He pulled himself up one-handed until his chin touched the metal bar. Every muscle screamed as he slowly released, until he hung in midair. How many times had he done this today? How many times had he done it in his life? It didn’t matter, in the end, for the strength of his spirit would always overshadow the strength of his body.
Still, Möbius Vÿle would need all of his strength when his time came.
He pulled himself up again, refusing to feel the pain in his arm, refusing to let sweat and cool air prickle his bare skin, and released once more. He would hone his body, and master his technique, while he built his army and waited for his moment.
You can do anything, he thought, if you have enough hate in your heart. And his own hatred would blot out any sun in the galaxy.
It began with the holocron, of course. He no longer recalled which Outer Rim planet he’d found it on, for his accursed archaeologist parents had dragged him to a thousand or more backwaters. But it called to him from deep within the ancient tomb; it guided Möbius through the tomb’s confines and dangers, as clearly as any map.
It confirmed what he had long suspected: Möbius Vÿle was different. It promised to teach him how to make the most of that difference. He still hated to dwell on the price he’d paid to claim it for his own… but he no longer counted the cost, for it freed him to travel the galaxy and study the holocron’s wisdom. He learned to fight, to feel, and to win. By the time he came of age, he was ready to call himself Sith.
But he couldn’t, for Emperor Palpatine’s right-hand man was the true Sith Lord.
He pulled himself up, lowered himself, until the fingers of his right hand burned.
The holocron’s teachings didn’t make it easy for Möbius to reach Darth Vader, but a lesser man – a weaker man – never could have. And once he’d dispatched Vader’s stormtroopers without breaking a sweat, using the bloodshine lightsaber he’d made for himself, he took a knee before the Sith Lord, demanding that Vader make Möbius his apprentice.
“I already have a secret apprentice,” the Dark Lord of the Sith said. “Begone.”
He’d always known that a duel with Vader would be necessary to prove his worth. But Vader’s anger had simply eclipsed his own; to this day, Möbius marveled that he’d escaped that encounter with only a lost arm to show for it.
Because Vader is the apprentice, and not the master. Otherwise, why have a secret apprentice?
He let go of the metal bar, landing on the floor in a crouch, as if poised to leap. But Möbius only stood, reached for the little towel by the mirror, and dabbed the sweat from his lean frame.
Starkiller was the apprentice’s codename – that much, Möbius had learned – but finding the truth about Vader’s master was like trying to catch a shadow in your hand. Nothing in the galaxy could find a Sith Lord who wished to remain hidden… so Möbius had devised his plan to lure Vader’s master out into the open.
He spared a glance at his reflection, noting that he hadn’t shaved in a week. Perhaps a beard would suit him. Moff Yeagar had expressed his distaste for Möbius’s long hair more than once, even when, as now, he gathered it in a ponytail… but he was the one thing in the Sidori Star Cluster that the Moff couldn’t govern.
Fortunately for both men, their ambitions, while not identical, were very compatible.
This place had called to Möbius, as the holocron had. His knowledge of the Force, combined with the Moff’s resources, was granting them exactly what they needed to put Yeagar on Palpatine’s throne.
Let the people look to Jeremiah for rulership, Möbius thought. They’ll never see whose hand pulls his strings. They never want to see the strings.
He donned one of his customary suits of solemn black with the ease of a two-handed man. Yeagar had repeatedly offered him the finest mechno-arm in the Empire, but Möbius always refused. “It’s a reminder of what my failure has cost me,” he’d said the last time. “And that I cannot afford to fail again.”
He pinned his left sleeve up, suggesting where his left arm ended, between the shoulder and the elbow. Maybe once Vader, the secret apprentice, and Vader’s mysterious master were dead, Möbius would consider a prosthetic. Though he hadn’t faced a duel since battling the Dark Lord, his technique was better than ever. He ached for the chance to prove it, though!
“Patience,” he said aloud. “The galaxy itself will be yours, Möbius Vÿle. If you’ve waited this long, another…”
Something tickled the edge of his consciousness, just beyond the darkness of the Pit. He shook his head and donned his cloak, sure it was only one of the Born dreaming… then he noticed it again.
No. That’s not one of mine.
He closed his eyes and reached out to the complex above him, sweeping his senses throughout. All those eager scientists, all the bored security guards, and none of them knew… wait.
He found a familiar presence, the guard called Dax… but someone else, someone unfamiliar, bent him to his will through the Force. Someone trained in its use had gone beyond simple mind tricks and forced him to speak.
Someone had called on the dark side of the Force, here in the darkest place in the entire sector.
The bending suddenly stopped, and Möbius lost track of the presence. But he’s here, Möbius thought. Starkiller has come here to find me.
Are you ready? he asked himself.
I’ve spent years preparing for this moment. Of course I’m ready.
He shook his head. He could handle this. He would handle this.
At long last, Möbius Vÿle’s revenge was about to begin.
He reached for his lightsaber.