The first thing he remembered
feeling was fear.
It reached him while he was asleep, buried deep in childhood dreams of being a King. The fear did not form words, but needled his emotions with doubt, touched his inner being with cold apprehension. It grew and boiled within him, forming dread, then alarm, wresting him from unconsciousness and with a final bolt of panic left him sitting upright in bed.
He was not alone.
Slaun's eyes strained to see in the darkness of the small bedroom. To a five-year-old it was easy enough to imagine dangers lurking under the bed and in every shadowed corner, but this was different. He KNEW something else was out there. The surveyor's hut, home for the last four months, suddenly seemed eerie and fragile.
A flicker of movement caught his eye- a shadow crossing the moonlit window. He held his breath.
Time seemed to slow as a thin metallic appendage slipped in the window, gripping the inside of the sill with hydraulic stealth. Then another, and another. Finally the bulk of the thing moved into view.
It was a droid of some kind, roughly spider-shaped and elongating its body somehow in order to fit through the window. Blood-red photoreceptors swivelled to regard him.
Terror gripped the boy. "Run!" his instincts said. "Run to Dad!" but he could only sit frozen with fear as the thing crept toward him.
With a sudden movement, steel claws gripped his arms and held him immobile. Before he had time to react, a needle emerged from the droid's head and plunged into Slaun's neck, making him gasp with shock.
The droid paused for a moment as if thinking. Then, satisfied, it clambered through the window with the child and vanished into the jungle beyond.
How long they travelled, Slaun
could not tell. The thing injected him frequently, so he was very
drowsy and so disoriented that he thought perhaps he was still
asleep and dreaming the whole thing (he also did not notice that
he didn't get hungry with the passing of time). There were times
when it was dark and a period when he thought it was raining, but
he doubted that- he was dry when he fully awoke and saw the ship.
120 meters long, its dark and faceted surface may have once been shaped like a large gem. Barely a third of it was visible now, buried in the humus of the forest floor and draped by long years of growth. Its exact age could not even be guessed at, but the forest's progress spoke of centuries. One of the panels was a large hatch that the droid strode purposefully to.
Inside was a network of maze-like corridors, angular and lit by a perpetual illumi-system. Now hanging from his feet, Slaun thought he glimpsed another droid cleaning the floor as they passed. The journey ended in a hexagonal meeting room of sorts- Slaun was placed in one of the acceleration chairs surrounding an angular device that glowed softly.
The droid produced a gem and placed it in the object, then turned to face him. From its thorax a scratchy voice spoke. "Ke ro tey cwon dowe?"
"Doomera Woolno ne Shuda?"
Slaun cringed. "I want to go home" he whimpered.
"Established" the droid croaked as it adjusted the device. It emitted greenish light with a low hum and in moments an image floated in the air before them.
It was a human head, or had once been. The eyes that glared from beneath the helmet were filled with a cold evil, or madness. The jaw was gone and had been replaced by metal prosthetics, adding to the ghastly appearance. Slaun was repulsed, afraid and fascinated all at once.
The hologram stopped rotating as it appeared to regard him. Its eyes were piercing, commanding.
"Greetings, chosen" it spoke, the deep voice reminding Slaun of a
growling animal. "I am Lord Sade, and because you are seeing this I am
"This will not stop me being your master".
Slaun stared at the image, not comprehending.
It continued. "Long ago there were many such as I- wielders of great power, keepers of great secrets. The thirst for power overcame them all, and they slew each other in a great war".
"One was left- Lord Bane. He knew that if there were three of us, two would conspire against the third. He chose but one apprentice, and when he died the masters role was assumed".
"Down through the ages there have been two of us for that reason- no more, no less. When the master dies the apprentice becomes the master, and takes a student of his own".
"But my student, Lord Vorch, grows impatient for my passing and wishes to claim my power for his own. This I will not tolerate, but should he succeed he will know my wrath from beyond death".
"And because you are here, succeed he has. My pod has launched and found an apprentice, and soon you will know power- beyond what is now your awareness. Here you will be fed and clothed, trained and sculpted. The knowledge of centuries lies in these crystals, and my servants will ensure that you do my bidding. Before I am dead a decade, Vorch will join me in death"
"Come, my young apprentice. Let me teach you of the Sith".
The droid's grip closed on him suddnely. As he was carried deeper into the ship, Slaun's screaming carried him beyond fear. Beyond fear, and into anger.