The Apprentice

Guuyln had never seen anyone move so fast. The young padawan crouched at the base of a large tree, concealed by the lush forest undergrowth, clutching his lightsaber hilt so hard, his knuckles had turned white. He tried to remember last week’s breathing exercises in a failed attempt to calm himself down. His master, one of the most seasoned, and respected Jedi Consulars stationed on Alderaan, was fighting for his life, and Guuyln had a front row seat.

The Sith Assassin was a something out of a nightmare. He was a dark-skinned human, wore flexible black armor, and a deep purple cloak that not only matched his double-bladed lightsaber, but his eyes as well. It was the rest of the assassin’s face that kept Guuyln’s feet firmly planted in the soft dirt. His skin was riddled with glowing dark purple gashes that spread from the back of his neck, over his bald head and congregated around his nearly black, full lips. The fractures in his skin pulsed with Dark Force energy, looking like rage-filled veins that could burst at any moment. He used The Force to move his body, and his blade, faster than Guuyln thought possible. His master, Whilum Yangli, was hard pressed to keep that deadly purple blade at bay.

The clearing hummed with the sound of impossibly fast lightsabers whirling through the warm morning air. Every other second the force of the blades meeting broke the almost consistent humming with very brief thunderclaps. Guuyln could barely keep up as the fight seemed to relentlessly bounce from one side of the clearing to the other. It was then that the guilt hit him. None of this would have happened if he hadn’t insisted they pursue the assassin in the first place.

*             *             *

“How many, commander?” Captain Briyguard asked.

“That is the third lieutenant killed this week, Captain.”

“How many last night?”

“Lieutenant Crossr, and ten of the troopers in his command group, sir. Eleven total.”

Briyguard looked at his personal guard’s commander and frowned. He had hoped it wouldn’t come to this. Briyguard had commanded the infantry troops on Alderaan for five years, and had too many scars and a chronically stiff back proving his loyalty to the Alderaanian cause. Never had he faced an enemy like this. Presumably, a Sith Assassin had been behind a series of murders at his remote outpost. The killer had never been seen, and left only the bodies of Briyguard’s command core in his wake.

Briyguard had made the request for Jedi assistance yesterday, when the news that yet another lieutenant and six infantry troopers’ had be killed. He thought he had better figure out a plan or he would have no one left to promote. The Jedi should have arrived already. It’s not like a Jedi to be late.

He was just about to dismiss his guard, when the door slid open. A Jedi Consular, who he knew of, but didn’t know personally, stepped into the command room. Just on his heels trailed a young boy, not more than 8 years old. The boy’s dark hair was cut short except for a single braid that trailed down toward the middle of his back. The boy was human, but he had never seen a human with eyes like that. Briyguard tried not to stare, but the boy’s eyes were the color of dried blood.

“You requested Jedi assistance, Captain?” The Jedi master asked.

Briyguard peeled his eyes away from the boy’s and met the gaze of the Jedi. He was tall, with light brown hair, cut just like his padawan’s. The master’s eyes were a bright, cool green color and his fair-colored skin was still darker than the boy’s almost translucent pigment.

“We weren’t what you were expecting, Captain?” The Jedi said, when Briyguard let the silence go a moment too long. He realized he was staring into the boy’s eyes again. The boy smiled. Briyguard tried to fight off a chill.

“Honestly, no, Master Jedi,” Briyguard finally responded. “I had hoped for a small hunting party of Jedi Knights. I mean no offense, but it’s just the two of you?”

“Truthfully, Captain, if it had not been for the boy insisting that we take the assignment, you would have no assistance at all. The war has taken its toll on even us Jedi. The Jedi Knights on Alderaan have either been killed, or are supporting the troops on the front lines. We are awaiting reinforcements from other systems, but for now, we are all you have.” The Consular tried to catch Briyguard’s eye, and realized he was staring at the boy. “The boy’s name is Guuyln, and he is eager to help his home planet for the very first time.”

Briyguard snapped out of it, and scowled at the Jedi. “You mean this is his…”

“First mission, yes,” the Jedi finished. “I assure you, Captain, it is not mine.” The Jedi smiled warmly at the boy. “He shows great promise for his age.”

There was something that bothered Briyguard about that statement. Promise, sure, but what was with those eyes? Why did they seem to look right into his very being? The Captain tried to shake it off. “Well, I better start at the beginning…”

*             *             *

Later that same day, Guuyln found himself cowering in the brush, watching his master fight for his life. It hadn’t been difficult to find the assassin. In fact, he wasn’t camped terribly far from Briyguard’s outpost. Master Yangli somehow used the force to “feel” where the assassin was. It didn’t seem very difficult for him either. Guuyln had a lot to learn. In the back of his mind, the boy thought that an assassin would be harder to find, even for a Jedi Master. He shrugged it off. It didn’t matter now.

The fight, however violent, and fast paced, was over just as fast. The last few moments, from what Guuyln could make out, seemed to slow down just enough for him to witness the death of his master. Whilum Yangli furiously kept his green lightsaber parrying the viciously precise blows from the assassin as he backpedaled, back flipped, and sidestepped with the rest of his body. The Consular was constantly retreating, and managed to stay just out of reach.

The blow came too fast for Guuyln to see, but the assassin held the killing strike long enough for him to see that the energy to continue the fight had been eradicated from his master. Yangli was pinned between a great oak tree, and one end of the purple hum of the assassin’s lightsaber. There was no remorse on the Sith’s face. It was hard to read any expression at all, in fact. Then, still holding the blade which clearly entered the Jedi’s chest and penetrated the oak behind his master, the Sith turned only his head to meet Guuyln’s unique blood colored eyes with his own blazing purple orbs. A twisted and scarred smiled tugged at the Sith’s mouth.

The next few moments came to Guulyn unconsciously. He felt rage, like he never thought possible, pushing through his veins by his racing heartbeat. His Jedi teachings fell far away from the young padawan, and he instead, used the incredible anger as courage to propel him toward the assassin.

All Guuyln heard was screaming as he cleared the thirty meter gap between his former hiding place and the assassin, in one Force fueled leap. As he attempted to cut the purple nightmare down with the lightsaber he didn’t remember deploying, Guuyln realized that not only were his attacks futile, but that the screaming was coming from him! The assassin blocked every one of his attacks as if he were swatting a pesky mosquito looking for a bloody snack.

Just as Guuyln realized there was no way to avenge his master, he noticed that not only did the screaming stop, but that the assassin was trying to speak to him. Guuyln felt dizzy. He hopped back just out of that dangerous lightsaber’s range, and looked up into the glowing purple eyes of the assassin.

“I’ve been waiting for you to seek me out, young Jedi,” the assassin said, all but spitting the word Jedi as it passed his lips. “I thought I’d have to kill scores more before I got your attention.”

“What do you mean?” Guuyln managed to squeak, nearly dropping his lightsaber in the process.

“You must know you will never become a Jedi. Why else would you be here?”

“I am here to destroy you! You killed my master!” Guuyln screamed, trying to keep his tears at bay. “I HATE you!”

“Good. That is a start…apprentice,” the assassin hissed as he tucked his blade beneath his cloak and extended his hand toward Guuyln. “Come,” he beckoned. He turned, raised the dark hood over his head and left the clearing.

Guuyln, despite the loss of his master, could feel the truth in the assassin’s words. There was something about the situation that just felt…right. He turned and looked at his former master, slumped at the base of the great oak, eyes open, but seeing nothing. Guuyln turned back to where the assassin took his leave, and chose to follow that same dark path.