The Past

The Sith Lord gasped, clutching his chest as the paralytic poison started encroaching on his heart. He tried to use the Force to block out the poison, but the pain from the wounds he had suffered made it so hard to concentrate.

He laid on the floor, trying to crawl away, away to safety. Away from his enemy.

Away from his apprentice.

He reached for his lightsaber, just inches away, but a shadow fell over him, a black boot stepping on the lightsaber, and he did not need to look up to see the slim warrior holding a Sith blade standing almost right over him.

"Well, well, well," the figure mocked, "Looks like my dear Master isn't as strong as he thought he was."

The Sith Lord whispered, "Damn you."

"I'll take that as a compliment." His apprentice squatted down beside the Sith, a half-mocking, half-pitying smile on his young face. "Ah, how the mighty have fallen. You thought you could control me, did you? You thought you could shape me like all those before you have done. Well now, I am beyond all of you now. Beyond your shaping, your manipulation. From now on, what I do is of my own will. No more Thrawn, no more Sith, no more Empire. My path, my goals, my way."

The Sith summoned his remaining strength to speak, "You may have defeated me, but it was through trickery and guile. You are not strong enough to defeat the Jedi, or to reestablish the Empire. Not without my guidance."

The apprentice laughed. It was a hideous laugh, full of the promise of pain and death.

"You? Teach me? You have nothing to teach me. You're just a Force adept playing at being a Sith. All those years trying to act mysterious and tough, just because you stumbled on the late emperor's Sith holocrons. But you only barely managed to scratch the surface of his teachings, and not their essence. By the Sith, you can't even unlock the majority of the holocrons!"

A sudden horrid fear washed over the Sith Lord. "You've unlocked the holocrons…"

The young man, not even fifteen years old, nodded, and sneered. "Yes fool, and the secrets of the Sith, all of them, will soon be mine, not yours. The Jedi will fall, and so will the Republic. I shall be the new Emperor, and I shall have years to carry out my plan. But you'll just have to die now."

There was nothing left to say. The Sith knew he could have tried begging for his life, but it was pointless. Even in the Sith, apprentices were supposed to aid their Master! "Betrayer…" He hissed out.

The youth smiled, nodding his head. "That sounds nice. I think Darth Trayer would serve me well as my Sith title, wouldn't it? Thank you for this last gift. You can die now."

The youth's sword flashed up, and the Sith knew no more.

Wotan stood up from the bullet-riddled and bloody corpse of his former Master, smiling grimly. Removing Darth Rage had been so easy. A bit of poison here, a stun blaster there set to maximum dispersal spread, and a rapid firing slug thrower from the locals finished the job for him.

He flicked his Sith blade to remove the blood from Rage's throat from the finely honed edge. While a lightsaber would have been even better, and obviously quite a bit cleaner by cauterizing wounds rather than opening them up, Wotan rather enjoyed the sight of blood. It was… artistic. He wondered if he would continue using the Sith blade after he had built his own lightsaber.

He had everything he needed. The support of several Imperial Remnant families, who had assured him of a sizable segment of the empire's military, and now, most importantly, the Emperor's stratagems and plots to bring the galaxy under his sway. Coupled with the tactical and leadership abilities from the dead Grand Admiral Thrawn his former handlers had implanted into him, Wotan was sure it was only a matter of time before the Republic, the Chiss, the Vong, and Sith knows what else bow to his will.

Then there was clapping from behind him.

Wotan spun around, his blade at the ready. The blood from Rage's body pooled at his boots, splattering the sides of his boots as he stepped into the puddle of blood.

There was a blond haired man, clad in a nondescript brown jacket, looking slightly amused as he continued clapping from his position beside the base's door. He carried no weapons, but Wotan felt uneasy.

How the heck did he get in? Wotan thought. This is a dirt world, and Rage made sure that this place was well hidden from prying eyes. I must be careful.

"Bravo! Bravo!" The man applauded, "Excellent performance, I must say! Hey, I know this fine establishment over at…"

"Who are you?" Wotan spat, his eyes never leaving the man as he walked cautiously towards him, his Sith blade held before him in a standard guard position. "How did you get in?"

"Uh," the man rubbed his chin with one hand, "I'm just a traveling used starship salesman? And the door was open?" He grinned rather stupidly.

Then die, fool. Wotan judged the distance, and he launched into an attack, using the Force to propel himself forward, his blade flashing out in a swipe that should have carried it through the man's body.

Except that the blond man was no longer there.

Wotan did not even bother spinning around to look for the man. Before I turn around, I'll be six feet underground. He rolled on the floor to get some distance and time before coming up in a stance with his blade at the ready. He used the Force again, speeding up his roll and pushing himself off the ground at speeds impossible for somebody who could not use the Force.

But as he rolled up, bringing his blade up at the same time, he saw the man already in front of him. Somehow the man was fast enough to keep up with him  His hands snaked towards Wotan's face, somehow evading his blade.

And then all went dark.

The Present

"Attention, all passengers! We have reached Mon Calamari. Please enjoy your stay!"

Wotan opened his eyes, and stifled a yawn. He stretched his arms up and out, trying to work the kinks out of his limbs and back. The other passengers aboard the crowded freighter were already getting up and taking out their luggage.

It had been a less than pleasant journey to the present capital of the Republic, but in the midst of the war with the Vong, creature comforts were at a premium. He had been lucky to even fall asleep. Several of the other passengers had stayed awake throughout the entire journey, the jostling and bumpy ride a major hindrance to proper rest. The inertial compensators really needed a repair job. Wotan could feel some bruises from the ride on his butt and back.

Serves me right for flying economy. Wotan smiled ruefully at himself, before reaching into the compartment above his head for his luggage, which wasn't much. But this was the best way to enter Mon Calamari without arousing too much suspicion.

Several of the other passengers had trouble reaching their luggage, and Wotan, being tall enough, found himself helping an elderly couple, and then a woman trying ride herd on several children to get their luggage from the storage compartments. He winked at the children, and they giggled back at him.

A smiling, but obviously overworked female Twi'lek flight attendant bid farewell to each passenger as they departed the cramped passenger freighter, and Wotan flashed a genuine grin back at her as he walked out.

The system primary's light warmed him as he walked out into the open, bringing life and light to the outside. Wotan smelled the air, slight tangy and salty from the extensive seas over the world. He allowed himself to enjoy the sun for a while, standing on the landing pad of the spaceport while the other passengers walked past him.

This is a nice world, he thought, before remembering the mission he had set out for himself. I guess I had better get to work.

The Senate is SO gonna love me tomorrow… Wotan walked towards the spaceport terminal, grinning at the thought. I wonder how they would react to a new Sith Lord… Shoot me on sight? Arrest me? He shrugged. What the hey? You only get to live once.

I know I'm supposed to be working on the Battle of Landsmark for my CBT fic "Seekers in Shadow", but let's just call this a change of pace…