Ghosts

Author's Note: This here is a tie-in/prologue to a Star Wars story I intend to do at a later date. For all my love of Star Wars I almost never do fan-fictions for it, which is surprising. Ah well. Here's hoping this one turns out to be good. I hope you enjoy it!

The second the Sith Interceptor touched down on the cold hard rock of Malachor V, the young Mirialan was filled with an overcoming sense of revulsion and disgust. Sickness formed in the pit of her stomach and she already wished to be as far away from the place as possible. The Force was tainted here, and the intense Dark Side aura was the least of it.

But her master wanted what was here, so she had no choice but to endure it.

"Our prize awaits us on this dead rock" Darth Maul hissed. "We are not departing until we find it."

Barris nodded wordlessly as the ramp lowered, blasting the radioactive and sickening air into the ship and making Barris' revulsion and sickness increase tenfold. Stomaching it without a word, Barris followed her Sith Master out of the Interceptor and out into the barren, black and desolate landscape of Malachor V. Jagged cracks and crevices danced across the charcoal landscape and glowed a sickly green, the very core of the planet having been mutated horribly. The whole planet was a death world and an abomination beyond any hope of recovery.

Darth Maul didn't seem to mind, as he trudged forward wordlessly without the slightest hint of discomfort. Barris dutifully followed right behind, her eyes darting around the mutilated landscape for any sign of danger, as the air of the Dark Side festered all around her and made it difficult to detect any potential threat on the planet before it appeared.

Then Barris' foot stepped down on something that made a sickening crunch. Wincing, Barris dared to look down and saw a dry bone that she'd just broken like a twig. Gazing outward she saw more such bones scattered about the landscape. Her master crushed several under his mechanical feet as he continued to trudge on.

"Keep up apprentice" Maul said harshly, which prompted Barris to quicken her pace and rush after her master. The Zabrak had no patience or tolerance for Barris' weakness and squeamishness and punished any sign of either one harshly to stamp out the lingering Jedi sentiments that still resided in her even after her fall to the Dark Side. Darth Maul was determined to desensitize her, and she knew it was steadily working day by day.

But she still had a ways to go.

As the pair continued to walk through Malachor V's dead surface without a word, Barris privately wondered why her master even bothered. What potential did he see in her? Barris reasoned that more than likely Maul did not see potential in her. She was just a placeholder until Maul could find a better Sith Apprentice to replace his fallen brother. That meant that Barris was entirely expendable to him.

Barris snarled silently. Such was the way of the Sith. There was no compassion, love, or any similar sentimental delusions to be had. It was worse than the Jedi. But now that she'd been cast out of the Order and condemned as just another fallen, Darth Maul was all she had left. So she'd make the most of it.

"Until I kill him" Barris silently vowed. "And maybe take on an apprentice of my own if I can find one…"

The two stopped at a narrow, winding passage that weaved through two large black mountains. The pass was extremely tight, and would be awkward to navigate through. Barris could see her master frown and his golden eyes take on an annoyed look.

"Uh, master…" Barris said awkwardly. "Perhaps…I should lead"

"Know your place apprentice" Darth Maul replied coldly before advancing through the narrow passage. Barris heaved a sigh at her master's stubbornness before following after him, squeezing through the narrow pass as he had. After a while the two made it out of the narrow pass and came out into a large field surrounded by more bones. Thousands of years of exposure to the elements had effectively destroyed whatever else may have been here, and even the remaining bones crumbled to dust whenever Barris or Darth Maul stepped on one. There was nothing to see on the planet except more and more of the sickly green glows coming out of the crevices. Barris wondered what in the world could ever be hidden here that was of value.

The silent walk through the graveyard was interrupted when they came upon another skeleton, this one larger than the others and also complete. It was not of any beast that Barris recognized, but Darth Maul studied it intently.

"This one was killed recently. The scent of meat is still on the bones. Be mindful my apprentice"

The pair didn't advance too far after Darth Maul issued out this warning before being beset by a massive green skinned abomination that crawled out of one of the crevices in the ground. The thing had powerful trunk-like arms, a huge frame, and a mouth full of sharp teeth. The monster looked at the two Sith with black beady little eyes before letting out a roar and going at the two in a frenzy. Barris could sense the Dark Side radiating off of the monster like a powerful stench.

Reacting faster than thought itself Darth Maul produced the severed half of his original lightsaber, the blade appearing like a fountain of blood. Barris followed suit, drawing and activating the curve-hilted blades she'd stolen from Asajj Ventress. As the monster came at them, loose pieces of meat from its last kill hanging from its teeth, Darth Maul and Barris Offee expertly dodged out of the way of its strikes as it slammed into the blackened earth with the force of a crashing ship. Ducking under another swing of one of the beast's arms, Darth Maul moved in and brought his lightsaber down on one of its legs, injuring it badly.

The monster roared in pain and attempted to punish Darth Maul, but the Zabrak Sith was too fast for it and continued to slash at its legs until finally the beast staggered and collapsed to its knees, its arms flailing about wildly in a desperate attempt to squash either of its opponents.

"Finish it apprentice" Darth Maul commanded. One look at the monster's ugly face plus the knowledge of what her master would do if she dared to show mercy both succeeded in obliterating whatever sympathy Barris may have felt for the creature, let alone regret. She plunged her two lightsabers into the beast's head.

As the monster let out its last gasp, Darth Maul observed it with a slight interest before beckoning his apprentice to follow him. Barris did as instructed and walked with her master further before the two at last came to what felt to Barris as a fountain of shadows and pain. Of all the Dark Side aura on Malachor V this was where it was most concentrated. Looking out at it, Barris could see an hourglass-shaped bridge and steps leading to a massive gray fortress. Overlooking the entrance was a massive gray slant bearing a design that looked to Barris vaguely like a scowling face and with large gray spikes jutting to the sides. Darth Maul seemed to beam with admiration as he and his new apprentice finally arrived it.

"Finally. We're here"

"What is this place master?"

"The Trayus Academy, a relic from this planet's past and the only reason we are here now. Our prize awaits us in there"

"If I may ask Master, what is this prize that we seek?"

"That is not for you to know at the moment" Darth Maul replied bluntly. "Come, let us enter and take what is rightfully ours"

The interior of Trayus Academy was a massive dark-colored chamber with the sources of red light having long since burned out. Several skeletons clad in remnants of black clothing or rusting maroon-colored armor littered the entrance. Darth Maul seemed to Barris to silently bask in the carnage before moving forward. Barris followed him through the winding series of hallways, many of which contained more skeletons. Lightsabers and blasters that had not been used for thousands of years were also in ample supply, the power cells for all of them undoubtedly having burned out due to several millennia of disuse and no proper care being maintained.

Walking through a several thousand year old massacre made Barris uneasy, and she struggled to outwardly maintain her composure, despite knowing full well that her master could sense her fear running wild, lighting up and exploding within her like a supernova of dread. Barris was already bracing herself for the punishment he would inevitably deal her for such weakness later.

"What happened here master?" Barris asked.

"There was a great struggle for dominance here thousands of years ago between a young Sith Lord named Darth Kuzon and the forces of the Sith Triumvirate. Did none of your former Jedi Masters ever teach you any of this?"

"I…I think I may have heard of the Sith Triumvirate once or twice at the Jedi Temple…" Barris said weakly.

"As I thought" Darth Maul said contemptuously. "You were right to leave those fools behind"

Barris said nothing in response to this, merely lowering her head in shame. Then Darth Maul spoke suddenly: "Here. Our prize lies behind this door."

Startled, Barris looked at the door Darth Maul had pointed to. With a wave of his black gloved hand Maul opened the gray door and walked through, with Barris following behind. They saw inside a spacious gray room, with a dark-colored box lying in the center. Barris didn't need to think long to reason that that was the prize Darth Maul sought.

As they approached it, a small pyramid the color of ebony placed in front of the box opened to reveal a pulsing chip of obsidian. From this came a ghostly blue figure of a man in his early to mid thirties, with light hair, hard eyes and a mask with a glowing visor to hide the hideous physical features his Dark Side corruption had given him. But Barris could still feel his hateful yellow eyes bore into her.

"A Holocron…" Darth Maul mused. "Of Darth Kuzon I presume"

"That is correct" the figure said matter-of-factly. "I have been given explicit orders to guard the items contained in this box at all costs. None are to acquire what lies within"

"A mere holocron will not dissuade me" Darth Maul said, voice filled with contempt.

"I assure you I am far more than a mere holocron." At this, the door behind Maul and Barris shut and the ghostly blue images of three other figures appeared. One was a man of about the same size and height as Darth Kuzon but bare-chested and bald and covered in horrible scars and cracks running across his flesh. One of his eyes was a bulging pupilless ball that only served to enhance his already monstrous appearance.

Next to him was a towering figure covered from head to toe in black and featureless save for a skull-like mask worn over his face. The third appeared a decrepit old woman, with her hood pulled up over her face and obscuring her eyes.

"Deal with the intruders" Darth Kuzon's holocron commanded.

To Barris' surprise, the three figures each produced a real, true lightsaber, bursts of color shooting out of each one. Crimson red for the bald and deformed figure, ocean blue for the tower of shadow with the mask, and viridian green for the old woman.

Maul and Barris activated their scarlet red lightsabers and prepared themselves as the three holographic apparitions attacked them, their vibrant blades meeting the ones of Maul and Barris head on. Darth Maul engaged the deformed man, crimson lightsabers clashing against each other again and again as Barris was attacked by both the old woman and masked shadow. Blocking their blows at the same time, Barris quickly found that though her opponents appeared bigger than her they in fact possessed no true physical strength due to being holograms. With this realization, Barris felt empowered, and quickly overwhelmed and forced her two opponents back. With a scissor-shaped slash of her scarlet lightsabers she cut through the old woman's ghostly form, which disintegrated in an instant, the green of her lightsaber vanishing and the hilt clattering to the floor. The masked shadow struck out at her again with his blue lightsaber but she was prepared for him and dodged the thrust with little trouble. A downward slash from one of her lightsabers severed the figures' saber-arm and it too disintegrated, its robes and mask both dissipating.

Barris turned to see her master cut down his opponent with impunity. As the disgusting image of the walking corpse winked out and his lightsaber fell, the holocron of Darth Kuzon took on an annoyed expression.

"Data projections of Sith Triumvirate have failed. Switching to data projections of surviving Jedi Council members and companions to Meetra Surik"

At this, several more ghostly blue figures manifested, nearly all of them clad in Jedi robes. From them a rainbow of lightsaber colors appeared out of thin air and the ten figures attacked the Sith pair. But like their predecessors their forms had little to no substance, and Maul and Barris cleaved through most of them in short order, with the forms of two young women, one with a veil over her face, and a Zabrak like Darth Maul, being the last three to fall.

"Enough games' Darth Maul growled. "Give us what we have come for or I will destroy you"

"Don't be absurd. You cannot destroy—"

A flash of bloodshine colored light cut Darth Kuzon's holocron off as the pyramid shaped structure was destroyed completely save for the obsidian chip. Maul picked it up and wordlessly tossed it to Barris.

"That is a lightsaber crystal, used to enhance the power of Darth Kuzon's lightsaber. Use it to enhance yours" Then, Darth Maul turned to the box. Outstretching a hand, Maul ripped the top open and tossed it aside. Looking down at what lied within, Darth Maul's red and black lips formed into a smile.

"There it is"

Reaching down, Darth Maul grabbed and pulled out what Barris recognized as the same mask worn by the tower of shadow she had destroyed a holographic copy of.

"The mask of Darth Nihilus. This is an artifact of untold Dark Side power. Darth Kuzon took it from Nihilus after destroying him. He hid it here on Malachor"

"If its so powerful, why did he not keep it?"

"Because he did not live long enough to enjoy its full power. He hid the mask there and made his holocron before going to the fight that cost him his life. He was slain by the Jedi. By Meetra Surik"

Meetra Surik. The Jedi Exile turned savior of the Order. Barris knew the name. Most Jedi did. Meetra was one of the Order's great heroes.

"Come apprentice. There is nothing left for us here"

Author's Notes: To clarify a few things:

Darth Kuzon (and yes the name is taken from Avatar the Last Airbender) is meant to represent a Dark Side version of the Jedi Exile. Essentially what I did was have it so that there were two Jedi Exiles, with Meetra Surik being the Light Side one (obviously) while Darth Kuzon went down a darker road that put him at odds with her.

I personally have mixed feelings about Barris turning to the Dark Side in the CW show. The arc it was a part of was decent, but I never like it when the CW show blatantly defies previously established continuity. It can be good without lowering itself to that. But ah well. And the alternative would be to have Barris be just another Order 66 casualty. At least here you can do more with her.

The black crystal from Darth Kuzon's holocron is the personal crystal you can find on Dantooine in the actual TSL game. Its color and benefits are different depending on how you play. The idea of a Lightsaber crystal being in a holocron has previously been explored with the holocron of Darth Aneddu, as shown in the Star Wars Republic comic. Quinlan Vos used it to make his lightsaber red when briefly Dark Side.