Japor — Chapter 9 Rating: PG-13

In the end, there was no choice, so I acted in the only way I could.

Turning my back to Jaina, I reached out with the Force and grabbed the plinth that was about to fall upon Jysella.

In theory, using the Force is effortless; a Jedi can hold something indefinitely, never tiring, regardless of size, shape or weight. That's just theory. Reality is that things get heavy, fast. That weight a Jedi feels is a product of their mind, telling the body this action should tire it, but knowing that doesn't make it any less heavy. Then with objects in movement, you have to factor in the kinetic energy that has to be absorbed or bled in some way.

The falling plinth had a lot of mass and a lot of kinetic energy which I had to absorb to keep it from crushing Jysella. It would not be an easy thing to do, even for my dad. It's a good thing, easy is not for Jedi. One would think that the simplest way to save her would have been to use my telekinesis to push her out of the way, unfortunately I did not know if she was injured or not. Pushing her around with the Force could have just hurt her worse.

I was able to stop the falling plinth, mere inches above Jysella's unconscious form. Breathing a slight sigh of relief, I felt a blinding flash of pain across my eyes and heard Jaina scream.

Still holding the plinth, I turned towards Jaina and the dark one.

Kneeling on the ground, her saber discarded and forgotten, her hands covering her face, sat Jaina, waves of pain rolling off of her. Once again, I could feel the amusement coming off the dark one, as a saber was raised to deliver a killing blow.

I was afraid. I was angry. I hated the dark one. Suddenly, the plinth did not seem heavy any longer.

"NO!" was what I was screaming, before I even realized I was opening my mouth, and then I threw the plinth at the dark one. Igniting my saber I ran towards them, feeling the raw power of my anger and hate. I was just shy of reveling in it.

The plinth landed, showering both Jaina and the dark one with dirt. Absently, I noticed that Jaina still had her hands over her face, she was still radiating pain. Even before the echo of the landing plinth faded, I was nearly upon them with my blade ignited, a yell coming from my mouth.

We closed, our sabers slashing at each other, each trying to get the upper hand on the other, neither of us quite able to.

I was no longer afraid, but my anger and hatred grew. As I swung, I was blocked, as I parried I was attacked. We fought in perfect sync, neither able to gain ground, neither giving it.

My anger and hate grew.

My attacks become more ferocious, my accuracy greater, my creativity in moves outstanding. I was a whirlwind; to an outsider my blade would have appeared everywhere at once. Yet still I was held at bay.

My anger and hate grew.

We both threw out force pushes, effectively canceling each other out, straining against one another, for the moment our blades forgotten. Exerting ourselves in the Force, finally there was a backlash. We were both thrown apart from one another. I crashed against a tree, the dark one slammed into a plinth, sending cracks radiating out from the point of impact.

My anger and hate grew.

We ran back at one another. I jumped to attack from a level of height, while the dark one came up from below. Our sabers collided, creating a straining, buzzing sound as they sought to override one another.

My anger and hate grew.

Finally the dark one made a flaw, a slight slip in the series of defenses and attacks used against me, and I was able to land a solid kick against the dark one, knocking it back and onto the ground. The dark one struggled to stand, but I was there and attacking before that was accomplished.

Still my anger and hate grew.

The power surged through me as I battered away at the dark one's defenses, knocking at its saber as the dark one feebly held it horizontally between us. I could feel the power crackling within my body. I felt my mouth turn down in a sneer, as I sliced through the hilt of the saber. I felt elation, as I raised my blade to deliver a killing stroke.

Which is when I heard Jaina behind me, her voice a weak whisper as she said "Ben, no. Don't give in to hate."

Startled I looked at her, as she lowered her hands from her face, the blackened slash of a lightsaber wound running across her face, right where her eyes used to be. I remember shuddering at those blackened burns that were now her eyes; I felt they were staring at me as she said "Remember your training Ben. Hate, anger, they are of the dark side."

Then without warning she was launched through the air and slammed against a plinth. She made this small 'eep' sound as she hit and fell to the ground. I felt amusement roll in the force, and I turned once more towards the dark one, my anger spiking once again. I felt the hate and anger at my finger tips, the power ready to explode forth and destroy my enemy.

I did not get a chance to act as I was raised off the ground, my air supply being cut off, my ribs and arms being compressed nearly to the point of breaking. I tried to pry the force grip off me, but I was not fast enough. I felt the force grip disappear, and noticed the whistling in my ears as I flew through the air and slammed against a plinth. I screamed as I felt some of my ribs crack from the force of me colliding with the plinth.

As I crashed into the ground, I looked back towards where the dark one was standing, and noticed that it was watching something flying through the air. I looked around, trying to find Jaina and did not see her where she had fallen after being thrown. Reaching out with the Force I found her location, just as she dropped on top of me.

The breath exploded out of me.

As I tried to catch my gasping breath, I weakly raised my head and saw the dark one turn around and run off into the night. In the distance I could hear others rushing towards the Grotto, the thrum of multiple ignited lightsabers coming ever closer.

Being careful to not hurt Jaina more than she already was, I got her off me, laid her on the ground, and sat up. I closed my eyes, still trying to catch my breath, each heaving gasp sending agony through my broken ribs. Where we had fought, the Force was a rolling maelstrom of colors and emotions. Anger and hate chief among them. It felt and looked cancerous to my Force sight, and I knew that most of it was from me.

I knew, because I could still feel the anger and hate inside me. I could feel the anger and hate burning me, changing me. I tried to find my center, my calm, but it was inaccessible, my passivity dashed, my serenity gone.

I was the maelstrom that could be felt rippling in the Force.

Sitting there with my eyes closed, breathing heavily from my exertions, I could feel the Force all around me, cold and welcoming, beckoning me, telling me that if I would just embrace the hate and anger, then it would deliver my enemies to me. I could crush them, grind their bones to dust, destroy them utterly for the way they have hurt me and mine. I could make them bleed and burn, cause them the same pain they caused me. Make them feel even greater pain than that which I felt. It whispered that I could have Tahiri or Jysella or I could even have both. I could posses them. I could posses anything.

I could posses everything.

The Dark Side beckoned, offering me victory over my enemies, and anything and everything I could possibly want or desire. In payment, all I would have to do was turn over my soul.

To Part Eight | To Part Ten

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