As Wrathus and Ronovi jogged towards the stairs that would lead them up to the roof of the control center, something in his mind began to stir. Unlike the earlier fighting, the flame deep within him began to come alive. Something about the impending battle was different; he couldn’t place it, but there was something nagging at the back of his mind.
Double-checking his equipment as he mounted the stairs with his superior, he was suddenly struck with something: A force vision, like the one he had had on Dromund Kaas before coming to Plagueis. In that vision, he’d seen a galaxy in flames, and all lain bare before a new empire. This time, however, he saw the past. As he climbed the stairs of the here and now, he watched as a younger version of himself climbed a different set of stairs out onto the frozen surface of Khar Delba.
Remembering that place caused his step to falter, and he dropped to one knee. Ronovi turned at the sound.
“You all right, big guy?” the Dread Lord intoned.
The big man stared down at the stairs for what felt like a lifetime. To him, he was reliving the moments just before his first encounter with his late wife. It had only been about seven years since then, but to Wrathus, it might as well have been a different lifetime. As his perception centered on the face of Kalin, his rose, he felt that flame roar to life. He felt a fury and a passion that he hadn’t in many years. Why now, of all times, this was happening was a mystery. But he wasn’t about to let an opportunity like this slip away.
Channeling the Force through the lense of this newfound passion, he drew back a fist and slammed it down into the steps, reducing a particular patch of duracrete into dust. He stood up and, for the first time in a while, his voice caught Ronovi off guard.
“All good, Tavisaen.”
He had disengaged his modulator. He was speaking with his natural voice, only modified by the respirator in his helmet. The edge on his voice was what unsettled her. She was used to the multiple voices, the strange cadence, the almost oily quality. But to hear his voice cold and clear, sharpened to a razor’s edge…this was something new.
“Good,” she uttered with a light chuckle. “Can’t have you falling apart, now, can we?”
The pair ascended the rest of the way in silence. Opening the rooftop door, they stepped out into the harsh light of an overcast sky at midday. The sun’s rays filtered through dull grey clouds, giving everything a shadowless appearance. Ronovi could smell the coming storm; hopefully, it would hold off until they were long gone. This fight would be enough of a chore without having to do combat in the rain.
Looking around, the two spotted the growing crowd on the roof of Block Dorn. They were in a collaborative panic, a single blob of panic and desperation as they attempted to board the last transport. None of them would make it aboard. The team, and especially Wrathus, would make sure of that. The gap between the two roofs was more than wide enough to discourage any normal person from attempting to make that leap. But it only took one look at the man for Ronovi to discern what the big guy had planned.
Wrathus moved to face the gap between the rooftops. As he did, someone on the other roof spotted the two Sith, and a cry went out. Wrathus slowly reached up under his cape and withdrew two metal spheres, one in each hand. They were a little smaller than a fist and made of shiny chrome.
He began walking towards the gap. First with long deliberate steps, then a light jog. As he broke into a sprint, he used his thumbs to slide back a small activation switch on the two spheres. They began beeping as he neared the edge of the roof. The beeping increased as he planted his foot on the edge and threw the two balls across the gap. Channeling the Force into his legs, he leapt after them.
7347 stepped out of the door onto Block Dorn’s roof just as two balls of flame blossomed into life a few meters from her and consumed a dozen prisoners. The blast threw everyone to the ground and left a ringing in their ears. She looked up just in time to see a giant black clad figure land on the rooftop.
Ronovi watched Wrathus bridge the gap and descend into a throng of prisoners, punctuating his landing with an explosion of Force energy that cast the prisoners away with dry leaves. He rose to his feet, and everything was still for a moment, as the monolithic warrior stood silently amongst the masses. Many were just regaining their footing as three of their compatriots roared and charged the Sith.
Wrathus drew on the Force and augmented his speed. The hilt of his lightsaber filled his hand, and its two deep red blades split the air. He crosscut the prisoner before him, leaving a black crevasse in his chest, continuing the swing through the one to his left. With his left hand, he used a blast of power to drive the third off the roof, sending his screaming body to the ground below.
This was enough to shake the rest out of the stupor of the thermal detonator’s blast, and they hurled themselves at the Sith, their collective roar the sound of a hungry, rage-filled beast. Wrathus responded in kind and howled at the mass of prisoners. Discarding the remaining restraints on his rage, he charged into the sea of bodies with a two-handed grip on his lightsaber. Emotion fed his power, and its swell fairly lifted him from his feet. He felt the power of the dark side around him, within him.
Blaster bolts traced lines across the roof as Ronovi drew her blaster and fired into the crowd of people. She spied an opening in the mass of sentients, and with an annoyed sigh, holstered her pistol. Then she ran and hopped across the gap, and once she was halfway across, her saber’s hilt leapt into her open hand. Two cerulean blue lines sprang to life as she landed.
Wrathus, nested deeply in the Force, perceived the attacks of two particularly large prisoners with perfect clarity. Without stopping, he whipped his blade left, wrenched it right, swung low, and eviscerated both men with ease. Behind him, Ronovi’s twin blades spun both high and low, cutting down several more prisoners.
7347 watched as the two attackers sever and rend body after body. She didn’t know how she knew, but she knew all the same that she stood zero chance against warriors like them and sought a way out. Spotting the final transport that had landed across the rooftop, she lowered her head and shoulder and began pushing her way towards it.
The last ship. Her last chance to escape. To be free.
But in the mass of people, she quickly found herself following the path of least resistance. Whether that was where she wanted to go or not, she wasn’t entirely sure.
Picking a prisoner at random, Wrathus augmented his strength with the Force, and he unleashed an overhand slash to split the man in two. Another prisoner sprung at him as he was still crouching, and landed on his back. Reaching over his shoulder with his left hand, Wrathus grabbed the back of the man’s shirt and roughly heaved him over onto the ground, driving the secondary blade of his saber into the man’s chest before he could react. He stepped forward and got his vision up in time to see a female rushing him, and he slammed a kick into the prisoner’s mid-section. The blow folded the girl in half and sent her reeling backwards five paces. Wrathus leapt into the air, flipped, landed behind her, and drove his blade through the prisoner. Roaring with battle lust, the Dreadbringer sought another opponent.
A flash of fiery red hair caught his gaze, but then it was lost in the crowd as a Zabrak swung a metal pipe at his head. Wrathus drew on the Force and with a blast of power drove the prisoner back into the arms of the swirling mass of bodies.
The battle turned ever more chaotic. Ronovi and Wrathus bounded, rolled, and flipped as red and blue lines slashed and spun. Blasts of power sent bodies flying through the air, over the edge, pulled loose rocks from the roof and sent them crashing into flesh. The rooftop was a cacophony of sound: shouts, screams, the hum of lightsabers, the intermittent sound of weapon fire. Wrathus walked in its midst, reveled in it.
He watched Ronovi corkscrew through the air, holding her weapon perpendicular to her body as she spun like a mad top and decapitated a dozen prisoners.
Wrathus, not to be outdone, picked a pair of prisoners at random. He spotted two human females ten meters away, held forth his left hand, and discharged veins of blue lightning from his fingertips. The jagged lines of energy cut a swath through the battle, harvesting two prisoners as they went, until they caught up to the two humans and lifted them from their feet.
The pair screamed as the lightning ripped into them, their flesh made temporarily translucent from the dark power coursing through them. Wrathus savored their pain as they died.
He caught Ronovi eyeing him and gave her a salute with his lightsaber.
Another flash of wild red hair snatched his attention.
7347 looked up and groaned. She hadn’t made much forward progress, but had instead moved about 10 meters to the right. Putting her head down, she shoved a blue-skinned Nautolan to the side and pressed forward. She was unaware of the angry eyes that followed her through the crowd.
Before Wrathus could follow the redhead, he felt his arm gripped by two individuals, both of whom attempted to wrench his weapon from him. He grunted and bodily threw them to the ground and savagely beheaded them with a single swipe of his weapon. He took a moment to watch the Dread Lord work as she spun her saberstaff left and right in a swirling figure-eight pattern and skillfully diced a handful of prisoners. Before spinning on her heel and uncorking a stream of lightning. Unlike Wrathus’s use of it earlier, Ronovi’s ignored the periphery and cut a bright blue line through the crowd, frying only its intended target.
Wrathus knew the battle had turned, that it soon would be over. He glanced around, still seeking the redhead, something about her drew him in.
Before he could locate her, three more prisoners swarmed him. He parried the bludgeon of a human male, leapt over the low kick of and orange-skinned Togruta female, severed the hand of the third, a female human, disarming her, then grabbed her by the throat with his free hand and slammed ther into the ground with his Force-enhanced strength.
“Kimbra!” shouted the human male.
Sidestepping the male’s crude overhand swing, Wrathus grabbed him by the collar and drove the front of his helm into the man’s face. Smashing his nose back into his head and sending little bits of skull up into his brain. Wrathus dropped the limp body as he felt the Togruta land a solid kick to his right arm. He spun around faster than she expected and caught her unprepared for a Force blast that sent her skidding across the roof and over the edge.
7347 felt a pair of rough hands grab her by the shoulders and spin her around. She stared up into the specked blue-green eyes of a Rodian who spoke rapidly in its native tongue before bodily pushing her towards the fighting. She tried to fight against the tide but the flow of bodies had her and she found her wading towards the sounds of chaos. She closed her eyes as she was thrust out of the crowd.
Wrathus ducked under a swing from a male, lunged forward, and took the man by the throat. He lifted him from his feet and held him suspended in the air, gagging. The man’s brown eyes showed fear, but mostly pain. Wrathus roared, squeezed hard, then dropped the body and stood over it, blade at his side, breath coming hard, thick puffs of vapor discharging from his helmet. The battle still swirled around him and stood in its center, the eye of the Sith storm.
Wrathus looked around for the redhead, Ronovi, or something to kill, when he felt another body push into his left side. Shoving the person away with his elbow, he lashed out with his hand and caught the person across the face with the back of his armored hand and spun to face his new opponent. Reversing his lightsaber during the spin, he rode it into a stab that pierced the person’s abdomen and came out the other side.
Wrathus looked down and found himself staring into a mop of fiery red hair. He moved to step back and withdraw his weapon, but halted mid-step, his rage temporarily abated. He continued to stare down as the head lifted to meet his eyes and he locked gazes with a pair of bright green eyes. Her hands grabbed his elbow to steady herself as he deactivated his lightsaber. Her knees gave out and she began to fall backwards with her eyes closed. Wrathus caught her on instinct and began to slowly lower her to the ground. The world around them simply fell away as he dropped his hilt to reach up and remove his helmet. He held it limply in his hand as he studied her face, its shape, the line of her jaw, the deep-set eyes with the faintest of lines in the corners, the freckles that adorned her cheeks. He remembered the first time he had seen her, a smiling, proud soldier, barely out of her teens. He’d served alongside her on Khar Delba, spent every waking hour with her, known her better than he’d known himself. She had been his companion, his rose, his wife, his light, and his pain ever since he lost her.
Her eyes fluttered open, focused. She blinked confused, but soon everything fell back into place. All the memories that she had lost, those threads that she never seemed able to grab hold of, all of it came sharply into focus. “Solas, is that you?”
Her word cut him like a knife. His helmet fell from his hand to the rooftop. He swallowed hard and croaked out.
“What is happe - ” The words were drowned out as she choked on a mouthful of blood. She spat it out on the ground and looked up at him before putting a hand on his cheek. “I’ve always loved you.”
He leaned his head into her hand, closed his eyes, and sighed contentedly. “And I you.”
She smiled wearily. And he could feel tears forming in his eyes, his humanity made manifest. He opened his eyes to see her staring at him, not in pain, but concern. She gently stroked his beard as her eyes widened. Her mouth opened, she seemed as if she wanted to say something, but no sound emerged from her mouth.
And then it was over and she was gone.
He pulled her to his chest as his emotions took over.
He cried. He sobbed. He wailed. Tears raced down his cheeks as he rocked his wife back and forth, sixty-two years of pain and torment finally coming down on him. After an eternity, the world around him slowly came back into being and his body became his again. Taking to his feet with his lightsaber in one hand, hatchet in the other, he stood over her body until the tears dried.
He resolved that he’d never shed another. He had destroyed what he loved. And he knew he would do it again if that time came. But first…
Anger refilled him, overcame him. A shout of hate, raw and jagged, burst from his throat. Power went with it, shattering nearby ears and throwing bodies to the ground.
He turned his gaze to the prisoners and stalked towards them, his rage and power surging before him in a palpable wave. A bold tTrandoshan stepped in front of him, powerful scaly arms held high. Wrathus barely saw him. He simply swung his left arm forward and buried his hatchet in the beast’s skull. He wrenched it free and kicked the body aside, he moved towards the crowd.
A human male separated from the group and stabbed at Wrathus. Wrathus sidestepped the blade, punched the man in the stomach, doubling him over, and effortlessly beheaded him with his lightsaber.
Feeding off the anger from Kalin, Wrathus shoved the body away and unleashed an onslaught of whirling slashes and crosscuts as he dove into the crowd. Wrathus split another human’s head with his hatchet as he drove his saber through the chest of another.
He spun into a high, Force-augmented kick that hit a female Twi’lek in the face and snapped her head back with a sickening crunch. From there he became a whirling storm of blades, plasma and death, as he carved a bloody swath through the crowd.
Somewhere along the way, he lost his hatchet, probably buried in some poor soul’s body. This did nothing to slow him, as he simply filled his open hand with raw power and uncorked a blast of energy that cleared an entire section of the roof, sending countless bodies tumbling to their deaths and devastating the roof of the building.
Ronovi watched as this force of destruction passed over the rooftop like the wrath of an angry god. She reveled in his destruction until she felt the whole roof shudder and shift after he unleashed another wave of power that sent a score of prisoners sailing through the air in a cloud of duracrete
She watched as the prisoners broke into a run and began fleeing in all directions. Many began charging back down the stairwell that they had taken to get up here. But just as many decided that it would just be easier to clamber over the edge and down the side of the building.
Wrathus roared, the lust for battle so pronounced that he would have killed his own allies were there no prisoners left to slay. And soon there were none as those who hadn’t fallen had quit the rooftop and sought safety. He wanted, needed, to kill more and to do so with his hands. The hum of an activating lightsaber cut off his words. He looked across the roof and saw Ronovi, saberstaff in hand, standing over the body of Kalin.
The pure hate and raw rage pouring off Wrathus struck Ronovi like a physical blow. She braced herself against it as she might a hailstorm. She’d felt his anger before, always hot and projected outward. But this was different. This time he wasn’t simply projecting his anger, he was his anger, his hate.
“Stand down Wrathus. This fight is done,” Ronovi ordered, her voice cold and stern. She took a step forward, putting herself between him and Kalin’s body.
Wrathus simply snarled in response. The man was gone; only the monster remained. Ronovi knew that this would only end when he could no longer fight. She did not wait for Wrathus. She bounded across the hangear, her speed augmented by the Force, the bar of blue in her hands leaving a blur of light in its wake. Wrathus held his ground, blade ready.
She stabbed low with her first strike and carried it into a high slash. Wrathus stepped back and crosscut for her neck. She ducked under it while spinning into a reverse leg sweep that caught his feet and tripped him. When he hit the ground, she rose, turned, spun her saber at his knees. Wrathus rolled back over his shoulder, and Ronovi’s blades cut gashes in the ground.
Wrathus bounced up from the roll and unleashed a blast of power that drove her back a pace. Ronovi planted her feet and shot forward to close the gap and landed a jumping kick to his chest. He used the Force to diminish the blow’s impact but it drove him back a step and his breath hitched in his throat.
He recovered, roared, bellowed, raised his blade high to cut her in two, and brought it down. But she was ready and interposed his attack. She knew that they were close in raw strength, but even then, the power of his rage was enough to start driving her almost push her to her knees. She stepped to the side and guided his blade away from her with her own, spinning the weapon vertically.
Wrathus turned to avoid the spinning plasma, though it skinned his armor and showered sparks. He pushed her to the side with a shoulder and kicked her in the face. The sheer ferocity behind the blow blew through her defenses, and left her seeing stars. It sent her head over heels backwards. She landed on her feet, stunned slightly. She reached up and gingerly felt her jaw; possibly broken. Great.
Getting booted in the face with such malicious intent snapped something inside her, and she decided that enough was enough. Time to end this. Grabbing her jaw firmly, she popped it back into place and the world went white for a moment. She rubbed it slowly as the pain subsided and she locked eyes with Wrathus.
As Wrathus prepared to jump at Ronovi, she held forth a hand, focusing her energy through it, and lightning sizzled through the space between them. Wrathus interposed his lightsaber, but the power in the lightning exceeded anything he had felt before. It blasted through his defenses and his lightsaber flew from his hands. The lightning seized him, lifted him up, and threw him across the roof. He hit the ground hard, and his head bounced off the ground. Sparks erupted in his brain. There was pain.
And everything went dark.
Wrathus opened his eyes. Ronovi stood over him, her deep amber eye fixed on his face. She held his hatchet, his saber hung from her belt with her own.
She stared down at him, and he could feel her ambivalence. She was struggling with something.
“It’s over,” he said with a quiet dispassion. Removing his left gauntlet and squeezing his elbow, he allowed his entire forearm to snap open, revealing a thin silver tube. He extended the limb towards her. “End it.”