"I've waited a long time for this moment, and you will not be the one to take it from me!" –Darth Crisis, former Lord of the Sith
As boring as security duty is, it still makes you look cool, thought Tanon, sighing and shouldering his rifle. The weapons were all for show. Even the youngest Sith apprentices had evolved well beyond the need for menial weapons. But that didn't mean guns and sabers didn't look sweet, and anything that made explosions without requiring a focus and attunement to the waves of the Force, without requiring memorized spells—yeah, weapons were cool.
He examined himself in the mirror, brushing blond hair out of his eyes.
"You should get that rag cut," his Master commented from behind him. Tanon barely noticed, but now he did, and glanced back to Qui-Gon, tall and stoic with his black robes and polished black boots. Where the apprentice got to dress up as a security guard, only a badge declaring his rank in the Sith Order, the Master looked like a Sith Master. But even he wore a couple weapons.
Qui-Gon slammed a hat over Tanon's messy hair, pulling it over his eyes. "Heyyy," Tanon protested, pulling the hat back up. He tilted it cockily. "There we go."
"Yes, very cute." Qui-Gon rolled his eyes. "If you're done primping, I heard from Lady Nadira that my old apprentice has returned."
"Oh, joy, it's Lord Cynic," Tanon muttered sarcastically.
"It might be worthwhile to petition for that title, yes," Qui-Gon noted, for a moment amused. He tugged Tanon's hat into a less quirky position with the Force, stepping back once to give his apprentice the one-over. Tanon watched him in the mirror. The Sith Master nodded in approval. "You look fine. Any assassins and conspirators won't know what hit them."
You're in a good mood today. Tanon didn't mean to pry, but instinctively reached out to see what it was.
Do you not normally think me pleasant?
Tanon made a bit of a face, and elected to speak aloud instead. "Not always, Master Jinn." He clasped his hands and bowed formally.
Strict, am I? Qui-Gon stepped closer.
Ahh… yes, Master.
Qui-Gon reached out and tilted Tanon's head back. Their eyes met. Tanon tried to glance away from his Master's burning blue eyes, but couldn't bring himself to glance aside. "You must realize, apprentice, that though I have no desire to raise Lord Stoicus the sequel, or another Lord Snark, neither do I wish to raise Lord Holoballous. I respect you as a person different from myself, different from Kenobi, and different from my teacher. But before you face your Trials, I would see you learn self-control, patience, and a greater control of the Force than hitting balls with staves can grant you. Had you not been Sensitive, I have complete faith that you would have made a professional ball team. As it is—" He released Tanon's face suddenly "—you are a Sith now, and I will see you become the best Sith that you are capable of becoming. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, Councilor Serein," Tanon murmured. Sith names, earned at the passing of the Trials, were only used in the most extreme of situations, where the highest of ranks were commanded. Here, he spoke of Qui-Gon's second name to offer more respect than even 'Master Jinn' could have granted.
Qui-Gon nodded, and then the intensity in his eyes was gone. "Shall we go retrieve Kenobi?"
"Yes, Master." Tanon shot himself one last look in the mirror. Somehow, the view had changed, though. Rather than seeing a self-confident guard with an edgy do' and sleek weapons and armor, he saw an uncertain Sith apprentice with messy hair and clothes and weapons no Sith should've had to rely on.
He didn't see that dignity the Masters radiated.
Just Lord Selfconsciousious.
His apprentice had gone quiet. This was both, Qui-Gon thought, a negative and a positive. Certainly, for one, this meant that Young wasn't going on about the sports heroes of the latest game. The holoball season might have been done, but that just meant the next season of kickhacky was starting, and coverage of the GWWC in a couple weeks. Everything a growing boy needed: reruns of the holoball season, sports heroes captured in a glowing chamber with antigravity shoes chasing a blue ball with staves, a new season of kickhacky: five men all trying to get the misshapen hackyball into a net suspended a regulation three metres from the field, and, of course, the GWWC—steroid buffed gorilla-men trying to kill each other while fans screamed for more blood.
Yes, it was everything a growing boy needed. It wasn't to say Qui-Gon hadn't had his fair share of sports heroes when he was young. He still enjoyed watching the occasional hacky game and had even participated for a few years on a netslam team.
Then you met her.
He smiled wistfully. Tanon was quiet, and his Force presence was diminished. Something had—hopefully—penetrated his mind. And it gave Qui-Gon a chance to center himself, and let himself be distracted for a short while. He missed Thal. He still remembered her so strongly.
At least Kenobi still lived. The pain of loss was no stranger to any Sith. Qui-Gon idly wondered about Kenobi's mission—time travel, dimensional travel, these were the only breakthroughs the living had not yet managed. It was rumored the dead had no barriers. But dead men told no tales… and even dead Sith were less capable of speaking than the living variant.
He reached out and found a thread in the Force, and that thread he followed towards its owner: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Anochece. A name and a face he hadn't seen for a few months now. It was a shame, to always separate from one's apprentice. There was so much you could learn from them…
In his distraction, he walked right into Kenobi.
A hand clamped over his mouth. Anakin fought back a yell and instead, dropped, hurling the dark man to the ground. He pinned the man, tearing off his mask with one hand and reaching for his lightsaber with the other.
"Let's see who you are," the Jedi bit off, throwing the man's mask aside and igniting his lightsaber.
In that moment, he was thrown. The Force swept Anakin Skywalker off the once-masked man, flinging him to the ground and his lightsaber rolling away.
Anakin bounded to his feet. He beckoned with the Force. His lightsaber flew back into his hands. Just one little touch…
Blue swept around them.
Blue light highlighted his attacker's face. They paced around each other in the hall—the hall that led from the apartments to the more business oriented levels. To the cafeteria. To the training rooms. To the room of a Thousand Fountains. To the Jedi Archives…
To a familiar face.
"Obi-Wan?" Anakin breathed.
Words swept around him like a sudden tornado, catching Anakin and almost bringing him to his knees in shock from the clarity of the voice.
That name holds…
…You have no right to call me by…
…My real name…
…For you, Jedi, I am Lord Anochece…
And that alone…
In response, Anakin offered a formal lightsaber salute, and spun into an attack. Dark Obi-Wan—Anochece—fled towards Obi-Wan's room. Anakin's lightsaber cut into empty air. There was a thud as Anochece kicked the door open, reaching out with the Force once more…
—felt the effect wash out over his mind…
He hurled up a shield. The effect shattered. Splinters of the Force power seemed to fly out around them, as if it hadn't been just the mind—as if it had really been something tangible…
Obi-Wan's lightsaber was in the dark one's hand. There was a snap-hiss. The attacker fell into an unorthodox defense position.
Has he ever handled a lightsaber before?
No grace. There was none of that graceful, honed position Obi-Wan held in a fight. It was a desperate response. Anochece's defense…
…Is full of holes…
Blue on blue. Anakin snarled and swung into his lightsaber. Sparks flew. He threw his weight into it. He's not fast enough…
…The blade is unfamiliar…
…He's never used a lightsaber…
A gesture. Anakin jerked out of the lock a moment too late. A blue static took hold of his lightsaber and it held there, sticking in the middle of the air as if some otherworldly force had fingers wrapped around it. Anakin grabbed it and yanked, throwing his effort into freeing his lightsaber from that field of static—
Anochece gasped a guttural word. The air—
—Expanded with a bang. Anakin slammed into the wall, just missing the door. His lightsaber clattered to the ground, each component separated. He swore and bounded back to his feet.
Anochece still held out his right hand, a blue haze wrapped around it. The same sort of blue static—some sort of ethereal mist. The Force. It has to be the Force…
His feet left the ground. It seemed like a dream—the moment he slammed back into the wall and found himself limp on the floor woke him up. Anakin caught himself—caught himself falling and back to his feet. He tried.
He couldn't move.
Anakin reached out with the Force and pulled. Obi-Wan's lightsaber was still there. Still within reach. Whether or not Anochece held it…
…Do you honestly think you could do something with that toy, Jedi…
A command screamed into his mind.
It ripped through every cell, every fragment of his consciousness: every pain, every pleasure, every reality he could cling to was torn away in the aftermath of that order.
Anakin had no choice but to obey.