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 Abeloth vs Friends

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PostSubject: Abeloth vs Friends   Abeloth vs Friends Icon_minitimeSat Jul 09, 2016 5:41 pm

Mara's eyes grew glassy with sorrow. «Luke…Jacen is telling the truth this time», she said. «We can't help you».

I can. It was a voice that Luke felt rather than heard, a darkness that pulled at him from behind. And I will.

Luke turned to find the form of a shadow-wrapped human approaching from the shore by which Luke had entered the water, the same shore by which all mortals came to the Lake of Apparitions. The silhouette was tall and broad-shouldered, with a head hooded in darkness and glowing eyes that never seemed to match colors, that went from brown to orange and yellow to blue, that sometimes grew dark as ebony and seemed to be not there at all. As the silhouette drew nearer, it began to resemble a man Luke had seen many years before, a man who had appeared only in his dreams-and always shortly before he awoke feeling uneasy and frightened.

Luke glanced back at Mara, then said, «It's him».


«The man I kept seeing in my dreams, before Jacen turned Sith».

Mara looked confused. «But the man in your dreams was Jacen».

«I thought so», Luke replied. «Who else could it have been?»

He turned back to the figure and saw that the cloaking shadows had coalesced into a suit of dark, spiked armor. The newcomer's right arm seemed a mere ghost, as though he had only a holographic projection where there should have been a limb. And his left eye had become an empty white circle that looked more like a window into another universe than an actual organ. His face was weathered and chiseled, though-with a web of tattoos radiating outward from an angry gaze and deeply etched scowl-he could not be considered handsome. He stopped three paces away and stood staring, as though trying to decide whether to attack Luke or speak to him.

«You», Luke said. It was the man with the tattooed face-the one who had been behind Luke's team in the Manarai Heights Spaceport, and who had later disarmed Yaqeel Saav'etu near Fellowship Plaza. «Who are you?»

«No one whose help you want», Jacen said. «That's the dark man I saw on the Throne of Balance»

«And the only one who can help you», the stranger said. «With the Ones gone, there is only one way to stop Abeloth…Jedi and Sith together».

Luke studied the stranger without answering for a moment, trying to imagine him without the scowl. The man was hardly ugly, but he certainly did not share the Lost Tribe's usual obsession with careful grooming and good looks. And the tattoos were unusual, too. Vestara had claimed that while the Lost Tribe enjoyed painting their bodies with decorative vor'shandi markings, they would never defile themselves with permanent ink. Of course, she might have been lying-it certainly wouldn't have been the only time-but Luke couldn't see how that would have benefited her.

At last, Luke said, «I recognize your face. You've been watching the fight on Coruscant».

«And that surprises you?» the stranger asked. «What happens on Coruscant shapes the fate of the entire galaxy. Of course we are watching. We are always watching».

«Which is how you know so much about Abeloth», Luke surmised. «You have a spy».

«What makes you think there is only one?» the stranger said. «We Sith are legion…as you now know».
Luke shook his head. «If you were Lost Tribe, your appearance would be more refined. And you wouldn't have tattoos».

«Too much talk, Master Skywalker», the stranger said, stepping past Luke. «I came to fight. Let us find her».
Luke turned to follow-and there she was, a gray silhouette just emerging from the Mists of Forgetfulness, her long saffron hair cascading almost down to the water, her tiny pinpoint eyes shining out of sockets as deep as wells.

Luke's hand dropped to his hip, automatically reaching for a lightsaber that did not exist beyond shadows. He tried to continue the motion and bring it up to deliver a blast of Force energy, but Abeloth had already launched her own attack by then, delivering a bolt of Force lightning that blasted straight through the stranger into Luke. He felt himself fly backward, consumed by pain, his entire being a column of blue, crackling Force flame.


The white points at the bottom of Abeloth's eyes flared into nests of blue lightning, which kept growing larger and flashing brighter until they finally spilled out of the sockets to engulf her whole head. Luke hurled another blast of Force energy in her direction, then braced himself to take the most devastating counterattack yet. The counterattack never came.

Instead, the Force blast rocked Abeloth up on one leg, where she hung teetering over the Lake of Apparitions for a thousand heartbeats. Luke's chest was a searing ache around a fist-sized scorch hole, and his Force essence was bleeding out from a dozen smaller wounds, leaving a crescent of twinkling light spread across the dark water. He sprang anyway.

Abeloth only seemed to sag, and it appeared that she might tumble into the water in the eternity it was taking to reach her. But that would have been too easy. Luke and the Sith stranger had been hurling Force attacks at her for a lifetime-or perhaps it was a mere eyeblink-and this was the first time she had shown any reaction.
Then Luke was there at Abeloth's side, stomp-kicking her legs, knife-handing her throat, grabbing for her head. It was like cotton striking gauze-no popping ligaments or crunching cartilage, just Force essence pushing into Force essence. But the damage was done. Luke's foot went through Abeloth's knee; her leg buckled. His hand sank into her larynx, and she drew back wheezing.

He pivoted around behind her, swinging one arm around her shoulder and grabbing for her chin, slipping the other arm up under hers and pressing his wrist into her neck. But grappling was different beyond shadows. There were no pressure points or joint locks or choke holds, only his presence merging with hers, binding him to her in a writhing knot of energy.

Tentacles began to lash at his face, probing for his nose and ears and mouth. A pair of gray tips shot into view, blurring and growing large. Luke closed both eyes and turned away, but not quickly enough. The right eye socket exploded in pain, and everything went dark on that side of his head.

The tattooed stranger stepped in from the left, then slid to the front and drove his stiffened fingers deep into the pit of Abeloth's stomach. A black spray erupted from the wound, and she writhed in pain as the stranger probed for something to grab.

Abeloth loosed a Force blast, trying to drive the stranger off. He held tight. So did Luke, and all three went tumbling across the lake in a snarled mass of limbs and tentacles.

Then Luke felt an icy twinge between his shoulder blades. The twinge became a sting, and he began to feel something cold flowing down the center of his back. His first thought was Abeloth, that she had sunk a tentacle into his spine-until the lashing of her tentacles slowed and she began to shudder.

Luke did not understand until an eternity later, when the stranger rolled up on his feet and jerked them all to a halt. The Sith seemed to be growing stronger as Abeloth grew weaker, and there were wisps of dark fume swirling off his shoulders and head. It did not take a Jedi Grand Master to understand that Luke was being betrayed by a Force-draining technique.

Still holding Abeloth tight, Luke shifted his hips, rolling them both onto their sides, and kicked a foot through the stranger's knee. The joint buckled, and the Sith dropped onto the surface of the dark water, still on the opposite side of Abeloth from Luke.

«I'll release her!» Luke warned.

«Abeloth?» The stranger shook his head. «Never».

Despite the Sith's words, the cold stinging inside began to subside, and Luke realized the stranger was not pulling as hard. Abeloth continued to struggle, slipping a pair of tentacles around Luke's throat and trying to tear herself free. But she was growing weak faster than Luke.

The draining seemed to continue for days; then the stranger threw back his head and screamed in anguish, and it suddenly seemed that only a breath had passed. Shiny black Force energy began to pour from the Sith's wounds into the lake, spreading outward around them in an oily slick so hot the water began to steam and hiss. Still, the stranger continued to drain Abeloth, and Luke realized that he was not being betrayed-the Sith was suffering as much damage from the attack as was Luke.

Abeloth whipped her chin free of Luke's hand, ripping the energy knot where they had joined and sending a sparkling line of both of their Force essences splattering across the surface of the lake. She began to roll her head around, gnashing and spitting, trying to sink her fangs into Luke's arm or the stranger's-anything she could reach.

Luke slipped his arm down around her throat and pulled hard, merging his form into hers, doing his best to keep her under control.

«Keep going», Luke urged the stranger. «Pull harder!»


Abeloth lay tangled in Luke's arms, a writhing mass of Force energy that had suddenly gone limp a second or a day ago, only to explode an hour or a nanosecond later into a flailing tempest that had sent them all rolling and bouncing across the Lake of Apparition's dark waters. The stranger was tumbling with them, his hand still buried in Abeloth's chest, now wailing in agony as gleaming black Force energy steamed from his wounds.
They bounced so close to the shore, Luke grew worried that Abeloth was trying to carry them away from the lake into some new place beyond shadows. And then what? His back hit the water again, and he spun them all around so that his feet were toward the shore. He planted his feet against a moss hummock and kicked off-and sent them all somersaulting back toward the center of the lake. Abeloth stopped struggling and seemed to shrink in his arms, and Luke dared to think that maybe, just maybe she had finally lost hope, that they had exhausted her to the point that she was no longer capable of fighting.

Then she was gone, leaving the stranger and Luke with nothing between them but twenty centimeters of space and the stump of the Sith's hand, now pointed at Luke's chest and still drawing Force energy, draining it not from Abeloth now, but directly from Luke.

They stayed like that for an eternity, a void of cold nothingness growing inside Luke as the stranger continued to hang in the air above, draining him. It seemed to Luke that the Sith's betrayal was premature, that they at least ought to make certain Abeloth was truly dead before they turned to fighting each other…but that was not the way Sith did things.

Luke started to bring his hand up, intending to hit the stranger with a Force blast. But before he could loose it, the Sith's feet dropped to the water's surface, and he raised his stump and pointed toward the far end of the lake.


Luke craned his neck and saw Abeloth's silhouette backing into the Mists of Forgetfulness-with the stranger's wrist still protruding from her chest.

«Stop her!» Luke yelled. «If she disappears into that fog..».

Luke left the sentence unfinished as a fountain of oily black Force energy erupted from the protruding wrist. Abeloth's mouth gaped open, and her piercing shriek broke over the lake, reverberating across the water like a clap of thunder. Luke glanced over and saw the stranger standing beside him, pointing in her direction, using the Force to draw his missing hand back toward its stump.

Abeloth did not come dancing in to counterattack, did not even try to stand off defensively and weaken them with a blast of Force lightning. She did not have time for such tactics. Luke doubted she would have fled the battle in the first place if she were not already dying, and with her Force essence gushing out of her like a geyser, she had to attack now.

And she did.

In the next thought Abeloth was simply there in front of the stranger, driving a ball of tentacles deep into him. Luke sprang forward to help-and felt a blistering iciness slide deep into his own chest. His entire right side flared into cold anguish, and the tentacles began to dig and grab, tearing him apart inside in a way no lightsaber or blaster ever could.

Luke attacked anyway, driving an elbow strike into the side of her head. As before, there was no crunching, no physical sense of impact, only Force energy plowing through Force energy, sending waves of pain and damage rolling through them both. Luke sensed his elbow come free as it pushed out the other side of Abeloth's head. Then she simply fell away, her still-balled tentacles tearing free of both Luke and the stranger…each clutching a handful of dripping, pulsing Force essence.

The stranger collapsed with a gaping hole in his chest. Luke felt his own form grow limp and weak, and he sensed his mouth falling open to scream, then his whole body was falling, weak and aching for breath.


The Lake of Apparitions was neither warm nor cold, still nor roiling. It simply was, beyond time and sensation, beyond fear or desire or duty. It embodied surrender and attainment, death and immortality, and Luke had never felt more ready to slip below its dark surface and join his beloved Mara, to wrap himself in her liquid embrace and let the Depths of Eternity wash away the anguish of his wounds, the ache of his lonely despair.
But something would not let him sink.

He lay on the water for a year or a minute, hurt and exhausted, watching Abeloth's pale form vanish. Her eyes were empty and dark, her tentacles curled into loose balls. Her golden hair was fanned about her head in a floating halo, and she did not seem to be sinking so much as merely shrinking. Luke continued to watch as she dwindled to the size of a thigh, a foot, a finger, then a mere sliver that seemed to hang below him, wavering and flickering, before it finally slipped from sight.

And still Luke did not sink. He was too weak to rise, and he could feel nothing of himself except the aching void Abeloth had torn in his chest. It occurred to him that he might well be dying, and it was not a thought that brought him any fear. Even if his life had not been as long as Yoda's, it had been a good one filled with close friends and much-loved family. He had been of some small service, at least, to his fellow sentient beings. And in the new Jedi Order, he had rekindled a light that had once gone out in the galaxy. He had few regrets for anything he had done, and if the time had come to let another Jedi carry the torch, he was ready.

«Not yet, Skywalker».

The voice was warm and familiar, and it came from beside Luke. He turned to find Mara's face breaking the surface of the water. Then he saw a hand gripping the back of his biceps and realized that she was floating beneath him, preventing him from sinking.

«Mara, it's okay», Luke said. «I'm ready. I want to be with you».

«Too bad». He felt his upper body rising as she tried to push him upward. «I don't want to be with you-not here, not yet».

«What?» Luke asked, feeling more confused than resentful. «Mara, I'm wounded…badly. Abeloth took something out of me».

«She wounded him, too». Mara's other hand rose out of the water and pointed past Luke's head, toward the tattooed Sith who had helped Luke kill Abeloth. The stranger was on his feet, limping toward the far shore with both hands clutched to his chest. «If he can do it, so can you».

Luke forced himself to sit upright. The effort made his head spin and his whole being ache, but he refused to collapse back into the water. He had no idea of the Sith's true identity, but it did not seem wise to let him return to the physical galaxy alone.

«That's ridiculous. Their injuries may be different». This voice came from Luke's other side, sinister and cajoling…and also familiar. «Besides, Sith are stronger. They have the dark side».

«Who is he?» Luke asked, turning to find Jacen looking up from the water on his other side. «You know, don't you?»

«I told you», Jacen replied. «He's the one I saw sitting on the Throne of Balance».

«The dark man of your vision?» Luke asked. This was the best opportunity he would ever have to learn for certain why Jacen had turned to the dark side, and he was determined to take advantage of it. «The one you sacrificed yourself to stop?»

«I saw only one», Jacen replied. «And you're letting him win».

Luke shook his head. «He can't win, Jacen. Whatever damage you caused to the Force, you accomplished that much. The Sith will never rule the galaxy…not now».

The tattooed man stopped and whirled, and Luke found himself preparing to dodge a fork of Force lightning. But the stranger was in no better shape to fight than Luke. He had a gaping wound in his chest, just like Luke, and Luke could see that his entire form was shuddering. Instead of attacking, the Sith just stood staring at them, one eye shining yellow and the other an empty socket, his right arm a useless ghost of a limb.

Then, after an eternity that might have been a mere second, he said, «You must not be so certain of yourself, Master Skywalker. You may think you have stopped the Sith, but you know nothing of us…nothing at all».
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