EW drop this first excerpt from Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark, which lands 25th August. This is a segment from Dark Vengeance The True Story of Darth Maul and His Revenge Against the Jedi Known as Obi-Wan Kenobi by Rebecca Roanhorse.
Tell me, child, do you know who I am? Do they whisper my name in the classrooms of your academy, down the winding halls of your space station, in the hollows and fields of your farming planet, or across the dunes of your desert home? If they do, what do they say of me? That I was once a great Sith Lord, apprenticed to the most powerful being in the galaxy? That I killed the legendary Jedi named Qui-Gon Jinn at the Battle of Naboo? Do they remember my glory? My distinctive black-and-red skin and horns? My unmatched skill with the double-bladed lightsaber? Or do they just remember how I died?
Ah, I can see your confusion. Dead? If I am dead, then how am I here, telling you this tale? You are perceptive, a good listener. You would have made a promising Sith apprentice.
You are right, of course. I am not dead. I did not die that day when, after I had defeated Qui-Gon Jinn, his selfish and murderous apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, struck me down. Kenobi was maddened with rage, and in his rage he severed me in half, cut my legs from under me!
I know it is a gruesome image to contemplate, young friend, and I apologize if you are squeamish. But it is best you understand now what the Jedi are capable of. You have likely been lied to all your life about their nature, their goodness, but the truth is that . . . No, no, not yet. I get ahead of myself. We will come to the true nature of the Jedi soon enough. All you need to know is that I lived. I prefer to say only that I survived because it was not much of a life. I survived in darkness, lost to madness, discarded and forgotten . . . until my brother found me and set me on my path of revenge.
I do not remember how I came to be on the junk planet Lotho Minor. I must assume that after the Battle of Naboo my body was dumped there like so much trash. Through sheer will and driven by my hate of Obi-Wan Kenobi, I survived down in the darkest depths of the planet. I fashioned for myself out of discarded metal a lower body that resembled the abdomen and legs of a spider. It suited my circumstances. Creeping, creeping, small and broken, always waiting, I was. Until the most unlikely day.
I found someone else in my cave. A man, as I used to be. With markings like mine and horns, bearing a lightsaber. At first I thought him a vision, a symptom of my madness, but then he called me brother!
What could it mean? A . . . brother? Come to find me, to save me? You must understand that my mind was very broken. I had lived alone in the darkness for so long, years and years I could not remember, lost in my pain and grief, thinking only of what had been taken from me. And now to be found? To be given another chance at life? Well, I am ashamed to say that at first I could not comprehend it. I fought him. Tried to kill him. But he was too strong and drove me back. He said his name was Savage Opress, but his name meant nothing to me. I could not even remember my own.
Only one name did I remember between my mutterings and rantings and screaming howls, and I said it then to him.
Kenobi, Kenobi, Kenobi.
Savage Opress did not recognize the Jedi’s name, but he knew I needed help. So he lured me to his ship and took me back to our home planet Dathomir. Again, I do not remember much of our journey. My mind, so broken. So lost . . .
But I remember what came next.
Mother Talzin was a witch, the most powerful of the Nightsisters. She wielded great magicks and all the Dathomirians respected her as our leader. She was there to greet our ship and take me to her altar. There, she commanded me to sleep. I lay back on the cold stone and let her work.
First came the green smoke. It enveloped me, entering my eyes and ears and mouth, filling my senses. At the same time, she drew out the darkness that had infested my brain, a black miasma of pain and confusion. And slowly, as she worked her magicks on me, my mind began to return. First my name. And then my brother’s name. Then my planet, and my past as a Sith Lord, and all the details of my life came rushing back. Especially Kenobi.
I was whole in mind but was still attached to my spider body. I can see now that it was a grotesquerie, but it had served me well on Lotho Minor. Nevertheless, Mother Talzin knew it would not do. She tore it from my flesh and fashioned me powerful mechanical legs from the wreckage of droids, and armored bracers for my arms, and a plated collar for my neck. It was agony and I screamed out, but I had suffered so much already, had known suffering like you will never know, my young friend, and I endured.
And in the end. I was whole.
“Brother,” Savage said, and this time I could answer him.
I sat up, grabbing his jaw. I pulled his face to mine to stare into his eyes. The same golden eyes as mine. The eyes of the man who had saved me.
“Brother,” I growled.
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