“Oh, come on, Lowie,” Ren whispered. “Aren’t you in yet?”
Lowbacca growled at her from where he was half inside a console. He grabbed hold of the frame and pulled himself out. “Don’t get that tone with me, Furball,” Rae snapped.
He bared his teeth and held up a small device. “You were able to get the information?” she asked.
He nodded and tucked the device into one of the pouches on his belt. Lowbacca paused as he pushed himself to his feet. He glanced to Rae and saw her frozen. He growled softly and she nodded. “I sense it to, Lowie. Someone’s coming.” She glanced over to him. “Where do we go?”
He did not have to think about it. He knew the only way out was up. He pointed upward and growled. Rae didn’t argue, only gave him a curt nod. They both ran, heading out of the room they were in and down a corridor. They hit an emergency exit and started taking up the steps two to three at a time, going up three levels before the stairway ended. Lowbacca yanked the door open and they ran out into a larger corridor.
They froze when a voice yelled stop. There was a human male several meters down the corridor dressed in black. His skin was pale, his black hair was shorn close to his head. He wore glossy black armor. “You will stop and surrender,” he ordered.
Rae and Lowbacca were a little surprised when the man pulled out a lightsaber. It ignited with a red blade. “You only have this one chance to surrender or I will kill you.”
The man watched as the Wookie in the slave collar reached into one of the larger tool pouches on his belt and the girl reach into one of the cargo pockets on her jumpsuit. His surprise at Lowbacca ignite his green lightsaber and Rae her blue one matched theirs when he had done the same. His surprise only lasted a second. “So, that is how it is going to be?”
He charged at them. Lowbacca blocked his lightsaber and he bent slightly avoiding Rae’s strike. He could tell that she wasn’t really wanting to kill him. That was something he was intending to use it to his advantage. He kicked her in the chest, using force to amplify his kick.
The air was driven from Rae’s lungs as the man kicked her and sent her off her feet and down the hall. She gasped and coughed as she tried to get her breath back. She watched as Lowbacca and the attacker strike and parry each other’s lightsabers. She pushed herself to her feet and took a deep breath, finally able to breath easily again. Lowbacca was holding his own but she noticed that the fighting style that the man was using was very similar to what she and Lowbacca knew.
She had made a mistake. This man was taking this seriously and was trying to kill them. She ignited her lightsaber again and moved back to the fight. Lowbacca and Rae had fought together against Master Solo more times than she could count. She hissed and moved low past Lowbacca as he parried their opponent’s lightsaber. He stepped back just enough to avoid being gutted by Rae’s blade.
He man growled something that Rae couldn’t understand and took up a different stance. She and Lowbacca exchanged a look, both knowing that they needed to go in the direction that the man was blocking. They rushed at him together but Lowbacca stumbled and looked confused. Rae saw the man starting at Lowbacca, his free handheld in a cupping motion.
“I thought we were fighting with lightsabers,” she muttered and motioned from the floor to the ceiling with her left hand. The man was tossed into the air. He managed to stop himself from slamming into the ceiling. She heard Lowbacca take in a deep breath and let out a coughing gasp.
The man landed on the ground, just in time to block Rae’s lightsaber with her own. Rae pushed the attack on him, trying to drive him back. The man seemed startled by her sudden ferocity. He couldn’t make any kind of offensive move as her attacks came in rapid succession. He wondered where his partner was. She should be here by now.
Rae heard Lowbacca coming up behind her and pressed the attack harder. She knew that if she let up even for a second, whoever this guy was, would have her on her heels before she could recover. She brought her lightsaber across the man’s body in a savage slash, that he was forced to parry. She felt Lowbacca’s lightsaber cut over her head, close enough that she was sure she lost some hair. The blade caught the man in the face, cleaving the top half of his head form the lower half before he could even react.
They watched in horrid fascination as the man went limp, falling to the ground next to the top half of his head. Neither noticed the lightsaber burning its way through the floor. They did not react until it was too late to stop it. They looked at each other as it vanished from sight. “Come on, Lowie. We have to get out of here.”
They had ran a dozen steps and were thrown off their feet by an explosion from below. The scrambled to their feet and could see the floor where they had been buckled up with smoking coming out of gaps. “I never remember that happening in any of the stories,” she said as they started running again.
They were both following their instincts as they ran. Neither really knowing where they were going, only trusting the force to get them to safety. They rounded a corner that lead down another long corridor and were knocked off their feet by a wave of force.
Lowbacca got to his feet and saw a woman dressed much like the man that they had fought. She was holding an unignited light saber. Lowbacca reached down and helped Rae to her feet. “Another one?” she muttered. Lowbacca growled in the affirmative.
“Just who are you?” Rae called to the woman.
“Oh, introductions?” the woman said and offered a smile. The smile was the kind of smile that a serpent would give to a rodent before it struck. “I am Nira, apprentice to Sith Lord Kylo Ren,” she said. “And you would be?”
Rae blinked at the word Sith. They were all supposed to have been dead. The stories that they were told was that Master Luke and his father killed the Emperor who was the last Sith. Maybe the Emperor was only the last one they knew of. “I am Ren, padawan to Jedi Master Ben Solo,” she said. “This is Lowbacca, also Padawan to Master Ben Solo.”
Nira laughed. “Master Ben Solo… is he here? I am sure that Lord Ren would enjoy destroying a Jedi.”
Rae made a face. “No, he told us we could handle this on our own.” When Nira started to say something, Rae continued. “Did you know some guy in black armor like yours, maybe a few inches taller than you?”
Nira’s mouth closed and she narrowed her eyes. “What happened to Toren?”
“Before or after the explosion?” Rae asked and gave a smile.
Lowbacca knew what Rae was doing. On occasion the masters would pit the padawans to compete against each other in tests. Rae had a skill for getting under the skin of almost anyone she fought against.
Nira’s eyes grew large. “You couldn’t have killed him.”
Rae shrugged. “Well, he was about ten centimeters shorter by the end of the fight,” Rae said, making a motion with her finger as if cutting through her own head just below her eyes.
“NO!” Nira threw her hand at Rae and lightning arced out from her fingers.
While Rae was expecting something, the lightning was still a surprise. She barely had time to bring her lightsaber up to block it. Even though she was able to, she could still feel pins and needles going up her arms.
Lowbacca roared in surprise as the lightning struck out from Nira’s hand. He growled and pushed out with the force and knocked Nira into a wall hard enough to pop a few panels loose. As she fell limp, the electricity arced over the corridor and shorted out a few conduits.
Rae and Lowbacca ran up to the woman, Rae kicked the lightsaber away from her while Lowbacca picked her up and tossed her into a room. When the door shut, he ran his lightsaber against it melting the metal together and then sliced through the controls for good measure.
They could hear alarms going off now. “Come on, I think they know we are here.” Lowbacca growled something as they ran. They found another emergency stairway going up and started climbing.
Kylo Ren strode down the corridor. He saw the scorch marks in the wall where Nira’s lightning had hit the walls. Something caught his attention and he held his hand out. Nira’s lightsaber jumped from the floor into his outstretched hand. He also saw the melted door.
He walked to the door and looked through the window in it to see Nira getting unsteady to her feet. She looked up and saw him. “Master,” she said. “They surprised me.”
“Did they now?” he asked. He knew without even using the force that she was lying.
She pushed the button on the door to open it but nothing happened. “Can you open the door from that side?” she asked. “They can’t have gotten far.”
Kylo turned. “Your assistance won’t be necessary. Your failure has already proven that you are not capable of handling them,” he said as he walked away.
“Master, I can..” she started to say before her air was cut off. She couldn’t draw in a breath or breath out. She clutched at her throat her mouth opening and closing as panic started to set in. She sunk to her knees still struggling to breath.
Kylo reached the emergency stairway and stopped. He looked back down the corridor then stepped into the stairway and jumped, leaping up three floors. He landed on the railing and stepped onto the landing. He pushed the door open and stepped into another corridor. He looked own to see the two figures running toward an open doorway that looked like it may have led outside. His hand gestured and the hatch over the door slammed shut.
Lowbacca almost ran into the door when the two halves slammed together closing off their exit. Rae did run into him but caught herself from falling over. “Lowie?” she asked. Lowbacca touched the control but nothing happened. They froze at the feeling a presence behind them.
Both turned to see the dark cloaked figure standing at the entrance to the emergency stairway with a hand outstretched. “I don’t like this, Lowie,” she said.
Kylo concentrated on the force, drawing on the dark side pulling it around him as if it were a blanket. He stepped to the middle of the corridor. “Young Padawans,” he said. “Come, let me see if you are any good.”
He stood, left hand out, and ignited Nira’s lightsaber. It was poorly balanced for him and he imagined that it had not been balanced any better for her. He looked past the red blade to them. Both had their unignited lightsabers in hand. He wondered if there was a chance to bring them to the dark side or not. “If you do not meet me in battle, I will just kill you where you stand,” he said, his voice oozing with confidence, almost arrogance.
Rae and Lowbacca gasped as they could not draw in a breath. Rae’s mind raced for a split second as she brought her hand up to her throat and saw the edge of her light saber. She closed her eyes then ignited it and took up a stance. Suddenly she could breathe again.
Lowbacca’s reaction was different than Rae. He thrust both hands out and pushed with the force. Kylo shifted leaning forward drawing on the dark side as an anchor as his cloak bellowed out behind him. The Wookie was strong with the force. Kylo let the air go that he was holding to keep them from breathing.
“Good, I see you are going to take this seriously,” he said.
Lowbacca growled deep in his throat and took up a stance, mirroring Rae’s. They slowly approached Kylo. “So, you must be Kylo Ren,” Rae said.
Kylo tilted his head slightly. “Poor Nira, she always talked to much,” he said, “Which is sad really, she had the potential to be one to surpass me.”
Rae rolled her eyes. “She is locked in a room a few levels down,” she shot back, “Maybe you can still teach her.”
“I did not misspeak, Padawan,” Kylo said a slight irritation sounding in his voice through the helmet.
“We left her alive,” Rae said.
“Yes, unfortunately,” Kylo said. “I was tired of her lies and failings.”
Rae and Lowbacca stopped just outside of lightsaber range. They stared at Kylo as he stared back at them. Rae knew that they were out matched, even the two of them together.
Kylo moved forward, a skipping lunge with his light saber. Rae brought her lightsaber up to block the strike as Lowbacca swung at him. Just as quick as he had moved forward, he moved back, Rae’s light saber blocking nothing and Lowbacca’s swinging through nothing.
“Sloppy,” Ren said, critiquing them. He moved forward again, the lightsaber moving in a fast fury, alternating between striking at Rae and Lowbacca. They managed to block everything but were backing away, giving ground.
Ren backed a step to be just out of Lowbacca’s lightsaber range. “Sloppy, but you have potential,” he said. “You should join me. I could teach you to be more powerful than you could ever dream of being under the Jedi.”
Rae fought not to roll her eyes. “You didn’t think that offer would work, did you?” she asked.
Kylo laughed. “I would have killed you both if either of you had accepted,” he said. “You are not ready to join me. Perhaps, if you survive this, you might be.” He moved forward again, lightsaber moving so fast it was almost a blur.
Rae dodged back as did Lowbacca. They couldn’t come off defense enough to mount an attack against him. Rae remembered what Ben had told her when training. She tried to find the center as they fought but it eluded her.
Lowbacca was getting tired of being driven back. One man with one lightsaber should not be able to drive two with lightsabers back as easily as he was and yet this man was. Lowbacca was beginning to think that Kylo could give Ben a challenge that only Master Skywalker had been able to.
Lowbacca was doing most of the fighting, Kylo noticed. He wondered how this Wookie would do on his own. He decided that he would find out. With a subtle nod of his head, the force worked around Rae and she was thrown behind Kylo down the hall.
The wind was knocked from Rae as she hit the floor and slid several meters into a wall where the corridor turned. She didn’t even sense anything was going to happen before it did. She kicked up to her feet when her heard someone yell “You, Stop.” She didn’t think, as she brought her lightsaber up and deflected the first blaster bolt into the ceiling.
A squad of stormtroopers just outside the lift at the end of the hallway. Three took a knee and brought their rifles up aiming them down the hall at Rae. The rest fired over their squad mate’s heads.
It was everything that Rae could do to keep up the lightsaber to just deflect the bolts to keep them from hitting her. She growled and thrust her hand out knocking the three that were kneeling into the ones behind her. A few remained standing and continued to fire. She was able to start redirecting the bolts back down the hall. She directed them so that they hit the ones that were trying to get up, scarring their armor in some places, punching holes in it in others.
One of the troopers stepped back against the wall, putting it between him and the reflected shots. “We have spotted one of the intruders. They are Jedi,” he said as he attached something to the front of his rifle.
Lowbacca and Kylo heard the blaster fire but did not take their attention from the fight. The Wookie was better than Kylo had was going to give him credit for. Without having to defend Rae, Lowbacca was able to concentrate solely on Kylo. The two of them traded blows, the sounds of the lightsabers echoing down the hallway.
Lowbacca was aware that Kylo was not using his full skill. It was disheartening to know that he couldn’t defeat this man and that this fight was just going to result in his death. He parried a blow from Kylo, pushing the saber back.
Kylo took a step back to adjust his stance when he caught sight of the word flammable out of the corner of his eye. It was written on a pipe that ran along the wall toward the outside. He pushed back against the Wookie to keep their sabers from touching the pipe.
Rae had wounded or killed at least three of the stormtroopers with the reflected bolts from the lightsaber. She was starting to get tired, even using the force, she knew it was only a matter of time before she missed a blaster bolt. Suddenly they all stopped firing and ducked down. One trooper stepped out and aimed his rifle at her and fired.
Time seemed to slow down as she saw this. Rae drew on the force and pushed hard down the corridor. The rpg shell detonated just a few feet away from the stormtroopers. Shrapnel ripped through the stormtrooper’s armor severely wounding or killing them. Rae’s ears rang as a result of the explosion and she staggered leaning against the wall.
Lowbacca and Kylo both flinched as a result of the explosion and drew apart for a brief second before crossing blades again. Lowbacca could see Rae was mostly unharmed but could not spare more than a brief instant of concern before the battle occupied his attention again. He could sense that Kylo was holding back. Lowbacca was getting tired too.
Kylo felt that Lowbacca was beginning to flag. The Wookie was drawing on the force. He was not skilled enough to keep doing it for long. He wondered how long the girl would last against him. Just as he wondered that, he was aware of someone with harmful intent entering the space behind him and there was no change for him to bring Nira’s lightsaber around to block.
Rae was only staggered for a second before she started moving. A few stumbling steps seemed to clear her head and then she focused her intent on Kylo as he had his back to her. She jabbed her blade at his back. She was surprised when a blue lightsaber thrust out through Kylo’s cloak and block her slash.
Kylo rolled his shoulders and his cloak fell away from his arm revealing another lightsaber in his right hand. “Well, so this is a little more of a challenge,” he said.
Rae’s eyes were drawn to the lightsaber. Lowbacca could sense confusion coming from Rae and disturbing the force around them. “Where did you get that?” Rae asked, still pushing her lightsaber against it.
Lowbacca’s eyes were drawn to the new lightsaber as things seemed to slow down. His blood ran cold and he almost lost his grip on the force. He could feel Rae’s confusion turning to anger. “Where did you get that lightsaber?” she asked again, her voice going a little shrill.
Kylo sighed. He had lost himself in the force. When the blade came at him, he instinctively blocked using his lightsaber. He pushed back, making Rae take a step back. He could feel the rage and fear coming from Rae. It was matched by the confusion and fear coming from Lowbacca.
Lowbacca met Rae’s eyes. There was something going on here. “Where did you get Master Solo’s lightsaber?” she said again, her voice cracking as she did. She drew back and did a rapid series of slashes at Kylo. “Answer me, where?” she asked.
He growled, feeling Rae’s rage. His climbing claws extended as he tightened his hand on his lightsaber. Lowbacca backed up a step as Rae attacked Kylo.
Kylo was surprised at Rae’s anger. He could feel ripples in the darkside coming from her. It would be so easy to draw her over, but could he control her if he did. He relaxed and let the force guide him, blocking her thrusts and slashes. She fought harder when she was truly angry.
Lowbacca watched as Rae raged against Kylo, while she kept yelling at him asking him where he got the lightsaber. Took a breath and slowed himself. Giving in to anger would not help him or her. He took another step back and swung his lightsaber, imagining it going through Kylo’s back.
Kylo felt Lowbacca calming himself then the intent to cut through his back. He brought Nira’s lightsaber up to block only to find nothing there. In the brief second of confusion, he glanced back and noticed that Lowbacca was a few meters away from him. His attention was jerked back to Rae as she seemed to redouble her attack on him. He felt the swing coming again from Lowbacca but knew that he couldn’t have moved that far that quick.
Lowbacca stuck his hand out and ripped up on Kylo’s helmet. Kylo staggered and pushed out with force away from him, knocking the two of them away from him. He watched as his helmet sailed down the hall and rolled to a stop against Rae’s knee where she knelt.
Rae looked down at the helmet, seeing the broken straps hanging from it. Light flickered form inside of the helmet. She looked up to see Kylo knelt on the ground. Ben’s lightsaber went out and he was rubbing the underside of his chin.
“Well, Lowbacca, that was unexpected,” Kylo said, but in a voice no longer muffled by the helmet. Lowbacca and Rae knew that voice much to well. “You’ve learned a few things that I have never taught you,” he said and stood.
Rae and Lowbacca watched as he snapped his head back, flinging his hair from his face, from Master Solo’s face. Rae just stared. She couldn’t get her mind to comprehend what happened. Lowbacca opened and closed his mouth a few times then growled something.
Kylo sighed. “I am here to stop you two from destroying thirty years of work.”
“You… you..” Rae started and stopped. “you’re with them?”
Ben/Kylo smiled and shook his head. “I am not with them, Padawan. I lead them.”
Growling came from Lowbacca and Kylo laughed. “I haven’t been loyal to the Republic or the Jedi in close to twenty years. The Empire will be reborn, and it will reclaim the Galaxy. I will be there to help guide the Galaxy into a better future.”
Rae stood. “What makes you think that you will succeed?” she asked.
“Because in just a couple of decades, the Republic has devolved back to the infighting and power plays that plagued it when Darth Sidious managed to all but destroy the Jedi.” He smiled. “And I will see what he started is finished.”
Rae’s lightsaber ignited again. “I will kill you first,” she hissed.
“Careful, my padawan, you teeter on the edge of the darkside. I taught you to resist it and yet you are still on the edge.” Kylo grinned at Rae. “You do not know or understand the power of the Darkside. Luke does, but he denies it. I have seen the darkness in him, just as I see it in you.”
Rae sneered. “If the darkside is so powerful, prove it,” she growled. Lowbacca made a sound between that of a growl and a whine. He wished she hadn’t said that.
“You want to see the power of the darkside, Padawan?” he asked, “Very well, I shall show you.” He took a deep breath and sneered at her. “I shall give you a demonstration that you will not live long enough to forget.”
Lowbacca staggered a step back at the rage, malice, and hatred that radiated from Kylo. Rae did not stagger, she instead launched herself at their former master. She covered a dozen meters in a single leap. Kylo brought up his lightsaber, blocking her strike with an effortless ease.
Rae struck again and again at Kylo, only to have him block each strike as he did the first time they fought with a lightsaber. She sensed something was wrong, but kept her attention on the fight, trying to find a way through his defenses. “You have learned nothing,” Kylo said to her. “You might stand a chance if you completely give in to your anger.”
Rae skipped back a step and forced her jaw to unclench. She would not go down that path. She took a breath and took a stance, her lightsaber held in a high guard. That was when she noticed something wrong. Ben, no Kylo’s lightsaber was the same blue as hers, however it began to darken, going to purple.
With a growl, Lowbacca shook off the effects of Kylo’s dark emotions. He took a step forward when he saw the blue glow ahead of him begin to darken. He ignited his own saber and saw that the green was becoming a muddy color. He didn’t know what was happening.
“What are you doing!?!” Rae yelled and attacked again.
Kylo didn’t answer her question as she attacked. He may have overextended himself in what he was attempting to do. However, he continued to block her attacks, letting a small portion of the force guide his actions. “I am meditating, padawan. Something you never learned to do very well. I am showing you the power of the darkside.”
As she attacked again and again, she watched with growing horror as her blade went from purple to a bright red. “What have you done?” she yelled.
Kylo smiled. “I am introducing you to the darkside,” he said. “Soon both of you will join me.”
Lowbacca moved with fluid grace and swung his now red lightsaber at Kylo. Kylo didn’t block it, instead leapt into the air, jumping over Rae. He brought his lightsaber down only to have her block it and roll away from him toward Lowbacca.
“At least now I can admire my work,” he said. “I will give you a chance to join me, Rae, Lowbacca. Become my apprentices as you were my padawans.”
“No,” Rae whispered with Lowbacca giving a growl as well. Rae stood up and Lobacca stepped next to her. She held a hand before Lowbacca. “Stay back, Lowie,” she said. “You’re exhausted.” He growled at her. “I wasn’t doing most of the fighting.”
https://swtorstrategies.com/2020/04/star-wars-darkness-rising-the-threat-within-10.html(opens in a new tab) Chapters 13 & 14