View Full Version : Way of the Tomat

8 June 2007, 05:10 PM
I pressed my attack, swinging my saber in a fast, one-handed grip that had far more power behind it then it had a right to. My opponent blocked, but sloppily, the strength of my blow nearly batting the block aside. I grinned, and attacked again, my saber spitting and hissing as it again slammed into my opponent's block. A third attack followed, a massive overhead swing that drove my opponent back and off balance. With the speed of a striking snake, my saber lashed out at my opponent's foot, stopping mere centimeters from her flesh.
"Very good," the Tomat instructor said. The instructor's name was Mura, and she was in charge of teaching lightsaber basics to the group of Tomat acolytes, kids aged from four to seventeen. I had been sparring with another acolyte, a young woman around my own sixteen years, for the benefit of the class.
"Arric's attack was flawless. He used his strengths, which were speed and strength, to batter through his opponent's defenses. Kristal!" the instructor snapped at the other acolyte. "What were you doing wrong?"
"I don't know," the attractive young blond replied.
"Of course you don't. Are you as strong as young Arric?"
"Of course you're not. You're a woman, and with limited exception, women cannot match men in upper body strength. What you DO have is superior reflexes. Use them. Arric is fast, but you're just as fast, if not faster." The instructor began to address the assembled acolytes as a whole. "If you cannot match your opponent in strength blow for blow, do not try. Dodge his attacks, or parry them. Do not block, expecting to stop the inertia of their swing, rather redirect that energy around you, to the left, or the right. Allow me to demonstrate." Ordering me to attack her, she demonstrated a few basic parries, which did a frighteningly good job of rendering my power useless. The class broke up into sparring groups, with the instructor supervising and offering scathing advice where it was due. Though I was sparring with a new partner, I often caught Kristal, my previous opponent, staring at me.
It was later in the day, and I was cleaning up an isolated, abandoned room in the sprawling complex the Tomat had dug out of the mountain, the complex in which all the Tomat lived. This room was far away from the common areas, a place which no one really had a reason to visit. None would know what happened here.
Without warning, arms spun me around and shoved me against the carved rock wall. A hand wrapped around my throat. Kristal's face looked into mine. . . we were nearly the same height.
"A nice practice, Arric," she growled.
"It was," I said.
"I can't match your strength, can I?"
"You can't."
Her hands went to my head, pulling and twisting. My lips met hers, and we kissed with a fiery passion. "Then I shall have to overcome it another way," she said.
I smiled. "How cunning you are."
"Shut up and kiss me."
Hours later, we lay on the cold stone floor of the isolated room, feeling the warmth of each other through our flesh and through the Force. Kristal's head was pillowed on my shoulder, her hair draped over my arm. My arm was wrapped around her shoulders, her arm on my chest.
It was these moments that I felt. . . something the rigorous training demanded of a Tomat acolyte didn't permit me to feel. The training was all about anger, hatred, aggression. . . but here, with Kristal, I felt. . .
I felt peace.
Kristal sat up in my arms. "I should go. . . dinner will start soon, we'll be missed."
I pulled her back to me. "I don't care." We snuck around to pursue our relationship, and didn't want to have it discovered. What we were doing wasn't strictly forbidden. . . but we still felt the desire to keep our rendezvous a secret.
"Come on, Arric. We have to get going."
I stroked Kristal's beautiful blond hair. "I don't want you to go. I want to stay like this, forever."
Kristal nestled her head back against my chest. "You're the most powerful acolyte there is. You are the son of our leader. One day, you will be the Master, Darth Arric, Leader of the Tomat. And I will be at your side, and we will forge a proud new destiny for us and for the Dark Side of the Force."
I smiled. "Yes, yes we will."
Kristal got up. "But until then, we have to get to supper." She pulled away from me, and began to rummage among the piles of discarded clothing for her robes. I watched her dress with an odd mixture of melancholy and excitement.
"I'll see you at supper," she said.

I sat in the mess hall, eating my dinner. Ration pellets. . . not flavorful, but a few dozen of them could keep you alive. Theoretically.
Fehr, with whom I'd been friends with for as long as I could remember, sat down across from me. "Good saber work today," he said.
"Thanks," I replied.
"Stay away from Kristal."
I looked at him. "I'm sorry?"
"You heard me. Stay away from her, she's mine."
I smiled. "And doesn't she have a say in this?"
"No. A Tomat takes what is his through right of strength."
"Exactly. And she's smart enough to realize who the strongest here is. And that's me."
Fehr's eyes narrowed. "You think you're entitled to everything, don't you?"
I nodded. "Because I'm the strongest."
He stood. "You won't always be, Arric. Someday, you'll get weak. And then I'll be there. Count on it!"
The next day, Darth Tharn, my father, leader of the Tomat, was present for our lightsaber instruction. When we were done, he requested to see Kristal and I. He wrapped his arms around our shoulders, and guided us to a room almost as secluded as the one we used for our secret rendezvous.
As soon as we entered and the door closed behind us, Tharn released me, and extended his hand. Purple-white lightning exploded from his fingertips, energy dancing across my skin, hurling me back against the far wall. I hit the stone hard, slid to the floor, and laid there, my muscles twitching in ways that had nothing to do with commands from my brain.
Tharn drew his lightsaber and turned toward Kristal. Panic rose in her sea blue eyes, and she drew her own weapon, blocking the first strike Tharn sent her way, though she almost lost her saber in the process. His next strike she parried, just as Mura had taught her. His third strike slammed against her parry, knocking the saber from her grip. Tharn's glowing blade struck out, there was a shriek, and then Kristal crumpled to ground.
My father turned to look at me, my body still twitching and paralyzed by the Dark Side energy he'd blasted me with. "Remember this day well, young apprentice. A part of you has died today, the weak, worthless part of you, the part that your enemies would have used to destroy you. Weakness is death, do not abide it." He then turned and left.
When I was able to move again, I crawled over to Kristal's limp body, cradled her in my arms, and wept.

The next day, Fehr entered my quarters. One look at his face washed my vision red. The Force came easily to my fingers, and I felt his throat collapse under my power.
Fehr choked out as much of a denial as he could, and I believed him. Fehr was many things, but a liar wasn't one of them. He was actually almost too honest.
Still, I flung him against the wall with enough force to bruise him deeply, just because it felt good to inflict pain. Hurting him allowed me to ignore the great, gaping empty place in my soul where Kristal had once been.
Fehr fled my sight, and I spent the remainder of the evening fingering the small ring Kristal had given me only a few days before she died. A ring with her name engraved in it's golden surface. It's bright, shining metal was a stark contrast to the black metal of my artificial right arm.
I spent that night in deep meditation. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get Kristal's Force Spirit to appear to me, as Tomat lore said sometimes happened when powerful Darksiders needed to impart crucial information to abandoned students. But I sensed the part of me where she still lived on, so long as I honored her memory. And I knew what I had to do.
Kristal's death was a rite of passage of sorts, intended to burn out weak emotion. I was more then an acolyte now, but I had not become an adept, as I had not yet learned how to construct my own lightsaber. Two months of acolyte training, and I still had not mastered this crucial skill. But it was then that Darth Tharn again graced our lightsaber class with his presence, so I decided that step was not critical to my plan.
As the instructor informed me of several deficiencies in my form, I spoke loud enough for the entire room to hear "Perhaps Tharn, my father and wise Master of the Tomat, would deign to point out my shortcomings in detail?"
Tharn smiled, his black suit of armor fitting him like a glove. "I would be honored." He strode forward, drawing his blade. I faced him in a ready stance.
The duel was very one-sided. . . Tharn's attacks barely deflected by my hasty and sloppy blocks and parries, my desperate counterattacks easily turned aside by his flashing, glowing blade, allowing him to counterattack again, driving me back in desperate defense.
I waited, I bided my time. . . and I tamped down the rage that urged me to strike out with all the fury and power that I knew was mine to command. I waited for my moment. . .
Then the Force informed me of it's arrival. I blocked Tharn's powerful overhanded swing, and held his blade at bay, though the electrodrivers in my artificial right arm whined in protest. My left hand touched the surface Tharn's armor, bypassing the energy shield that would turn aside lightsaber blows. . .
Purple energy exploded from my fingertips, arcing through Tharn's armor and into his belly. He didn't fly back, for I held him fast in a Force grip established at the last second. I held him there and let my rage and fury pour into him via the lightning summoned for me by the Dark Side. Finally, I let him go, and he flew backwards to land in a tangled heap.
I fled to the hangar bay, and any who stood in my way earned a taste of my rage.
I don't know why no one fought me in earnest as I fled. When I reached the hangar, I stole the smallest ship we had available, a two-seated cargo shuttle. None of the armed freighters launched after me, and no net of the Force tried to smash my escape ship into the ground. Perhaps, despite all we'd done to each other, my father still loved me as a son, and couldn't bring himself to order my death.
The tiny ship's limited navicomputer allowed me to plot a course for what was supposedly a relatively populous Outer Rim world. I poured over every ounce of data in the ship's inadequate library, learning everything I could about a galaxy I had barely been aware existed.
In a place so large, surely I could hide from my father and the Tomat. Perhaps I could even hide from myself, and the pain of losing the first person I ever truly loved, which pursued me like a vengeful spirit.

Lieutenant Paladine
13 June 2007, 05:18 AM
Masterful. Is there a second part forthcoming?

I admire your style. Very descriptive.

I think that you should tell the story of how, 15 years later, Arric gets tracked down, and almost assassinated.

But thats overstepping my bounds, sorry.

Great job so far!

13 June 2007, 03:06 PM
Well, most of his story I've told in the RPG I run for some friends. . . and yes, there were incidents of Dear Daddy Tharn sending bounty hunters after him.

Lieutenant Paladine
13 June 2007, 11:52 PM

Does he depose his father?

14 June 2007, 08:03 PM
And his clone.

Lieutenant Paladine
17 June 2007, 12:10 AM
He has a Clone ?

17 June 2007, 07:53 AM
Arric does, not Tharn. You see, Tharn has a habit of collecting small, almost trivial, bits of technology :)

Lieutenant Paladine
18 June 2007, 12:05 AM
Trivial? Cloning technology isn't "trivial!"

18 June 2007, 07:37 AM
In Heir to the Empire, Grand Admiral THrawn is searching Mount Tantiss for a working cloaking sheild, and one other "small, almost trivial, bit of technology." That phrase is used at least twice, and it refers to the Spaarti cloning cylinders.

I used that same phrase on my players, just to drop very subtle hint as to what might be going on. And, because I just love that turn of phrase.