Another test. Another trial. Dekross had grown accustom to such things in his time with his master, but saying that he was pleased when one of them was placed before him would be nothing short of a bold-faced lie. While they provided more than enough challenge, some of the trials he faced did nothing to fire the warrior blood flowing through his cold veins. He much preferred a place on the frontline where the roar of his lightsabers as they cut through masses of Republic soldiers and Jedi dogs like a reaping wind. The rush of battle was when he felt the most alive and where he could vent his rage.
Instead, he was here on this twisted rock, forced to subject himself to another test.
Dekross had no inkling as to what the old man had planned, and he frankly didn’t care. This game of his would be at an end soon enough and the result would be the same as always. Dekross would overcome whatever scheme his master had concocted. The first step was to arrive at the cave mouth indicated to him before the appointed time, which would be a challenge in and of itself. The beasts that roamed the planet’s surface were as twisted as they were ravenous. Many fools and weaklings had fallen beneath their claws and been crushed between their teeth, their bodies savaged and stripped of meat; evidence in the form of skeletal remains littered the jungle floor, left bare to the ravages of the elements. The pain and suffer echoed through the Force like a great scream as they begged for release that would never come in this dark place.
They were ignored. Dekross had no time for the pleas of the weak. They’d been devoured by those whose strength had exceeded their own. It was a fitting end for the unworthy.
Dekross eschewed his reliance upon his natural senses and chose to trust in the Force to guide his way through the fog; his master would’ve expected as much. The taint of darkness weighed on him as though it were a physical thing, but he did not shy away from its touch and embraced it instead. He used the pain and the fear to fuel his own power as he pressed on towards his objective.
A growl drew his attention. He stopped in his tracks to listen for whatever was lurking in the underbrush. Waiting. Watching. Feeling.
It wasn’t long before a black shape made itself known to him. Its form was one he recognized well-enough even if it was malformed and mutated by the Dark Side. The kath hound growled again, eyes gleaming yellow in the darkness as it stared at him. Dekross answered it with a growl of his own as he manipulated a lightsaber into his hand. The crimson blade roared to life and bathed his surroundings in its glow, revealing that the hound wasn’t alone. Its pack slowly made themselves known, grotesque shapes made uglier by the shroud.
Good. They would provide an easy warmup for whatever the old man had in mind.
The pack circled him in search of an opening to exploit. There would be none for them to find, but Dekross had forced himself to learn patience over the years. He won out in the end and the hunger that drove the worthless creatures to desperation buried their caution. The first to strike lunged into the air with its maw agape and its claws extended for the kill. Dekross sidestepped the attack easily and swept his weapon through it in an upward arch that clove atwain. The two pieces sailed into the fog. Then, all semblance of waiting was lost and the rest of the pack leapt to avenge their fallen comrade.
Dekross drew his second lightsaber and spun himself around, slaying two of the four remaining hounds in a single attack as he rolled away. He came to his feet just as a third hound lunged for his throat. Three rapid strikes quickly ended the creature’s suffering. The final hound barked furiously at him for a few moments before it launched a desperate assault in hopes of catching him unawares.
“Filthy creature,” Dekross snarled as he caught the hound midair with his power. It yelped in fright, twisting while it dangled several feet above the ground. Dekross let it suffer for far longer than what could’ve been considered humane before deactivating his sabers and closing his hand into a fist. A sickening crunch filled the air and the howling was silenced forever more.Dekross hurled the grisly remains into the fog and continued his trek through the forest. Egos was not one to be kept waiting for longer than necessary if one wished to remain alive.
His claws clicked against the brown stone of the Temple Palace. An itch in his scales signaled that his master was near at hand and it wasn’t long before he spotted the shriveled green form he’d come to know and despise. He stopped a respectful distance from Darth Egos and eased himself down to a knee, bowing his head low in reverence. He'd arrived precisely on schedule as was demanded of him.
“What is thy bidding, my master?” he asked.