Aliso City, The Pantheon
His body met the floor with such force, the crack of his armor echoed against the chambers’ sloped walls. He lay there for but a passing moment, still and unmoving except for the rise and fall of his chest.
“Your mind is unfocused.” The deep tenor of a man’s voice broke through the lingering silence. “Your approach is uncharacteristically sloppy, amateurish… not what I’ve expected after so much training. Are you unresolved?” The question hung in the space between them.
He knew better than to leave such a question unanswered for too long.
“No, my master.” He managed through an involuntary grunt of pain, pulling himself to a kneeling position.
Offering an apology would’ve been foolhardy, he’d made that mistake once before. Results; that was all the Falleen warlord cared for most during these demonstrations.
“When your mind is clouded, I can feel your thoughts; like a tumultuous sea, they crash upon me wave after wave… betraying you and allowing for the opportunity to inflict insurmountable damage.” The older man slowly paced, the heel of his boots offering a rhythmic clop against the tiled floor.
The warlord’s hands were behind his back, fingers loosely intertwined as he continued to lecture.
“As a force user, I hold a decisive advantage in combat situations; well, really in any situation. You must not place yourself in a position that would allow for the full advantage of my power.”
Buio was now standing, unsteady after his Sith master had force-pulled him from the shadows, hurling him across the pantheon.
“I understand, sir.” The Zabrak replied honestly, trying to quiet the thoughts stirring his mind.
“Do you?” The warlord gestured, instructing his apprentice to try once more.
It felt like an impossible task, approaching a force wielder from behind, their senses far too finely-honed to be susceptible to such an attack. Yes, there were certain vulnerabilities to such a power; if he had shared his Master’s ability, he may have been able to manipulate the force in such a way so as to shield himself from the man’s foresight or overtax the Falleen’s senses with a false presence. But such as it were, he had no inherent ability to use the force in any way.
Passing into the shadows, Buio disappeared from sight. His breathing steady, he tried to quiet the thoughts racing through his mind. His movement unseen, the darkness blanketed his position. His step was cautious, light and soft so as to blend with the natural ambiance of the temple. If he’d been facing a fellow non-force user, they’d never have known here were there. Yet, try as he might, his master’s gaze never faltered.
“You will have been my second apprentice who will never understand what it means to know the force.” The warlord spoke out, voice echoing against the black stone columns. “Regardless of such weakness, you need not be a Sith or Jedi to use the force to your benefit. Already, you understand that I’m attuned to its ebb and flow.” The man took a step toward Buio. “Use that as an advantage!"
The lieutenant retreated from the man’s advance, inwardly cursing himself for somehow giving away his position.
“Even now, I can read your emotions; frustration, aggravation… a tenseness that lights you up like fire.”
Buio could feel the intensity of the man’s words, could sense his focus. The very air around him was changing, it felt thick and heavy. And then suddenly thin. Plum-colored eyes widened as his lungs stilled, unable to pull in a breath of air. He tried to keep from gagging as he choked on whatever gripped so tightly.
“Your thoughts and emotions feed my power, they give me strength.” The warlord took another step closer, his hand outstretched and clawing at the darkness.
The infiltrator’s head swooned, overwhelmed by the sudden lack of air. Unable to stand for much longer, he slowly collapsed, the clack of his knee plates spilling from the shadows.
His posture rigid, the warlord tightened his grip and in one fluid movement, pulled. Slowly, from the darkness, Buio appeared. Half-conscious, the Zabrak’s limp body levitated toward the man, the tips of his boots scraping the tile below.
“Let this be the one and only time I teach you this lesson, boy.” The thunderous beating of his hearts was so overwhelming in his ears, that Buio almost couldn’t make out the final words of wisdom his master was about to impart. “Still your mind, quiet your thoughts, and use your emotions to distract… not attract.”
If it were possible, Buio’s face blanched as his eyes rolled to the back of his head.
Warlord Teylas Ramar released his grip upon the pupil, watching with disgust as the Zabrak’s body fell against the floor, a sickening crack of armor and bone filling the air around them.
“You’re such a disappointment…” His master’s words reverberated as Buio lost consciousness.