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[Awakenings] Shi Long & Manji Keibatsu Sadow


During the Awakenings conflict, you have been sent to intercept a member of another faction. Your objective is to delay or neutralize them, but you are not to kill them. Will you succeed or fail? Capture or convert? The choice is yours.

Shi Long & Manji Keibatsu Sadow


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Dentavii Prime
Unknown Location
Fifteen Klicks from Temple Ruins

Having left the Temple Ruins behind him, Shi Long made his way over what remained of the barren and treacherous terrain of the dilapidated planet. His steps were ordered; his mind, clear. He was to deliver the Fragment of Ombus - left in his care at the false base camp - back to Vexatus so that the profane ritual could begin. Things were progressing just as they had been foretold; all that mattered was possessing the fortitude to see them through.

The Primarch rounded a bend in the terrain, and he noted his path took him straight into a bottleneck. He slowed to a walk and took stock of his surroundings. High boulders surrounding the path created a natural choke-point, and any fool of a soldier who’d spent a day in boot knew not to walk into one.

But, Shi knew he was, for the moment, safe. He’d had been given assurances, after all.

He stepped confidently through the narrow pass, pebbles crunching underfoot and the sound of his heartbeat in his ears. As he crested a rise, he saw the path widen into a small clearing, with another path stretching back into the terrain some meters back. A small structure in the middle of the clearing gave him pause. He hunkered down, his hand straying to Nenshogeru tucked dormant in the front of his kami. Mercurial eyes scanned the surroundings, looking for the tell-tale glint of a sniper’s scope, or a cascade of stones heralding the presence of a clumsy look out.

Finding neither, he stepped down the path and into the clearing. The structure turned out to be a portable command tent of sorts, just large enough for a field commander and maybe three or four of his subordinates, some communications gear and scant supplies.

Shi knew the structure did not house such a contingent. The Force gave no warning of danger, only the hint of something…familiar.

He activated the hatch to the structure, and stepped through, closing it behind him as a secondary hatch opened. “At least he’s got atmo,” Shi remarked under his breath, pulling the front of his rebreather off of his mouth and nose to let it hang at his chest. Stepping through the second hatch, he finally laid eyes on his host.

Manji Keibatsu Sadow knelt at a low table, a similar rebreather hanging at his chest and his two lightsaber hilts at his right hand, resting on the simple furniture’s top. At his left hand, sat a gourd. The center of the table held two cups.

The Dokugan-ryu craned his head as if to allow his one good eye to take Shi in fully; it was an old and accustomed tactic, drawing attention to a supposed deficiency in order to better disguise one’s strength. Manji gestured to the empty space on the side of the table opposite him. “Sake.”

Less of an invitation; more of an order.

The Long hesitated for the briefest of moments, as if listening. Although the Keibatsu had a warrior’s mien - eye sharp and muscles limber yet responsive - Shi saw nothing in Manji’s body language that dictated he was an immediate threat. He eased down where Manji had pointed, nowhere near as dignified in the way that Manji knelt. Shi was seated on the tent floor, one leg outstretched, the other bent so that he could rest an arm on his knee. He clapped Nenshogeru heavily on the table at his right hand. Manji scanned Shi’s face, lingering on the lightsaber scar on his cheek. Shi’s hand moved up, his index finger reverently tracing the wound. “Shaving accident,” he explained, coaxing a snort from the Keibatsu.

Manji began filling a cup of rice wine from the gourd, his warrior’s hands surprisingly used to the delicate task. “You know me, I’d rather just had met you on the trail, but you know how ‘brother’ is. He insisted we chat first,” Manji grumbled, the warrior in him becoming annoyed by this exercise in formality.

Your brother,” Shi corrected. “And, no; I don’t. Is this the only reason for this palaver? You’re keeping me from something important - or something important from me.” Shi’s eyes never left Manji as he snatched up the cup that was offered, but did not drink. The Pontifex poured his own draught, then held it up. Shi did not return the gesture.

Manji shrugged, then downed his drink in one swallow, proving to Shi that he hadn’t been offered poison. Shi downed his as well, liquid fire coating his throat and spreading into his belly.

“That…is very good,” Shi admitted. “Now, we’ve had our drink. I must be on my way.” The only reason that Shi was - though brutish in his way - being this civil was because of the trials he and Manji had overcome during the War. Same blood, same mud, went the saying, and Shi’s respect was bought only with the rarest of currencies. Manji’s account was in the black.

Still, there were promises to keep. Shi made to replace his rebreather and adjusted himself to rise. “Thanks for the drink, and the fresh air, but it’s time we be about our business, agreed?"

Within the folds of Shi’s robes, the Fragment began to pulse, an arcane reminder of what brought the forces of Sadow to Dentavii in the first place.

The Keibatsu, astonished that Shi would risk the Fragment by bringing it to his very door, smiled, baring his teeth. “Yes, I think we should.”


The tension stretched out almost to breaking point as Shi locked eyes with the single orb of the Keibatsu, slowly rising to his full height. Manji followed suit, still snarling slightly, his knuckles whitening around the gourd of rice wine. Their blades- Shi’s Nenshogeru and Manji’s own twin sabers- still lay at rest on the table, just out of their immediate reach.

“You’ve become nothing more than a puppet,” Manji growled angrily. “You used to be one of us, but your own man- a Keibatsu, but not bound by that name. We never abused that loyalty.” His voice rose in volume, clouded by disgust. “Now Vexatus has you running errands? Like some kind of servant?”

In one furious motion, the Pontifex hurled the gourd of rice wine to the floor of the shelter. As it shattered, a loud crash that broke the silence, the Force coursed through both men, tendrils of invisible energy snatching up the blades on the table. The hilts gave them scant comfort- neither ignited his blade, knowing that to do so would be to enter immediately into a battle that only one would walk away from.

“You are nothing like the man I knew, Tsainetomo,” Manji snarled. “The old you… I would have respected enough to let him live. I would have trusted that you held this fragment for your own purposes, or for the betterment of the Clan.” The sibilant hiss of igniting sabers filled the command tent suddenly, slicing through the air like a hot knife through butter as Manji continued, his face lit up by a silver glow. “I have no qualms about pulling that fragment from your corpse, imposter.”

Shi regarded him coldly, his own blade yet un-lit. “The loyalty you speak so fondly of was a chain, Dokugan. A shackle that tied me to your family and crushed my will.” His eyes narrowed. “I had hoped to free you from your chains, but you are a willing prisoner.”

An explosion in the Force boiled from Manji and a wave of telekinetic force hammered Shi in the chest, driving him backwards against the entrance hatch. Surprised more than harmed, Shi caught himself, robes fluttering around him as he ignited Nenshogeru, the fiery orange blade hissing in response to the attack. His warrior’s blood boiled as Manji advanced, loosening two fingers from the hilt of his saber to place the rebreather over his mouth.

“Perhaps there is hope for you yet, Dokugan,” Shi smirked, fitting his own rebreather and hammering the airlock release next to him with a casual swipe of the Force. His next words sounded odd, mechanical and muffled by the rebreather. “We have unfinished business from Antei, you and I… and I do hate leaving a job half-finished.”


The roar that had chased Shi from the tent was guttural, full of rage…

…and as music to his ears.

It had struck such a chord in him that, despite the obvious danger posed by a pursuing Keibatsu holding twin columns of argent death, he couldn’t help but smile, his teeth gleaming behind the rebreather.

Shi whirled, holding Nenshogeru at the ready while slowing to allow Manji to catch up just outside of the shelter. Dual overhead strikes sought to plow the Long into Dentavii’s soil; Shi was having none of it. He stepped into Manji, his sunset-hued blade rising to meet and bat aside the attack. Shi kept moving past Manji, who whirled and allowed himself a moment to focus his strategy.

Shi laughed. “Yes! That’s what I’m talking about!” The Long had needled the Keibatsu almost incessantly when they’d fought for Musashi’s vision on Korriban, always questioning his motives, his resolve. Finally, in the midst of this internecine conflict, Shi was getting what he wanted: a true challenge.

The Long began to dart in and out, testing Manji’s defenses. Manji would respond in kind, probing with one blade while swatting away Shi’s own probes with the other. Despite Manji’s seemingly blinding rage, and Shi’s flippancy, a true student of the blade would see past the facades. The warriors were truly about to open a charnel house; these were merely the preliminaries before the main event.

Shi began to circle Manji, who held his twin lightsabers wide, presenting a seemingly open front. Someone eager for death would’ve taken the opening immediately, but the Long was and always had been the type to make that shade work for his soul. Manji allowed the Force to flow through him, enjoining it to warn him of the flurry of attacks that were sure to come.

The Long did not disappoint. Shi darted to Manji’s left and circled consistently, engaging the blade in the Keibatsu’s off hand while staying just out of reach of the right. No matter how skilled with two weapons Manji was, there was nothing he could do about his biology, and Shi exploited that with surety. Nenshogeru’s unstable length whip-cracked towards the Keibatsu time and again, and Manji was hard-pressed to both defend and maneuver under the assault. One hand could not marshal the strength to mount an effective defense for long, and the other was simply taken out of the equation by the Long’s positioning.

Shi suddenly darted slightly behind Manji and threw his shoulder into the Keibatsu, causing him to stumble slightly. The Keibatsu whirled to find Shi regarding him with his head cocked, his blade held across his body and the tip glassing Dentavii’s surface where it met the broken surface of the plantoid. The Long nonchalantly waved his weapon at Manji’s hands. “You might want to put one of those away,” he chided, “before you get yourself hurt.


Had the taunt come from one of his family- Musashi, Shikyo, even Ashia- Manji would have laughed it away, letting it slide off his psyche like rainwater off a sloped roof. He would have picked himself up, dusted himself off and hurled himself back into the fight.

But the man before him was not family. Had not been for some time. The words cut deep, and deeper still as Manji remembered yet again that he had once been the closest of cousins with the Korun. For a brief moment, the Keibatsu felt a sense of deep, incalculable loss and sorrow, a yearning for times long past.

In the blink of an eye the sorrow was buried beneath the rising tides of blood-red rage. How dare this imposter wear the skin of the man he had called cousin? How dare he plunder the noble language of Kyataru to name his weapon? The Force boiled through Manji’s veins as he pushed himself upright, imbuing him with a ferocious rush of strength. Teeth bared ferally, he locked his solitary pupil on the Korun.

Gaijin,” he hissed.

Before Shi could open his mouth to retort, Manji was upon him, both blades blazing as if to reflect the fury of their master. A whirlwind of scything silver strikes smashed against a hasty defence thrown up by the Primarch; he was on the defensive now, pushed backwards by pure, overwhelming force. The straight-line simplicity of Shii-Cho bludgeoned Shi backwards across the surface of the planetoid, Manji’s rage giving him no time to deviate from the course, no chance to introduce the chaos of Juyo to the equation. Strike after strike hammered against Nenshogeru’s fiery edge as Shi sought some opening to exploit, his eyes darting back and forth.

A brief respite came as Manji’s twin blades crossed over in a sweeping downward strike, caught by the Primarch’s single blade. For the briefest of moments, the two locked sabers, sparks hissing and sizzling to the ground below. Then, both proponents of the telekinetic arts beloved by Sadow, they broke apart to hurl blasts of telekinetic force at each other. Manji’s off-hand saber was blasted from his grip, clattering uselessly to the ground some distance away; Shi was hurled backwards, crashing into an upright rock that knocked the wind from him. As he shook his head to clear the fog from his vision, Shi felt rather than saw Manji lunging towards him, eschewing a saber strike- the Keibatsu’s fist was clenched tightly around the hilt of his saber as he hurled his knuckles towards Shi’s face.

Light flashed from the point of impact as Shi threw up a hasty barrier crafted from the Force, Manji’s knuckles halting an inch from the bridge of the Korun’s nose. They stayed locked together for a few moments; Shi could hear the breath hissing from between Manji’s bared teeth, his eye bloodshot and ferocious. The Dark Side was beginning to wear down even the One-Eyed Dragon’s legendary constitution- Shi just had to hang on until Manji’s rage was spent.


Shi set his jaw as he concentrated on bolstering the barrier; had he not done so, he was sure that the flecks of spittle flying from Manji’s clenched teeth would’ve drenched his face before it itself was smashed in by the Keibatsu’s punch.

Manji gathered his rage and pressed; if he couldn’t contact Shi’s face directly, he’d drive him into the rock, infuriating smile and all. But, where the One-Eyed Dragon body was nigh-inexhaustible, the Dragon of Stone’s mind was nigh-unbreakable.

The Keibatsu’s fist trembled and the argent blade began to waver slightly as the Long rose, his barrier holding under the constant assault. Manji’s red-tinged view registered something change in Shi’s expression.

“If I am ‘foreigner’ to you now, it’s because you - and your brothers - saw to it that I’d never be anything else!” The Long roared as he lashed out with a kick; Manji deftly circled out of the way, his arm outstretched and looking to cleave Shi’s head from his shoulders. Nenshogeru obeyed its master, slapping away the attack and growling as Shi pressed on.

The Long was no Dun Moch user, but he used his words as much as his blade in an attempt to cut, lobbing indictment after indictment at the Dokugan as he threw strike after adder-quick strike. “He was never ‘family’, but a mere curiosity! You abandoned him! When things were at its worst, he remained, protecting the Clan as much as your name, while you followed the whim of your brother!” It was Manji’s turn to backpedal, searching frantically for an answer to both Shi’s accusations and his oppressive advance. “You left him to his own devices, and now you have the gall to wish it weren’t so!”

“And, even at the end, when he died?” Shi launched a rapid fire sequence of slashes as some counterpoint to show there was still life within him - one that wasn’t given by name, but taken by his own merit. “When he died”, he repeated, “do you know on whom his last thoughts rested?” Manji slapped away another attack before spinning away to create some much needed space between them.

Shi waited, his chest heaving, for a response he knew could not come. “The fool thought of you. You, and your brothers. He would’ve forgiven all, would’ve been honored to have passed on with you at his side - but a bell cannot be unrung, can it? What’s done, is done, and through me, he has endured your abandonment. There are no regrets, save one, but it is avoidable.”

The Long leapt at the Keibatsu, who stood firm. Their blades locked together, a plasmoid shower raining between them. They both struggled against it, and Shi leaned forward to lock his swirling eyes with Manji’s good one. “I am of your creation, One-Eye; the only redemption you have is to be one of your own. Abandon your blindness; it is your family’s stock in trade, is it not? You do not have to follow me, but see that you don’t have to follow anyone! Find your way, Nekura, before it is too late!”


Manji’s lip twitched, his rage-clouded mind struggling to surface through the bloody haze that enfolded it. The words had come to his ears as if from far away, but they had reached him nonetheless, and as the fury began to ebb from his limbs he strove to form a response.

“You… you still… don’t get it,” he snarled, muscles tightening, knuckles white on the hilt of his saber. The words were low and guttural, choked from deep within Manji’s throat. “My way… is my family. My cause… is theirs.”

A slight smirk dashed across his features. “You are… the blind one… Tsainetomo,” the Dokugan-ryu rasped, steeling himself for one last flurry.

Shi responded with a full-throated roar, breaking the saber lock as he twisted Nenshogeru away. Manji whirled in unison with him, Shi’s attempted decapitation stroke meeting the icy silver of the Keibatsu’s blade. Manji countered, only to meet Shi’s defences. Sparks flew as the two settled into a rhythm of strike and counter-strike that would have appeared almost staged- to the untrained eye that could not see the energy of their blades wavering as each sought to break the other’s guard.

Two sets of feet scuffed across the surface of the planetoid, unconsidered as the clashing of the blades intensified, reaching a baying paeon to martial combat. Suddenly Shi broke the pattern, leaning back from a horizontal swipe and whirling his blade acrobatically. His thrust was barely nudged aside by the edge of Manji’s saber, the Keibatsu falling backwards into a crouch as he whipped his own blade round his body.


Both sabers screeched to a halt mere inches from unguarded flesh. Shi’s blade hovered above Manji’s head; Manji’s weapon thrummed directly in front of Shi’s stomach. With the slightest movement, each could murder the other.

Shi’s lip curled in an exasperated smile- Manji’s breath was emerging in ragged gasps, his grip on his saber trembling slightly from exertion. He was tired, but not too tired to end the battle- Shi had seen the Keibatsu fight enough times to know how viper-quick he was. His blade would cleave through Manji’s skull at the same instant that his own insides were boiled and brutalised by Manji’s saber.

The Long did not intend to die this day. Raising his voice over the frantic hum of sabers and struggling to mask his own tiredness, he kept his speech neutral.

“This is not the end of the road, Dokugan- for either of us.”


Their weapons thrummed expectantly in their hands, the joints creaking and muscles afire from the tension. Manji glowered upwards; Shi beamed down at him.

“You…feel that?” Shi asked, the question barely registering to Manji between his blood-lust and the Long’s heaving breaths. Their lightsabers, however, remained stock still. The Keibatsu dared a look skyward; the Force was in massive flux and Ombus continued to pulse and fragment high above, but it wasn’t the disintegrating faux-star that Shi referred to.

“Right now, this moment…I know your way is death,” Shi said, paraphrasing the Keibatsu code, “but I also know, like me, you haven’t felt this alive in a long time; I could tell in the way you fought!” His smile was genuine; his joy, effluent.

Manji snorted derisively as his mind finally shook free from the haze surrounding it, his logic cutting through the fog as a schooner’s prow through mist. Coincidentally, the comm unit in the folds of his kimono began to chirp. Shi’s ears caught it as well, and both men were suddenly cognizant of their weapons still hovering microns from dealing the death they’d promised the other. The Keibatsu spoke.

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe. But,” he gave a curt nod at their ‘sabers, “you’re talkin’ ‘past-tense’ as if we’re done.”

Suddenly, inexplicably, the Long relaxed, lifting his blade and extinguishing it. Only Manji’s silvery blade bathed the men in its burning light.

Shi stood still, looking down at the Keibatsu. The Long spread his arms, Nenshogeru dormant within his fist. “I am…for now. I’d sooner render this rock to pebble before destroying an artist like yourself; I kill you now, I fear I won’t have this pleasure again!” The sincerity that poured from Shi was off-putting to Manji considering the violence of the past few minutes, but the Kyataran let him continue. “Besides, I’ve taken too long here, and I’ve promises to keep, so…do what you must.” He stopped, arms still outstretched as if in mock crucifixion. Manji remained crouched, his blade still zeroed in on Shi’s stomach. It would be a simple thing to run the imposter through, put an end to the charade and bury this nasty business of a resurrected and seemingly amnesiatic cousin once, and for all. He would win; an empty, honorless victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Time passed interminably; heartbeats lengthened into moments, which stretched into seconds. Neither man budged as the balance of lives were weighed and costs, tallied. Finally, mercifully, the incessant chirping of Manji’s comm unit broke the spell, and Manji sighed, his body relaxing as he rose. He wisely kept his ‘saber ignited and leveled. Removing the unit from within his robes, he gave the Long a piercing look.

Shi’s smile broadened as he sauntered backwards, Nenshogeru remaining silent. “Until next time, then.”

Less of an invitation; more of an order.

Manji glowered and waved Shi off; the Long turned without further preamble and shuffled past the Keibatsu’s tent and down the path beyond. The Keibatsu extinguished his weapon, activated the comm, and the Lion’s azure visage leapt up in three-dimensional relief at him.

”Does he live?” The question, pointed and expectant, bored into Manji’s skull.

Manji paused, considering his answer. There was so much he did not understand. Yes, in his heart of hearts he knew - he knew - that Shi Long’s existence was not a reflection of Keibatsu failure, and that their Way was and always had been infallible. He truly believed that he and the rest hadn’t abused Tsainetomo’s loyalty; the spirit was there, even if they were not physically. He could sleep guilt-free.

Couldn’t he?

Finally, “He is dead…to me.” The half-truth tasted foreign on his lips, but it was a necessary evil if Manji were to come to grips with this and any further meeting with the Long. He hoped Musashi wouldn’t suss the full truth out of him before he had the answers to this mystery that he, and the rest of his family needed.

The Lion was quiet. Then, he lowered his eyes as if contemplating what Manji had not said as he went to terminate his end of the link. “Very well.”

Manji was alone as Muz’ face faded from view. The Dark Side pulsed, and his discarded off-hand ‘saber flew obediently into his waiting hand. Tucking both weapons roughly into his obi, he stood there for a long time then, with one last look down the direction that Shi had gone to follow his calling, he turned the opposite way and back to his own.