Chapter 10: Whispers in the Dark
"What are you doing?" Heinkel asked the droid who had his chest plate open and was busily fiddling away with some of his own components, an exasperated edge to the Jedi Master's tone.
"Statement: I am attempting to restore full functionality. When my master reactivated me, the single power cell she used only provided me with a twenty percent charge. I'm currently running in 'power-saver' mode."
"No, I mean what are you doing with that double-bladed lightsaber by your feet?"
"Statement: The same thing I was attempting to do with the meatbag who once possessed it." HK paused and turned his optics towards the Jedi when she failed to respond to his statement. Her expression and lack of verbal response told him that she didn't get the connection. "Elaboration: I am attempting to 'cannibalize' needed parts - namely the power cells - from this device and integrate them into my systems."
"Oh," Heinkel replied and paused. "Well, will it still work once you're finished?"
"I was wondering i-" Heinkel's response was overpowered by the sound of a nearby explosion. "What was that?" The Jedi Master exclaimed as her initial surprise began to fade.
Hk 47 quickly slammed his chest plate closed. "Statement: It seems we have company." The droid then hefted the blaster leaning up on the wall beside him and headed towards the room's doorway.
"Wait, what do you mean we have company?" Heinkel inquired as she followed after the metal assassin.
"Explanation: I booby trapped the tunnels leading to this room."
"You what? That could've been Seras! You could've just killed your master - and my friend - you worthless slag heap!"
"Statement: Unlikely, I used magnetic mines. Organic meatbags such as yourself would be unlikely to set them off, but should any of those silver fakers come this way... Well, let's just say that the resulting, metallic carnage would be most satisfying." HK stuck his head out of the doorway... only to pull it back a split second latter as a blaster bolt wizzed by it.
"Statement: It looks like we've got trouble. The tunnel's filled with those fakers and their dark, meatbag masters." HK 47 walked back over to the lightsaber, picked it up off the ground, and tossed it to Heinkel. "Instruction: Catch, meatbag, and get ready to help me hold them off." The droid then went into the corner of the room to retrieve the Dark Jedi's mutilated corpse from the same scanning machine he'd once been trapped in. HK dragged the bloody thing from its resting place - much to the chagrin of the younglings, who were trying desperately hard to block that entire memory from their minds, - and carried it, one handed, over to the doorway, where he tossed it out at the advancing enemy.
"What was that for?" Heinkel asked with an odd look upon her face.
"Answer: Psychological Warfare. Elaboration: Meatbags tend to be quite squeamish about what befalls their remains for some strange reason."
"It's not strange, it-"
Heinkel was once again cut off as the droid dialed up his volume. "Challenging Inquiry: Who wants to be the first to join your comrade?" The droid then turned back to the Jedi and dialed his volume back down to normal. "Statement: Now would be a good time to activate that lightsaber."
Seras came to slowly, the black of unconsciousness fading to the dim illumination of the crypt she was in. The former Jedi became aware of her surroundings and for a second wondered just how she'd gotten herself knocked to the dust covered floor. Then she noticed the skeleton lying beside her and remembered what had happened. She'd been lured here, by a child who was something entirely different from what she seemed, and then attacked.
Seras's hand went for her lightsaber, but it wasn't clipped to her belt like it had previously been, and she realized that it must've been knocked loose when she fell to the floor. So she reached into one of her pockets and pulled out Heinkel's borrowed lightsaber instead. She flicked it on as she cautiously rose to her feet and looked around. The hum of the device somehow helped to reassure and calm the former Jedi as she searched the room for any would be attackers or traps. But, as she looked down at the yellow blade, she found herself somewhat nostalgic for the bronze color she'd become so accustomed to.
This was not her lightsaber. It was borrowed. And though it might serve to protect her for the time being, it would have to be returned to its owner when the former Jedi met back up with her. Seras needed to find her own lightsaber before she could leave. Then something surprising happened. A foggy picture of the lightsaber's location flashed within the former Jedi's mind. It was not far; it had only rolled under the sarcophagus in the center of the room. Seras felt somewhat relived by the fact that her lightsaber was not lost to her, but this feeling was quickly overcome by shock as she realized that the location had come to her in a Force vision.
She'd always been adapt at Force visions. Many of her instructors at the academy had commented that it was the area of training where she'd excelled the most. But she'd lost this talent at the same time she'd lost all her other Force abilities, when she'd been deafened to the Force. What was going on?
Seras retrieved her lightsaber and then looked around her once more. She sensed no danger, no presence at all around her. So the former Jedi closed her eyes and chanced a light meditative state. And she was startled to find that she could once again fell the Force... though it was not as before. Before she felt it coursing through her, connecting her to the galaxy... now it seemed far off, a subtle thing, like a change in the breeze or a light whisper. Still, it was there. And despite everything she'd learned from her Sith Master and all his ranting and hatred towards the Force, the former Jedi was still pleased by it's reassuring presence... even if that presence was distant and barely detectable.
Seras's lips were pulled up into a happy smile as she reopened her eyes. But that joyful expression soon gave way to a more cautious one. For there, standing before her once more was the 'little girl' she'd followed into this tomb.
The former Jedi raised her lightsabers and assumed a defensive stance. "Calm yourself, young one. I mean you no harm," the mysterious girl in the white dress commented.
"No harm? No harm! What exactly do you call... whatever you and your pet monster did to me when I got here?" Seras nearly exploded as she held her combative stance.
"I call it 'necessary'... just as I did then. Poor child, you have no idea what you are, do you? Or what your
Sith Master really is."
Seras was still cautious, but her stance lightened slightly. "What do you mean?"
"You are the last hope for this galaxy when the inevitable eventually comes upon us all. And you would throw all that away? For what, a single Jedi Master and some wet-behind-the-ears younglings?" The little girl's tone had a near incredulous edge to it.
"What are you talking about?" Seras asked in bewilderment.
"When you faced that Dark Jedi and his droids. You did so without any connection to the Force, without even the training to drain his connection, and without any allies to bolster your abilities. You would've died... had I not interfered."
"Ah, so you are not as dense as you at first appear to be. Yes, I am the creature that drained that man. The 'monster' is not my pet; it is a part of me... and now, it is a part of you as well."
"Why would y-"
"Have you not been paying attention?" the little girl chided. "If you perish, we all perish. And I could not leave this place without a host."
"Wait, so you're saying I'm... I'm what? Possessed?"
"Possessed, such a crude term. Think of this more as a joining. You needed someone... or something to watch out for you when these altruistic, self-destructive tendencies take hold of you and your master is not around. And I need a champion - the whole galaxy needs a champion - for when the seeds that were sown centuries ago finally bare their fruit. So I joined with you. My power, my counsel, and what remains of my connection to the Force are yours to use. I only hope you use them wisely."
"Who are you?" Seras finally asked in astonishment. She'd heard stories of course, stories told to frighten younglings and warn them away from areas strong in the dark side of the Force, stories of Sith ghosts and spirits that would attack or seek to corrupt any they encountered. Some claimed that they were the dark side given form, a manifestation of everything any good Jedi feared, that with their bodies gone and unable or unwilling to become one with the Force at the time of death the dark side had wholly consumed these men and women and twisted them into the very personification of evil. But this girl... she did not seem so evil, rough and demanding definitely, but not evil. Would evil seek to save another? To lend its strength to those in need? Seras knew her mysterious benefactor had not done either of these things solely out of the goodness of her heart, that she had her own agenda. Even still, she did seem genuine in her concern over the future of the galaxy.
"You seek a name, do you? But of course you do, such things allow us to begin associating with one another. Well, I have been called many things: Master, Teacher, Lord, The Betrayer, The Blind Seer, an Old Hag Who Talks Too Much. You... You may call me Helena, a new name for a new relationship."
"Very well, 'Helena'. Now, let's talk about what exactly you did to me and why."
"I would be more than happy to educate you, but time is fleeting. And I'm afraid your friends have little enough of it as it is."
"My fri-" Before Seras could finish the question another picture flashed in her mind. It was an image of Heinkel, the younglings and HK 47 locked in a hopelessly one-side battle against a host of silver-plated assassination droids and a handful of Dark Jedi. Seras's questions were forgotten as her mind was filled with concern and she rushed back to her friends, the whispers of the Force guiding her along the way.
"Statement: Fry, you shiny, silver-plated imitations, fry!" HK called as he threw a grenade at the slowly advancing enemy and it exploded in a small wave of ionized energy, overloading the circuitry of a half dozen enemy droids and causing them to explode.
The Dark Jedi were able to use the Force to erect a barrier between themselves and the shrapnel, but chips of metal became imbedded in the hulls of several of the remaining enemy droids. They either didn't notice or didn't seem to care as they continued their advance indifferent to the fate of their comrades and the 'body parts' jutting out of their plating.
Heinkel reached out with the Force and grasped the blasters from the fallen droids. She whipped them back behind her, back through the doorway where her and HK were making their stand against the overwhelming enemy advance. "I know you kids don't have much practice with such crude weapons," the Jedi began, drawing as much of an unhappy look from the droid beside her as his less than expressive face was able to form. Heinkel ignored the machine's obvious displeasure from her insult of his weapon of choice and continued, "But we're going to need all the support we can get if we're to survive this."
The five oldest younglings and Rouque nodded in understanding, retrieved the scavenged blasters, and took up positions beside their two defenders. Heinkel did her best to block the bolts aimed at the three younglings beside her, while the three opposite them used the armor plated, energy shielded droid as cover. All six younglings happy lent their clumsy fire to the small group's defense, and with their help - inaccurate and random as it was - the advancing line was forced to slow a little more.
One of the Dark Jedi stopped and pulled a plasma grenade from a fold in his robe. He tossed the device towards the defenders, and it almost hit Rouque square in the jaw. But instead the grenade stopped to hover for a few seconds right in front of the youngling's face. He turned and saw Deline, her arms stretched out, using the Force to hold it in place. Then she pushed and the sphere of death went flying back at the enemy line... only to be detonated, by a stab of lightning, just shy of the Dark Jedi in the back.
"Saved your life," Deline chirped happily at her friend, and Rouque smiled before returning his attention to the enemy.
Although it had failed to reach the Dark Jedi in the back, the fiery detonation had burned through the hulls and circuits of a few more enemy droids and Heinkel reached out to claim their weapons just as she'd done to the others. The same Dark Jedi who'd detonated the grenade fired off another blast of lighting, this time at the Jedi master he assumed would be too preoccupied to block it.
It turned out he assumed incorrectly, as Heinkel released her grip upon the double bladed lightsaber and used the Force to hold the center of it and spin it rapidly in place, forming a makeshift shield of red energy.
Enraged by his failed attempt to fry the enemy Jedi Master, the Dark Jedi fired off another bolt and then another, trying to break through her defense, but he was unsuccessful. And while his attention was so diverted, HK was able to take aim and drive a blaster bolt right between his eyes. The dark robed figure fell lifeless to the floor, a gaping hole having been singed through his face.
"Proud Mockery: 'Such crude weapons' indeed."
But despite the defenders best efforts the enemy line continued to advance, and they all knew that once it breached the bottle neck of the room's entrance they were as good as dead... or worse, drained to fuel whatever dark ritual the enemy was attempting with that partially decomposed corpse.
"We're not going to make it are we?" Rouque asked solemnly.
Heinkel hesitated for a second.
"Comforting Statement: It's unlikely, but at least our end will be an exciting one!" HK droned in monotone.
Heinkel wasn't exactly sure how that statement was suppose to 'comforting', and from the look on his face Rouque didn't seem to be either.
"Never give up hope, child. You never know what's waiting just around the corner."
"Statement: Logic indicates that, if anything, a second wave is waiting around the corner, since the enemy has probably already reported our position to their commander."
"Would you just shut up already?" Heinkel called out to the droid. "You're not helping." And as if in response to the Jedi and Droid's differing theories on just what might lay around the corner, something did suddenly appear behind the advancing enemy line.
Seras ran up to the Dark Jedi behind the line of advancing droids, and hurled her lightsaber right into the back of one of them, piercing her heart and insuring the enemy's death. The former Jedi then leapt into the air as the remaining three Dark Jedi realized that their rear flank was under attack and turned to defend themselves. Before they had the chance to react however, Seras was behind them once more, landing in the midst of a dozen enemy droids.
The droids were of little concern though, since the Sith apprentice had begun storing Force lightning in her body while airborne and the primal energy exploded from where she landed, frying the droids around her and turning them into nothing but dead weight. Seras moved her right arm in a sweeping motion, clearing the area immediately around her and directing the hunks of inanimate metal around her back and back towards their dark masters in a bombardment of steel.
The Dark Jedi did their best to block the projectiles, but they were still a step behind the former Jedi as she reach out and summoned her lightsaber back to her and then charged the enemy at incredible speed. Using the still flying metal 'bodies' as cover, she was upon them once more; and, before they'd even realized, she'd cut two of them in half, one with the lightsaber in her left hand and the other with the one in her right.
The single remaining Force sensitive enemy, managed to back-flip away from Seras, and ready himself before she could reach him. His face was filled with terror though. This single Force user had just dissembled four of them, and a dozen droids, in the space of a few seconds. He'd never seen anything like this before.
Indeed, even Seras was surprised by her new found power. It was incredible; the energy contained within that Sith Ghost coupled with the flow from her nearby allies had given her more power than she'd ever known. It was intoxicating, and the enemy cowering before her provoked nothing more than contempt.
He was weak, pathetic, and she found herself laughing as she broke through his meager defenses and shoved her fist through his chest. She tore out her enemies' heart and she did so with a sadistic grin on her face, one that seemed much more characteristic of her master than herself. She squeezed her hand, then threw the perforate heart away. Then she turned her attention towards the enemy droids.
They would not bleed for her, but they would fall before her. She charged, and it was not until she'd broken through the line and stood panting, high off adrenaline, and covered in blood and oil that she stopped. Her enemies were gone, but she wanted more; she wanted to keep fighting. She wanted to kill, and the look upon her face revealed all of this.
"Approval: That's the way to do it, Master!" HK47 cheered and pumped his blaster arm p in the air.
"Seras!" Heinkel called out in shock.
And finally, Seras's frenzy began to fade. "I..."
"Seras, what's happened to you?" Heinkel continued, concern plain upon her face.
"I was..." Seras began, then switched tracks. "I-We don't have the time right now. They'll be more of them on the way. We have to get moving."
"Seras, talk to me," Heinkel pleaded with her friend. She could tell by the girl's expression that she was nearly as concerned about what she'd done - or rather how she'd done it - as her former master was.
"I-I will... But not now. We need to get moving."
Heinkel looked over at the younglings, her charges, and realized that yes, for the sake of their safety, they had to get going. She would let the issue rest... for now.
Well, hope you all enjoyed the tenth chapter. I'm afraid it'll be the last one for awhile though. :( You see I originally started this sequel as part of a chapter trading agreement with Lila (AKA Lion in the Land), as you may have deduced from my ending chapter notes to her about how it's her turn to update now. And, well, she's putting her fic on hiatus for the time being, and somehow it would just feel odd continuing this story without our chapter swap deal. Plus my mind's been turning more easily towards another AxS fic I've recently started. So, maybe I should be concentrating on that more anyway? So yeah, this is going to go on hiatus... for now at least.
Have a good day, and God bless.
PS. If any of you happen to be Harry Potter fans as well, you should totally check out Lila's two HP fics: "Professor Burbage and the Potion Master" and "Charity Burbage and the New Prince". The former's already complete and is almost thirty chapters in length while the latter is nine chapters long and temporarily on hiatus. So yeah, probably best to start at the beginning. ;p They can both be found on Lion in the Land's FF author's page, or right in my list of favorite stories. ;)
To Larisa: Yes, I see that you're still following the adventure and I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as the previous ones. Sorry to be putting it on Hiatus. :( But if I'm going to be able to keep up with my weekly updating on No-Life Queen (which I suspect you're enjoying even more) once my new school term starts, I'd have to cut back on this one anyway. Besides, my Muse seems to be a lot more responsive to No-Life Queen lately anyway. ;p So probably best to concentrate on that. Anyway, thanks for the review, and I hope you continue to enjoy my writing. :)