Kaiburr awoke in darkness.
It was a sudden thing, his photoreceptors suddenly coming online. Last thing he knew, he had been studying in his small cell. He tried to pierce the darkness, but could only feel the thrum of movement. He was being transported. But for what purpose?
He stumbled as his dark cell clunked to a halt, clanking and hissing following. Behind him, one of the walls slid away, opening out into a small ring. Harsh fluorescent lighting picked out the mat and walls in stark colours. Opposite was a pit of darkness. He assumed another waited in there. He stepped forward.
“Hopefuls.” A voice began, neutral and soothing.
“You have shown promise, and been taken from the Shadow Academy to Arcona. Some of you will make it to Dark Jedi Knight. Others won’t. Only the strong will rise.”
Something stirred in the darkness opposite. A human stepped out, blinking at the light. He was squat, but powerfully built, his face marked by bruises and an obviously broken nose. He wore a loose jumpsuit, a mirror of what realised he too wore over his juggernaut chassis, with a start. His inbuilt weapons had been disabled. All he had were his large three-digited fists.
“Use all the skills you have available. Begin.”
As the voice finished, a harsh tone cut through the hall. Kaiburr immediately grasped the situation: This was an arena. He adopted a wide stance, lowering his centre of gravity, his mechanisms hissing and whirring. He eyed his opponent, one obviously more experienced in what this situation entailed than the Jedi Hunter was. He brought his arms up, moving forward with purpose, his face locked into a grim expression. He relied on his mass to win fights, to outlast or overpower his opponents, beating them into submission. The Shard knew he could take a few punches, but he couldn’t withstand the battering head-on, no matter how good his armour was. He braced himself, mind racing.
Above the small fighting pit, a group of individuals studied screens, passed messages, or communicated with each other in hushed tones. Only one person actually looked at the pair fighting below.
In the low light, he could have been mistaken for a statue. He stood ramrod straight, a whipcord thin man, arms clasped behind his back. His one biological eye was turned downwards at the pair, his expression that of mild distaste. Nikola Valtiere, Rollmaster of Arcona, judged the pair in silence. The human was an uninspiring prospect, a great warrior, but without much wit. He was useful as a blunt weapon to wield against the more promising hopefuls. The Shard was interesting. He’d needed to deactivate his weapons and the outrigger jets the chassis was supplied with. The Human would use the Force to amplify his strikes. If the Shard couldn’t fight well enough, he would be shattered.
The corner of one of Valtiere’s lips flicked upward.