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Crossovers100 Story 1

April 8th, 2006 (06:22 pm)
current song: Fritz Wunderlich's last recital

It seems I'm a Challenge addict! I've signed up to the crossovers100 challenge, which is a spin off from fanfic100. These stories will be 'occasional' ;-)

Title: The Enemy of my Enemy
Regular Fandom/Pairing: The Lord of the Rings, Legolas/Eowyn
Crossover Fandom/Character(s): Star Wars, Darth Maul
Prompt: 022 Enemies
Word Count: 5949
Rating: R
Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the creation of JRR Tolkien and George Lucas and have been used, without permission, for no financial gain.
Warnings: British spellings!
Summary: Returning from Dorvalla at the end of Darth Maul: Saboteur, Maul lands in South Ithilien for a bit of R&R and encounters a Shieldmaiden. (Set after The Return of the King).
Previously posted: at www.eryn-carantaur.com, www.dmeb2.org and www.scribeoz.com
Author's Notes: An aside in a Legolas/Eowyn ‘soap’ that can be read here. This first story is cheating a bit because I already had it written, but the rest will be new. Zabrak is Maul's species.



Part 1: Her story

The noise was unmistakable—the grunts and the guttural howls and the clash of steel on steel.

But why here? Eowyn wondered, leaning over Brightstar’s neck to peer through the forest ahead. Why here, when they should be three miles further east by now, approaching Doro Lanthron, where Legolas and Haldir are waiting for them?

She had never seen Orcs avoid a fight—even if this band had, somehow, learned that a company of archers was waiting for them at the settlement, she was sure that it would not have stopped them mounting their raid.

So either they were fighting amongst themselves—a petty grievance having escalated into a full scale battle—or they had crossed paths with some unsuspecting traveller. And if that were the case…

Eowyn urged Brightstar through the trees.



As she approached the melee, concentrated in a small forest clearing backed by a rocky ridge, she saw him—a single, hooded warrior, surrounded by more than a dozen orcs shoving and jostling each other in their eagerness to engage him.

But the man—his height and build told her that he was a man, though the fluidity of his movements suggested otherwise—was quickly reducing their numbers. He fought with a quarterstaff—his attacks and guards like nothing Eowyn herself had ever learned—spinning his weapon before him, leaping and whirling like a dancer, sometimes using the strange glowing ends of his staff like a sword, to cut or stab his attackers, sometimes kicking them with his powerful legs, and sometimes—with a mere gesture of his hand, it seemed—raising rocks from the ground to knock them senseless.

Eowyn’s martial heart stirred with admiration, and she had almost decided to withdraw, and leave the warrior to enjoy his well-deserved victory alone, when a big Uruk Hai, standing on the ridge behind him, hurled a boulder and—by sheer luck—caught him, mid spin, in the centre of his back, and he stumbled, and hunched over, winded.

Then she had no choice.



She swung from the saddle—whispering, “Fetch Legolas, Brightstar! Quickly!”—already planning her attack.

She knew that she could not hope to defeat so many Orcs by herself but, as she ran through the trees, skirting the pack and making for the rocky outcrop, she could see that the stranger was already recovering. His staff had somehow broken, but he was standing with his back to the rocks, and using what was left as a club, smashing it into the face of any Orc foolish enough to come close.

Once again, Eowyn wondered whether he would welcome her interference—

“Wom-man!”

Gods, one of the Orcs had caught her scent! And he, with three of his companions, immediately lost interest in the cornered man and, instead, rushed for her. Eowyn dodged right and, ducking between them, streaked up the ridge, weaving through the boulders until she reached the summit, then slipped under the Uruk Hai’s outstretched blade, and dropped to the ground at the warrior’s side.

As she fell through the air it seemed to her that some force took hold of her, and slowed her descent.



The warrior’s only acknowledgement of her presence was to turn away, and they stood, almost back-to-back, Eowyn doing her best—with defensive cuts and blocks—to hold the Orcs at bay until her strange companion was ready to help her beat them back.

“We must break out soon,” she muttered, “and find a proper redoubt. More will come… And Legolas may not be in time—”

She sensed a sudden surge of energy behind her, and heard a strange noise—like the buzzing of a thousand horseflies—and she risked a glance over her shoulder.

The warrior was back on the offensive—the remains of his staff having somehow turned into a sword with a blade of fire—and, giving her no warning, he had begun to advance, wielding his weapon with both hands and striking with deadly precision—and, for the first time, Eowyn realised that the acrid smell hanging over the glade was the stench of burnt Orc flesh.

For a moment she was mesmerised—as much by the wonderful weapon as by the stranger’s skill with it—until she recognised that, by abandoning her, he had left her an easy prey for the Orcs that were already closing in on her.

She surged forward, unconsciously imitating his aggressive style—with mixed success—beheading the first Orc, but merely scratching the Uruk Hai behind him. The monster roared, and lashed out with its serrated blade, and Eowyn dodged the Uruk’s cut—but her strange companion’s spinning attacks did not allow for a second at his back, and a near miss showed her that she was in almost as much danger from his blade as she was from the enemy.

Fuming with anger and frustration, she went for the Uruk Hai, going in close and hacking with no finesse. Her fury took her opponent by surprise, and his momentary hesitation was all the opening she needed to take off his sword arm.

Eowyn continued to press, but the situation was already changing around her—the Orcs were losing heart and beginning to withdraw—even her Uruk Hai was backing away unsteadily, nursing his bleeding stump.

For a few more moments she waited warily, sword raised in a high guard, but the battle was over—for now—and the enemy had melted away. She turned to her companion, and was just in time to see his fiery blade disappear into the hilt of his sword.



The stranger raised his gloved hands to his hood and, very deliberately, lowered it.

Eowyn gasped. The jagged pattern of red and black markings on his face was, she realised, tattooed, but the crown of short, curved horns that encircled his bald head, and the golden eyes—Gods, those eyes!—that stared down at her, unblinking, measuring her, like a healer listening to her heartbeat—those were not human.

The Lady of the Shield Arm squared her shoulders, and stared back at the creature, defiantly.

He immediately bared his yellow-black teeth in a feral snarl.

Eowyn remained calm, silently projecting strength and superiority, facing him down as she might one of her brother’s hounds.

The creature’s expression changed and his interest shifted from her spirit to her physical body. Eowyn, suddenly realising that her jerkin had been ripped open in the fight (and feeling, for the first time, the sting of a flesh wound), saw his golden eyes linger on her bosom, and she fought to stay composed as his pulled off his glove and stretched out his hand—slender but clawed—towards her chest.

A sudden sound—a twig breaking underfoot—startled them both, and they turned as one. “The Orcs,” said Eowyn. “They have brought reinforcements.” She reached for her sword.

But the stranger caught her wrist. “You are injured,” he said. “Come.”



His voice had shocked her—soft, cultured—and she now felt surprisingly little anxiety following him deeper into the forest, except, “Where are you going?” she asked. “There is nothing defendable here. But if we head east—oh!”

She stopped dead, her free hand flying to her mouth. “What is that?”

It looked like the body of a huge, silver dragon lying, partially hidden, amongst the trees. Eowyn took a slow step backwards.

Her companion jerked her wrist impatiently.

Eowyn jerked back. “No!”

“Ha!” He dropped her hand, raised his wrist and touched his broad silver cuff. Immediately the belly of the dragon opened.

“Oh gods…” The door descended, like a castle drawbridge, and, inside, Eowyn could see a flight of steps. “It is a building,” she gasped. “But how—”

He seized her by the arm and hurried her to the entrance, dragging her up the stairs. Eowyn could hear the Orcs closing in; but, as she looked back, once again she felt an invisible force take hold of her, and push her upwards.

The drawbridge was rising behind her.



Inside the building, everything was metal—the walls, the floors, the ceiling—everything except the wide glass window that overlooked the drawbridge.

The stranger set her down on a padded metal chair. “Remove your tunic.” The timbre of his voice was naturally seductive, but his manner was brisk. Eowyn did as she was told.

He opened a small chest, took out a bottle and a scrap of cloth, formed the cloth into a pad and poured a few drops of green fluid onto it. Then, without warning, he pressed the pad to her wound.

Agh!

“There is no pain where strength lies.”

She stared up into his unblinking eyes.

“You must learn to use pain: draw strength from it.” He poured more liquid onto the pad. “It would be foolish, however, to leave broken flesh untended.” He worked the fluid into the gash.

Eowyn’s hands crushed the arms of the chair, but she made no further sound.

He nodded approvingly. “You are not afraid of me.”

“You have given me no reason to be afraid,” she replied, “as yet…”

“You are strong in the Force.” He took a second pad from the small chest, peeled the ‘skin’ from it, and pressed it to her breast. “You will bear strong children.”

“I am married,” said Eowyn, for something told her that his honour would require him to respect her marriage bond.

She was right. “Your husband is fortunate.”

“You will let me go?”

“When it is clear outside…” He replaced the bottle and closed the chest.

“What is this place? Your—house? Why are the walls metal? And this—table—what makes the panels glow?” She reached for one of the coloured squares—

“Do not touch that.” He caught her hand and placed it back on her lap, but there seemed to be no anger in his action. “Metal is strong.”

“Glass is not.” She nodded, through the window, at the band of Orcs that had gathered outside, jeering, trying to goad them into fighting again. “They could break through it with rocks.”

And, as if it had heard her, a big Uruk Hai suddenly hurled a boulder.

Eowyn ducked. But the missile bounced harmlessly off the window.

“The viewport is not glass,” said the stranger, stowing the chest back in its cupboard, “but something much stronger.” He took the seat beside her. “I will deal with them.”

His fingers danced lightly on the glowing squares.

A blade of dense white fire shot out from somewhere beneath the window, slicing through the crowd of Orcs and Uruk Hai, from right to left.

“Gods!” Eowyn, shielding her eyes with her hand, watched the creatures stagger, and slowly collapse, cut in pieces by the terrifying weapon. “They are dead!”—she leapt to her feet—“You have killed them all!”

“They are vermin.”

“Yes, I know. But…”

“It was not the honourable way,” agreed the stranger. “But sometimes, crude measures are necessary.”

“You were playing with them.” She sank back into her chair. “At first, I mean—you were using them for practice.”

“A warrior must hone his skills.” The stranger reached behind her, and opened another cupboard.

“I thought you were in trouble.”

“You acted bravely—with honour. Though it would have been more sensible to have ridden away. Here.” He handed her a black shirt, identical to the one he was wearing himself. “Are there many woman-knights amongst your people?”

“No.”

“I thought not. You have skill and you have courage. But your body is weak and you need better training. Had I not been there, you would have died.”

“Had you not been there, I would not have fought.”

He turned to her with what might have been a smile, though his facial markings did their best to conceal his expression from her.

“And it was my intervention,” she continued, “that bought you the time to recover.”

His eyes narrowed. “It was your intervention that forced me to temper my attack.”

“You are trained only for single combat.”

“I am trained to fight alone,” he corrected.

“It is a weakness,” said Eowyn.

He replied by baring his teeth, like a dog. But, this time, Eowyn saw past the tattoos, and recognised his snarl as the mildest of rebukes.

“Do all warriors of your kind wear those markings?” she asked.

“We earn them,” he replied, “during a long apprenticeship. Each Sith is free to choose the form and placing of his marks.”

“And you chose your face?”

“I chose to reveal my nature to our enemies. I chose to inspire fear in them. My master chose to hide his—”

“Your master? Who is your master?”

“You should wash,” said the stranger. “Hot water will protect your muscles. Come.”

Eowyn followed him, past the stairs to the drawbridge, into a narrow metal corridor leading to the rear of the building. “They do not work,” she said, “your markings—at least, they do not scare me.”

“No. A pity you are spoken for,” he said.

Eowyn blushed.

“In here.” He opened a small door.

Eowyn peered round him into the room beyond—it was little more than a tall cupboard, with a strange metal flower hanging from the ceiling. She looked at him in confusion.

“Take your clothes off, turn the handle on the wall, and wash yourself in the water,” he said, impatiently. “Turn the handle back when you have finished. Then come and find me.”

He left her.



The water was wonderful!

Eowyn found a bottle of soapy liquid and used it to clean off the blood and grime and sweat of battle, memorising every detail of the experience to tell Legolas later—

LEGOLAS!

Eowyn jerked the handle to stop the water and—not bothering to dry herself or to dress—threw open the door and ran back to the room that housed the terrible weapon.



The warrior stared at her, open-mouthed. Then he said, in his soft, seductive voice, “Your man is fortunate that I have exceptional self control.”

“What? Oh—never mind that,”—she caught his wrists—“just do not kill Legolas!”

He twisted from her grasp and grabbed her wrists in return—“Who is Legolas?”—and, pulling her hands down onto his chest, he forced her to straddle his legs and arch over him.

“My husband. He is coming for me.”

He looked doubtful.

“I sent word to him, when I decided to help you. He will find me—track me—he is an elf… He will attack your house to rescue me. Do not kill him with the white fire.”

“Do you realise,” he asked, calmly, “that if he were standing outside, he could see you, in here, with me, naked?”

Eowyn tried to pull away.

But he tightened his grip, smiling, and his expression was at once terrifying and terrifyingly attractive.

Eowyn swallowed.

“Go,” he said, releasing her suddenly. “Go and dress. I will kill nothing more without your permission.”



She returned, moments later, wearing her leggings and boots, and the black shirt he had provided, and took the seat beside him. “Why are you treating me so well?”

He leaned back in his chair with a sigh, and stared up at the metal ceiling. “You called upon the dark side,” he said.

“I do not understand.”

“In the clearing, when you realised that I was not going to wait for you, you were angry and you called upon the dark side—and used it to defeat an enemy many times your weight. You lack discipline, but, at that moment, you fought like a Sith apprentice. My apprentice…” He sighed again. “It would be dishonourable to harm you. As I said before, you are strong in the Force. And a worthy mate for a Sith.”

“But spoken for.”

“Yes.”

“And not attracted to you.”

He turned to her and smiled, knowingly.

Eowyn looked away. “Are they your gods? The Dark Side and the Force?”

“The dark side—”

Thud!

An arrow glanced off the window.

“Is that him?”

“Yes—that was a warning shot—what are you doing?”

He was reaching for one of the glowing squares.

Eowyn lunged for his hand—“You promised!”

But the warrior was faster. “Trust me!” he cried, holding her wrists tightly, “tell him that you are unharmed and that you are coming out to him. For his sake, convince him that you are telling the truth.”

“How will he hear me?”

He tapped the glowing square. “Speak.”



He lowered the drawbridge.

But as Eowyn began to climb down he caught her wrist. “Get away from here quickly. Do not look back.”



Run,” cried Eowyn, grabbing Legolas’ hand. “Run! Run! Do not look back!” She led the elves past the pile of smoking bodies, through the forest, to the clearing beyond the rocky ridge.

Behind them, the ground shook and a great wind parted the trees as a silver dragon broke cover and rose above the foliage, wings outstretched.

It hovered briefly.

Then it rushed up into the sky, spat fire, and disappeared.




Part 2: His story

The creatures were disappointing.

Maul had been hoping for a contest—for a chance, after the mental demands of his recent undercover mission, to stretch himself to his physical limits. He had thought that, by dint of numbers if nothing else, these beasts would provide some satisfaction.

But they were proving no challenge at all.

With a growl of frustration, Maul spun his double-bladed lightsabre, taunting the creatures, searing their flesh and melting their primitive weapons—snarling in disgust as they fell back, attacking each other in their haste to get away.

At the same time he was reaching out, through the Force, beyond this knot of slavering cowards, past the clearing, between the trees, searching for a worthy opponent.

What he found—less than fifty yards away—intrigued him: a small disturbance in the Force, a concentration of power.

He dispatched the beast behind him with a sharp backwards thrust, then swung the leading blade of his lightsabre like a scythe, forcing the mob in front to fall back whilst he investigated this interesting phenomenon.

The newcomer—for the anomaly was associated with a person—was a warrior, a proud swordsman with some great victory to his—no, to her credit.

The newcomer was a female.

A human female.

Maul sliced the arms from the creature on his left.

He had encountered a human female on his recent mission. She had been…

Interesting.

With his free hand, Maul ‘lifted’ a rock from the ground and dashed it in the face of a massive beast to his right. The thing fell to its knees, and Maul neatly lopped off its head.

Meanwhile, the woman was approaching—riding an animal of some kind—following the sound of the fight. And, as he spun backwards, planting a booted foot in the face of another monster, Maul felt her eyes fall upon him.

Admiration!

She was watching him with unashamed admiration.

Beyond that he could feel her will—undisciplined but strong—untrained, but eager to learn, eager to—Maul bared his teeth in amusement as his red blade took off another head—

The woman was actually wondering whether he needed her help!

Such audacity!

No, not audacity, for she was fully aware that the situation was beyond her abilities.

Honour.

She felt honour-bound to help him—to help anyone attacked by these creatures—for they were widely feared—she feared them—

‘You were trained better than this, my apprentice!’

His Master’s voice drew Maul’s attention back to the creatures, a fraction of a second too late. The rock took him by surprise, hitting him centre back, driving the wind from his lungs and, for a moment—no more than a moment—he was almost vulnerable.

‘There is no pain where strength lies.’

Maul drew himself upright, and pushed himself back into the fight, using his extinguished lightsabre as a club, calling upon the Force to help him overcome his temporary weakness.

“Wom-man!”

The creatures had detected the human—and at least three of them had left in pursuit.

Useful.

(Though a pity).

Time to end this fight.

Maul raised his lightsabre and, holding it horizontal, reached for the modulation control to ignite the first blade.

But the woman, having somehow evaded the creatures, had decided that her best chance of survival was at his side. And, as his finger approached the button, he sensed her sprinting up the rise behind him, her own weapon already drawn.

He estimated the chances of her impaling herself when she hit the ground at three in four. Suddenly curious, Maul used the Force to catch her and guide her descent.

Let us see what she is made of.



She was far better than he had expected—an elegant fighter, who knew her physical limits, and used a thorough knowledge of the enemy to guide her strategy—which in this case meant keeping her moves defensive until an opening appeared.

“We must break out soon,” he heard her mutter, “and find a proper redoubt. More will come… And Legolas may not be here in time—”

She believes that help is coming.

And when she thought of this ‘Legolas’, Maul was assailed by a great welter of emotions—love, concern, and fear—fear that her death would destroy her lover.

That thinking will get you killed…

Enough!

Losing patience, Maul ignited a single blade and advanced, slicing his way through the rabble. He was almost out before he felt her following—deliberately imitating his own style! With her first cut she scored a lucky hit, but her second was entirely misjudged, and she was forced to dodge the counterblow, almost skewering herself on his blade as she jumped backwards.

Maul did nothing to help—an apprentice must learn from her own mistakes.

But learn she did!

To the Sith’s astonishment, he felt a great seething whirlpool in the Force as this untrained human used her fury to suck in power and hurl it at the massive beast, terrifying it into submission. And this time her strike, guided by the dark side, was sure and deadly.

The remaining creatures—cowardly brutes—were already disappearing into the forest.

Maul extinguished his lightsabre.



He lowered his hood.

The woman gasped, and Maul sensed an instant of fear—quickly mastered—before she squared her shoulders and stared back at him, defiantly.

He bared his teeth in a feral snarl.

The woman remained calm, gathering up her remaining strength and directing it at him, willing him to submit to her.

Amused, Maul let his eyes wander. Yes, she was just as interesting as the female on Dorvalla had been—the same long hair (though this woman’s was golden), the same lightly muscled limbs, the same soft, inviting curves…

Curves that had been torn by a filthy metal blade.

Maul drew off his glove, to determine the extent of wound, but a sudden sound—a twig breaking underfoot—stayed his hand.

“The Orcs,” said the woman. “They have brought reinforcements.”

She reached for her sword, but the Sith was no longer interested in fighting the creatures. “You are injured,” he said. “Come.”



“Where are you going?” she asked, stuggling to keep up with him. “There is nothing defendable here. But if we head east—oh!”

She stopped dead. She—who had called upon the dark side like a Sith apprentice, who had tried to will him into submission—she was afraid of his ship!

Maul grabbed her arm.

“No!”

He let her wrench herself free—“Ha!”—and opened the hatch. “See?”

“It is a building,” she gasped. “But how—”

He sensed her fear fade and, with it, her resistance, and he pulled her inside, closing the hatch behind them.



Maul pulled out a medical kit, bade her remove her tunic, and set about cleaning the wound.

“Agh!”

Her reaction to the stinging fluid was disappointing. “There is no pain where strength lies,” he lectured, wondering whether he should illustrate the lesson for her, as his Master had done for him, with ten lashes.

The woman stared up at him, uncomprehending.

Her huge silver eyes were pleasing and her pale skin was flawless—apart from the wound, which spoiled the smooth curve of her breast. “You must learn to use pain: draw strength from it,” he explained, quoting his Master again. “It would be foolish, however,” he added, working the antiseptic into the gash, “to leave this broken flesh untended. You must select what strengthens and discard what weakens.”

She grasped the arms of the chair, and he felt her focus on the smart of her wound, and on the fire of his treatment, and draw them into herself, transforming them into a soothing calm, which she used to relax her hands, and then her arms, and then her entire body.

He nodded approvingly. She learned quickly—though her natural inclination, now that the creatures were no threat, seemed to be towards the light. A few beatings would soon cure that. But something else he sensed in her was interesting him more at the moment. “You are not afraid of me.”

“You have given me no reason to be afraid,” she replied, “as yet…”

“You are strong in the Force,” he said, applying a dressing to her breast—briefly surprised by the softness he felt beneath his fingers, and by his body’s response to it. “You will bear strong children.”

“I am married,” she said.

And I have taken an Oath.

Still…

“Your husband is fortunate.”

“You will let me go?”

Maul considered her question. His Master’s precepts were clear: ‘What is done in secret has great power.’

But did she pose any threat—could she expose him or his Master—isolated, as she was, on this backward planet, unknown to the Republic?

Not that he could see.

She was daring warrior, who had fought, hand-to-hand, with honour, using the dark side with impressive power—she had earned the right to live.

He would let her live. “When it is clear outside…”

And, as he closed the medical kit, he felt a wave of something strange spread out from her, something so unfamiliar that it took him a moment to place it.

Trust.

She trusted him…

“What is this place?” she asked. “Your—house? Why are the walls metal? And this—table—what makes the panels glow?” She reached for the hatch release—

“Do not touch that.” He caught her hand. Zabrak were not a large species, and the woman was almost as tall as he, but her hand looked tiny in his own. He placed it back on her lap. “Metal is strong,” he said.

“Glass is not,” she persisted, nodding, through the viewport, at the mob of creatures baying for blood outside. “They could break through it with rocks.” And she ducked as a boulder suddenly hit the transparisteel shield and bounced away, harmlessly.

“The viewport is not glass,” said Maul, stowing the medical kit back in its locker, “but something much stronger.” He took the pilot’s seat. “I will deal with them.”

One of the ship’s six laser cannons made short work of the creatures.

“Gods!” The woman leapt to her feet. “They are dead! You have killed them all!”

“They are vermin,” said Maul.

“Yes, I know. But…”

The notion of superior armaments was foreign to her. Her people fought at close quarters, standing face to face, with swords, and spears and bows. Maul saw the beauty in that. “It was not the honourable way,” he admitted. “But sometimes, crude measures are necessary.”

“You were playing with them.” She sank back into her chair, and turned to him, realisation dawning on her pale, expressive face—and he saw that he had been wrong to assume she posed no threat to him. “At first, I mean—you were using them for practice.”

“A warrior must hone his skills.” He reached into the locker behind her.

“I thought you were in trouble.”

“You acted bravely—with honour. Though it would have been more sensible to have ridden away.” He pulled out a spare shirt, and handed it to her. “Here, cover yourself. Are there many woman-knights amongst your people?”

She held the fabric to her chest. “No.”

“I thought not,” he said, with deliberate disdain. “You have skill and you have courage. But your body is weak and you need better training. Had I not been there, you would have died.”

His change of temper had taken her by surprise—and she no longer quite trusted him—but he felt her rise to his challenge. “Had you not been there, I would not have fought. And it was my intervention,” she added, “that bought you the time to recover.”

Her pale eyes glowed with indignation—she was like a cold flame. He frowned. “It was your intervention that forced me to temper my attack.”

“You are trained only for single combat.”

“I am trained to fight alone.”

“It is a weakness.”

He bared his teeth.

But something had changed between them. They both knew it. He did not want to harm her.

I should have cut her in two when she first appeared.

Before this happened…

“Do all warriors of your kind wear those markings?” she asked, suddenly.

She could not have chosen a better way to appease him. “We earn them,” he replied, “during a long apprenticeship. Each Sith is free to choose the form and placing of his marks.”

“And you chose your face?”

“I chose to reveal my nature to our enemies,” he said. “I chose to inspire fear. My master chose to hide his—”

“Your master? Who is your master?”

Enough of this. “You should wash,” he said. “Hot water will protect your muscles. Come.”



As she followed him, his spare shirt still clasped to her bare chest, she said, “They do not work—your markings—at least, they do not scare me.”

“No. A pity you are spoken for.”

He said it to unsettle her, for he had realised that her mate was the one chink in her armour. But, when he turned to her, he noticed that her face and throat had turned a deep, glowing red.

It was very attractive.

“In here.” He opened the washroom door and pushed her inside.



Maul sat in the pilot’s seat, gazing out at the pile of smoking bodies.

He could take her, if he wanted.

She would fight him, yes, but only out of concern for her mate—were she not already bonded, he doubted she would resist him at all. Well, perhaps at first.

He had never been with a female—the apprentice must keep his body pure. But he was sure that, as a child, he had seen his father take his mother, and, in any case, he knew that it could be violent or…

Or not.

Strange.

Some of his Master’s females did not survive being taken. Others barely lived. But his mother…

Maul pushed that memory out of his mind.

If the choice were left to him, he would take the woman now.

And she would live, because once would not be enough.

And he would train her, and show her how to use the Force with skill.

But he had sworn an Oath before his Master—and the apprentice must—

He turned at the sound of wet feet running on the metal flooring, and stared, open-mouthed, at the naked woman in his cockpit. Had she come because she sensed what he was thinking?

No.

“Your man is fortunate,” he said, “that I have exceptional self control.”

“What?” She frowned, seemed to read his expression, then—“Oh, never mind that,”—she leaned over him and caught hold of his wrists—“just do not kill Legolas!”

It was the first time that she had touched him and her fingers were strong and warm.

He twisted from her grasp and grabbed her wrists in return.

No, he could not take her, but he would learn something of what it would be like to have her. Slowly exerting his strength, he pulled her hands onto his chest, forcing her to straddle his legs, and arch herself over him. He felt his body respond.

“Who is Legolas?” he asked, though he already knew the answer.

“My husband. He is coming for me.”

He looked up into her silver eyes.

“I sent word to him,” she said, “when I decided to help you. He will find me—track me—he is an elf… He will attack your house to rescue me. Do not kill him with the white fire.”

“Do you realise,” he asked, “that if he were standing outside, he could see you, in here, with me, naked?”

Immediately, she tried to pull away, but he tightened his grip and, keeping his eyes on hers, he probed her mind.

Were she not bonded, she would give herself to me… Eventually.

“Go,” he said, releasing her suddenly. “Go and dress. I will kill nothing more without your ‘permission’.”



She returned, moments later, wearing her leggings and boots, and the black shirt he had provided, and carrying her sword, suspended from a shoulder harness. “Why are you treating me so well?” she asked.

He leaned back in his chair with a sigh, and stared up at the metal ceiling.

It had all started in the clearing. “You called upon the dark side,” he said.

“I do not understand.”

How could he explain it to her? “In the clearing, when you realised that I was not going to wait for you, you were angry and you called upon the dark side—and used it to defeat an enemy many times your weight. You lack discipline, but, at that moment, you fought like a Sith apprentice. My apprentice…” He sighed again. “It would be dishonourable to harm you. You are strong in the Force. And a worthy mate for a Sith.”

“But spoken for.”

“Yes.”

“And not attracted to you.”

He turned to her and smiled, knowingly.

She looked away. “Are they your gods? The Dark Side and the Force?”

He cast his mind back to his own early training. “The dark side—” he began.

Thud!

A primitive but beautiful missile, an arrow, glanced off the window.

“Is that him?”

“Yes—that was a warning shot.”

Maul reached for the communicator controls.

What are you doing?” She lunged for his hand—“You promised!”

But the Sith was faster. “Trust me!” he cried, grabbing her wrists and holding them tightly, “tell him that you are unharmed and that you are coming out to him. For his sake, convince him that you are telling the truth.”

“How will he hear me?”

He tapped the display. “Speak.”



He had told her to run—and not look back.

Her mate could not have been more unlike a Zabrak—tall, slender, with long pale hair. Maul sensed the Force in him, even stronger than in his woman.

For no good reason, the Sith waited until they had disappeared from view before powering up the Infiltrator and activating the vertical repulsor array. The ship rose quickly, its nav computer already plotting the vectors that would take him back to Coruscant and his Master.

Maul tapped the controls, and held the ship in stasis for a few moments, watching her lead her Jedi to the safety of the ridge where he had first encountered her.

“Farewell, my apprentice…”

He re-engaged the autopilot, rose from his seat, and padded silently—past the washroom—to the open cargo bay at the stern of the ship.

Stripping down to his trousers and boots, he unclipped his lightsabre and—holding it horizontal—ignited both ends.

He needed exercise.

THE END