Jedi Manji Keibatsu Vs. Epis Tsainetomo Keibatsu
Temple of Light:
What was known once as the Temple of Orian now stood as its Fractured counterpart, the Temple of Light, bright and shining center of Jedi Lord Urias’ effort to cleanse his corner of the galaxy of the coming Vong menace.
Down the stately stone stairway strode Jedi Master Manji Keibatsu, hefting his lightsaber and katana, the Force having alerted them to a strange and alien threat. Reaching the bottom, he looked straight into the hate-filled eyes of Krath Epis Tsainetomo Keibatsu Sadow, who carried their lightsaber and Meishu's Tear custom weapon with a menace that dared not touch these hallowed grounds to date.
Settling themselves, the fighters launched themselves at one another, knowing only one would walk away from this fateful confrontation.
Tsainetomo’s purposeful gait slowed, and then stopped, as he approached the warrior before him, confusion threatening to drive him to his knees. Ever since he’d found himself in this world – this mockery - of everything he knew, he’d been a bit out of sorts. Now, as he faced this man who stank of the Light Side of The Force, any hopes that his internal compass would be righted were dashed, as a crystal goblet upon those selfsame stairs that the warrior now guarded.
Everything about the man virtually screamed his beloved cousin: his gait, the cut of his robes, even down to the way he held his katana’s woodworked scabbard. Everything was the same...
...but different. Where his cousin was an electric arc of the Dark Side, this usurper of that man’s identity was a limpid pool of calm, shining on the surface and clear to the core; a near negative image of the way Sai carried himself in the Force, which was dark, depthless, and abysmal. Moreover, this man had the audacity to actually have both of his eyes; an affront to any memory of Manji that the Dark Jedi would have cherished.
This world, this building, the very air he breathed; all were as strangers to the man known as Tsainetomo. He surmised that the only way to correct things were to steal the life from the personification of what he held dear. He would kill this man; if only to save the final thread of sanity he possessed, Sai would kill him.
The stance of the man, and the practiced way he began to draw his katana, projected honor. The very least that Tsainetomo could do was repay him, in kind. Making no sudden move, he made sure the scrap of cloth that held his bushy mane of hair was secure and shut his eyes, marshalling his strength for the action to come. His Force-heightened senses picked up on the singing – singing! - of birds in the distance; his skin began to nettle from drawing on the Dark Side, and was extra sensitive to the gently breeze that wafted down from the Temple before him. Carried on that breeze was the sound of silken menace as the warrior’s katana cleared its housing, and Sai’s right hand instinctively crept within his woolen robes to grasp the handle of his esoteric weapon, the one known as Meishu’s Tear.
The Force screamed a warning in his inner-ear, and Tsainetomo’s eyes flew open to note the world now appeared to him muted and bluish-gray, as viewed through a sheet of gauzy material – no doubt a trick of the wily Jedi who now advanced on him, thin sliver of death raised high above him. Sai drew the kunai from within his robes and caught the blade on the flat of its durasteel length. He noted the strength of the man was remarkable, but it was only right, considering that this was practically Manji himself whom he fought.
His left elbow close to his side, the Korun-Keibatsu’s clenched fist pistoned into the Jedi’s gut; it was as striking a slab of iron, yet the breath still fled from the Lightsider’s lungs in a rush. The Jedi backpedaled, his own left hand lashing out with an outwardly turned palm to send a wave of his misbegotten will into Sai; the Dark warrior stumbled backward himself from the telekinetic assault.
Tsainetomo smiled inwardly as his lip became warm with the rivulet of blood that issued from his nose; it seemed this man was more like Manji than he had first surmised. Still, he couldn’t help but rejoice in the good fortune that the created space between them offered. Letting the Tear pay out on its tether, Sai began to work the weapon’s forms, and the kunai began to carve nigh invisible parabolas around his body.
The Jedi leapt high into the air on Force-assisted legs and began to descend upon Sai, hoping his skill with his blade would pick apart the metallic aegis of protection that covered the Dark one. Just as it appeared he would succeed, the kunai whirled around, violently striking the katana, sparks leaping from the meeting as the Jedi landed, short of his goal. Like mercury freed from a thermometer and running across a table, the kneeling Jedi struck again, this time sending a vicious swipe that was meant to separate Sai’s legs from his body. It was Sai’s turn to leap preternaturally high, and he scarcely cleared the vertical slash that followed the horizontal one with impossible speed.
As Sai began to descend, he brought the kunai downward, arcing with a deadly precision, seeking to smash the Jedi’s pate; it was the Lightsider who staved off destruction this time, the horizontal block sending the kunai careening off to the side. Sai landed behind the doppelganger of his cousin and whirled so that the tether would wrap itself around his body, then unwind, its velocity increased exponentially so that the Jedi would be caught unawares.
Had the Jedi Master been any less a warrior, he would have been. He abruptly stopped a spinning diagonal strike that would’ve cleaved Sai from left shoulder to right hip, and expertly turned his blade so that the kunai struck its flat instead of its delicate, razor’s edge.
Both men sought to take advantage of the moment to hurl unseen fists at one another; in that regard, both attacks were successful as Dark and Light Jedi crumpled at the waist, doubled over from the telekinetic strikes.
Some distance from one another, the warriors’ chests heaved from exertion, and sweat coated their faces as they regarded their respective skills. Sai’s muted vision of the world permeated the scene, as a dream within a dream, and he hefted the Tear once more, preparing for the advancing Jedi and his katana.
As the strangely-shaped blade slashed towards him once more, Manji stepped back, his katana rising to knock the weapon away. Confusion rushed momentarily through his veins- this person seemed familiar, despite his corrupted grasp on the Force. Something in the nature of the chained weapon spoke to him, suggesting to him the sunlit fields of his homeworld.
The thought was shut away as serenity washed over the Jedi once more; if the enemy was somehow connected to him, no matter. He was obviously beyond being convinced out of battle- the gleaming light of rage within his tripartite pupils was enough evidence of that. If the only recourse was combat, Manji would make the intruder pay for defiling this sanctum with the taint of the Dark Side.
The bushy-haired warrior advanced suddenly, his left arm catching up the excess chain as his right swung the leaf-shaped blade round his body in a whirling storm of steel. As the eyes of the Jedi were drawn to the blade, the intruder made his move- leaping suddenly off the ground and twisting round in mid-air to hurl the blade out towards his foe. Manji's eyes never changed; without any sign of emotion the Jedi stepped back smartly, blade rising to knock the kunai to one side as the intruder landed, both hands on the chain.
Before the intruder could pull his weapon back to strike again, Manji lunged forward, freeing his right hand from the hilt of his katana and snatching up the chain just behind the small blade. Muscles bulged across his wiry frame as the two fighters began to engage in an instinctive tug-of-war for possession of the weapon. Suddenly Manji loosened his grip on the chain, his foe stumbling backwards at the sudden lack of force. A quick recovery from the intruder saw a bolt of Force energy smack into Manji's chest, but it did little to faze him as he advanced, blade singing through the air.
The intruder managed to dodge the first vertical strike, his eyes carefully calculating the trajectory of the blade, but the second, horizontal slash tore a clean line across the stomach of his robes as he dived away from the Jedi. Slowly Manji turned to face the intruder, his blade lifting into another offensive position as the Darksider lowered a hand to his stomach. When he lifted his fingers, a few smears of blood daubed them a fiery red. A feral snarl built in the Darksider's throat as he tossed down the chain weapon and snatched the hilt at his waist, orange light flaring to life with a violent whine as he drew the saber.
A few drops of blood trickled from the blade of the katana to the floor before Manji whipped the blade around, tossing them loose and sliding the katana back into its scabbard. The blade was removed methodically from the sash around his belt before the Jedi Master drew his own lightsaber, pristine azure light bathing his features- a perfect mirror to the aggressive orange of his opponent's blade. Then the Jedi spoke, his voice calm and refined.
"If you wish to walk away, I will not hinder you. It is not my desire to kill you this day."
The words only seemed to aggravate his opponent more, his stench in the Dark Side growing stronger as he summoned those nebulous energies to his bidding. Then the warrior exploded forwards, his blade dancing with a dangerous degree of skill, the forms perfect and yet tainted with suppressed emotion. Manji's shimmering blade leapt to meet him, his own movements smooth and measured as the two settled into the duel, sparks flying from their clashing sabers.
If Tsainetomo hadn’t been so hard-pressed by the Jedi, he would’ve noted that the duel, from top to bottom, was, for the lack of a better word, beautiful.
Though it was clear to the Krath that his enemy had spent as much time as he, if not more, with the lightsaber, there were, admittedly, small weaknesses in both men’s technique. Infinitesimal those weaknesses were, but evident to none but the most trained of eye. Every Djem So stroke was barely countered by a hastily thrown Soresu parry, and the Jedi’s Makashi thrusts were only microns away from slipping past his own Shii Cho maneuvers. Theirs was a battle of wills, neither gaining a clear advantage, nor giving any ground as raging sunset met placid glacial again and again.
Sai still held a muted view of the world, everything cast in a gauzy bluish-gray, and the normally sharp clashes of their weapons were dulled, as if he strained to hear through water. Still he had heard the Jedi’s words clear enough, spoken as if through the Force itself and directly into his brain. Even the angry line traced across his abdomen was a blunted sting, as if the wound itself sought to deny him of the delicious sensation he’d normally feed off of to gain strength.
A brief ‘saber lock allowed the men to stand face to face, the place where the weapons met glowing white hot between them, throwing stark shadows onto their straining features. Eyes met, and Tsainetomo espied possible salvation in the twin eyes of his cousin’s ‘corruption’: frustration.
The men ceased pressing against one another’s blades and leapt backward, and the Darksider’s mind raced. The emotion he saw was there, was real, and whether from his inability to kill Sai or from the effort of reining in his feelings, the Jedi was undergoing some sort of internal struggle. Either way, it was probably the only reason why Sai still lived, and as long as he drew breath, he had a chance to kill Manji. The Krath smiled as the Jedi rushed forward again, his lithe body caught in the lightning-quick forms of Makashi.
Sai’s blade carved tangerine infinities born of Soresu’s saving graces – by Sadow, the Jedi’s footwork was amazing! – as he fended off the attack. A brief lull in Manji’s advance allowed Sai to bend Djem So to his will, and he forced the Jedi to mount his own whirling defense. Back and forth they went, blades hissing and growling as if giving voice to the turbulent emotions that their masters were feeling.
But, as all things must, their epic struggle reached a climax of sorts, when Manji’s azure blade finally slipped Tsainetomo’s guard, piercing the Darksider’s left thigh. The Jedi felt no resistance to the thrust; such was the nature of their weapons. For a brief moment, a wave of relief poured off of Manji, but was abruptly silenced as Tsainetomo’s own orange blade glanced off of Manji’s left bicep; the wound was not grievous enough to relieve the Jedi of the limb entirely, but it was enough to render it useless.
The Jedi scrambled backward as Sai took a knee, both men hobbled, but not beaten. Manji, his hilt held as tight as the set in his jaw, rushed forward again, the point of the lightsaber’s blade aimed squarely at the Krath’s chest. Sai was tired – so very tired – and so, could not stand. In what he thought were his final moments, the Epis saw the hazy form of the Jedi descending upon him, eyes locked on his, a shining beacon in the Force blazing impossibly bright. Just before the blade pierced him, the world suddenly went black...
...and Tsainetomo’s hearing had returned to him, the birds singing as clear and sharp as a bell and the breeze whispering to him its hypocritical song of calm and serenity.
His eyes slowly opened, and all was as it was before; Manji, standing serenely at the base of the Temple of Light’s stairs, and himself not a few meters from the Jedi. Their robes were not disheveled from combat; his belly, never touched by the katana that still hung at Manji’s side. All details leapt to his tripartite eyes, the colors vivid and intricacies sharp.
A stark realization hammered its way into the Darksider’s brain. In the few moments that had occurred since he came upon the Jedi, Tsainetomo had played the entire battle within his mind’s eye; the sudden snapping of a distant twig had startled the birds into silence, and also served as a signal to the warriors to begin. They truly were more alike than either realized.
Rushing at one another with blinding speed, two sets of hands ripped lightsaber hilts from belt clips and sashes and azure and sunset leapt to life almost simultaneously, the sound of their ignition joining together in a harmony of destruction.
Tsainetomo and Manji met, and the latter sidestepped the former’s Shii Cho downward crescent. Manji saw his advantage and struck Sai with Makashi’s fluid precision, piercing the Krath through the side of his upper torso and into his heart.
Whether from hatred or muscle-memory, Sai reversed his grip on his hilt just as Manji’s blade began to enter his body, and Shien’s deception coupled with a backhanded swipe of his arm removed Manji’s head from his body; he had no time to savor the victory, as Manji’s blade ceased the beating of his heart a moment before the Jedi’s head tumbled wetly across the ground, finally coming to rest at the bottom-most stair.
The lifeless bodies of the men crumpled, one, a Servant of Light; the other, a Master of Dark. As the Force left their corpses, the distant birds resumed their singing, the trilling serving as a funereal dirge for the two warriors.
Their feet scuffed against the marble floor of the Temple of Light as the two battled back and forth, sabers dancing in a perfect display of martial prowess. Every searing Makashi strike that the Jedi Master threw at his opponent was neutralised by a strong Soresu block, but the Darksider's movements were marginally less pristine, his saberwork not quite as fluid as that of his opponent. While Manji's grasp on his saber was confident and assured as he flowed through both Shii-Cho and Makashi forms, switching between them at will, the Darksider rotated through even more forms but with slightly less proficiency. It gave him an unpredictable edge, his saber flashing and dancing, flickering dangerously close to the Master's throat.
As Manji thrust again, his azure blade shining brilliantly, the Darksider ducked swiftly, his bushy afro losing a few hairs to the gleaming blue blade. Quickly tossing his saber up, the Darksider snatched it back in a reverse grip and dived forwards, attempting to bring his blade across and disembowel the Jedi. He was denied as Manji whirled round gracefully, his blade striking sparks off the Darksider's weapon as he charged towards the steps, the two turning to face each other once again.
Both were breathing heavily, sabers clenched tightly in their hands- the battle had taken it out of them. Two beings of light and dark, they stared at each other, eyes like polar opposites. The Darksider's gaze burnt with cold rage and hatred while Manji's eyes were pools of limpid calm, untroubled by the darkness he faced. As the Darksider started to move forwards again, Manji raised his hand.
"Hold. Before we finish this... who are you? Why do you profane this hallowed sanctuary?"
The Darksider grimaced, as if the answer caused him pain.
"My name is Tsainetomo Keibatsu, imposter."
Momentary shock permeated the monastic calm of the Jedi's expression.
"Keibatsu? You... you are not one of my family!"
Something snapped inside Tsainetomo. He'd come here hoping that it was all some kind of cruel trick, some kind of deception. To find out that his cousin was no longer himself, that he had become a puppet of the Light, someone that the 'real' Manji would despise... the knowledge carved at his insides. Letting out a bestial roar, Tsainetomo lunged forwards, his saber still held in Shien's reversed grip. For a moment the Lightsider did not respond, his brain still trying to process the information that this rage-filled figure believed himself to be one of Manji's kin. Then methodical focus snapped back to him and he whirled his blade, leaping to meet the charge.
The two surged past each other, orange and azure blades singing a triumphant, razor-sharp symphony. There was a moment of perfect clarity amongst the confusion as both fighters stood with their backs to each other, blades held out to the side. Then Manji dropped to one knee, his expression serene even as he collapsed onto his face, steam hissing from the gaping saber wound in his side. Behind him, Tsainetomo's body slowly split into two, a glowing diagonal line of fire slanting across his stomach. The two halves of his body collapsed heavily to the floor, hissing quietly.
Once again, the main hall of the Temple of Light stood silent.
Ahem. Very well written. Judging anything between you two is very difficult at best, as the quality of the writing is so very good. However, that being said, the deathposts were what made this battle. While Manji's is clear and concise, Sai's left me with better imagery. Therefore by a very slim margin the battle goes to Tsainetomo.