Author's Note: Set in the time frame between Tales of the Jedi and the Battle of Ruusan (I'm not exactly sure when). As you'll find, I'm taking liberties with the established continuity ('cause, frankly, I don't care much for a lot of it, including Ruusan itself.) I'm also pretty ... sporadic when it comes to me updating this, so I apologize in advance.

Disclaimer: Not making a dime off of this.


TYREES
-APPRENTICE-

-- NOW --

Hunting the fallen Jedi Khavros Lin, I came to the world Pelaxos.

It was a dead world, occupied only by the corpses of the billions who died there on a single, tragic day so many years ago. Despite the ongoing war, a Republic battlefleet was always above the dead world, under explicit orders from the Senate to never set foot on Pelaxos and to prevent any ship without special dispensation from landing. Viewed from orbit, it seemed a ridiculous instruction, as the planet appeared to be a thriving and lush world of rolling plains, soaring mountains and glittering oceans. Appearances are deceiving, however, and I, more than anyone, knew how deadly the planet truly was.

For I had destroyed it.

Lin was waiting for me at the Temple of the Sun, and he smiled as I approached. There was something sinister in his expression, something dark and feral that robbed him of the charisma he had once possessed before he Fell. His eyes, once the clearest of blue, were now tainted yellow, and the stench of death seemed to surround him.

"Hello, apprentice," he rasped as I drew even to him. I frowned.

"You gave up the right to call me that ten years ago," I told him. Anger simmered within my breast, but I focused on control. There is no emotion, I recited mentally.

"Did I?" He laughed. It was a bitter sound, like glass shattering against plasticrete. "You killed this world, Tyrees, not I." His voice was mocking, and he gestured expansively toward the shattered buildings that yet climbed into the darkening sky. "Even the Sith could not have done a better job."

I said nothing in response, and allowed his words to wash over me without effect. It was an old dark side technique intended to undermine the confidence of a foe, one that my old master had learned from forbidden sources. To those unskilled in such matters, it would seem to be nothing more than simple words, incapable of harming. The truth, like so many things Sith, was more pernicious. As he spoke, Lin gently probed with the Force, honing in on his enemy's weakness and focusing his contempt there. If one was unprepared for such a subtle attack, one could be defeated before the battle had begun.

"Enough," I said, enhancing the effect of my voice with the Force. It caused the loose stones n the floor to rattle. Lin recoiled in slight surprise, before glowering darkly. Even before he had tampered with the corrupting influence of the dark side, Khavros Lin had never liked to be interrupted.

And that was part of my strategy.

"You've eluded justice for too long," I told him. I could sense the subtle shift of atmospheric effects surrounding us as the Force began to swirl. Though he displayed no indication of it, I knew that Lin was gathering his resources and calculating the best time to strike. Already, I knew how he would attack, and how to counter his strike. It was a special gift, one that made me an ideal warrior.

"There is no justice," my old master snarled. Darkness seemed to be gathering around him, though I knew only I could see it. Tendrils of future events began to flicker across my mind's eye, warning me of possible threats. That step there was not sturdy. The awning of that roof was cracked. Those rocks could complicate my footing.

"There is only power!" Lin lunged as he spoke, his lightsaber igniting with an angry snap-hiss, but I was ready for him. My own blade – jade in color – flashed into existence, and I met his lethal stroke with an easy parry. He grunted as he twisted into a wild decapitating spin, but I flowed away from the blow like so much smoke. Another sudden thrust from him missed by centimeters, and I kicked his leg out from under him even as I easily dodged his lunging attack. Lin hit the ground hard, but recovered instantly, rolling to his feet two meters away from me.

I let him stand.

He attacked once more with a shout, his scarlet blade humming, but I batted away his attack and slid into the next sword form to deflect a second blow. A storm of small rocks leaped from the ground and darted toward me, driven by his furious hate. I ripped the roof free with the Force to block the small projectiles like an animated shield. Thinking that I was distracted, Lin lunged, his blade flashing, but I caught the attack and diverted it with my own weapon.

We circled.

"You should join me," he declared with a condescending smile that nearly hid his worry. "Together, we could be unstoppable!" I smiled.

"All of the Sith Lords that I've killed have all said the same thing once they realized they were losing," I replied coldly. Anger contorted his face, and he attacked again, his crimson blade nearly howling as he tried to kill me with a desperate flurry of blows. I parried each of them, letting him see the ease in which I did so, and we circled once more. The desperation was beginning to build in his eyes, and I hated myself a little bit for enjoying it. Anger snarled within my chest, as the faces of those he had killed flashed across my mind's eye, but I focused entirely upon him, upon his presence in the Force. Like a pane of glass, it was beginning to crack under intense pressure. Soon, it would collapse entirely.

A blizzard of rocks and debris began wailing around us, as we fought in dimensions beyond those of simple sight. Telekinetic attacks were met and deflected; in their wake, chunks of masonry were smashed and sent spinning. Our minds struggled against one another on a purely psionic level, and I could feel my old master weakening with each breath he took. He could feel it too, and his fury was slowly eclipsed by fear.

And, in that moment, I struck.

He was unprepared for the aggression of my attack, and backpedaled rapidly as I rained blows down upon him. With each stroke, I pushed him closer to the edge and the hundred meter fall that waited. His presence in the Force became scattered, distracted, as he recognized the danger that he was in, but it was already too late.With a flick of my wrist, I abruptly altered the direction of my saber stroke in mid-swing.

His severed arm fell to the ground.

Shrieking in agony, Lin staggered backwards, his other hand clutching at the now smoking stump that had been his weapon arm. Through the tears that sprang up in his eyes, he glared at me hatefully, and I knew that I would not get the information that I sought through peaceful means. I hesitated slightly. Nothing I had done thus far had been over the line, and the Order would accept me back if I turned him over to them. But I would never know...

The decision wasn't hard to make.

Lin gasped as I lifted my hand. His eyes widened in shock and recognition of what I was about to do, but I gave him no chance to plead for his life. Instead, I reached out with the Force, and slammed a thoughtprobe into his mind. He convulsed instinctively as the telepathic assault sliced through his meager defenses.

"Where is she?" I demanded, stimulating the truth centers of his brain as I spoke. He would be unable to lie.

"Dead!" he almost screamed, and I felt my vision darken with fury. Lin screamed again as the thoughtprobe burrowed deeper, but I no longer cared. All I could see was her face.

"And the child?" Hope warred against fear.

"The Order took her," my old master wheezed. He was twitching nonstop now, as the thoughtprobe raped his mind, and he was weeping blood. Time was running out, I realized.

"Who?"

"Voth!" he screamed, invoking the name of the Jedi Master that he had killed months earlier. Rage began thundering through my veins then, clouding my sight, and, I trembled on the edge of embracing it. This monster had stolen my life, and I wanted to see him pay. Killing him would mean exile from the Order, or perhaps even sanction. Jedi sentinels would be sent to apprehend me, or perhaps even seek to sever my connection to the Force. It would be a life of constant struggle, and one no sane person chose. Despite the excruciating pain, Lin began to laugh at my expression. "Now, you'll never know!" he chortled through his agony.

I chose exile.