I am making this ongoing run-on for my apprentice Vassago Shax and myself. Only us two need to post. This is for his ongoing training to dark jedi Knight one day
Hatred of an Apprentice
Vassago lifted his training saber up and attacked the training droid with what little energy he had left. Sweat beating off his brow. Muscles ached. Back spasming. Face bloodied. The Obelisk fought with full exertion into beating his opponent, an ASP-19 battle droid used by the Sith for lightsaber combat training. It was built to do from basic new padawan and apprentice training, to full fledge master warfare. Brimstone, the Chiss master of the Protector, had programmed it to fight elites. Despite his apprentice being just that, an apprentice, he had decided it was to make this former One Sith soldier, the most painful experience in his life. Vassago fell again to the ground as the droid smashed into his ribs, cracking two of them.
The Chiss kept barking orders as he watched his apprentice fall and fail. A week earlier, on Bosthirda, the One Sith planet that the Brotherhood had conquered, his apprentice had tried to kill him. There was no love lost for him. He hated this new Plagueian, that was a blunt fact. Vassago hated his new master even more. During the Bosthirda operation, Aedile Callus forced him to become Brimstone’s new servant. The Sith Warrior promised to make his training as painful as possible. Vassago found out just how hard it was going to be. He received little sleep and even smaller food supplements during his first week in training. Even when he complained, he was shocked into submission from his new master.
Vassago had only one objective. Hitting a one inch off switch that only his training saber could reach, as it was in the droids chest cavity. He stood up as the droid positioned itself into a fighting stance and ready for the next engagement.
“How do you expect to challenge me sithspawn, if you can’t beat a droid?” sarcastically barked Brimstone.
“Master, you set it to where I have no chance to beat it. You are enjoying my torture and I hate you for it” replied the exhausted Vassago.
“Move out of my way and give me your saber” the Chiss replied as he pushed him out of the way. “Droid, program parameter Ziost-Alpha-Niner-Two-Delta.”
The droid reprogrammed his databank and was set for a battle. Brimstone stood without igniting the training saber and motioned with his hand for the droid to attack. As the droid swung, thrusted, swinged, swiped, and attacked, Brimstone juked and jived through the acrobatic dance of flashing green from the droid’s saber. When Vassago was sure his master was going to, and hoping so, get his ass handed to him, a quick snap-hiss of the red bladed training saber snapped into life and found its mark in the droid’s kill switch. The entire battle taking less than 3 minutes to perform. All the while, the Chiss didn’t break a sweat.
“That’s why you fail. You do not read and calculate your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. You don’t look for the opening to strike at its heart. You presume that just having the Force and a weapon, you are unbeatable. Hence, you fail.”
“I hate you!” spat the Human.
“Good, cause I hate you too. But I will continue to train you. You either will finally learn what it takes to be a Plagueian, or one of us will be dead” smirked the Chiss as he tossed back the training saber back to his apprentice and went over to lean up against the wall.
Vassago stood in his refresher. He had soaked in the bacta tanks to heal his cracked ribs. The welts and bruises showed on his body. It took him another 4 hours after watching his master’s display to finally be lucky enough to win. Seventy-eight battles over six days and he could only win once. But that once was the sweetest victory. And well worth the trials he was going through. He definitely hated his master, that was obvious. But he was slowly understanding what he was trying to accomplish. He swore multiple times wanting his master dead. He even tried to hurt him but failed in his attack again.
He never met a Chiss before Bosthirda, but admired their persistence. As he climbed out and toweled off, he stared at the mirror. “I will beat you eventually master” he thought.
The walk back to his chambers was a slow and long one, he felt too tired to even lift his gaze to meet that of others. Not that it mattered, they all knew who he was, what he was. He was the enemy, a One Sith. His loyalties lay elsewhere. What continued to amaze him was how he had not been killed, even his half baked attempt to eliminate one of their number had not seen his demise but had instead seem him elevated to his apprentice. That thought alone filled him with hatred and revulsion. That strange blue skinned alien, Brimstone. Those emotionless red eyes betrayed no hint to the thoughts within, even his face was unreadable as a Pazaak player. No sign of humour or mirth at his constant failures, his injuries and his cries of frustration. Just…again, again, again, over and over.
Finally he entered his chambers, though chambers was a stretch in any vocabulary. A mere slab that served as a bed and a small chest to hold only the essentials. There was little in way of privacy, numerous other apprentices and hopefuls in training would frequently clog the dark narrow passages. It was not at all uncommon for the weakest to vanish in the night or show up dead through some unexplained mishap. He had half expected one of them to shiv him in the dead of night but all kept a safe distance. Even when eating the meagre rations they deemed him worthy of was eaten alone and in silence. The others would huddle in groups, exchanging furtive glances in his direction and whisper to each other.
His thoughts during the brief times between the arduous training would drift back to the days of a simple trooper. When he would sit about the mess halls and laugh loudly and hard with his squad mates. He could close his eyes and see their faces. Remember their names, their stories, the way they ate, drank and killed. They were brothers, looking out for one another and were closer than family. His thoughts turned sour at that, remembering the disaster of Ziost. The battle to finish this war and get rid of these cloistered monks and their sham empire. How easy it had been, their armies storming across those frozen wastes wiping out the feeble resistance they encountered little realising they had yet to fight the true Brotherhood. He had no idea who had survived, if any from his unit. But lying in a crater, amongst the cold blasted tundra and heavy snow he vowed to kill each and every one of the Dark Brotherhood. When they came for him he had all but bled out, the glistening white snow turned crimson from the many ugly injuries he had sustained. The final blaster shot to end him had never come, and maybe never would.
Brimstone sat at his office desk for the Apostles of Syn, looking over documents on the recent engagement of the battle on Bosthirda. He also had a monitor going that was a hidden live feed in his apprentice’s quarters. Despite his being accepted into Plagueis, the Chiss was still wary of the former enemy. “Afterall, he did try to kill me” he thought to himself. He glanced and watched his apprentice and followed every move he made. Whether in the mess hall or the training chambers, he had to make sure this former One Sith wasn’t a spy planted to infiltrate Plagueis. He still had his failure on the Predominant weighing heavily on his mind. As his continued to look at his bookwork, his door suddenly chimed. “Enter” he replied without looking up.
Kz’set entered through the opening and walk towards the seated Chiss. “Am I disturbing you, Brim?” asked the Karness Muur Quaestor.
Not even looking up at the insectoid, Brimstone kept hard at work. “What can I do for you?” he said with a hint of displeasure in his tone.
“I’ll get to the point. Quit being so harsh on your new apprentice.”
Brimstone glanced up for a second, then returned back to the documents. “Is that all?”
“Brim, I know you still don’t trust me nor trust the former One Sith that are amongst us, but you will show me some respect” demanded Kz’set as s/he slammed down one of his/her clawed fists onto the desk. “Look at me damn it!”
The Battleteam Sargent laid down his paperwork and looked at him. “You’re right, I don’t trust you” he said coldly, “And technically I only have to respect your position, not you, so if you are here to whine about my treatment to your former comrade, it won’t work. He tried killing me and your Aedile did make him my apprentice, so I will train him as I see fit. If you don’t like how I do things, then remove me in charge” he continued. “But remember, I am still his master so until our leaders change their minds, you have nothing to say.”
“If I wanted any change, Admiral, I would have had you dead after your failure on the Predominant” said the assassin coldly.
“Look, I’ll take care of your puppet and try to look out for his well being” replied Brimstone sarcastically. “But until he learns that One Sith will not be coming back for him and he accepts his fate, I will continue to train him harder. He has potential. He has hatred. He has unlimited energy bottled up inside of him. I will train him to release it properly…” Brimstone was interrupted as the monitor he had been watching showed that his apprentice was about to get ganged up on in a trap he was walking into.
“I feel it too Brim” as Kz’set started to move towards the door, with Brimstone following closely behind, holstering his charric blaster he held underneath the desk. Kz’set just smiled at the Chiss.
The two of them made their way down towards the corridor where the ambush was waiting. Kz’set went into full assassin mode and disappeared into the air. Brimstone waited behind a door entry and watched for his apprentice to come around. “Let’s see what he can do before we make our move” spoke Kz’set into Brimstone’s mind. Brim acknowledged through the force back at his Quaestor.
Vassago made his way around the corridor when 5 other students assaulted him. After they subdued him, he was hoisted up against a wall by four of them, while the fifth, wielding a make-shift shank, looked at him. “You were supposed to kill the Chiss on Bosthirda, but instead he survived and our training has become harder because of you.”
Just before he was to be stabbed, Vassago exploded in unbridled dark energy and thrusted all his attackers away from him and barrelled into the knife-wielder, hitting him against a wall and disarming him. He started to pummel into the cadet and then rolled to his right when two others attempted to tackle him. They both missed and hit the floor with a double thud. Vassago slammed down his heel onto the one he was hitting, breaking three ribs and causing him to cry out. He then rolled onto a rancor-crouch and hurled himself into the other two, clotheslining them both off their feet. He then rolled to another crouch against the wall, and used the force to help propel him towards another attacker as he was getting up, snagging an arm. With a vise-like grip, he spun and snapped the cadet’s arm out of his shoulder socket with a loud audible pop. Still holding onto his victim’s wrist, he spun him like a baton and hurled him into another cadet. They both crashed into the opposing wall, with the one cadet that took the brunt of the throw, cracking his head on the wall, instantly rendering him unconscious as he slumped to the floor.
Vassago returned to a crouch attack position. “Come on you two” he yelled, “I’m ready for more if you want it.”
The other two cadets looked at each other, then turned to hightail and run, but came to a sudden stop as both were hoisted in the air as Kz’set materialized from thin air and held them by their throats. “What seem to be the problem here?” replied the Quaestor.
Vassago stood up and started to make a motion towards the two hovering cadets when he felt a muzzle of a charric blaster held up against the back of his head. “I don’t think you want to do that, Vass” replied his master. Vassago could only roll his eyes to the side to see his blue-skinned master standing there.
“I’ll repeat, what seem to be the problem?” chirped the insectoid.
Vassago looked at the other cadets laying on the floor. “Nothing. Just a impromptu training session we had decided to try.”
“Apparently it failed for 5 of them” sneered the Chiss. “Looks like I need to add more training to the cadets since they seemed to have so much free time from their studies.”
Kz’set released his/her grip of the two and watched as they landed on their hind quarters. “Brimstone, I underestimated you. Continue the training” s/he said as s/he turned around and walked the otherway.
Brimstone looked at the two uninjured cadets. “Pick up your friends and get them into the bacta. Then I will see you in the training room for a refresher.” As they tried to help their comrades up, Brimstone looked at his apprentice and remarked, “I’m impressed that you learned to watch for their weakness. I hereby grant you the rank of Guardian.”
“Thank you master” said Vassago with a slight bow, “But I still hate you…”
“I know” Brimstone smiled. It was one of the only times he saw any emotion from his master. "Tomorrow, I want you training. You are a demon in close quarters combat. That’s what I want you to focus on. Maybe one day, I’ll teach you Carinor.
As the remaining students were dragged or even carried, Vassago remained alone in the now empty corridor. He leaned against a nearby wall and allowed himself to sink into a sitting position. There would now be fresh scars and bruises to add to the growing collection that now adorned his tired and broken body. He gazed at his now throbbing hands, coated in blood though whose he couldn’t say. He bowed his head and began to laugh, a bitter humourless laugh that echoed through the corridor.
What a joke, that in a place of learning, of training, he had encountered more conflict than even the ice blasted landscape of Ziost. His master, the thought sour enough, had pushed him hard. It was often difficult to say where torture began and training ended. In all his life never had he felt more broken and wretched, yet he had to admit that he had never felt more powerful either. He replayed the fight with the students, remembering the satisfaction of feeling their bodies snap.
He eased himself back up once more, grimacing slightly at the pain that briefly surged through his body. Returning to his quarters he quickly showered, letting the hot waters wash away the blood and ease his aching and protesting muscles. His mind drifting back to his squad. Replaying in vivid detail the death of each and every one. He had wanted some measure of revenge on these cloistered monks, these false prophets but now he was filled with a growing sense of contempt. In the service of the One Sith he had been nothing more than a grunt, given a simple task. Pointed in one direction, given a rifle and told what to do. Never once had he doubted his purpose. Now he wasn’t so sure. Had they been stronger, had they been superior their bodies would not be buried beneath the blizzards.
Still that Chiss, for all his indifference and icy demeanour had shown himself to be superior. Vassago had to confess he admired that.
The fist collided with his jaw with all the impact and power of a freight train causing blood and saliva to fly from his mouth, snapping his head round and making him stagger backwards. His vision began dancing and the world seemed muted. It took a moment to realise who he was and where he was, a moment too late it proved. Another blow, just as hard as the last connected with the other side of his head sending him hurtling to the floor. Vassago gazed up and watched with hate filled eyes as his vision returned to sharp focus. The woman stood atop him, a look of triumph lighting up her eyes, her face set with contempt. And just beyond her stood a seemingly disinterested Brimstone.
“You’re pathetic. Get up. Get up!” she yelled.
He sprang quickly to his feet and quickly closed the distance, yelling with fury he threw a punch directly at her but only met thin air as she nimbly dodged his assault. With so much energy thrown into the punch he kept going forward unable to slow his momentum. As he charged past her harmlessly she lashed out with an elbow to his back sending him sprawling to the ground once more. He cried out in frustration, slamming his fist into the floor.
“I’ve seen Rancors with more sense than you.” she sneered.
Once more he dragged himself back off the floor, his body was already saturated with sweat, beads forming upon his brow and glistening off his taught muscles. He lashed out once more but with much more controlled strikes. Though lacking in power they proved much more accurate but his opponent was infinitely more experienced and easily dodged or even blocked his punches. Her strikes were faster, a mere blur to Vassago with fists and even kicks emerging from thin air. It took all his concentration and energy just to ward off another split lip and bloodied nose.
The training session had gone on for hours. The Chiss had remained silent for the most part, offering little in way of opinion. Just the word ‘again’ over and over. His opponent for her part, had knocked him senseless countless times and her mockery seemed as endless as the beatings. But to her growing irritation he continued to get back up. His top had become soaked in his own blood that flowed freely from an obvious broken nose, his bruises had become darker, bigger and uglier.
Another punch, an upper cut to his jaw, slamming it shut and making him bite his own tongue. The taste of metal quickly filling his mouth and earning him an incessant sting. But he had noticed her strikes get increasingly weaker, her breathing slightly heavier. She was moving slower too, though still incredibly fast by any standard. She lunged at him again and for the first time in this one sided fight he was able to dodge her strike. He didn’t wait for another. Throwing his weight into his strike he caught her mid section knocking the air from her body and making her double up in pain. He landed a second strike which connected with her jaw making an audible crack and knocking her clean to the ground.
Lying prone upon the ground he pounced, straddling her and reigning punch after punch down on her prone form. Blood splashed his face as his fists slammed into her head, she made no sound, no cry for mercy. Finally with a heaving chest he slowed and then stopped his assault, the only sound came from his own heavy breathing and a slight gurgling noise from his opponent.
Brimstone watched as Vassago finished the beatdown of his training partner. He chose her because of her resentment towards males. He also knew that eventually she was either going to kill his apprentice, or his apprentice was going to learn how to counter a brutal opponent. He stymied a smirk when Vassago finally figured it out and ended the fight with him as the superior.
Vassago looked up, and gingerly, stood up. Kara, the female opponent, rolled over to one knee and looked at the Chiss. “Anything else you need Brim?”
“No, I think he finally learned his lesson. Go get yourself to the bacta and enjoy the case of correllian brandy in your suite.”
She stood up, glared at Vassago, and smiled as she walked away.
“You paid her to kill me?” he stuttered as he blew out a blood clot from his broken nose.
“Everyone has a price. She would have done it for free” Brimstone replied, “So what did you learn from the fight?”
“She definitely hates men completely. But as the battle wore on, I saw she was finally getting winded and made my move. Why I didn’t think of wearing her out before was my mistake.”
“A mistake that can get you killed in any battle. As you have seen over they past few weeks, I am trying to get you to read your opponents. Read their mistakes in life. Read their body language. Read them period. Everyone has a weakness. No matter if they are a prisoner of war or the Grand Master of the Brotherhood, everyone has a weakness.”
“What’s yours, if I may ask?”
Brimstone just turned around and punched into a data pad as he ignored the question.
“Master, I asked you a question” Vassago said somewhat sternly.
“It is one that I am still dealing with, but if you should know, it is abandonment. I hate to be abandoned and discarded as trash. I don’t want to get into it right now” replied his master, still with his back turned. “I know what you are thinking, and any other being, it would be easy for you to kill them from behind. But that’s the coward’s way. There is no honor in it. Honor is when you can look your enemy in their eyes as you relinquish their life from them. To savor the moment when they realized they made the mistake and it costs them dearly. That is the truest form of honor.”
Vassago was now getting it. His Chiss master was mortal after all. But he knew he couldn’t get to use this fear against him unless he got all of Plagueis to disown him, which was highly unlikely.
“Master, so you sent me a transmission the other day. You were looking into another location to continue my training.”
“Yes, we will be going to the planet Colomar. There you will continue your training. Until then, I want you to go get healed and then to the libraries to study up on the planet. I want a detailed report of the planet. You will have to find out specifics and the Brotherhood archives are incomplete. If need to, look into my past and you might find some details.”
“Yes master, and thank you for your training. But I still hate you” he said with a smirk as he walked off.
Brimstone just stood there and smiled. His apprentice was learning.
After the brutal but eventful sparring match Vassago spent much of his free time in the library, mostly filled with bookish Krath members of Plagueis they took next to no notice of him. The place itself was a vast repository of information with countless holo data files, tomes and even holocrons. Access to some of these artefacts were strictly controlled and although students and academics alike moved virtually oblivious to all else the battle droids and guards were obvious and threatening. Scattered strategically about the vast archives were various emitters, many of which were being used, unknown battles, people and places would blink in and out of existence.
He made his way to a nearby access terminal and began typing in the name of the planet his master had instructed him to research. But he paused, his finger hovering over the panel. Something else was pulling in the deep recesses of his mind, he began a search on a different category. Quickly he typed in One Sith. The screen blinked out of existence before springing back into life, lists too numerous to count began to appear. He was surprised at just how comprehensive the Brotherhoods records were, they included detailed information on various battle groups, fleet deployments, known squadrons and divisions. Many of which he knew and even served in personally. His curiosity now well and truly piqued he entered in his former unit. Immediately came up a list detailing the men he had served with, images of his former comrades appearing next to their file along with their status. Some entries were listed as unknown but most had the tag deceased associated with them. His name appeared upon the list but the file was locked, the word classified in red blazing upon the screen. Perhaps that was not entirely surprising but he did wonder what his file might say about him. But not all of ‘his’ men were dead or missing, there were a handful that were marked as detained. Confusion descended, his loyalties were no longer so simple.
True, he was rapidly beginning to respect and appreciate what Brimstone had imparted to him, under his careful and even brutal administrations he was quickly becoming something powerful, lethal. But he still doubted the Brotherhood and the years of learning to hate and fight an enemy were not easily undone. A big part of him still believed in the One Sith, their methods, ideas. He would have even considered himself a zealot, waging a crusade against the lesser creatures of the galaxy. His former training was even now screaming at him to learn all he could, to locate and save his comrades and report back to his superiors. For now at least he could do nothing but sooner or later he was going to have to make a choice, he liked the blue skinned freak, though that admission was a painful one. Perhaps he might see the One Sith as he did, powerful and with true vision for the future of the galaxy. Perhaps he might even have a place within it, the thought enticed him but he put it aside for now.
Instead he punched into the terminal Colomar. Immediately a nearby emitter burst into life, a single large planet appearing in the now familiar blue hue. Most of the data on the world was simply listed as unknown. It seemed the Brotherhood as a whole had taken little interest in the world. It’s resources though not inconsequential were in too small a quantity to warrant anything more than cursory footnote. There was a population but again details were sparse. Looking through the log file he was surprised to see that two names kept appearing, one was his master Brimstone. The other a Dark Jedi called Anshar Kahn. The files were predictably marked as classified. He considered this odd and decided another conversation with his master was in order.
Later that evening, Vassago approached the holocom and a graphic image from an Anshar Kahn of Tarentum came up on the viewport.
“How may I help you Guardian?” replied Anshar.
“I assume you know that I am the apprentice of Brimstone, your former pupil. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about him or the planet Colomar that you both visited about 4-5 years ago.”
“Colomar was a hidden enclave I had dealings with. They have a community of Grey-siders that don’t follow the ways of the Force. They had chosen a path of being neutral, neither dark nor light sided. As for Brimstone, he is a question mark. My dealings with him is one of arrogance and animosity.”
“Why was he forced to leave Tarentum?” replied the Guardian.
“He wasn’t forced to leave, we kicked him out, because he refused to follow our teachings and our path. He was going to be an hindrance to our clan and we didn’t see any point of training him when it would just been a waste of time.”
“So do you know what happened to him after you discarded him?”
“Last I heard he was captured by the Vong so we figured out that he was dead. It wasn’t until this war with the One Sith, your former masters, that we heard he was alive and even made Admiral at one point in time. I still think he is outliving his usefulness, but he has been lucky in the Force to keep him alive this long” replied Anshar, “Anything else you need to know?”
“No sir, I believe you gave me what I sought. Thank you.”
“Have a good day, and be careful of the Chiss. He will end you if he sees fit.”
Later that night, Brimstone was in his quarters, asleep when he started having visions enter his dreams, or “dream walking” as most folks would describe it. In his vision, he saw that his apprentice was floating in the air, strangling, by a force choke of a female. His apprentice begged and gasped for help, but Brimstone wasn’t making any moves to save him. Shortly afterwards, Brim woke up and realised that Colomar might be too dangerous for his apprentice.
5 days later
Both Brimstone and Vassago had left Plagueis for the student’s further training. They had arrived at the planet Colomar. Vassago asked multitudes of questions about the planet, but the Chiss would remain silent. He even asked about Anshar Kahn, his former master, but the information he sought was still lacking.
“Master, before we land, I think you should tell me everything I need to know.”
Brimstone finished transmitting the security codes to the dock authority, then turned around.
“What you need to know is that I brought you here to show you the fall-out of what happens to those who have their own hidden agendas and try to wrestle power from those instead of learning from those who are willing to share.”
“I spoke to Anshar, your former master. He told me if you don’t have use of me, you would kill me.”
Brimstone smiled. “Anshar knows me too well. Unfortunately, if I feel that you haven’t learned and that you are still beyond corruption of One Sith influences, I would have no reason, nor problem of destroying you” he said sternly. “Remember, you did try to kill me once, and I have no doubt if given the chance, you would try again.”
“While I admit your honesty is shocking, I have learned much since my becoming your apprentice, Master. And yes, at sometimes, I wish you dead, but I feel there is still too much more for me to learn.”
“See, you are learning, which is good for you.”
Brimstone turned around to the viewport on his ship. “One other thing, did One Sith tell you of dream walking?”
Vassago sat down behind him and strapped in for their descent. “No Master, I have never heard of it.”
“Well, then you are lucky. I have been doing it since I been force aware, and trust me, it is an hindrance sometimes. Not many good things will become of it. When we land, and after we meet up with our contact, I will get you into their libraries and you can read up on it.”
The ship descended into the clouds of Colomar and towards the city space ports. As they neared their landing platform, Vassago could see a group of a dozen security personnel, as well as one older woman in their midst.
“I see we are getting a warm reception, Master”
“I don’t think they’re happy to see me again.”