Part 1: Star Wars

Standing on a Star Destroyer Malice, Darth Demus' mind was wrapped in a vision. The sights and sounds he saw in that moment was of a twi'lek Jedi named Aayla Secura. Something drew him to this alien female so different than him with her blue skin, which was so breathtaking. Lust, but also something deeper he did not like: it was warm and at the same time frightening, an unfamiliar emotion. Turning his mind to other things about her, he dismissed those emotions, focusing in the cold darkness of the Dark Side, and its invigorating strength. Her powers in the Force were exceptional, and could grow if properly nurtured. The added bonus that in hiding her, it had proven Darth Sidious' weakness only bolstered her worth to him. The man was not all seeing, and Demus realized quite overconfident.

Demus had enjoyed blocking his master's plans of destroying all the Jedi, by hiding her away on a small world far from the Emperor's grasp. Taking away any means of escape, he had left her there with only a few hidden sensors to monitor her just in case she tried to escape, or was found. The last thing he wanted was to tip his hand, and make his current master aware that he would soon be betrayed. Now with the death of Palpatine at his hands, Demus could now return without risk. It had taken great deal of effort to doctor the records, and convince the stormtroopers sent to carry out the order, that there was nothing on this world. Each of them had to have their memory wiped when they reported to him after the job was done as an added precaution. Still given those visions he had started to experience shortly after kneeling to pledge his obedience to his new master, the effort had been worth the risk he had taken.

"Is the shuttle ready captain?" Demus turned to the older man dressed in a pressed gray imperial uniform. Captain Talas was a career Imperial officer who had risen quickly through the ranks under Demus' patronage, a fact he would never forget thanks largely in part to the fact that the Sith Lord called on him from time to time, and Captain Talas had no other choice than to face his patron. Demus didn't really care about the man personally, but he had his uses. Right now Talas was merely here to transport him to this world and leave. The middle aged officer, with his scarecrow like form, and brown hair seemed eager to get rid of him, but tried not to show it. Demus hid a smile at the fear he sensed from him drifted off him in steady waves. While the captain was trying to keep his distance, Demus could still feel it: intense and intoxicating.

The Dark Side of the Force let it flow through him like a conduit powerful and filling. Demus enjoyed toying with the older man, and seeing how far he could push him, if only to provide himself with a bit of entertainment from time to time. Already he could see the man begin to sweat out of the corner of his eye.

"Yes Lord Demus. It awaits your command for departure whenever it pleases you." The captain said, his voice showing the tiniest bit of his fear that he was not able to hold back. Demus could sense the man's iron will beginning to dissolve. While fear had its uses, even a man like Talas: a career officer tempered under the fear of battle, who had done his duty without question, and an able mind that fear normally did not control.

"And you would prefer that would be sooner rather than later." Demus stated almost idly.

While he might not have voiced it as a question the captain took it as such.

"Of course not sir. I only wish to serve in whatever way I can." The captain answered, trying to sound convincing. He feared that Demus would see through his false sinceritym, which in fact he did. Had Demus been more cruel he might have toyed with him more. Never liking the Emperor, and his silly little Imperial Navy, the Dark Lord had looked on the captain as a fine scapegoat to vent himself on whenever he felt the urge.

Deciding enough was enough he released the invisible hold he had on the man's mind and said, "Very good captain. I will land on the planet, and you will patrol the star system to make sure I am not disturbed. If I have need of you, I will contact you, but for now I'm sure there are other duties that require your attention."

"As you wish my lord." The Captain saluted quickly hurrying away, relieved to be excused.

Making his way to the hangar and his transport Demus could feel a similar feeling of apprehension from the rest of the crew. Many had heard what he had done to the Emperor, since the royal guard had found his dead body. Demus had killed the two guards when they tried to avenge the old man in a matter of seconds, before shocked imperial officers who had also entered the room as the Emperor cried out with Demus' lightsaber had pierced his flesh. Afraid of being next, they quickly acknowledged him as the Emperor's rightful successor, pledging their loyalty to him as head of the new imperial order. Afterwards the rumors had soon spread, and Demus had let them, using it to his best advantage. Fearful enemies would be hesitant to attack: something Demus preferred because he didn't want to waste time, hunting them down and eliminating them. What was left of the Imperial fleet had fled, just as he did that day, seeking to escape with their lives, but none dared challenge his right to rule. In the months that followed he had managed to keep the imperial fleet alive and fighting, despite facing superior numbers. For a time the rebels were forced to consolidate their power in the core worlds, buying the imperials precious time.

Demus expected professionalism, and a strict adherence to duty. Failing to do that meant a "final apology", as it was called by all of those who were unfortunate to witness such an event. As he boarded his ship pilot and copilot went over their checks again, not wanting to arouse his displeasure if anything went wrong. They had learned that provoking it was not wise by any means. One crewmember had accidentally dropped a sparti cylinder used for cloning when he became careless, and Demus arriving after it was reported had broken his neck right in front of the rest of the unloading crew reaching out to attack him through the Force. The gesture had been effortless, and all had watched in shock as the man fell to the floor lifeless and limp.

"See to it that there are no more little accidents, or next time I assure you, the next death will be far more painful." Demus said coldly, striding away and leaving others to dispose of the body. At that moment all the crew realized that failure meant possible death no matter who you were in the grand scheme of things, and that only success kept their lives from being expendable. The crew member who died had been well connected, and despite a string of similar lapses in judgment, had managed to hold a position within the navy. Demus rewarded those who served him well, and just like that crewman, punished those who he considered a weak link as an example to others.

"The final check is finished Lord Demus. All systems check out." The pilot said waiting for his command.

"Proceed." Demus replied from the chair behind him.

Pressing the needed controls the shuttle took off under the pilot's and copilot's expert guidance. They were the best, and were determined to continue to be just that.

Both men had received upgrades in pay and position on the ship, due to being Lord Demus' personal shuttle crew, giving them a distinct pride not shared by all. In the past few months they had learned to anticipate him, understanding that he preferred efficiency and professionalism over an overabundance of style. Each movement the two men made had a purpose, and they always kept an eye out for any change in the sensors or controls, ready to make an immediate adjustment if needed. Landing smoothly on the planet they took off again once Demus was safely clear, heading back to the ship. Demus watched them go as he stood not far from an erected dwelling where the Jedi resided. Even now he could feel her hiding not far to the west behind some rocks. She no doubt thought that he had come to kill her and finish the job.

Approaching her position he felt her trying to disguise herself in the Force, but that would do little good. Only Demus and his father knew truly how to do that. Any other tricks could not compare to that level of skill and ability Demus knew.

"Greeting Aayla Secura. You needn't hide from me. If I wanted you dead, I would have left that to your clone troops on the planet I found you on last. I assure you they were quite adequate for the job." Demus said loudly, so he was sure she could hear him. Coming out from her hiding place Aayla came into view weaponless. She stood at near the bottom of a rock and grass covered hill, the boulders providing excellent cover for anyone who thought to hide behind them.

"What do you want?" Aayla asked remaining calm despite his unpleasant aura.

"I have come to give you a gift. You may recognize it." Demus said tossing an object to her which she caught easily.

Looking at it in her hand Aayla said, "One of my lightsabers. I did not expect to ever see any of them again. Why would you return this to me?"

"I imagine you have been itching to kill me, especially since I played a part in the attack on your order, and placed you here abandoned on this world alone and unarmed. I thought it best to get this little nuisance out of the way. That way we can move on to more important matters." Demus said unhooking his own lightsaber without taking up a defensive stance, "So whenever you're ready, by all means."

Igniting her lightsaber Aayla charged in quickly, hoping to take him by surprise. Slashing at him from the right, she watched as he deflected it with a one handed parry of his lightsaber, knocking her blade away with his off hand.

"You'll have to do better than that." Demus said turning to look at her.

Focusing herself farther into the Force, Aayla launched a flurry assaults at Demus, striking side to side, and high to low, trying to find a hole in his defenses. Each stroke he parried backing up to give himself room. Aayla soon realized that she was only wearing herself out as he was just keeping her at bay as she tired herself. Changing tactics she leapt onto a nearby rock and came at him from on high, leaping into the air. The attack had the advantage of being able to smash through his guard by providing more power than she could normally muster. Instead of standing there and blocking it or dodging aside as she expected, Demus' blade came up in a two handed upward slice at just the right moment.

As his blade met hers, it continued forward, knocking her blade that way. There was so much power in the stroke that Aayla almost lost her saber and barely held on. Removing one hand from the handle he sent a force push right into her mid-section knocking the wind out of her while she was still in mid air. Aayla was so dazed as Demus shifted his position in the space of a second, that Aayla could only watch helplessly as she flew forwards landing on her back hard. Opening her eyes and forcing away the jarring pain she found his lightsaber inches from her throat.

"How disappointing. I expected more even without your second saber, but I suppose it is only fair you have that too." Demus said backing away and tossing her the other lightsaber he had taken from her, which appeared from inside his robes. The saber hit the ground settling only inches from her finger tips.

"Now shall we try again?" Demus asked.

"You are toying with me." Aayla said even as picked it up and stood taking a fighting stance.

"Of course I am, but also I am judging your skills. Call it curiosity. I want to see what you can do." Demus said with a bemused smile. Igniting the second saber Aayla immediately gained her feet and attacked. Twirling her blades she tried to use her speed to defeat him. Demus matched each strike still smiling and keeping up easily.

"Much better Jedi. A far cry from what I saw earlier, but it shows your apparent lack of training. A true master would learn to fight with as many blades as they needed or lack thereof." Demus said in a tone much like one of her own teachers, when she herself had been learning to use a lightsaber.

"I don't need any lessons from you Sith Lord. I have more than enough to defeat you." Aayla said determined to do just that. She tried to keep calm, and was surprised at how his words were getting to her.

"Overconfidence is a weakness little Jedi..." Demus began as he blocked one stroke and spun to her left around another. As part of the spin his foot shot out making contact with the back of one of her knees sweeping the leg, even as his other foot made contact with the ground. Taken off her feet in one quick motion, Aayla lost both lightsabers as she fell flat on her back. Just like before she felt Demus' lightsaber poised to cut open her throat.

" ... as you can see." He finished.

Shutting off his lightsaber he walked away, leaving her to think of what had just happened. Even as she watched him go, Aayla knew he was her only way of this planet. Sitting alone in the sand just outside her dwelling, Demus meditated quietly with his eyes closed. His mind far away, he did not sense Aayla until she was at the base of the hill where the dwelling stood. Opening his eyes, he did not move as she continued her approach sitting down in front of him.

"What is your name Sith Lord? Surely you have a title." Aayla said.

"I have two names Jedi. One given to me after my awakening, and one my master gave to me." Demus replied returning his facial expression to their usual stoic manner.

"Awakening? Don't you mean birth?" Aayla asked suddenly confused.

"You were born, I was not. I was a copy of my master. He rescued me from my captors, and taught me the true nature of the Force." Demus said. Aayla's eyebrows rose as this meant he was a clone.

Steeling her face Aayla replied, "Did you kill him too just as you killed Darth Sidious; the one we have been hunting?"

"I have not killed my father yet." Demus answered the word showing only the slightest hint of emotion in him.

"Your father? The one you were cloned after?" Aayla said thinking of how a relationship like that could work. In all the stories of the Sith, they eventually turned on one another. Could it be that two could exist, and be father and son as well?

"Your thoughts betray you Jedi Secura. Of course such a thing can occur. To date it has been one of the things that has made us reluctant to kill each other, even though we are now mortal enemies. Now one of us is no longer a Sith, a decision I have become increasingly unhappy with. As Sith the bond we shared could have kept us from killing each other at least for many years, but now as clear enemies that is no longer the case." Demus said.

"So your father turned the light." Aayla commented.

"Returned would be a more accurate description. My father was raised a Jedi, before he as a young man was turned to the ways of the Sith later on. It would take too long to explain the details properly. The short story is that his past weakened him, holding him back from a glorious future." Demus said.

"Once you start down the dark path consume you it will as it has so many." Aayla quoted to him.

"Cute Jedi, but your dogmatic views have no bearing on me or my father. For us there is less danger than you think. For us the Dark Side gives its power freely to us for we were born to its power. It is part of who we are and exists in our very blood, as it will in all who follow us. I bare the mark of the Sith, just as he does marking my powerful heritage. I am a descendant of my namesake Naga Sadow. While my title is Darth Demus, the name of my "birth" will always mark my special place in this galaxy.

I like my father was made to be what I am, even if he chooses to no longer acknowledge it. All the power he now holds flows from its study, it even allowed him to crush the forces of my former master Emperor Palpatine; who you know as Darth Sidious. His defeat at my father's hands heralded his end at my own, and my rise to power. Even now I could have his whole empire and challenge my father for your reality, but that is not my goal. I want true power not its shell: the power to change my destiny and live forever, should I choose to. Palpatine sought something similar, but like he was in all things, he grew too proud and had to be brought low. The Sith do not belong as the open masters of the stars and many worlds. Our ways are secret. We attack from the shadows with surprise being our strongest ally. In the end one would overthrow any who seek to rule openly. It would be much better if I will ruled thousands of worlds from afar without anyone knowing. The enemy you can't see you can't fight." Darth Demus said.

"Why are you telling me all this?" Aayla asked.

"To give you one final chance to kill me." Demus said tossing her his lightsaber.

"I am unarmed. You could kill me in cold blood, and stop all that suffering. I will not defend myself. You have only to will yourself to do what must be done. Take my life Aayla and you can be the hero who saved all. They would rejoice you in the streets. "The Savior of the New Republic". A republic that will replace the old, better stronger, but not if I have anything to say about it. I will undermine everything in it, and when the moment is right I will attack where they least expect, tearing it apart and bringing about anarchy, and in that anarchy I will rule all. Worlds shall battle worlds, openly and in secret. Can you imagine such suffering Jedi, and easily stand by when you could have done something to stop it?" Demus said.

Igniting the lightsaber Aayla could almost see all that suffering, and Demus being the cause of it. She watched as Demus knelt before her, removing his cloak with no more weapons on him. Turning his back he waited for her to strike.

"What are you waiting for?" Demus said calmly without a hint of fear.

Raising the saber to strike, she thought about how easy it would be. Normally she would be unable to beat him. Even now she had trouble believing even Masters Yoda or Windu could alone. The more she thought of it the more angry she became.

'Calm yourself. This is a trap. He means for you to strike him down in anger and you will never be able to turn back. That will be his final revenge.' Aayla thought to herself.

As she sought peace in the Force a new idea occurred to her. Why was he so determined to save her, at least from his point of view? At any time he could have taken her life, but why hadn't he? Was it simply for this moment? If so why not before when she had first been captured, or as he said back with her clone troops? Stretching out through her feelings, she sought the answer and soon found it. Whether Demus realized it or not he had left a chink in his mental armor, giving Aayla a way in. Seeing into his mind she saw his true emotions for her. A love, and desire for a person he had not even met before. He was trying to surpress them even now, that was why he turned away.

"Why do you love me? You don't even know me." Aayla asked lowering the lightsaber.

Fear touched Demus' heart as he risked being found out, but still he could not stop himself from answering her.

"Because I have seen you in my visions and my dreams. Every moment of your life was an open book to me and I know it all. You could be powerful but so much more. In all of them you are a companion; someone I trust, and I find myself feeling..." Demus started to say but didn't finish.

" ... afraid." Aayla finished the thought for him, seeing him turn around, his eyes filled with shock; the same emotion she herself was feeling. How did she know what he felt? Was it that small glimpse into his mind or something more, something deeper?

Each felt the powerful connection that connected the two of them, allowing Aayla to continue the line of thought speaking aloud saying, "You afraid because it would cause you to lose control, and you like control. Everything you feel you allow. Your emotions don't control you. Emotions are something you can use as a defense or as a weapon."

"Enough." Demus said getting up, but turning away, her words hitting too close to home.

Aayla could not help but feel drawn to him, and this was not some trap he had set. She could feel this pull was real. Perhaps she could be the source of his redemption and turn him to the Lightside of the Force just like his father.

"No it isn't." Aayla said. Stepping forward Aayla kissed him and he soon returned it. Across a great void they came together, and a love affair sparked between them. A year passed and Aayla found herself with child. Demus was now a proud father with his own little family. One morning Demus was practicing his lightsaber technique when he sensed two paths opening before him. Sitting down to meditate, he abruptly ended his training sensation wishing to see what might lay in his future.

Opening his mind he focused on the ebb and flow of the Force, it currents carrying his mind where it needed to go until a vision came to him. Among the swirling colors, a space cleared showing him his future. In it he was standing on some distant world and he found Aayla with a child alone. The child was theirs, with the blue skin and the eyes of a twi'lek, while the rest of his features seemed quite human. A new-born babe he was held close in his mother's arms as Demus approached.

"Please! I ask for mercy. At least spare our son if not the both of us. We have done nothing against you. Neither of us is a threat. I love you!" Aayla said.

But they were a threat, this Demus knew. Since choosing to fully embrace the Darkside they would only serve to hold him back as he continued to study the teachings of the Sith and he said, "There is no peace there is only passion, through passion I gain strength, through strength I gain victory, through victory my chains are broken."

These two people represented the last thing that could weaken him, or expose him to his future enemies. If left alive they could betray him or be held hostage so they could be used against him. Better to end them now and be done with it, rather than do it later.

Demus had studied the teachings of many masters while he was an apprentice, one of them was something Palpatine had said to him, "Those who ask for mercy do not deserve it."

It was a lesson the ancient Sith Lord Darth Bane had handed down to his apprentice, and now those words allowed Demus to do what must be done. Igniting his lightsaber he ended their lives in one quick and powerful stroke forever sealing his fate. Demus cringed from the vision, barely holding onto his connection to the Force. He did not want this future and sought the second path but it eluded him. Each time he tried to grasp it, that path seemed just out of reach and he let go in frustration and hopelessness.

"If she stays with me she will die, her and our child." Demus said thinking it through as he sought any solution to change this future, for he loved Aayla too much to let that happen.

Then suddenly an idea occurred to him as he said it aloud, "The Jedi! Through them she will be kept safe. Aayla is one of their own. Surely they will protect her from such a fate."

His hope renewed he had only to set his plan in motion.

Speaking to the captain of the Malice, Demus through the Force he commanded, "Return to this world with all speed. I am done here."

Finding Aayla sleeping in their bed inside the shelter, he used the Force to make sure she would remain unconscious long after he was gone. Kissing her goodbye he left the shelter walking outside to the landing zone. Donning the mask that hid his presence from other Force users hidden in his cloak, Demus focused his mind searching for another Jedi that might be nearby. It did not take long to find a fleet with a Jedi a number of systems away.

Thanks to the mask Demus could easily focus on the Jedi; a small light in the darkness of space, and send her the image of Aayla trapped on this world. Already he could sense the Jedi talking the commanding officer of the fleet. Soon they would come for Aayla and take her away from here, but by then he would be long gone. When the transport came he boarded and left Aayla for what he thought was forever.

Greeting Captain Talas in the hangar Demus said, "Withdraw our forces beyond the Outer Rim. The New Republic and the Jedi are now hunting for remnants of the Empire. To survive you must withdraw and rebuild your strength. Only then can you have any hope of challenging them."

This move surprised the captain who asked, "You are not coming with us my lord?"

"I would have thought you would be happy to get rid of me." Demus said curious at this change.

Demus could still sense the captain's fear of him but then he felt something else.

"But you are more afraid of losing me." Demus said.

"Reports are coming in from all sectors. It is like you've said my lord: we are being overwhelmed. The Empire now requires a strong leader more than ever. If you leave, the less powerful among us will fight amongst each other for the right to rule. In the end none can compare to you, and the empire will become divided and weak." The captain admitted.

"How true, but perhaps I will not be gone forever." Demus said his eyes becoming distant as if his mind was somewhere else. It lasted only for a moment, and then he returned to the present still troubled. For the first time his faith in the Darkside had been shaken. He had lost his ability to see all paths so he could better predict the future. Without these gifts he was at a disadvantage even to the Jedi Council and not just his father.

"Prepare my shuttle. I will be leaving alone." Demus said.

Knowing that he could not change the Dark Lord's mind the captain obeyed hoping he would indeed return. As he had said, like it or not Demus was their best chance at regaining some semblance of the once great Empire. Taking his leave Demus set a course for a place that he had only seen in the ancient texts when he was a young apprentice under Naga Sadow. They spoke of a world cloaked in the Darkside itself far beyond the Outer Rim.

There creatures too formidable for even the Jedi to face on the surface still waited. It was a dense jungle world where almost none had returned. In the old times it had been a Sith stronghold. For centuries Sith practitioners had experimented with the powers of the Darkside, until it grew and flourished among the living organisms, permeating everything. Here a Sith could push themselves to the breaking point, for this world would offer nothing less.

That night Demus had dream where he saw a vision of his past that had been buried deep in his subconscious. In it he faced a creature small and green dressed in the robes of a Jedi. It was the creature he had seen so many times in his visions: Master Yoda. The dream began like so many of his visions had at the time, just before the action started. Igniting his lightsaber Yoda attacked, his movements quick and precise. Like always Demus fell back under the onslaught his confidence stolen by the Jedi Master. No matter how many times they fought, Demus could not match the old Jedi. Too strong was he in the Force, and his experience seemed limitless.

Every attack Demus made, the little green alien countered, flipping and spinning in and out of reach as he dodged and counter attacked. While the means of the ending was never the same, the end result never changed: Demus always died. This time in a blur of movement as he sought to charge in counting on his own strength, Yoda easily flipped over him taking his head. Demus awoke just as the lightsaber connected, and he felt its burning touch. Sweat covered him as he sat upright in the shuttle's cot. Using his hand to wipe it away, he seethed with hatred of the old Jedi. Long had Yoda been the bane of his existence in those days, and now he had returned, again haunting Demus' dreams. No matter how powerful Demus became, Yoda was always one step ahead. There was no escape from him.

'Perhaps these old visions provide the key. They suggest that I actually learned something in those visions, and they appear too structured to be an accident. Could it be that I was some kind of an experiment? What did they do to me in that capsule?' Demus thought, searching for the answer. Going back to sleep his mind provided him another clue.

"Well done Naga. Already you have shown great skill with a lightsaber. If I didn't know better I would say you had been practicing with one for years." James Darkblade said.

Demus saw himself as the young apprentice in his first day of lightsaber practice. Already he understood how to hold it, but didn't know why. Each movement was completely natural and fluid, lacking any jerky, or cumbersome strikes, or blocks. Demus was indeed showing skill far beyond a normal initiate of the Force. Already he was grasping basic forms, and his father found he could teach his son more advanced skills in a relatively short time. Young Naga could sense his father's pride in his new apprentice and son. It was a pride that caused Demus to feel even more confident and willing to learn skills that would test his body and mind to its limits, because he was certain he would not fail.

Demus' conscious mind ended the vision bringing him back from sleep as he realized the connection: He had learned those basics in his visions that had formed his existence as a mere clone locked inside that capsule. Without realizing it, in order to get him ready for when he woke up, those in charge of the experiment had given him a rare gift: Not only could he analyze and adapt to any perceived pattern, but he could also copy any skill he observed. His visions back then were full experiences where he had accessed the Force against a perceived enemy, each time a new ability was introduced he was able to copy and access it later when needed.

The cloners no doubt had wanted to see if they could not only create clones, but train them while they did it. If they succeeded they could produce an army that would be ready to fight as soon as they woke up. With such technology anything was possible and the cloners had known it. James Darkblade, in his own selfishness not to have his clone be used by his enemies, had in fact eliminated a great threat to the universe, or at least lessened it. Who knows if there had other facilities like the one Demus had been grown in, or if they had been destroyed by the rebels back in Demus' own time. Surely if they had come across them, and learned what those places had been made for, they would have rightfully sought to destroy them.

Demus had no intention of creating an army of clones. At most he might create another like him, so there would be one to carry the traditions of the Sith, once he understood how this ability really worked, he could then assure it would be passed on to the next generation of Sith. The planet would provide the perfect testing ground.

'It seems my chances of survival have greatly improved.' Demus said with a smile.

Demus watched as a Karmath relocated his scent. A great beast that was 9 feet in length, it was covered in a thick coat of gray and black fur, which it used to stalk the shadowy undergrowth. An ancient Sith Magician had created the species, and in his overconfidence proved to be their first victim. Rising to the top of the food chain the Karmath was the apex predator on this world. Two long horizontal tusks, along with razor sharp teeth and claws were counted among its formidable weapons. Even now it smelled he was close, but it had no idea just how close. Leaping down on top of it Demus ignited his lightsaber before he struck. The Karmath howled in pain as it suddenly moved to the right so the lightsaber only skinned it. Only luck had kept the blow from causing the creature's death, even then there was now a large patch of hair missing on one of it forelegs.

Bearing its teeth the Karmath growled in anger from its injury. It was surprised yet again when its sudden charge lost it one of its tusks instead of gutting the two-leg that had been standing in front of it. With one swipe of his lightsaber as he sidestepped the attack Demus took its right tusk, cutting it neatly in half. The semi-intelligent Karmath immediately realized what had just happened. What it lacked in pure intelligence it made up in animal cunning. For the first time this beast knew fear, having never met any other creature that could challenge it. Fear grew in it as it realized that this two-leg was actually dangerous to it.

Already it had lost a tusk and been wounded without the two-leg even receiving a scratch in return. There was no scent of blood in the air, and its enemy did not limp, or seemed to be tired. In a world where it was kill or be killed, there was no escape for death unless you were the one delivering it. On some level the Karmath knew that if it didn't kill this two-leg here and now, that one day the two-leg, seeing its weakness would kill it. With that in mind it was now or never. Gathering its strength it charged again, leaping at the two-leg in a sudden burst of speed. Demus saw the movement, predicting it like every other move the Karmath had made. He had watched the creature hunt, analyzing its weaknesses as he watched it from a safe distance, high above.

Seeing the charge coming already his body was moving automatically to ensure its own survival. Instinct drove him as he executed a smooth roll bringing his lightsaber to bear.

'This is not the Force but something else. I no longer need some outside power, only myself. On my own I am strong. On my own I am powerful. Not even this creature can stand against me.' Demus said enjoying the moment as he toyed with the once deadly predator.

When he felt the moment had come, he acted as if he had slipped, opening himself to an attack. Sensing weakness the creature attacked, eager to end this long drawn out battle. At the final moment as he sank to a knee, he burst upwards swinging his lightsaber with all his might in a full arc taking its head. The body of the Karmath sailed over his head, barely missing him before crashing into the ground in a shower of dirt. Demus saw it grind to a halt, feeling new confidence flowing through him. Raising his lightsaber overhead he gave a primal roar of triumph feeling more free than he had ever had felt.

Here there was no responsibility or cryptic purpose. In the struggle to survive one could live from moment to moment. Returning to the shuttle Demus turned off all the systems saving the power in case it was needed. With this done he left the shuttle behind to begin his new life as a jungle creature.

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