Beneath Cenota Facility
He stepped off of the lift, the movement trailed by the treated leather of his famed warcoat. He watched her lower into a fighting stance, the leg kicked out far in front, an esoteric variant on the Juyo method, overly stylized, yet somehow still brutish. He stopped, letting the lift raise up behind him, leaving him there alone with her, surrounded by the dead. She managed a feral smile, teeth glinting in the half light at her target.
“On behalf of the One Sith, you have been judged and found lacking.” She languidly let the words slither off her tongue, enjoying the feel of the words she had practiced for how long now.
He stood there, motionless, watching her with the black eyes of a deep sea predator, betraying no emotion.
“Any final words, false Lord?”
Muz lowered his head a degree. Ophelia nearly missed the gesture, her sneering contempt for the man flicking along the edges of her nerves, a dull throbbing itch in her thumb begging her to press the activation stud and spill her saber blades into the world. Of course he hadn’t any final words. Words were unnecessary. Lowering his center of gravity, she couldn’t help but let out a chuckle as she sprung.
The stave illuminated in midair as she hurled it at him, the blades humming as they sought the blood of the Lion. His head turned, the saber caught in his unseen hand, wrenched away from her invisible grip and cast aside without compunction. She snarled, diving after it, hand outreached, pulling it back into her hand as she rolled into a defensive velocity, finding nothing.
He stood in the same spot as a moment ago. She swore she saw disappointment in the murk of his eyes. It slid across the back of her mind like warm water, soothing and irritating in the same awful way. She stood, rage growing in her heart, storming directly at him, the staff whirling in her hands. She brought the blade to bear, snarling ever closer, cauterising light seething toward the Lord’s body as he stood there, unmoving.
Without warning, he blurred the lines of reality, unnatural speed stepping within the arc of her weapon, his hand finding the hilt of her weapon and stilling it. She blinked in surprise, and by the time her eyelids had opened, she felt the pulse of the Force lend itself to his strength, tearing the weapon from her grip yet again and tossing it aside.
She screamed, bounding backward away from him, the urge in her heart growing to a fever pitch, echoing across the back of her mind, into the shadows, down the hallway. She felt the cold floor beneath its feet, the cupric taste in its mouth from gnashed teeth. She laughed, drawing herself up to her full height, letting the vibration burn through her senses, shaking her body as it wormed through to her fingers, coiling, coalescing at fingertips that started to char as she built the power. She felt the other behind her, slinking in the shadows, awaiting the opportunity. She let the power seethe from her pores, thundering as it slipped from her control.
The lightning flung toward the Lion, the static teeth clashing against each other as it soared at him, her beast pouncing from the dark, maw extended, teeth the size of daggers and just as sharp.
The Lion’s hand moved, deflecting the bolts of cerulean power and bouncing them away from him, sending them at the Tuk’ata, pouring her own hate into her loved pet. The Sith Hound half yelped and half growled as the bolts tore it off its course, sending it to skittering disarray to her left. She snarled, pulling her saber back into her hand, the beams erupting as soon as it found her hand again.
“Coward.” She swore at him, at his calm, at his dismissal, at his utter disregard for the death she was here to deliver to him.
Muz lowered his head a degree, his sabers lifting from his belt and flying to his hands, the sunset tones of his weapons bathing his form in cruel light and harsh shadows.
The word reverberated across her ears and mind, the voice deep and strong, shaking her teeth and rattling her sinuses. She shook it off like a bad dream and awoke to find a new nightmare.
He was upon her, blades screaming at her. She fell backwards, trying to keep the blades from her heart, from her head. Marks of contact arrived, teasing cuts across her arm, her leg, drinking her flesh so easily, despite the sweat that built at her brow. It was an unrelenting assault, the waves of light crashing against her shore in spectacular fashion. She panted, trying to back away, forcing her muscles to move her ever faster, away from the obscene onslaught.
The sounds of sabers powering down sang to her, her eyes going wide as she recognized that he had stopped following her. The realization tore at her ego, her self-worth. She panted, feeling the sweat evaporate off of her, cooling her skin, despite the burns that throbbed across her body, superficial wounds as if meant to punish an errant child. She twisted her mind, the command reflected off of the Tuk’ata’s mind.
She watched in horror as the saber dropped from behind his warcoat, catching in midair and spinning up to intercept the leaping sith hound. Seconds seemed to slow as she watched the beam scream from the emitter and through the jaws of the beast. The severed teeth started to fall with the ruined flesh and cauterized detritus. The smell burned into her nostrils, sickly sweet and corrupted like rot in a fire. The sound filled her ears, a desperate wail and feral howl rolled into one as she felt the connection fade.
The last breath of the tuk’ata rattled past a ruined tongue, and Ophelia realized the howl was her own. She let the rage drive her to her feet, the blade screaming in her hands as she sought revenge. She let the rage build her actions to a crescendo, testing his defenses with a flurry of attacks, driving him back on the defensive. He moved in a constant blur, footwork and body placement ensuring that he wasn’t assailable before she even finalized the attack in her mind. She pressed onward, the razor hum of energized adegans building as the Grand Master reignited his weapons, drawing her blade off center, playing with her sense of balance.
He teased her with openings in his guard, leaving windows of opportunity open for her, as if he was asking her to strike him down, to push ever harder, to actually accomplish what most thought impossible. She bashed away at him, fury guiding her hand as the hollow feeling in her head started to take root. The void left by the connection itched her where she could not reach. The thought of it found purchase in her throat as she pressed on.
She flung herself into the attack wildly, her blade slipping around his violet saber. The world slowed down in her eyes again, the adrenaline skewing her perception as she watched the edge of her blade inch toward the lion’s heart, joy building in her own soul.
And then the crack of power danced along her senses, the crimson beam severing her weapon at the emitter, her blade evaporating into the ether. She swore, cursing all the gods as she spun the weapon around, but it was already too late. She felt something wrong, the world slanting to the right as she felt warmth in her leg. She had made a critical miscalculation, her peripheral vision seeing the violet arc continue its path up, seething toward her arm as she fell into it.
Spittle erupted from her mouth, frothed by rage, by the betrayal of her own body. Muz’s sabers vanished, floating toward their homes at his waist as he reached out, his metallic hand grabbing her by the face and throwing her away from him, away from the rest of herself.
She crashed into the wall, stars clouding her vision as she slid to the floor, the grinding of gears in her remaining limbs trying to right herself against gravity. Muz walked toward her, his mind reaching out and turning the screws on her prosthetics. Wires disconnected, gears stripped, and plates fell to the ground with a clatter as she could do nothing but watch him stop directly in front of her, lowering himself to a crouch to leek her in her eyes.
It was over. She smiled. It was finally over. The pain, the hunger, the blurred memories, the loss, the endless war and reckless hate.
He watched her process the situation, emotionless. She groaned as she tried to worm her torso up against the wall as she slid, stumps sliding across the floor and finding no leverage. She sighed, watching the corners of her vision lose definition.
“Finish it, Lord.” She felt blood drip from her lips, a cough rattling past her ragged mouth. She licked her lips, feeling chipped teeth. He had won. Wasn’t that enough? Did he have to gloat? Was he using her as an example?
He stood up, turning away.
He paused, looking down at her before turning to the balcony.
“Say something, you monster.”
She scowled. He couldn’t leave her like this. He would never leave an enemy behind. It was against everything she had ever heard, everything she had ever read. All of her research.
“I will never stop.” She growled, the edge of her voice warbling from the pain.
He turned back, crouching down suddenly, his hand gripping the side of her face. She stared into his eyes, studying the corners of where pale flesh met the ink.
“I hate you.” she spat.
Muz allowed himself a half smile, the expression drawing out the corners of his eyes as his lips exposed his teeth. “I will show you how to hate.”
She swore she saw his eyes burn as the colors grew brighter yet, then dimmed to a dull reflection, as though she was seeing the world through a filter. His hand twitched, pulling the world from her mind, the aching void from the death throbbing into something worse. Her mouth fell open as she felt the twisting threads of the Force working through her body. She slammed it closed, clenching broken teeth as she realized.
The sounds were gone, the echoes silenced forever. It was as though he pulled her soul from her, ripped off a chunk, threw it into the dirt and then shoved it back sideways. Everything seemed distant, faded as a memory from infancy. She tried to reach out, instinctively, but to no avail. He had severed more than just her limbs.
There was nothing left.