Part 24 of the Star Wars story.
Something Wicked this Way Comes
It attacked with the frenzy of a caged animal, leaving no quarter for Wraith to counter strike. Its physique reminded him of Rakghoul plagues, common during the Cold War, which made the victims look like a zombie. A feral, omnivorous zombie with a lightsaber and no physical inhibitions. Had Wraith not been completely in tune with the Force and privy to enhanced senses, the mutant would have struck him down. Instead he blocked and parried, until he managed to Force crush the beast’s heart.
It kept attacking, until Wraith channelled lightning, disabling its lightsaber and scorching its hands black; a stark contrast against its bleach white skin. Still the lightning did not seem to halt it and, despite missing its limbs, the creature attacked still. Only when Wraith lopped its head off did it fall down dead.
He had no time to relax. That mutant was just a scout, he realized, as he sensed more and heard the ignition of lightsabers. Like a veritable swarm of buzzing locusts, more mutants, emerged by the dozen from the darkness.
“Someone is teleporting them in,” said Elara. She had rushed to his side and they fought back to back. Wraith saw that traditional Force powers had little effect on them and followed Elara’s example of shooting lances of fire, needles of water and reinforcing their bodies to dish out punishment amongst the mutant ranks.
Their lightsabers were cheaply made and clearly rushed in some factory. What clothes they wore resembled hospital garments. They were devoid of hair – some even of teeth and fingernails. A few had tendrils and lekku, although they were little more than stumps and bumps. Their eyes were obsidian, like deep space. And whilst their template was obviously humanoid, there was nothing human about their behaviour.
They fought with mindless ferocity, uncaring for their wounds. They couldn’t feel pain, or indeed anything. Every time they were damaged, Wraith felt the Force heal them, sealing their wounds. It softened blows. They had no internal organs, realized Wraith. Their brain, mostly dead, was remotely controlled by someone using the Dark Side of the Force.
Marionettes. Mutant marionettes.
When the last one was left, Wraith halted Elara from killing it. Instead he dismembered its arms and legs. The mutant still attempted to bite him and snapped its gnarled teeth at him. He levitated it with the Force and smashed it head first into a wall, leaving a dent. The mutant shook uncontrollably and struggled to function. Almost immediately, Wraith had his hands around its head, sending out lightning. Not offensive arcs, but subtle, nearly microscopic, transmissions of electricity, interfering with its remote signal. He jammed the Force signal and shut down its brain.
“Why did you keep it alive?” asked Elara.
“They are being operated through the Force,” he replied. “Which means I can trace the signal.”
Master Yoda was not happy with his plan. “Way of the Jedi, this is not. Torture, we do not.”
“It will be painless,” explained Wraith. “I simply wish to extract information directly from his brain.”
“Sith, that technique is,” replied Yoda.
“Well in case you haven’t noticed,” snapped Wraith “I am neither Jedi nor Sith.”
Yoda gave him a reproaching look. “Do not let fear and confusion cloud your mind.” He sighed. “Too much blood, today was shed. Answers you must find. But present I will be. My duty to you, neglect I shall not.”
They had chained the mutant inside a holding cell. Yoda and Elara were to hold it steady with the Force whilst Wraith activated its mind again.
The creature struggled violently, ceasing only thanks to the efforts of the witch and the Jedi Grandmaster. Once confident that it wouldn’t bite his hand off, Wraith grabbed its head and concentrated.
Though the Force he dove into its brain. The creature’s mind was a mass off twisting darkness and rot. He saw a vat, in a lab, as a distant memory. He saw an operating droid driving long needles and spikes into its body and mind. Then he showed up.
He was the Dark Side incarnate, serving only as a phantom. It infiltrated its mind, removed any notion of intellect and individuality only to replace it with itself. The Sith had given the order to ravage the Temple, setting the mutants loose on Coruscant without restraint.
His presence was too much for Wraith to comprehend. He could never grasp onto the Sith and counter his influence. Instead he settled for the next best thing.
He made himself smaller almost into a synapse and lodged into a tiny corner of the mutant’s brain, like a nano-virus.
“Where do you come from?”
He’d nearly gotten the answer. The galaxy became a system, then a planet, then a location, then a room, then a vat. Using a complicated mix of Drain knowledge, the Art of the Small and psychometry, Wraith began uncovering the origins of the mutant.
Suddenly, darkness loomed, cutting off his connection. He felt the Sith strike back and pushed him out of the mutant’s mind.
Wraith was back in the holding cell and thrown backwards.
“Stop him!” he yelled. But it was too late. He felt the Sith destroy the mutant’s brain, rotting it from the inside.
Elara and Yoda felt its death too.
“Did you get it?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he replied.
“A new location have you?” asked Yoda.
Wraith steadied himself and tried to get rid of the Sith’s looming image.
“Yes, I do,” he said as he hid a hand which shook uncontrollably.