowledge.

Of the Dark Side, and Its Machinations

It alone was referenced, but not present. And it was referenced a great deal, as it was the only book within this library which housed the knowledge of Darkness. The heir of the Fallen Jedi Luxum had come to this place, defiled its pure nature, and robbed its great knowledge.

Now the true Luxum, apprentice of Durindfire and last Iron Knight, would have to retrieve it.

That evil might possess one less soul.

Somewhere out there, a lone Shard armed with the knowledge of Darkness and espousing the name of the one Iron Knight ever to Fall under its sway was awaiting a challenge from the last Iron Knight.

The Shard sat upon the wooden chair he had rebuilt only days earlier, and opened the knowledge of Master Aqinos:

Book One: Of the Nature of All Things.

The battle between Light and Darkness had just begun; the fate of the Iron Knights had not yet been determined.
Posts: 18
  • Posted On: Mar 14 2009 3:06am
The quiet hum of hyperdrive engines filled the empty room. The gently pulsing lights of the cargo bay's control panel cast the faintest light on the reflective metal all around.

But Luxum was not in that place. He could not smell the greased floor, or feel the hardened deck plating beneath him. He was once more somewhere else―someone else―living some Dark nightmare, powerless to bring it to an end . . .

The red lightsaber hummed gently in his grasp; cutting through metal, cloth, flesh, and bone. Blaster bolts connected and reflected off of it, returning to their sources and striking down yet more souls. All throughout the expansive docking bay, these pitiful organics were scurrying about, retreating into their starships or diving in futility behind what they must have considered adequate cover. But he battled on, confident in the outcome of this exchange.

And just as another squad of security personnel rushed into the massive chamber and it seemed he had become impossibly outnumbered, the luxum blade was turned upon a new target and driven into the nearest bulkhead. Electrical current burst forth from the ruptured power coupling, and the powerful hand of fate fell upon his back; the vacuum of space clawed at him, dragging the very air around him into its insatiable maw. Even as he fought to remain rooted in place, hands grasping the damaged bulkhead and the power of the Force binding him to the immovable steel, his foes toppled end-over-end to their deaths.

Her hand slipped; the protection of the Force shattered; her arm snapped straight as her last anchor point began to fail, and she felt the inevitable approach . . .

Luxum unleashed a terrible scream, fighting to grasp onto the reality that reconstituted itself around him. Some horrible power had come to his foe's aid, both driving him from her mind and ensuring―he knew―her survival. Even now, with that strange bond broken, he could fell her evil will―her Dark hunger―growing in the distance.

The last Iron Knight sat in that dark, empty hold for the longest moment; paralyzed by fear yet compelled to strike back. The images of bodies spiraling into vacuum filled his vision, and Luxum found himself standing. The vision―terrible though it was―had granted him new direction. He knew now where to go, what he must do. Only one fate awaits those consumed by such reckless hatred; as the last Iron Knight, he would see that fate fulfilled.

* * *

Luxum's patron was a generous one, but the Shard merchant had to make a living. So the Iron Knight had excused himself from that makeshift, mobile cloister, and finally found a crew both brave and foolish enough to take him to his destination . . .

The Wheel was burning. Several impact craters dotted the massive space station, and as the fearless Ryn crew navigated the sea of debris littering the surrounding space, a terrible darkness began growing inside Luxum.

How could she have done this? Why . . . But Luxum knew. This had not been some random act of violence, some mindless manifestation of the Dark Side's destruction.

A single Guardian-class light cruiser approached, scanning the transport before granting it clearance to land. As the freighter drew nearer to the station, Luxum made out the damaged docking bay from his Force vision; the place where that Dark Shard had done her terrible deed.

The shuttle landed, the Ryn began unloading their vital cargo, and Luxum descended the access ramp . . . to a hail of blaster fire. He managed to deflect the trio of bolts that would have otherwise struck home, his free hand reaching out and commanding one of the blasters from its owner's grasp. The weapon drove itself into the human's chest, the force of the impact dropping the security guard to his feet.

“Wait!” The Iron Knight demanded, lowering his free hand in hopes of showing he held no ill will, but refusing to lower his lightsaber as the threat of weapons fire remained very real.

But the security personnel had already stopped; something had alerted them to the fact that this newcomer was not the one they feared. Luxum's durindfire blade vanished as he perceived the threat gone, but the security guards' demeanor shifted darkly as that silver-white glow retreated back into the lightsaber hilt.

It surged back to life almost, and the Iron Knight charged forward, but his foresight had failed him: he did not have the time to defend against the loose cloud of tools, debris, and cargo that flew across the dock and drove the remaining guards into the nearest bulkhead.

Luxum positioned himself between the last surviving guard―whom he had disarmed and downed only seconds ago―and the source of that Force-assisted torrent.

Then she stepped forward, and Luxum moved to meet her. Their feet fell in sync with one another, and for a moment it appeared as though the Iron Knight were approaching some eerie, Dark reflection of himself, the Dark Shard having gone so far as to don black robes to counter his brown Jedi garb.

And then they stopped in unison, the mirror image unbroken, Luxum's Jedi blade in his right hand, his foe's red saber in her left. He brought his weapon into a two-handed grip, as did she. “I am Luxum, the last Iron Knight, and I must stop you now.”

His Dark counterpart broke the standoff, moving forward and delivering a powerful blow. Luxum easily guarded against it, but backpedaled to reduce the force of the strike. He returned the basic, prodding strike, but she parried, side stepping and switching to a one handed grip.

She struck again and again, fast but weak blows, but her footwork increased as well, and though Luxum found himself capable of defending against her strikes, he felt himself being pushed around by her constantly changing angles of attack. He struck back once or twice, but his uncertainty was evident, and his heavy-handed attacks were all but pointless against this agile, confident foe.

Then his counterpart reverted to a two handed grip, offering a handful of blows before her hands split again. She continued to change her attacks, sometimes two-handed, sometimes left handed, sometimes right. Luxum had soon been backed against a wall, unable to read his foe, forced into a purely defensive and reactive stance.

Then a metal-on-metal sound streaked toward him from the side, and a tool boxes came careening into the Iron Knight, skipping on the docking bay's deck like a rock skipping across water before finally impacting him in the side, below his outstretched arm.

His footing faltered, and the Dark Shard dealt a powerful blow from her saber, the force of its impact amplified by a Force push. Luxum fell to the ground, his lightsaber batted to the side as his foe came to stand directly over him. Her blade was poised just above the armored torso that housed Luxum's crystalline body, and the Iron Knight could sense the sick pleasure she took in holding his life in her hands.

I am Luxum!” She declared with a frightful scream. “I am heir to her great power! Die, impostor!”

She leaped away just as a wave of blaster fire raked across the bulkhead, deflecting the bolts that tracked her as she sprinted for the expansive magcon field separating the docking bay of the station from the emptiness of space beyond. She jumped into the void, and Luxum noted they were not such mirror opposites after all, for what should have been atmospheric jump jets mounted on her back instead shot bursts of blue-white fire, and the would-be heir of Luxum the Fallen Jedi streaked into the darkness of space.

She had escaped, but far more frighteningly: she had won.

Darkness must always yield to the Light . . .

Then why had Luxum failed?
Posts: 18
  • Posted On: Aug 27 2009 1:32am
“Again!” Luxum shouted into the darkness.

But master, this is―

“Again!” He demanded, and the droid obliged, as its programming demanded of it.

Into Luxum's vision materialized a copy of himself, a phantom image from whose hand stretched a burning red blade. Luxum charged, his pure-white saber flashing to life, his own servos working against themselves to simulate the resistance of that imaginary foe. They clashed once, and then again, and again, flashes of light playing across his eyes as his very real saber battered its imaginary counterpart.

But Luxum could gain no advantage. His every strike was met with seaming ease, his every motion predicted by the machine. Eventually, almost as if the droid had grown bored, the red blade zigged in a quick reversal, Luxum's right arm went numb as the blade flashed through, his saber deactivating immediately. The phantom blade plunged itself into Luxum's chest, and the apparition vanished, his arm returned to him.

“Again!” Luxum cried, his frustration mounting.

Master! The voice in his head demanded. I am a machine and even I understand that this is no use! You are to be a Jedi; your foe would be its antithesis. This is not a matter of swordplay.

“I am not strong enough.”

The strength to vanquish evil is not found in the power to defeat it according to its own method.

“What would you have me do? Die, like my master? Sacrifice myself so some street urchin might be bought the opportunity to strike my enemy in my stead? There would be precious little good left in this galaxy if that were its method of victory.”

Might does not make right, The droid urged.

“What does it matter if I die 'right'? I must defeat this . . . thing! This must be the way!”

Master, please!


The ghost resurrected itself. So cruel, that it must perish for being the victor. And perish it did. And again. And again . . .

* * *

As a Shard, Luxum was free to move about the Coalition. But he had no desire to. Evil things rarely hid within the Coalition. Evil flocks to evil, He recalled a passage from Master Aqinos' writings. And so the Coalition was little more than a short-cut for the would-be Jedi.

Luxum had made his way into Hutt Space, by whatever means he could procure, following that ghastly link that bound him to his foe. She was near; he knew that she was near.

He heard screams. He tried to play them over, tried to get some sense of direction, but the droid mind to which he was linked held no record of them; the machine consciousness which accompanied him held no recollection of them.

And then the transportation was complete: pulled through space―but he knew not through time―there he was, seeing what she saw, feeling what she felt, sensing all that she could . . . but distantly, an arm's length away, a willful deviation from being truly here-and-now.

The screams filled his ears, the agony built within them until it was all but unbearable, her glee mixing with his revulsion, her rage challenging his resolve.

He saw the slave pit. Twenty, thirty people; how many of them weren't people? Something moved; hairy, with great tusks and strong legs. It lunged at one of them, gored the pitiful thing, hurled it into something else. It was all a tangled mess, too difficult to tell one person from the next, from a corpse, from one of those wild animals tearing them apart.

Luxum laughed. No. No, I didn't laugh. Not me. He tried to pull himself away, to exercise the power his will gave him over these things, to draw back and away. To shut out those cruel laughs, those vile thoughts . . . he tried, but he couldn't. It dragged on; her glee, their deaths, wild animal violence, her calm survey from above. The walls grew firmer in Luxum's mind, the light brighter, the faces clearer. The laughter sharper.

He could not escape. He watched them die, down to the last, torn in half, eaten alive, gored and clawed and trampled. And when the animals were done, when they stood upon a floor paved in corpses, they turned upon one another, and Luxum's laughter grew . . .

and then there was one left, alone, triumphant. Luxum dropped from above, cleaved it cleanly in two, victorious.

When the world returned to him, it felt less real than the vision it extricated him from. Three somethings were standing in front of him; they did not look happy.

Master! Master! Let me move!

The vision-displacement had been in real time; he had been standing immobile for minutes . . . for how much of that had he been completely oblivious to the here-and-now?

They were armed. They were angry and they were armed. And they were very, very close.

With one burst of movement he hurled himself into the largest of them, his arm stretching out and the silver-white blade flaring to life. It caught the nearest one's arm as he reached for his blaster, detaching it cleanly. Luxum spun about, confident the blow from his hardened metal shell had knocked the target unconscious. He faced the lone standing foe, who fired in desperation as he turned and ran.

Luxum managed to deflect a few, one near-miss burning a few milimeters of plating off of his left shoulder, and then he had it: mathematical computation, memory-training, and intuition converged; Luxum twisted wildly, a blast that would have just missed him striking his outstretched blade, flying back at its source and burning a fantastic hole in the fleeing man's back.

Luxum's mind thundered with silent praise. He had done it! He had done it!

Master, why!?


Surely there was some other way!

Luxum looked around, terrified faces ducking back behind corners, scurrying children running into side alleys.

I didn't . . . I thought . . .

He wished so much for eyelids, that perhaps he could blink away the image of that slave pit, of those trampled bodies, of his lightsaber slicing so cleanly through that mindless, victorious beast. Not my lightsaber, He reminded himself. Not my lightsaber.

Something bumped against Luxum's foot. It was a detached arm. His lightsaber had done that. What terrified him most was that he still felt some sense of pride at what a good job it had done.

Violence is not the way of the Jedi! The droid continued to rant within Luxum's head. He silenced the thing, alone now with his thoughts and the remains of his terrible deed.

Maybe there had been another way. Maybe it didn't need to come to this. Maybe, maybe, maybe . . . Why? Was the Force not his ally? Was he not a Jedi? This is not how it is supposed to be. This is not how it is supposed to be.

This is not . . . “Why!?” But there were no answers for Luxum; no one there to answer him, no Force ghosts, no ranting machines, no vile foes. Just Luxum, his victims, and the terror that he had visited upon some nameless street on some nameless world, far beyond the watchful eyes of Empires and Coalitions and Republics and Confederations.

Luxum knew without thinking it that he would not find his enemy; that she had already moved on, her work here complete. He knew without thinking it that he had been led here to kill, and to do so without need.

And worst of all, he knew: he was still so proud of that perfectly executed reflection.
Posts: 18
  • Posted On: Jan 7 2010 6:40am
This world was angry.

The Iron Knight called Luxum waded through the sheets of rain, his Jedi robes drenched and splattered with mud. The heavy cloth caught on the thorny branches of this world's wild growth, rending here and there as the Shard pushed further into the untamed wilderness.

He tried to plot a path by the flashes of lightning, but more than once his feet failed to find purchase on the saturated soil. Luxum lifted himself out of the mud yet again: no machine processing, no servo control could compensate for the will of nature.

The would-be Jedi pressed on, joined now by the sound of limbs scraping against his metal flesh, the robe he wore so torn that it threatened to fall off under its own water-logged weight. How long had he been traveling through this storm? How many times had the clouds overhead glowed with the suppressed light of a sun they concealed, only to drop into total darkness again and again?

And then he saw her, standing there, an island in the storm. The Dark Shard stood upon a great boulder half-buried at the center of a clearing. The water rushing around Luxum's feet flowed down the hillside separating them, joined by other flash-streams as it poured into that low clearing where . . .

Where it curved around the great boulder, unwilling to intrude upon that Dark Shard's proclaimed realm. With another flash of light Luxum made out her black robes, untouched by the pouring rain, unmarred by the muck and mire of this dreadful place. Around this Dark one, nature bowed. She had no need to resist its force, no compulsion to merge with its will; she simply subdued it.

Luxum's foothold gave way and he slid down the hillside to the small clearing where his enemy stood, dry and at total peace. Dragging himself to his feet, his body now covered in the thick, clinging mud of which this whole world seemed to be made, the last Iron Knight brandished his silver-white lightsaber.

The Dark Shard turned to acknowledge him, but did not bring her weapon to bear. This close, Luxum could see the cone of empty air above her, how the rain drops themselves seemed to have been willed away from her even as they dropped from the clouds.

The last Iron knight pressed forward, stepping into the shin-deep flood of runoff that surrounded his target, intent on finishing this thing once and for all. He lunged . . . and flew backwards. Her outstretched hand clenched into a fist, and Luxum fought desperately to hold onto his saber, grabbing with both hands and calling on all the powers of the Force he could muster.

It did not matter much to his foe, who simply hurled him bodily through the air, smashing him into a tree. Luxum righted himself, charged a second time. She held out her hand in a gesture to stop, and Luxum crashed backwards, impacted by some immovable power.

The Iron Knight reached out through the Force, grasping a stone, and then a branch, a splintered boulder. He hurled them at her with all his power, the inanimate things rocketing through the storm to strike from different directions. But they bounced off of her protective cone, no more threat to her than the pouring rain.

She approached and he stood his ground, weapon drawn. She tilted her head slightly, studying her foe. The rain stopped falling on Luxum; he looked up to see the cause, and then was on his back, disarmed. “You could be my pet,” She said calmly, standing over him. “I've always wanted a pet.”

Luxum hurled himself upward, reaching out for his lightsaber, now in her hand, but she struck him with her free hand, and he collapsed to the ground again.

She turned and walked away. “Find me when you are worthy.” Stopping, she half-turned to look at him over her shoulder. “And decide if you are pet or prey.”

Luxum would spend the longest time shouting into that endless storm, the shame of defeat mixing with the fury of abandonment: the Force had not allowed him to win! He had done all there was to do, yet he had failed, utterly.

A Jedi without a lightsaber, a droid stuck on a rain-world. The Force mocked him.

He felt . . . empty; Purpose had moved on, and left him there to rust and fade away.
Posts: 18
  • Posted On: Mar 27 2010 5:52am
If the Force would not help him, he would help himself.


“But, Sir―”


The alien some thirty paces away lifted and fired his blaster in one quick motion. Luxum saw the forces at work on the barrel, the grip, the hand that held it as they swung upward in concert and finally that finger squeezed the trigger.

The last Iron Knight moved his blade to intercept the projected path of the bolt, angling it to strike a nearby target dead center.

“Keep firing.”

The alien let fly another bolt, and then another, and then four, and seven. He was firing as fast as he could, side stepping as his double-grip on the small weapon shifted slightly, seeking a weakness in the droid-Jedi's defenses.

But the new program ran flawlessly, feeding Luxum the vital data needed to counter every bolt, to dispatch every threat.

The blaster's power cell depleted, and Luxum yanked the weapon from its owner's hand, suspending it in the space between them. The blaster tumbled slowly in place, held airborne by unseen forces. But Luxum could see them. Though there was no indication of their source, the internal program computed every tiny nudge from the Force perfectly.

Luxum let the weapon fall and walked away.

“I-I'm leaving in twelve hours!” The alien shouted from behind him.

Luxum dismissed him with a waive. “I won't be needing a ride.”

He had made this trek before. It was night then, storming. He hadn't known what he would find at the journey's end.

But this time time he was ready.

Luxum the last Iron Knight stepped past the shattered door without a glance. He descended into the darkness without a sound, metal feet gliding silently over stone steps.

She was leaning against the blast door at the end of the hall, her body hiding the scar cut into that monstrous barrier months ago by her lightsaber. “Behind me is all that remains of your master, Jedi. A room full of books that will never be read.” She lifted her metallic hand, showing the thing which had begun this all. “Pity; he's not a half-bad writer. So,” She pushed herself off of the wall, gripping the stolen book tightly as she walked forward to meet her mirror, “have you―”

And Luxum lunged, his blazing white saber lancing out at her.

She dove into a side room and came up with her own blade in hand, laughing joyfully as Luxum entered after her. “Fool!”

He struck again and his foe parried, retreating a step. He pressed harder, and she yielded ground.

She amused herself with his efforts, playing the part of the inferior to prolong this engagement. But then her back touched the wall, and her foe released a flurry of blows. Pressed against the wall, she felt herself beginning to be genuinely overwhelmed by this reinvigoraged foe. She reached out through the Force, seeking any help to escape this tactical disadvantage.

A chair flew from the corner of the room and Luxum ducked it. The table it belonged to followed immediately and he turned into it, his blade slicing it in two and the smallest nudge of the Force sending its pieces to either side. But the crimson blade was already thrusting to take advantage of the distraction. Luxum twisted quickly and batted it away, but―

―she wasn't willing to surrender the momentum she had gained. She pressed the attack, driving him back into the center of the room.

Luxum tracked her every move, matched patterns of attack with the assistance of his custom-crafted software. He chose his moment carefully, breaking from his defensive posture to deliver a single heavy blow, into which he channeled all of the power of the Force he could muster.

She blocked, but the weight of the strike drove her backward. She gave in to the force of the blow, letting it push her back until she was once more against the wall. Dropping her lightsaber, both arms snapped outward and her hands opened to present themselves to Luxum.

The wall of telekinetic power pulsing through the room lifted Luxum from the floor, hurling him back through the stone doorframe and sending him spinning into the hallway beyond.

Debris was still spiraling by on shifted air currents when Luxum tried to rise to his feet, a metal boot stomping on his chest to hold him down. His own lightsaber flashed to life, hovering centimeters from his neck.

“You should have chosen to be a pet, because I've already tired of you being prey.”

Luxum could feel her pride through their strange Force bond. She had won, and now he would perish.

His dueling skill had failed him. His programming prowess had been insufficient. His service to the Light had gone unrewarded.

But a path yet remained. There was a Power sufficient to slay this foe, even now. He felt it through their bond, and it gave him strength. He opened himself to that link, living this moment as both the predator and prey, the victor and the vanquished. Her rage, her Darkness washed over him. He could feel the absolutism of this moment.

She had won.

But his own-self summoned the memory of that duel so far-removed, that dark night when Master Durindfire had fallen. The Self Luxum remembered the foolishness of that Dark Shard's hubris, the weakness that total surrender to such all-consuming Power had opened.

As Other Luxum relished in the glory of victory, Self Luxum knew that by that very act of his foe he had won. Her rage fueled his Power, and he drew on her strength to mimic her crushing blow.

Something of this revelation must have bled backwards through that link, because as Luxum drew the Force to himself and released the wave of energy, he could hear the whisper of her disbelief.

But Luxum was not fool enough to hesitate. He rode the back of that wave, drawn to his feet as she was hurled into the blast door at the end of the hall.

Her crimson blade came to her unbidden and from a place unknown. It drove itself into her chest, her crystalline body shattering from the heat. The link was broken; the Dark Shard was dead.

But the Power . . . it remained.

The droid body of Luxum's foe remained pinned to the blast door, her own weapon still humming ominously where it had punctured her chest, the durindfire lightsaber suspended listlessly in the air where her hand had slipped from its grip, deactivating it. The book, too, floated in the air, its title just visible as it tumbled on unseen axes. Of the Dark Side, and Its Machinations.

The worthless droid shell and the disowned crimson blade crashed to the ground, but the durindfire lightsaber and the book which held so many Dark secrets continued their eery, unnatural dance.

And the Power . . . it remained.

Luxum reached out his left hand, a single finger stretching to reach just a little further. As the hilt of the spinning lightsaber touched his fingertip, its durindfire-white blade flared to life, stabbing through the center of the book.

The book continued its unguided tumbling, the blade burning more and more of its forbidden knowledge to dust. At length, the fragmented remnants of the tome collapsed inward, vanishing into that white light.

And the Power . . . it remained.

Luxum grasped his master's lightsaber and left this dead temple to the shadows.

There was a great journey set out before him yet, filled with many mysteries and countless secret truths. But this much was certain: the last Iron Knight would not be learning of the Dark Side from the biased writings of a dead Jedi Master.

But the Power . . . it remained.
Posts: 18
  • Posted On: Oct 12 2013 9:58pm
The cramped personal quarters felt more like a tomb to Luxum, whose bulky droid body made the room feel even smaller. He could barely fit through the narrow hallway that ran from the personal transport's engine room to the two-man cockpit, where the copilot's chair had been ripped out to make room for the vessel's previous owner.

The ship's computer reported the active hyperdrive rating at just under class 3 equivalence, though Luxum hadn't yet dared to inspect the drive by trying to fit himself into the engine “room,” which was truthfully little more than a crawlspace.

It was not a comfortable ride, but it was almost over. There was no room for training, so his mind had raced with the events of his journey to Dweem, the battle with his Dark counterpart and . . . and the Power which had saved him from destruction.

He knew what Master Durindfire would have said, what Master Aqinos would have said, what Ilum would have said . . . but the Power remained, it gave him strength, it guided him toward his purpose. It wasn't evil, it wasn't sinister, it demanded no compromise of his beliefs, no curtailing of his conscience.

But he knew what Durindfire would have said, and perhaps that was why he had made this journey alone. It was time to face the angel on his shoulder.

Luxum reactivated the droid brain that shared his metallic body, and braced himself for the tirade to come.

Oh, we're alive! Thank the Maker! Luxum could sense the droid checking its internal chronometer. Wait, how long have I been offline!?

“I had to face her alone. I had to defeat her.”

That's all well and good, but . . . wait: what are these?

“These” were the custom programs Luxum had written himself to assist in that fateful battle against his Dark opponent. Now deactivated, they nevertheless rose to the awakened droid's attention. “A mistake.”

They're magnificent!

“They're irrelevant. Delete them.”

But, Master . . .

“Do it!”

I . . . yes, of course. But I must ask: what happened?

“I won. She's dead.”

Yes, but . . .

“Listen: it's over. Now I have to find my path. Now I have to learn the truth of Light and Dark.”

Master, I don't like the way that sounds. If you would just tell me what happened―

“It's none of your business.”

It is very much my business. Master Durindfire charged me with―

“Master Durindfire is dead. Your allegiance is to me.”

This is not a matter of allegiance, but of destiny. I cannot stand by and watch you lose your way.

“I have . . . questions. I cannot deny the experiences I have lived, the actions that saved my life. I cannot ignore the choice that sealed my enemy's fate.”

Tell me what happened. Let me help you.

“This is my journey. This is my test. And it's none of your business.

“That is all.”

And right on time, the alarm chimed and the ship's automated systems began preparing for reversion.

“Ten seconds to normal space. Destination: Sulorine."

The hail to traffic control was answered quickly and sternly. “You are piloting a registered stolen vessel last seen in the possession of the outlaw Shard known as Luxum. Power down and prepare to be boarded.”

In all this time, Luxum had never considered how his adversary had come by this ship. The fact that she had laid claim to his name could only further complicate matters. “Sulorine Traffic Control, I am an Iron Knight and Jedi. I have killed the Shard your records show as Luxum, and am seeking only to return to Coalition space. If this ship is stolen, then I will of course cooperate with returning it to its rightful owner.”

There was a long pause before the traffic control operator replied, idle time in which Luxum's mind raced with possibilities. “Star Shard, hold position and await an inspection detail.”

After so long in hyperspace, he didn't much like the thought of sitting idly in orbit until these people decided he wasn't who they were looking for, but there really wasn't any other option at this point. “I should have just gone straight for Coalition space,” he muttered, working the ship's controls to comply with the orders.

The long minutes of cramped silence ended with a dull thud as the security ship attached itself to the personal transport's sole access port, located on the ship's starboard side. Luxum made his way to the junction that connected the main hallway running the length of the ship to the small boarding area in front of the port.

And then he felt it:




Pulses of raw emotion laying just out of sight.

“Oh no . . .”

What is it, Master? The droid asked.

Luxum deactivated it.

Power washed over him. They're here' to kill me.

A second sooner and they would have succeeded. As the hatch imploded with the force of their boarding efforts and shrapnel flew through the surrounding area, a surge of telekinetic energy pulsed from Luxum. Wild and uncontrolled, it nevertheless blunted the impacts from the flying debris. Then he ignited his lightsaber and called upon the Force to hurl the tools and supplies lining either side of the boarding area through the breached hatch, buffeting his foes just long enough to jump across the boarding umbilical.

His blade cut one of them cleanly in two, lopped off the arm of a second. A blaster flared and the bolt caught him in his shoulder. Almost out of reflex, his arm stretched toward the man and he went flying against the bulkhead, a loud crunch sounding as he hit.

Luxum whirled on the remaining men, swinging his blade wildly, cutting another in half as a pair of bolts struck him again. He lunged, piercing the last man's heart.

Blade still humming, he limped over to the man he had thrown against a wall, his own mechanical knee damaged from a blaster shot. He grabbed the man by the throat and lifted him off of the ground. “Why!”

Gasping for breath, eyes diverted from the burning blade, he struggled with the few words that might explain their actions. “Dominion . . . Artanis . . . Holonet Declaration.”

Luxum glanced toward the cockpit, familiar with this ship model. All but dragging his damaged leg after him, he made his way to the cockpit hatch, opening it to reveal empty pilot and copilot seats. He smashed his hand through one of the control consoles, pulling out a particular piece of hardware, then limped back to the ship's docking port.

With a final glance at the sole surviving guard, still gasping for breath, he stepped across the threshold and ignited his saber once again. Slashing the umbilical that connected the two ships, he made sure his cut ran into the hostile vessel, damaging the emergency seals and ensuring it would be vented of atmosphere.

As the damaged hatch slid closed in its futile effort to maintain atmosphere, Luxum limped back to his own cockpit, furiously typing hyperjump commands before more local security could arrive.

Once more safe in hyperspace, he set to work on the piece of Sulorine hardware, connecting leads to the communications hard drive and accessing the stored messages. With the atmosphere vented and a gaping hole in the side of his ship, he had to jack directly into the ship's computer, playing the message straight to his audial interface.

The figure and voice of Artanis Daz'Da'Mar greeted him with his ghastly Declaration.

But for the Power welling within him, Luxum would have succumbed to absolute fear in that moment.

In his damaged ship, in his damaged body, hurtling through hyperspace on a course that might or might not plunge him into the heart of a star, the Power alone remained. His Power. The Power that had once again saved him.

It had not been a whisper of the “Force” that had warned him of the impending peril. The Power which had granted him victory over his Dark foe had once again given him the strength to destroy his enemies.

“I will survive. I am destined to greatness, and the Power of that destiny will sustain me.”

What had been the difference between himself and the Dark Luxum? She had not realized that her Power was not a tool, but instead a master. Luxum would live out his great destiny, because he would embrace the will that guided it.

The warning alarms sounded and Luxum hit the manual release, an unnecessary action as the ship's safeties had already disengaged the hyperdrive.

The battered personal transport appeared in the space around Bimmisaari broadcasting automated distress calls activated by its hull breach. Bimmisaari traffic control was quick to respond, but while their vessels were still on approach, more ships appeared in the system.

The Sulorine Defense Force was chasing him.

Luxum immediately activated the ship's comm systems, still patched directly into his droid body. “Bimmisaari traffic control, I am the Iron Knight Luxuxm, a citizen of the Coalition planet, Orax. I am being pursued by forces of the Sulorine government who wish to kill me in accordance with the Dominion Declaration against Force users. I require immediate assistance.”

“Private transport Star Shard, please stand by,” was the only reply offered by the Bimmisaari traffic control.

As the seconds ticked by, the Sulorine ships closed on Luxum's slow, civilian craft. Star Shard's simple sensors detected communications between the Bimmisaari emergency response ships and the small task force of Sulorine vessels, but his communications systems were not sophisticated enough to intercept those transmissions. His pursuers would be in firing range in only seconds, and the Coalition was showing no signs that they would intervene on his behalf. He could only imagine what deal the security forces of the two worlds were brokering between one another, with his life hanging in the balance.

Run! the Power within him yelled, and he complied instinctively, orienting his ship as it directed him. The damaged private craft vanished in a flash of pseudomotion, hurtling through hyperspace on its path guided not by careful calculation and analysis of cosmic forces, but by the Power that continued to save him from certain death.

The vessel dropped from hyperspace after only a moment, and Luxum used the ship's navcomputer to lay in another short jump, after which he picked a galactic compass direction at random and made the longest single-stop jump the navcomputer could calculate.

There, at that insignificant point in space, huddled in the sealed quarters of his damaged ship, he waited. For what, he did not know. For how long, he could only guess. The Coalition had abandoned him, he was sure of it. Whether outright, in compliance with the Dominion's Declaration, or more obliquely, by taking advantage of the opportunity to confuse him with the Dark Luxum.

He was roused from his silent isolation by a notification from the ship's computer: a message was incoming. Luxum slapped the room's door override, venting the repressurized compartment into the vacuum just beyond. He made his way back to the cockpit and jacked into the comm, accessing the unexpected message.

It was a general broadcast from the Galactic Empire. The Imperial HoloNet had been in shambles since the fall of Coruscant, but it appeared they were making headway, particularly in these more remote sectors that had already relied far less on Imperial Center as a communications hub.

The message, however, could not have been more shocking. Emperor Kraken was offering amnesty to Force users. All Force users, regardless of their philosophy, and regardless of their crimes.

It made no sense. It absolutely made no sense. Could it be a ploy? A trick to lure in unsuspecting fools, so the Empire could turn them over the conquerers of Coruscant?

No. Luxum knew the Empire well, and despite its new face, it was every bit the petty, cruel, self-absorbed, arrogant, vindictive fiend it had always been. No man who dared call himself Emperor - not Palpatine, not Hyfe, not Kraken - would ever roll over and be cowed in such a way.

In a sick, twisted way, it made the Empire the only thing that Luxum could trust. In his damaged ship, this far from home, hunted by a Coalition he was so sure had turned on him, it was the only option left to him.

He called up a map of the local region and began plotting a course for the nearest Imperial world.

“Luxum.” The voice came from behind him, speaking through the vacuum of the depressurized cockpit. He knew the voice well, an echo of a man who no longer existed, so close and yet so very far away.

Luxum turned to regard the spectral crystal that hovered just inside the adjoining hallway. “Master Durindfire,” he answered, staring straight into the pulsing light at the crystal's center.

“You must turn back, Luxum, before it is too late.”

“Turn back? Back where?”

“Back to the Light!” Durindfire's voice screamed. “This is not your destiny, Luxum. You are an Iron Knight -”

“I am the last Iron Knight!” Luxum shouted back, jumping to his feet and taking the few paces needed to close the distance between himself and his former master. “I have been since you left me to fight the Darkness, alone. And I have fought it . . . and I have won. There is a power in me, Master Durindfire; it saved me from my enemy. It ensured her death. It warned me of the Coalition's betrayal.”

“No!” Durindfire raged. “You have been deceived! The Darkside hungers for you -”

“It is not Dark. It will not betray me.”

Luxum, listen to me -”

“I am finished listening to you,” Luxum cut him off again, pressing the control that slammed the cockpit hatch shut between them.

The ghostly Durindfire drifted through the physical barrier, his ethereal light growing brighter. “The Darkness calls to us in many ways, Luxum. Seldom does it take the form we most despise.”

The condescension infuriated Luxum. He wished that he could reach out a hand and cast the Force ghost back to wherever it came . . . and he could. He could feel it, inside himself, just as the thought came to mind. The Power inside him knew what to do; it understood the delicate link that bound these two, apprentice and master, to one another.

And it knew how to break that link.

“There is a Path that each of us is meant to walk, Luxum,” Durindfire continued his plea. “The Light will guide you on your way, if you will only let it.”

Luxum raised his hand, palm open, toward the Force ghost. “I'll find my own way.” The image of Durindfire distorted, waving back and forth as dark, vertical streaks appeared in it, and then the former Jedi Master dissolved away completely.

Luxum, far more satisfied with that than he had expected to be, returned to the pilot's seat and double-checked the nav computer. A moment later the shuttle vanished into hyperspace, and when it reemerged, a moonless world hung in the forward viewport.

“Centares Traffic Control, I am Luxum, of the Order of the Iron Knights, a Jedi.” He paused for a brief moment, almost unable to believe what he was about to do. He'd fought his whole life against the Empire, and now . . .

And now: “I do hereby request asylum within the borders of the New Order of the Galactic Empire.”