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It was always raining on Telemos IV.
The neon lights of the alleyway illuminated the masked figure as he strode towards his destination. What beings were there paid no attention to the figure, passing by him, heedless of his presence in the early evening rain. After all, it was easy to deceive the feeble minded.
And yet, there was a sense of fatigue, an almost imperceptible itch in the back of his mind, that only served to grow as he approached his destination. It was as if something, or someone, did not want to be found. A narrow pathway over piping and a precipitous drop into the dirty aqueduct below was no impediment, his steps were sure, heedless of the danger. Yet, the itching continued to grow, eventually becoming a faint weariness in his limbs. This too was overcome with no difficulty. After all, he had not come so far, and searched so long to give up because of a little discomfort. He had endured far worse.
He had ignored the rumors at first, of a master craftsman, who's wares were said to equal the masterwork of ancients. They spoke of sabers amplifying power, affecting the user in strange and unfamiliar ways, allowing them to accomplish feats of force mastery being the normal pall. They spoke of how he appeared years, sometimes decades apart. Always bearing the same distinct craftsmanship.
Such were the drunken stories told among the dregs of society in dim lit bars, and jokes to be laughed at when spoken at the meetings of the mighty.
Yet, within his mind, hearing the same stories, over and over, he began to pick out patterns, items of commonality among the tales, details which never wavered in the endless telling of the tales. A word here, a sentence there, a syllable always uttered in the exact same way. It had been so strange to hear words uttered by species that should have been incapable of doing so, so strange to hear a word designed for human lungs uttered by a Wookie.
What had begun as an idle musing soon turned to action, for Darth Kration was never a man to do anything idly. He had begun following the trail backwards, though the musty libraries and semi corrupted datafiles, though narrow streets, and even narrower leads. All the while growing evermore certain of the thread of truth behind the rumors. It had taken months but they had felt like an eternity. A lesser man would long ago have given up so mad a quest as leads and clues slipped through his fingers like grains of sand upon a desert shore.
He was not lesser men.
The splinter in his mind had goaded him forward, taunting him, teasing him, bringing him to the edge of madness, almost like a... Test.
This too was not a first.
At last he came upon his destination, an empty edifice of permacrete buildings indistinguishable from the rest of the metropolis. Certain of his destination he strode forward through the entryway where there had once been a door, through the brief ruin of a restaurant, the seats scattered astray, until he came out the back door, and found himself suddenly in a large overgrown field, the size of a city block. The buildings just a facade hiding what lay within.
He was certain this was no accident.
There was only one way forward, across a cobblestone path that lead straight towards a squat rectangular building at the end, no more than a single story tall. The rain poured more heavily as he walked forward, eventually arriving at the open door.
He sensed someone approaching, and he instinctively blended into the shadows.
He would have frowned behind his mask seeing the young, Jedi? She was almost skipping on her way out, taking no notice, a pair of ornate sabers upon her belt. She reeked of the light.
He was puzzled but continued onwards, she was not the one he was looking for.
The path tilted down slightly, the wet stone illuminated by yellow glowsticks, their aged handles betraying their age, until he saw in the distance a half opened door.
Still concealed he made his way forward, attempting to discern what lay beyond. But there was nothing to betray what lay inside.
As he neared the door, he heard a voice, surprisingly clear, speak from within.
"With those sabers, she will do more damage to the light than a legion of Sith ever could." It was not the voice of the aged, but the voice of someone young, still within their prime. "Come, come inside. There is no use hiding. You would not be here if you did not want to be."
Kration did not know what to expect as he opened the door. He found a small workroom with a single desk, and shelf behind it. It was illuminated by a single yellow light from overhead, clear of dust, and at odds with building it was within. The rest of the room was dark, and sitting beneath the light was a bearded figure in a red cloak, the edges inlaid with some sort of spiral trim.
He looked up at him, and met his eyes through the mask. It was the face of a man in his late thirties or early forties, the brown beard and grey eyes gleaming with mischief. A half constructed saber was floating in front of him, and as he waved his hand, a delicate screw turned and a component floated from the side to fit perfectly into the complex assembly at the center.
The faint click was almost obscenely loud in the stillness.
The man steepled his fingers as the partially completed piece floated to a rest on the table in front of him, and spoke. "Darth Kration. You are surprisingly free of the taint young Zabrak."
"How do you know my name?"
"There is much I know. The dead lining the streets of Nar Shadaa, a fortuitous meeting, and an unplanned death. Trials and training, discipline and strength, but your face already begins to show the faintest signs of the burns, the marks left by those improficient in the Dark Side"
Kration did not respond to the veiled barb.
"You show those marks because despite what you may believe, you have not rid yourself of the Light. After all, I said surprisingly free, not completely" He pulled back his hood "Gaze upon me, and know this is no illusion. I need no mask to hide my face, no petty parlor tricks such as the Emperor once used, for I do not bear the taint of the Light."
He continued "You wish a weapon, and have come long and far to seek me. But if you wish to bear it, heed these words, and understand what the Darkside truly is. Fail to, and the fire will burn you till your very flesh decays and mind rots from within, leaving nothing but a seething mass of hatred and malice."
He waved a hand, "Take a seat or not, it does not matter. I would have you remove your mask, but I know you are ever so attached to it" He laughed at some private joke.
"I will stand"
The light glinted off the ringed fingers as his hands resumed their former position.
"Understand that the path between Light and Dark is not a choice between passion and peace, kindness and hatred. It is an eternal struggle for dominance between absolutes - The light is order, for all the good and ill it entails. The dark is absolute freedom, for all the good and ill it too entails. Those who knowingly follow the light, seek to still themselves to hear the whispers of the will, and comprehend its desires. Those who follow the will unknowingly, those such as the Emperor, become so consumed by a single passion that they are too deafened to hear anything else. Know that it was the light that let the Jedi order fall, and it will be the light that will raise it up again stronger than before from the ashes."
His voice took an almost hypnotic quality
"If you truly wish to free yourself of the will, then do not let yourself be overcome by a single passion, but control them, choose them, use them. There is more than hatred, there is love; the is more than cruelty, there is kindness; but there is also more than mercy; there is malevolence. There is pathos and apathy, and thousands more. Each to be chosen and used in its proper time and place.
Cruelty for cruelty's sake is useless, all your actions must always have a purpose. What that purpose is matters not, save that it is your own."
He pierced Kration with a steely gaze, transfixing him.
"If you truly wish to free yourself of the will, then turn your mind from visions and prophecy, for they are the light trying to use you to its own purpose. Understand that only the light can grant them, for the very possibilities they represent are the ordered lines of an uncertain future. Know the will is not something that one can use to their own purpose and discard."
His voice became colder, till even the room became palpably colder through Kration's gloves.
"Use it and its hold will grow upon you. Creeping insidiously day by day, till at long last you believe you've embraced the freedom of the dark side, not knowing that you too have become a pawn of the light."
The skeleton of the saber floated up from the desk, and from the side, the parts snapped together in an instant, forming a seamless shell with a Clack! that echoed across the room.
Patterns and etchings carved into the ends, chrome, steel, copper and gem, all the signature of a master craftsman. The saber floated out toward him, and Kration reached out his arm and grabbed it. The multiphasic blades coming to life for an instant and then fading as he felt his own power channeled through the blades.
It was a weapon meant for him and him alone, felt pure darkness like nothing else, even as he claimed possession of the blade. But he also understood that every part, every detail, itself was the signature of the craftsman stirring underneath.
The craftsman called Valans of Pannonia.
"Take your weapon, and go. For only time will tell if this weapon will let you shred the last tatters holding you back from true darkness, or hasten the fire that has already begun to subtly burn you, marking you as a tool of the light."
Those words were still ringing in his mind when Kration at last stepped out into unceasing rain.
Modelling and rendering: Cinema 4D
Textures and post work (Mostly color correction and smoke): Adobe Photoshop
Hardware: i7 920 with 8gb ram