D’hak hurled his wicked, double-edged blade through the air at the old man’s back. He turned at the last minute and with a deft swipe, he sliced the weapon in half. Seizing upon the distraction, the old man was skewered by a lightsaber through the side.
I would love to take credit for that, but it was Randir that took him down. I helped. The old man’s padawan didn’t take too kindly to it, and Randir fell in battle pretty quick. Mission accomplished.
“You killed my master,” the young man repeated through clenched teeth. His neatly trimmed beard and blond hair was drenched with sweat, the result of the arduous 2v1v1 battle he had been engaged in. Towering above him at six feet tall, D’hak, the Krath Tetrarch of the Dark Orb Phyle, sneered back at him.
“He was in the way. In your way. The Force is strong in you; become my apprentice, and I can make it even stronger. You may even be as powerful as I, someday.” The padawan snarled and swung forward madly, but D’hak blocked his frantic blows and planted a kick into his chest.
My story doesn’t really begin here. Doesn’t really end here either. Frak, I don’t even know why I’m starting here. I guess everything begins somewhere, and if you ever hope to truly see the way forward, you have to see the path behind you first.
“Feel the hatred boil inside you!” D’hak taunted, blocking more swings. “Feel the power of the Dark Side!” The young padawan suddenly dropped low and kicked upwards, catching D’hak by surprise. He stumbled and was thrown into the wall by the next Force-enhanced kick. As the padawan approached, D’hak leapt into action, turning the tables against him as the battle continued.
I didn’t walk this kriffing path. It’s not like I volunteered or anything. Randir was just another crazy Dark Sider, trying to destroy Clan Arcona. The old man, while an excellent combatant, was outnumbered and slaughtered by us. Me. Him. The other me. I guess I sealed my own fate when I killed this young guy’s master.
The padawan raised D’hak’s stolen lightsaber, a violet Ripper design, for the final blow as D’hak grabbed him with his free arm and leapt backwards, throwing them both off the catwalk that hung suspended over the mess of computer terminals and desks that littered the room. They leapt to their feet quickly, but the padawan wasn’t quick enough. Retrieving both lightsabers, D’hak backed the padawan against the wall, threatening him with the two weapons. “You should have joined me,” the tall, dark-skinned man taunted. “You are very impressive indeed. The Force is very strong in you. One last chance; join me. Become my apprentice in the Dark Side of the Force.” The young padawan leaned forward and spat his reply through his teeth.
I suppose we all seal our own fate. We make our own monsters. Death sticks, Glitterstim, ale and brandy; the rashness of youth, the arrogance of anger and not enough defeats. You can’t save people from themselves. Don’t even get me started on people. There are two kinds of people in this galaxy; the kind I like, and the kind I should’ve killed when I had the chance…
“You have run out of luck this time, boy,” D’hak chided the young man as he swung both lightsabers forward. They clattered to the ground, useless, as D’hak looked into Sebastian’s eyes with confusion in his own. The two halves of D’hak’s blade hovered in the air, dripping blood as D’hak’s body slumped forward, landing near his severed arms. The padawan snarled and thrust a hand downwards, sending the razor-sharp blades through both sides of D’hak’s rib cage. The blades curved underneath the catwalk and floated back in front of the vengeful young Jedi.
We make our own monsters.
Unknown planet in Wild Space
Ruins of an advanced cloning facility
Dressed in black and violet robes, and covered in silvered armor plating that complimented his tall, slender form, the super-human clone assassin D’hak slammed his gauntleted fist into the blast door, feeling it start to crumple before him. Again and again he struck until he had buckled the door, which he then peeled and ripped out of the frame.
Stepping through carefully, D’hak kept a wary hand on one of his lightsabers as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. Snow white hair whispered at his shoulders as the air flowed inside the laboratory, and the dark-skinned, six foot tall assassin crept carefully through the facility where he himself had been created twenty years ago.
He had awoken in a violent daze. One minute, he had watched as a steel catwalk faded from his sight, excruciating pain in his arms throbbing through his brain. The next minute, he was in a tube, floating, listening to the rush of bacta as it flooded out into a laboratory. Standing above the littered corpses of security droids and scientists, a lone man greeted him with a friendly hand. Solan Morakei, the father of Elleron Morakei. Both of those Jedi would later cross his path, when it was they who needed his help. Life is not without its little ironies.
The super-human clone of D’hak checked a handheld scanner. There was a clear power source here, on this planet. That could only mean something bad was about to happen. He hadn’t been made to save children from monsters.
Three years earlier…
As D’hak and Solan continued their frantic duel, Elleron knelt in front of a much smaller boy, looking over his injuries with eyes that varied between blue sapphires and green emeralds in the fading light of sunset. “You’re Laethan, aren’t you? D’hak’s apprentice?” Laethan looked up at Elleron and nodded weakly. He had been stabbed through the stomach, and his life was fading. “And you’re sick?” That wasn’t the worst of his troubles; being possessed by the spirit of an ancient Dark Jedi Master had other drawbacks. Again, Laethan nodded. “I can help you. This will heal you, won’t it?” Elleron held up a crystal as Solan ducked a wild slash from both of D’hak’s blades.
Laethan smiled as the crystal began to glow, then he whispered something that Elleron couldn’t quite hear. The young teenage boy leaned in closely, and Laethan grasped his head with a grip like steel. Pulling him in, Laethan firmly locked lips with the teenager, and after a long, tense kiss, Elleron shoved the young, dying boy down to the ground. Elleron sneered down at Laethan as he felt the power coursing through his veins… but something was wrong. There was… resistance. The darkness drained from Elleron’s eyes for a moment before Denath could re-establish control over his new host body.
The facility had been destroyed long ago, but the broken walls and damaged doors could not bar his path as he made his way through the complex, checking the device in his hand every so often. There was a clear energy surge in the heart of the building, and he had to know what was happening.
The assassin stopped as he caught sight of the room he had been created in, and stared in wonder at a new growth tank. This entire laboratory had been powered up, and the occasional droid buzzed about its business, checking consoles and tending to the growth tube in the middle of the room. A small shadow clearly floated within the tube. Without further hesitation, D’hak reached out with the Force and crushed the droid, advancing carefully.
D’hak rubbed his gauntleted hand across the new glass tube and narrowed his eyes suspiciously as he saw what was floating inside - a young teenage boy, with platinum blond hair, held in stasis within a capsule filled with an unknown cocktail of chemicals. All manner of wires and equipment monitored his growth as he floated inside. He glanced down at the control panel and read the young clone’s designation: Delta-class, NXG-2.
Pressing a couple of buttons, he scrolled through technical details about the cloning process, none of which he understood. A name flashed on one of the screens, a name he was far too familiar with.
Fourteen years earlier…
A bolt of lightning fell from the skies of Arconae Primus. Somewhere, a pulse of light illuminated the darkness that permeated these woods. Somewhere… but not here. A young boy raised his head to the sky with an accusatory glare as the first drops of rain followed the light downwards. The rain trickled on the fair side of his face, running past the steel half-mask he wore to hide his scars. He sighed in exasperation and returned to his musings. These woods were comforting and quiet, a good place for the solitude and deep thinking the boy needed right now. He had been fighting a long time…
“Thank you for coming, old friend,” Proconsul Strategos Thanatos Arconae greeted the super-human clone of D’hak. “I need to talk to you about Denath. I don’t trust him,” Proconsul Strategos Thanatos Arconae stated in a voice that made it clear. “He is reckless, arrogant and dangerous.”
“Yes, he is,” the tall, dark-skinned man replied. “He is also very powerful.”
“For an Epis.”
“For a warrior. He has a strength of will that is unbreakable, and he can lead us to great places. Believe me, Strategos, he looks to the future of this Clan as much as he looks to the past.”
“That’s what concerns me.”
The Proconsul of Clan Arcona sighed as he sank down in his chair. “He plans to move against the holdings of Clan Taldryan. He will fight them single-handedly if he had to. Would probably win if he fights the way you say. However, Clan Arcona needs to stabilise. We have to gather our resources and focus on our own problems, not ride to a crusade that died thousands of years ago. We cannot afford the coming war.” The other man nodded slowly as he raised a fluted scotch glass to his lips. He swirled a dark, bitter liquor around his tongue, lavishing in the flavour of his favourite liquor, vreska, before swallowing it down. They locked eyes.
“Halcyon has agreed to return as Consul,” Strategos informed his old companion. “The Great Plague devastated us, and the reincarnation of Denath has pulled us through the storm, but we must rebuild ourselves before we can weather another. He will not see that. You must make him see that.” The dark-skinned figure narrowed his eyes as he listened to his friend.
“What if he refuses to go peacefully?” The Proconsul looked away uncomfortably. “Are you sure this is for the good of the Clan, Strategos? Or is this a move for power?” D’hak narrowed his eyes at his old friend as he considered the implications of removing Denath.
“He is possessing your old apprentice, Laethan. I’m hoping that can give you a way to reach him, diplomatically.”
“Denath is not the diplomatic type, Strategos,” D’hak pointed out.
“Denath will be the death of Arcona. The other Elders agree with me.”
“He believes the Clan can still rise to any challenge that is presented. He has faith in us, faith in this Clan. These ‘Elders’ should too. ”
“Do you have faith in him?” Strategos asked, arching an eyebrow. Uncomfortable silence answered him. “The decision is made, and you have your assignment. Remove the Consul, by any means necessary.” D’hak slammed the rest of his liquor down before turning on his heels and leaving the room, stopping at the door as he wrestled with his conscience. “Farewell, old friend,” the assassin whispered over his shoulder.
Another bolt of lightning crashed somewhere far away, adding its light to that of the newly risen moon. It bathed the forests and scattered ruins of Selen in a cold light that was made all the more morbid by the rain that had been sprinkling down for the last quarter of an hour. Denath Ciarus, the Consul and Supreme Ruler of Clan Arcona, surveyed these ruins as the rumble of distant thunder finally swept over them. The boy sighed as he heard footsteps behind him, the steel clicking of armor-clad boots announcing the presence of the super-human clone, D’hak. “I do not wish to be disturbed,” Denath instructed over his shoulder. “We may spar in the morning. You are excused until then.”
“I was never one for warm welcomes,” D’hak replied as he casually laid a hand on his lightsaber. “It is a lovely night to be outside.” More rain and thunder crashed around that sentence. The boy did not, however, acknowledge him. D’hak sighed and took a seat on a fallen piece of stonework.
“When I was told this Clan would be absorbed into another,” Denath finally said, “I could not believe it. I could not accept that such a vote was being considered.” The clone furrowed his brow. “I decided it was not our time. I decided that if these were to be our last days, they would be great, or nothing. These ruins are empty because of that. Tell me, D’hak, do you think I chose wisely? Do you have faith in me?” A brief flash of Strategos struck the clone’s memory like a sledgehammer. “I closed Qel-Droma, our greatest and most legendary House laid low like so much rubble.”
“Like the ruins that surround it,” D’hak replied. “I think you’ve made the Clan stronger by making these decisions.” The boy sighed as the rain slowed, now barely a few drops a minute. “It was a necessary evil, for the good of the Clan.” Denath chuffed at the notion of good and evil.
“It is true; the House was a fallen icon, an insult to its own memory. This Clan - your Clan - were not far from it. I am sure, however, that the appointment and performance of Strategos will go a long way towards securing its future.”
“What do you mean?” D’hak asked.
“I know why you are here.” Thunder rumbled in the distance. “The Elders sent you to assassinate me.”
“The Elders of the Clan have… expressed certain concerns to me,” D’hak replied carefully. “They believe your aggressiveness may cost the Clan. They believe this war is the wrong decision.” The young boy chuffed at that too. “So do I.”
“Fool,” Denath growled over his shoulder, the steel half-mask gleaming wetly in the night. “Who are you to judge what is right and what is wrong in the grand scheme of things?”
“Who’s grand scheme?” D’hak asked, a tone of worry creeping into his voice. Denath turned to fix the super-human clone with a lethal glare.
“Mine. Just like the others, you still don’t get it. It’s not about good, not about evil. It’s not about life…” Denath removed his lightsaber as he slowly approached.
D’hak stared into the glass tube, studying the teenage boy floating inside. It was a clone of Denath’s original body. The ancient Dark Jedi Master who had crushed House Qel-Droma, and had been his greatest challenge; and later, became one of his greatest allies. Was this a mere coincidence? No, impossible. There was no such thing. And yet, Denath had been on New Tython, possessing Elleron Morakei. The Twins, the super-human clone jokingly called them. Ever since he entrusted Elleron into the care of the Jedi, he had kept tabs on them both. Denath was dangerous, unpredictable, but Elleron did a great job of keeping him in check. Right up until the end. D’hak punched the release button, and the glass tube split along a vertical seal.
D’hak watched as the teenage boy fell to the ground, and the strange fluids rushed out of the capsule and flooded the nearby floor. His gauntleted hand withdrew from the release button, and stretched down to grasp the boy by the scruff of the neck and lift him effortlessly into the air. D’hak inspected the boy carefully as he stirred and began to show the first signs of consciousness. The super-human clone removed a sharp blade from his belt as he braced himself for what must inevitably transpire. The Twins had fallen on New Tython, and the assassin knew there was only one course of action to take from here…
A week ago…
“The House needs its leaders - all of them.” Liam’s voice echoed across the distance between them as his Miraluka Aedile swatted aside another blaster shot.
“It’s the only way,” a young teenage boy panted, his concentration hell-bent on terrifying the army of soldiers that were laying siege to their retreat. The Spaceport offered their only hope of survival, of fleeing New Tython so that they could return and overthrow the Mad King, Cy Thuron, at a later date. “We have to do… whatever it takes.”
“That’s not your body you’re choosing to throw away!” Liam chastised the boy. The darkness drained from the boy’s eyes, leaving behind forest green irises as Elleron regained control.
He’s right, Elleron. We have to go now. The boy glanced over his shoulder as Liam and Morotheri approached.
No. They must survive, Denath, whatever it takes.
There is no time! Another blaster bolt sped past, this one closer. The troops were recovering, their aim improving; soon, they would all be killed. Yet, the boy did not move.
“You’re right, Liam,” Elleron shouted. “The House needs its leaders.”
Denath felt Elleron gather in the Force for one final act. Liam and Morotheri were thrown into the hangar, and Elleron’s lightsaber flew out, severing the external controls and sealing the door shut. The young Jedi sighed and turned to face the advancing soldiers, raising his silver blade as he recited the Jedi Code.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
Shots ricocheted against the blade as one of the commanding officers took careful aim with her blaster, her brilliant blue eyes like sapphires staring down the barrel. She watched and waited, like a spider in its web, waiting for just the right moment to squeeze the trigger…
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no-
“…not about death.”
Denath’s old words echoed in D’hak’s mind as he slowly raised the knife. But was this really Denath? Under his tutelage, Denath became a valuable ally. He became an anti-hero of the Jedi of Odan-Urr, saving numerous lives along the way.
“It’s not about right, not about wrong…”
What crimes had this clone committed, besides being brought into the world seconds ago? What punishment did he deserve? Was D’hak any different? D’hak was cloned from a sinister assassin and while they shared some traits, wIth the right upbringing, anyone could become a champion of righteousness in a galaxy of darkness.
“It’s about power.”
D’hak closed his eyes, overcome with memories of that fateful duel on Arconae Primus, where he had suffered his one and only defeat. Where he had learnt Denath’s true nature, and found a way to appeal to him. D’hak had reached him once before. He knew he could reach him again.
Violet eyes flicked open as the boy hung there, naked, dripping… helpless. “Help me…” the boy whispered, and D’hak hesitated. “Please. Who am I?” The assassin stared into his eyes. What sins had this boy truly committed, besides being born?
“You are my apprentice, Nathan Deciarus,” D’hak replied as he sheathed the knife. “Welcome to your life.”
Like I said before, there are two kinds of people in this world. Guess we all know which kind this little guy was…
…we make our own monsters.