By TJ Perkins
The bluish haze from the Force now emitted a white hot glow, which explicitly wrapped itself around Darth Maul, and flashed in a vibrant radiation. It pulsed and wriggled like a lover in complete ecstasy, illuminating and engulfing Maul and the blackness that surrounded him -- the cursed blackness that had signified his end and the Padawan Jedi's triumph. A triumph that could be quickly rectified if only he had another chance, just one more chance, at living, at fighting, at killing, at never making such a weak mistake again.
He reveled in the fact that he could still see -- what there was to see-- it gave him hope that, perhaps, he wasn't completely dead. Perhaps he was still in existence, becoming one with the Force; an unconditional marriage that he would never take for granted. The Force is what made him, it nurtured him, sustained him and left him craving for more of the Dark Side. Yes, the Dark Side. The only side of the Force that he truly understood, for it was an extensive part of his very being.
Maul closed his eyes and smiled maliciously. Warmth; he was beginning to feel warmth. It must be radiating from the extraordinary brilliance of the white glow, he reasoned. The celestial pulsation had now become so intense it blinded the dark lord. The hazy tendrils that had lovingly cradled him now vanished, merging with the incandescent glow and taking control of his essence. He tried to raise his hands to protect his eyes - he could not. He tried to turn his head to the side - he could not. He tried to wriggle his upper torso, the only thing that was truly left of him - he could not.
"What kind of madness is this!" he screamed, suddenly hearing his own voice, then listened as it echoed throughout the blackness, bouncing endlessly through space and time. It seemed that things had abruptly changed. He had been under the impression that the Force was now one with him; yet it has seized the only bit of sanity he had left and stifled his free-floating movement. This angered him insatiably, the beast dwelling deep inside being unleashed once more, as he called upon the Force to do his will. How dare he be denied even in his death; he was a dark lord of the Sith and should have command of his actions to the last!
Paralyzed and blinded within a brilliant white haze, Darth Maul screamed and struggled, utilizing every ounce of strength he had left to manipulate the Force into helping him. It was to no avail -he, a dark lord of the Sith, one who held the most outstanding abilities of the Dark Side...was helpless.
"No! This cannot be!" he shouted through clenched teeth while fear filled his mind with tormenting visions. Panting and completely humiliated, Maul relinquished to the paralysis and waited for his fate.
If only his mentor and Jedi master were here, but then again -no. He wouldn't want his master to see him so helpless and pathetic. He was certain Darth Sidious would scorn him, degrade him with that sinister stare he always used whenever Maul did something inappropriate. No, it was best that he suffer alone, in the blinding white light that had now completely consumed him. Consumed him to the point that he could no longer see the remaining upper half of his body. All that he was aware of, was that he floated in a world of white in which there was nothing; no sound, no sight, only this light and the feeling of its warmth. He closed his eyes and released a deep sigh that resembled the low rumbling growl of a Corellian sand panther. This was it - there was nothing more to do than to wait.
"Maul!" A voice echoed in his head Thinking he was hallucinating he ignored it and continued to lay completely still with his eyes closed.
"Rise!...Get up!" The voice sounded closer and more distinct. Who was it? It sounded so familiar. "Darth, hear me - rise."
Suddenly it came to him, like a strike from his master's cane. The realization that he could feel his body lying on something hard and that he could sense the presence of someone standing by his side; it was enough to make him flicker his eyes open.
It took a few moments for them to focus, feeling the lids rise and fall, the fluids coating his eyes and getting used to having command over them once more. Yet, he just laid there as if in shock over what was happening to him. The brilliant white light was gone and there were objects all around him. He could see them, and they seemed so real.
Without warning, a hand came across his face, a sharp sting that startled the young dark lord and instantly brought all the anger that dwelled within him to the surface.
"Breathe!" The voice commanded loudly, a command that was well taken for Darth Maul hadn't realized that he had been holding his breath.
He sucked in a large amount of air, engulfing it as if he had been immersed in fluid for hours and was just now getting a chance to rise above the surface. He could feel his lungs fill, rising up and down as he so wished; a natural reaction of living he obviously had taken for granted. Every organism in his body was beginning to pulsate and thrive on the rushing blood and oxygen. He was alive! By the Force, he was alive! But how could that be?
He turned his head to the figure standing next to him and relinquished a slight smile; a gesture he wasn't in the habit of using. Darth Sidious looked down on his pupil as he lay upon a metal table, in a sterile lab that was littered with devices Maul had never seen before. Cocoon-type chambers lined one side of the wall of the underground cavern and computers lined another. Maul's mind was so muddled that he had to sit up to get a better look.
"Welcome back, my young apprentice," Darth Sidious said quietly.
"What happened?" Darth Maul questioned breathlessly, and completely astonished as he looked at his body - his entire body. He was whole! Just as he had been before the Jedi cleaved him in two. He sat perfectly still as he examined his powerful, lean legs, making sure that they were indeed his own. He then lifted the towel -- the only thing covering his loins and muscular body-- to examine the gash made by the Padawan Jedi's lightsaber - it was no longer there.
Sensing his pupil's confusion, Darth Sidious volunteered a quick explanation, "You've been cloned Lord Maul, the very first successful human cloning that I have attempted, here in my secret cloning facility." He spread his arms wide to take in the whole facility. "Your detached halves were no longer of any use to you -they've been discarded. You have been reborn, you might say, given a chance to live again."
There was a pause as the two dark lords' eyes met, an exchange of visions and words only those in touch with the Force could hear and understand.
"Yes," Maul whispered, in his naturally deep, controlled voice,"to live again and take revenge."
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