Sorry, I'm out for a few days and don't have time to write a full chapter. I'll post this to keep the momentum going. More from Starkiller and a little on PROXY's development. And, we do a little link to the past. Thank you so much, Jen, Thug, Teh, and Valid. I appreciate your input and time. :D

Other malarkey - I took 2nd out of 16 in the year end Kendo shiai, winning 7 and losing 2 bouts. "Shobu ari!" We got in some good quality tatami mats for cutting practice. My kesagiri (diagonal cuts) and lateral cuts were very good. I'm going to try Gyakugesa (upward diagonal cuts) tomorrow. Dad is going to take us out to dinner tomorrow. Looks like steak. Time for more P90X and AbRipperX workout.

Ii toshi ni narimasu youni! Omedeto gozaimasu! (Happy New Year) Jaa ne, minnasan (see you later, everyone).

A Secret Training Facility

"What is this, PROXY?" the Apprentice asked. His eyes were focused on a data file that had been sent to him from the Master. It wasn't a type of file he had seen before – it had strange algorithms attached that were beyond his reckoning.

"I'm not sure, master, but I can access it and ascertain its contents if you wish."

"Yes, I need to see it." If it came from the Master, it needed to be read.

PROXY extended a long probe into the data port and twisted it around a bit. The Apprentice grew a little impatient as servos whirred and the data stream flowed into the droid. He snorted and pursed his lips. "Well?"

PROXY took a step back and began to jiggle. The Apprentice's eyes widened and he too, took a step back. "What's wrong? PROXY?" Impatience gave way to worry as his only 'friend' seemed to be having a seizure.

"I…I…I…d…don't kn…know…m…master. S…something i…is t…t…taking control of me."

The Apprentice rushed back in and grabbed a hold of the droid. "PROXY…PROXY, what can I do?" The prospect of having the droid malfunction or even cease operations was becoming most distressing. PROXY suddenly began to convulse and his from began to warp and grow dark. The Apprentice took an involuntary step backward as black gloves and armor shimmered over the droid's body and a black helmet took shape around black, soulless eyes. The Apprentice's heart froze in his chest and his gut tightened like a noose. "M…master…."

How could this be? How could PROXY suddenly become the most feared being in his small universe? He quickly got to his knees and bowed his head.

"Indeed, my apprentice. I see you have accessed the data file I sent you. You must study it. I expect you to know everything that I will teach you when I return or there will be consequences."

The threat of more and unimaginable pain sent shivers down the Apprentice's spine. But wait…what did the master just say? "When you return? I don't understand, master."

"I am not physically here, fool," the dark shape said in a menacing tone that made the boy cringe. "Your droid has the capacity to mimic any being with his holographic projectors. I shall make use of it for my convenience."

"I…I understand, my master."

The shadow stood over him, looking down, the rhythmic mechanical breathing resonating in his ears. "Look up at me," Vader said in that deep basso voice. Though he didn't want to, he forced his eyes upward. "Embrace your fear. Let it drive your rage. Learn this lesson well, my apprentice."

"I shall, my master."

"Good…and now, there is something I have been meaning to bestow upon you."

The Apprentice's heart skipped a beat – did the master mean to give him praise? He didn't know how to respond.

Vader extended his gloved finger at the boy. "I will now call you Starkiller. It will be an apt name for when I unleash you upon our enemies…the enemies of the Empire."

Now, he had a name…not a real name, but still. He bowed his head in thanks. Then, the dark shape began to fade and the droid stood there in its place. Starkiller breathed a sigh of relief. Even though he had served the Master for years, his skin still crawled at the sight of the shadow. "Okay, PROXY, run the data file."

The droid began to shimmer again and warped into another form. Starkiller glanced sideways, analyzing the new shape. It looked somewhat like the vision he had…yes, it was female. However, it was covered in short, soft fur and had sharp, intense eyes – definitely not the woman from the vision. The shape was dressed in simple brown robes and her hand moved quickly under them.

"I will be your doom!" she yelled in an unfamiliar accent and drew a long, silver cylinder from the robes. Adrenaline rushed into Starkiller's body – she held a lightsaber. A cerulean blue blade shot out from the cylinder with a snap-hiss and Starkiller rolled backward just in time to avoid the cut that sizzled past his head. He spun and drew his own weapon, lunging forward as he thumbed the button on the grip. His crimson blade shot forward toward the woman's face, but she sidestepped and brought her hand up, intercepting the attack.

What is this? Starkiller was confused for a split second – the woman held her lightsaber in an unusual, reverse grip. What style was this? His momentary indecision allowed the woman to slam the pommel of her weapon into his cheek with the force of a train. White hot pain flooded his senses and he staggered back, holding his face with one hand. Forcing one eye to stay open, he saw the woman twirl her lightsaber at him, the angle of the cut unfamiliar to him.

He tried to block it, but he didn't know how. The blue blade sliced through part of his arm, searing muscle and sinew. The woman's momentum carried the weapon around for a new attack. All Starkiller could do was leap away. Fire coursed through his limb, assaulting his mind. The boy had to focus…had to learn the lesson. His brain wrapped around the power of the Force and hurled a crate at the woman. She tried to dodge, but he held her fast and the crate slammed into her, splintering and knocking her to the ground. With his good arm, he pointed at her and flung her into a wall with a sickening thud.

But, she wasn't out of the fight yet. Bloody, but unbeaten, the woman somersaulted at Starkiller, her lightsaber spinning like a glowing top as she reached him. He dodged and then tried to parry, but the attack came at another unfamiliar angle and sliced into his thigh. He was losing this fight.

Down on one knee, all he had to defend himself was the Force. Another strange attack came down on him, but he deflected it just enough with his mind. Then, with his will alone, he forced the weapon back around on its owner and into her head. Sparks flew and she crashed to the ground. Starkiller swung his lightsaber toward her exposed throat.

"Wait, master! It's me, PROXY!"

The blade stopped just short of the droid's neck. Starkiller unpowered it and rolled on his back in agony, his limbs cut and burned. "What…what program is this, PROXY? What am I supposed to learn?"

The droid stood slowly and produced a medical kit. "Master, Lord Vader wishes you to master the Ataru Style. And, to do so, you must learn from one of the great masters of the style, Jedi Juhani, one of the last of the Cathars."


"Yes, a race of catlike sentients. Master Juhani lived many thousands of years ago during the Old Republic. She helped to pioneer this reverse grip. It creates unusual attack angles, does it not?"

"Yes…you could say that," Starkiller said, remembering the near panic he felt at not being able to defend against the style.

PROXY leaned over and began applying Bacta to the wounds. "Here, let's get you healed up so I can try to kill you again."

"Thanks…. So, what else can you tell me about Juhani?"

"Many of the files on her bio are restricted by Lord Vader, but I can tell you that she was once a practitioner of the Dark Side arts. She traveled with a strange group of people led by a woman named Revan."

"What became of them?"

"It seems that they destroyed this thing called the Star Forge and, as they say, lived happily ever after."

Starkiller snorted. He was unfamiliar with that that saying. "I'd like to know more about these people later," he said as he felt the Bacta taking hold. As his arm returned to life, he tried to simulate that reverse grip, but moving his hand in the air. "Hmmm, interesting. I think I'll like this style."