The boy was strong, much stronger than Windu would have anticipated. To be at such a young age and have the strong to survive Windu's strikes and keep going only fueled him further. The Dark Side was too accessible to those who sought power; it was a dance Windu knew the steps to too well to allow Ren to reign over the galaxy. Darth Vader had similarities, but this was a newer threat. Where Vader thrived with a barrage of attacks against the Jedi, Ren seemed to be the very force that could not be stopped.
Windu had traded one devil for another.
Ren whipped his blade back to his hand and it returned like a conditioned dog to its master. The blistering sparks from the blade were a further extension of Ren's desire to burn, as if Mustafar itself conjured the blade from its hells.
"The Dark Side will betray you, boy," Windu reasoned. Windu lacked the silver tongue Kenobi possessed. In truth, Windu's Shatterpoint technique worked just as well with negotiations; finding the weakness in one's words, body language, in their very mindset would be easy to break with enough pressure. All he would need is the right word. However, Ren was too volatile to attempt this technique. Windu already knew little about his opponent and to shatter him further would only spell tragedy for the galaxy.
Ren didn't need to be broken; he needed to be saved.
But Windu could not save him and himself. TIE fighters roared above them with bombs being dropped. Windu's saber shrank into its hilt as he became a tornado to push the falling bombs back up onto their senders. The sky erupted in a glory of shrapnel and red, an explosion loud enough for the screams of those aboard to not be registered so much as a whisper. The brilliance of it painted the field in a blinding light, making both combatants embodiments of darkness about the rolling debris that followed. Windu's meticulous move caused the metal to die out before it could touch him, those willed enough merely singed his robes. Still, together in darkness, Windu attempted,
"Your days are numbered, Ren... What's left, now, is," Windu paused, once again summoning his amethyst blade to be the only distinguishable trait from the foggy silhouette he cast in the smoke. "How quickly do you want them to end?"
(//This is not at all meant as a prod to rush you, take your time. This is just so you don't lose access once the bulletin is auto-deleated.)
She hadn’t set foot on Naboo since early into the rule of Palpatine’s Empire. The planet held many memories for her stretching back to her early teen years. She’d been here helping to free the people of Naboo from the Trade Federation at the age of thirteen, she’d felt Maul kill Qui-Gon in the plasma reactor room, she was on the front line alongside the Gungan’s fighting off the battle droids. Later she’d been to Naboo more than once to speak to their Queen. Then there was her first trip after that fateful night that brought the Clone War to a close. It was less than a month after the public funeral for Padme Amidala, she’d been asked to secure an area that would serve as barracks for a small detachment of storm troopers. She felt the task could have easily been done by someone lower within the Empire, but she realized they were making use of her good reputation with the people of Naboo. Though she wasn’t comfortable with troops station this close to her own home system she carried out the task given to her by the Emperor, she could always work to quietly sabotage it later should it become too much of an issue for her.
Now she had returned to help liberate it from a new threat, the First Order. It was far more militant than other Imperial Remnant splinter groups from everything she’d heard from her numerous sources scattered throughout the galaxy. She’d made a mistake allowing Palpatine’s ambitions to torment the galaxy once, she wasn’t going to let the specter of it continue to cause further harm if she could do anything to stop it. She firmly believed that fear and violence wasn’t the way to rule, respect would get you further in the long run. She’d seen it firsthand while being Palpatine’s Enforcer, fear only bred resentment, anger, and more enemies than you could easily deal with.
Using her vast information network, she put out word to lure Ren to Naboo. She knew of his obsession with Vader, she knew because of that he wouldn’t be able to easily resist coming to investigate news of a Force user with ties to his grandfather being seen on his grandmother’s home world. Kida knew the world well enough she could have easily baited him and then made him work to find her, but she’d heard stories of how petulant the child was. She didn’t want him causing more chaos than was necessary, so she would make it easy for him once he arrived… She’d be there to greet him in the main plaza just outside the Theed palace. Though she did love to play games, she would make him play her game and not the other way around. That short temper of his would cause him to easily fall victim to her games if he wasn’t careful, games that could do far worse than just kill him.
When she heard word from one of her informants that the young man had taken her bait and would soon be arriving, she excused herself from speaking with the current Queen of Naboo to make her way to the large victory plaza that she’d last stood in as a young girl to wait for him. A simple black cloak hid her weapons and light armor from view for now. She could see a ship starting to head for the nearest hanger, the shadows and the feeling in the Force told her the boy had arrived. She continued to watch the horizon while waiting for him to make his way to her, the bright sun was beginning to fade into a colorful sunset just as his ship landed. It would make toying with him even easier for her should she need to as the plaza would soon be bathed in shadow… shadows that she could control effortlessly, that he couldn’t hide from should she choose to use them.
She wondered how long it would take before Ren lost his temper, provoking a fight between the two of them. He was far younger than her, but she was far more experienced than him. Age alone wouldn’t give the boy the upper hand in this case. From what her spies told her he hadn’t had the experience of fighting against many skilled opponents in his short life. And when it came to fighting using emotion, she had the edge as she knew how to harness her emotions to work for her not against her; he only knew how to blindly rage at his opponent hoping to wear them down with strength and size. She was used to fighting against people with superior physical strength, growing up sparring with Anakin Skywalker among others.
Eventually she could make out the tall black clad figure of Kylo Ren drawing closer. She could feel his emotions radiating hostility but also a level of curiosity. The question was which would win out in the young Sith.
She waited calmly as he drew closer. She thought about her past mistakes that helped lead to the end of the Clone War and the rise of a galaxy wide Empire of terror that had subjugated so many…. This so-called First Order was merely an attempt to resurrect that same terror, as a former Enforcer of that horror she felt it was her duty to finally start correcting her past mistakes. She would work to bring this remnant of that nightmare to an end before it could come close to reaching its full potential at any cost.
In his prime, Windu was known to be a Master of the Order and one that produced a Padawan who rose to the rank of Jedi Master and joined him and the others on the Council. Strict, adamant, but passionate about the Order - one could question the methods with which Windu taught, but never the results. However, that was a lifetime ago. To assume he'd produce the same results from a Dark Jedi that was not originally his Padawan was not applicable. He understood his mistake.
His restraint was mistaken for weakness. A mistake he would not make twice.
The slowness with which Kylo Ren could consistently match blades with was one he felt comfortable in. Good, but too comfortable. He'd thought he was...winning? Foolish boy. His stopping Windu's blade was a perfect opportunity for him. He would jeer to the best of his ability, but Mace was above attempts at DUN MÖCH. If stopping was something Ren wanted, he would find even inactivity would be his downfall.
Windu's face contorted in such a grimace that one would be hesitant to label it anything associated with the Light. Eyes pierced souls and matched the same darkness Palpatine once masqueraded behind for decades. No child with a tantrum would ever faze him. His first mistake was ever igniting his blade against him. His worst one was stopping him.
And you are a COWARD. You abandoned your comrades and let them die. Felled by grandfather’s lightsaber. In your inaction, you killed more Jedi than I could have ever have.
Then, Windu vanished from both the physical and spiritual realms.
Windu disappeared into Vaapad, his signature fighting style. It was unique to him alone and no holocron could ever hope to duplicate it. It, however, was not merely a lightsaber fighting style, it was a state of mind. The Force did not merely amplify lightsaber strikes, it allowed him to indulge in the darkness that was naturally within him and strike. Where most, when amplified by the Force, would be blinding, Windu became invisible. Windu released his hilt as Ren kept it stuck in midair and foolishly did not capitalize on the fight but meant to jeer the Jedi Master, a back-and-forth Windu no longer had time for.
How many arms do you see!? Windu's strikes said, striking at nerves in Kylo Ren's arms to immobilize them and inevitably break his hold on his still-floating lightsaber. Windu, much like the actual, feral predator, Vaapad, whipped his arms so invisibly fast, that he became that beast, known for moving so quickly that counting its limbs was impossible until it was dead.
From this moment on, Ren would always question how many arms Windu truly possessed.
He would not match jeers with a child; he acted in pride. How does it FEEL, Ren, to lose to a Ghost? His strikes were fervent and too calculated to be untamed. Ren, witnessing it firsthand, would not know the difference. This was merely a glimpse of the Master that defeated Palpatine, who fought alongside the Chosen One - a glimpse at the Master of the Order.
Before long, after his strikes, Windu summoned the Force to swing his blade down atop Ren, one he anticipated he'd block lest he have his body cleaved clean in half. Once met, as feeble as his attempt was, Windu wasn't done teaching. A size-12 boot to Ren's sternum would be the punctuation mark in this lesson.
Windu took his blade from the frozen-in-place it was suspended from and deactivated it as he stalked his way toward Kylo Ren. He had not forgotten the inkling to search his lightsaber for a shatterpoint, but relying on shatterpoints to help teach the boy a lesson was not as effective as he hoped. He required a private lesson. Not one that would kill or debilitate him, but enough to hurt. To sting. If he survived for much longer, perhaps, Windu would teach him further, but this spark of a showcase of skill was a memory, Windu wagered, that would never be erased.
"A 'coward', huh?" If authority itself could be smug, it was Former Master Mace Windu. It was nothing of a personal matter, but one of proving righteous in truth. He threw words his way, Windu would now allow time for a proper reply. "Then, that just means, even in my failure..." Windu slowed his approach to a deliberate crawl, one akin to a predator slowing to allow their prey to accept the inevitable. As if he became more than man, Windu encompassed Ren's entire field of view.
There was no escaping him.
"I'm. Still. Better. Than. You." Windu's eyes, in full, were the same that stared down Palpatine that fateful night. Whatever stories Ren had been told of history, Windu was kind enough to reenact a scene for him. "Had enough yet?"